2018’s Challenges, Bumps, & Bruises

2018 was a year full of many challenges both physically and mentally, including bumps and bruises along the way.   

Climb MS NYC

The first challenge of 2018 was participating in Climb MS NYC in March. My team and I climbed all 66 stories of the Rockefeller Center.  I trained by running stairs in my apartment complex and a lot of time on the stairclimber at the gym. Climbing cement stairs that were more spaced out and got steeper as you went up them was much more challenging. It was motivating to have a cheering crew at every story, and the view at the end was absolutely amazing.  I was able to climb the stairs in 16:55 minutes; finishing 293rd of 994 participants, 34th of the women in my age group. Fun with a new activity allowed me to raise $1,500 for the National MS Society NYC chapter.

View from the Top of the Rock

Challenge of Champions

In June I competed in my second Tiger Schulmann’s Challenge of Champions participating in both the kickboxing and jiu-jitsu events.  Training for this event is always extremely challenging both physically and mentally because there are constant hurdles to overcome. And you spend three months straight sore and bruised.  I was also focusing on the other challenges for 2018 throughout this training making it even more difficult. The biggest challenge for this tournament was the last minute decision to move up a weight class. I couldn’t drop the last couple pounds so in the end, I decided it wasn’t worth the stress. It would just create a larger challenge being on the very bottom of the weight class. I was able to take home first place in jiu-jitsu and second place in kickboxing.  

Bike MS: City to Shore Training

The hardest challenge of the year was my decision to participate in Bike MS; putting myself up to the task of biking 150 miles after not riding a bike since I was 15.  After 18 years of not getting on a bike; the saying “it’s like riding a bike” was proven true. I was a little wobbly in the beginning but managed an adventurous 7-mile ride on my first ride.  The second ride was equally successful with 16 miles on a tough hilly path. I was starting to feel really good about how this ride was going to go.

The 3rd ride, which was in June only a few months away from the event, was not so successful.  Making a rookie mistake, I got on a bike that had sat for a while without getting it checked out. About 4 miles into our ride I had my first biking accident. Losing a fight against a cement wall and got an extreme case of road rash.  

This accident set me back pretty dramatically. I couldn’t work out for a month due to my wounds on my hand getting infecting and having to heal.  Taking time and slowing down my training at kickboxing, which is my biggest stamina builder, really put me behind. Not letting it deter me though once I was healed up I got back training.  I had to push through riding during the hottest months while trying to avoid MS fatigue.

Bike MS: City to Shore Event

Fast forward to September my longest ride had been 30 miles. Determined to complete what I had committed to ready or not I got on that bike .  It was my first time riding with more than one person at a time which was intimidating in itself. It wasn’t even a few minutes in before witnessing other’s crashing which made it extra stressful.  The first stretch until a rest stop was 15 miles. By that point I was feeling more comfortable with the crowd. However, I was already feeling the ride in my knees and knew it was going to be an extremely long 75 miles. Determined I made each stop very quick, empty my bladder, fill my water pack, eat a few orange slices, and back on the road.  

The last rest stop is at 70 miles and you would think only 5 miles left no big deal. That last 5 miles are the absolute hardest of the entire ride, getting over two bridges into Ocean City, NJ.  These hills are labeled in the Strava ride app as the hill of death one and two. There is no better way to describe these hills. It took every last ounce of mental toughness to make it up the hills.  Thankfully the amazing lady tribe of mine sent me motivational voice clips that helped my mental focus!

Once I got to the top of the second hill I knew my knees would not be able to handle a second day; particularly a day starting with the hills at the beginning of the ride.  It was the best feeling to cross that finish line after hours of struggling and pushing through. Knowing I had not put enough miles in during my training time. However, happy with what I had accomplished, but knew I had to listen to my body a skip day two.  

As a team with this crazy adventure, we were able to raise $3,200 for the National MS Society.  

What’s next?

