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!

5 Reasons to Hangout With YOURSELF!

Self-love can be a battle and a blessing at the same time. Now that I am growing up and exploring hobbies that truly make me happy, I have started working towards being by myself and truly appreciating that time. As much as I love being around others or hanging out with loved ones, sometimes we neglect the importance of hanging out with ourselves and the benefits that go along with it.

Here are five reasons why you should hang out with yourself! No particular order.

1. You can do whatever you want: If you can, pick one day of the week to spend completely to yourself. Go wherever you want to go, spend the day looking in stores YOU want to look at, or spend the majority of the day reading in bed if that’s what you want to do! You do not have to commit this every single week – when time permits it’s great, too.
2. You realize how much fun YOU are. Yes, it can be great to be in a crowd or surrounded by people, but it can be so good for the soul to just have a “me day” or even a “me hour.” Take yourself out on a date, bake something you love, or dance around your house with the music blasted. Having fun by yourself can release stress and make you feel more happy.
3. You learn to trust yourself. I am not the kind of person that enjoys relying on others, and of course there are circumstances where you need to enlist others for support. However, the more time you take for yourself, the more you learn that you are truly capable of doing things maybe you weren’t confident in doing before. When I am by myself, I entertain myself and don’t look towards others to make me happy or fill my day with activities. Trust your heart to guide you in the right direction, and  you will end up right where you need to be!
4. Your time is on your own terms. When you are by yourself, you don’t have any deadlines. If I have a free day all to myself and there is no where I absolutely need to be, I tend to relax a lot more. I take more time in the morning to do my planner, read, drink coffee, enjoy my breakfast. You can spend as much (or as little) time on a task. Who likes to rush, anyway?
5. It can do wonders for your mental health. When I have had a crazy work week, having a moment to breathe and honour myself can do wonders for my mind. Lately this has been taking time out to have an Epsom salt bath or stretch it out to relax. I don’t know about you, but a million thoughts go through my mind (or so it feels like) during a day, but taking a time out to just zen out instantly brings my stress levels down. Although it can be hard to take a break from the daily rush, I promise it will be worthwhile! Pick up a paint brush, read a book, take a bubble bath, watch some gossip TV. Do something that separates you from the rat race, take a moment to relax, and then come back to the real world with a fresh mind.
Why do YOU like to hang out with yourself? Leave a comment below with your perfect “me day” plan : )

My Thoughts on: SUGAR

 

So, sugar is everywhere.

There is no hiding that. I think (most of) the general population is aware that sugar is hiding in everything nowadays. Buns, bread, sauces, ketchup (especially!), even things like our supplements and protein powders.

Today I wanted to chat about my thoughts on sugar. If you read my final post of the Fit Tip Friday series I was doing this spring on the blog, you might remember the info graphic I’m going to share again about how sugar can effect your body.

We are going to start with a bit o’ science here:

If you’ve read any nutrition label, you may be familiar that sugar ends in “ose.” There are other sugar substitutes, such as stevia, maltitol, Splenda, etc, but today we are going to focuse on the “ose.” Scientifically, our blood sugar is called glucose. This is what is left over after carbohydrates are broken down. Glucose gives our cells energy and is vital for our survival. However, there’s two different types of carbohydrates that our body breaks down: simple carbs and complex carbs (which would be something like brown rice, sweet potatoes, vegetables, etc). So what are simple carbohydrates then? You guessed it. Cookies, cake, candy, corn syrup (which is in EVERYTHING), jam, etc.

If you are familiar with the way our digestive system, you may know already that insulin is our storage hormone that helps glucose move to our cells. Insulin’s job is to keep a good amount of glucose in our bloodstream and deliver the correct amounts to energize our cells. So, what happens when our insulin levels are too high? This is a good indicator that our diet is made up of a high number of starchy and simple carbohydates. AKA, we are eating too much crap and our body doesn’t know what to do with it. Why is this a problem? When our insulin levels are too high, our muscle cells start to become resistant to the signal that insulin sends them – “hello, please accept this glucose!” When our cells start resisting the signal to accept glucose, the glucose does not move from our blood stream. It hangs out there and creates high blood sugar levels. The bad part? When our body cannot use the excess glucose, like for brain and muscle functions, it’s converted into free fatty acids… And guess how it is stored after that? You guessed it. Fat.

What does this have to do with the other “OSE” ingredients out there? Well, fructose for one is metabolized a lot quicker and turns into fat more quickly. The more fructose we eat, the more fat we build up. Too much sugar (fructose especially) can also lead to high blood pressure and other medical issues.

