A Life Lesson from Sports That’s Holding you Back Now

“Winners never quit, and quitters never win.” -Vince Lombardi

It’s a known fact in sports – if you want to get to the winner’s podium, then never quit.  Ever.

Why?  Because…

“Pain is temporary.  Quitting lasts forever.” -Lance Armstrong

Question for you though — Does this “don’t ever quit” mentality actually make sense?

Well…. if an athlete quit every time something got hard she’d NEVER improve, but her competition would be getting fitter and more skilled every day.  Quitting every time a challenge comes up means she’d never develop character (i.e. her work ethic would be shit) and she def wouldn’t stand a chance of winning come game time.

There’s a lot to be said for the “NEVER QUIT” mindset in sports.




I have another question for you – Just because something worked for us in sports, is it right to assume that it will work for us in the “real world” too??

Ummm… Hell no.

I know, I know.  Everyone talks about how sports can teach you all these important life lessons.  But what if a few of these lessons don’t translate as well to life after sports as people expect??

Have you ever thought about how the lessons you learned
in sports affect your life now?  Are there any you need to UNlearn?

Think on this with me for a minute…

If you’ve been in the “real world” for any significant length of time, you’ve probably figured out that you can’t eat the way you did while playing full time.  3,000 – 4,000 cals a day?  Not a chance, right?

So even though sports taught you lessons like high carb intake was good (pre-game carb up, anyone??) you’ve learned that eating that much doesn’t work when your training volume decreases and you get a “real job”.

A high calories diet was a learned mentality that you dropped when you entered the “real world”.

{{BTW if you struggled with trying to figure out how many carbs you should be eating, CARB REHAB will be opening up again for registration this fall.  Click this link now and provide  your name and email address to get on the wait list.  You’ll be the first to get info about it!}}

Sports taught us GREAT life lessons.  However like the high calorie diets, “NEVER QUIT” is a lesson we could afford to unlearn.

We need to learn that there are times when walking away is ok.  There are times when NOT finishing is the smarter option.

Here’s a quick example – I was mid-workout a couple weeks ago when the jello legs set in.  You know what I’m talking about, right?  I hadn’t lifted that heavy in quite a while, and midway through the workout my legs were shaking and on FIYAH.  Worst of all, my form was starting to go during the bulgarian split squats and those things done improperly can really mess you up.

I started to give myself a pep talk, “OK Hight, just two more sets each leg and then you’ll be done.  You can do this.  You’ve survived way worse so put on your big girl panties and FINISH IT!”

But as I pushed into that 3rd set, I knew in my gut it wasn’t a good idea.  I was going to hurt myself and I already knew I wasn’t going to be able to walk for days.

But I didn’t. want. to. quit.   I mean, I’m still an athlete at heart, so quitting sucks!!  It’s not an option!

Or is it??

When I quieted the inner pep talks, I heard that there was that little voice of reason telling me to respect my body…  Telling me to respect where I’m at right now.

Basically, it was saying BACK THE EFF OFF, HIGHT. :)

Standing there in my living room I finally realized that I’d spent my whole life in the “NEVER QUIT” mentality, and I wondered — What would happen if I decided that not finishing the workout  was perfectly ok?

Could I handle quitting? I wondered.

I stood there pondering.  Debating.  Contemplating.  Then I jumped.  Metaphorically of course.  :D

As it turns out, yes!  I could totally handle quitting.  That doesn’t mean it was easy though.  It was freaking hard to quit!!

And why wouldn’t it be?

Like most athletes I was coached to never quit, and lifelong habits are hard to, well, quit.

At first there was some guilt.  Strike that.  Massive guilt.  I mean I *could* have pushed harder.  Normally I would, wouldn’t you??  Honestly, at first I didn’t even want to use this as an example for this post because I felt a little ashamed.

We’ve always believed quitting is unacceptable, so if you
choose to quit something, shame may be right on your heels.
If that happens, reach out!!  Shame only thrives in our silence.

But seriously, what would it have gotten me to finish those sets?  I was already going to be super sore from the workout, so there wasn’t any point in making myself miserable for the next week.   Not to mention the fact that pushing further could’ve gotten me injured again.  No thanks.  Four knee surgeries is more than enough!

Needless to say, I was GLAD I quit.

Oh and here’s another little bonus – because I backed off, I was able to stick to my training schedule and work my legs again 2 days later.  Had I tried to finish that first workout, there was no way DOMS would’ve subsided enough to train again that week.

Do you get what I’m saying?

Now make no mistake – this isn’t a suggestion to quit every time the going gets tough.  You won’t get anywhere in life that way because it is often in challenges where we experience the most growth.  It IS a suggestion though to respect where you’re at in the present moment.

