I Did It!

I Did It!

I can honestly say this has been the best quarter at Western yet! This quarter I successfully completed three of my major classes and two internships, all while working full time at Woods Coffee. I got to intern for the best personal trainer, Lisa Young, and discovered a passion that I hope to make a career out of one day. I even got to train my own clients! I was successful in my classes and made amazing connections with some fellow students in my major. I have made huge strides in running and accomplished a new personal record on my Lake Padden run last week. I am running faster than I ever have! I have lost 10 pounds, 2% body fat, and over 6 inches off my body through hard work and sweat, all while eating healthy and loving myself.

 

Even through all these achievements and triumphs, I am most proud of learning how to finally balance my life to match my values and goals. I am most proud of myself for learning how to set work and school aside on occasion, and go out and have some fun. I am proud of myself for making a new best friend and maintaining all the relationships in my life that are meaningful and supportive. I am proud that I have decided to do what makes me the happiest in going to Alaska this summer and to do what will teach me the most, by going to India this fall. I am so thankful for this journey and the ability to write about my experiences. I hope to one day inspire others to be resilient, healthy, take chances, be adventurous, but mostly to just be happy. Thank you!

Love Always,
Natalie Marrs

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Clean Eats!

Clean Eats!

Throughout my journey of living a healthier lifestyle, I have come across some great ways to eat cleaner and with a purpose. I have started to look at eating as a way to fuel, support, and love my body instead of just supporting my appetite and cravings. Here are some great ways to combat that sweet tooth or the crunchy munchies, and fuel your body with proper nutrients throughout the day.

*First off is my new favorite peanut butter and banana ice cream! It is made with no sugar added and has three simple ingredients: frozen bananas, all natural peanut butter, and unsweetened coconut milk. Here is the recipe!
1 Banana, cut up and frozen
2 Tbsp. Peanut Butter
½ Cup Coconut Milk
Place all ingredients into a blender, blend, and enjoy!
This recipe is absolutely delicious, easy, and most importantly, it’s satisfying!

*Another tasty cold treat is a homemade popsicle! Instead of buying ones made out of artificial sugars, fruit concentrates and dyes, create your own. All you have to do is get creative and combine your favorite fruits or even veggies into a blender with fruit juice, coconut milk, water, or whatever you desire and then freeze and enjoy! My favorite and most refreshing popsicles are blended frozen raspberries with fresh strawberries and hand squeezed orange juice. Delicious!

*Everyone says breakfast is the most important meal of the day and I have to admit, I am starting to believe it all because of this oatmeal! After eating a bowl, I feel full, satisfied, completely ready to tackle my day and prepared to make healthy decisions. Here is my new oatmeal recipe I think everyone should try:
½ Cup Whole, Rolled Oats (not the instant kind)
1 Cup Water
1 Pinch of Salt
½ Cup Frozen Raspberries
¼ Cup Fresh Blueberries
Combine oats, water, salt and frozen raspberries into a bowl and microwave for 3-4 minutes. Top with fresh blueberries and enjoy!

This recipe includes no added sugar or preservatives to weigh you down and provides complex carbs and natural sugars to kick start your day and not leave you hungry an hour later.

*Kale chips are all the rage now and for good reason! They are absolutely delicious and so easy to make! Here is a general recipe to follow:
1 Bunch of Kale
Olive Oil
Sea Salt
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Wash and tear kale off of the rind and into smaller pieces. Place on a cookie sheet and drizzle olive oil over kale. Mix thoroughly so that olive oil is evenly distributed. Sprinkle very lightly with sea salt. Once ready to bake, turn off the oven and place kale inside. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until desired crispiness has been reached.

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No Gym, No Problem!

No Gym, No Problem!

Bellingham is an amazing place to live! Once the sun starts shining, the city turns into a fitness lover’s dream with endless workout opportunities. Anything from hiking, biking, trail running, rock climbing, and swimming, Bellingham is a place to accomplish them all. I have started to explore some of these options this spring and have loved the journey so far!

So far I have conquered hiking Fragrance Lake and the famous Oyster Dome. Fragrance Lake is a smaller hike hidden off Chuckanut Drive. Round trip, the hike is about 5.5 miles long however the majority of it is a flat walk around the beautiful lake that is pictured in the bottom right. I was feeling a little adventurous and went a little too far out on the log resulting in a quick dip in the lake and a wet hike home. Let’s just say I learned my lesson! The journey to get there however is about 20 minutes of off-roading so a method of transportation such as my jeep is very helpful to have. This hike is great for beginning hikers! I tackled Oyster Dome with a few of my coworkers. We had a great time but the journey to the top was a bit more challenging. Round trip this hike is about 6.5 miles however elevation gained is almost 2,000 feet and about an hour of steep uphill walking. Once I reached the top though, it was all worth it, every last step. My group even got to watch the sun partially set. Oyster dome is definitely a hike that everyone in Bellingham should take the time to experience!

