Health versus Wellness

The terms health and wellness tend to be used interchangeably.  While these two are very connected, they are not exactly synonymous terms.  To be clear:

Health(n)- the state of being free from illness or injury; a person’s mental or physical condition.

Wellness(n)- the state of being in good health, especially as an actively pursued goal.

So, in order to have one you need to have the other.  Someone can be free from a physical illness or injury and thus be healthy, but not in a state of wellness because their emotional or mental health may not be at 100%.  In order to be completely healthy ones physical, emotional, and mental health must be free from illness/injury, and once that is achieved one will be in a state of wellness.

If you are looking for ways to improve any aspect of your health in order to be in a state of wellness, Smarter Athlete Fitness and Nutrition can help you.  The coaches are dedicated to you and helping you achieve your goals.  The active pursuit of your health can sometimes be a hard and lonely road, but with Smarter Athlete you don’t have to go it alone.  Email me at to get more information and get started with Smarter Athlete Fitness and Nutrition to take the first steps toward a healthier you. 15894683_1776846229307750_3069929597083203043_n


So, we are still quarantining, now what?

(Still)Bored in the house, and (still) in the house bored?  4 months have gone by since the stay-at-home orders had been put in place and we are still at home.  Yes, I know some places are entering various phases of their ‘back-to-normal’ plans, but things are still anything but normal.  What many were thinking and hoping would have been at the most 1-1.5 months of quarantine has quickly turned into an entire summer.  A couple months back I posted about some ways to handle this new way of living and the stresses that come with it. (Click here for a refresher). The advice there still holds true now that we are 4 months (and counting) into quarantine living.  Overall the advice given there, if you don’t want to go read it, was be kind to yourself and choose vegetables, fruits, and whole foods before you reach for the processed options available to you.  Moving away from the nutritional side of wellness and toward the physical/fitness side this post will give you some options to help create some semblance of structure during these very unsure times.  So, without any further introduction here is my list of advice:

  1. Create a schedule for yourself- This doesn’t have to be the same thing every day, but during the ‘work week’ you should create some type of schedule that would reflect what it would look like for you if you weren’t WFH. Wake up at the same time every day, create a ‘morning commute’ whether that is having breakfast or having a cup of coffee while reading a book/magazine/the news/etc., clock-in for the work day, take a lunch break away from your work area, take walks around your home 5 minutes every hour, and have a hard quitting time where all work related things get put away for the day.
  2. Set aside at least 30 minutes of some type of movement- This can be a walk/jog around your neighborhood, YouTube a yoga session, break out the dumbbells/kettlebells, stretching, body-weight circuits, etc. Just do something that gets the blood flowing through the body and gets you up from your desk/workstation.
  3. Pick up a new hobby or start reading- Do something that stimulates your mind beyond your work; that isn’t finding a new show to watch on Netflix or Hulu.  You can even get into a new podcast.
  4. Check up on your friends and family- Group FaceTime, texts, zooms, whatever it is just make sure the people you care about are doing alright. If you are stressed out by all of this or feel off, there is a very good chance you aren’t the only one.
  5. Get dressed- I noticed personally when I stopped laying around in what I wore to bed the night before I felt a little better. Even if I did change from one oversized t-shirt & sweatpants combo to another one, it made me feel like I had started a new day.  You can also take this further and place a to-go order from your favorite local restaurant (#SupportLocalBusinesses) and put on something other than sweatpants, maybe even do your hair/makeup, and go have a socially distanced picnic.

Pretty much what I am saying is, eat well, move your body, and do something for your mind.  We are creatures of habit and love structure, but we also don’t like feeling like we are in a rut or living the same day over and over again.  So, do something that makes each day a little different from the rest and don’t forget to still treat yourself once in a while.  Nutritional, physical and mental self-care are very important to your overall wellness.

[Thought this was funny and fitting for the post]Cover-photo-for-tweets

Your Health

This post is similar to my post from last week about comparison.  The focus of this one will be on physical health.  Last week was a broad discussion on comparing yourself to others, but this post is going to talk more about social media, eating, and overall health.

