Hey Heidi! Please tell us about yourself.

I’ve lived in Alaska since I was 12 years old when my family moved here from Seattle but sometimes it’s still hard to tell people I’m from Alaska. 

I’m a proud Dimond High School graduate and went to college at the University of Oregon (Go Ducks!) to be a TV sports reporter. I quickly learned that I didn’t care about other teams besides my favorites so I switched to general news reporting. 

I never took a public relations class, because, frankly why would I ever want to do PR? I’m a journalist and all PR people do is “spin” information. After being the first person in my entire family to earn a college degree, I got a job at a local TV station and had some really amazing experiences sharing other people’s stories in order to earn my living. 

After six years of that fun but terrible-paying, terrible-hours job, I took a position at the Anchorage School District, which I thought would be better for starting a family. I was five months pregnant when they hired me. 

I worked in the school district’s communications department with the best team of people I’ve met in the entire state. Remember what I said about never taking a PR class in college? Yeah, it didn’t take me too long to regret that. After 12 great years and a lot of leadership changes, I decided it wasn’t fun anymore and made the crazy decision to quit my perfectly good job. 

With free time on my hands, I took my family on a six-week road trip around the country this summer. We hit 15 states, six national parks and saw a lot of our beautiful country. Everyone should do that – America really is spectacular! 

After getting bored with “retired” life, I started my own one-person PR and communications agency this fall. 

I’m married to my high school sweetheart and we have two kids who are the centers of our world and our lives revolve around them – even at times when we don’t want it to. 🙂 

My husband is a true Alaskan – born and raised – so we’ll never leave here, no matter how much I beg and plead. I love to camp, be outdoors, go on adventures, play softball and feel the warm sunshine on my skin. I’m a hockey and a soccer mom but I don’t drive a minivan.

A fun fact about me is every June I will put on my wedding dress and parade around the house to celebrate my anniversary.  Sometimes my kids and nieces join in and dress up. One year, I got my mom to join in and put on her wedding dress!

Let’s start with your nutrition because I know it has been a learning experience for you. What changes have you made to your diet over the last 6 months, and what are the results you’ve experienced since implementing these changes?

For a significant chunk of my life, I survived on cereal, grilled cheese sandwiches and noodles with butter. Not because I was broke but because why would I need to eat anything else? I could go weeks without eating a food that is primarily protein and never notice a difference. 

My husband is a meat-and-potatoes for every meal kind of guy. Why didn’t he eat more cereal I often wondered? I’ve been blessed with a good metabolism and I made good use of it. I eat junk food and a lot of it. Over time, I’ve become immune to the “sugar high,” probably because it’s constantly in my veins. My friends say that when I get sick, they’ll give me an IV drip of pixie sticks just to get me feeling back to normal. 

Being a junk food junkie has kind of become my personality. I’m known as the girl who will always have cupcakes, order extra fries at dinner or be snacking on a candy bar when we see each other.

But now that I have kids, I want to teach them healthy habits and that unfortunately means I have to lead by example. I also realized that I can’t reach my muscle-building goals by sustaining myself with cupcakes and candy bars, although sometimes I still want to try.

When I first started to live a macro-based lifestyle last year, I almost died. At least that’s what it felt like for the entire 8-10 weeks. I saw some results but if you don’t stay focused on it, it starts to slip and before I knew it, I was back to bad habits. Well, not my original bad eating habits but they were bad based on a normal person’s eating habits. 

Since my food intake significantly changed, I was hoping I would feel a difference internally but that didn’t happen. To be honest, that made it really hard to stay disciplined because I had to wait for weight changes to notice a difference and those can take a loooong time. 

In the past few months, I’ve gotten back on track. It’s still hard. I’m not going to lie about that. But it is easier. I couldn’t tell you the last time I made myself a bowl of cereal or noodles. And I figured out how to add grilled cheese sandwiches in my macros. 

I’ve learned to add a small treat into my macros ahead of time because I’m going to eat it whether I track it or not so I might as well track it and fix my foods in other places so I don’t ruin the day, every day. It’s also a little challenging to drop my junk food reputation. Sometimes I feel like I’m losing a small part of my identity.

3. What advice do you have for someone who wants to learn more about tracking macros, and the impact it has on their health. 

It really works. One of my favorite memes is the one that says “They say abs are made in the kitchen but I can’t find the recipe.” The more I read about food and exercise and the information Steph shares with us, it continues to prove that you can bust your butt in the gym every day but weight loss really comes down to what you’re shoveling in your mouth after you tell yourself you’ve “earned” to eat whatever food because you’re certain you burned a bunch of calories at the gym. 

When I started tracking macros, I spent a lot of time Googling foods high in protein, or with a certain amount of carbs or fat so when I entered my food for the day, I could find things that would put me right on target. 

I also started paying attention to the types of food that fall into each macro. For example, if I choose chicken for lunch instead of lean hamburger meat, that will give me extra fat macros to work with later in the day. 

I also know some candies that are straight carbs and no fat, and that cupcakes have a lot of fat while frosting has more carbs than fat. And I learned adding veggies will help fight the hunger without burning up all my macros. 

For me, it’s all about moderation, pairing my day’s foods properly and finding a combination that will work so I’m not fighting myself all day to not sneak other foods. 

On days I’ve entered all of my food ahead of time, or even a day in advance, that’s when I’m the most successful. 

I’m a very picky eater and have the taste buds of a 7-year-old. That makes it challenging to branch out and choose healthy foods because there is a lot of stuff I will not eat (all types of seafood, most vegetables, sushi, thai, etc.) So I find what I like and stock up. 

I also learned to have those foods on hand because if I don’t have those, I’ll reach for something else. 