You will have to stay tuned and find out what crazy challenges I’m going to put myself through this year.  And I will be taking you all along for the journey this year. Be prepared for more biking and more martial arts!

Celebrating Non-Scale Wins and 30 Day Progress

One Month PRogress

This week marked one month of the 90-day challenge.  I am feeling pretty positive about my progress to date.  So far I am only down 3 pounds with the scale. I am seeing many more non-scale wins which help with the scale stress of my weekly weigh-ins.  I have lost an inch around my waist, as well as ¾” in each thigh.  My abs are also starting to make an appearance.

roasted veggiesshrimp, cleaning eating, healthy, broccoli slaw

These three areas are my largest focus areas for the challenge so it is a big celebration for me.  I started off rough with the meal prepping because for some reason I decided I hated vegetables for the first week.  Getting a little more creative and trying out new things helped get me on track.  My new focus is to limit my carbs to more vegetable based, particularly in my snacks.  Normally I drop energy when I do this but so far I am feeling awesome with this change and the scale has moved a little more with the change.


My sister’s fitness journey has continued to motivate me to make more visits to the gym outside of training.  I have been consistently making it to the gym every non-work day. This is a big improvement over previous challenges for me.  I have also been focused on training for Climb MS NYC, which happens in a week.  That stair climber sure provides a great cardio and leg workout.  However, my schedule has gotten a little crazier recently so that has been affecting my consistency on the mat.

The many faces of Climb MS NYC Training

Climb MS NYC 2018, MS, Climbing for a Cause, National MS Society, Training, Fitness


Balancing all of life’s duties and getting enough rest has always been a little bit of a challenge.  It becomes even tougher when I’m on point with meal prep and trying to get in some extra during times like 90-day challenge, or training for a tournament.  As tournament season is coming up I really need to focus on getting myself more scheduled and focused to be able to be successful in all avenues of my life.

Remaining goals

I have 60 days left of the Tiger Schulmann’s 90-day challenge with the determination to make this my best year yet.  A finalist spot would be an added bonus to getting to my best physical conditioning to date.  During the next 60 days, I will continue my focus on the additional workouts to compliment my training. Not only for my physique but also for conditioning to help me get stronger for June.

training, climb MS, MS, National MS Society, Stairclimber, Fitness

I am feeling great and realizing that 50-degree weather makes me feel my best.  So winter weather can stick around a little bit longer I won’t be rushing into summer this year like I normally do.  Learning how to balance what the mind wants and what the body wants are all part of this new lifestyle.


P.S.  I hope to be able to do a full unassisted pull up by the of April.


A Year of New Challenges & Obstacles to Tackle

Last year I pushed myself to face new challenges and fight against my obstacles. I successfully competed in my first tournament and pushed myself hard enough to get two belt promotions in one year which was a first for me.

This year I have set even more Challenges for myself to Push myself to new levels

Climb MS in March
• End 90-day challenge with my best results yet. Third times a charm!
• Compete in my second Challenge of the Champions in June
• Achieve intermediate level ranking at TSMA.
Bike MS in September
When looking at these goals they seem easily achievable but only with extreme discipline and my body reaching new limits. My biggest obstacle to overcome is going to be finding ways to beat chronic fatigue. Using my new fit planner is going to help me track how my daily habits, diet, and sleep habits. Knowing the impact will help me eliminate obstacles. I am looking for natural ways to increase energy levels overall; the MS fatigue medications are not something I ever want to take with their side effects.

