All posts by Laura K

Spirit, heart and rhythm....

Shoutout to the BHE: Best Husband Ever

Kenny Donahue has listened to me every morning for the past year as I weigh myself and make a few comments in the morning, as I put on my fitbit and read out loud the little motivational message it gives, as I catcall him every morning while he’s in the shower, as I tell him every day I am so happy I am back to normal and puts up with me coming home after 8pm because I’m working out after work and have a two hour round trip commute, eating a limited set of food (much of which he doesn’t eat so we are cooking separately a lot), having patience while I’ve done physical therapy every night rolling around in the living room, helping me weigh and cooking me food per my plan being supportive, and being so self confident while I surround myself with a set of jacked men as my support team 🙂

My handsome, sweet, funny, smart, gentle man – thanks babe!



StrongerU vs RP Templates and The Domino Effect

fire and fuel

I made a presentation for a lunchtime learning at work called “Fire and Fuel” attached.  I didn’t geek out on details of macros in that but will here.

StrongerU philosophy is simple foods, follow your assigned macros (grams of carbs, fat, proteins per day eating whenever and whatever you want as long as you get within 5 g of the targets).  You have to log everything (I use myfitnesspal), report in weekly to your coach with your sleep, how you feel, what macros you ate every day, weight daily (used to calculate avg weekly weight and compare to week before), and bust/waist/hip measurements periodically.  Coach will adjust you or advise you based on your progress.  Lessons learned after doing this for a year:

A few reflections and The Domino Effect after deciding to lose weight – all kinds of other good things started happening:
  • I think this shoulder surgery will result in me being better than I ever was before (especially with mobility) as I also have my physical therapist as part of my team who will help me with more than just getting my full range of motion (95% back) and shoulder related strength back (next gate to pass before being able to lift heavier weights in Dec).
  •  I am also tracking workouts and splits – I pretty much PR every week which is easy to do starting from where I am!  My running is getting better all the time and actually fun again – has been a while!  Losing 45 pounds can do that
  • Details of when to/how often to eat in general don’t matter – total calories is most important for weight lost
  • Must track macros.  Without the data and consistency, it’s a waste of time.
  • Food is way more important than working out to losing weight – that’s why I was so confused when I started after seeing little progress after a year of crossfit
  • Food management helped me recover way faster – an incredible amount faster actually.  I used to get destroyed at XFit and hope to go 5x a week without issues now.
  • I was overeating thinking I had to eat more while working out and found out I recovered better and it didn’t matter when I cut back
  • Blaming weight gain on middle age metabolism is B.S.
  • Got a fitbit to track activity.  LOVE LOVE LOVE my fitbit to understand activity levels and found comraderie because my family and I challenge every week for the most steps thru the app.  Best feature I didn’t realize I needed was sleep tracking.  I don’t get enough – need to work this still.
  • Power of habit – being active daily vs. setting a target of 3-4x a week (which is easy to postpone).  Got this idea stuck in my thru a Ben Bergeron Chasing Excellence Podcast – a series I love and you should check out
  • I have a lot to learn
  • I feel like I am back to where I was back in 1998 (please tell me you were born then!) when I was in great shape.  Although I think I’m actually better than that now(!!) once I gain back the strength after shoulder surgery – have run further and probably lifted way more thru crossfit than I did then.  There will be no more “I used to” – being able to NOT say that was my main goal.  I have survived middle life and stepmotherhood and come out better on the other side (well, I’m still in middle life 🙂
  • I can’t keep crap in the house or I’ll eat it and if I cheat, I cheat too much so expect to be strict or off; however, my “way off” isn’t really that far off these days.  You can see Monday where I meant to eat one of the belgian chocolates I brought back and ate like 5 instead.  I’ve learned occassional celebrations, etc won’t matter but to make it an exception vs. every day
  • Consistency in workouts and nutrition will get you to badass.  Funny as  I also heard it since then from other sources (ie. great podcast on Tim Ferriss how where he interviews Ryan Flaherty – who coaches folks like Serena Williams and works for Nike now)  (You would like this and it gets pretty technical – I had to look a bunch of stuff up – he ties deadlifts to speed).  Ryan was saying your body will adapt to the stresses based on the shape it is in – so I just need to keep running and doing crossfit while maintaining good nutrition and I will look better.  I am on it and committed.
  • Learning it is OK to be a little hungry – that is like a revelation.
  • It rubs off – some folks I work with are inspired and making changes to their lives as well.  I started a series called “Profiles in Awesomeness” and am interviewing/putting out articles on folks who made changes, why, etc and started a work movement called “Get moving” to help inspire/help others who want to be more active.  We plan to do company races and build community thru that.

RP templates – You put in data, pay ~$100 and download them.  Basic philosophy is also macros but broken up by meal and also with modified macros based on if you have a rest day, light /moderate/hard workout day (ie. more carbs for harder workout days).  Eye opener is that crossfit is considered a light day!

