Oula in Missoula

Oula_Dancer_Logo_Final_SMThe first official stop on my road trip was Missoula, Montana.  The drive from my Father’s house in Coeur d’Alene, ID was not a long one so within three hours I was pulling into Missoula.  My friend and host Erin asked that I meet her at her office downtown.  We hadn’t seen each other in over a year so after a quick hug we caught up, chatted about my upcoming journey and then made a plan of action for the evening.  She had recently started an exercise program and was seeing amazing results.  She invited me to her evening workout class called “Oula”, named for the town in which it was created; Missoula.

When I asked her for more details she essentially said that it is a class that you dance like you are in your room with nobody looking.  I immediately pictured half naked girls dancing in dim lights with a hairbrush in their hand.  I had no idea what I was getting in to but it was my first day on the road and I needed to get a workout in so I was game.

We arrived at Peak Fitness (http://www.peakmissoula.com/) where I was given free access to try Oula for my first time.  We gave ourselves plenty of time prior to the class so that we could do some TRX strength training.  This was something I understood, I had worked with TRX trainers quite a bit and was happy to see an old friend.  Erin taught me some new moves that would prove rather challenging and had my arms shaking like I had been holding a Shake Weight for days.

We proceeded up to the fitness studio for our Oula class and found our place in the back of the room.  I noticed a few things, the lights weren’t very dim and everyone was fully dressed and there were no pillow fights. I looked to Erin and she told me she was proud of me for jumping right in which boosted my confidence for a moment.  The next thing I know the music has started and there are specific dance routines that everyone is following.  This isn’t the free for all I was promised! I was planning on doing the African Anteater Ritual Dance from “Can’t Buy Me Love” for the entire 60 minutes.

As the instructors started their moves they reminded everyone that Oula was something you needed to try several times to learn the moves and to not be discouraged if you were new and weren’t able to follow.  Not being able to follow was an understatement in my case.  The class was going left, I was going right, they were moving forward I was moving backward.  The humiliation I would normally feel though, wasn’t there,  being in a new community and knowing you were going to be leaving shortly helps relieve the pressure.

Standing, twirling, moving in the back of the room I was able to see the rest of the class and they were working it, this was definitely a good workout once you had the moves down.  If I were in a location that had Oula available I think I would definitely give it another few tries, who knows I might surprise myself and actually be able to follow choreographed dance moves.

As we left the gym one of the instructors, Jen Bertland approached me and asked me how I liked the class.  I told her it was challenging and she encouraged me to come back for more.  I let her know I would keep my eyes open for Oula on my trip but that I was heading out of town shortly.  She was kind and supportive and by the time I checked my Facebook that night she had already started following Losing Weight off the Interstate.  Thanks Jen for the support!!

Peak Fitness Downtown Missoula.  150 East Spruce Street.  406 317-1960

Oula (www.oulafitness.com)

Lucky Clover

Clover sign

This post takes us back ‘several’ years to when I was stumbling around the Gonzaga University neighborhood looking for a good house party.  This was not a difficult task.  One of the easiest and most convenient houses was the Hico House which acquired its name simply due to its location behind the Hico gas station.  I can’t say I spent much time here but enough to know what the place looked like, which was a dumpy college house that hosted one too many parties.

Fast forward to today.  I had heard that there was an amazing new restaurant in Spokane named Clover (http://cloverspokane.com) that was organic and using local ingredients as often as possible.  The other thing I heard was that it was located in the lovely and charming Hico House.  This I had to see!

We arrived for our dinner reservation and as I walked up to the restaurant I was already impressed with what had transpired.  This place had little resemblance to any place I had ever darkened the doorway of in college.  There was a festive outdoor seating area with both a fire pit and live music to enhance the dining experience.  I proceeded up the stairs and upon entering the restaurant I was mesmerized, this place was transformed, it was gorgeous!

We were seated outside next to a very large bachelorette party, which had the potential to completely ruin our evening, but before we could pass too many judgments our server, Brian Throop approached the table to welcome us and to tell us that the large party would not effect the kitchen’s ability to get our food to us.  With all of our worries tucked away we ordered cocktails and an appetizer and sat back to soak in the wonderful Spokane evening.

Towards the end of our dinner my new friend Brian and I were taking pictures together and I had coerced him into giving us a tour of the property.  We started in a small house on the back of the lot, where they prepared baked items, some gluten free, and all available for purchase to take home.   The bakery produces all the baked goods for Clover and will be also supporting several other upcoming restaurants by the Proprietors, Scott McCandless and Marta and Paul Harrington.

