Q&A with Natalie Kelley of Blonde Gone Clean

Hello everyone!

Today I am super excited to share an interview I recently did with Natalie Kelley of Blonde Gone Clean. You guys know I love all things health & wellness, so I highly recommend checking out Natalie’s blog as she has everything from food recipes (including delicious sweet treats!) to fitness and wellness. Natalie was kind enough to sit down and answer some questions I had for her as she embarks on training for her first marathon, and since I am as well, I thought it would be fun to have a new perspective on the blog. Without further ado, let’s jump into the Q&A!


1. Let’s start from the beginning. Tell me a little about yourself, where you grew up, etc.

I grew up most of my life in Duvall, Washington, a super tiny town about an hour from Seattle. I LOVED
growing up there. We had a big backyard that we gardened in, bought groceries from a local farm and played
by the river. About a year and a half ago my family moved to Kirkland, WA, which is only about 10 minutes from
Seattle. It’s a lot more city-living and I can’t imagine living anywhere else now! I love how close I am to a bunch
of different healthy restaurants and juice bars (and of course, Whole Foods), how I can see Lake Washington
from my house and I love how vibrant of a community it is. People are always out walking, running, riding
bikes… you name it!

I’m currently going into my senior year of college at a small liberal arts school in Oregon where I’m majoring in
mass communication. Most people tend to assume I’m majoring in nutrition or exercise science because of my
passions, but I fell in love with writing, advertising and everything else that mass communication entails.
Blogging has really grown my love of strategic marketing, developing brands and writing, and I can’t wait to
pursue these things in a future career in public relations.

When I’m not running, working out, blogging or whipping up something tasty in the kitchen, I’m either at my oncampus job in the college’s communication office, researching topics like agriculture and sustainability (I’ll be
the first to admit that I’m a total nerd) or at events for my sorority, Alpha Phi, which I’m the president of. My life
is crazy busy, but I love it that way!

2. Were you always into running? How did you get started?

I was actually a dancer from age 3-15 (ballet, tap, jazz, lyrical, pointe… you name it!) and then a cheerleader
for my three years of high school, before I ever truly got into running. I had run here and there after going on
my very first run in the 8th grade with my brother while on vacation in Maui, but I never really loved it. I signed
up for track in the 9th grade because all of my friends were doing it, but opted for sprints, not because I was
fast, but because I could barely run two laps around the track (it’s crazy to think of where I started!).

I tried to join track again in the 11th grade, but knee troubles made me quit only a couple weeks in. I had pretty
much given up running besides a couple miles here and there on the treadmill (and even that was pushing it).

My love affair with running didn’t start until halfway through my freshman year of college. One of my close
friends was murdered in a random act of violence right off of my college campus the November of that first year
and my world kind of crumbled. Running is truly what saved me and gave me an outlet for my emotions. It was
the biggest player in my grieving process, and still is today. I began running with a few friends and soon
enough we had signed up for a half marathon. This training process and allowing myself to get lost in my runs
(especially the long ones) helped me feel at peace.

I remember crossing the line of that first half marathon and the first words out of my mouth were – “Ohmygod.
That was so fun!!!” My parents looked at me like I was crazy. But that was the moment I knew I would never,
ever stop running.

Running has become one of the biggest components of who I am. It calms my anxiety, it shows me my own
strength, it pushes me mentally, it brings me undeniable joy and it opens my eyes to nature’s beauty. If you told
my 9th grade “sprint-running” self that I would one day run 26.2 miles I would have looked at you like you were
crazy. Sometimes I still think I AM crazy, but every long run proves to me more and more that this is exactly
what I was meant to do.

3. What has been your favourite and leash favourite part about marathon training so far?

My favorite part about marathon training so far is how unbelievably strong I feel, both mentally and physically.
Each week I finish my long runs feeling so empowered and in love with life and with running. I love pushing
myself and seeing how much stronger I get each week. It’s a very rewarding and life-changing experience. It
has helped me realize I can handle so much more than I ever imagined.

