MFMC Volume 3: Head games

Hey Everyone,

Thanks for tuning in to the third volume of the Merge Fitness Mom Chronicles. How are you enjoying them so far? I’d love feedback from you - helps me know if I am posting relevant content. I hope your week is going well so far!


I’ve come to realize while running some errands that I’ve been operating lately in my mind as if in competition against some ticking time bomb. I need to get this done so that I can squeeze that in, or I can’t go there because of this thing, or since I have to run, run, run I’ll do that thing later… hurry, hurry, hurry… rush, rush, rush…and on and on it goes! It’s exhausting. I bet some of you can relate.

I understand that to a certain extent, this is part of the stage of life we are in right now. However, I need to recognize that the only one holding said theoretical time bomb is me. The degree to which I feel rushed, hurried, anxious, etc. is in large part on me. However, the great news is that it is also within my capacity to change that response! And now, more than ever, I am aware that someone else is watching my every move, action, reaction and response so I had better start figuring out how to exemplify the positive ones.

There is a series we are going through at church right now where one of the principles surrounding the teaching is: can you read yourself into the story and honestly consider your response? So I ask you - read yourself into my story - can you identify a head game you’ve been playing that isn’t having such a positive effect - do you compare yourself with others who are in “better” shape than you and so use that to justify putting your body down? Have you gone off track with healthy eating habits already once this week and so now are tempted to just abandon your efforts entirely? While my focus is directed towards health and fitness, there are numerous areas where head games can exist. What’s the negative game you play?

The great news is that it is within your capacity to change that response! This requires a diligent practice of fortitude. defines fortitude as, “Mental and emotional strength in facing difficulty, adversity, danger, or temptation courageously.” Wow. Go back and reread that definition again.

So where does this strength come from? Practice. Repetition. Practice. Repetition. Wash, Rinse, Repeat. When we begin to recognize those negative head games starting in our minds we can then refuse to play and instead practice thoughts and internal dialogue that actually builds our self confidence, bolsters our personal motivation, or in my case, reminds me to throw the darn time bomb out the window and just enjoy life! If you’ve been wondering thus far in this post about the “why” that’s it, right there folks. If you recall in volume 1 I invited you join me on a journey and along the way discover how to love who you are in the process, well this is one giant step to getting there. Be nice to yourself, give yourself some grace and credit! And be honest about where your thought life needs some change to promote positivity instead of negativity.

Let’s play a new version of head games from now on, a version that consistently practices fortitude. It will take dedicated time and repeated effort as forging a new path always does. I’ll plan on circling back around to this topic in a few weeks and see how you’re doing and I’ll update you about how I’m doing as well.


MFMC Volume 2: Gather. Eat. Stay Awhile.

Hey Y’all,

I love that greeting. Thanks for checking back in for Volume 2 of the Merge Fitness Mom Chronicles. This week highlights a recipe - I’m not kidding when I say these are the BEST shrimp tacos EVER. We happened upon this recipe rather innocently. I literally googled, “best shrimp taco recipe” and BAM - POOF - SHAZOW. It appeared! Thank you to and @LenaAbraham for posting this recipe.


We’ve made these pretty much as written with two exceptions. First, we make homemade tortillas. I wanted to try my hand at it once and they turned out to be pretty easy AND DELICIOUS. Second, we use a local brand of “hot” sauce called Hank Sauce (our favorite is the herb infused). The flavor of it is awesome and when Hank’s started selling at our local grocery store…no lie, we bought all the bottles. Thanks @HankSauce in Sea Isle City, NJ for creating such great sauces!

These tacos hit all the right notes for a fantastic summertime grilling meal. They’re incredibly fresh tasting with the raw cabbage and avocado slaw and lime dressing, they’ve got great spice marinated into the shrimp (read: sub out chicken or white fish if you’re not a shrimp fan) from cumin and garlic and by grilling the protein, the whole dish remains light but still completely filling.

Some of the recipes I consider posting may not be the easiest or the quickest, but I guarantee they will deliver on flavor and satisfaction. I love saving a recipe like this for a weekend when I know we have a day at home and can make the various parts throughout the day and then bring it all together when we’re ready to eat. Make these tacos straight as is written or color outside the lines, there’s no real wrong answer. I love how cooking invites adventure in that way.

This makes me think of another aspect of cooking that I love - how it brings people together. Making memories (and sometimes delicious messes) with your clan, your crew, your girl pals, your guy pals, your “fam” (and there are all kinds) around a table, a kitchen island, a crate in the garage, a fire pit - WHATEVER that gets you eyeball to eyeball with them - isn’t that part of what life’s all about?