Our tour moved on to the main restaurant where I was able to see even more of the character and transformation.

When I asked Brian what he thought about Clover he said he was proud to work there, he didn’t have to sell it, it sold itself and when you believe in what you are doing it is effortless.  You could see the pride as he spoke of his experience as well as the management and ownership of Clover.

Beyond the wonderful ambiance and the extraordinary service I loved the quality of food.  Clover and Chef Scott Schultz pride themselves on offering its diners quality organic food.  They source locally when possible and get their beef and pork from Snake River Farms and their chicken and eggs from Hangman Valley Farms.  In addition to the produce they grown onsite in the greenhouse tucked out back they also procure from Otis Orchards, which is located just North of Spokane.

I shared a grass-fed organic steak with my friend and it was delicious.  The beef comes to Clover in primal cuts and they dry age them onsite for 14 days.  I asked Brian a little too late what would be the healthiest option from the menu and he indicated that they would be happy to alter anything to make it healthier and that he would have chosen the fresh halibut, made to order without breading and a fresh mango salsa.  After that description I almost wanted to order another meal!

I will definitely be putting Clover on my list of places to revisit in the Spokane area!  I love to see these amazing places popping up around Spokane, offering local and organic food and a quality dining experience.  You should however be prepared to pay a bit more than you would for a college kegger, oh and there are no red solo cups.

Clover is located at 913 East Sharp Avenue in Spokane, WA.  (509) 487.2937

Clover Bakery Montage

Clover Montage

An Introduction: Farm Girl Fit

Farm Girl Fit Collage 1

I was headed to my old stomping grounds of Spokane to spend some time with my family and friends prior to hitting the Interstate.  I knew I wanted to find a trainer in the area however, having not lived there for so long I had no connections.  I hopped online and almost immediately found Farm Girl Fit (http://farmgirlfit.com).  The website was engaging and I was interested in what an all woman gym would provide in terms of a workout.  I sent an email explaining my project and received a response within a day from the Founder,  Jenni Niemann.  She was enthusiastic and excited to help me kick off my journey.

I showed up on Monday afternoon to meet with Jenni, tour the facility and participate in my first Grind. I knew from the website that this was not going to be a typical all women’s gym feel.  There were weights, rings, ropes, weighted balls and a plethora of kettle bells throughout the space.

I positioned the Farm Girl Fit headband that she had given me as a gift on my head and stretched in preparation for my Grind.  The class was full of women of all ages, shapes and sizes.  Per usual,  I started the class with a fairly high level of anxiety however as the class progressed I couldn’t think of anything other than breathing as I was being worked….hard!

As I lay on the ground panting in recovery Jenni introduced me and my blog to the class.   The support from the women there was incredible.  It felt good to have worked side by side with these women, inspired by their strength and then lifted up by their encouragement and support.

I unfortunately did not get to meet the Co-Founder of Farm Girl Fit, Jaunessa Walsh and for that I am sorry, I would have loved to spend time with each of their trainers.

If you are a woman and looking for a trainer in Spokane you should seriously consider Farm Girl Fit. I know if I was living in the area I would have already signed up and had a handful of Grind workouts under my belt.

Here is a link to a summarized version of Jenni’s answers: http://www.haikudeck.com/p/hPA5jlGTCs/farm-girl-fit

Q. How long have you been training?

A. I received my B.S. in Exercise Science in 2004 and I’ve trained since 2008. I began my own training in this particular style as a way to get fit for my wedding in August of 2008. I knew I needed to take the additional steps in becoming a trainer after I was initially inspired by my own results.

Q. What is your fitness philosophy?

A. Fitness should be a way of life and not seen as a chore or punishment. I want to be fit and capable of any task- weight lifting, running, biking, swimming, tennis, moving boxes up and down the stairs with ease, squatting with my baby on my hip or whatever it is! Your fitness should increase your standard of living, your health, your perspective on life. Fitness has a direct correlation to your health and longevity (which is SO IMPORTANT for a happy life!)….and workouts should be fun and social!

Q. Why did you become a strength coach?

A. Strength is extremely key to fitness! I find it my personal goal each day to inspire more women to lift and be strong. This issue of “strong” vs. “skinny” comes up almost daily at Farmgirlfit and we handle the question with ease. Although more women are beginning to understand that being strong translates to being lean, fit and all around better at any sport, there are many that are intimated by weights. At Farmgirlfit we have created a unique, safe, and unassuming atmosphere for women of all ages to learn (and perfect) their lifting skills that increase their overall strength. It is so important to be a strong woman and for our future generations to have strong female idols.

