Quick Hit Guide to an Upside Down Trip to Ireland

It had been 15 years since I had been to Ireland when I boarded a plane last week at Logan. And part of me was so dang excited and part of me was so dang sad.

When I say that I planned this trip for two people, I'm guessing you can figure out which two.

So, when it became clear that I was either going by myself, or going with someone else, I didn't even begin to entertain the idea of just not going at all. Why? I mean, for one, it was bought and paid for. But two, honestly, I came up with the idea of us going to Ireland. I planned our route through the country. I booked the AirBnBs. I planned all of it, and I didn't want to not go, just because I wasn't going to be going with him.

Now, that's not to say it didn't sting. I was pretty clear with the people in my life in the days before the trip that I was excited, but not as excited as I had been. 

There was a whole trip that I had to mourn before I could get excited about the trip I was really going to take. And sister, that is hard.

But, I went. I got on the plane. I drove the car. I picked out restaurants. And I did the full blown tourist thing, left and right. 

And with that, I'll give you, the Ireland Itinerary.

//

dublin ireland

Dublin

We stayed:

Just outside of City Centre, about a 25 minute walk away in The Liberties neighborhood. It was perfectly tucked away from the high traffic of the city, but was very much inside the city as well. 

It was small, but in the best European-small way it could be. Here's the AirBnB: Little Dublin Studio.

We ate:

The Riddler: With walls, pillows, and tables covered in actual riddles, and a menu that boasted "modern Irish dishes," we were hooked. Also, we found it when we desperately needed coffee and had been up for roughly 27 hours.

Bestseller: It was one part bookstore, one part coffee shop, and one part bar. So naturally I got another latte, and a very Irish morning treat: a sausage roll. And what does Julia get? Hot. Wine. Warmed chardonnay with mulled apples and cloves. It was insane, and delicious.

The Temple Bar: Of course, Guinness and goat cheese crostinis were ordered. If you ever get to The Temple Bar take time to walk around - it's a big space, and often crowded - while we quickly got a great spot, it's worth getting a feel for the place. Plus! Legend has it there is a UVM Rescue patch in the collection of the bar's famed wall.

temple bar dublin ireland

We did:

We visited the Dublin Castle, Trinity and Graton Streets. We stopped for macarons. We ogled at all the flower vendors. We went to a for real Disney store.

While we were at it we spotted a Duck Boat. You know the ones in Boston, they're the boats/trucks that do city-wide tours, and then hop in the water too? Well, they've got them in Dublin. Only, they are called Viking Tours. 

I was sold. So that night, while we ate quesadillas in bed, we booked ourselves a tour.

The Viking Tour was exactly like you'd expect. There were funny hats, and we grunted at people on the streets, and we even had a cheeky driver who made corny jokes.

viking tours dublin

//

Belfast:

This was the beginning of our long trek around the country. Which, after we made it through many many kilometers of farmland, was actually going to take us into Northern Ireland, United Kingdom.

But on the way there, we decided to stop at Newgrange. A 5200 year old tomb in the middle of Boyne Valley. It was a stunningly beautiful day, there were tons of sheep, and we felt v cultured.

newgrange ireland


We stayed:

When we finally made it to the AirBnB (in the middle of a hospital plaza) we were starving. Thankfully, we had the bests hosts and this one left all sorts of restaurant guides and tourist info.

We ate:

Deanes at Queens: We got cocktails, we were surrounded by older Irish couples, and we awkwardly bopped along to their jamming restaurant tunes. (Yes, it was amazingly delicious. Yes, we recommend.)

Thyme Deli: The "best" sandwich joint in Belfast. Oh, you guys, talk about chips. These were garlic buttered fries, next to my amazing turkey bacon sandwich that was served with banging pasta salad and sweet-chili Doritos. I was in heaven.

thyme deli belfast


That night, we got late-night Burger King delivered to the AirBnB, and I tell you what, I felt zero shame.

We did: 

Again, this is a totally walkable city. We hiked our buns over to the port side of the city and visited The Titanic Experience. As my dad has mentioned three times since I've been home, my great-grandfather was a steel worker on the Titanic - so this was extra exciting, if you ask me. 

The museum was great - really interactive (there is a ride inside the museum,) really informative, and about so much more than just a ship that went down.