Have you pushed yourself far enough in this workout?  Then quit.

Are you nursing an injury?  Then cut yourself some slack and rest.  Heal that body.

Have you been running on overdrive trying to make everything happen?  Pick one thing to take off your plate.  Pay someone to do it or get a family member or friend to help you out.

Respect yourself by respecting where you’re at.

No offense to Vince or Lance, but sometimes the best way to respect yourself is to quit.


What do you think about quitting?  Is there ever guilt or shame around it for you?

<3 Lauren

Why Cafeteria Food was the Best

Has anyone else got a case of the Monday’s today?

Maybe it’s just me, but I’m feeling like the biggest struggle-face in the world right now.  And it’s on days like today that I miss the good old college days of eating in the cafeteria <– never thought I’d say that.  Ha!

While cafeteria food was never all that delicious, it was hot and (usually) fresh, with the added bonus of requiring little to no brain power or physical energy to procure my evening meal.

The Beauty of the Caf

Even with my knees wrapped up in ice bags, after practice I could easily stumble the 100 yards from the training room, say hello to every Bruin’s favorite cashier on campus (Miss Tanya) as I swipe my meal card, grab a tray, and pray to God that they have chicken fingers tonight.

Ah yes….  That was the life….

Now though, life looks a little different.  Scratch that.  Life looks A LOT different.

A Wake Up Call

Once you leave college, that’s it.  No more cafeteria.  No more coddling.  You’re dropped into the real world where you have to do EVERYTHING for yourself now, and it can be a brutal fall from what you thought was reality.

One of those reality checks is doing all your own cooking, and if you’re like me, you’re the only one you’re cooking for – what I’m discovering to be both a blessing and a curse.

– A blessing because I don’t have to worry about other mouthes to feed.  Just mine.  And the cat’s.  But she doesn’t really count.

– A curse because when I’m tired and cranky and just want the day to END ALREADY (kinda like today), then fast food suddenly becomes the best idea ever!

But not really.  I know it isn’t a good idea, but my glucose deprived brain and general shitty mood try to convince the health-conscious part of me otherwise.

So how does a girl get herself home without stopping at the drive thru?  Well I have two methods that have worked pretty well for me recently.

Let Someone Else Do the Work 

One option – get your butt to the Whole Foods salad bar.  It’s like your college dorm’s cafeteria but way better (pretty sure WF people would be insulted if they read that but whatevs – you get the picture).

You have the option to create a delicious salad from the massive salad bar, or you can choose from their pre-prepared hot foods.  It’s a win no matter what you go with!

Make a “Semi-Homemade” Meal

My other option is to whip up something real quick at home with only a few ingredients.

[By the way, if you're cooking for a family, then this is probably the better option since the Whole Foods salad bar can get a bit pricey for more than 2 people.]

This chicken stuffed sweet potato is tweaked based on a few different recipes, so you may not find this exact version on the internet anywhere.  However, you’ll find similar stuff from Dr. Oz and PaleOMG.

It’s also perfect for a day where you’ve got a case of the Monday’s cause most of the main ingredients are ready to use (rotisserie chicken, pre-washed spinach, and you can even buy pre-chopped peppers!).

Simple.  Delicious.  Almost as easy as cafeteria food.  :)

<3 Lauren

Chicken Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

  • 3 medium sweet potatoes, roughly the same size
  • 2 c shredded rotisserie chicken
  • 2 bags pre-washed spinach (can use 1 bunch instead)
  • 2 Tbs coconut oil
  • Trader Joe’s 21 Seasoning Salute, to taste
  • 1 bell pepper, any color & cut into thin strips
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Cook the sweet potatoes in the microwave following these awesome directions.  Allow to cool, and cut each potato in half.

While potatoes are cooking, heat coconut oil in a skillet over medium heat.  Add the peppers and saute for a few minutes until they soften.  Add the spinach and cook until wilted.  Season with salt and pepper.

Season the shredded chicken with TJ’s 21 Seasoning Salute and combine with the spinach and peppers mix.

Slightly mash the insides of each potato half and top with the chicken and veggie mixture.  Serve up immediately and enjoy!

Say NO to the Chocolate Bunny

Today, chocolate bunnies across the world will be deeply discounted and will be looking at you with pleading, brown eyes saying “Take me home with you!”

This year, just say NO to the bunnies.

The bunnies promise so much but all they ever deliver are cravings later in the day, maybe a stomachache, and most definitely a sugar crash 30 minutes later.