During the weight loss phase, I was at around 1515 calories.  Using the Inbody scan results I got last week, I need 1475 calories/day just to maintain my basic metabolic functions and I am at 24% body fat.  Test results shown below:

weight chart 9-1-18InBody Scan - Nov 14 2018

When I downloaded RP templates, comparison of assigned macros to my last StrongerU macros in grams attached… this explains why it feels I am losing weight again!

StrongerU REST RP Light RP Mod RP Heavy
carb 150 120 125 200 230
fat 60 55 55 55 55
protein 125 125 120 120 120
total calories 1640 1475 1475 1775 1895

It took all last week to get used to the RP templates because of the following:

  • Breaking up my carbs better by meal included changing my breakfast!  this is huge!  I have been an oatmeal, milk, berry, maple syrup breakfast person forever.  Now on light days I am eating egg white omelets with tomatoes/spinach and something I LOVE – wheat toast with butter and a little raspberry jam.
  • Love two meals between breakfast and dinner as I had been scrapping by with an Rx bar – with my long commute, I often don’t eat until 8pm and it is a long time between noon and 8!
  • Changed my pre/post workout so am now slugging a scoop of protein in coconut water instead of an Rx bar.
  • Toast and protein before bread is new but fun as I love the toast.
  • RP meals have a “handful of veggies” per meal excluding peas/corn/corn which count towards carbs – this is a change but easy to do.  My lunch used to be a frozen mix of veg and now I am more selective in what I’m including and adding vegetables to breakfast.

What I don’t like with RP:  lack of fidelity around total grams/day so it is harder to meet the exact numbers (which I know are always an approximation anyway) and tracking of different macros/day makes it harder to program into myfitnesspal.  It also requires knowledge of the following week and a commitment to do what you say every day so you eat all the meals appropriately.  Not a bad thing if you want to have good habits!

Clean eating, honest reporting and en route to badass,



Showing Up

Des Linden  won the Boston Marathon last year and below is a link to a podcast she did with Rich Roll (the source as well for an inspirational video about the Iron Cowboy – man who did 50 ironmans in 50 days in 50 states (but that’s another story)….

The main and significant takeaway I got was the message that you need to SHOW UP.  This means you need to show up and workout on days you want to stay in bed, or are tired, or whatever.  Turning working out into habit and a priority is something I am focused on.  It can’t be trying to fit in 3 days of workouts where you can always say, I’ll skip today but do tomorrow.  Just do it. everyday. (using rest days for mobility/walking and active recovery not couch sitting) and make it something you enjoy.  Ben Bergeron also talks about this a lot in his podcast Chasing Excellence.

Last Wednesday, at 9pm, when I went for a 3 mile run after crossfit workout, all I could hear were the words “Show up” as I literally froze the first 1/2 mile on an isolated road all by myself putting in the time and thinking of Des Linden.

Clean eating, honest reporting and en route to Badass



Addressing Lower Back Pain

Since I’ve been running more, I’m having issues with lower back pain after longer runs – ie. so much that I’m crippled and can’t roll out or anything else my back will spasm.  After talking to folks, I think it is my posterior chain (back, butt, hamstrings plus tight pecs that pull me over).  So I’m working mobility plus a few posture changes.

  • I have a 2 hour commute so while driving, I put a lacrosse ball behind my upper shoulders.  This makes me think about pushing on it, which changes a bent over car posture into one upright.  I am hoping 2 hours a day without slumping will matter!
  • I got a second pair of progressive glasses especially for working at my computer.  I was constantly taking mine off and hunching over to see the screen.  LOVE THEM.  Compromises of middle age!

This is me in my car…


Exercises and massage work:  I am trying to go weekly to see Steph Bedaw at Crossfit Nashua to help me.  She worked on my pecs and upper back and the next day, I did an air squat and felt like I could almost do it upright for the first time in my life.  It was amazing and has given me hope.

On my own, I’m doing a ton of work with lacrosse balls and posterior chain stretches.

  • Hips and butt and back just working the ball everywhere – leaning on it against a wall with leg nearest wall loose and moving.
  • Sometimes just lying on it on lower back and raising arm from side to overhead works it.
  • I work pecs against a crossfit rig lifting my arms up from side in front to overhead.


Frog pose, seated couch stretch (or against wall) and the third which has no name.


Also, firelog seated post below, which my husband did with me yesterday – if this is too hard, put a folded blanket under your butt.  The first is a woman from the internet and the second is me so happy I could finally do it with my legs pretty flat earlier this year – it took awhile to get there.


I did 7.3 miles yesterday in the snow and slush and was NOT crippled, so i take this as progress and will blog at another time about how important it is to trial run all the bad things that can happen so you can always mentally say, “no big deal, I’ve done this before.”  If only we had been taught mobility 30 yrs ago when I was working out in Golds Gym in Chicago alongside the ex Mr Olympia Sergio Oliva!!!  I encourage all young folks to not forget your rotator cuff exercises (ie. use Crossfit Symmetry) and to work mobility after/before every workout.