90-Day Challenge

Today marks Day 3 of the 90-day challenge, I am already feeling less bloating and visibly seeing it.  For me, the biggest challenge is getting all of the meals to balance and reach my macro goals of 40/40/20 but I’m off to a great start already. The next step is going to be perfecting my calorie intake to keep up with my activity levels, keeping me feeling energized, as well as helping me achieve my goals.

macronutrients, clean eating, healthy eating
Macronutrients from Day 2

I am not focused on weight or the scale, however, improving overall strength is my priority. I will be focusing on a total body to strengthen my core, arms, and legs to be more successful in martial arts, particularly grappling. But also building stamina so I can rock those two-minute rounds in June, as well as two days of 80 miles of biking in September.
Looking forward to trying out some new Nutrabio supplements to enhance performance and energy levels. I invested in some new kitchen gadgets like a food saver and upgraded my food prep containers to help with meal prepping success. Kitchen gadgets are my secret to meal prepping success!

gadgets, kitchen, meal prep
New Kitchen Gadgets

Plans for Achieving Goals

Today I spent some time coming up with some new food ideas to spice up my meals and make me stay on track long-term. I can’t wait to incorporate them into next week’s meal prep.

gym, fitness, family, workout, leg day, sisters
First time at the gym with my sister

I have added some more regular gym sessions into my regular thanks to my sister starting her own fitness plan.  We are working towards our healthiest year yet. I will be developing more routines for myself to achieve my personal goals and help train for my 2018 events.
Stay tuned for me to share my successful meals and workouts! Feel free to share any awesome meals you may have!

90-Day Challenge, Meal Prep, Healthy Eating, Clean Eating
Day 1 of 90-Day Challenge

Regaining Focus and Momentum

focus, discipline, kickboxing, grappling, martial arts
Time to regain focus!

I have been MIA over the last few months as I have been focusing on redirecting my personal life and getting it back on track. I’ve taken the time to focus on myself and making some necessary changes to my mindset and goals. I realized I had become somebody I didn’t even recognize anymore. Somebody bitter, somebody lacking confidence, and somebody spending too much time worrying what others were doing. I was so far off track that I was at the point I was willing to give up all the goals I had worked so hard to achieve. It is hard to recognize these changes in yourself sometimes as they happen so gradually until sometimes you have lost total control. It is going to take some time to fully pull mentally back to what it was but this is my number one goal for 2018.

I recognized these changes earlier in the year, which was a big part of my motivation for participating in my first COC. To drive back my fighting spirit, the unstoppable personality I had throughout my life. It helped but did not get me where I needed to be, and as soon as the summer fatigue set in I lost sight of even my training focus. By the end of the summer, I realized just how important it was for me to refocus my attitude to be able to make the changes fully needed.

Regaining Momentum

Belt Promotion, Kickboxing, Martial Arts, Support, Family
This picture captures TSMA Princeton perfectly. Hard work, Support, and Family.

I have refound my focus and accepted the things that I need to continue to work on to get back to where I want to be. Last week I received my high blue belt; which is my first belt promotion since the tournament. Receiving the belt was unexpected but a reminder that I was on the right path of getting back on track. I should have received this earlier, but I let myself lose my focus and drive over the summer. Since it has gotten colder outside, it helps me feel better and have more energy so this is my time to regain the most focus. While I am still learning how to cope and work with my MS symptoms, the important part is going to be maintaining it through all seasons and not just winter months.

My 2018 goals will be to focus on constant self-improvement throughout all aspects of my life. In not only my career and my training, but also just being the best person possible. Some commitments I have already made for 2018 is my next Challenge of the Champions in June and making the ride for Bike MS in September. Consistency is going to be the key to success in achieving my goals.

Ready to stay organized and on track for 2018 thanks to Pop Flex

As Summer Comes to a Close

pool, summer, ms, heat
As summer comes to a close,

so does my mental versus physical battle.  Summer has always been my favorite time of the year, enjoying laying by the pool soaking up the sun.  However, since my MS diagnosis, this leisurely activity has become a crippling activity for me.  Last summer I spent my time relaxing in the sun having no idea that it was actually making me feel worse.

pool, summer, ms, heat
Keeping Cool at the Pool

As I headed into this summer I knew that the heat was going to be troubling but I kept telling myself it would be ok because I wasn’t in the middle of a flare up.  I started my summer off with a trip to San Antonio which proved that this mindset was completely wrong.  I spent most of my trip tired and napping (I’m sure the margaritas didn’t help either)

MS and Heat

According to multiple medical sources, heat is thought to increase MS symptoms because the temperature affects the demyelinated nerves to conduct electrical impulses.  It is not proven to cause any additional damage or attacks.  The symptoms I personally experience increasing is fatigue and muscle weakness.

These two side effects have a major impact on my ability to train at the capacity and level I would like.  Not only have I been extremely tired, every time I train I struggle through due to strength issues. Which leads to me getting frustrated, and takes away all the stress relief exercise provides me.  There is a delicate balance between pushing yourself in a healthy way and pushing too far.  I like to push far, and then I start to feel like I’m going to collapse beneath my own arms and legs.

overheating, summer, ms, heat, exercise
The Product of Overheating

I solicited some feedback from my fellow MS warriors about how the summer heat impacts them as well as their workouts and here is what they had to say.


“I now stay out of the heat as much as possible. After having MS for nearly 40 years, I’ve had lots of experience with it. Although they say that the effects of heat are temporary I have had relapses that I believe were related to being overheated, and I learned that heat was bad for me from my first neurologist. I have AC, and if I do get too hot, I drink ice water to cool down fast.”


“Heat, and more specifically humidity, definitely affects my ability to be active. It makes it harder for me to breathe, I often feel like my chest is being crushed when it gets too hot and humid. If it’s that way for more than a day or two, I start to get really fatigued and struggle to even do the basics of life. I think this is especially bad since with MS our vitamin D tends to be low, but it can get difficult to be outside and get exposure to the sun when it starts getting too hot. So it’s a double whammy ?”


“Yes it does but I don’t let it. Pushing thru the pain, fatigue, and lethargy has increased my tolerance. The more I exercise, the more tolerable the symptoms are. For example 18 months ago, I could only do 10 mins of my boot camp before I got drunk & disoriented. Now, I am usually good for 45 mins. I have even started running a bit. The fear of falling is always there though.”


“I get so worn out, my whole body feels heavy and I’m always tired”

It is hard for all of us as we all have our own experiences with the disease.  However, the MS community is one of the strongest group of individuals I have met and helped me keep fighting and pushing hard every day.  There is the struggle between what makes you happy and what makes you feel worse. For me, it truly has been a year of figuring out how to navigate life in different ways.  Some things still work, while many things need a revamp.  I will be sad to see the pool closed, but I can’t wait to get back to my normal workout routines and be able to focus clearly again.

sister, pool, summer, heat, ms
Quality Sister Time


Bike MS: From City To Shore 2017

Bike MS

Bike MS: From City To Shore 2017

Previously I discussed the prospect of participating in the National MS Society’s fundraising event Bike MS: From City to Shore. While I made the decision not to bike it this year, I will be participating as a volunteer at the event! My goal is to participate next year as a biker, giving myself more ample time to properly train.

I will be participating with Team Grinds My Gears, led by my friend Stuart Kinckner. Stu and I have known each other since college when he started dating his wife Meloni. She will be joining me as a volunteer this year and on the course next year! Stu has a demanding career in hotel management and is a father of two but still, makes time to take care of himself as well.

Stu’s Journey to a Healthier Lifestyle and Bike MS

Bike MS
Stuart making his training a family event

“For a very long time, I never paid much attention to what I put in my body. Then you start to notice things changing as you get older. It was about 8 years ago when I decided to do something about it. I cut out sweets and sodas amongst other things. I started rock climbing and realized how much better I felt. About 2 years ago I met my friend Isaiah, a professional boxer and very much into fitness, that I realized I could accomplish even more physically and push my limits. I started going to the gym weekly and soon my visits became more frequent. Watching what I was eating and keeping up with my fitness, I felt like I went back in time. At the age of 34, I physically feel like I did when I was 18 and feel confident in my body. Growing up I was never really into sports. Now feeling like I can accomplish anything, I decided to search for a challenge. I started riding a bike actively about 4 months ago. Now I needed more of a purpose other than fitness. What better purpose than contributing to finding a cure for this horrible disease, Multiple Sclerosis. I have never pushed myself to such limits as I plan to for this cause. Take a stand with me and help support the cause.”