Q. How do you customize your program to adapt to different fitness levels?

A. Every movement, exercise, and lift we do is functional and can be broken down or modified for people off all levels. We can also vary the timing, repetitions, rounds, or intensity (weight) for each level. Our programming is based off our experience in training over the years, and therefore adaptable. Although the levels in the “Grinds” are preset, they allow for a very diverse population to work-out together and create a unique camaraderie. With our training, nobody is good at everything and everyone has a skill or weakness to improve on. Just because you do Level 2 one day doesn’t mean you can’t or won’t do Level 3 or 4 the next. It’s very motivating to work out with women of all sizes, shapes, and abilities each day.

Q. What do you do in Seattle to stay in shape outside of the gym? [Did you mean Spokane?]

A. Outside of the gym I enjoy playing just about every sport- basketball, tennis, volleyball, softball or whatever is going on at the time. I also enjoy running, water sports, yoga, and speed shopping J Specifically in Spokane- there are tons of trails and stairs to challenge yourself with.

Q. What do you do to continue your fitness education?

A. I like to read books and articles that are relevant to our members, trainers, and training style. There is a lot of information out there so I tend to lean toward the ones that avoid the “quick fix” approach to fitness. As I mentioned, I believe fitness is a lifestyle and a dedication to increased health so I look for information that reiterates that belief – instead of fitness trends or fads. I’m always trying to think ahead and consider what our members need to know. There are a few more certifications that I’m interested in accomplishing  in the near future that I believe would benefit my own training as well as our members.

Q. Do you have a success story you are most proud of?

A. I believe my recent pregnancy was quite a success. I completely enjoyed being pregnant and at no time felt sick or debilitated. In fact, I felt very strong and fit during my pregnancy and competed in many running and fitness events. I worked out through the entire pregnancy…doing the same work outs that I do now because it felt good and I knew it was good for me and the baby. I also attribute my pre-baby fitness to my ability to lose the weight very fast after he was born. I got back in the gym 10 days after having Jack and I was able to climb a 20 ft. rope and do double unders (jump rope). He is 7 months old now and very healthy, happy, big and strong baby

Q. What is your favorite workout soundtrack or song?

A. My music preference changes daily, like my work-outs! I really like to work out to older music with a good beat- like Outkast! I also really like Macklemore right now too!

Q. What is your most embarrassing gym moment?

A. I don’t really have one that comes to mind but I totally get embarrassed or anxious at traditional gyms with lots of machines and little space. I don’t know how to use the machines…one time I got super pissed because my treadmill (I hate treadmills) wouldn’t work and the guy next to me reached over and put in the safety pin thing that stops it if you fall on your face. Oops!

Q. Do you have any specials that you offer your new clients?

A. We always offer 1 free trial day! We like women to come in and meet us and get a better feel for what our gym is all about, since half the battle can be walking through the door!

All of our new members are required to participate in a Foundations class. This class goes over the basics of most of the lifts and exercises we do and reiterates the importance of form first, then intensity. It’s also a great one on one time with a trainer to ask questions and get a better understanding of Farmgirlfit.   We also offer Student, Teacher, Military Discounts…as well as the occasional promotion!

A supplement to my journey – Thorne Research

Screen shot 2013-07-26 at 2.33.28 PM

A good friend from high school pulled some strings and set me up with a facility tour and informational interview at Throne Research located in Sandpoint, ID.  The drive from my Father’s house in Coeur d’ Alene, ID was gorgeous and after some failed attempts at finding the facility I pulled into visitor parking.

Thorne Research manufactures highly quality supplements at this location.  They work directly with health care professionals and nutritionists to bring their products to consumers ensuring that there is no loss of integrity to their product.  I met with the Vice President of Operations, David Nielson who gave me a brief history lesson on the company as well as an extensive tour of the facilities.  I even found myself in a white lab coat, lab booties and a hair net, thankfully no beard cover was necessary even though it has been weeks since I have had my lip waxed. This behind the scenes tour showed me how they manufacture the bulk of their products from the Quarantine process in Shipping and Receiving to the quality control of the packaging and labeling.  It was quite interesting!

After our tour of the facility was complete I met with Alan Miller, ND (Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine) who is the Executive Director of Medical Affairs.  We had a few extra moments to chat and I was able to ask him some questions I had about protein powders.  I learned that the protein powder I am using in my breakfast smoothie is a good one (yay for me!).  Additionally, I learned a lot about supplements that I had never known before.

