Hi Marie! Please introduce yourself.

Hello! My name is Marie-Luise. I am a born and raised Alaskan. I find this state we call home to be truly a magical place. I am married to Carson. We eloped on a ferry in Seattle 10 weeks after meeting. Our bond was forged over our love for open mic comedy and Koots.

I’ve been working in finance, and related, roles for the last few years. The quest of figuring out ‘what I want to be when I grow up’ is on-going.

How long have you been working with FF and what motivated you to seek us out?

I was sick and tired of being sick and tired. I started with Figarelle’s boot camp just over 4 years ago, per the recommendation of a friend. She really sold me on giving it a try, even though boot camp sounded like something way out of my comfort zone. 

At that point in my life I was hardly doing any type of physical activity. I had signed up for various gym memberships over the years without much success. I dabbled in some pilates and yoga for a while, but nothing stuck. I knew I needed to work out, like we all know, but realistically I didn’t see myself being a person who consistently worked out when I looked into my future. 

I remember my first boot camp – it was a Saturday. It took me down. I went home afterwards and went straight to bed without showering and took a four-hour nap. I could not wrap my mind around how people were doing this type of activity multiple times a week and functioning. 

At that point in my life I was not prioritizing self-care. My eating habits were all over the map, I was not taking sleep seriously, and I was running myself ragged with going from one activity to the next. I had the blues and didn’t how to tell them to go kick rocks. 

The FF class gave me such a high. I knew I wanted to be a part of the FF community. Over the years no matter what mood I arrived at class with, I left smiling and feeling positive.

FF worked for me because I was held accountable for showing up and committing to myself and the group. Turns out this was much easier than I had previously thought. 

Going to the gym became something I looked forward to rather than something I would find any excuse to get out of. Being surrounded by people who are consistently working on bettering themselves was an inspiration that kept me coming back.

The fact that I have regularly gone to a gym for the last 4 years is something still mind-blowing to me considering my past self!

You’ve been regularly attending Small Group with us the past 3 months. What are a few things you’ve learned since starting this new program?

I was a tad nervous to begin Small Group, as I didn’t know much about strength training. Turns out, I think I am thriving much more in the Small Group environment compared to Boot Camp. I very much enjoyed the high intensity of Boot Camp, but appreciate the formula driven aspect of Small Group. 

Learning the details about lifts and spending time practicing how to master them gives me a sense of accomplishment and forward progress. 

I am also learning the ‘why’ behind each lift – why we are we doing each one and what the point is. Mentally, this feels better for me, because there is a logical pattern and I can understand the greater objective. 

I’ve learned how to walk into any gym and work out in a productive manner on my own. No more gym intimidation.

It’s true – everything really is better when you’re stronger. 

What are a few of your favorite exercises? How about a few of your favorite muscle groups to work?

A few of my favorite exercises are the trap-bar deadlift, BB deadlift, BB & goblet squats, cable squat to row, lunges, tricep extensions, and DB chest press. I’m learning to love the BB bench press as I do it more. This one was very intimidating at first. 

I like working my core and lower body. A strong core really eliminates a lot of pain – like back pain – and forces me to have good posture. I like the feeling of being able to, plain and simple, move faster. Hiking is one of my all-time favorite activities and strong legs are a powerful asset.

When we were still at Boot Camp, my favorite days were when we did hurricanes. I liked the shorter bursts and how we were kept moving along quickly together – almost like a dance. 

What is your ideal way to relax and unwind?

I love going to restaurants with family and friends – particularly busy restaurants. I like the energy of the environment and I find that when you’re sitting there, you can exist just in that moment and enjoy the company. No other tasks nagging you. It’s a definite mood booster for me.

Aside from that I love going on walks with our terror squad – Patton and Kinley. It’s comical to watch them run through the trees and have a good time.

To unwind, I like to create a quiet environment at the house and embrace the silence.

We know eating healthy is very important to you. Can you run us through a typical day of how you plan your nutrition? 