Bike MS
Stu and Mel living an active life together

What is the money raised used for?

The National  MS Society helps provide support for individuals and families impacted by MS. They provide resources from educational information, to mental support teams, to financial assistance, to research funding. The main goal is to find a cure and end a world with MS. Your donation can help in this research, can provide an individual with MS the medications they need to reduce further damage and cope with the disease, or even provide financial assistance for a better future.

The National MS Society is a non-profit that I strongly support as their website and resources helped me during my own personal diagnosis. Searching the internet can be a scary thing when you are looking for medical information, and multiple sclerosis is scary enough to cope with already. Initially, I was not given any information from the neurologist, because of the vast amount of resources on their site both myself and my mom were able to find reliable information and help us process the information.

Bike MS
College Meg & Mel Before a Healthy Lifestyle

Please join us in fighting for a world free of MS, whether you donate, join our team as a rider or volunteer, or share our story with your friends and family we greatly appreciate all of the support.

Donate or Join our Team Here!


A Multitude of Measurements

Evil Scale Measurement

One thing that is a common battle for many people in their fitness journey is the battle of the scale. I consider the scale to be the devil because it can be so deceitful. It is important any time you start a fitness journey to use a variety of measurements to track progress.

Evil Scale Measurement

My two favorite are measurements and pictures. Measurements can also be tricky if you aren’t taking them precisely at the same spot, and can also be something that goes up in certain areas depending on muscles.
This is why pictures are my top pick. Pictures don’t lie, they allow you to see all changes. You can see where you have shrunk. Where you have toned. Where you have leaned out.
During my three year journey, my body has changed so many times, while my weight after the first 4 months has held pretty consistently. I have gone down in clothing sizes, without changing weight. Now I am going through a transition where all of my clothing is fitting me differently because my body shape is changing.

Fat vs Muscle Measurement
5 lbs of fat in comparison to 5 lbs of muscle

I have been helping one of my friends with her fitness journey and she has been battling the scale more than I did during 90-day challenge. We have been fine combing all of her habits, especially meal choices. She has made many changes, that even without perfection should be yielding celebratory results.
Meanwhile, every time she weighs in she is disheartened and discouraged.
Today she sent her most recent progress pictures. Even with lack luster weight and measurement results the pictures showed vast improvements. (Out of respect for the individual I will not share these pictures until she is ready!)
What are your favorite ways to measure your progress in your fitness/weight loss journies?

Motivation Inspires Strength

Today officially marks one year of starting my MS journey. While I was showing symptoms for a few weeks before it is the day I officially acknowledged I had waited too long already. Acknowledging it was time to get answers because something was seriously wrong.
The following week would the first time the term MS would be used. It would be a couple more months until it was an official diagnosis.
If you had told me at that time my life would be what is has become today I wouldn’t have believed you.
Doing self-injections three times a week. Ensuring I average 8 hours of sleep a night. Trying to avoid the heat like the plague. Taking more than one medication. More doctors visits than I have ever experienced total previously.
The positives that I never imagine to come of this was pushing myself to compete in the COC. It may have eventually happened but not knowing if next time would be an option was great motivation.
The biggest surprise of all has been sharing my experience with the world through blogging.

Beginner Kickboxing Motivation Image
First class of one year celebration of MS Journey

Today I choose to keep living my busy life and keep kicking versus letting it slow me down or be sad. I push myself to new limits but also listen to my body more than ever. I have more motivation than ever to live the healthiest life possible. Ensuring I take care of the only body I have to live in.
The best way to celebrate my one-year marker is to spend my day meal prepping and push myself to do my first triple class in my Tiger Schulmann’s history. Including my first kickboxing double since I started grappling.
Today I choose to be stronger than all of the excuses I can come up with to not push myself through three hours of intense work. I also remind myself I can always be stronger than Multiple Sclerosis, no matter what the circumstances are.
I will fight for my health and to stay in control of my body. Taking care of it the best I know how.
Exercise, Training, and Proper Fuel!