Finally, before starting the trek up and over the northern most points of Ireland, and landing in castle county, we made it to Giant's Causeway. I could likely write a whole post on the nostalgia, the views, the awesome-included audio guide, and how wonderful it was to hike up literal cliffs - but, the point is, if you can go, you must.

giants causeway belfast

// 

Dunkineely/Donegal: 

We stayed:

This AirBnB is one we really wish we could've stayed in longer. We arrived late after our day at the Giant's Causeway, but tucked in nicely to all the amenities. It included cookies, a Nespresso, and loads of DVDs.

We ate:

Mary Murrins Pub: Though just one town over from the AirBnB, it was a world away. We sat next to the perfect little fire, got a few looks from the locals when we walked in, made friends with the waitress, and got them to play Sweet Caroline.

Olde Castle Bar: Situated neatly across the street from Donegal Castle with a very traditional Irish menu, and nice cold hard ciders. It was the perfect long lunch on a rainy afternoon.

We did:

At this point, we were plumb tuckered out. So we slept in, took it easy, toured the Donegal Castle and strolled through the town on our full day here. We also got some shopping in, watched some movies, and just took a bit of time for actual leisure.


//

Galway: 

We left the Dunkineely area pretty early to head way down to Corofin in Galway county, and phew, that drive was good. Coming down through the north into the heavily fished southwest, was stunning.

We stayed: 

This was the only AirBnB that operated more like a B&B, and honestly, not that bad. (Coming from someone who isn't big on forced socialization with strangers.) The real sweet spot was the location, it was very much in Galway, and still not in the heart of the city.

We ate: 

The Quay Street Kitchen: Finding this gem was one of my better accomplishments. In the center of the city, on what easily could be called restaurant row, this little place was tucked away serving amazing and unique Irish dishes. (I had a veggie burger that I still can't shut up about.)

The Dough Bros: We started the morning off right with a pizza-brunch, on day two in Galway. This was good pizza, I mean, damn good. And yep, we had more cider with it.



The Bunch of Grapes: Stopped in for a couple pints and what honestly was one of the best mocha lattes of the trip. Perfect little pub with a fire, an old paper, and a quiet bartender.

O'Reilly's Bar & Kitchen: As we headed out of the city for the night we stopped at the Salthill Promenade and grabbed a light, and very quiet, dinner here.

We did:

Well, we started our time in Galway County with an 8k road race in Corofin. A very unique...bizarre?...experience for someone who has a good history with road races. It was great! A good course, nice people, well managed - but everyone but us was part of a running or athletic club. There were no Joe Schmo's off the street that came to run.

We also spent one quick morning in Salthill walking along the beach before heading into Galway for plenty of food, shopping, and walking.

Finally, before heading back to Dublin, we made it to the Cliffs of Moher. One of the top things on my list when I booked this trip, and boy, it did not disappoint. The wind was unreal, and at one point there was hail. But it truly was unlike anything else.


//

Dublin, Again:

We stayed:

Before flying out I knew I wanted something simple and relaxing, and well, this cabin-like AirBnB, was also fitting for my OG travel partner. It was a good 15 minutes outside of Dublin city, and was a true tiny house-esque cabin. Absolutely delightful before a 25 hour day of travel.

We ate:

On the road. McDonalds, if you want to know the truth. And you know what? It was the chicest McDonalds ever, and it was delish.

We did:

We unpacked, repacked, and slept.

//

And that's it!

The long and short of it is this: plan an adventure, it's worth it, always. It might surprise you that the weather, the people, the food, and the views are all absolutely perfect. And yes, Ireland is a great place to start.


5 Tips for Your 5k

This weekend I will likely run my 4th race in 5 weeks.

I say likely because I technically haven't registered yet because I'm broke and lazy. Yay, 25.

Anyways, it is not that big of a deal. But I do really like running road races, and I especially like 5ks. For those of you that don't give a hoot about running, that's 3.1 miles. Not much in distance. But it makes for a nice run, and of course when you are running around Vermont, it is usually a great course too.

That being said, since I've been a "runner" a handful of people over the last few years have asked me for some pointers before their first 5k.

And I thought, who doesn't love unsolicited advice from me? I'll share it with y'all!