A typical day starts with a protein shake and about half a cup of homemade müsli (consisting of oats, sliced almonds, unsweetened raisins, and unsweetened coconut flakes) topped with unsweetened coconut milk and blackberries. 

I usually have a protein bar as a snack between breakfast and lunch. 

Lunch is typically dinner leftovers. We like to cook large batches of food for dinner.

The next snack is usually an apple with powdered peanut butter or carrots/rice crackers and goat cheese. I always buy fruit at the store and have it handy – bananas, kiwis, raspberries, blueberries, etc. I love fruit.

Carson and I are big meat eaters – ground beef, thin pork chops, chicken, sausage. Dinner is focused around a meat and vegetables. A few staple vegetables I keep on hand are spinach (for sautéing), broccoli, zucchini, and asparagus. These are easy to throw in the pan or oven. We are all about simple, quick meals. With this, I’ll throw in some sweet potatoes, rice, or spaghetti squash, for example.

Lately, I’ve been baking a large batch of sweet potatoes on the weekend so I can easily add some to any meal during the week. At lunch, it’s easy to come home, fry up two eggs, sauté some spinach, and heat up some sweet potatoes. Luckily, I work close enough that I can come home every day. 

One thing that was hindering me in years past, was my lack of eating protein. I was constantly dragging. I’ve been significantly more alert since I’ve been cognizant of my protein intake.

We do also like to snack on things like corn chips and salsa, popcorn, fruit, nuts, and goat cheese on anything.

With all this being said, I do love to go to restaurants – but I’m particular on which restaurants I’ll go to and usually make modifications to meals I order.

Who or what inspires you?

Wonder Woman. She’s totally fierce. Aside from her, my main squeeze Carson is a huge source of inspiration.

The level of discipline he has is something else. Carson and I lead independent lives, but we love to come together at the end of the day and fill each other in on the day’s happenings. We are constantly throwing around ideas and strategizing our next moves in this chess game of life.

What are a few things you’ve accomplished over the past year that you’re most proud of?

I quit my job last January and went to Germany for two months. The majority of my family is in Germany and it had been six years since I’d been back. We would travel there every couple of years growing up, but the relationships I had with my cousins, aunts, and uncles was all driven through my parents. I wanted to go over there and strengthen those relationships through myself and spend time in a country I absolutely love. I am so happy I took the time to bolster those relationships, as these will be there for life.

I’m proud I dove in and made the switch to strength training. As a follow-up to question number two above, I never thought I’d be into weight lifting. A whole new world has opened up to me.

What advice would you give someone who is looking to get fit but may not know where to start?

Learn about macros and track your food at least once for a period of two weeks or so. This was a hugely positive learning experience for me. You gain such an understanding of food and learn to ‘see’ macros in any food you look at. Once you see macros, you can’t un-see them. 

Eat real simple, real food. Always, always, look at the nutritional label and ingredients. Avoid added sugar like the plague. It’s shocking how much sugar is tucked away in the lion’s share of food out there. Sugar used to be a luxury in centuries past and now we can’t buy a fruit juice without tablespoons of added sugar. On a positive note – I’ve found if you stop eating it, you stop craving it. 

As far as working out – just start! Stop thinking and just do it! Start with something and you’ll begin the journey to finding which type of exercise works best for you. I wasted a lot of time over-analyzing what to do. Gentle persistence.

Again – everything really is better when you’re stronger.

What new goals are you most excited about pursuing in 2018?

My focus is on mastering form. I have been reading Mark Rippetoe’s book Starting Strength and learning about the basic lifts, per Lela and Steph’s recommendation. 

I’ve been surprised at how simple each lift is described and broken down, and how easy it’s been to implement. It’s fascinating how making slight adjustments in your stance/posture/pull, etc. can transfer the weight completely in your body, giving you more power.

I’d like to BB squat my body weight. I just learned how to BB squat in recent months and believe this would be an encouraging mental hurdle to accomplish! 

Hiking every week this summer is also a goal of mine – this Alaskan nature is too good not to take advantage of!