Ok friends, I know I have been DYING to put up a post by another Rockstar, and now I that I have one for you, I hope you’re excited too!

Today’s post is super special to me, because I’m actually RELATED to this Rockstar (yea, you should be jealous)!  It’s my cousin Carly, who (among other amazing things) works with kids who have autism, was brave enough to move halfway across the world to Hawaii for the experience of it, and while working AND going to school – she manages to look like a fitness model – no big deal.  In the wake of all this awesomeness, she’s still a totally chill, fun person who knows how to have a good time (I mean, she shares genes with someone who calls a blog Drunk on Opportunity)!  Without further ado, meet Carly!

Meet Carly!
Your rockstar on race day!

Living a healthy lifestyle means being around for my great-grandchildren, means being able to move my body well when I’m older, means setting an example for younger generations. I believe that feeling strong translates to every aspect of your life. Overall, I want to stay as healthy and feel as good as I can for as long as I can.

Have you always been a health guru?  Where did you pick up your healthy habits?

My parents certainly engrained in me small healthy habits that I’ve built upon over the years, always playing sports, just being active in general. And always ensuring that there were vegetables with our meals. I picked up a health studies minor in undergrad to continue learning about health and nutrition, and I follow a bunch of different health podcasts that I listen to on my way to work every day. They keep me motivated and are a great reminder of why I want to live a healthy lifestyle. It’s really become more than just a hobby for me at this point, I love learning about new recipes, supplements, and workouts. I’m just entering the running world and starting gently with 5ks and 10ks!

What’s a day in the life for you?  How do you fit healthy foods and exercise into your busy day?

Well it all really starts on Sunday night. We make all of our meals for the week, which is lame because this means that we eat the same thing every day of the work week. Right now my husband Kevin and I are both in school. He for ultrasound, and me for behavior analysis. We have literally never been this busy in our lives. We wake up together, make a green smoothie, hit the road, and I drive an hour to work with little kiddos with autism in their homes. I bring a small cooler with plenty of water and snacks- I do this because I know that if I bring them, that I will eat them, and not some other junk. I bring fruit, nuts, cut up veggies, veggie straws, popcorn, anything that’s easy to munch in the car, where I spend most of my day when I’m not in session chasing 3 year olds! Then I come home, and hit the gym or go for a run. This is crucial- it reminds me that I need to make time for myself even in the midst of the craziness! When I’m done my head is clearer, I feel productive, and my body feels awesome. We got bikes this Christmas, and are excited to get riding! Kevin doesn’t love going to the gym, so riding bikes together will be a perfect opportunity for us to cruise around our beach town while burning some calories and spending time together. Then we eat dinner, do some schoolwork, make our lunches and snacks for the next day, and go to sleep. Sleep is another high priority for us. Being tired leads us to be hungrier and not getting the most out of our days.

What are your favorite forms of exercise?  Have they changed over time, or are you a life long lover of something?

I have always found solace in running, but since I decided last year to really change my diet and exercise habits, I have loved HIIT- high intensity interval training. I discovered HIIT training from Jillian Michael’s podcast. It is a super fast-paced method of working out, I barely have time to look at the clock so workouts fly by and I like that I am able to push myself a little bit more every time. I alternate different modalities of cardio with strength exercises. I also wear a fitness tracker armband which tracks the calories I burn throughout the day as well as my sleep patterns. It’s so motivating to see those numbers go up and just by virtue of wearing it, I am reminded to move more.

Do you follow any specific diets or avoid certain foods?  Why or why not?

My philosophy keeps changing with the newest available scientific research, but my main idea of diet is to just eat real, whole foods. We stay far away from fast food, processed foods, foods with added sugars or chemicals, and now, gluten as well. We don’t have celiac disease, but when Kevin started developing digestive and skin problems (which are often related) we started trying new diets to help him improve. It was a chiropractor who suggested removing gluten from our diets to help with inflammation in my neck, and TA DA! His symptoms magically disappeared! We are not really following a Paleo diet, but after removing gluten, we both feel better and so we continued with it. We try to do these things at least 80% of the time. It’s all about balance.

What are some specific challenges you have faced on your healthy journey?

Eating out or at other people’s houses is always tough. We try to always bring something with us to share, but we usually wind up eating food we wouldn’t otherwise eat. We are more than ok with that though, we don’t think it’s healthy to deprive ourselves from things we love. Everything in moderation. Exercising can be a challenge too, when there is so much else to get done, sometimes it takes a back seat to schoolwork or work for our jobs. There will be good days and healthy days, and there will be days where I haven’t made decisions that align with my overall health mentality. I think the key is to always get back up.

Carly and KevI’m in a rut.  What would you advise to help me integrate healthy habits back into my life?

Sometimes completely overhauling your diet and/or life to one that is healthier can be a daunting task. What works for one person may not work for someone else, so try new things and see what works for you. Start small, make small goals for yourself, ones that you know you are capable of reaching, and then keep building upon them. You will start to feel stronger and more in control of your life. Forgive yourself when you make bad choices, and start each day brand new.

About the Author Aubrie Fennecken

Aubrie Fennecken is the Chief Alchemist at Opportunity Kitchen | work + wellness strategist | nonprofit fundraising expert | providing productivity and self-care support for mission-driven humans


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