The mission statement of Thorne Research reads:

“At Thorne Research, our mission is to enhance the health and well-being of people by providing superior dietary supplements that have the highest level of quality and purity – thereby creating the most respected and valued company in the dietary supplement industry.”

Thorne’s products are housed in capsules as opposed to being made in tablet form as it keeps the purity of the ingredients.  It makes sense but I had no idea that when I was consuming a tablet pill that additives were included to aid in the binding of the medicine/supplement.  One of the major components added to many drugs and supplements is Magnesium Stearate whose only benefit is to aid the manufacturing process, it is known as a “flow agent” providing lubrication to make packaging easier.  There has not been substantial testing on this product but it is believed to also prevent the proper absorption of the nutrients contained in the pill.

As with everything else these days, I am going to be turning a discerning eye at the supplements I ingest to ensure  that I am not doing more harm than good.

You should take a look at their website and see the various products they supply, oh and for you animal lovers out there they have the same level of quality and purity standards for their veterinarian line!

http://www.thorne.com/

Last night in the city: Goodbye Seattle

Marriott Pion 1

I was all packed up, personal items in storage or shoved into every nook and cranny of my car, and as I locked the door to my home one last time I realized I was now without a home base.  I was staying with friends in Issaquah when I received an email from the General Manager at the Courtyard by Marriott Pioneer Square inviting me to stay with them prior to my departure.  I was ecstatic, one last night in the city? They wouldn’t have to ask me twice!  I had cultivated a great relationship with the hotel and its management during my last job.  They were always wonderful to work with and I knew that my stay with them would be enjoyable.

The Marriott Pioneer Square lives in the old Alaska Building built in 1904.  You will find many original elements of the building still in tact including a gorgeous marble lobby and staircase carefully mixed with modern new amenities.

I arrived at the hotel and was given a warm welcome including a cold beverage while I checked in to my room.  They had hooked me up and put me in a King Suite which was a corner room overlooking Elliott Bay! I could gaze into the eyes of my beloved city one last time before I skipped town.

I left my car with the valet and headed out for a nice dinner with friends for the evening. I had all intentions of waking early for a workout in the onsite gym but old habits die hard and I burned the midnight oil a tad bit and missed my opportunity.  Change takes time people.

I will miss my interactions with the group at the Marriott Pioneer Square.  If you ever have a need for a hotel in the city you should definitely consider this hotel.  The modern decor coupled with the historical bones makes this a very interesting place to stay.

Courtyard Seattle Downtown/Pioneer Square . 612 2nd Avenue . Seattle, Washington 98104

http://www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/seaps-courtyard-seattle-downtown-pioneer-square/

Marriott Pion 2Marriott Pion 3Marriott Pion 4 Marriott Pion 5marriott staircase

An Introduction: Jason Balajadia

Jason B CollageJason Balajadia/Jason & Sarah after a strenuous workout :)

Preparing to hit the road and blog about my food and fitness challenges couldn’t be done cold turkey.  When a good friend asked me if I would join her in a workout with her trainer my immediate answer was yes, of course, this is what the next few months of my life will need to look like, let’s do this! The confidence I spoke with was in direct conflict to the growing anxiety in my stomach. While I felt confident that I could step up to the challenge I was nervous about working out with someone I didn’t know.  Would he be nice? Would he be open minded and not judge me? Would he accommodate my injuries? The answer to all of those was a resounding YES!

I met Jason and my friend Patti at Bassline Fitness in Kirkland, WA (http://basslinefitness.com/instructors).  He was incredibly friendly and interested in my upcoming trip.  I gave him a quick run down on my hopes and dreams for Losing Weight Off the Interstate and when he replied with enthusiasm and support I felt at ease.

Prior to beginning the warmup Jason took a few moments to chat with me about any issues or injuries that I had. I sadly was dealing with both an ankle and knee issue and he took that into consideration when creating our workout.  There were a lot of similar elements to the workout with Jason and the workouts I had been doing with David Wheeler, at one moment I was even teased for showing off by how I lifted a sand bag into my arms.

During this workout I felt the sweat on my forehead but more importantly I felt pride knowing that I was up for the challenges that would be presented in the upcoming months.

Thank you Jason for taking the time to workout with me and for the support you showed!

