Trainer Blog

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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Intuitive Eating Workshop & Now Offering Online Exercise Programming

I’m very excited to announce a new one-day workshop I have coming up with Pam Finney on Intuitive Eating, next Saturday, August 17th. This is the continuation of where we have been putting our energy into BeYOUtiful You and Live Your BeYOUtiful. See all the info below for more details, and feel free to shoot me an email if you have questions or would like to sign up to attend!

I’m also excited to announce a new way you can work with me through Personal Training and Health Coaching: online exercise programming. Meet with me initially to talk about your goals and physical limitations, and then together we can determine what’s the best plan moving forward. I will program a weekly schedule of workouts fine-tuned to your needs, injury history, and preferences (because the best workout plan is one you enjoy and can therefore stick to), and we can even add in a monthly online or in person meeting to discuss nutrition or other lifestyle habits that may be holding you back from reaching your goals and being your healthiest. Shoot me an email if you’re interested.

And finally, here is a bit of wisdom about meditation for your enjoyment if you’ve stuck with this post so far!

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Revisiting Expansion vs. Contraction & Some Workout Resources

On the same lines as my last post, this will also be an amalgamation of resources (except this time my own resources), as I’ve been trying to post more workout content on my Instagram page as well as start using Instagram TV more often again to put out video explanations of concepts and such for people that learn better in that format.

Here is the IGTV video I created and posted this morning revisiting the concepts of Expansion vs. Contraction as well as some resources of past times I’ve discussed these same concepts in different formats. Choose whatever strikes your fancy!

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Checking In, Upcoming Events, & Resources

This post is just a quick one to share some resources I have been enjoying lately and to tell you that if you’re interested in one day workshops on creating space for women to discuss issues surrounding goal setting, motivation, barriers to success, mental and emotional health, nutrition, exercise, mindfulness, spirituality, holistic health, and body image, reserve the dates Saturday, July 27th and August 17th in your calendars now! More info to come as specific plans and details fall into place.

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Revisiting a Low-Waste/Zero-Waste/Plastic-Free Lifestyle

I am a firm believer that environmental health is an incredibly important part of both physical and mental/emotional health. Whether that means the environmental health of caring for our planet (we only have one !!! and the effects of environmental degradation disproportionately affects those living in low income neighborhoods who often already have to deal with decreased safety and comfort of their home and neighborhood environments) or the environmental health of the places we spend a majority of our time: how comfortable and safe is our home, how comfortable are we in our workplace, how much are we able to get outside and enjoy nature, how safe is our neighborhood?

Having positive and safe environments for a majority of our time is a HUGE privilege. As is having the time and energy to think about how to care for our planet. So today I wanted to revisit ideas from some past posts I’ve done about environmental health as a reminder to myself and a call to action for you!

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SLEEP, recovery, and your overall health

As some of you may have noticed, I am a big fan of the mind-body connection as well as recovery. You simply cannot ignore the mental and emotional components of health, just go-go-go all the time with work, family, exercise, constant new diets, and stress and expect to meet your fitness goals (or truly enjoy life, in my humble opinion).

I often talk about journaling to begin to delve into the mental and emotional components of health AND/OR meditation, breathing exercises, stretching, and myofascial release (foam rolling, working on trigger points with a lacrosse ball or thera-cane, or massage) to work from both ends of the spectrum when it comes to recovery, mental and physical.

And I’m also a big proponent of using gentle nutrition to aid in the recovery process as well as overall improvements in health, whether that means eating beans and rice with kale after a big workout to replenish stores of carbs within the muscles, liver, and bloodstream, some protein for muscle building and recovery, and leafy greens packed with antioxidants to aid in recovery from metabolic stress, or whether that means eating a big donut (or two) when your body and heart are calling out for some pure enjoyment.

But far too often, in our discussions of health as well as in our own lives (myself included!) we forget to focus on sleep. I could go on a long rant about why sleep is so so important, but instead I’ll just leave this link here to a podcast and YouTube video of an interview with Matthew Walker, Professor of Neuroscience and Psychology at the University of California, Berkeley, and Founder and Director of the Center for Human Sleep Science.

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About Ellen

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