I honestly can’t really think of a part of training that I don’t like… I’ve strangely loved every single second. The
only part that has been a little hard is finding a balance between my running and weight-training. I love lifting
almost as much as I love running, but I’ve obviously had to scale back a little bit. It’s been hard because some
weeks I accidently go too hard on leg day and then am so sore all week that my runs are a little rough. Other
than that, I’ve loved everything about it!

4. Tell me about what your long run day looks like. What do you like to eat, what do you do for recovery, etc?

As of right now, long run days are Tuesday. I start prepping the day before – I make sure to drink a ton of water
and keep up with my electrolyte intake (I love the Ultima electrolyte replenesher because it has no added
sugars). I also make sure to eat a dinner that is easier on my stomach and packed with protein the night before,
typically poultry, roasted or steamed vegetables (but not too many since roughage can be hard to digest) and
either sweet potatoes, mini potatoes or brown rice. I try to keep my fat intake to a minimum the night before
because fat doesn’t digest well for me during my long runs. The morning of I try to get up an hour or an hour
and a half before I want to start my run. I drink at least two glasses of water, a small cup of black coffee and I
eat a snack. I typically eat a brown rice cake (or two) with pb2 (once again, fats don’t sit well with me before
long runs) and a banana. I’m still experimenting with my pre-long run snacks, so we’ll see how this changes as
time goes on!

During my runs I wear a running belt that has space for two small water bottles. I fill one with plain water and
one with the Ultima electrolyte replenisher. I also keep dried dates and a mini Lara bar in a zipper pocket just
in case.

Afterwards I make sure to stretch, drink a lot of water, more electrolyte replenisher and eat a nutrient-dense
breakfast. My go-to lately has been an egg and veggie scramble with a piece of paleo toast with almond butter
on it. I don’t know about you, but my stomach feels pretty upset the entire day after a long run, so I try to eat as
many high-quality, nutrient-dense foods so that I still get enough calories in without feeling sick!

5. Are you big into running gear? What’s one thing you could not run without? Other than shoes, of course!

I could never run without the running belt I mentioned above (although uncomfortable at times, I feel a lot better
knowing I have fuel with me) and my compressions socks! They’ve SAVED me. I haven’t gotten a single shin
splint or calf cramp during training.

 

6. What is your favourite way to cross train?

Typically I use the stationary bike. It gives my knees a break and feels good after a hard run! I’m not going to lie
though, sometimes I really bad at remember to cross-train, but I know how important it is so I’m trying to be
better about it.

I’ve swam a couple of times for cross-train as well, but I’m not a very strong swimmer so it didn’t feel like a very
effective workout. It also seemed to hurt my hips, so I haven’t don’t it in awhile!

7. Switching gears to food now… What’s your favourite meal to indulge in? Are you a sweet or salty kinda gal?

Oh gosh this is a hard one! Even when I “indulge,” it’s healthy, because with my food intolerances and stomach
issues I like to keep my diet pretty darn healthy! J My very favorite treats are usualy sweet (although I love
savory breakfasts, lunches and dinners). Pressed Juicery Freeze is my very, very favorite (I typically always go
the night after my long runs) treat. I also LOVE the chocolate chip RXBars when I want something sweet or I
make one of my healthy sweet treat recipes. My paleo chocolate chunk cookies dunked in almond milk give me
all the feels.

8. If you could only eat three vegetables for the rest of your life, which ones would you eat and why?

Only THREE?! Oh my… I could eat veggies all. day. long. But for real, I think it’s an addiction!!! If I had to pick
three (although I’d probably shed a tear or two), it’d have to be carrots, Brussel sprouts (roasted, of course) and
kale! Kale is SO versatile and I use it in everything – salads, smoothies, soups, roasted… I even love munching
on it plain. Same with carrots! I love steaming them (for smoothies and just eating), roasted, grated, straight
from the garden… there’s just something about that crunch. And I have no clue why I love roasted Brussel
sprouts so much. They seriously addicting!!


Big thank you to Natalie for coming on the blog today! Of course, check out her blog Blonde Gone Clean to follow along on her healthy living journey. You can also follow her on Twitter and Instagram!

