Sunflower Blogger Award

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I was recently nominated for the Sunshine Blogger Award by Chelsea of Just Me, Chelsea B. —Thanks, Chelsea! It’s a kind of a neat thing where our fellow bloggers nominate their favorite bloggers and do a Q&A, so you can get to know them more. I love the idea! I’ll fully admit that I haven’t been reading blogs a lot lately so I don’t feel right just listing random blogs ;). But, I will most definitely participate in the Q&A from miss Chelsea! 🙂 And, I’d love to hear YOUR favorite running or fitness blogs in the comments!

“The Sunshine Blogger Award is awarded to bloggers by other bloggers who believe in their gifts and talents. This award is given to those who excel in all that they do and go above and beyond to reach their dreams and goals. Your passion matters and we want to cultivate that passion within you!”

Here’s the Questions that Chelsea asked me:

1) When did you start blogging and why? After I had been using Instagram for a while tracking my training I decided I wanted to start a blog to expand my thoughts that I’d put on IG. So one of my first posts was my Country Music Marathon race re-cap.

2) What is your favorite hobby? Besides running? I love music (I was in choir junior high through college), so I enjoy going to concerts. I’m a big country music fan, but I enjoy a wide range of other genres too.

3) Are you a morning person or a night owl? I was 100% a morning person before I became a mother haha…now I feel like I’m neither! Probably still more morning than night owl, but it seems to be harder to get up early now than it did back then.

4) Sweet or salty? I’ll say sweet…but I don’t get to eat much of anything sweet these days as I am on-again-off-again battling Candida.

5) What’s your favorite quote/scripture that you live by? My grandpa gave all of his grandkids a copy of The Desiderata, a poem with thoughts of how to live the best life. We all love it! Some excerpts from it were actually read by my grandpa at my sister’s wedding.

6) What are you currently reading? Nada. The last book I read was The Haywire Heart. I used to read a lot of chick-lit / beach reads, but I’ve never really been into reading. I wish I was! I read stuff online about health a lot though. If I had it in book form, I’d read it haha ;).

7) What is your biggest passion in life and why is it important to you? Health and fitness, an obvious no-brainer! But to live a longer happier life is important. I want to be around to see my daughter grow up and have a family of her own.

8) Who inspires you the most? Honestly this one is a tough question! I admire and respect many people and they inspire me (both in running and personal life), but I think I’d say my grandpa as he has always been a great role model. He is very much an anti-quit kind of person, which I know has rubbed off on me. He was a very successful businessman who encouraged and supported me through college. He always has wise words to say when we are together and I love that about him!

9) What is a daily ritual that you absolutely can’t live without? Being active, even if that means just going for a walk. Getting in that daily movement is what makes me feel good and always makes me happy!

10) Describe your perfect day from start to finish. I have two scenarios! One is a wakeup without an alarm clock having to be set, getting a good workout in, and spending the rest of the day with my family on the beach! Maybe a bonfire at home that night too 🙂. Scenario two is simple….A day in Disney World with my family (that includes some running too haha!). We need another trip soon!

11) What are the top 3 things on your bucket list? Visit the Grand Canyon, helicopter ride over volcanoes in Hawaii, and attend the Country Music Awards.

Since I’m not listing 11 blogs, what are some of your favorite running / fitness blogs you follow that you think I should make the time to read?

Mackinac Island 10 Year Anniversary Trip (There’s running involved 😜)

If you know me, you know how much I love Mackinac Island, Michigan. It’s a little island located to the east of St. Ignace, a city in the upper peninsula just across the Mackinac Bridge. This island, just a little over 8 miles in circumference, feels like home to me! We visit at least once a year and it’s always hard to leave. The main modes of transportation are by bicycle and horse, and the only motorized vehicles on the island are that of emergency units and garbage trucks (we actually saw the Waste Management truck out during my run around the island).

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We are always on the Island for our anniversary weekend since the 8-Mile race is the same weekend, and that race is a tradition. We knew we wanted some extra time there to explore more of the island on our mountain / adventure bikes. But, the 8-Mile weekend is a big family filled weekend…it’s my absolute favorite weekend of the entire year. So, we opted to plan our anniversary trip a few weeks early so we could get away just the two of us and it wouldn’t interfere with our daughter being in school.

Our daughter hung out with her grandparents, aunt, and cousin at the cottage for our trip.

The drive to Mackinaw City was a wet one! We drove though some nasty storms, but it cleared enough when we arrived to get a bike ride in.

We did some shopping too, which was fun. I got a bicycle necklace in rose gold, a Mackinac magnet, a Christmas ornament, and a cool framed wooden map of the island that I always comment on when we visit.