BTW:  A great resource for stretching is a book called “Becoming a Supple Leopard” by Dr. Kelly Starrett which is focused on resolving pain, preventing injury and optimizing athletic performance.

Clean eating, honest reporting and en route to badass,



You Don’t Know What “A Little” is

A few words on the final weeks prior to what I hope is a final clearance to do all weight training/athletic events again 6 months post rotator cuff surgery (Dec 11 target date).  Nov 6, 2018 I got clearance to finally do banded pull-ups, ring rows with my body weight vs. just using bands, 50% scap pushups.  That night at crossfit I ended up doing around 140 green banded pullups and probably 54 ring rows – I have to say it was AWESOME and the pullups were so easy.  Last time I did those was probably 6-7 months ago pre injury and I also weighed 10-15 lbs more than.  Exciting to find out what I can do for strict pullups once I am totally free!  My record at this age is 1 strict pull up and my goal in a few months is >12 straight strict (to be better than when I was 30 yrs old).

Next PT appointment (still going weekly), I reported in and Jeremy told me “You don’t know what a little is so when I give you the OK, I know what you’re going to go out and do.”  Kenny’s immediate response to my text update was “Tell him you are married to me.  You understand quite well what “a little is.”  Funny guy 🙂

So this week I was cleared for very light weight deadlifts, cleans.  No overhead presses, no sandbag carries, no sled pushes and can increase weight if no pain slowly week by week.  Not sure if it was the 90 85 lb deadlifts (super easy weight) or the 33 box jumps but have a little nudge of ache in my shoulder this week….

Slow and steady wins the race during shoulder recovery.  It is super fun to see huge progress almost every day.  This week while I was doing bicycle abs (alternating one leg down with opposite arm overhead lying on back), I got my hurt hand all the way to the ground repeatedly.  That last 5% motion sure is slow to return but it is coming…

And I’m throwing it out there that my goal is to be as strong as Brook Ence (as so many other women want also – featured at top of this blog) but for now, I’m so very happy still with building up from where I am today.  Pic below is a total roll out of bed moment…


When You Realize You Don’t Know Anything… Always Fun and Easy to Get Better When You’re Not so Great!

There was a time that I was pretty good on clarinet and piano.  Then I realized that I haven’t learned any new skills in years, that I can’t pick up any instrument and improvise with anyone, that I got comfortable with what I was and forgot to really maintain that or improve it.

I have been in the arms of a thousand men around the world dancing.  But as I hold my husband or son in my arms, I realize I can’t teach them the leader part and I think I’ve forgotten more swing out variations than I’ll ever learn in the future!

I was the person in the gym who would help the new folks and make up workouts for others and now I find myself not knowing how to train at all for this 30 mile obstacle course race I want to do next year or being the slowest or weakest at certain exercises during crossfit class.  This is especially humiliating when I used to be great at something – like pullups – and found myself having to use bands for months until I got them back.

Every weekend I used to find myself at the library getting out new books and found it had been years since I really finished one.  I think I forgot to learn as I was so busy moving and changing / learning my way around new jobs.  The ipad didn’t help either as I became lazy just picking a movie.  A few months ago I decided to start reading again and starting AND finishing a book.  I probably had about 30 books partially starting lying around.  They are all in a section in my library now for me to work through one at a time and a small pile of finished books are piling up!  I feel good about that.

“It is never too late to be who you might have been.”  Words I got from a very wise man, Glen Sinclair, my yoga teacher at Sadhana Studio in Boston.

Fall Favorites



When I had a roofdeck, I would plant morning glories in every container and by the end of the summer, their huge blue flowers would cover every rail (and take a few hours to cut down late fall!).  The best morning glory for quantity of blooms is Heavenly Blue.  If planted in the ground, they can become invasive so must be managed – ie. Keep your eyes peeled and pull up extras in the spring.

My favorite combinations for a yard include blue asters, Sedum Autumn Joy and Montauk Daisies planted together.  You might find Montauk Daisies at the local Whole Foods sold as potted plants – just throw them in the ground for a fairly large shrub for next year!  These are very hardy, very florific white daisies in the late fall when nothing else is in bloom.  Trim these down some in fall but primarily in early spring (before June).  These will also easily root if a branch is touching the soil so are easily proliferated.  Note that asters are also very easy to just shovel in half to divide.  I was so glad I had divided my favorite before it was infested and killed by AZALEA LACE BUGS.  Lesson there is to take quick action when you see anything starting to falter – inspect and deal with it.

Caution:  I would not plant a white aster, which is lovely for a few years, and then will invade your entire bed and spread around your yard.  Do not do it!

Mums are great and are perennials – I have heard if you buy the ones distributed in the fall and plant them early enough, they might come back.  I haven’t had much luck with that but have beautiful perennial ones I have ordered from catalogs and planted in the spring.  Mums will also spread so don’t hesitate to pull out strays you see coming up.  They get to be 3-4’ tall and should be staked late August.  Nothing beats a few mums bought at the local nursery to spruce up a worn bed – I will plant them in sets of 3 in my main perennial beds.