Jason Balajadia – http://www.facebook.com/jason.balajadia

An Introduction: Sync Fitness

sara dean (2)

I remember the moment when I first decided to try a personal training program; one of my closest friends pressured me to try the “6 Week Total Body Transformation” program being offered by Sync Fitness which was created by Sara Dean, a fellow Zag (Gonzaga University Alumni).   I was hesitant to sign up for many reasons, namely I knew that six weeks would be a tiny pebble in the mountain of rocks that would be my weight loss journey.

This six weeks; however, turned out to be a turning point in my view towards personal training and my body’s capabilities.  I was shocked that I survived and lost fifteen pounds, but more importantly I realized that my body and mind could be pushed to the limits I set for it, survive and even succeed.

The classes at Sync Fitness are hard; there are a lot of blood sweat and tears happening, though I might have been the only one crying.  Sara gives her clients the tools to succeed in a lifestyle change, providing guidance with food and nutrition as well as an adaptable exercise program to all people regardless of fitness level.

When the six weeks were over and we were given an opportunity to sign up for Boot Camp classes, I turned to my friend and told her no way in hell could I ever survive a Boot Camp, she just laughed and told me that is what we had been doing for the past six weeks.  What? I had been fooled!

When I left Sync Fitness I half heard Sara warn us about old habits resurfacing and the slippery slope of weight gain. I brushed it off, I had this, no worries!  That was several years ago and several pounds ago. It turns out it is quite the slippery slope, and once again I should have listened to my trainer.

Sara has been a personal trainer in the Seattle area since 2003 and is the owner of both Sync Fitness and Fit Healthy Moms.  She offers a plethora of classes for all sorts of fitness levels.   Sara’s programs are not just for local Seattleites, there are several programs available online, additionally she has loads of interesting and helpful tips on her websites.

Sync Fitness.www.syncfitness.comsara@syncfitness.com. 206-354-7480

Fit Healthy Moms. www.fithealthymoms.com

I asked Sara the trainer questions and her responses are found below. Additionally you will be able to see a summarized version here:   http://www.haikudeck.com/p/eLdLcl2w38

Q. How long have you been training?

A. 10 years! 

Q. What is your fitness philosophy?

A. I believe in giving people hope and quantifiable results.  Most people who come to me are frustrated and unsure of how to get what they want physically (and sometimes emotionally.)  I teach people exactly what to do to get real, lasting results. 

Q. Why did you become a strength coach?

A. I became a trainer after being overweight my entire childhood and youth.  Finding fitness as an adult helped me feel comfortable in my skin for the first time in my life and I wanted to be able to give that same experience to as many other people as possible.

Q. How do you customize your program to adapt to different fitness levels?

A. In our classes and programs, my trainers and I structure workouts in a way that people can work at their own pace.  Additionally, we teach people how to modify moves and ask for help when needed.  There is no shame in being at a different fitness level than the person next to you.  You both SHOWED UP, therefore you’re both awesome.

Q. What do you do in Seattle to stay in shape outside of the gym?

A. Running on sunny days.  It’s such a treat to put away the rain gear and run in the sun in Seattle! 

Q. What do you do to continue your fitness education?

A. I’m a conference freak and a social media junkie.  So I am constantly learning from my colleagues online and at events.  I have a professional network that expands the globe, allowing me to learn from professionals who do an amazing job changing lives.  This is really fun and exciting for me.

Q. Do you have a success story you are most proud of?

A. I have so many clients who have impressed me over the years.  I have many clients who have done things they never thought possible – losing a ton of weight; running 5Ks, half marathons, marathons; climbing mountains; completing 100 days of Boot Camp or simply becoming a regular exerciser.  I think I’m most proud of my clients who change the way they see themselves as a result of what they have achieved in our programs.  It becomes life changing for them and it is amazing to watch.

Q. What is your favorite workout soundtrack or song?

A. Currently – Fun.  And anything from Bootie Mashups (http://bootiemashup.com/blog/)

Q. What is your most embarrassing gym moment?

A. I don’t embarrass in the gym anymore – I have no shame.  But years ago, the first time I got on a step mill (the rotating stair climbing machine, with actual steps) I thought I’d be tough and make it go really fast.  Once I got it going super fast, I couldn’t reach the buttons to make it stop or slow.  So, I to yell for help and have someone else stop it for me.  It was not pretty or graceful.

Q. Do you have any specials that you offer your new clients?

A. I offer all prospective clients a complimentary trial class.  But more, importantly, we offer all clients, new and old, a comfortable place to come push yourself.  We want folks of all abilities to feel welcome and able to work to the best of their abilities that day.