So here we are...


//

1. Relax!

I still get pre-race jitters, regardless of how long the race is. But let me tell ya, the easiest thing to think about before a race is just, I'm going on a run. I'm just going on a run. 

While I totally still nervously use the port-a-potties, and have to wear certain socks to every race, it helps!

//

2. Run!

Seriously! If it is your first 5k or your fifteenth, I wouldn't recommend going into it without having run...recently.

There are a lot of "couch to 5k" programs out there that - while slightly insulting in their title - all make the same argument, start slow and gain endurance as you go.

For what it's worth, when I started running in college I did the run for 2 minutes, walk for 2 minutes, schtick for weeks. And here I am today with two half marathons under my belt.


//

3. Hydrate!

Most 5ks are early enough in the morning that I stick with my regular race breakfast, and just add about 24-36 ounces of water to my morning.

Ideally I like to have my 24 ounces done about 2 full hours before the race, then I tack on an extra 4 to 8 ounces in the last 30 minutes before the race.

If though, you get dehydrated easily, or didn't get enough water the day previous, you're going to need more!

//

4. Have fun!

Yes! I did hate typing that nice little cliche! 

But it's true...road races, especially up here, are so low-key and they are meant to be enjoyable. Knowing that will really help you relax and have fun on the course, regardless of time, pace, or distance.

Bonus points if you get a running buddy too.


//

5. Prepare!

I'm all about my pre-race routine.

I set out my bib, and my race clothes the night before. I pack my race bag with my hat, my headphones, my running belt, and sneakers. I double check the race time, set my leave time, and even make sure I know how to get there.

I don't often look at the course ahead of time (1. I don't really care. 2. I don't want to psych myself out.) But a lot of people like to know what they're getting into, so to speak.

And that's that. Then the next morning, I'm ready. I eat my breakfast, drink my water, go to the bathroom 24 times, and head out.

//

I will say, your first 5k is going to be so daunting. It will feel like everyone knows what they are doing. Everyone is faster than you. Everyone is more of a runner than you. And so on, and so on.

But I guarantee two things: someone else in that pack is totally as scared and as new as you, and it is absolutely not daunting after the first 30 seconds.

So, give it a try. You might just love it for the t-shirts and medals, like me.

Me Too

To some degree, I don't even know where to begin...

I'll start with this: if you don't know why you've been seeing "Me Too" in your Facebook newsfeed and Twitter timelines, it is time for you to find out.

Much like many things designed to blanket social media in a single unified message, it is really simple (almost too simple.) The idea is that if every woman who has been sexually harassed or assaulted posted "Me Too," or #metoo, the general public would have a better image of how pervasive of a problem it is.

So if you've seen that, now you know.

If you haven't, well, that's a bigger problem.

//

Because here's the thing, I shouldn't have to name myself as victim for you to understand this is a problem. I shouldn't have to tell you my story to justify the notion that these are pervasive issues. I shouldn't have to join in with a chorus of "me toos" so that someone will believe me.

I don't like this idea that through "Me Too" we are giving a voice to this.

The voices are already speaking, loud and clear. 

There is no reason I should have to use a hashtag to say, what he did was wrong, and just because I was confused, and ashamed, and a year older than him, doesn't mean it has to go by any other name.

I shouldn't have to explain why I had a fear of being in a certain department in my last job.

I shouldn't have to tell cautionary tales to girls my junior about positions I've held.

That shouldn't be a thing.

But it is. And more over, nothing there is new.

//

This idea that suddenly because another high-profile pig is being called out all over the news and social media that we now need to start talking about sexual assault and harassment is nucking futs.

This happens every day.

And every day someone's voice is silenced because, "it's no big deal," or "that's not what he meant," or "you shouldn't take it so personally," or "maybe you shouldn't have said anything," or "well, did you look in the mirror today," or "it probably wasn't that bad."

I shit you not, all of that, each of those phrases, has been said to me.

So, ask yourself, why in the hell would I want to keep speaking up if that's the shit I get in return?

Can you imagine being in that position?

Can you imagine hearing that your experience is invalid because it makes someone else uncomfortable?

Well, if you can, you're probably a woman.

//

And that's my problem with Me Too.