My favorite outdoor activity is trail running and Bellingham is full of great trails! The best one I have come across is Lake Padden. Pictured top right, the main trail is about 3 miles around the lake. There are multiple trail options though if a longer run is desired. There is wide variation among the trail itself with some parts being flat and others with hills to climb up and down. Part of the trail is in the forest and part is out in the open with an amazing view of the lake from every angle. It is one of my favorite places to be in Washington let alone Bellingham! I have also explored running through the trails by Whatcom Falls. The trails can be slightly more challenging though with steep hills and confusing paths but challenging isn’t always bad. If a good workout is what you are seeking, then the Whatcom Falls trails are definitely worth your time.

Another fun way to work out is to make up your own! A good friend and work out buddy of mine took to the Taylor Street stairs and created our own partner workout. One person did a chosen exercise such as holding a plank or doing push ups until the other person completed running the stairs and then we switched. We even used the hand railing to do modified pull-ups and a stack of cement blocks to do tricep dips.

With plenty of options out there, all we have left to do is explore them!

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Healthy BBQing 101!

Healthy BBQing 101!

With sunshine and warm summer weather come picnics and BBQs! However, ruining all my hard work in the gym in one night with my friends is the last thing I wanted! After multiple BBQs with hotdogs, chips, and one or two many drinks, I began finding ways to eat healthier. I started seeing the grill as a helpful tool instead of a distractor from the way I want to eat.

I started with changing the meats I was barbequing. Rather than bringing hotdogs, sausages, and steaks rich in fat and extra time in the gym, I have started choosing leaner options. Chicken breasts, lean turkey cuts and any type of fish have become my new norm these past few weeks. The beauty of grilling is its addition of full flavor without the use of heavy seasonings and oils.

Instead of just eating meat, I use it to add delicious flavor to salads. I love to wash and chop up fresh vegetables and bring them in Tupperware containers along side a bag of fresh spinach or lettuce. Once I am at the BBQ, I can grill up my protein, easily put together my salad, and have a beautiful meal.

I have also started exploring other ways to use the BBQ by grilling up all sorts of produce. My favorites so far have been asparagus, peaches, and pineapple although the possibilities are endless! From peppers, onions, squash, potatoes and zucchini; almost anything placed on that grill will be enhanced in flavor. Easy on the seasonings though, it’s better to flavor with herbs and natural seasonings rather than those mixed seasonings high in sodium.

My last tip is to keep a full cup at all times. Not with mixed drinks or beer though, rather with water, iced teas or flavored seltzer water. Talking with friends and getting caught up in the fun can be too distracting while eating and drinking. I find myself out of a drink and reaching for the next in the blink of an eye. Planning ahead and bringing a water bottle or a pitcher of iced tea is just another way to keep out of the gym and in the sun.

With beautiful grilled meals full of flavor and color, you are bound to be the talk of the BBQ. It’s fascinating to me that people really do want to eat healthy and not just hotdogs and chips, some just need to be inspired how to do so! Happy grilling everyone!

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My Crazy Amazing Life!

My Crazy Amazing Life!

Last quarter I accomplished more than I ever dreamed I could! I managed to be a full time student and work full time as a barista at Woods. I maintained my 3.5 GPA and made huge strides in my job. I passed my espresso bar test and my open/close test. I earned my embroidered apron and am now entrusted with running to store alone in the early mornings and evenings. I have built great relationships with regular customers and now call my coworkers family!

I applied and got accepted into a service-learning program and will be travelling to the Himalayas next fall! This trip will consist of job shadowing doctors that will be giving children in orphanages health screenings. We will also be implementing an online program creating health records to keep track of the screenings, findings, and immunizations on people living in rural communities through the Himalayas. I also decided to complete another season at Mt. McKinley Lodge this summer. I will be working in various positions with the chance at becoming a server. I am looking forward to 6 months of travelling and the ability to overcome past struggles and heal old wounds.

Last quarter was successful, but not as healthy as I was hoping it would be. This quarter I have been working on sleeping more, eating healthier, exercising regularly, and taking action when discovering and reaching my limit.

