Trainer Blog

The Opportunity to Accept and Love Your Body

Hello all,

I didn’t expect to be back again so soon, but to be completely honest, I had no idea how much getting on the right dose of a new anxiety medication would give me the motivation and the enjoyment of creating content that I didn’t even really realize I was missing for so many months.

Two conversations in the last week or so have driven home some things I’ve always felt and got me thinking.

The first is, as I was texting a dear friend (you know who you are babe ????????) who always makes me feel like a million bucks before one of my sessions last week, she texted me:
“Im so glad you’re a personal trainer
I had a very skewed view of the profession before I met you. You’re going to change the fitness industry! Hope you know that :)”

The other, is at a session with a fairly new client, we were chatting, and she said something along the lines of “I don’t know if I’ve told you this yet, but working with you and hearing you give me genuine compliments on things I do well during sessions and feeling like you’re doing it because it’s true and not just to make me feel good or because you feel you should, has made me realize how much I had really internalized that my body was bad or a problem to be solved and that any time I was in a context where someone was helping me to work on my body in some way, that I was expecting criticism or something negative. It’s been such an affirming experience.”


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Making Movement Work with the Natural Ebb and Flow of Life

Hello all,

I recently came up with some tips for getting back into a routine with fitness after some time away, which in my personal opinion is often necessary and healthy to prioritize other things in life and to come back into your movement goals and intentions with a fresh perspective and reinvigorated motivation.

There is an article on acac’s main blog with a collection of some tips from other personal trainers, which you can find here: But I wanted to share some additional perspective and tips that I often use with Health Coaching clients to set realistic expectations for what a life of enjoyable and functional movement really looks like, so here goes:

1. Pace yourself. Often times people start out with too much too soon because they are motivated and enthusiastic when first starting something new. Generally this either leads to, in the worst case scenario, an overuse injury that can leave you unable to continue working out for a while, or, it may lead to a quick burnout of energy and enthusiasm and a lack of sustainability for keeping up with your new habits longterm. You have a whole lifetime to achieve your goals and become more fit, so relax and enjoy the journey.

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Simple Circuits to Try At Home

Hello all,

Nothing ground-breaking or new here, but I just wanted to pop on to share a circuit I did for my own workout last week and a circuit I did with a client this week to belatedly celebrate her birthday. I’m trying to get into the habit of recording more stuff with clients so that I have more exercise/training content instead of just mindset/health coaching stuff, that way you guys don’t have to watch me work out every time I want to share some movement/exercises because that get’s boring, but it’s so easy for me to get caught up in the session with a client and completely forget.

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more on Health Coaching & more on Mental Health

I guess this post is just more of the same (as my most recent blog post). Can you tell I’m spending a lot more time focused on Health Coaching recently, as well as caring for my own mental health and having conversations with people about how quarantine has affected their mental health too?

Everything is video format this time, so if you need a transcribed version of what I talk about, shoot me an email!

First off, two Instagram TV videos on Health Coaching and my personal approach to working with clients on mindset and behavior change:

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Mental Health & Health Coaching

Hi all,

It’s been a while. Between personal mental health, educating myself on everything going on around us in society right now, and spending time on a couple personal projects, I have not written the blog posts I had hoped to since last time. BUT, I have been being active on Instagram again after almost a month off, so here’s a selection of posts I’ve made recently on mental health, as well as an IGTV video where I talk a little bit more about health coaching in general as well as my personal approach!

If you have questions about anything I’ve posted here or would like to reach out to see if health coaching in general or working with me specifically might be a good fit for you, shoot me a message at!

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a tentative step back towards creating some content for you all

Hello all,

It’s been over two months since I’ve posted here, and that has been largely intentional. Outside of continuing with some clients virtually through video calls (personal training workouts and health coaching sessions) and written workout programs, I’ve been trying my best to take space to sit with the discomfort I have with being unproductive. Some days have been busy and productive still when I’ve felt motivated and wanted that, some days have been mostly just fun being at home with my partner and dog more than we would ever get to in normal life before, and some days have been a lot of discomfort with trying to let go of shame and guilt surrounding doing nothing. I would like to think I’ve made progress in allowing a lack of productivity when it feels like I need rest, but a lot of the time it doesn’t feel like it. And maybe my attachment to feeling progress, even with this, shows an area I still have more work to do.

