Chocolate Chia Pudding with Collagen and Raspberries Recipe {Gluten-Free, Paleo-Friendly}

Chocolate Chia Pudding with Raspberries Healthy Dessert

Nutrient-dense and totally delicious, chocolate chia pudding is my idea of the perfect dessert. Its creamy, thick consistency and wonderfully chocolately flavor offers all the decadence of a sweet treat without the refined sugars.

Plus, this recipe is so easy to whip up. The only cooking skills required are the ability to stir ingredients together in a bowl and the patience to wait while your creation firms up to the ideal consistency in the fridge overnight.

The chia seeds absorb the almond milk, forming a pudding-like texture—with no cooking required! I’ve never been much of a baking enthusiast (but I certainly love chocolate!), so no-bake desserts like this one are right up my alley.

Raw cacao powder gives this chia pudding its chocolately deliciousness, and the addition of collagen boosts its protein content. It’s sweetened naturally with a touch of maple syrup, then topped with fresh raspberries and shredded coconut.

Chocolate Chia Pudding with Raspberries Healthy Dessert Side View

If you’re a fan of the simplicity and yumminess of overnight oats, you’ll love this chocolate chia pudding too. In my opinion, it’s the graduated version of overnight oats with the perfect tapioca-like texture that will have you craving it for breakfast, snacks, and dessert.

It’s also one of those lovely recipes that happens to be naturally gluten-free and paleo.

Chocolate Chia Pudding with Raspberries Healthy Dessert Overhead_View

Chocolate Chia Pudding with Raspberries Recipe {Gluten-Free, Paleo-Friendly}

Serves 4


1 1/2 cups unsweetened almond milk

1/3 cup chia seeds

1/4 cup Cacao Powder

2 scoops (about 22 grams) Pure Hydrolyzed Collagen Peptides

2 tbsp maple syrup

1/4 tsp cinnamon

Pinch of sea salt

Fresh raspberries, shredded coconut, and/or dark chocolate chips to top


Add all of the ingredients, except the raspberries, shredded coconut, and any other toppings to large bowl. Stir together to combine.

Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Serve chilled with fresh raspberries and other desired toppings. Enjoy!

Looking for another recipe featuring cacao? Try my Chocolate Banana Smoothie with Maca!

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Pan-Fried Plantains with Cilantro Garlic Sauce Recipe {Gluten-Free, Paleo, Whole30}

pan-fried plantains with cilantro garlic sauce

Growing up, I had never even heard of plantains, let alone eaten or cooked with them. But since trying them in many different Latin American and South American restaurant dishes over the past several years (like those at Sol Food), they have easily become my favorite starchy carb source.

Plantains, a relative of the banana, can be used in a variety of different ways, both sweet and savory, but I love pan-frying the green, unripe ones and pairing them with a dipping sauce or aioli for a simple, savory appetizer of side dish.

Pan-Fried Plantains with Cilantro Garlic Sauce are currently my favorite combination. First of all, cilantro and garlic can do no wrong. I will find a way to include them in as much of my cooking as possible. Combined with crispy plantains that have been cooked in some coconut oil, you have yourself a wonderfully delicious snack in no time.

These bad boys are a real crowd-pleaser, so my plan is to make a batch of these for the Super Bowl this weekend, along with my Chicken Chile Verde recipe. Plus, they’re not only gluten-free, paleo, and vegetarian, but also Whole30 approved!

These Pan-Fried Plantains with Cilantro Garlic Aioli satisfy the same salty, crunchy, and creamy taste you’d get from snacking on conventional chips and dip, but they’re much more nourishing and flavorful.

Since I used a pre-made mayo in this recipe, the aioli only takes a few minutes to prepare and can be made in advance. Prepping and frying the plantains will take you no more than 15 minutes, so this is truly a quick and simple go-to recipe.

If you happen to have extra of the cilantro garlic aioli (which I doubt you will!), it’s also great on burgers or served with sweet potato fries.

Pan-Fried Plantains with Cilantro Garlic Sauce made using Primal Kitchen Mayo

Pan-Fried Plantains with Cilantro Garlic Sauce Recipe {Gluten-Free, Paleo, Whole30}

Pan-Fried Plantain Ingredients

2 large green plantains

1 tbsp coconut oil

Sea salt, to taste

Cilantro Garlic Sauce Ingredients

1/2 cup Primal Kitchen Avocado Oil Mayo (or homemade Whole30 approved mayo)

2 tbsp fresh cilantro

3 cloves garlic

1 tsp fresh lime juice

Salt, to taste

Cilantro Garlic Sauce Directions

Combine mayo, cilantro, garlic, lime juice, and salt in a food processor or blender, and blend until smooth. Taste, and add more salt as needed.

Pan-Fried Plantain Directions

Heat a cast iron skillet or large frying pan over medium heat and add coconut oil to pan.