Back from Vacation

I have fallen off the radar for a few weeks. Giving my body and mind some overdue recovery time was a necessity. I wasn’t anticipating taking so much time away from life and training but my body had other plans for me. Between a sinus/ear infection, and Texas heat from vacation my body was worn out and telling me to relax.
It is nice to keep a balance in life of work and play so this was my little bit of play time. My mom and I had a great vacation exploring San Antonio. I wasn’t completely inactive walking all over the city, even if it included a visit to a cafe for a 3-pound cinnamon bun. While I try to maintain healthy eating, it is still an aspiration of mine to visit as many Food Network finds as possible. Especially spots from Man vs. Food.
This happened to be one those splurges and it was worth every calorie! And a trip to San Antonio wouldn’t be complete without lots of delicious Mexican food and margaritas.

After almost two and a half weeks off from activity, it was nice to return to kickboxing this week. It was great to be on vacation! However, it was more down time than I have had in well over 6 months and I was starting to feel the effects of not working out for that long.
In many of the exercise MS groups that I am in many individuals talk about the importance of never missing a day to keep symptoms away. While my case is not that severe and my workout intensity requires a day off to recover here and there. I was definitely understanding what they were talking about by the end of my time away.
I wasted no time jumping right back in last night, giving myself new challenges.
Prior to the COC, I was intimidated by training with the guys other than on the bag, and even pads I didn’t mind just makes my arms a little extra tired. Anything involving gear and direct contact I avoided.
Since the COC I have made that jump and I’ve learned that I really enjoy it.
Last night I pushed myself further training with our Joshu during full gear. It may have been a little ambitious but it was a great training session, I got to work on some techniques a little more and got to work at a faster speed than I usually do during full gear. I always judge my training sessions by sweat and redness levels and they were both at a nice high last night.

My focus with training is to keep challenging myself with different partners and being able to focus on improving my technique. Fix some of the things I’ve noticed from my videos.
It is also time for me to focus on my strength training and build my upper body strength. I am also starting to work with some friends on helping them with their workouts and coach them as part of practicing as I work on my personal trainer material.
I am getting slightly overwhelmed realizing how little time I have until I need to complete this course work so I have to buckle down and get myself focused. I’ve always worked best under pressure so I will make it happen like I always do.
I am very excited for this venture to help others with their fitness journeys and what new things can be brought into my future.

Considering New Challenges

I have been taking it pretty easy since COC, mostly just because I have been trying to beat a summer cold since a few days after. I trained a few days last week but now I’m out for two weeks due to life and vacation next week. I have been looking forward to this break just to allow my body some recovery and to focus on things I have been behind on in life.
One of the most important things I need to regain focus on is the personal trainer course work. So next week while I’m away on vacation I will practice my different techniques in the hotel gym and focus on strength training. I want to get stronger to help me with my martial arts training, especially for grappling. I’m also feeling like I have already lost muscle mass in my upper body with just a short break.
There has been a lot of talk about whether or not I will compete in December, I have thought about what I would need to do to prepare to be able to pull it off. November and December are always my worst training months because my work schedule tends to get crazy. Now on top of thinking about that a friend asked me today if I wanted to join her husband’s team for the Bike MS from Shore to City. I had previously gotten the material and considered it because it is great for awareness and raising money for research. However the idea of biking 160 miles has me tired just thinking about it!

As an overachiever who likes to pile more and more on their life plate the question is: How does this affect my other life priorities? Do I have time to even consider this additional training? How is my body going to feel about 160 miles? How do I even prepare for this?
It would be really cool, another great accomplishment to achieve, and another way to keep my body active and healthy.
For now I’m taking my two week break from training thoughts and focusing on relaxing. The best an antsy busy body knows how that is!
If you have ever done an event like this what was your experience and how did you train for it?