Reeses-Eggs Some people have issues with bunnies – my weakness is a Reese’s Egg.
I was just telling people at Easter dinner yesterday how I open an 8 pack 
of these eggs and the eggs all magically disappear…into my belly…

I really hate sugar crashes.  Carb comas, too.  They’re SUPER annoying, and people deal with them all the time (think about the dreaded 3pm slump).

You don’t even have to eat candy like those dang chocolate bunnies to experience a sugar crash, either.  Any starchy carbs that are low in protein and fiber but high in sugar can lead to the same type of crash.

Some “experts” out there might tell you that in order to avoid a crash like this, you have to give up things like sweets and starchy carbs all together.  They’re forever removed from your list of “foods I’m allowed to eat.”

However, I think there’s another way around it.

You see, carbs in general have gotten a bad reputation in our culture.  Certain “diets” out there made carbs out to be villains, but more recently, we’re hearing about concepts like “everything in moderation.”   But then it makes me wonder – what the heck is moderation??  Is moderation for me the same thing as it is for someone else?

There are SO many conflicting ideas out there about carbs, so there’s no wonder that most women are entirely lost when it comes to carbs.

I completely get it and I spent many years in the “clueless about carbs” zone.  This is why I developed a program that’s designed to help you figure out the right amount and types of carbs that you should eat each day.

The process in my new program “Carb Therapy” is one that I’ve used on myself and with clients to figure out how to make carbs work for them.  It’s not about being super restrictive (I don’t do super restrictive very well at all and I don’t think other people do either), but instead it’s about systematic trial and error to figure out what carbs work for YOU.

I am super excited abut this program because I think so soooo many people are confused about carbs (I know I certainly was), and this program is all about eliminating confusion around carbohydrates.

If you’re interested in learning more about Carb Rehab, click here to get all the deets or click “Carb Rehab” in the menu bar above!

My relationship obsession with Reese’s Peanut Butter Eggs is not a healthy one, and my Carb Rehab showed me it’s better to abstain from Reese’s Eggs all together instead of eating one and opening the floodgates for a whole bag of them.

So if you know how to play nice with the carbs in your life – and you know you can stick to one, and only one, bunny – then have at it and enjoy!  (and maybe have some protein and green veggies at the same time to limit your sugar crash :) )

<3 Lauren


Easy Peasy Chicken Fajitas

Can I just say that it is SO nice having a “big” kitchen again??

I’m not sure if I ever really posted a picture of my kitchen in NYC, but the only counter space I had was consumed by the microwave.

When I needed to use a cutting board, I had to place it over the kitchen sink because there wasn’t room for it anywhere else!  Lol!

In my new place here in AZ though, there is counter space galore!

All that room has me reenergized to cook again and spend more time in general in the kitchen trying out recipes.

This is always good news for you guys, because I’m no recipe scrooge.  When I find something I like, I LOVE to share it.  Which is what I’m doing here today!

**Side note: as part of my new program Carb Rehab (goes on sale next week) you’ll get several yummy recipes!  So keep an eye out for it!

Anyway, these fajitas were something I whipped up real quick one evening, and they made for a fast, filling, guilt-free dinner.  I’ll take that any day of the week, wouldn’t you??

Enjoy and let me know what you think!

easy peasy fajitas
(most of) The fajitas ingredients… the pepper and garlic were
thrown in at the spur of the moment.  I live on the edge like that.

Easy Peasy Chicken Fajitas
makes 2 servings

2 chicken breasts, cooked and sliced (here I used pre-cooked Trader Joe’s chicken breasts to save time)
2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, halved &sliced
1 green bell pepper, halved & sliced
10 oz white button mushrooms, cleaned & sliced (here I used the pre-washed and sliced kind from Trader’s Joes)
1 Tbs ground cumin
1 Tbs chili powder
1 tsp red pepper flakes (less or more to taste)
1/2 tsp garlic powder
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 avocado, pitted & sliced
6-8 Romaine leaves, rinsed & patted dry
1/4 c black olives, chopped

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat.  Add the onions and mushrooms to the skillet.  Saute until onions begin to soften, then add the pepper.  Continue to cook until mushrooms are browned, about 10-12 minutes total.

Throw in the cooked chicken and seasonings.  Stir to combine and leave pan on the burner that you just turned down to medium low until chicken is heated through.

Serve the fajitas with romaine leaves instead of tortillas as a low carb meal.  Top with avocado, salsa, and black olives.  Note:  If you opt for carbs/tortillas, omit the avocado and use corn tortillas (warm em up too!).

<3 Lauren

New Year, New Home

Guess what?!?!

Today I begin a new adventure!  Actually it’s two adventures!

Today is the start of the last year of my 20′s!  Happy birthday to meeeeeee!

It’s also my first full day in my new home – Tucson, AZ!  Woohoo!