My cravings for junk food are still stronger than my willpower so I have to find ways to work around that. After Halloween, Valentine’s, Easter, etc., my kids know they have to take all of their candy and hide it from me. I know most of their hiding spots so my husband will sometimes take pity on me and take all of the candy to his work.

I still have days where I can’t bear to eat another bite of protein. It still boggles my mind how much protein we eat when we’re healthy. But I’ve learned how to work around it, like protein shakes with double scoops of protein, or flavor water protein drinks that do the trick in a pinch. 

I also found Birthday Cake Quest Bars which taste like frosted circus animal crackers (the kind with the sprinkles on them). Instead of treating that like a snack meal, in my mind I treat it like a sneaky junk food treat.

4. I know you have some exercises that you just can’t get enough of. What are a few of your favorites?

I hate every single one of them. Ok, seriously, I hate every single one of them. Doing exercise just for strength training is not something I grew up doing. I was very active in sports so the idea of going to the gym only to workout was foreign to me until a couple of years ago. I had a few friends who I thought were fun and really active, plus they looked great. They got me into going to the gym regularly. 

After a while, I could feel and see differences in my body. That got me hooked. After a couple of years of going to the gym and not seeing continued progress, I knew I needed something more. That’s when I found Figarelle’s Fitness.

I had some favorite exercises but Lela never let me do them. And for good reason. They’re our favorites because we usually find them easier to do, right? I don’t even remember what my favorites are now. I do have least favorites. Anyone who is in a small group with me will quickly find out which ones they are. Mostly, they’re movements that combine strength and cardio.

If I had to name one exercise, it has to be the slide board. It’s a good workout that’s fun, makes me laugh and doesn’t feel like I’m doing an exercise.

This month, I think the barbell back squat and various types of rows make me feel strong. But if you say something about it next month, I”ll probably tell you that you’re crazy, I hate doing those and I never said that.

5. How about a few of your favorite muscle groups to train?

I like “bro workout” exercises because I feel like you can see that muscle definition the fastest.

Mentally, it’s the easiest for me to get through full body workouts, rather than workouts focusing on one muscle group. 

6. Fitness seems to have become a relatively big part of your life this past year. What are 3 things you’ve learned about yourself since starting a regular exercise routine?

1If given the option, I’ll take the easy way out. I’m a good debater and can talk myself out of any extra set or increased weight. I have to have a plan in advance and stick to it.

2Peer pressure works. I’ll push through a workout because I don’t want to let Charlene or Lela down, or I don’t want the people around me to see that I quit.

3I can do it. I haven’t died yet (except that first time I tried to eat a macro-based diet and almost had everyone come to my funeral). I can lift heavier than I tell myself. I can do more and be more, especially when I start with a positive attitude.

7. Who or what inspires you?

People inspire me. I find things I like and look around. There are always people who are amazing at it. 

What can I do to help them, be more like them, or make them proud? That inspires me. What can I do to be a better mom, employee, friend? (Wife too, but I often tell my husband that I’m already pretty amazing at that.)

8. You’re currently participating in our 2018 Spring Transformation Challenge. How is that going for, and what do you hope to achieve by the end of the 8 weeks?

I think the challenge is going great! I won the lottery in the partner department. I’m excited to work with her, I don’t want to let her down and she makes it fun. 

Plus, the peer pressure of showing other challengers that I can stick with something for 8 weeks is good motivation. 

My personal goals are 2% body fat loss and an improvement on my bike time in the Gold Nugget Triathlon which occurs the day after the challenge ends.

9. You just recently returned from a fun vacation where you were able to stay committed to your goals. What tips do you have for those who want to stay on track with their fitness and nutrition while traveling?

It really, really helps to surround yourself with people who have similar goals. We committed to being active every day, sticking to our eating plans and not gaining weight on vacation. 

There were so many temptations surrounding us at stores, restaurants, quick stops, etc. but we pushed each other through the immediate struggles until it got easier again. 

For example, my friend walked four laps around the grocery store with me one night in search of a quick-grab meal high in protein. We found one after two laps but I was indecisive which led to the additional two laps of me putting stuff back and getting other stuff. 

She was patient and positive. After we got back to the hotel and finished eating, I felt really good that I didn’t blow my day’s macros which I would have done if she had gotten antsy or annoyed at the store.

We also built activity into our agenda every day and knew we’d be doing that before we even left for the trip so we could wrap our minds around what kind of vacation we were going to have. 

We got up a 7 a.m. to go hiking so we could be done by 9:30 a.m. when it got too hot in Arizona. We set an alarm for 7 a.m. while on vacation – that’s crazy. But we built it into our travel itinerary so it was something we had to do and couldn’t back out.

10. What new goals are you going to pursue for the remainder of 2018?

My first goal is to survive my challenge goals of body fat loss and biking. 

I hope to keep my partner goal of spreading kindness so it remains a habit. As for other goals… hmmm… I was inspired by Marie’s barbell back squat so I might make a goal of that. 

Kami’s flexibility goals from previous challenges are still intriguing to me. Denise’s yoga goal makes me want to try it. Seeing Pam’s macro success is motivating me to not give up after the challenge. 

Being able to do pull-ups or a lot of pushups is still badass. I like hearing other people’s goals because I can also find something inspiring in them. 

As for this summer, I would like to plan more hikes, walks, and bike rides in areas of South Central Alaska that I haven’t been to yet. I feel like I waste a lot of summer nights by not having a plan and then sitting around the house until it’s too late. 

And I’d like to invite friends along so it’s an adult “play date” so we can spend time together doing a healthy activity that’s not centered around food.