“But I LOVE SUGAR!” Yes, that’s because sugar is addicting. I mean, I get it. I love sugar too, but after researching more about what it is doing to my body, the more I don’t want to have it regularly in my diet. Now, I feel like I am in a place in my life where I am more aware about these things, mostly because it is a huge interest of mine to know what is in my food and how it impacts my body. Sure, a donut is great and all, but it leaves me feeling lethargic, bloated, and foggy-brained. Then, when I wake up it’s almost like a hangover from the sugar I’ve consumed.

 

Now, that doesn’t mean I don’t eat sugar at all. I think sugar (using it as a broad term) is essential for our survival, because we need to keep our blood sugar levels stable. The last thing you want is to be caught in the vicious cycle where you spike your blood sugar at breakfast, come crashing down at lunch, so then you are searching for something to get that blood sugar up again. And UP it goes in another spike after a sugary-latte drink, then crashing down again in the afternoon. Do you see the pattern here? It’s important to keep our meals balanced to keep our blood sugar levels balanced too.

How do I eat sugar now? In the form of fruit, but before you go and whip up a giant smoothie bowl with seven different types of food mixed in, I like to keep my fruit to a minimum. I used to be all about that banana life every single day, then have berries, and an apple, etc. Yes, fruit is healthy for you as it also includes things like fibre, vitamins, and minerals, but I find that having my fruit in the morning works best for my body. For example, I will make a smoothie with blueberries or pineapple, and then my body has all day to use that energy and burn it through my daily activities. Yes, I am a sucker for a nice glass of wine and celebratory birthday cake (if the mood strikes where I am at a party and yes, I really want that!!), but I know that it’s important to balance that out with healthy options. If I’m going to have a couple glasses of wine, that’s enough sugar for me, and that coupled with a slice of cake is a recipe for a sugar-hangover-disaster in the morning. That being said, listen to your body. It is smart, and you can often start to recognize your hunger signals and other signals your hormones are sending to you if you listen closely!

Let me know in the comments: What are your feelings on sugar?

Why I’m Drinking Chlorophyll + The Benefits

Hey everyone : )

How’s it going?

I wanted to pop in and share with you something that I have been doing over this last week. You may have guessed already from the title that I have been drinking CHLOROPHYLL!

Wait, what the heck is that?

In short, chlorophyll is the molecule that gives things like algae their green colour. It converts light energy into a more usable form for the plant and helps with photosynthesis (in which the plants can create their own food).

There are several forms of chlorophyll – many take it in a powder or tablet form, but I prefer a liquid form where I can take a few drops in my water. It is said that liquid chlorophyll can perform the same functions as hemoglobin in the body. Crazy, right!?

So, why am I taking it?

You guys know I like to try new health things. Or, as Ryan would say, “hippie dippy” things. BUT HEAR ME OUT! There are so many benefits to chlorophyll. Let’s get into it, shall we?

– Helps replenish red blood cells

– Loaded with antioxidants and essential vitamins for our health

– Anti-inflammatory

– Encourages detoxification due to the high amount of oxygen in chlorophyll, which helps the body get rid of harmful or impure toxins

– Keeps your digestive system healthy by keeping bowel movements regular (it has to be said, okay?) and encouraging healthy gut flora (that GOOD bacteria we want!)

– Anti-aging due to all of those good antioxidants, vitamin K and magnesium

– Anti-microbial properties, which can also help with reducing body odour and bad breath

…and so much more! 

I don’t notice crazy differences when I drink chlorophyll, but I feel like it is helping my sleep and my tummy. I am prone to stomach aches (depending on what I eat), and chlorophyll has helped keep my tummy happy lately. Plus I’m just avoiding crappy foods, so there’s that, too. Always helpful LOL.

You can find chlorophyll  at your local health food store, and they even have liquid chlorophyll with a minty flavour! Otherwise it is pretty bland.


Of course, any blog post is not complete without a picture of my Nala girl!

Sunday morning I got up around 7:15am to get an early-ish start on the last day of the weekend. I rolled out my yoga mat to get in a quick 10 minute flow, just to get the body and blood moving, and Nala decided to claim the mat as her own. It’s funny because she always gets in my face when I am doing, say, downward dog (or any other yoga pose for that matter) but maybe she just wants to show me how it’s done.

I hope you all enjoy your day & I’ll catch ya tomorrow!