Friday was a pretty low key day. It rained some more, and TMI — I ended up getting my period with horrible cramps (I rarely get cramps, go figure!) so I took a nap (haha!) while my husband did some reading. I felt better by evening and we had a great dinner at The Pink Pony. I loved the waterfront views!


Saturday morning I got my 8 mile run in around the island. This was my “time trial” for the race. It was a big confidence booster! I made a pace band for this and it was so helpful seeing where I was at each mile and knowing if I had time to slow it down near the end of a mile and recover a little before picking it up again for the next mile. So although my splits didn’t follow the band exactly, having it on definitely helped me see how I was doing and it was a good guide. I ended up finishing faster than goal pace! 🙌 I think I need to re-think my race-day goals now!



My husband took this picture below as I started.
Here’s my official stats…8.13 miles, 1:11:54, 8:51 pace.

We biked about 10-12 miles Saturday afternoon and biked to the top of the island (Fort Holmes), Fort Mackinac, Arch Rock, Sugar Loaf, and watched some planes land and take off at the airport.
That evening we got dressed up and took a carriage to the Grand Hotel’s Cupola bar for pre-dinner drinks, then headed down to the 5-course dinner at the hotel after. 
It was a great meal, but I wouldn’t spend money on that again. I’m too Dutch for that! 🤣

It was such a fantastic little get-a-way, even with the weather not being great in the beginning. We were still able to do everything we wanted to, so I’d say it was a success! I’m really looking forward to returning with my family in a few weeks.

Health update

I thought it was time for a little health update. It’s been about three months now since my food sensitivities and Candida overgrowth diagnosis, and I am feeling better than I have in a long time! I have pretty much figured out through trial and error what foods are the biggest culprits to my gastrointestinal distress after going through the list of foods they said my body reacts to (plus others that weren’t tested). So far I’ve found these foods cause the most problems: corn, bananas (😢), garlic, wine (mostly sweet ones), kombucha (😭), and cashews. I am sad I had to put kombucha back on the list! And I’ll probably never get over the fact that bananas make me bloat up like a balloon. Fingers crossed that side affect goes away eventually…I was eating them 2-3x a day haha!

I have plans to have some corn shell tacos as my post race meal after the Nashville half, and I’m already excited about it! 😂 haha No clue how I’ll feel since I’ve done pretty good avoiding it the past few months. But I have high hopes I’ll be fine and I just needed a break from those foods. If not, I’ll just know what to expect if I have them and continue to do my best to avoid them.

If you’re having GI issues, I’d highly recommend seeing a Naturopathic doctor (if your regular primary care physician can’t do the testing) and getting food sensitivities and Candida tested. Remember, food allergies and food sensitivities are quite different. It wasn’t cheap for the tests, but for what I learned and how I feel now it was well worth the money.

Health update

I mentioned earlier last month in a blog post that I haven’t been feeling great lately. I started feeling like almost everything I ate would make me sick. You may have seen my post on Instagram where I briefly gave an update on my blood test results.

But, basically I found out I had food sensitivities to 39 different foods.😱 And I tested positive for Candida overgrowth.

Here’s what I learned. You should be rotating your foods. Do not eat the same foods every day. The ‘meal prep’ pictures that are all over Instagram where people prepare the same foods to be eaten for several days in a row might sound like a good idea…healthy food already prepared! But no, you’re looking for health problems doing that. You shouldn’t be eating the same things day in and day out. Rotation is key so you don’t develop food sensitivities like I did.

I often made a salad for lunch with a base of kale, tomato, onion, and chia seeds. I did switch up what other ingredients I would throw in, depending on what I had on hand. But guess what showed up on my sensitivities list? You guessed it…ALL of those things (and then some!).
Gluten is not on my list because I’ve been GF for several years. Most of the items on the list are foods I consumed every week, if not daily. I used turmeric and cinnamon I probably over dosed on almonds because I was rotating between almond and cashew milk, and eating them on salads and for snacks, almond butter, and they are in many Larabars.

Now what? I went to a Naturopath doctor and she suggested I take anti-fungals in addition to the probiotics I already have for the Candida overgrowth. However, it was completely up to me. I am in a gray area because numbers over 100 are considered overgrowth and my IgG (the chronic overgrowth) was 168, and my IgM (recent Candida overgrowth) was 124. So, they’re on the lower end of being ‘abnormal.’