A few popular word signs nowadays for kitchens are the ones that say, “Gather” and “Eat” and “Stay Awhile.” So here’s the amazing recipe, go make it this weekend. Gather those you love for dinner, Eat together, laugh, drink and Stay Awhile!

Best Cilantro-Lime Shrimp Tacos

Fail to plan; plan to fail

Hey Everyone,

I wanted to write and encourage each of you to give 5-10 minutes today thinking about what your week needs to look like in order to move forward towards your health and fitness goals. Do you need to schedule some early morning workouts or cardio sessions? If you have opportunity, can you carve out some time during your workday for a quick walk outside? Maybe the weekends are where you need to dedicate some time to exercise…the point is to give it thought and schedule it out. We are more likely to stay committed to the plan we have in place for our success if we can envision what it takes to get there each week!

The same principle can be applied to meal preparation and planning. Nate and I figure out on sundays what our lunches and dinners will look like for the week and then do one big shopping trip for as many of the groceries as we are able to purchase in advance. This cuts down on last minute dinner planning that could lead to take out or other less-than-ideal choices and allows us to plan for meals that are wholesome and healthy. Sunday just happens to be the day that works best for our family. Take some time today to consider how a little food preparation and planning could help you take healthier steps when it comes to your nutrition. Small steps taken now will pay BIG dividends later!

Let’s start this week with positive momentum in the right direction! You CAN do this! Not sure how to implement a plan that works for you? Ask me how today!

Have a GREAT week!

MFMC Volume 1: A call to do life WELL

Hi Everyone,

It has been some time since I last blogged. Since then, I’ve had a baby! She’s a doll. I’d say the transition into motherhood has been made kicking and screaming (more from me, not darling child) but as time passes, as it so sneakily does, I’m recognizing more and more the amazingly precious joy she is and just how much I’m growing myself. As is with most things in life…it’s a process.

A validating and motivating conversation I had this morning reminded me I’m in a phase of life where “getting it all done” is nearly impossible. There’s just not enough time or enough of me. There’s only so much I can do within a day and I have to focus on priorities and doing what I am able to the best of my ability.

And accept that THAT IS OK. Hmm, therein lies the rub, doesn’t it? We justify beating ourselves into the ground for not doing it ALL and doing it PERFECTLY. Whose meter stick are we measuring ourselves up against anyways?

Back to this mornings’ conversation. It was a gentle but very needed reminder of what’s most important. And so, moving forward, as I evaluate how to best use the resources I have to grow and promote Merge Fitness, I invite you to join me on this journey to discovering how to do life WELL with what you have, where you are, with those around you…and learning to lovingly accept yourself in the process.

Plan on being surprised each time I post - it could revolve around a recipe I made over the weekend that was DIVINE, it could be about understanding an aspect of fitness, ie: stretching and why it’s CRUCIAL to your health and the how to’s/how not to’s, it could get all touchy feely and delve into things we don’t often say out loud but think about often like the beating I referred to earlier…why do we think that is ok?? Or, it could be none of that and perhaps just a hysterical story from our life as first time parents.

Who knows. Sky’s the limit! I welcome suggestions.

Welcome to the Merge Fitness Mom Chronicles. I look forward to seeing you again soon.

Post-Thanksgiving Leftovers soup

#TastyTuesday So now the big meal is over and you open your fridge and see the leftovers. I’m all for reheating and going for round #2 when it comes to leftovers. But I also know there’s a small segment of the population who want nothing to do with leftovers (what is wrong with you people?!?!? :-P). So here’s a meet in the middle - use leftovers to recreate a new dish! Making turkey soup using leftover turkey meat, roasted root veggies (or fresh veggies if you and your guests gobbled up all the roasted veggies the day before because they were so amazing) and whatever other fun ideas you can come up with for yummy soup. Here’s a recipe that takes a bit of a spicy-mexican twist. It calls for chicken bouillon cubes, but to control the sodium you could just as easily use low sodium broth instead or…even better…make your own broth from the turkey carcass! MergeFitness #Imthankfulforsoup #Leftoversallday #AdaptiveFitness


Yogurt and Apricot Pie with Crunchy Granola Crust

#TastyTuesday Ok, so let’s be real folks. Holiday meals are not typically the time when people think of making dishes that fall on the healthier end of the spectrum, I get it. However, when on the journey towards better health and fitness, it is a great idea to consider ways to incorporate foods or recipes that are lower in calories and higher in nutrients in even one or two of your holiday dishes so as not to diminish all the hard work you’ve been doing and the progress you’ve been making. I’m sorry (no I’m not), but there is NO FOOD worth that. Here’s a great example of a non-traditional sweet treat that won’t have you regretting every bite. #MergeFitness #FitnessoverFood #FitnessforALLabilities