This quarter I have been working 30+ hours a week. I now regularly work on the drive-thru bar, which is one of the most challenging positions on the floor. I have also been learning and practicing pouring latte art, which has been one of my goals since high school! One of my favorite aspects and accomplishments of this quarter so far has been becoming an intern for personal trainer Lisa Young who owns Synergy Training Studio. I spend at least 15-20 hours a week job shadowing, cleaning equipment, helping train clients, and learning how to run a personal training business. Towards the end of the quarter I will even be able to create my own workouts and run training sessions under Lisa’s supervision!

Between work, school, my new internship, trip meetings, and so much more, I have discovered my limit. I am very excited to have my first day off in over a month next week but I have realized that I am forcing too much from myself. I am learning how to set boundaries for my life and cutting back, mostly on work, when necessary. A 7-days a week schedule is not a healthy option for me at this stage in my life if I want to be successful and happy.

I am excited to continue to blog this quarter now that I am getting back on track! As the weather gets nice, I want to explore hiking and running trails throughout the Bellingham area. I also want to explore local and fresh places to get produce and highlight local restaurants that offer great gluten and dairy free options. Finally, I plan on researching recreational sport opportunities and other ways to stay active throughout adulthood.

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Rock Climbing, Hot Yoga, & Line Dancing

Rock Climbing, Hot Yoga, & Line Dancing

An avid rock climber, coworker, and good friend of mine suggested I go to Vital with her and check it out. I had only been rock climbing once before and I love it! The gym was packed with people of all ages and climbing abilities.

The gym is conveniently located downtown on N State Street. The top level of the gym is a lounge with a fireplace and comfy chairs creating a warm and welcoming environment to enter into. Downstairs is the large climbing area. The climbing walls contain courses of all different levels of difficulty ranging from easy to very difficult based on a color scale. This makes it very easy to understand, test, and challenge your abilities.

My favorite part about this gym is that it is accessible 24/7! Public hours are between 11am and 9pm every day however the gym is accessible to members at all other hours, by typing in a door passcode. Day passes are $12 but monthly memberships are $55.
I had such a great time climbing with Annie and experiencing what Vital has to offer. I look forward testing out a membership in the spring!

Another coworker suggested I attend a hot yoga session at Bikram Yoga with her. Located downtown and right next to Mallard’s Ice Cream, Bikram Yoga is a very warm and welcoming studio. All of the instructors and classmates were friendly and their passion for yoga filled the studio.

Similar to most yoga studios, there are a lot of rules and procedures to follow. Some include not wearing any shoes past a certain point and absolutely no talking as soon as you move from the lobby, into the studio. These rules are great because they keep the studio both clean and peaceful.

Hot yoga is very challenging, especially with an hour and a half session. Bikram Yoga’s instructors are so great at constantly encouraging everyone and reinforcing that it is always ok to listen to your own body and take breaks when necessary.
Although memberships to this studio are a little pricy, they have a great 1st time students deal. For $20 you get 5 days of consecutive classes. This allows one to explore the studio, multiple classes, and instructors before committing for a long period of time.

Although hot yoga isn’t my ideal workout choice, experiencing Bikram Yoga’s studio and having a great time with my coworker was totally worth the burn.

One activity my roommates frequently participate in is line dancing! Ten Mile Grange Hall in Lynden is the home of Western Line Dance. Every Friday night people of all types are invited to pull on their cowboy boots and dance the night away. Class times are based on levels of ability starting with beginners at 6:00pm. After learning the basic moves in the beginner’s class, students are welcome to continue to dance through the intermediate class starting at 7:00pm.

Classes are only $5 a session and are a great way to kick off your Friday nights! After a couple hours of dancing and laughing with friends, you won’t even realize you got a great workout in!

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My New Favorite Eats

My New Favorite Eats

After discovering all the health benefits of quinoa, I started exploring ways to fit it in my diet and make it enjoyable. I tried instant quinoa flakes as a healthier alternative to oatmeal. It was less than unsuccessful. I then tried to become a quinoa cooking expert which turned out to be nearly impossible for me. It was always either too crunchy or too soggy, and always took way too long to cook. Then I discovered that the Food Co-op downtown has precooked quinoa in their premade lunch cold case that is cheap and most importantly, fluffy and delicious! I started getting creative and discovered that it can be used just like pasta. I started mixing all sorts of veggies, dressings, and sauces to create and unlimited amount of options. My favorite is a southwestern style salad made with corn, beans, bell peppers, lime juice, cilantro, cherry tomatoes, and more. I also made a Thai curry inspired dish as well as a Mediterranean one.
My latest health food kick is Shakeology. A meal replacement mix that comes in all different flavors. I chose to test out chocolate and I have not been disappointed. The idea is to replace one shake with one drink a day to not only cut back on caloric intake, but also to make sure your body is receiving all the necessary vitamins and nutrients it needs. Although it is a little pricy upfront, each shake estimates to be around $4. One shake has the nutrients of 3 cups of lettuce, 4 cups raw mushrooms, 1 shot of wheat grass, 1 bowl of exotic fruit, 3 raw onions, 7 raw carrots, 4 cups nonfat yogurt, 4 cups red radishes, 4 cups raw broccoli, 1 cup peas and 10 cups raw cauliflower; all whose combined cost estimates around $41. The drink mix also comes with a recipe book and an assigned Beachbody coach who can give you advice to help you reach your goals or answer any questions you might have. My favorite recipe so far has been the chocolate peanut butter shake, however I am excited to try the espresso one tomorrow. Drinking these shakes has already been so helpful in staying full and on track with my goals while on the run constantly.