Boating Adventures + Seafood Feast

Hey everyone!

Happy Monday. Boy, am I late on posting this or what?

What can I say? It’s been a fun day. A busy day. A MONDAY! Monday Fun Day, am I right? It has been a mix of fun and relaxing, which I think all good days off are made of. That being said, I want to rewind to yesterday, because THAT was a great day that was equal parts chill and fun.

What did we do? BOATING with my mom and dad! It was actually me & Ryan’s first boat ride of the season. While my parents go out prawning and crabbing pretty much every weekend (or close to that, anyway), for whatever reason it took us most of the summer to get out there. I always forget how much I love boating, and then once I’m out there on the water it feels like I’m home again. For all you other Pisces’ out there, you know what I’m talking about!

My dad and Ryan set the prawn traps out and the crab trap. Then we spent time cruising the open seas, listening to music, chatting, and EATING! We had everything from pepperoni sticks and cheese to chips, crackers & antipasto, fruit, and carrot chips. It was a fun time out on the water with family, and we even scored some dinner for last night! Woohoo. Can’t beat fresh seafood!

 

We were out on the water for almost six hours, and despite it being smoggy and smokey out from all of the wildfires happening on the mainland, I still came back with a bit of a sunburn on my legs. Well, that’s what happens when you don’t wear sunscreen. Story of my life!

When we got home, we cooked up our share of prawns and crabs and got to making dinner. Since we were pretty much snacking all day, I figured a simple salad plus the seafood would be a good dinner. It definitely hit the spot, and we were FULL by the time the meal was over – with leftovers, too!

 

I roughly chopped romaine lettuce, then added cucumber, carrots, yellow pepper, green onions, cherry tomatoes & some cilantro for extra flavour. Then I tossed it all with a honey mustard dressing and voila! Salad is served.

 

 

My personal favourite: prawns! I love prawns, especially dipped in butter with tons of garlic. So healthy, right? The seafood was sooo good, so fresh, and just all around delicious. Below is a shot of our dinner spread:

 

Overall it was a wonderful way to spend my rest day. Tomorrow I’ll recap my long run from today, as I ran 18 miles!!! Holy crapola. Oh, and I’m officially half way through marathon training. How the heck did that happen!?

I hope you guys had a wonderful day & I’ll catch ya tomorrow!

Netflix Review: To the Bone

 

Hi everyone,

I wanted to write about something a bit different on the blog today. Last week I watched a controversial movie called To the Bone that recently launched on Netflix, and I have some thoughts that I want to share with you all today.

To the Bone is a drama about writer and director Marti Noxon’s battle with anorexia nervosa. Marti’s character’s name is Ellen, who is played by actress Lily Collins, the daughter of musical artist Phil Collins. The movie documents Ellen’s life as she enters a new treatment facility lead by a quirky (and snarky) doctor, played by Keanu Reeves.

I want to start off by saying that I am in no, way, shape or form a medical doctor, personal trainer, nutritionist – nothing like that ­– and this review is simply my thoughts on the movie and my own experiences centred around disordered eating.

Of course, if you are actively struggling with or recovering from an eating disorder, I would caution you against watching the film as it does include sensitive matter.

I think it is worth speaking out about eating disorders as it is something that is prevalent in today’s world, no matter your age, gender, race, etc. Now, I’m not going to rattle off a list of everything they did right or wrong, because I strongly feel that it is not black and white, and I do not have the background to be speaking upon that. For me, there were a lot of grey areas and it took me a few days to wrap my head around everything before I could sit down and write this review.

With all of that said, I will get into my thoughts.

To the Bone primarily depicts the story of Ellen, the main character, though she is surrounded by others in the treatment facility that are struggling with an eating disorder of their own. The movie had a male character (yay for representing males in a normally female-dominated area of television), a few girls struggling with bulimia, and a girl that had a binge eating disorder. Binge eating disorders have their own physical and mental impacts, and I think it would have been insightful to have more of this character’s story. However, I will say that the movie was a bit stereotypical in the sense that Ellen’s character was your average Caucasian young girl struggling with an eating disorder. Nod your head if you have seen this before. That being said, it does not negate that her story should be told, because it absolutely was powerful and emotional, as one’s journey would be in this case. On the other hand, the binge eating disorder character was an African American girl, but she did not have a lot of dialogue other than a few lines here and there. In this space I think we need more diversity, as it is important to show that eating disorders do not care if you are black, white, purple, blue, or green.