Root Vegetable Roast

#TastyTuesday As we continue to dip into cooler and cooler temperatures, one of my favorite ways to eat veggies is by roasting them and for a number of tasty yet practical reasons. #1 - having the oven on helps warms my house! “Brrr, I’m so cold!” said no one when opening the door to a 400 degree oven. #2 - Roasting brings out the natural sweetness of vegetables. You’ve probably heard this a million times, but it is so true. Don’t knock a veggie until you’ve tried it roasted - seriously elevates it to a whole ‘nother level of deliciousness. #3 - it’s easy! Chop up some veggies, toss with either olive oil and S/P or a pan sauce such as the one featured in this recipe and BOOM -somewhere in the vicinity of 20-40 minutes you’ve got a yummy side dish (or main course) that required very little effort on your part but looks impressive to your guests. How can you go wrong with any of that?!? #MergeFitness #LovetoRoast #InclusiveTrainers #veggiesareyourfriend


Healthy Potato Gratin

#TastyTuesday So for the month of November I thought we’d go in the direction Thanksgiving recipes that have a healthy element but without sacrificing on flavor. I came across this recipe first because it looks gorgeous, second because I was intrigued that it uses NO cream, which is often thought to be essential to a gratin. Instead, this recipe utilizes an herbed broth reduction, sweetened by sauteed shallots. Give this pretty plate a try for your Thanksgiving table this year! #MergeFitness #Nocreamforme #Prettyfood #FitnessforALLabilities


Baked Apples

#TastyTuesday There’s no denying it - I LOVE all things baked, roasted and toasty warm come this time of year. And to boot, there are certain smells that just send it all home, such as the aroma that comes from apples and cinnamon baking in the oven. Now, usually this happens when I’m whipping up something not so waistline friendly such as a pie or crisp, but this is a great alternative - Baked Apples! The portions are already easily defined (1/2 apple per) and you can limit the amount of “crisp” on top or substitute with healthier ingredients such as maple syrup for the sugar, or almond flour in place of the AP flour. Bottom line - your home will still smell of all things wonderfully Fall and your tummy and sweet tooth will be satisfied! #MergeFitness #FitnessforALLabilities #AnAppleaDay #IsitFinallyFall

(PS- I’ve also cooked my apples in a baking dish so the little buggers aren’t tempted to roll around and spill their goods on top!)

Credit to for this recipe:

For an extra flavor boost and splurge - enjoy this A la Mode!!

For an extra flavor boost and splurge - enjoy this A la Mode!!

Fitness Programming 101 - Part 2 of 3


Programming 101

Part 2 of 3: Cardiopumonary Training

Ever wonder what is going through the mind of a trainer when they tell you they’ve got a “program” ready for you? Here’s a “behind-the-scenes” look at what goes into making an effective, comprehensive client program once a thorough initial assessment has been completed.

PART 2: Cardiopulmonary training - not just a random program on the treadmill! This component is essential to any program as the benefits of building cardiopulmonary endurance  are numerous and include: helping to decrease the risk of premature death- especially from heart disease and Type 2 diabetes, reducing death of all causes, and increasing the likelihood of establishing healthy lifestyle choices (which also provide further benefits).

Below we’ve outlined some of the most elementary components of Merge Fitness’ cardiopulmonary program design and they are: the warm-up phase, the work phase, and the cool-down phase.


The Warm-Up Phase:  To gradually transition your body from being at rest to the intended intensity of the work phase portion of the cardiopulmonary program. This time frame allows for the muscles to receive appropriate blood flow, often referred to as achieving “steady state”.

The Work Phase: To appropriately challenge the cardiopulmonary system (heart, lungs and systemic vessels) in order to achieve valuable, progressive and lasting adaptations. Components include: Intensity, Mode, Frequency and Time.

Intensity - we consider this element to represent two categories, 1) As a measurement of how hard the work is and, 2) the collection of variables that influence the former and can be manipulated based on goals and desired outcomes.

Intensity as a Measurement: Rate of Perceived Exertion or RPE (Borg Scale), the talk test, heart rate zones.

Intensity as a Variable: incline, resistance, speed/pace, etc. Timing intervals can also influence intensity but will be reviewed under the component of “Time.”

Mode - the piece of equipment chosen to perform cardiopulmonary exercise: treadmill, row machine, recumbent bike, indoor/outdoor track surfaces, stair master, etc.


Frequency - how often a given Cardiopulmonary workout is performed, generally is intertwined with length of duration of the individual workout as well as the intensity. Often a client's’ schedule and life demands can weigh in on frequency.

Time - The total duration of a given cardiopulmonary workout session. Also inclusive of timed intervals that may be prescribed to introduce a higher level of work intensities over shorter periods in an effort to advance a beginner, challenge a more seasoned exerciser, vary the metabolic system being emphasized, etc.