(I just  accepted a new job at BASF and had to move for it)

While I’m very excited about everything, I’m not gonna lie – it makes for quite the melting pot of emotions.

On one hand, I’m sad to leave new York city because I had a fantastic time living there. It was an experience unlike any other.

In the 9 months I was there, I….

…..made some good friends and was reunited with others.

…..got lessons from VERY unexpected places (read about my encounter with a drunk here).

…..ate tons of amazing food (some of it good for me and some of it not).

…..AND I survived mass transit and a 3-4 hour daily commute. BOOM!


On the other hand, I have many exciting things waiting for me here in Arizona.

Things like….

…being in the same time zone (and eventually state) as my man
….getting to live on the West Coast
….a cool new job
….gorgeous weather (well for most of the year)
….tons of hiking!
….significantly lower cost of living  (my new place is 3x the size of my NYC studio and half the rent!! ah!!!)

As you can see, there will be lots of things to miss but so much to look forward to, so it’s hard to decide on a single emotion :)

No matter how I’m feeling though, I think it’s probably a good idea to get a workout in today.

Now y’all probably know by now how I feel about working out, but I’m starting to notice that a good workout really helps me process my shit and any emotions I’ve tried to stuff away recently.

More on that in the future….

Anyway, since all my workout equipment is on a truck somewhere between here and New York AND I don’t have a gym membership yet, I am gonna have to kick my own ass some other way.

Enter this Coast to Coast workout I designed just for today.


C2C Workout
 Click on the photo to get the deets :)

I feel the title represents both the spirit of the celebrations today AND the workout itself.  Don’t ya think??

Of course I’d never want to deprive you of a good butt-kicking, which makes sharing it here the right thing to do.

So here’s to a crazy 29 years and the new adventures (and sore muscles) this day brings!

<3 Lauren

P.S. I couldn’t be more grateful to celebrate this day with you all. Thanks for being a part of it!

If You Give a Chemist a Poem…

“Lauren, if you don’t register for this class, you’re not going to graduate on time.”

I remember my advisor’s words sending chills down my spine as I sat in her cramped office at the conclusion of my 2nd to last semester of college.

As her words sank in, I quickly realized there was no way I could afford  to stay on for an extra semester at Belmont.  My academic and sports scholarships would be up by then.  Plus, I couldn’t miss the start of grad school…  I HAD to finish on time.

“Ok fine…  I’ll sign up for the Shakespeare class,” I muttered.

At the time, it felt like a death sentence or some cruel form of torture to make a scientist take a literature class in her last semester.

I’d have to suffer through an intense 6 week class on the late plays of Shakespeare in order to finish my bachelor’s degree on time.  Ugh.

Don’t get me wrong.  I have nothing against the Bard of Avon himself, but I’d always hated his plays with a passion because I could not for the life of me understand them!

The flowery language and the overuse of similes and words I didn’t know just annoyed me.  On top of that, every time I started reading a poem or a play, I’d have this overwhelming sense of “Just get to the point already!!!” overtake me.

Reading Shakespeare (and poetry in general) was not enjoyable at all.

I wish I could say that my perspective radically shifted and that I ended up loving that class.  I didn’t though.  While I passed and was able to graduate on time, I loathed every second I spent reading those plays.

Fast forward about 5 years….

While at home in Lafayette one night writing my dissertation, I heard a quote on TV that had me thinking “I need to find out who said that and write it down.”  A quick Google search told me that it was a quote from some poem a dead guy wrote.

Blah.  Since I hated poems I almost closed the browser, but something stopped me.

In the couple years prior to that night, I’d begun to understand the concept that life is more about the journey rather than the destination.  

I’d started searching for the value in each moment, in each experience.  I started appreciating processes more – whether it was cooking up a new dish, working on a crochet project, trying to improve my fitness or even just reading a book.

I stopped rushing for the finish line in everything I was doing, because I realized that while crossing the finish line feels fantastic, that feeling doesn’t last.

But the process – the experience – of getting to that final stop on the journey was full of all sorts of excitement and drama and lessons.

In other words, the in-between was full of LIFE.

So I did something I’d never done before.  I willingly read a poem.  [insert shock here]

I didn’t rush through it, and I savored each word.  If I didn’t know what a word meant, I looked it up.

Then I re-read the poem.  Three times.  And guess what happened by the end of the last time through?

I was just about moved to tears.

By slowing down and enjoying the process of reading the poem, I’d discovered an appreciation for poetry that I didn’t know I was capable of possessing (and would’ve probably never known about otherwise).

Now obviously I’m not perfect (I know, I know it’s hard to believe ;)), so I don’t savor every process… but I try because I know there’s value in the in-between.

