Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Bulletproof Coffee

My friends and I participated in a 21 day challenge recently. This challenge stressed the importance of having healthy fats in your diet. One recommendation was adding grass-fed butter and coconut oil to your daily coffee. Even though my low-fat, calorie counting days are long gone, I was still very skeptical. 
I read up on Bulletproof coffee and learned there is only one kind of butter you should put in your coffee: grass-fed butter. Kerrygold unsalted brand is the most common that you can find in stores. (It is usually found in the gourmet cheese section.)
Most cows are corn or soy fed. It’s cheap and filling, but cows aren’t actually meant to eat that- they can’t even digest it properly- and their milk produces the kinds of fats you don’t want in your body. Grass-fed cows on the other hand commonly produce the best milk and beef, and the butter made from those cows is just as good. Here are five reasons why you should be putting this kind of butter in your coffee (and just using it in general from now on):

1. Only grass-fed butter has the right fats that regulate cholesterol, not add to it. Grass-fed butter has the best ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids (which reduces body fat) and is a good source of vitamin K, both of which according to studies reduces the risk of heart disease.
2. It provides healthy fats for your brain and body to create cell walls (membranes) and hormones. The short-chain fatty acid Butyrate, once thought to be bad for you, has been linked to preventing neurodegenerative diseasesincreased energy expenditure, and is also anti-inflammatory, further preventing heart disease.
3. Drinking it each morning puts your body in the routine to burn fat all day, helping you trim down overall. CLA (conjugated linoleic acid), found in grass-fed butter, has been shown to reduce body fat mass especially in overweight individuals.
4. “Bulletproof” coffee will give you energy as well as increase cognitive function that you can literally feel when it kicks in for about six hours- and without the crash. Mixed with more healthy fats from coconut oil, this amped up drink will help produce ketones, which are created when your body creates energy from fat rather than carbohydrates.
5. It is delicious! Seriously, you have to give it a try. Below is the recipe.


  • 1tbs Kerrygold unsalted grass-fed butter 
  • 1 tbs of Coconut Oil
  • 2 cups of hot coffee brewed 

How to Bulletproof Your Coffee

  •  Make coffee: Brew coffee as you normally would.  
  • Froth: Add coffee, butter, and coconut oil to blender or magic bullet.  Blend until there is a thick layer of foam on top like a latte. 
  • (optional) Add cinnamon or vanilla.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Solstice Health and Fitness Challenge

The last six weeks of winter I participated in a Health and Fitness Challenge at CrossFit Solstice. My friends Elyse, Christi, Ron and I organized and coached the challenge. This was the first time we had a nutrition challenge at our gym, so we spent a lot of time researching and debating how we would organize and run it. 

The first goal of the challenge was that participants would end the challenge feeling healthy, fit, energized and rejuvenated. The second goal was that participants would adopt some sustainable healthy habits into their daily life. 

With those goals in mind, we developed the six week challenge. The challenge was developed around the concept of bio-individuality. Bio-individuality is the belief that there’s no one-size-fits-all diet – each person is a unique individual with highly individualized nutritional requirements. Personal differences in anatomy, metabolism, body composition and cell structure all influence your overall health and the foods that make you feel your best. That’s why no single way of eating works for everyone.

However, there are certain habits that we know will make us feel great (sleep), and others that we know will have a negative effect on our health (sugar)! We organized the challenge around these principles. 

Each day participants logged their points into an Excel spreadsheet that they submitted at the end of the week. Points could be earned everyday for sleeping at least seven hours, drinking 64 ounces of water a day, working out, stretching and sharing a healthy recipe or tip with the group. Points were lost for drinking alcohol, and consuming sugar and prepared foods. 

At the end of the challenge additional points were earned if participants met an individual goal they set for themselves at the start of the challenge. For example, I will perform 8 strict pull-ups, or I will lose 2 inches from my hips. Additional points were also rewarded based off improvement on a before and after workout (Filthy 50). 

We had some amazing results from the challenge. Huge goals were met, inches and pounds were lost, and a new sense of positive energy was gained in the gym. 

Click here for a great post-challenge write up with results!

Below is some of Team Conneen! We were the top scoring team. Dave was the challenge winner and Jess (not pictured) came in second place.