The fact that my food sensitivities came back with so many, I am going to first focus on that. I will be eliminating all the 2 and 3 star items as well as the 1 star items that I consumed daily. For 1 star rating, I have been instructed to eliminate them for 3 months. The 2 star items should be eliminated for 4 months, and the 3 star for 5 months. I had a few 2 star and one 3 star item, with the rest at 1’s. Interestingly enough, my booklet says the 1 star items can cause more symptoms than the 3 star items and, “the number of antibodies just gives us a way to decide how long a person should avoid the food in order to decrease the antibodies and symptoms.”After that period of time, I can begin to reintroduce the foods one at a time and only one food per 4 days. If I react, I remove the food again. If not, I can reintroduce a second food.

I’m hoping the Candida really isn’t much of an issue because that’s a whole other set of restrictions. I am trying to maintain 80/20 Candida diet while going through my food sensitivities elimination, but am trying not to stress about it if that doesn’t happen. Stress can affect Candida levels as well!

So I have lots of information to review and prepare for this big diet change. I’m very hopeful it will bring me some relief. I’m looking forward to writing an update post down the road. Until then, learn from me and my mistakes. Rotate your foods! 😊

Why my energy is lacking lately

I’m still shocked I’ve been able to make it through my regular workouts with how I feel when I get up and how I feel in the late afternoon.

Who has heard of Candida overgrowth? Chances are not many people have. Candida is the most common cause of fungal infections and I only know about it because people in my family battle it. I’m not sure if that’s what my gastrointestinal issues have been caused by lately, but I’ve been on this restrictive diet to kill off the bad bacteria and have felt loads better since…except for the lack of energy that has suddenly hit me like a ton of bricks. I told my mom about how I was feeling and she said it’s a ‘thing’ and actually has a term – a Herxheimer reaction, when there is a rapid dying off of the bacteria. But, I also think I haven’t been eating as frequently …simply because nothing on the list sounds good as a snack (for lunch or dinner, sure!). I am so used to eating fruit, carrots and hummus or some sweet potatoe crackers for a snack and can’t have those things now. I have been eating  the gluten free nuts and seeds on the safe list now (and in all honesty, almond butter straight from the jar 😜), which I have always had in my diet but not in this quantity haha!

You have to avoid sugar (in the cleansing phase, all fruit too — I still use Nuun though – it’s sweetened with stevia and munk fruit), yeast, vinegar (so condiments and salsa are out), alcohol, dairy, caffeine, starchy vegetables like carrots, potatoes, peas, parsnips, and many grains. Sounds like a nightmare for a runner, right?! No sugar and less carbs?? No more pitted dates for running fuel for a while, and my gluten free bread and pasta are out for the time being.

I don’t know if the lack of energy is just a coincidence or not. But I know I have found some foods that I am sensitive to. Sadly WINE is near the top for worst offenders (insomnia, GI issues, and itchy skin). Beans are are a close second with the GI problems. I’m hoping with this diet ‘cleanse’ that the side affects won’t be as bad down the road when I do have a glass or two of wine or a Mexican dish with black beans or hummus.

Breakfast is usually some hot buckwheat cereal with a little almond butter, cinnamon and a pinch of stevia (I miss bananas!). Lunch lately has mostly been salad with sardines (don’t say ewww until you’ve tried the ones from Costco! They’re de-boned, packed in olive oil, and in a BPA free can) or quinoa, plus some veggie toppings that often included any of the following: radishes, onions, green peppers, tomatoes, avocado and cucumbers. If I have the fish, I am usually good until dinner. If I have quinoa, I’m usually hungry by 3pm and exhausted. Dinner is pretty basic and simple with chicken or turkey and one of the approved veggies like broccoli, asparagus, or rutabaga plus some mixed greens.

I battle psoriasis and since going on the Candida diet, my skins ‘itch factor’ has improved dramatically. But, I am still having GI issues…just not as bad. So I’m just trying to figure this all out.

In the meantime, you’ll probably find me on the couch in the late afternoon when my energy suddenly drops. 😴

I just found a recipe for some coconut flour crackers and I’m going to try making those and eat them with some homemade guacamole (if they’re not too coconut tasting) for another snack idea. If you’ve had to do this diet too, what were some of your favorite snacks?

My Health & Fitness Journey

I posted a short version of this on Instagram when it was the 2 year anniversary of this lifestyle change I made and thought I’d expand a bit, and hopefully inspire others to make changes in their life to get healthy and fit too!