Client Goals: depending on the specific goal(s) a client has will determine the overarching emphasis of a program that the basic principles are wrapped around.

Weight Loss/ Change in Body Composition - Cardiopulmonary workouts provide the “biggest bang for your buck” in terms of caloric expenditure within a given period of time, as your metabolism remains at an elevated level throughout the workout (and even for a short time after!) which means more calories are burned in a single session as compared with the same time frame to perform a resistance training session which typically includes rest periods during which metabolism can be lowered. Let’s be clear in stating however, that Cardiopulmonary training goes hand-in-hand with Resistance training to promote optimal weight loss, as remember, increasing your lean mass will burn a greater number of calories within a 24-hour period. The two elements compliment and assist one another.

Improved Speed - for those who may participate in races or who’s greatest competitor is themselves, improving PR’s (personal records), min/mile pacing or efficiency, etc.

Increased Endurance - some clients have a goal of “just wanting to be able to run a mile” or “run around with my kids without losing my breath,” or even still - participating in a half-marathon, full marathon, etc. where being able to last longer (have greater endurance) is a must for finishing the event.

Injury Prevention - heavy emphasis in this category is placed on technique, functional movements and working through a full range of motion.

General Life Requirements: while there could literally be hundreds of items listed below, here’s some of our top picks.

  • Occupation/ADL specific demands - what a client needs to get through the day. This can include: physical requirements for occupation and/or daily life, physical ability level, current/past medical history, etc.

  • Recreational/Hobby demands - what a client likes or would like to do that can be influenced by improved physical fitness. Accomplishing their first 5k or performing a hobby that previously was symptomatic (read “painful”) would fall in this category.

  • The “Nitty Gritty” demands - what a client possesses to initiate and continue successful performance of their program. For example, extrinsic/intrinsic motivation, external support, membership to a fitness facility, at home equipment, schedule/time, budget, etc.

Ok folks, there you have it! A sneak peak inside the brain of your trainer that hopefully shed some light on what goes into Cardiopulmonary training program design. We reviewed that a comprehensive, effective program includes such elements as: basic principles (the science), client goals (the wants), and general life requirements (the demands). Please check us out in the next blog post as we explore what the components of the warm up and cool down are made up of in: #FitnessFriday: Programming 101 - Part 3 of 3. We would love to read what you thought of today’s article and answer any questions you may have, feel free to comment below!

Sources: Bushman, B. A., Battista, R., Swan, P., L. R., & Thompson, W. R. (Eds.). (2014). American College of Sport's Medicine's resources for the personal trainer (4th ed.). Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Wolters Kluwer/Lippincott Williams & Wilkins Health. Chapter 15: Cardiopulmonary Training Programs.

Image Sources:

Stuffed Butternut Squash

#TastyTuesday Ok, so let’s revisit the roasted squash from two weeks ago and take it up a few notches to either EPIC side dish or vegetarian main dish. This one definitely fits the bill on both accounts. And again, versatility and variety here is possible, you could just as easily put this into another hearty squash like the acorn squash or use a different whole grain if you really don’t prefer quinoa or switch up the green for something similar to kale such as collard greens or swiss chard. Plus c’mon… just looks SO PRETTY!!! As the old saying goes, “You eat with your eyes first” so make your food look as yummy as it tastes!! #MergeFitness #FallintoFlavor #InclusiveTrainers

Fall Salad with Apples, Walnuts and Stilton

#TastyTuesday Yet another salad recipe…what’s wrong with that?!? I love the versatility and variety salads bring to the table and how easy it is to take advantage of seasonal produce. Here’s a salad featuring apples, walnuts and stilton cheese with what sounds to be a fantastic vinaigrette. Don’t like stilton? Leave it off or sub for something else, perhaps goat cheese as the article suggests. Vegetarian? Leave of the prosciutto or sub for a different protein, perhaps a hard boiled egg. Your options are virtually limited to your creativity! What’s your Fall salad go-to? #MergeFitness #GoGreen #FitnessforALLabilities

Roasted Acorn Squash

#TastyTuesday I know today is supposed to top out at almost 80 degrees again, but I just can’t help myself. With the overcast skies, it just has me thinking of warm weather foods. The flavor, aromas and textures from various Fall squashes can be so familiar, comforting and hearty and as a bonus, squashes are loaded with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Before you say, “I don’t know how to cook a squash…” well here’s a recipe that is both easy AND flavorful. All you need is a knife, spoon, cutting board, oven, baking pan and a few simple ingredients. How easy is that? #MergeFitness #FitnessforALLAbilities #AcornSquash

5 ingredients and 3 steps to a delicious healthy side dish!  Picture Credit:

5 ingredients and 3 steps to a delicious healthy side dish!

Picture Credit: