Holiday Party Survival Strategies – How to Stick to Your Plan!

We’ve all been there… trying to stay healthy throughout the holidays can be super tough! Maybe you made it through Thanksgiving by cooking delicious healthy holiday recipes and now the most happiest time of the year is upon us full of opportunities to be merry, stuff our tummies, and throw back a few glasses of eggnog. Plus, you have work parties, friends’ parties, and maybe your own to host. How do you truly enjoy all of the social engagements and stay true to your health goals? Overall, moderation is key. But in case you need some help, here are a few common scenarios and a game plan to help you stay the course!

Holiday Party Diet Survival Strategies

Scenario: You’re afraid of drinking too much eggnog (or “other”) at the office party….

Stay the course. To outsmart calories (eggnog packs more than 200 a cup) and hangovers at future fetes, order a mixed drink, such as vodka and club soda; it is low in calories (about 100), easy to dilute (just add soda), and less likely to cause a humongous hangover. The darker the booze, the worse you’ll feel the next day. That’s because dark liquor contains more congeners, chemicals produced during the fermentation process that are to blame for many hangover symptoms. Also avoid screwdrivers, vodka and cranberry juice, and other drinks made with fruit… The sugar in these cocktails will leave you craving more of the sweet stuff, making pecan pie, peppermint bark, Christmas cookies, you name it, irresistible.

Scenario: You’re afraid of going overboard at tonight’s holiday dinner.

Stay the course. When you’re dining at a friend’s or a relative’s, bring a healthy dish that you can dig into guilt-free. Then choose sweet potatoes over mashed with gravy, and broccoli over green bean casserole. Skip the rolls even if they’re whole wheat; chances are you already have plenty of carbs. Help yourself to a double serving of salad to fill up without filling out, and just say no when Aunt Edna insists that you have another spoonful of her stuffing (’tis the season for food pushers!). A little humor will take the edge off, so say, “Your stuffing is so good, but if I eat another bite I’ll be more stuffed than that bird!” When you play hostess, fix lighter fare (make your green bean casserole with fresh beans and sautéed onions rather than cream of mushroom soup and fried onions). And since Christmas leftovers are even more delectable and easier to overindulge in, send guests home with doggie bags.

scenario: You haven’t been to the gym in more than two weeks.

Stay the course. Take baby steps, every day. Even a 20-minute walk will keep you in the exercise habit and chances are you’ll be inspired to keep going. No time to hit the gym? Shape up in your living room with an exercise ball, 5-pound weights, and a resistance band. Or sneak fitness into your holiday to-dos…Combing the mall for two hours blasts about 350 calories; boost the burn by doing biceps curls with shopping bags while waiting to pay for gift number 207. If you’re really moving, an hour spent climbing up and down a ladder hoisting lights is comparable to an easy workout.

Get out there and enjoy your Holiday parties while staying true to your goals! You can do it!

How to Get the Kids Back to School & Get Yourself Back on Track at the Same Time

I can only imagine the stresses that come with taking the kiddos back to school, but, at the same time, you can use this time to get back on track yourself and tackle some of your own goals. With the schedule and structure of the kids’ school hours, you can now make a little time for yourself and when the kids get home from school, take the time to workout with them, meal prep with them, and get lots of things done while they are tackling their homework!

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Here’s how to make the most of this new season:

1. Go to Bed Early and Wake Up Early!

This is my new favorite routine! Set an 8-9 o’clock bedtime for yourself and the kids!! This will allow you to get in a good eight hours of sleep before waking up at 5:00am the next morning! By setting my alarm each morning for 5, I’m up before the rest of the world wakes up (no distractions); plus it’s the BEST time to get in a great workout at home, a healthy breakfast or Shakeology smoothie, some personal development time, and maybe a little side-business time like many busy moms and dads do these days (i.e. many coaches in my tribe).

Not a morning person? Trust me… I never used to be until I learned (and fell in love with) how much MORE I was able to accomplish in a day and how much more CONTROL I had over my day rather than letting the day run me. Ease into it though. Start with just waking up a half hour or an hour before you typically would and gradually work up to the 5am wake up call. And remember, the first 5 minutes of waking are the hardest… once you conquer those… you’re up, awake, and ready to go!

For more tips on how to become a morning person…. I HIGHLY recommend the personal development book “Miracle Morning” by Hal Elrod. It was a game changer in my life.

This will also be the topic of my blog in September so stay tuned 🙂

2) Homework Time = Your Workout Time

Set a timer for the kids to do their homework after school because that’s another great time when you could bust out your workout! When I was a kid, it was all my parents could do to get me to actually sit down and complete my homework. One thing that worked well was setting a timer and telling me I had to work for those next 45 minutes on my school work before I could go out and play. This was the perfect time for my mom to get the things done she needed to do as well, one of which being an at-home workout she could bust out in the living room! We have so many options for streaming workouts from home these days on the TV and computer and tablets, that this makes it a great time for you moms and dads to get in a great burn while the kids are exercising their minds!

For help on picking which workout to start with based on your ability level, or help getting Beachbody on Demand set up in your home (it’s like Netflix for workouts)…. Just shoot me a message, and I’ll give you my code to try it for a couple weeks for FREE! (bonus tip: we now have a variety of programs that actually involve the kids… AND a brand new one coming out in the fall called “Double Time” where parents and kids can partner up and do the fun moves together… so this is a great way to get the kids moving after workout time too!)

3) Park & Walk a Few Blocks to School

Every morning that I drive to the country club to train my clients, I always laugh at all the cars JUST SITTING in the LOOOOONNNNNGGGGG lines… All of which are parents trying to pull into the school parking lot to drop their kids off in the morning! Same thing happens at 2:00pm when the kids are getting out of school. What a great time to park the car along the sidewalk (a few blocks away from the school), get everyone out of the car, and WALK up to the school to drop the kids off?!

This accomplishes multiple things… 1) the kids will arrive to school SOONER because most people can walk faster than those snail-paced cars sitting in line. 2) You’ll get in an extra couple thousands steps for the day. 3) You don’t have to get frustrated sitting in morning traffic. Instead you’ll be exercising which will boost your endorphins and make you happier and less stressed!

Same applies when you go to pick the kids up from school… Park a few blocks away and use the walk time back to the car to listen to how your kids’ day was! My dad and I used to have a “fast-walk” race back to the car. Only rules were you couldn’t run… you had to walk. We would do this in pretty much any parking lot too! First one to touch the car WON!! (I think he always let me win! LOL)

4) Pack Both Your Lunch & the Kiddos Lunches at the Same Time

My mom used to pack my lunch every night so that it was ready the next day. At the same time, she would pack her own so she was ready for work the next day as well! This accomplished so many things… 1) She was able to save money by not going out to eat with her co-workers 2) She was able to save the calories of restaurant or fast food and eat her own healthy meals instead 3) She was able to decide what food we were eating each day rather than leaving it to the somewhat-unhealthy-school-lunch system to decide what we were eating each day (I would have always gone for the pizza and soda if I could have!) 4) She wasn’t rushed in the morning to get us out the door — her lunch was already packed and so were ours!!!

5) CrockPots!

We ate so many amazing crock pot meals as kids, and I know it’s because both of my parents worked full time!!! I remember so often my mom would start the crockpot at night, and, when we would wake up in the morning, dinner was already ready for that night! Another great method was starting the crockpot before we left for work/school in the morning, and then the whole concoction was hot and ready when we got home in the afternoon/evening. For my healthy crockpot menu and recipes, just shoot me a message, and I’ll send it your way! I have a full week’s worth of ideas, and I make enough so that I can take the leftovers to work the next day for lunch! It’s the BEST and such a money and time saver as well!

6) Healthy Snack Time

My FAVORITE time as a kid was coming home after school and having snack time!!! Conveniently, this is right around the time that we as adults should be choosing a healthy snack as well to help with preventing the afternoon crash and keeping us satisfied until dinner time so that we aren’t STARVING going into our last meal of the day (the time most people tend to overeat).

My favorite healthy snacks for adults and kids consist of veggies and hummus (try this homemade recipe!), a handful of raw almonds or walnuts, plain greek yogurt with a drizzle of honey or maple syrup, kale chips, Daily Sunshine and Shakeology (kiddos are loving the new Daily Sunshine* and it was specifically designed for picky kids and even pickier parents), cottage cheese and fruit, or my new fave… RX bars (kids and adult versions – use this link for $5 off your first order!). Try to avoid the sugary drinks that we used to have as kiddos like Capri Sun, Sunny D, and sodas and instead reach for water as much as possible! (homemade fruit infused water is a great yummy option for kids!)

*Daily Sunshine is certified organic as it is made with organic fruits and vegetables, and organic pea protein. It’s also Non-GMO, soy free, dairy free, and gluten free. For a free sample of either Daily Sunshine or Shakeology, or to get my coach pricing on a month’s supply, just shoot me a message, and I’ll get you the “family/friends pricing” 🙂

This is an exciting time of year. A time for new beginnings for the kids and a time of getting back on track for us adults! I am hosting a back to school challenge where I will take you through all the steps of how to make this transition even smoother and I will give you daily tips and tricks and recipes to get you feeling awesome as we head into the Fall season! Jump into our Back 2 School Challenge or request more info HERE.

Disclaimer: Some of the links in this article are affiliate links – meaning I earn a small fee when you purchase using my link — please note this is at NO additional cost to you, the buyer. Not all my links are affiliate links because I only link to products that I use and fully recommend! For example, FitByWhit is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for me to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites. 

3 Steps Towards Healthy Living to Take When You Have No Idea Where to Begin

I started working with a brand-new client this past month, and I wanted to share her message with you. When she reached out to me for help, I recognized an overwhelming theme, and I know so many people out there feel like this… And I think I can help!

Here’s what she shared…

“I need help, and I just don’t know where to start. I feel like I have so far to go. I have lost weight and gained it all back in the past, and now, no matter what I try, I’m not seeing any results. I just want my life back and to look and feel good for my husband and my kids.”

It’s so easy to revert back to what has worked for us in the past (things like Adkins, Slim Fast, juicing/water diets, etc.), but the chances of any kind of “diet” truly working for us are slim to none because it’s just that… a diet…

How about this time – instead of thinking of going on a diet – let’s make it a lifestyle change?!? What if we decided you would NEVER again see that number on the scale… if we could permanently THROW away our “fat pants” because never again will we be that size.

I’m going to give you my tips to live a healthier lifestyle starting TODAY. Let’s make this a permanent and lasting change and thus take the word “diet” out of our vocabulary all together!

These are three steps you can take right now that will make today healthier than yesterday and pave the way for a healthier tomorrow, too.

Healthy Living Step #1: Take stock.

 Your first step toward healthy living is to get a handle on your current health status. Here’s your to-do list:

  • Make an appointment with the doc for a routine physical, and get your stats checked so you know your starting point.
  • Gauge your girth. Measure your height and weight to check your BMI, and measure your waist circumference to see if you’re overweight and if your waistline is putting your health at risk.
  • Assess your activity level. How much physical activity do you get in a typical week? How intense is that activity? How much variety do you get in your activity, and how much do you enjoy it? It is recommended we get about 30 mins of exercise each day, and, thanks to my workout plans, you can get 20-30 minutes a day in the comfort of your own home.
  • Keep a food diary, and feel free to shoot it over to me. Write down everything you eat for a day – and no fair skipping the items you’re embarrassed about. We won’t need to count calories or weigh your food on any meal plan I give you; we can use portion control containers and a set food list to determine what and how much to eat each day.
  • Check your mood and energy. Healthy living includes emotional well-being and adequate rest. How has your mood been lately? Do you usually sleep well for seven to eight hours a night? When I set out to do the Ultimate Reset Cleanse, I had no idea how poor my sleep quality was until I cleaned up my diet and thus, started sleeping much better!
  • Consider your social network. How strong are your connections with family and friends? Are you plugged in with friend and family groups that enrich your life? I love setting up my clients with accountability partners in addition to coaching them one on one because being surrounded with other positive influences, helps in achieving so much more success!

If you’re not thrilled with the answers to some of those questions, it’s okay. It’s not about being “good” or “bad,” “right” or “wrong.” Remember that the object of these bullet points is to figure out where you are today, so you can set your healthy living goals.

Healthy Living Step #2: Move more.

 Here are my top tips for increasing physical activity:

  • Make it fun. Go on a hike, join one of my fun accountability groups, walk with friends, take a partner’s dance class, or whatever you enjoy. There’s no need to stick to cardio equipment in the gym if you’re dreading it. You can also set up a home gym or do a video at the house (Beachbody has created all kinds of workouts that fit all passions and all people and all fitness levels!).
  • Keep track of it. Make a note of your physical activity on your calendar. Put big Xs on the days that you exercise. Keep a visual record that you look at frequently as a reminder and motivator. I even invite my challengers to join my app, so they can log their workout each day and keep track of their week. If you’re doing it on your own, there are plenty of apps out there for you (like MyFitnessPal).
  • Set a weekly goal for activity…. To build confidence with my clients, we make the first goal so easy that he or she can say, ‘I know I can do that.’ We set weekly goals because if you set a daily goal and miss a day, you might get discouraged; weekly goals give you more day-to-day flexibility. And at the end of the week, reward yourself with a visual reminder of your accomplishment, such as buying flowers for yourself. Sounds goofy, I know, but it really does work!
  • Work activity into your day. From the Ironman training days, I adopted the principal of “Ten percent of something is better than 100% of nothing.” So even if you have 10 minutes, it’s better than zero minutes. Taking a 10-minute walk before lunch or walking up and down the stairs when you’re feeling drained and tired can make all the difference in the world.

I also love to set up my clients with a FitBit, or pedometer, to track how many steps he or she takes per day (health experts recommend shooting for 10,000 steps per day). It seems like a lot of steps, but you will be surprised at how easy little changes (such as parking further away from the grocery store or taking the steps instead of the elevator) can add up!

Healthy Living Step #3: Upgrade your diet.

 I am not a nutritionist by any means, so I try to make it a method of awareness and choices rather than eating certain foods and avoiding others. Here are a couple pointers I like to follow:

  • Take control and ownership over your new lifestyle food changes, and replace “I should” with “I choose.” So instead of “I should be eating more fruits and vegetables,” it’s “I choose to eat more fruits and vegetables” or “I choose not to.” Research has shown it’s a more powerful language and trains your brain to not feel restricted or limited.
  • Skip the guilt. Typically, if someone I’m working with is an emotional eater and they say, “I know I shouldn’t be doing this,” it implies more guilt and judgment on themselves. They feel worse, and then they end up eating to comfort themselves. So, play the 80/20 rule instead. One cheat day isn’t going to ruin you… enjoy the dessert or the slice of pizza, and then get right back on track the next morning.
  • Choose to plan. Stock your pantry with healthy fare and bring healthy snacks with you so you’re prepared when you get hungry. When my hunger strikes, I go right for junk food, but, if I’m prepared with healthy snacks throughout the day, my brain never misdirects me to the junk food.
  • Don’t watch TV, work, or drive while you’re eating. I’m the worst about this one because I’m always on the go. When I’m not eating in the car and I have a down minute to rest my legs, I’ll turn on the TV and eat a meal there. But then, before I know it, I’ve mindlessly eaten the entire bag of chips, rather than just 10 chips. You’re much more likely to feel psychologically satisfied if you don’t multitask while you’re eating.
  • Shoot for five to nine daily servings of varied fruits and vegetables. I help my clients keep this count high by giving them color coded containers representing fruits and veggies. Their job is to fill the container 4-9 times throughout the day based on their caloric and dietary needs. It’s good to cover the rainbow of fruit and vegetable colors to get a good mix of nutrients. Good rule of thumb is… If you’re not getting the rainbow, you’re probably not getting all the nutrients that you need.