Today, anyone that has an Instagram and has some muscle tone thinks they are a health guru.  They will caption their overly edited, overly thought out, incredibly posed photos with things like “eat this and workout like this to get abs like me” or “Follow this plan for guaranteed 6-pack abs, and rapid weight-loss”.  These ‘influencers’ and captions are detrimental.  People with zero qualifications (outside of them having a “picture perfect body”) to be giving out nutritional and fitness advice in the matter-of-fact terms in which they do.  The constant pushing of the message at the core of it all of ‘do all of these things so you are like me and not like you’ is a major issue when it comes to self-love and self-esteem.  Everyone has a smart phone, which makes access to these kinds of messages incredibly easy, especially for teens.  The main demographic that uses various forms of social media are teens, whom are already constantly thinking about fitting in and being liked, and now are followed (pardon the pun) by the never ending need to appear a certain way.  In terms of body image, this is where unhealthy relationships with food and even exercise begin to develop.  When your health becomes something you are concerned with so that you can look a certain way, in order to fit in, it no longer becomes your health.

Like I said last week, living to be someone you are not is not how you win at the game called life.  You are merely existing when you are striving to be someone other than who you are.  You should exercise because you like how you feel after you finish and because you want to, not because “Samantha got 1000 likes on her picture at the beach and has abs and I want to be like her”.  Be fit for the life you want to live, eat foods you enjoy and that support a healthy life, and stop worrying about the likes and follows and comments you get on your social media accounts.  With that, I will leave you with this quote I saw the other day.  If my words don’t register with you and you take only one thing away from this post, let it be the image below.  We are all amazingly different people and should strive to be the best version of our self that we can be.  Originals are so much better than remakes or sequels, so live life as yourself and not as the attempt to be someone else.


Listening to Your Body

Listen To Your Body | Harmony Yoga Redondo Hermosa Manhattan Beach ...

Your body has a lot to say and is in constant communication with you.  Whether or not you are listening is the issue.  From waking up in the morning feeling tired to craving certain foods to feeling sore; your body is trying to tell you what it needs in order to be at its best.  I am going to try to cover these various messages your body is giving you in as succinct a way as possible, because each message could be a blog post in itself.

Let’s start with cravings.  Cravings can indicate anything from you aren’t taking in enough calories to support your expenditure, to some type of memory has been triggered that is making you want a certain food, to your hormones being at work, just to name a few reasons.  To avoid turning this into a psychology and physiology paper as I explain the interplay of memory and hormones on food cravings, I will just be talking about taking in calories to meet expenditure.  When you are undereating your body wants to get in energy as fast as possible in order to refuel.  This is why we tend to reach for the bag of chips or the cookies because our bodies have learned we can get a lot of calories in very quickly and often it is pretty tasty.  Learning to take in the proper number of calories to support your daily life is very important.  Your goals determine how you should be eating; when looking to lose weight and get leaner you will need to take in calories at a deficit, when you are looking to put on mass and get bigger you will need to take in calories at a surplus, and when just looking to stay where you are and support your daily life you should be eating at a balance.  This equation doesn’t look the same for everyone though, it isn’t as simple as just eat less than what you expend to lose weight and eat more than you expend to gain weight.  Each person is different and will respond to diets in a different way.

Waking up in the morning feeling tired can indicate that your quality of sleep during the night wasn’t that great or that you are not getting enough sleep.  Getting enough sleep is an easier correction to make than trying to figure out how to improve sleep quality.  Having a daily schedule and bed-time routine helps make getting the proper number of hours of sleep a little easier.  If you know you are going to wake up at say 6am every day, and that you want to get 8 hours of sleep then you should be in bed and asleep by 10pm every night. In order to make that happen you should develop a bed-time routine that allows you to be in bed and asleep at 10pm.  This can look something like finishing dinner by 8:30pm every night, turning off the television and putting away other screens (phones, tablets, laptops, etc.) by 9pm, having a book to read before you go to sleep, and maybe you have a white noise machine to help you fall asleep as well.  We as humans like structure, and by creating a routine for falling asleep it will help signal to your body over time that once ‘x,y,z’ happen you should be asleep.  Now waking up feeling tired due to poor sleep quality can be signs of not eating enough as well, having high levels of stress which causes your body to release cortisol outside the natural circadian rhythm, or you could have some illness present causing you to not get in a good sleep.  Depending on what the reason is for sleep quality determines what step you need to take next to improve the quality of sleep. (That is post for another time though)

Now to address being sore.  It is good to be sore because it means you have challenged your muscles enough be in a state of re-synthesis.  You worked out hard and now your muscles are repairing themselves.  It is not good to be so sore you can’t move every single day of the week.  Being in a constant state of muscle repair means that you never give your muscles a chance to fully recover and this can lend itself to injury.  Click here to read a previous post of mine on the benefits of resting and taking a day off from your training.