A very close friend brought one of my new favorite treats to my attention. Originally blogged about by Monica Matheny, fresh oatmeal smoothies had me very intrigued! Made in mason jars, Monica places oatmeal, milk, chia seeds, yogurt and whatever fruit of flavor combination desired and refrigerates until ready to eat. I tested this treat out to find that I wasn’t too crazy about the soggy oatmeal texture that takes place. I wasn’t ready to give up on this idea though. I decided to take the oatmeal out and instead put more fruit in to make them more flavorful and healthy. Let’s just say I am in love! This is such a great breakfast item, that you can make the night before and take on the go in the morning. They will also be a refreshing treat in the hopefully warm months to come and can be tailored to any palate or craving!

Here is the link to Monica’s original oatmeal smoothie post:

http://www.theyummylife.com/Oatmeal_Smoothies

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Unbridled Martial Arts

Unbridled Martial Arts

When Kaylee Nightingale, the director of the Western Faculty and Wellness Program, suggested that I try out a good friend’s mixed martial arts gym, I was very skeptical. I had no experience in kickboxing, self-defense, wrestling, you name it! I decided to try something new and go outside of my comfort zone since that’s what this quarter is all about. It has turned out to be one of the best experiences I have had so far this quarter!

I ended up taking three stand-up fighting classes, one weapons and grappling class, as well as a kettlebell/TRX fitness class. My first class was a stand-up fighting one that focused on punching, kneeing, kicking, and blocking. I came to class early and met the owner Rob, filled out paperwork, learned all about the gym, and how things work. I was fortunate that another student, Kelsie, was just starting the program at the same time and we got to learn the ropes together.
Class started with a 5-10 minute warm up; it did a great job of getting all my muscles stretched out and ready to go. We then went into punching where Rob took Kelsie and I aside and taught us all the basics. I loved that whenever Rob taught something, he not only taught what to do, but also how to do it and ultimately why how to apply it in a real life situation. He often referenced to self-defense and how someone may attack. We wrapped up the class with the basics of kneeing, blocking and my favorite, kicking!

At my first class I was very cautious and my movements felt awkward and weak. After my last class I felt more confidant, coordinated, and powerful. Most importantly, I truly felt as though I could defend myself in a potential encounter, which was an incredible feeling!

The second class I took was the weapons and grappling class. It was so eye opening! I learned very basic weapon fighting and knife self defense which are great skills to have. I also learned how to grapple or ground fight. I always had friends participating in wrestling and never really understood their fascination until I was on the ground and learned all sorts of take down moves. Ground fighting is a key part in self-defense and I’m so glad I was able to incorporate some important moves into my new and expanding knowledge on the subject.

Rob is also a certified CrossFit Kettlebell and TRX instructor and offers a kettlebell/TRX fitness class Saturday mornings, open to all students and their friends. This class was one of my favorite fitness classes I have ever taken! I loved working with the kettlebells and was thankful to be taught a lifelong fitness method by someone that had really knew what they were doing.

Not only were Rob, his teaching methods, and his classes great, his students were amazing! Everyone was so welcoming and nonjudgmental to someone that had never really punched anything in their entire life. I am especially grateful for Brittany and Keri who were so patient and encouraging when working one on one with me. I sincerely recommend Unbridled Martial Arts as a great option for anyone looking to improve self-defense skills, get in shape, and to really just have a great time. Memberships are affordable, and the more classes you attend, the lower your monthly rate ends up being. The gym is also located close to campus and classes are offered multiple times a week to accommodate different schedules. I am so thankful for Rob and his incredible group of students for taking me in for a couple weeks and changing my perspective on the sport completely. The best part about this experience, is knowing that one day, this experience could save my life!