I tell you all this today because I hope that you aren’t doing what I constantly used to do – rushing to the end of everything.  

Instead hopefully, you’re trying to find the lessons in the present moment and the joy in the current situation.  It’s not easy, but it’s worth it.

If you’re working on health or fitness goals, I KNOW the feeling of quiet desperation to get to that goal you’ve been trying for months or maybe years to achieve.

If you’re looking to find balance in your hectic schedule, you want nothing more than to get control over the chaos ASAP.

What I hope you hear from this is that while you can still look forward to the end result of all your efforts, don’t forget that the learning and the growing happens during the process.

<3 Lauren

“Death closes all; but something ere the end,
Some work of noble note, may yet be done,
Not unbecoming men that strove with gods.
The lights begin to twinkle from the rocks;
The long day wanes; the slow moon climbs; the deep
Moans round with many voices. Come, my friends.
‘Tis not too late to seek a newer world.
Push off, and sitting well in order smite
the sounding furrows; for my purpose holds
To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
Of all the western stars, until I die.
It may be that the gulfs will wash us down;
It may be that we shall touch the Happy Isles,
And see the great Achilles, whom we knew.
Though much is taken, much abides; and though
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are—
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.”

-Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Have you Plateaued? Try These 3 Steps to Break Through

Recently, I’ve had several people ask me this question…

“Lauren, I was making so much progress.  I was losing weight, but then the progress slowed.  It’s finally stopped completely, and now I can’t get the numbers to budge anymore.  Pretty sure I’ve plateaued.  What am I supposed to do??  Help!”

Oh the dreaded plateau.  Anyone that’s ever tried to lose a little weight has been there.  And it’s frustrating as hell.

But let’s be honest.  You’re an athlete.  You’re not one to give up easily.  If you were, you’d have never made it to level you did, so instead of quitting like some might, you know it’s not an option for you.

Since you’re so persistent, I’m going to give you 3 tips to help you bust through a plateau.

1.  Honestly evaluate your diet and exercise when you hit a plateau.

This piece is critical.  You have to take a 100% honest look at how well you’re sticking to your nutrition goals and your workouts.  If you can’t be straight with yourself, then nothing else you do will work long term.

Ask yourself these questions…

  • How well am I sticking to my meal plans?
  • Am I letting unplanned treats sneak in?  Stuff like candy, donut here and there, chips, crackers, etc. can easily trip people up.
  • What’s my alcohol intake look like these days?  Am I imbibing more than normal?
  • Am I doing my workouts?  Or am I taking more days off than normal?
  • How stressed am right now?  Have my stress levels gone up recently?
  • Am I getting 7-8 hours of sleep?  Or have I been skimping on the sack time?
  • Has my progress actually stopped?  Or is the scale not moving but I’m still losing inches?

Write down your answers to these questions, then go back and take a look at them.

If you find that you’re NOT sticking to your meal plan and workouts that were getting results in the past, then I’ve got news for ya….

Your first step is to renew your commitment to your original workouts and meal plan.  

No, it’s not an earth shattering solution, BUT this may be just the ticket to bust through a plateau.  If the plan isn’t broke, there’s no need to fix it (as long as you’re sticking to it).

If this is you, then give it a 3-4 more weeks on this plan.  If you reel in the sweets and other treats, cut back on the alcohol, get back to your workouts and there’s still no change, then think about changing up the plan.

On the other hand, if you HAVE been sticking to your plan, then maybe it’s time to look at the plan itself and make some adjustments.  Let’s talk about those options next…

2.  Are food sensitivities keeping you stuck?

Think food sensitivities aren’t an issue for you??  Think again…

I was talking with a friend of mine several months ago about how her progress had stalled.  I asked her to share with me what she eats in a typical day and noticed that she was eating 3-4 servings of dairy a day between whey protein in her shakes, yogurt, and milk.  My suggestion to her was to reduce her dairy intake significantly if not cut it out all together.

She messaged me a few weeks later with this…

“I wanted to let you know that your suggestions and answers really helped me make some more progress, so thanks! Cutting out dairy seemed to make a difference. By cutting it out and only having it as part of a cheat meal sometimes, I actually figured out that I’ve become pretty sensitive to dairy. I’ve never had that problem, or at least noticed it before, but my stomach feels a lot better when I don’t eat it!”

Just because you don’t break out in hives when you eat a certain type of food doesn’t mean you don’t have food sensitivities.  The best way to figure out if you have food sensitivities is to systematically eliminate common culprits from your diet and monitor progress for a few weeks.