So, if you are reading this sentence, I am going to assume you clicked that link and read (or re-read s/o my loyal following) my previous blog post.  Taking a day off from anything is important to both physical and mental health.  You need to step back from whatever it is you do during the week in order to come back to it refreshed and excited to work at it again.  My fitness fanatics are probably thinking in their heads right now, but what about an active recovery day?  Yes, those are good but what are you calling active recovery?  For me an active recovery day is a leisurely walk or a casual bike ride.  It isn’t me jumping into the pool and swimming laps (no matter how slow I am going, swimming is actually a very interesting exercise modality when it comes to energy expenditure), or going for a long run, or going to the gym and doing accessory lifts.  Active recovery should be incredibly low impact compared to your weekly training.  There is nothing wrong with moving on an off day, but this movement shouldn’t be intense or high impact.  Off days are intended to be for taking your foot off the gas and giving your body the chance to recover and refresh.

This turned out to be longer than I intended, but the thoughts just kept flowing.  The sad part is I could have written even more, the science behind all of this are textbook chapters in exercise physiology.  What I want to be the takeaway here is listen to your body, it knows what it is saying and wants to support you as best as it can.  Taking a day off is fine, taking multiple days off is fine, you need to listen to what your body needs when it comes to rest.  Eat well and eat to support your goals, you get one chance and one body when it comes to living life, so live life well and treat your body right.

Mental Health Awareness Month

Hello all!

In honor of Mental Health Awareness Month here is my post on looking out for your mental health.  Like I always say, wellness is more than just working out and eating ‘healthy food’, it is about your mental health as well.  I wrote a previous post about mental health, and some of the things I like to do to help keep me sane.  So I will hyperlink that here for you all to check out again.  But I will also list some things you can do for yourself and for those you care about as well below.

So here we go:

  1. Exercise!  One article (summary hyperlink here) from the Journal of Sports Medicine talks about the effects exercise can have on mood and self-esteem.  Studies have shown that there is a boost to both mood and self-esteem in an acute dosage after exercise.  There needs to be more research on the effects of exercise, but you can’t go wrong by getting a good workout in.  It is beneficial to physical and mental health.
  2. Get outside.  Taking sometime during the day to step away from work or school or whatever it is stressing you out to just be by yourself and be outside in nature can help give you a chance to hit that reset button and unwind.  It is also a perfect chance to mix in some exercise! Maybe a take a walk and just take some time to be with your thoughts.  Leave your phone behind and really take the time to disconnect from everything going on around you to check-in with yourself.
  3. I have found journaling helps me.  Sometimes you don’t want to talk to people about stuff stressing you out or things (good or bad) happening in your life, so the journal can be your friend that doesn’t have an opinion.  The best listener in the game, never offers advice or passes judgement.  Just takes everything in with an open mind!
  4. But there are things you need to talk to people about, so talk to a friend or family or someone.  Sometimes you need someone to give advice and voice an opinion, so don’t just journal away your issues and think they are resolved.
  5. Check on your friends! Don’t be the person that is always sharing your issues and concerns and stories, and never offering to listen yourself.  You aren’t the only one with stuff to say.  Some people don’t like to come out and say they are struggling or have something going on in their life that is bothering them, so you need to truly check-in with the people you care about.
  6. Personally I feel coffee and chocolate are the answer to all my problems so you can never go wrong with indulging in those two things if you ask me. (this is low-key a joke, but also kinda serious, but maybe don’t take this advice as seriously as the other 5)

Remember life is hard sometimes, but if you have good people to help you take on life and a good sense of when you need to hit that reset button everything will be okay.  Happy Wednesday my peeps!

Get Moving

Newton’s First Law of Motion says “Every object persists in its state of rest or uniform motion in a straight line unless it is compelled to change that state by forces impressed on it”.  Often this is heard stated as “An object at rest tends to stay at rest, and an object in motion tends to stay in motion”. While this is typically applied to physics and all that math and science associated with physics, this can be applied to exercise. 