If we, as a gender, have the ability to blanket entire social media outlets with the affirmation that we too have been sexually assaulted and harassed, then why the hell aren't they just listening in the first place?

Beyond that, I don't want anyone to feel like they have to say, "Me Too" to be heard, or validated.

There is no time limit on this stuff, and to say that this is the time to speak up and say, "Me Too" doesn't give room for the fact that this is deeply personal, hard, scary as hell, and...

You should never have to say Me Too, on social media, or elsewhere, to make other people believe you, hear you, and support you. 

I can't be okay with the notion that we need a freaking hashtag to convince people that this is real, constant, and serious.

Moreover, I can't be okay with the fact that this freaking hashtag still doesn't cover the notion of why so many sexual assaults go unreported, why we still perpetuate an air of shame, and why you have to claim your survivorship in order to get other people to accept this reality.

So, sure, me freaking too.

But dammit, why do I have throw my story into the ring, and make my pain public, just so that someone out there will believe that this is a problem?

Hello Fresh(ly Single)

Let's talk about dinner!

Alright, well, we know that I have changed my dinner and cooking habits a lot in the last four years.

Four years? Yikes. Old. 


Post-grad, at least for almost two years, I was either eating at my parent's house, or bringing their food back to my apartment. Any way you slice it I was eating semi-regular, home-cooked meals.

Pre-Miss Vermont and pre-Miss America, I was obviously in full prep mode. I was meal prepping pretty much all my dinners and lunches while counting macros etc.

Post-Miss America, and really post-Miss Vermont, I gave up prepping all together.
Which is also to say, I gave up cooking regularly. Because I was tired of feeling beholden to meals, and grocery shopping, and truthfully other parts of my life were wearing me down.

Fast forward, and we are seven months post-Miss Vermont, and one month post-happy-and-in-love body.

So I made this plan - I kid you not, a week before becoming single - I was going to try another meal delivery service. Because I'm horrible at getting groceries in a timely manner. I hate having food spoil because I get too tired to cook it. And I'm notorious for getting home late and just giving up on the notion of a regular dinner.

I have dabbled in meal delivery before, but I got a coupon for Hello Fresh, and you know your girl loves a good deal, so yep - I signed up for my first box, with three meals, each for two people.

And I thought, oh great! We can cook together! Or I can have leftovers for lunch! Amazing! 

Unsurprisingly, like everything in my life that week, the plan was foiled. The box never showed.

Seriously.


So I called, cried to a Hello Fresh customer service rep, (as I did at three other companies that week, more on that soon, promise) and I found a manager that was the kindest, most earnest, human being I have encountered on a customer service call.

And he was so adamant that I have a chance to try Hello Fresh, that he gifted me a box and half.

Joy amongst tragedy!

Anyways, I've now gone through two boxes, cooked six meals, and not only do I have something to say about it, I've a giveaway!

What what 



But seriously. I want one of you to be able to try this. I can't even begin to explain how easy the whole process is.

I get to decide on my own menu from the selection each week. I can skip a week, whenever I want. And I can even skip super in advance, so I don't forget! And I'm not only eating regular, healthy, delicious dinners three or four times a week - I've also not stressed about getting to the store even once. And I haven't thrown out spoiled food in weeks.

This is huge for me. I feel like dinner is such a pain point in my day-to-day, because of course I want a home-cooked satisfying dinner, but especially right now, I often don't have that much drive.

The Hello Fresh box makes it easy, it makes it quick, and it means I've been so much happier with my weekly approach to dinner.

So, the giveaway!

I'm giving away a totally freeeeee Hello Fresh box!

To enter, leave a comment here and tell me your favorite dinner-time recipe. Then! Hop over to my Instagram, find the photo of me hugging my Hello Fresh box, and give it a like! (Also make sure you are following me!)



The giveaway is open to anyone in the U.S., over 18 years old, no purchase is necessary, prize is valued at $69.95. Giveaway ends Monday, October 16th at 9 PM EST. 

No Diet Is The Best Diet

Now that I have a post-pageant body, and a post-happy-and-in-love body, I am suddenly in a whole new phase of what I am doing in the gym, the kitchen, and just, you know, in general.

And funnily enough, more than once in the last month or so - especially since jumping back on the personal training...train - someone has asked me about my diet.