Two of the most common allergens are dairy products and gluten containing foods, but sugar alcohols can also cause problems with some folks, too.  Take a look at what you’re eating day in and day out; if you see these types of foods throughout your meal plan, cutting them out might be just what you need to give your metabolism a boost and bust through you plateau.

3.  Eat the right amount of carbs to break through your plateau.

I’m sorry to disappoint you, but gone are the days of carbing up.  Instead, you gotta start thinking about what kinds of carbs you’re eating and how much — you gotta figure out your carb tipping point.

Your carbohydrate tipping point is the amount of starchy carbs that allow you to lose the fluff and gives you enough energy to keep up your intense workouts.

Finding your carb tipping point is critical if you’re trying to slim down.  Too many carbs, and you won’t make any progress.  The same thing can happen if you eat too few carbs, not to mention you’ll be too tired for a good workout with super low carbs.

Since everyone is different, finding this tipping point typically takes trial and error, but in late March I’m launching a nutrition program to address this issue.  Stay tuned for details!

Until then though, pay attention to how much bread, pasta, grains, potatoes, and starchy veggies (corn, squash, etc.) that you eat.   If you’re eating a heavy portion of carbs at each meal, it might be helpful to cut out the starchy carbs in your last meal of the day.  Give that a try for a few weeks and make sure you record your progress.

If you eat essentially NO carbs and your progress has stalled, consider adding some carbs to your first meal of the day.  Then do the same thing – monitor your progress.


Plateaus are frustrating.  I’ve had more than enough experience with them, so I know they suck.  Keep making systematic changes and monitoring your progress after each change.  And be PATIENT!   You WILL break through the plateau, but sometimes the body just needs to know you’re willing to wait until it’s ready.  :)

Let me know if you’ve ever plateaued and what you did to get through it.

<3 Lauren

A Rockin’ Interview with Jen Sinkler

Hey all, Lauren here.  I’m so excited for you to read my interview with Jen Sinkler!  I believe in Jen’s message that women should be unapologetically strong.  Plus, she’s a pretty kickass gal, so I wanted to make sure you all get a chance to meet her. 

OH!!  She’s also a former member of the U.S. rugby team, and in the interview Jen shares what she’s up to after “retirement” from rugby and what she channels her competitive nature towards these days.  

If you’ve not yet been introduced to Jen, read on!  Then check out her website (www.jensinkler.com) and get in touch with her via your social media outlet of choice listed below.  Enjoy! 

JS Interview

LH:  For my readers that don’t know you yet, could you quickly introduce yourself? Maybe share what sport you played, the level you played at, and what you’re up to now that you’ve “retired”?

JS:  I spent 13 years playing rugby, including a 10-year stretch on the junior and then senior national teams. I represented the U.S. for both sevens and fifteens.

Sevens, if you’re unfamiliar, is a shorter, speedier version of the game with far fewer players on the field — generally, you’ll see the smaller, faster players gravitate toward sevens — while fifteens games are longer, more crowded and include more “smashmouth” play.

What I love about rugby is its inherent inclusiveness of many body types. Especially in fifteens, you will find just about every body size and dimension, and everyone plays a necessary role.

Sevens is the version that made it into the Olympics for 2016, so you’re about to start hearing a lot more about it.

Rugby has also gone through a major makeover over the past 15 or so years. When I first started playing in college at the University of Northern Iowa in 1997, it was still primarily a social sport — drinking and debauchery was pretty standard postmatch.

Over the next few years, our team transitioned from that into a legit high-performance sport, culminating in back-to-back national championships in 2001 and 2002 (I cocaptained the first, but had graduated for the second).

Up until recently, it was still largely a player-funded endeavor, however — even on the national teams. Thankfully, by the time I retired, we were getting better funding. For the 2009 Sevens World Cup in Dubai (my last international event), it went beyond basic expenses and we were actually making money.

And now, the men’s and women’s U.S. teams have a presence at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, and they make an annual salary. Still tight, but progress.

I always pursued work that allowed me to travel, including a nine-year stint at Experience Life magazine.I was their editorial director of fitness up until one year ago, when I struck out on my own and started my website. It meant leading a bit of a double life between training for rugby and a demanding career, but both were rewarding.

These days, I train clients at The Movement Minneapolis, I write fitness stories for a number of major national magazines, and I provide a wide array of health-related content at my website, Thrive With Jen Sinkler (sign up for my newsletter at www.jensinkler.com).

LH: A question I always like to ask is this – how do you stay in shape these days? I’d be ridiculously impressed if you were able to keep up the same type of training schedule you had while you were playing.

JS:  I can train more now, actually! Of course, that’s because my job centers around fitness, so I’m constantly writing and trying training programs and workouts. It’s to the point that I wonder if I’d be better than I used to be if I started playing again right now! That competitive nature doesn’t just evaporate when you hang up your boots, right? I’m not serious about it, but it’s fun to think about.