It is so easy to turn your one day off from the gym into two or three and the next thing you know you haven’t been to the gym in a month.  Once you stop moving it becomes easy to continue not moving. This inactivity has become a public health issue, and now it is unfortunately affecting the youth population.  The rise in obesity levels in children is at an all time high and this is in part due to the increased amount of inactivity of kids. I could probably write for days about the many moving parts that play a role in the rising childhood obesity levels, but for the sake of this post I will just briefly touch on early introduction to activity and motor skills.  There has been some emerging research on the correlation between motor skill competence and physical activity later in life.  Motor skills are any tasks that are performed that require some form of practice in order to become “good” at the tasks.  These tasks range from simply walking to engaging at a high level in sports. The studies have found that the more skilled children were at a particular skill or activity or more skilled they felt they were, the more likely they were to engage in activities and the more likely they were to continue being active throughout life and into adulthood.  [Please follow the hyperlink above if you are interested in this and want to read a little more about this research.]  

That being said, it is important for lifelong health to get kids to put down the video games and get outside and play.  It doesn’t matter if they join a sports team or if they are simply making up games with friends, so long as they are doing something that requires them to coordinate their limbs and raise their heart rate.  So get yourself into motion early and stay in motion, because it so much easier to maintain motion than it is to restart motion.  



“Rest is for the weak” and  “No days off” are just two examples of some things you may hear from your fitness fanatic friends or your rat-racing buddies.  We unfortunately live in a society of go, go, go, and always trying to do more than the next person or not stopping until we reach our goal, only to decide we have another goal once we get there. We are constantly moving and doing and we are not taking a chance to stop and enjoy where we are.  I want to keep this more geared toward physical rest and recovery by talking about taking a day off from your gym routine, but before I head there I want to share a message that the commencement speaker at my graduation ceremony shared with us.  She has an amazing story and accomplished so much; when I heard of everything she has done my jaw dropped.  If you want to read more about this amazing woman follow this link here.  Beyond all the amazing things she has done with her life, she shared with us all that we need to take a minute to just breathe and to be present in the moment.  Enjoy where we are and the people we are with because the little things are what we will miss the most and the people we share these moments with will mean more than all the fame and fortune and success.

Okay now that I have shared that nugget of wisdom lets get into taking actual rest days from the gym or whatever exercise program you follow.  Exercise is a stressor, and your body responds to stress of any kind in the exact same way.  Your body doesn’t differentiate mental stress from emotional stress from physical stress, stress is stress.  The stress of exercise is a good stress to have in your life because it is acute, and once you finish your exercise for the day the stress goes away(that is when you aren’t in the state of overtraining, which can be avoided with a good ole rest day).  After exercise there are many changes that are occurring within your body.  Whether these changes are occurring at the muscle fibers, mitochondria, or neuroendocrine levels, your body is adapting to the exercise stimulus you have just placed on it.  Lets look at the muscle fiber changes from something like resistance training.  When you lift weights and then feel sore the next day or two, that is a result of your muscles physically (micro)tearing and your body working to repair the damage.  There was a study conducted that reported that muscle regeneration can take up 28 days to occur.  That is almost an entire month of your body working to repair muscle damage(the kind you want) from exercise.  So if your body can potentially be working to fully repair muscles back to 100% for 28 days after one day of exercise don’t you think you can give your body a break for one day?

I know it is hard when we live in a society that makes taking a day off seem like the end of the world.  If we aren’t going 1000mph everyday 24/7, 365 then we feel like we are going to fall behind or not be successful.  This way of thinking needs to stop.  I am not sure when it became such a bad thing to stop and enjoy a day of nothing and when tackling one task at a time became a rarity, but I think we as a society need to get back to that.  When Sundays(or whatever day you want) were for sleeping in, slow mornings, sipping coffee and enjoying breakfast with your family and filling the rest of your day with nothing or everything as long as its what you want to do.  I like to get to the gym 6 days a week and fill my Mondays-Fridays with anything and everything I can, but I know that once the weekend hits I’m taking my foot off the gas and putting myself in park come Sunday.  It is also important to listen to your body and familiarize yourself with how your body lets you know you need to pump the brakes.  For me I start to feel sick or waking up and staying awake becomes a lot more difficult.  It is okay to take multiple days off if your body is telling you it needs to rest.  Even changing your typical routine from long runs to yoga, or from pumping that iron to spin class.  Do something different to rest the muscles that are constantly being worked, while still getting a workout in.

Long story short, you are doing your body a disservice by not taking a day to relax and unwind.  Taking a day off isn’t the end of the world and you might actually be surprised how much you can accomplish on your off day and how much you enjoy having a structureless, plan free day.