Now, one thing that I do think the film did well was show the family dynamic that one may be in while struggling with an eating disorder. Family dynamics are so different for everyone, and I think they did a nice job of showing the concerns, hesitations, and emotions that a family may be going through. For Ellen, her parents had separated and she was currently living with her father and step mom – though her dad never made an appearance in the movie. This lead me to believe that her father did not play a big role in her life, as he was always stuck at work or had to be at an early meeting when Ellen, her step-mom and sister were at an appointment, or simply sitting at the table for dinner. Her biological mom lived in another state and was married to another lady, where they owned horses together and did not see Ellen very often. Note: The movie did a wonderful job of CLARIFYING that one’s parents do not cause the problem – I found this to be especially powerful as, putting myself in a parents’ shoes, they may want to blame themselves for why their daughter or son has an eating disorder. The doctor had mentioned this during one of their family appointments, and I think that is critical. One thing that struck a positive note with me was the role Ellen’s sister, Liana, played. Liana was compassionate and supportive, but TRUTHFUL and was not afraid to tell Ellen her thoughts. She kept the door for conversation open, which made me feel as a viewer that she could be easily approached should Ellen need the support. Her step mom was concerned, though perhaps a bit stand-offish near the beginning as I gather her and Ellen do not have a warm and fuzzy relationship. It was nice to see how the step mom’s character evolved through the movie.

Lily Collins did an excellent job in this role, though I do think it is important to note that she personally struggled with an eating disorder. This made me feel very, very uneasy. As someone who has had bouts of orthorexia (if I absolutely had to label it, which is the obsession with healthy food) from high school up until about 4 years ago, this made me wonder how Lily dealt with playing such a strong part given her history. I read a few articles online about this, and what I took away is that Lily wanted to play a role that “paid tribute to the 16 year old girl that I was and make a movie that would’ve helped open my eyes.” I can definitely understand that, though one thing that does not sit well with me is that she had to lose weight for this role. Now, I can understand because of the character she is playing, but I think for someone with a history of an eating disorder, this could take a turn for the worse and potentially bring up those prior habits. Again – I’m not a doctor and I have no medical explanation for the science or psychology behind all of this, but those are simply my thoughts. Lilly also states in an interview that she “knows [her] limits and was not about to let Ellen’s story take over my [her] own.” In that regard, I do think that it is a good thought to have to separate yourself from the character, though I imagine there could be difficulties trying to do that having lived that struggle before.

Phewf – so, there’s the heaviest bit out of the way.

Ellen slowly develops friendships with those in her treatment centre, though the fact that they threw a love story into the mix with Luke, the male in the house, was a bit unnecessary. I think Ellen’s journey was emotional enough, let alone having her fall for the only male in the treatment centre. Yes, everyone wants to be a hero and help someone that is going through such a hard time, but I felt as though the whole romance thing was not needed. There was an immense amount of turmoil that Ellen was going through, and I feel like the romance almost took away from the story instead of adding to it.

Overall, I feel like To the Bone is definitely an intense film that will get conversation going. That is what we need. We need to get conversation going around eating disorders and food awareness, because there are millions of people that struggle with a situation like this of their very own. I know every situation is unique, though eating disorders are more common than you think. When you think of someone who has an eating disorder, what do you think of? Skinny and thin, right? While that can be true for some people, eating disorders do not discriminate and they take on many different forms. If you have the slightest feeling that you relate to having an eating disorder of your own, please, please, please reach out for help. Or, if you feel that someone around you is struggling, again – reach out to them. Again, I am by no means a medical professional and this is purely my own personal insight.


Thank you guys for taking the time to read this review! If you have seen To the Bone, what are your thoughts? I would love to know in a comment below.

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