LH:  What was the most difficult part of your transition to the “real world” after your professional athletic career ended?

JS:  I had to release my identity as a rugby player. I’d tried to retire once years before I managed it, but I couldn’t think of what else to be. 

Meaning, my identity was wrapped up in a label I’d placed on myself. Sure, it was based on something I loved to do, but it’s a dangerous game to get too wrapped up in being over doing.

Doing (that is to say, playing rugby) over being (as in, being a rugby player) provides you with more freedom to do other things, and to be able to transition out, when the time comes.

In 2009, when I finally did retire, I still didn’t quite grasp that, so I used CrossFit as a competitive crutch to get out. Essentially, CrossFit, with its competitions and emphasis on beating and bettering your workout times, filled that void for me.

Eventually, I didn’t need that, either, because I started pouring more and more energy into developing my fitness know-how, and constantly learning new skills on that front feeds the same animal without putting too sticky a label on myself.

That means I have more freedom to evolve now.


LH:  Most athletes have a competitive drive that never really goes away, and often times this gets channeled towards goals like running a marathon. Where can former athletes channel their competitive nature now besides a race?

JS:  Hey yes, exactly! I think former athletes can channel that energy into learning new fitness skills — as I mentioned, that’s what I do. Athletes love mastery, so as long as you approach new challenges with an experimental mindset, it can be a lot of fun.

Or, yes, as you mentioned, you can enter competitions of varying types. What drives me bonks, though, is the assumption that endurance events are the only option. There are definitely the most options for endurance events, but not every athlete is built for or enjoys endurance training. Count me in that camp.

For those of us, there are a number of other options, such as strongman competitions, powerlifting competitions, Olympic weightlifting competitions, long-cycle kettlebell meets, masters track meets, softball and basketball leagues, and a number of other outlets for those of us with more of an anaerobic bent. (While there is a lot of running in rugby, the position I played in rugby, wing, involved a sprint, stop, sprint, stop pattern.)

LH:  Sometimes it happens that once an athletic career ends, the athlete gets out of shape. What piece of advice would you give to ex-athletes that are getting back into shape?

JS:  We can be our own worst enemies during this process, because our muscle memory and competitive nature kicks in and we do too much, too fast, putting us at risk of injury or severe muscle soreness (leading to an unwillingness to work out again for a while). I always scale my former athletes back from how much they want to do at first. (Don’t worry, your athletic prowess will come back — it just won’t come back the first day.)

My other piece of advice is to find something you truly enjoy doing, that you look forward to each training day. Chances are, you played the sport you did because you loved it, and there’s no reason not to approach training the same way.

And, if you find a workout regimen that you totally dig, the passion, dedication and drive that made you an athlete will be qualities you can leverage now for the more general goal of good health.


Get in touch with Jen!

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The Best Headband Ever

Q:  What is the most annoying thing that happens to Lauren almost every time she works out?

A:  Her headband doesn’t stay in place and snaps off the back of her head.

Ugh.  So frustrating!!  Have you ever had this happen to you??  If you have, you know how it goes…

The Headband Problem

You’re in the middle of burpees and notice fly-aways that you earlier tamed with a headband are now sticking to your face, getting in your eyes, and annoying the hell out of you!  So you stop and reach back to re-position the band only to find that it’s barely hanging on to your ponytail.

This same cycle happens multiple times over the course of a workout – position band, move for a few minutes, notice band is out of place, stop workout, reposition headband.

Unfortunately this is not a new problem.  I’ve never been able to get headbands to stay in place, and while I know my big head is largely to blame, it’s hard to believe there’s not a headband out there that can outlast my short 20 minute workouts.

The Under Armour Solution

Enter Birchbox and Under Armour.

As chance would have it, this month in my Birchbox I got a “Lifestyle Extra” which just happened to be an Under Armour headband.  I was pretty pumped to try a new brand’s band but was secretly dreading the moment it would pop off my head mid-workout like every other headband in the universe.

Excitement and skepticism filled me when I opened up my
January Birchbox and found an Under Armour headband inside.

It was tempting to just toss it out with the empty box, but figured I could at least test it in one workout.

Well, I am ecstatic to report that this puppy is the BEST headband I’ve ever used!  And I’ve tried some quality headbands over the past few years!

While it initially felt a tad too snug, I quickly realized that this is one of two primary reasons the headband stays in place.

photo-26 Seriously, this headband did not move from this
spot for the entire workout!  And I thought you might
want a special photo of my ear…

Why the Braids Work

The single headband is made of 3 separate bands woven together.  These braided bands make for a tight fit without any discomfort.

photo-24 Three of their “mini” bands are woven together to create one thicker band.