CrossFit pt.2

Okay, so I can’t share with you all anything about the test, but I can tell you about how awesome my weekend at the CF L2 course was.  Just to let you guys know, I am super shy and I almost didn’t want to go to the course because I knew before going there I would have to coach in front of people I didn’t know and that is COMPLETELY out of my comfort zone.  So that was my emotional/mental state entering into the weekend.  I was forced to step WAY outside of my comfort zone and honestly I am super glad that I did.  I learned so much over those two days and I am incredibly excited to get to put my knowledge into action.  I became way more aware of my own movements and became more skilled at picking out ‘faults’ in the movements of those I am coaching.  I am by no means perfect by taking this course, but I have been given the confidence and the knowledge to strive for perfection from both myself and those I coach.  This past weekend also solidified for me that CrossFit is something I want in my future. 

I would 100% take the CF L2 course again, because it was that great.  I would pass on the whole exam part of it though because that test was the most stressful one I have taken in a while (which is saying a lot because I am still in college).  I am so glad that I took the course and I am really glad I got over the nerves I had entering into it and was able to enjoy it fully. 

Being able to enjoy the course even though I was nervous entering into it just lets me know that this is something that makes me happy and that I am making sure to actively seek out what make me happy.  That being said I would count this past weekend as a success because I was able to live out my life motto of seeking what sets my soul in fire, and I encourage you all to do the same because it is a pretty awesome feeling. 

Thank for reading! Hope you all had an awesome July 4th!!  


So this Saturday is a pretty exciting one because I am at Reebok CrossFit One in Boston, Massachusetts for the CrossFit Level 2 certificate course.  Almost 5 years ago I was sitting in the exact place completing the Level 1 certificate course.  I was the youngest one there.  I started doing CrossFit when I was in 8th grade(about 7 years ago) and I fell in love with it.  It took less than a year of doing CrossFit for me to decide that one day I was going to open my own CrossFit affiliate gym, which leads to my 17th birthday present being the CrossFit Level 1 certificate course.

Most of the day is spent going over movements and coaching points so I don’t have a lot of free time today.  This is going to be a short post because I need to study for the exam I am taking tomorrow that will see if I pass or fail the Level 2 certificate course.  Wish me luck!

I just wanted to write about this to share my excitement with y’all and to remind y’all that you should go after your dreams.  I knew at 15 that I wanted to open my own CrossFit gym one day, and with the help and support of my parents, I have been working toward making that a possibility.  Remember to seek what sets your soul on fire everyone!

Thanks for reading and please wish me luck

Eat Your Plants

I don’t want to sound like your doctor during your yearly physical, but eating your fruits and vegetables is very important to living a healthy life.  Last fall I took a very interesting class where I learned a lot about the powerful health benefits found in all plant foods(fruits, veggies, nuts, and seeds).  This class made me take a step back from my eating habits (which was already fairly healthy) and made me start to really think about what I was eating everyday.  Eating ‘healthy’ is more than just eating salads and not eating fast foods/junk foods.  Eating healthy requires a mindfulness.  You need to be aware of the foods you are eating and what they have to offer you. 

In the class we talked about organic vs. non-organic fruits and veggies and it was very eye opening.  I know organic options are more expensive, but your health is worth the extra couple dollars spent on the organic options.  The non-organic fruits and veggies are either filled with GMOs or covered in pesticides/insecticides, which are harmful to health.  One way GMO foods can cause health issues is through the introduction of free radicals into your body.  Simply, free radicals are a form of stress placed on the body by introducing foreign substances to your cells.  These free radicals are very unstable molecules that steal an oxygen from our healthy cells (this is called oxidation) and they take over these cells and can cause damaging changes to the DNA of that cell.  Through this, free radicals can cause premature aging and increase cancer risk.  Luckily the best way to fight against free radicals is through antioxidants; and thankfully organic fruits like berries and veggies like broccoli, spinach, and kale are good sources of antioxidants.

So the next time you are at the grocery store take a peak at the labels and make the choice for organic.  It is a little extra, which is extremely upsetting because the foods that will give you a healthier life cost more than a bag of chips.  But honestly you can’t bring this money with you when it is time to leave this Earth, so why not spend a little extra money to make the time you have here as healthy and lively as possible?

That is my rant for this week.  Sorry I suck and haven’t posted in a while, I don’t have a good excuse for that.  I have been trying to enjoy my summer and time just gets away from me.  Thanks for reading!

Organic vs GMOs.jpgGo Organic.jpg