My Running Ready List

I’ve been a runner since my adolescence. I ran track & cross country in middle & high school…but once I graduated it became an even greater part of my life. And that runner’s high people talk about? Yup….hooked. 

Having been an active kid, but still one that struggled hard with my weight…I had done a lot of different types of exercising. **Hello STEP AEROBICS!!** That was my first love! Anyone having visions of leotards and leg warmers now?! Once I started running small races I felt I had graduated from “someone who runs on occasion” to “a RUNNER”. And here’s fair warning…we don’t call it jogging. Not cool. Ask any runner. I guarantee a cringe. 

So this is a little compilation of my TOP 10 Running Ready “Things”. The stuff I consider before lacing up and hitting the road (not a dreadmill….ugh. I only do that if I HAVE to). 


So this is different for everyone, but I personally don’t like running on an empty stomach.  However, I also can’t have had any kind of a substantial meal close to when I run. It does NOT feel good. 

I eat something small…1/2 a Larabar or a  graham cracker with peanut butter for example…1/2 hour to an hour before I head out. Race days are different (& that will be a different post!) but this is always what makes ME feel my best for a run.


You might be saying “duh”…but this can be overlooked easily and you will notice it in your running!! You’re more energized when you’re hydrated & you’re legs feel lighter. It will help keep you from cramping up. A word of caution though: don’t drink a gallon of water right before you head out!! Instead, be a consistent water drinker. Drink throughout the day. I’ve invested in a little water bottle that is formed to fit the hand and has a strap hat attaches to the hand. Love that I don’t feel like I’m holding onto it so much. 


I know this might annoy some of you. I always bring mine because I use it for my music. However, I would bring it anyway for safety!! Don’t be the person who thinks they will never have anything happen to them. You could get injured and need help or…so many things we’d rather not think about. Just be smart, people. 


My awesome tunes will likely sound different than your awesome tunes. AND I do know some people who don’t even care to listen to music while running. I’m not that girl. An awesome playlist or some Pandora stations ready to go is key for me! My legs move much faster with good tunes!!

Although having awesome tunes is…awesome…make sure you can still hear your surroundings! I run with only one headphone in and/or with my music pretty low. Annoying, I know. But I feel far safer being able to hear what’s going on around me. 


I am a bargain hunter. But, I will spend a little extra money on my running shoes if I have to. Your feet will thank you, your knees will thank you, your hips will thank you, your back will thank you…your body will thank you. Be sure to go to a running store near you (I go to Roadrunner in Tualatin, but there’s also 5 Star Sports in Corvallis…those are the best I know of near me). These places will examine your stride, posture, arch, etc and be able to recommend the right shoe for your needs, including the type of running you do and what kind of terrain you favor. In addition they will recommend an insole…get the insole!!! Your body needs the right type of support for YOUR feet. The way we treat our bodies NOW will be felt in years to come


This goes along with the idea of bringing your phone. Please friends…be smart. Things happen…they just do. Be proactive about your safety!


I’m not talking about making sure your parts are covered….but that too! What I’m referring to is weather! For me it’s most difficult in the Winter when I’m cold. It’s so easy to bundle up way too much and then be overheated and miserable. 

What I try to do is dress in layers so I can remove one if needed, but also not dress in too many layers! I mean who wants to run while holding a bunch of clothing? Trust me…it’s a drag.

I typically make sure I still feel chilled “enough” when I’m ready to go. That might sound weird…but if I am still wanting to add a layer that’s a good thing…I promise you after a few minutes of running you’ll be thankful you didn’t overdress! Same goes for your head. On ocassion I will wear a ski hat, but I always know I’ll end up carrying it, unless it’s really that cold out. They do make warm head band type things that are perfect for covering your ears but not your entire head. So much of our heat escapes from our heads, it’s really important to not overdress that part!

Don’t forget to make sure you are visible!! Dress BRIGHT! And if you are running when it’s even a little dark out, consider reflective tape or something of the like. BE VISIBLE!! Drivers are more distracted than ever. It’s up to you to make sure they see you!

Getting ready for a mid-January, Oregon run!

  • Warm clothes ✅ 
  • Bright colors ✅ 
  • Awesome tunes ✅ 


Safety first, right?! A few rules of thumb for keeping myself & others safe during my runs:

  • If on the shoulder of the road, run against traffic so you can see cars coming. Unless you have hardly any shoulder and are about to round a sharp corner or going up a super steep hill…if I know the driver coming at me won’t be able to see me and I have barely any shoulder, I cross to the other side until there’s better visibility on the side I should be on.
  • When on a sidewalk or path I always warn others when I’m coming up on them and about to pass them by saying loudly (no need to shout and scare someone) “right behind you!”. I used to say “on your right” or “on your left”…and it was pretty hilarious how people couldn’t figure out which was right or left when they were kind of startled! 
  • Always hug your side of the path when on a trail/path/sidewalk so people can easily pass on your left. 


The only one I can really speak about is RUNKEEPER because that’s what I have always used. I am a creature of habit…when I find something that works for me I stick with it. Runkeeper tracks your mileage, your pace, your splits, your route, calories burned…it tells you where you’re at with your time (mine is set to tell me every five minutes how long I’ve been running, how many miles I’m at and what my pace is). You can also use training programs it offers for race preparation. Lots of extras…but these are the most important features for me!


You don’t have to be competitive to run races. They ARE, however, wonderful tools if you like to challenge yourself!! You will be SO proud of your accomplishment too! They really are tons of fun. It’s awesome being out there with all these other people who are committed to healthier habits and who are challenging themselves as well. You’ll be inspired by everyone from the elite runner who finishes at the front of the pack, to the little kid who whizzes past you, and the mom or dad pushing a running stroller with a kid or two in it, to the people who are way past your own age and challenging themselves! It’s pretty awesome!!

I would love to hear some of the things you would put on your own list!! (These things apply to walkers as well!)

Happy running!!

XOXO, Jess

Living Real

Wow this road has been an interesting one for me. I did not get into health and fitness because it sounded cool…because exercise was always my thing…because I’ve always just been that healthy girl and wanted to share.  I got into health and fitness because I struggled so damn hard for so damn long.

We all have our story. It is so important to remember where you came from…to remember your why. I took such solace in food as a kid. The first half of my life was all about avoiding pain. Sounds dark, I know. It was.  And I know there are plenty of people walking around like “normal” but are oh so broken. My journey has just downright sucked at times. And…it has been so full of hope I’ve felt like my heart could burst at times. There has never been a straight line because, well, that’s not how it works, is it?

I didn’t want to get too deep but, I guess it’s too late! There are so many people struggling deep in their heart and feel there is no way out. We all have our own ways of coping with life, don’t we?  It’s our human nature to numb out at times…and depending on the time in our lives and what is going on…some times more than others. I lived a very numbed out life for years. Years. I had no tools for coping and just wanted things to always feel more “normal” and so I turned to my drug.  Mine was food.  That’s why I’m here in this health and fitness world. My struggle might not look like yours, but I likely understand more than you think.

I used to try hard to make people happy and had no sense of me.  Wow there are so many many girls out there like that these days I’m afraid. But, instead of trying to figure out who they are, they think selling themselves short and trying to compete for attention by compromising who they are is somehow their truth.  It breaks my heart.  That is not strength my sweet sisters.  It’s just not. Not even close. The people who love you for what you truly have to offer this world and for your uniqueness will not even want to be a part of you sacrificing your truth for attention.

It took me what felt like eons of holding so tight to God, sitting through storms, feeling lost and totally alone and getting good counseling, seeking wise words from books, people I saw truth in…letting certain people in who showed me that they had “been there” too, to get to where I am. Not perfect, but genuine and so much healthier.  I failed at times.  I let people in I shouldn’t have. But over time I’ve learned to be truer to me; to who I believe God made me to be; to who I think my son needs as a mom; to who I would’ve wanted as an example to me when I needed one.

Why am I even spewing out my guts on my little health and fitness site? Because we all know that these things we struggle with on the surface have deep, deep roots. I wasn’t able to really let go of my food issues and my eating disorder until I was good with me. God was always good with me. I was the one who needed to get my head out of my rear. I needed to realize no one would do it for me and that God loving me fiercely never meant He would do it all for me. No. In fact, it meant quite the opposite. And why?  Because He loves me that much.  And He loves YOU that much. He wants us to grow through our struggle rather than protect us so much that we end up safe and oh so very weak.

I’ll end here having poured out enough for tonight. Just know YOU have more to offer than you even know and it has NOTHING to do with how you think the world needs you to be. The expectations we think we need to live up to are SHALLOW. Be who you are meant to be. If not for you, for the girl who will cross paths with you (perhaps your own daughter) who needs you to be that example for her.


You are loved.


Wedding Dresses and Running Shoes

So many things are happening right now its slightly insane…in the best way possible!  I appreciate that I have friends who have had or are operating their own businesses that I can connect with.  The support, encouragement, advice and common ground…its kind of awesome.

Adrienne is one of these friends.  She owns an adorable bridal boutique down the street from my office in downtown Albany, called, Merrime.  I have visited her there several times for other reasons, but now I get to go in as a client!  Can I just tell you how much I love walking into her boutique?!  It’s elegant, but warm and inviting.  Adrienne is one of the sweetest people you’ll meet and you can tell without a doubt that she loves what she does!

Adrienne in her boutique!

Okay, we’ve hit on the “wedding dresses”…now for the “running shoes”!  Adrienne and I are both excited to support one another as women in business and so we’ve been chatting a lot about what we do and how this whole “owning a business thing” works.  Health and fitness is something Adrienne values greatly in her life and has been on an awesome journey of her own with it.  However, starting a business can sure shake things up in terms of how the structure in our lives looks and the impact of it all.  She, like many of us, has found that she would like to refocus on this for herself.  So…while she’s coordinating my wedding reception, I’ll be health coaching her…and you lucky people get to read about all of it!

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Wedding Coordinator and Health Coach unite!

So very excited for all of the above! Please check out Adrienne’s boutique:
FB: merrimebridal
Instagram: merrime_bridal


~Becoming You~

Tonight was an emotional night for me.  It was an end and a beginning all wrapped up in one.  2.5 years ago I started my journey as a fitness instructor.  It’s something I’ve wanted to do since I was in high school and was navigating my body image, my identity and my path in life.  I fought with all of these things hard as I struggled with some pretty deep family issues.  But that’s when I landed softly in God’s hands and realized, struggle I might…but He’s got me.

Life sure did not turn into a field of flowers after that, nor do I ever expect it too.  But, I found purpose.  I found purpose in the struggle, I found hope, I found grace, and I started to find my strength and my voice.

It might sound silly that being a fitness instructor is tied up with all of this, but it’s amazing how intensely true it is.  Although I dreamed, early in my adulthood, of being an instructor, life took me in many different directions until recently.  After I earned my masters in Health Psychology I naturally went for a certification in Health Coaching and also finally decided the time was right to dive in and get certified as a group exercise instructor.

I’ll never forget my first class!  OH man was I nervous.  It was Turbo Kick.  I remember teaching and then at the end turning around and telling the class, “that was my first class EVER!”  Um…I’m sure they knew that.  HAhaha!  Lord.  Thank you for grace!

I struggled and learned and grew and stretched and was challenged and I got certified in several other formats in the meantime. PiYo was where things changed though.  I fell IN LOVE.  I joke all the time that I don’t have the attention span for Yoga.  Well, there’s a lot of truth to that!  PiYo brought something to me that was different and more me and yet challenged me to do things I hadn’t done before.  I always walk away from class feeling STRONG, HEALTHY and just plain AWESOME!  There’s no better way to say it.  Awesome.  From the inside out.

Well, along the way these people were coming and challenging themselves and experiencing these things with me and for themselves.  Can I just say it is the COOLEST thing ever to watch someone come in, struggle, feel overwhelmed and COME BACK and do it again because they felt that, as much as it may have been “too much”, it was also some how SO good for them?!  Then to watch that person improve and get stronger and then fall in love with it just like I did?  Amazing.

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Tonight I received a message from Jenny who has been coming to my class for a couple of months.  She put into a message my why.  It means more to me that someone would share this with me than I can even express.  But really…it says it all and what a confirmation that I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing as I taught my very last PiYo class at the Y and venture out on my own…

” Hey Jessica, I found you!! I just wanted to share some things as you begin your next journey! As someone who has always struggled with weight, poor food choices, and body image I feel like I found myself in your class with your teaching! You have a true gift of encouragement and make it seem easy that everyone and anyone is able to achieve even the smallest goals and of dream! I want to personally thank you! Having never heard of PiYo before your class I found something that works for me! But honestly the thing that kept me going was when I first heard Oceans and heard that you were a Christian! It is so encouraging to me to be in a class like that and not feel spiritual heaviness and the need to leave! I come into your classes and feel alive! Like I can breath fresh air. But that is because of what you carry! You are so genuine and I have felt very blessed these past 2 months to learn from you! While it is so sad to see you go, it’s so encouraging to see you chasing your dreams! Praying that God meets you in your new adventures and you feel the support you need! Hope this isn’t the end but only the beginning of learning from you! Hope this doesn’t come across as weird but rather encouraging. Thank you for being you and doing all you do! My husband is sick of hearing me talk about Piyo!! Thanks again, Stay blessed, Jenny

*Big sigh*  I messaged Jenny back and tried to eloquently tell her just what it meant to me that she shared that…but I’m not sure I could express it exactly.  This is why I do what I do.  Truly.

That God would give me this awesome thing to do and share with people is an incredible thing to me.  That I would come full circle and be able to be on this journey with others is a gift.  So.  Off I go and I am thrilled, a little scared but beyond excited to see how things unfold.  I’ve had affirmation after affirmation that I am doing the right thing.  These messages from God just have been continually showering down on me.  So much so that it’s almost a tangible feeling.  For those of you who have been a part of this chapter…thank you!  And for those who will continue on with me…I am so excited for more!

So, what’s the moral of the story?  Be you.  Find your strength.  Challenge yourself.  And always know that God’s got you <3

I love you, PiYo Peeps!!





Imagine that!

Here it is, into the 2nd full week of the new year.  Resolutions abound!  I definitely see it at the gym and hear the chatter on social media and among friends. Even if you abandoned the idea of New Years resolutions a long time ago, there is still something infections about starting fresh along with a brand spankin’ new year!  The problem, well…there are several…but the stick-to-it-ness is lacking.  Along with accountability and planning/goal setting, a huge tool for success, in my opinion and personal experience, is visualization.

What?  Is that some weird new age, magic, must use fairy dust and chant kind of thing?  Um…no.  In fact, it is a scientifically researched tactic that a lot of athletes use.  In fact, Aymeric Guillot, Ph.D., a professor at the Center of Research and Innovation in Sport at University Claude Bernard Lyon, in France finds that we actually activate some of the same neural networks (paths of interconnected nerve cells that link what your body does to the brain impulses that control it) during visualization that we do in the activity itself.  Does that mean I can visualize running 5 miles instead of doing it? Well, it doesn’t activate your muscles and fat cells so…nice try!  But, it gets your head in the game, helps prepare you, builds confidence in your own ability as you “practice” in your head and, as those neural networks are activated, lets you experience some of the adrenaline that might come with what you are envisioning.

“Ok, well I’m not ‘training’ for anything.  What does this have to do with me and wanting to lose 20 pounds?”

Visualization can be used in a very powerful way to create new habits.  I really believe that when you are changing something in your lifestyle, it is crucial to create sort of a new culture for yourself. Losing a significant amount of weight or starting a fitness program, these things have far more to do with your day to day life than just going to the gym 5 days a week and eating less.  It has to do with how we relate with people, how we deal with stress, happiness and emotion in general.  It has to do with how we relax and how we celebrate.  It has to do with routine and what brings us comfort.  I could go on and on…

If I want to become a fit, healthy person, envisioning myself as a fit, healthy person in very specific ways is huge. It makes it real in my mind, I can actually see how it would look in my life.  Very important is what it reveals to me that WON’T fit in my life anymore.  If I am picturing myself as being strong, energetic and fit but find myself binge drinking with my buddies on the weekend, or on the couch at night numbing out with a pint of ice cream or bag of chips, or I go out with my family and order a meal that puts me into a food coma for the rest of the evening and therefor cannot complete my workout …those things are going to start sticking out as NOT what gels with my image for myself.

Another way this tactic is helpful is in creating that new culture for oneself by bringing new input into your life in a lot of different ways. What I mean is surrounding yourself with things and people that inspire this new way of life in you. It might be friends who are living a healthy lifestyle, a magazine that motivates you, pod casts, books, websites, going to workshops or taking classes.  A homework assignment I often give clients is to make a vision board.  There are no specifics with the vision board other than making it something that inspires you in terms of a specific goal you are trying to reach.  A vision board, if you have never done one, is essentially a collage.

Here’s an example of one (not mine):

Some people like to put quotes up in their house, in their car, etc.  I love that idea too.  A vision board takes the process a little deeper and the experience of just creating the vision board has a lot of meaning and helps us focus and hone in on where we are going with our goal and how we need to mold certain things in our lives in order to get there.

I would love to see any vision boards that are created!  Or hear other tips that you use that you find helpful and inspiring!

Either send me a message through the contact form or you can find me on FB: healthwithjess

Happy 2015!

Love and blessings,

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