The second reason the band stays in place is that each band is rubberized on one side.  These two elements, separately, have failed miserably in other brands’ bands that I’ve tried.  However, Under Armour’s combination is spot on!  You gotta give these a try!

photo-25 The flip side is rubberized and what keeps it in place.  Hallelujah!!

If you were one of the players that had pre-wrap popping off her head every practice OR who these days is always losing her headband at the gym, then give these Under Armour headbands a go.  They’re not cheap but they’re absolutely worth it!

Like I said, I know I’m not the only one out there with headband problems.  Leave a Y for “yup that’s me!” in the comments if you’ve ever experienced headband woes.  :)

<3 Lauren

How to cut calories and calm your “hangry” self

Ah, January.  The month of fresh resolutions.  The month of extra-crowded gyms.  The month of lots of hangry people running around town.

What is hanger you ask?

It’s the agitation and anger that results from being ridiculously and/or perpetually hungry.  Hence, the term “hangry.”

The last time I got hangry

tried to travel in a fasted state back in November.  Instead of trying to make good choices at the airport restaurants, I thought I’d just forgo food for the 10 hours.

BIG mistake.

I was severely agitated by every little thing.  The gate agent wasn’t annunciating enough?  The child across the gate area from me that wouldn’t stop sneezing?  The dude next to me who was humming?  The fact that I couldn’t buy a bottle of water with a flip-top lid cause they were all screw-on caps?

All those things triggered a white hot fury in me.  Then I realized what was going on – Lauren was hangry.

Hanger of this magnitude is also a common side effect when one decides to diet by cutting calories and eating less.

You go from eating up a storm to enjoying a half cup of cereal at breakfast, a tiny salad at lunch, and some sort of pared down version of your normal dinner.  Possibly accompanied by nasty steamed veggies.

After a few days of eating like this, who wouldn’t be hangry?!?

Guess what?   It doesn’t have to be this way!

You can cut calories without getting hangry!

This is possible if you start thinking about dieting in a different way.

Instead of eating the same garbage as usual, just less of it, pick foods that you can eat more of – foods that are low calorie so that you can eat A LOT of them.

Hint:  these types of foods tend to be high in protein, fiber and water.

Lean meats (high in protein and water) and fibrous vegetables (high in fiber and water) are excellent choices for filling you up and do a better job of keeping you full between meals.

And let’s be honest, as former athletes we’re used to eating mass quantities of food.  Remember carbing up the night before a game?  Or loading up your dinner plate at the cafeteria after practice?

This is one reason I love to eat meals stuffed full of protein and veggies.

I get to eat till I am plenty full without worrying about how this will affect my calories for the day.    And I have a BIG APPETITE so it takes a lot of food to fill this girl up!

An example: How I keep “Hangry Lauren” at bay

I make a BAS (big ass salad, as Jill Coleman likes to call it).

This BAS is a head of romaine, half a
cucumber, 1 grated carrot, several mushrooms,
a little onion, an avocado, turkey, and a
sprinkle of bacon.  Look how manageable that is!

Get the biggest mixing bowl you have, roughly chop a bunch of veggies and lean protein, add in some sort of healthy fat, toss it all in the bowl.  Then using a pizza cutter, chop the shit outta everything in the bowl till it’s in tiny pieces (or whatever size you desire).

This is a stupidly easy way to eat more vegetables and protein (and not spend 2 hours chomping on a giant pile of leaves or develop TMJ from all said chewing).

The chopping reduces the volume of mass quantities of veggies to a more manageable portion (see, you’re now eating a TON of low calorie items

Plus, I think most salads taste better when they’re all chippity-chopped up like this.

If you’re not willing to put your mixing bowl and pizza cutter through this, then you need an OXO Salad Chopper.  It’s essentially the same thing, but the bowl is plastic, continuously round in the basin, and the “pizza cutter” is double-bladed.

Oh and if you’re not into making your own salads, go to Subway and get one of their salads.  Then ask THEM to chop it to kingdom come!

Now go forth and end your hanger today. 

Choose to eat foods full of protein, fiber and water.  Choose to chop your salads with a pizza cutter.  Or choose to pay Subway to do your dirty work.  Either way, eliminate the hanger in your life and still cut your calories.

Your family, friends and coworkers (and that poor person that looked at you the wrong way in Starbucks this morning) will thank you.


Oh and if you’ve ever experienced hanger before, please leave your story below in the comments.  I have a feeling it might prove to be a rather hilarious and enjoyable read. :)

<3 Lauren