Need some healthy recipes? I try to post at least one a week!

If you have more questions about getting started on your health and/or fitness journey or anything that I can help you with, feel free to reach out, and we can set up a time to chat. It can be scary to take the step of reaching out, but as soon as you do, you are just one step closer to feeling amazing again. I’m here to help you and guide you through the process.

(Bonus) Healthy Living Step #4: Sign up for my monthly newsletter to receive fitness tips, recipes, & more?

6 Ways to Flip Your Body-Shaming Script

We can place part of the blame for body shaming on the media: you have to have visible ab muscles, super-toned yoga shoulders, a skinny waist and other social media-manifested benchmarks such as the “thigh gap”.

But constant evaluation and judgment is also just how our brains process the world around us, and it might take some work to get to a place where that process doesn’t erode our self-esteem.

According to Holly Parker, Ph.D., a psychotherapist, Harvard University lecturer, and author, “Brains are like 4-year-olds hopped up on candy. They run around posting labels on everything they see. They come up with all kinds of things, and some are going to be accurate, but other thoughts won’t serve us and might not even be true.”

Which isn’t to say that body shaming is behavior we should accept as inevitable. Body negativity can contribute to depression and eating disorders in addition to low self-esteem. It plants a seed that encourages people to feel worse about themselves. And it has consequences beyond just feeling bad about yourself; it spreads into other domains of your life.

Here’s how to change the conversation the next time you have a negative exchange with yourself.


1. Focus on the Tangible

An easy way to ruin your day is to focus on what you “are” rather than on what you can do. How strong is “strong enough”? You’re not “athletic enough” or “fit enough” — compared to whom?

If you find yourself doing this, write down your successes instead – no matter how small. Remind yourself that you just got promoted at work, scored an internship you wanted, have a black belt in karate or went for a 15-minute walk. Chances are nothing on your list will have to do with the size of your jeans.

For example, if increasing your strength is important to you, set a goal more specific than just “get stronger.” Try adding an additional pound of weight to your workouts each week. When you hold plank 30 seconds longer than you did a week ago, celebrate that.

2. Put Thoughts in Their Place

It isn’t easy, but it’s helpful to reframe our thoughts, which takes away some of their power to make us feel bad about ourselves.

“When we notice something, our mind tells us a story about it,” Parker explains. “We have a choice about whether we buy into those stories, but what’s interesting is that we don’t realize it. Our mind tells us that what we think is the truth.”

To help people reframe how they view the thoughts that enter their minds, Parker suggests visualizing that you’re walking through a grocery store and looking at all the products. “Do you buy everything? No,” she says. “You might pull something off a shelf, look at it and then put it back. Try thinking about thoughts in same way.”

3. Separate the Thought From the Judgment

Most of us are wired to accept our negative thoughts without question but scrutinize and doubt positive ones, Parker says. So when you look in the mirror and think, “I’m gross,” it can feel like you’re stating a fact, but you’re not. Being mindful helps you realize you’re making a judgment, not stating a reality.

Acknowledging, “OK, right now I’m having this THOUGHT that I’m gross” feels differently than just thinking, ‘I’m gross.’” It helps us pull back and have some perspective on the thought – and be more accurate in how we assess ourselves.

4. Don’t Ignore Negative Self-Talk

It might sound counterintuitive to tell people to not banish body-shaming thoughts from their minds. But Parker says that advice to do so isn’t helpful because when people try to push thoughts away, they come back more forcefully.

If someone feels sad and another person tells him or her to stop being so negative, it can make them feel worse and unheard. Rather than trying to silence that negative voice, acknowledge that the thought came up.

“I don’t tell people to lie to themselves or have a Pollyanna attitude that everything is great,” Parker says. “Changing how they talk to themselves is about promoting more accuracy and self-compassion, because negative labels or statements can feel like facts when they’re not.”

5. Stop Comparing Yourself to Others

I know what I just said about acknowledging negative self-talk, but you need to stop worrying, “Why don’t I look like Beyonce/Taylor Swift/(insert celebrity here)?”

For one thing, celebs, Instagram influencers, and even your Facebook friends who post “thinspiration” selfies on the reg, have learned how to position themselves in photos just right, so you’re seeing them at their absolute best. Factor in Photoshop, filters and editing, and you’ve got a recipe for body envy.

If you find yourself feeling sad and inadequate scrolling through your social media feeds, you might want to unfollow some of the “gymspiration” types. And if you subscribe to magazines or catalogs that consistently feature models that make you feel inadequate, cancel them.

6. Be a Friend to Yourself

Imagine if the negative voice in your head was a tiny person sitting on your shoulder or someone walking behind you all day.

“When I ask patients, ‘How would you treat this person?’ walking behind you, it provokes a strong reaction. If they get really mad, chances are, they’re not being kind to themselves,” Parker says. “Because we tolerate talk from ourselves that we would never tolerate from another person.”

Another trick I use is to question whether the unkind thought you just unleashed upon yourself was something you’d say to your grandmother: “Would you call your grandmother fat for having another slice of pizza?”

It isn’t easy to retrain the brain to be compassionate and reasonable after a lifetime of media and social pressure about how we look. Instead of always following the path of self-doubt, it can help to envision taking another fresher, different path instead. Stepping away from some of the stories our mind tells us is hard, but we CAN create new paths, or new ways of thinking.

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How to Beat the Holiday Blues

Yes, I know, I know, it’s the most wonderful time of the year. But sometimes the holidays can be too much. Too much spending, too much traffic, too much figgy pudding, too much face time with crazy relatives, too much with the questions from Aunt Betty about your love life, too much stressing about your impending New Year’s resolution, too much brooding over the resolutions you didn’t keep last year… sorry, am I stressing you out? Anyway, it’s no surprise that some people find themselves feeling anything but holly-jolly this time of year. If you find yourself in a grinchy or blue mood, here’s how to get your holiday spirit back.

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Lower your expectations

You might not find that sentiment printed on a Hallmark card anytime soon, but it’s easy to fall into a funk when you’re expecting your holiday to be Pinterest-perfect. “People often put a lot of pressure on making the holidays perfect, and this stress can bring us down and have us feeling worn out,” says Erik Fisher, PhD (also known as “Dr. E”), a psychologist and emotional dynamics expert in Atlanta. If your happiness depends on your family acting like they’re a living, breathing Norman Rockwell painting, your apartment resembling the Pottery Barn catalog, and your soulmate magically appearing under the mistletoe, you’re bound to be disappointed. “In the end, it’s not about the things you get or give — it’s about the quality of time that you spend.” Focus on the simple things that make your holidays special, even if it’s just inviting a friend over for eggnog or watching Elf on repeat.

Avoid your biggest annoyances

“If you tell your doctor that your head hurts when you hit it with a hammer, he’s probably going to tell you to stop hitting yourself with a hammer,” Dr. E says. So if there’s a particular tradition you’re dreading, figure out how to make it less draining this year. “For loneliness, reach out to others,” says Stephen Josephson, PhD, a cognitive behavioral psychologist in NYC. “For money stress, create a budget. If traveling to be with family has traditionally resulted in conflict, consider staying in a hotel as opposed to being in someone’s house.” These small changes can make it easier to stay in good spirits.

Take care of yourself

It’s below freezing outside, you have a million things to do, and your coworker just left a heaping tray of gingersnaps in the break room. Suffice it to say the holidays can derail your healthy habits pretty quickly. “Because of the holiday time crunch, people don’t feel they have time to keep up with everything, and exercise can be the first thing to go,” Dr. E says. “But exercise is a great way to battle the blues. Make time to keep up with it.” While you’re at it, watch your added sugar intake and keep your hot buttered rum intake in check. “Increased food and alcohol intake can impact your mood, so work on managing excesses,” Dr. Josephson says.

Watch for warning signs

If you still can’t seem to shake the holiday blues, it might be more than just a seasonal funk. “When your mood lasts for longer than a few weeks or carries on through the New Year, this may be more than the blues,” Dr. E says. One in four Americans suffer from a mental illness, and an estimated 14 million Americans suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). It’s a form of depression that strikes during the bleak winter months. ″Some of the signs include an increase in carb cravings, sleep, social isolation, and a decreased interest in activities,” Dr. Josephson says. SAD can often be treated effectively with light therapy, so talk to a medical professional if you think your holiday blues are a sign of something more serious.

Are You Sad This Winter? Coping with Seasonal Affective Disorder

The Trip of a Lifetime – Rio, Brazil!

This month I was able to mark off two bucket list items… Traveling to South America and seeing the Paralympic Games! Paul and I headed to Rio De Janeiro, Brazil at the beginning of the month and spent 7 incredible days in this beautiful country… taking in the culture, the sites, the Cariocas (the name for the locals: a famously friendly, fun-loving people—and famously attractive), the food, and the incredible athleticism of the world’s best athletes!

Whitney Small & Paul Barr on beach in Rio

From our early-morning jogs along the wave-patterned mosaic walkways of the famous Copacabana beach, to our late-night dinners and samba-filled strolls, it was a perfect week that I will never forget.

Each morning we would slip on our running shoes, walk one block from our Airbnb condo, and cross Avenida Atlântica to the white sandy beaches, where we would join a stream of runners, bikers, tourists, and locals moseying along the crescent-shaped beach.

Three to five mile runs felt like nothing with the constant distraction of elaborate sand castles, beach soccer-volley games, kiosks already serving beer and cocktails, vendors selling kangas (beach towels) and Olympic Games paraphernalia. Paul and his mom watched one morning as I joined the locals and jumped off the fortified hillside of Morro do Leme, into the warm turquoise ocean waves.

Whitney Small at a juice stand in Rio

My favorite morning traditions consisted of tucking into one of the suco (juice) stands that line Avenida Nossa Senhora de Copacabana. Each morning I was struck with indecision by the various tropical fruits on the counter, many I didn’t even recognize—guava, mango, papaya, odd spiky fruits, and more! The juices and smoothies were so fresh and made for the perfect compliment to our morning exercise regimen.

We knew we couldn’t leave Rio without seeing the incredible Corcovado (Christ the Redeemer), Pão de Açúcar (Sugarloaf Mountain), and Parque Nacional Tijuca (National Park Jungle) so we spent a couple days taking in the incredible sights and history of this incredible city.

Whitney Small & Paul Barr at Cristo Redentor, Rio

My favorite site by far was Cristo Redentor. The 98-foot-tall, 700-ton figure, completed in 1931, is one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. To me, the most impressive thing isn’t Jesus so much as the view that he presides over, a 360-degree panorama of Rio: Sugarloaf, the Bay, the Lagoa, the Maracanã soccer stadium, the highrise hotels and shambling favelas, and beyond it all the Atlantic Ocean… as far as the eye can see.

The highlight of the trip, however, came on our final day in Rio when Mark (Paul’s brother) competed on the World Stage in the sport of triathlon.

Mark Barr, team USA, competing in the triathalon at the Rio paralympics

Photo: Bob Martin for OIS/IOC

We knew Mark was set to finish near the top of the field that morning, but we had no idea just how incredible he would do. We hadn’t seen Mark the entire week we were in Brazil, so when the gun went off, signaling the start of the swim, it seemed surreal and gave us a total rush of adrenaline to see him emerge from the crashing waves, IN FIRST PLACE, far ahead of the rest of the field.

He had a strong bike ride and was only passed by four of the world’s best cyclists! He came off the bike and gained time on every competitor in front of him on the run! We were in total awe and all smiles and tears when he crossed the finish line as the world’s 4th fastest paratriathlete!


Needless to say, it was the trip of a lifetime, and I left Rio, so inspired by the stories of the athletes competing in the Games. From the jaw-dropping opening ceremonies to the tear-filled victories of the handicapped athletes, my beliefs were totally confirmed that we as humans are truly limitless, and if you put your mind to something, there is absolutely nothing that will stand in your way of achieving that dream. The paralympic athletes are testaments to that and it was life-changing to see such strength, passion, and vision unfold in front of us at the Games.

Whitney Small Overlooking Rio Brazil

8 Benefits of Hiring an Online Health and Fitness Coach

I was standing in an elevator, headed up to my room that overlooked the beaches of Copacabana when a nice older British gentlemen  struck up a bit of small talk with me and asked where I was from and what I did for a living. I told him I live on the central coast of California and I am an online health and fitness coach. He nodded and then as my words sank in, he asked, “how do you coach people online? Don’t you have an office or something where they can come see you?”

I smiled and told him… “That’s the best part about it… I can coach my clients here from the beaches of Rio Di Janeiro or anywhere else in the world and give them even better knowledge,  expertise, and training than I could ever offer in person. I am here for them 24/7 and they know that when they need help, I am their person! Rain or shine, day or night, no matter their fitness level or their location.”

He continued to ask more about my career and how I became an online coach and at the end of our conversation, he asked the most important question of all… “What makes someone hire an online fitness and health coach as opposed to seeking out someone they can go see physically?”

The elevator came to a stop and he got out before I could answer him… So I decided to blog about it in hopes that one day he might read it and I can answer his question and the question I get asked so frequently by people looking for a solution to their health and fitness needs… So here it is…

8 Benefits of Using an Online Health and Fitness Coach


1. Personalization – you receive a plan that’s tailored to you and your current health needs and fitness abilities rather than a one-size-fits-all plan. This customization is far less expensive when compared to the fees of a daily personal trainer and nutritionist.

2. Options- you have choices! You get free coaching consultations with me to determine what kind of program you need as well as what areas of coaching will be most effective for you. I’ve worked with people of all ages, weights, and health conditions (high cholesterol, blood pressure, diabetes) and I’m confident we can find a solution that will be right for you.

3. Feel Empowered- You can feel the accomplishment and the empowerment just as you would when seeing a personal trainer at the gym! We interact daily and set weekly benchmarks for you to hit your overall goal in a timely fashion.

4. Comfortable and non-intimidating – it can be scary to set foot in a gym or work with a personal trainer in public settings… But I will get you moving and feeling better without the fear of intimidation or embarrassment.

5. Convenient- because you’re making a LIFESTYLE change, it has to fit into YOUR SCHEDULE, otherwise it will not be sustainable. We carve out certain times of the day that work for you and your busy schedule so that you can squeeze in time for exercise, grocery shopping, meal prep, and clean eating.

6. Database of Information – you receive all of the benefits and knowledge of a personal trainer and health coach PLUS a plethora of meal plans, recipes, healthy cooking shows, diet knowledge, clean eating blogs, and a fitness community of healthy-minded individuals all at your fingertips 24/7! This information will be a valuable resource as you continue your pursuit of healthy living!

7. Better YOU without breaking the bank- because I don’t have the overhead of a gym or office, I can charge less than my gym-counterparts and give you even more value. Lose weight and tone up without taking a big hit financially.

8. Becoming your BEST self – whether you’re 18 or 91 (yes I have a 91 year old client and she’s AMAZING) there is NO BETTER time than NOW to begin your transformation. As an online health and fitness coach, I can help you get in the best shape of your life, assist you in reaching your optimum weight, and help you live a better, healthier life. As times change and technology continues to improve, we can harness these tools to help you make the changes you’ve always wanted to make!