Regardless of if this time has been a time for you to dedicate to cultivating hobbies life normally doesn’t have time for, a time for rest and recovery, or a time when life has mostly gone on as normal while not even feeling remotely normal, I wanted to make a tentative step towards making more space on some days (while still trying to honor space for doing nothing on others) for spending some time on some small things that life sometimes feels too busy or overwhelming for for myself.

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Helpful Tips for Time at Home

1. Think about how much time you actually want to be working on something productive each day. How much is actually reasonable? Just because you’re “at work” all day now doesn’t mean you can feasibly work all day. Set a limit that after you reach each day, you step away from responsibility.
2. Take frequent breaks. No matter how enjoyable or consuming whatever you’re doing all day is, you need space from it every once in a while (even binge watching marathons). Walk around. Get a snack. Clear your head. Step outside if it’s accessible. Breathe deep into your stomach. Feel your feet on the ground.
3. Get a change of scenery when you can. Even if you’re stuck at your house or don’t have outdoor space where you live, I bet you have places in your home where you spend more time than others. Even if your place is small, change your seat at the table or your spot on the couch from your regular one. That weird feeling when you break that pattern? It’s your brain waking up a bit to the stimulation of something new. It helps, even if only a bit/for a while.

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Current COVID-19 Situation and Virtual Coaching/Training Options

I hesitate to say much during this very strange time because we all know so little at this point.

BUT if you are stuck at home, and

1) Need a Health Coaching session to figure out some stress management/mindfulness/breathing exercise/stretching/myofascial release techniques, I am here.

2) Need a video call for me to lead you through a workout and correct form as you go, I am here (no matter if you have a fantastic home gym or nothing but household items as far as equipment goes).

3) Are comfortable with form on your own but need ideas for what to do at home and a structured plan to meet your needs as far as goals and limitations from injuries, I am here.

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Tips for Goal-Setting, Motivation, and Adherance

It’s the start of the short but seemingly long month of February, and it’s also about that time of year where even some with the most willpower are starting to slide with their New Year’s Resolutions. So why is it that people are chronically so bad at keeping New Years Resolutions? Because I bet you know plenty of people with positive health habits that have stuck, yourself included (C’mon, give yourself some credit: Do you brush your teeth daily? Spend some time breathing in the fresh air when it’s nice outside? See your doctor for regular check-ups? Move in ways that you enjoy? Eat your vegetables or other foods you enjoy/that nourish you emotionally? Take time to play and do things solely for the purpose of fun?).

Yet, during the time of year when it seems like everyone is setting a new goal based on improving their health, it also seems like everyone is failing… Why is this?

Well, a lot of it has to do with the motivation behind why we are setting goals at this time of year.

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New Year; New You?

I could talk for hours about New Years Resolutions, but instead, here are three resources (all inter-related) concerning setting goals from a positive, loving, and constructive place.

Happy New Year/Decade, NOT you (you are enough exactly as you are! <3)


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Weight Set Point Theory vs. BMI & other measures of "Ideal Weight"

Weight set point theory, in my most simple explanation is the idea that each person’s body has a weight or a range of weights (for some people this can be a narrow range like 5lbs. difference, but for others, this comfortable range for their body can be wider, and they can fluctuate more easily or rapidly within this range) where it will naturally fall into and drift back towards when the individual is in fairly normal circumstances (not extreme stress), is eating and moving fairly intuitively, and is not restricting or over-exercising (yes there is such a thing) to try to manipulate or control their weight.