Which, we should probably talk about. Because I have maintained - for as long as I have had to prep - that unless you are dieting with a specific, health-based, realistic goal, you should not be dieting.

I am so serious. And I am on no diet, at all. I eat what I want, when I want, while simply understanding that no one made salt and vinegar chips with the intention of them being consumed at every meal.


If you are prepping for a pageant/competition/race, fine.

If your doctor has given you a low sugar/low sodium diet with specific measurable goals for your own health, fine.

If you have been told by a medical professional that you need lose weight and thus cut calories, fine.

But there is no reason that you, as a healthy individual, should be on any sort of regimented plan without a specific purpose and a specific end-game and date.

Why?

Uh, literally just this: disordered eating.


If you are cutting calories, you ought to first know:
Are you already eating too many calories for your lifestyle? 
If so, should you be looking to just up your daily physical activity? 

The reality is, unless you're pounding something like 3500 calories day (a, congrats. b, wow.) you probably just need to be more active. Is it always that easy? Hell no. But before you start restricting your food intake for the sake of calories, look at how much you're burning each day against what you are consuming.

If you are prepping meals and doing the whole protein shake thing, you need to ask yourself:
If I don't eat a prepped meal, how does that effect my plans and my goals? 
At what point do I stop pre-making three meals a day and eating just that? 

I'll add here that there is a distinct difference between making your lunch ahead of time, planning out your groceries, etc. and sticking to three/five pre-cooked meals a day without room for "mistakes."

And if you are cutting carbs/fats/certain foods, you should be able to answer:
Is this something that I need to maintain long-term for my personal well-being, or am I looking for a short term fix? 

Carbohydrates are important. Fats are important. To eliminate these - or restrict what you consume of them, is just another way that you are distorting your idea of what healthy meals look like. Plot twist: they include carbs. And carbs can actually be bread, and that's fine.



Because listen, I have been there.

I have done the disordered eating thing. And I have done it while prepping, and I have done it while cutting carbs, and I have done it while adding protein shakes into my day-to-day.

And it was as simple as this:

Oh, I can't have that, it's not in my meal plan. 

Oh, that has too many grams of carbs, I'm already at X grams today. 

Oh, I'll just drink this protein instead. 

That alone is unhealthy. That alone is why I am by no means on a diet of any kind right now.


Because if your meal plan means you have to say "no" to any food (that's not an allergen or, like I said, been prohibited by your doctor,) that meal plan is causing you problems.

If you cannot eat something because of what you have already consumed that day, you are restricting food. That's a problem.

And, I don't know how many times I've explained this to girls during a pageant "season," but I'll say it ten thousand more times if it have to...there is no such thing as a meal replacement. 

Stop, stop, stop living under the assumption that you should be replacing your meals with anything.

First of all, sitting down, enjoying and chewing a meal is a really important part of the eating process. Both to your brain and the rest of your body. And there is a lot of value in looking at your plate of balanced, (solid,) and measurable foods. This is how you learn how to eat well.

Second, any time you are creating the notion that you need to replace food with liquid, you are distorting the value of perfectly nutritional food. (Fair to note, often any meal replacement shake or protein powder is loaded with synthetic products, added sugars, and chemicals.)

Finally, it is almost always more expensive per serving than actually buying food.


And I will tell you right now, I own and use protein powder. But it is not a meal replacement, and it does not get consumed instead of something else.

If I have to work early (like 5:45 AM early,) it is totally possible that I'll make a smoothie with a scoop of protein in it. While I'm doing my makeup, or brewing three pots of coffee, or driving around Chittenden County, I'll enjoy my smoothie. But you better believe that I'm making a real breakfast when I get back to the office.

Why?

Because I know that I need food, real food, to get me through the day.

And that's also why I am not on any kind of diet.

Did I lose three pounds in the first two and half weeks of this new season of life? Hell yes I did.

But it is because I started cooking regular dinners, instead of grabbing Moe's. It's because I started doing cardio four times a week, also instead of just eating Moe's. It's because I have a new personal trainer. It's because I don't happen to have any chips at my house right now.

That being said, have I been to Henry Street? Heck yeah.
Ordered pizza? Yup.
Eaten hash purples more than once in a week? Better believe it.