2013: I made a choice to change my lifestyle in February with a goal to become the healthiest and fittest I’ve ever been by the age of 30 (May 2014). I knew I wanted to be healthier for myself and my family, so I started running regularly and my diet was overhauled. I said no to soda, artificial sweeteners and dyes, hydrogenated oils, GMO’s, and cut way back on processed foods. I went gluten free in March 2012, as it gives me congestion issues among other problems, so I had cut out a lot of garbage already. I finally started caring about what I ate instead of just caring about what I fed my family. I started running regularly, but it didn’t come easy. I couldn’t run a mile without stopping when I began this journey. I was literally running for 30 seconds and then I’d walk for 10-15 seconds, and just kept doing that until I was cutting out more and more of the walk breaks. It was a slow and steady start.

4.26.14 - Country Music Half Marathon Finish Photo

4.26.14 – Country Music Half Marathon Finish Photo

2014: Before I knew it, I had completed my first half marathon in April. I’m not a “fast” runner, but I love the feeling I get from running. There just isn’t anything like it! And crossing that finish line was such a huge accomplishment for me, so I was thrilled! I was about 1 month from turning 30, and I definitely feel like I reached my goal. But, at that point I still had (and still do have) more fitness goals to fulfill. So, I’m continuing to stay active and eat well to be the healthiest and happiest me I can be. I find running to be a great stress reliever.

I started practicing yoga, spinning, or lifting weights on non-running days. Later in the year I bought my first road bike and bike trainer. I went from not doing much for physical activity to being so passionate about fitness over the course of a year or so. Running is what really got me into my other fitness interests.

2015: Finishing my first marathon was definitely one of my greatest personal achievements. There is a quote I came across during my training that said, “The person who starts a marathon is not the same person who finishes.” I know that that race changed me, as cheesy as that sounds. Not just the race, but the training. I feel like I am so much stronger, not just physically but mentally too. There were some really tough 6f8268930d8a8a21af7df488b77ab3ddtimes during training and during the race where I wanted to just be done. I wanted to give up. But I didn’t and now I know I can dig a little deeper when it gets rocky.

It’s been a great 2 years of positive change with some hard work and dedication! What’s next? In effort to avoid the “post marathon depression” I had heard about, I signed up for my first Sprint Triathlon as my next big challenge. I love the excitement of conquering something I once thought would be impossible! So for the next several months it’ll be swim, bike, run, swim, bike, run….all the way to the finish line! 🙂 Can’t wait! Until then, I’ll have a few shorter races I’m pretty excited about too.

20 Facts About Me

I was tagged by two lovely ladies on Instagram, @jen_hoffman & @run_eat_lift_smile, to post an #ilovemyselfie with 20 facts about myself. Screen Shot 2015-04-16 at 10.00.18 PM

  1. I go wine tasting at least once every year. Michigan’s cherry wine (any winery) is amazing!
  2. My first race was the Mackinac Island 8 Mile when I was a junior in high school, and I didn’t train for it. I could barely walk the next day!
  3. I didn’t start running regularly until Feb. of 2013, but it didn’t take long to become hooked!
  4. I am growing my hair out to donate to a local organization. Getting close to long enough!
  5. I’ve met several celebrities including: John Stamos, Carrie Underwood, Mario Lopez, and Blake Shelton.


    Blake Shelton at CMA Fest (year?)

  6. I eat very healthy, but could easily overdose on peanut butter (or almond butter) and chocolate.
  7. My husband and I own 5 wooded acres near the lakeshore and hope to build our “forever home” on it next year. Can.not.wait!
  8. I still to this day enjoy coloring. One of my fave things to do with my daughter! So relaxing.
  9. I despise coffee (I know, I’m in the minority here!). It was even worse when I was pregnant. My husband was forced to bring his coffee maker to the basement because just the smell would make me sick haha!
  10. I love planning (everything). You can never be too prepared ;).
  11. I am super scared of swimming in water where you can’t see the bottom. And yet, I am signed up for a triathlon! Eeeek!
  12. I am extremely close with my family, especially my mom.  I was even born on her birthday!
  13. If money wasn’t an issue, I’d go back to school to become a Registered Dietician and a Personal Trainer. I do hope to at least work in a gym once my daughter is in school full time.
  14. One of my fave musicians is Keith Urban.
  15. I was in choir in junior high, high school and college. I love to sing!
  16. I used to not like reading books for fun, but will admit I love “chick-lit” / beach reads.
  17. I love the color pink!
  18. I’m slightly addicted to Pinterest (for recipes + getting ideas for our future home, etc.).
  19. Celebrity crush on Adam Levine + girl crush on Heidi Klum.
  20. I am cold almost all the time. Our house isn’t “cold” but I always have several layers on and socks + slippers. Actually started drinking tea simply to try to warm myself up!