Friday, November 8, 2013

End the Stigma Workshop Take II

On October 26th the MHWTC hosted another End the Stigma Workshop. The first workshop was a huge success and brought a lot of awareness for our charity Bring Change 2 Mind. This time we had  two very special guests- Glenn Close and her sister Jessie!! Glenn Close is the founder of Bring Change 2 Mind. Read about their mission here. I had the opportunity to share my story again. Below is what I shared.

Six months ago I stood in this same place at the End the Stigma Workshop and shared my story for the very first time. It was the first time I ever spoke the words; I lost my dad to suicide out loud. Sitting down and preparing to speak today allowed me the opportunity to really sit back and reflect on my journey the last six months.

My journey really began when Lydia announced Bring Change 2 Mind as this year’s charity over a year ago. I volunteered to be on the charity committee because I was struggling with the loss of my dad. I was hoping that volunteering would provide me with answers to my many questions, and peace for my broken heart.

I’m going to reread my words from the workshop in April.

My dad was always my biggest fan. He supported me in each and every aspect of my life. Some of my best memories, however, are being on the soccer field with my dad on the sideline. He actually paced the sidelines cheering, “Let’s go Skate!” My dad traveled hours for games that I played in for five minutes. He woke up very early, after working all night, to be at the first whistle of every game. Vacations were scheduled around soccer tournaments. In college, I had to convince him it was crazy to drive two and a half hours to watch me play an intramural soccer game. He was always encouraging and supportive. No matter what the outcome of the game, or how I played that day, he always welcomed me with a smile and a hug.

August 20, 2010 I lost my dad to suicide.

Five years prior to his death, my dad suffered a major stroke that took my family on a five-year rollercoaster of ups and downs. He suffered from debilitating depression and anxiety at times. Knowing that he needed serious help he checked himself into a crisis center. My dad tried countless counselors, psychiatrists, neurologists, and medication over the years. He fought hard. As his daughter, it was awful to see him hurt so bad, and not be able to help him. The last time I saw my dad I knew in my heart there was something seriously wrong. When I looked at him, looking at me, there was emptiness in his eyes where there usually was unconditional love. I could see a heavy blanket of despair wrapped around him. I felt helpless. I didn’t know what to say, so I didn’t say anything. That is something I regret. I was uncomfortable talking to my dad about depression, anxiety, and his thoughts of suicide. My advice to people in a similar situation is, speak up! Speak up about your feelings, even if it is just to say you are scared. Speak up to medical professionals by asking questions. Then ask more questions. Continue asking questions until you get a clear answer. There are so many people who devote their lives to helping others cope with mental illness. Did you know that the National Suicide Prevention hotline is not just for people in crisis? If you are concerned about a loved one they encourage you to call so that you can find out what resources are available in your area. Your call is routed to the Lifeline center closest to your area. I believe silence helps perpetuate the stigma surrounding mental health and suicide. People do not want to talk about these topics because they are uncomfortable, but we need to. We need to so that we can learn, discover, heal, cope, and survive.

When Lydia announced the charity for the year I knew it was an opportunity for me to step up and speak out. I am still uncomfortable and uneasy talking about suicide, depression, and anxiety but I promised myself I would not allow this feeling silence me this time. Feelings of regret have haunted me and caused me a lot of pain over the last couple years. I have come to a place where I know I need to channel these feelings of regret to do something beneficial for others and myself. I came across this quote recently and I pray that it is true: When you stand and share your story in an empowering way, your story will heal you and your story will heal somebody else. I hope my words today have given someone in a similar situation the courage to speak up.

I have heard many people say that they notice I smile during triathlons. There is a simple reason for this; it is because I know my dad is with me. I know my dad is with me because he would not miss an opportunity to cheer me on. My dad is still my biggest fan.

Over the past month I have reread this speech many times. Each time I reread it one word kept grabbing my attention. That word was regret. Standing here tonight I can say my prayer has been answered. While I still miss my dad terribly, I no longer have those feelings of regret.  At that time I was unsure of how sharing my story would affect me. However, I have realized that talking about my dad and volunteering for Bring Change 2 Mind has released those feelings of regret and set me on my path to healing. A quote from Maya Angelou’s resonates with me tonight, do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.