I am literally just eating what I want, when I want, and maintaining a healthy level of physical activity. Because I'm a grown-ass woman, and I don't have time to be re-learning how to eat three healthy meals a day every few years. That is boring, and lame. And dangit, I have enough anxiety, and you know, problems in general. I don't need to be adding disordered eating to it.

That is the whole story. 

So let me say this: if you think that by cutting calories, following a regimented meal planning, drinking protein shakes, and carb cycling is helping you, you might be right. But if you don't know at what point that stops, and you stop "being on a diet/meal plan," you need to stop now.

It is sometimes really hard to recognize disordered eating in ourselves - and it took a moment of me, standing in my kitchen, a month after Miss America when I felt like I wasn't supposed to order pizza - for me to realize, alright, it all has to stop. No form of diet or plan is worth that feeling.

And maybe you haven't hit that point, but if you know you're following some type of plan right now, I urge you to look at those questions again. Look at your own behavior. Look at how you feel about going outside of that plan. That's how you'll know.

Frankly, I gotta tell ya, eating whatever the heck you want is great! It means last week I had an insanely tasty english muffin for breakfast and a pumpkin muffin as my morning snack. And that's it. I didn't change my lunch because of that. I didn't run for an extra half hour. I still just did my thing.


And, later this week, I'm sharing the one thing that I have added to my life in the last month that I think is helping with my goals of spending more time being active, less time worrying about when I'm gonna get groceries, and still eating a regular delicious dinner. So, as they say, stay tuned.

What Feels Right

It's probably almost time to stop talking about this, I know.

But here's the thing, I have this looming date in my brain that was supposed to be a big deal (like I had a card picked out, and bomb gift, and big plans to go to dinner, and y'all my mushy romantic heart was coming through,) and it hasn't even been a month yet, so I'll ask for grace one more time here.

I've got to say, the amount of space that I have been given to have these feelings, and say these hard things, has been...just so good. It's been the reprieve I have needed in this bizarre time. And it's been because you wonderful souls have accepted that some shit is so hard that you can't just keep it wrapped up tight.

//

I said the other day (last week? who knows,) that I am just trying to do what feels right.

I'm trying to settle into my gut instinct and just, go with it.

Because so much feels so wrong.



Even now I have whole days where I just think that this can't be right, we must have made a mistake. Which maybe we did. Maybe we royally screwed up, and the cosmic shift of the universe that succeeded is the whole reason that I feel like nothing fits. 

Or maybe that's just what this new life is supposed to feel like. Who knows.

Anyways. A lot feels wrong.

A lot feels like I'm not supposed to be here, I can't go there, that's not for me anymore. 

So when something does feel like I should do it, I should go there, I should be part of that - I'm doing it fast, and with my whole freaking heart.

Which, I will say, has sparked a bit of surprise in some of y'all.

The yoga, for one, has been sort of funny. Out of character, maybe. That's okay, it's working for me.
The running has just been more consistent. Which is a miracle to you and me, I think.
The solo hikes, that have officially crossed state lines, and elicited  a few, "yo, that's weird" texts.
Oh, and the not eating like I have no cares in the world. Well, that's just bizarre.

And I do want to explore each of these a little, but I also want to say: hey, if you're my friend, just support me. The yoga, the running, the hiking - it doesn't have to be your thing. That is for me. All I need from you is love and support. Just like you'd support me if I was going hard with the Netflix, and diving back into another pageant instead. 

I can tell you this, I have no idea why it is these things that feel like they are working for me. I have no idea why suddenly it is the quiet of being in the woods by myself, and going to a studio where no one knows me, and throwing my heart into a run, that I feel okay. 


I don't know.

Because sometimes, even when I'm doing those things, my heart still hurts.

But it hurts less. It feels more like this is for me. It feels more like my life is my own, and less like it is controlled by this elephant of sadness that is sitting on my chest.

I still don't know what I am doing when I go to yoga. I still don't really even want to hike with other people, because being alone out there just works. I am not running for time, or distance, or anything other than just to move, and not have it hurt at the same time.

//

Speaking of that, the sadness and that hurt sitting on me.

I'm working on that.

Today is hard, and different. And I would be happiest burying myself under the covers and letting it all just wash over me. But I'm still working on it.