Here is the link to Unbridled Martial Art’s website so you can get all the information needed to get started!

http://www.unbridledmartialarts.com/

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Synergy Training Studio

Synergy Training Studio

I discovered Synergy Training Studio through a couple of my coworkers who invited me to tag along and check it out. I had no idea what to expect besides knowing it was in a commercial condo and hearing that my coworkers swore a lot during the work out and were insanely sore the next day.  And that’s exactly what I found out to be true!

First of all, personal trainer and owner Lisa Young is incredible! She is so personable yet will push you past your mental limits while encouraging you the whole way. She believes in each individual person, which makes me want to strive to do my absolute best. She will let you do whatever it takes to finish strong, whether that means swearing or screaming, she is right there to push you through the pain.

The gym is located in Bellingham just north of Barkley Village. It is in a commercial condo and is everything that the picture shows with the addition of a bathroom. The gym seems very small but the workouts that Lisa can create in that small space will leave you wanting to lay in bed moaning for a couple hours.

The type of workout we did consisted of timed stations with four different exercises, 20 seconds on, 10 seconds to rest and switch to the next. We did two complete cycles followed by a quick water break and then two more. After two cycles she switched up the exercises and we repeated the process. It doesn’t sound too bad but let me tell you, it’s killer! Some exercises we did were squats with weights, all types of pushups from regular to inclined, burpees, plank on a medicine ball, sit ups with weights, and so many more. After many rounds, we finished with a series of sprints with a medicine ball above our head, jumping jacks, push-ups and finally a one-minute plank with 10lbs on our back.

This isn’t the only type of work out Lisa will have you do. She is constantly switching things up to make the most out of your workout and helps you reach your goals.

My favorite part about Lisa’s program is how flexible she is. You can create whatever schedule you want and can text her at anytime to let her know your availability and set up a time. You can also bring friends and work out together which makes her killer workouts more enjoyable. Sessions are priced incomparable to any other personal training, which is incredible. Plus, I walked away feeling as though every muscle in my body was going to be sore the next day which is the best feeling ever! I hadn’t received a workout with those kinds of results since high school volleyball two-a-days! I felt accomplished and so proud of myself.

I completely recommend both Lisa and her program and can’t wait to continue working out with her and seeing some major results! She is an amazing trainer as well as an amazing person. Here is a link to her Facebook page so you can get started too!

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Synergy-Training-Studio-Lisa-Young/150727088319655

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Fitness Evolution

Fitness Evolution

I checked out Fitness Evolution towards the beginning of the quarter and have been a member for over a month now. I was instantly drawn in by the upscale facility and modern fitness options as well as the seemingly low cost monthly membership.

Fitness evolution seemed like my dream gym. They offer a wide variety of group fitness classes, on site personal training, physical therapy, massage therapy, smoothie bar, tanning, child care, you name it! They seem to have it all.

What sealed the deal for me and put a pen in my hand to sign and initial on the million dotted lines, was the “fitevo cinema”. They have a state of the art cinema room designed with treadmills and bike machines as chairs, to resolve the couch potato in all of us. They have a movie schedule where they play a different movie on repeat every day so you can work out while you enjoy your flick. It looks and feels just like a movie theater that, in theory is great, but after using it a few times I quickly realized its many drawbacks to go with the rest of the gym’s.

The cinema room is very dark which makes using treadmills complicated and dangerous since you can’t see any of the buttons. I tried running fast at one point and when I needed to stop, I couldn’t find the button and tripped and almost fell. They have a monthly movie schedule but very few of them I had ever heard of or was interested in. Once I find one I am interested in, it’s impossible to know when the movie will start because they play on repeat. I find myself always walking in the middle or near the end. To me, the cinema sounded great and got me hooked on becoming a member but isn’t realistic.

I’m not a fan of the gym overall for many reasons. I think it’s great that they offer so many services all at one location however, that comes with a cost. They seem to have a low monthly membership however if you want to add amenities such as group fitness classes, the cinema, tanning, etc., it continues to increase that monthly cost. There is also a yearly membership fee of $39.99 that is charged after just 2 months. Of course then if you want to receive personal training or massage services, you are just looking at ridiculous prices.

The equipment is all fairly new and updated, which is great! The clientele seem young and in shape which can feel a little intimidating at times. The layout of the gym makes me very uncomfortable. The weights are all located on the first floor and the cardio machines overlook this area from the second floor. Everything is open and I find myself naturally looking at people lifting weights when I was on a cardio machine because it’s hard not to when they are right in front of you. Conversely, I feel like I am being looked at when I am in the weight area, which makes me feel self-conscious.

Overall, Fitness Evolution is a high-class gym for a high-class budget. You can get everything you can need and dream of from a gym when you walk through their doors, it’s just not the gym for my budget or me.

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