I wanted to end on a similar note as in April. Colleen posted a picture of me crossing the finish line at Queen of the Hill. I noticed in that picture that I am definitely not smiling. It is evident that I was in pain, and there is another triathlete, Katie, right on my heels. This picture shows me that not only is my dad my biggest fan, he also taught me how to be a true fighter.

If you are struggling with a mental illness or have a loved one who is, keep fighting and remember together we can Bring Change 2 Mind. 

Monday, October 7, 2013

MHWTC End of the Year Party!

This weekend the MHWTC hosted their annual end of the year bash. It was a very memorable night. Like each and every event the triathlon club hosts, no detail was spared. The event was held at the beautiful Pratt Gardens. The decoration committee added to this beauty. The delicious Rode's catered, there was a very fun band, and a packed photo booth all night! However, the best part of the night was hanging out with so many inspiring women.

There was an award ceremony to honor the accomplishments of members throughout the year. The most determined award was presented to two women whom at the beginning of the season struggled to swim one lap in a pool, and by the end of the season participated in open water swims and triathlons. The most resilient award was presented to a friend of mine who overcame a terrible bike accident last fall, and got herself right back on the bike this season, still smiling! I was extremely honored to be awarded member of the year, in a club filled with so many motivated women. Winning Queen of the Hill was something I will never forget, but being a part of this years Bring Change 2 Mind charity committee has changed my life. The conversations we have had about mental health, the money we have raised, and the stigma surrounding mental health we have been able to shine a light on is something I am very proud of!

We are still not done, Run the Hill is coming up quickly and will be an amazing conclusion to this season!

Beautiful background

Decoration committee's beautiful work!

AC tri Relay team!

The founders of the club who dedicate countless hours to this club

Too much fun!

Pumpkin Chili

Once October hits I can not get enough pumpkin. I like pumpkin in everything, including my chili! Don't be intimidated by the long list of ingredients, this recipe was easy to make. I really enjoyed it, but next time I would consider adding more pumpkin!

Pumpkin Chili

2 pounds of ground beef
1 yellow onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1 29-ounce can tomato sauce
1 15-ounce can tomato sauce
1 4-ounce can diced green chilis
1 cup beef stock
2 tablespoons of chili powder
1 tablespoon of ground cumin
1 tablespoon paprika
2 tablespoons of cinnamon
2 teaspoons of cocoa powder
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1- In a large soup pot, place beef, onion, and garlic over medium heat. stirring occasionally until the beef is browned.
2- Add the rest of the chili ingredients. Let simmer, stirring every so often for 15 minutes.

If you are in the chili mood check out another favorite of mine Buffalo Chicken Chili!

Eating on the Road

This summer my mom and I went on a road trip to Knoxville, Nashville and the Shenandoah Valley! It was an amazing trip, and I hope to post soon all about it. Before leaving for the trip I was concerned about eating out at restaurants for 12 days straight. I took a trip to Wegmans (my happy place) and stocked up on some road trip essentials. This took care of breakfast and snacks daily. Balance is the key to life so I definitely enjoyed lots of different kinds of barbecue in the south!

This was the first time I tried Cocomama. This quinoa breakfast cereal was so good and perfect for a busy morning. Quinoa is an amazing power food!

Puffins, Almond Milk, Breakfast on the Go, Cocomama

Almond butter, Almond pouches, KIND bars and KIND Healthy Grains bars

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Confessions of a Depressed Comic

Check out this video below from Kevin Bree. He is a teenager, stand up comic, a writer, and an activist for mental health. In this powerful video he explains the stigma surrounding depression.

Below are a couple quotes that really resonated with me. 

"Real depression isn't being sad when something in your life goes wrong. Real depression is being sad when everything in your life is going right."

"Depression isn't chicken pox. You don't beat it once and it's gone forever. It's something you live with. It's something you live in."

"We live in a world that if you break your arm everyone runs over to sign your cast, but if you tell people you are depressed everyone runs the other way. That's the stigma."

"As a society we are so accepting of any body part breaking down other than our brains, and that's ignorance."

The MHWTC is hosting Run the Hill on October 27th. We are running to help end the stigma surrounding mental health. Find out more about the race here! Join us as we each try to change a mind about mental health.