It's a lot of long showers this week. It's a lot of giving myself grace when I end up crying, again. It's a lot of reminding myself that eating three regular meals actually helps.

It's celebrating the little - very little - victories. The pounds down, sleeping until 4 AM, two successful races completed, and two more booked. It all counts.

And it is a lot of just being willing to say, this fucking hurts.

Especially today, this hurts. All over. This feels wrong, and it doesn't fit.

//

I still don't know what comes next.

I still don't know what I am doing.

I still am just trying to do what feels right.



*This includes using old instagrams to fill this post so that a. it doesn't seem so long and b. because sometimes even mustering a happy picture is freaking hard. 

Personal Training 101

Okay, are we ready to finally talk about having a personal trainer?

I have floated the info that I use a personal trainer a few times. I first got one in January of 2016, to bring me towards a new level of fitness before Miss Vermont. Then I got one in May of this year, post Miss Vermont. This was really a reset for me, a way to re-approach strength training after a few months of mostly sticking with light cardio. And now, I'm back at it. After wrapping up my training this summer, I didn't leave feeling like I was stronger, more capable, and ready to be back in the weight room. (This had to do with me and the trainer I was using, fyi.)

So I did three things: I canceled my membership at the popular gym that was making me feel more intimidated than motivated, and took a breather.

I got a new membership at the gym that I loved while I was Miss Vermont, Hammerfit (it's in the Essex Outlets, you should try it. Seriously.)

And in the same breath, I signed up for personal training again.



Why?

Well. A few things:

1. I love working with someone else in the gym who actually knows what they are doing. 

This is a big one. I want someone who is not just a cheerleader, not just counting reps, and not just making sure I show up. That's easy. That's the work of a friend.

I want someone who can plan a workout that is going to challenge me.

Sure, anyone can swipe a workout off of Pinterest. I want a workout that is designed to help strengthen the weaknesses that I have. (Poor posture, my knees need strengthening, I miss my abs, and I favor my right side in everything.)

And, I want someone that is trained to do all of this. Who went to school, who got certified, who knows what to look for, and how to recognize injury, progression, and ways to keep me challenged.



2. This is where I see results.

Truly, the work that I put in pre-Miss Vermont, absolutely changed my body. It changed how I lift, what I lift, and I gained muscle mass and definition all over my body.

Cardio works for me. It works fast, and it works well. This is what I did pre-Miss New Hampshire, cardio cardio cardio. And sure, I dropped some weight.

But nothing - Bikini Body Guide, a personalized program from Ashley Nordman, Pinterest "booty busting/ab blasting/15 minute burn" workouts - nothing has done for my body what personal training has done.

3. It is absolutely always a challenge.

It doesn't get easier, because there is someone by your side making sure that every workout is different, and every time you hit a new threshold of strength, you are challenged again and again.

I have never once left a personal training session thinking that it was easy or familiar.


4. No, I am not competing for USA in November.

Although, sure, that would be a good motivator as I am very not stage ready.

//

Now, these are just my reasons. Plenty of people use personal training to learn how to properly lift, or to keep a set gym schedule, or to try something totally out of their comfort zone.

Can't you get this somewhere else for cheaper? 

No. Anyone that tells you any differently hasn't actually used a personal trainer. Personal training while, yes, pricier, than the other options I have tried, just does not translate like that.

The reality is if you want to learn, if you want to be safe, if you want someone who is educated you need an actual personal trainer. So if you're thinking about branching out (totally recommend) please please please find someone who has gone through training themselves.


And ask questions! Figure out their style, their specialty, and what they can help you with.

Know your goals! Maybe you want to lift heavier, or maybe you want to run a half marathon.

But maybe most importantly, commit to it. I happen to one of those people who operates under the notion that if I'm paying for it, I'm making the most of it. But if that's not you, make sure you establish with yourself, how it is that you plan on staying committed, even when you don't want to.

For sure, personal training is not for everyone. Nor in every budget (fair to note that I have always done just 12 sessions at a time, and that's something I work hard to afford.)

But if this is something you have ever considered - take it from me, who is struggling in almost every aspect of her life right now - but is thriving within a new gym, and new personal training setup, try something new. Make a change.