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Taking Time to Breathe

I wanted to take this quiet Friday afternoon after a busy week and morning with clients and before Pam’s and my next Intuitive Movement workshop tomorrow morning to get some work done on some upcoming blog posts about weight set-point theory, about the Minnesota Starvation Experiment, and about sleep/stress/metabolism. Alas, life does not always work out as planned, and sometimes the message you think you’re supposed to be giving in a certain moment, ends up being something completely different.

So instead, I would like to share something I posted in my Instagram stories today about taking time for rest and breaks to avoid burnout in the hopes that this message I am personally feeling right now might resonate with you:

can enjoy and have fun being in their bodies, that I would share some of my Instagram posts from over the last couple weeks from some chilly hikes. Hiking is something I have grown up with as a part of my life in one capacity or another, whether it was long walks on the farm I grew up on, running 5ks through the woods when I did cross country in high school, or hitting the trails in Shenandoah or along the Parkway as often as I can recently. Currently, I’m working towards letting go of that voice in my head that says a hike has to be ~intense~ to “count” as cardio and learning to appreciate that I absolutely loveee walking in any and every capacity, whether it’s a strenuous all-day hike with lots of elevation change, wandering around to explore the streets in a new city for the day, or my 5-30 minutes at the beginning of every workout where I stroll on the treadmill (usually at a fairly casual pace and with minimal incline) and clear out all the notifications on my phone and then listen to music or a podcast to clear my head for the task ahead.

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Labels (Food and Otherwise): How I Identify My Approach to Wellness

Hello all,

It’s been a while since I’ve done a post about some of my personal experiences and my own journey with health and wellness. So here’s what’s been banging around in my head lately.

I’ve written before on here about my past (and to some degree, they will always be current) issues with eating and body image, but the ways in which I am talking about them and identifying with them have changed over time. I’ve also written on here about my tendency towards plant-based eating, but again, the ways in which I am talking about and identifying with this have shifted recently and are still in flux.

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The Breadth of Intuitive Eating, the Holidays, Referrals, and Specialties

Sometimes eating is -sacred- you savor every bite, pay attention to the eating experience, and are grateful for your food.

Sometimes eating is -utilitarian- you shovel down whatever is available to satiate hunger now or overdue hunger/skipped meals due to busyness OR to prepare for hunger and a lack of availability of food in the future; it doesn’t matter if you’re multitasking or calling 3 different kinds of chips a meal; the goal is simply to get some fuel in your body to keep going because eating is the last thing on your mind in your busy life at this moment.

And sometimes eating is -fun- maybe there isn’t even hunger or responsibility involved, but you just want to eat a lot or a little of something fun and carefree just because.

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Upcoming Events & Resources

I wanted to make you aware of a handful of things!

  1. First, my fellow personal trainer, health coach, and co-leader of our Intuitive Eating and Intuitive Movement workshops, Pam Finney has started a blog including her own personal experiences with intuitively diving into her health and her journey over the years. I highly recommend you read and follow along, as her story is a fantastic one. You can find her first blog post here.
  2. Second, we just finished up the October session of our Intuitive Eating workshop over the weekend, the second of our IE workshops, and it went amazingly! We are excited to keep building and introducing more information, as well as building a solid foundation for those new to our workshops and these concepts at our upcoming workshop events. Here are the upcoming dates, so please shoot myself or Pam an email if you would like to join our community of other awesome participants!
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Intuitive Movement and Intuitive Eating Workshop Series

Pam and I are incredibly excited for this series of workshops we will be offering over the coming months, as we feel they are the most true and accessible version of the message we both want everyone to have about eating and exercise, which is that: All bodies are good. No foods are bad foods. And we all need to find ways to make movement and eating about nurturing and listening to our bodies instead of punishing them with rules and restrictions. (At least this is the very short version of what we believe and teach; there is both a longer version of this as well as a long journey as an individual to get to this place in your health journey, and we would like to help be a part of getting you on your way!)

Below is the link to the days and times for our next three workshops, the next of which is on Intuitive Movement, this coming Saturday the 28th from 9am-12 noon in the acac Albemarle Square conference room.

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About Ellen

Every body is a good body, and my goal is to help you feel your best!