Cut off each end of the plantains using a paring knife, then slice along the ridges and pry away the peel in sections. Slice plantains into 1/2 inch rounds and add to the hot skillet.

Fry for about 5 minutes, until golden, then flip and fry for another 3 minutes or so until golden brown on the other side.

Remove from heat, sprinkle with sea salt.

Serve warm and with Cilantro Garlic Sauce. Enjoy!




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30 Things I Learned from Whole30

Whole30 Grocery Cart filled with fresh produce and eggs

I’ve now officially completed four rounds of the Whole30, and each time I finish I learn something new. Here are my biggest takeaways from having completed several rounds of this life-changing program.

30 Things I Learned from Whole30

  1. Sugar is in EVERYTHING.
  2. Food has a huge impact on your mental and emotional state.
  3. The right spices can make everything taste wonderful.
  4. Some days will be rough.
  5. Sparkling water with lime is the perfect go-to drink when out with friends.
  6. There are plenty of ways to deal with stress that don’t involve food.
  7. Everyone’s Whole30 journey is different, and even your own Whole30 experiences can differ dramatically from round to round.
  8. You’ll probably spend more money on groceries than you’re used to.
  9. But you’ll spend a lot less on restaurant and bar tabs.
  10. Eating more fat can be scary at first, but once you get used to it, it’s amazing.
  11. Read the ingredients labels on EVERYTHING.
  12. Buy La Croix in bulk.
  13. You’ll never, ever wash as many dishes in one month as when you go through a Whole30.
  14. Meal prep is key.
  15. Roast your veggies. Even vegetable haters will love them.
  16. Identify your trigger foods and don’t buy them. (I’m looking at you, almond butter.)
  17. Find a few go-to recipes you can make quickly and with ease.
  18. Have an accountability group or partner.
  19. The weight on the scale means nothing.
  20. Your Sugar Dragon can be tamed.
  21. Tigerblood is real.
  22. It takes a lot of willpower to navigate restaurants, parties, bars, and social gatherings centered around food and drink.
  23. Always bring emergency food with you.
  24. Real food tastes SO GOOD.
  25. Practicing discipline is a great skill.
  26. It’s not really about food.
  27. The food reintroduction process is important.
  28. Remember, it’s only 30 days.
  29. Enjoy your food freedom when you’re done with the program.
  30. The Whole30 is life-changing.


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The Nourished & Strong Project | Part I

Melissa Lopez stretching in the Presidio

2018 is the year of the Nourished & Strong Project, and I could not be more excited!

What is this “Project”, you ask?

The Nourished & Strong Project is my personal plan to harness and build physical, mental, and spiritual strength in 2018. It’s all about nourishing myself, honoring my uniqueness, and focusing on gaining muscular AND psychological strength.

I’m swapping my half-marathon training and cardio-centric workout regimen for a fitness journey that gets me out of my comfort zone and prioritizes resistance training. I’m also striving for big gains and more grit outside of the gym, including in my career and personal life.

This project is about celebrating the rad things my body can currently do and fueling it to do even cooler things that I’ve been wanting to do for ages (like pull-ups and handstands). It’s about taking more risks and doing the things I’ve been too scared to do (like hustling harder on passion projects). It’s NOT about losing weight, restricting myself, or trying to be something I’m not.

Specifically, my Nourished & Strong Project includes the following:

  • Lifting weights regularly.

  • Eating more calories than I’m currently comfortable with to fuel my body and build muscle.

  • Respecting sleep, rest days, and self-care.

  • Sharing my story, interests, and goals with everyone who will listen.

  • Kicking my passion projects into high gear.

  • Giving myself grace.


It does NOT include:

  • Feeling outside pressure to do ANYTHING.

  • Prioritizing weight loss and diet culture over health.

  • Letting myself feel stuck.

  • Judging myself for my past or present.


Ahhh, that feels so liberating to share!

As someone who has struggled with disordered eating, low self-esteem, and WAY too much fear and anxiety, my Nourished & Strong Project will stretch me to be present, not perfect, and cultivate my inner-power and value.

Stay tuned for updates throughout the year as I conquer the weightroom (hello, squat rack!) and my insecurities, as well as GROW like nobody’s business.

Do you too want to feel more nourished and strong this year? I challenge YOU to start your own Nourished & Strong Project.

There are limitless ways to nourish yourself and build strength. And they don’t have to center around physical gains! I encourage you to find and write down the actions that’ll personally move you and help you grow.

My hope is that we’ll all stop feeling like we need to see a smaller number on the bathroom scale to feel of value, or that we should just stay in a job that sucks us dry because the security is great. I want YOU and myself to have a voice, stand up for and love others, and do epic things.

Here’s to respecting the journey, and being nourished and strong!


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Beef and Butternut Squash Stew Recipe {Gluten-Free, Paleo, Whole30}

Paleo Whole30 Beef and Butternut Squash Stew Recipe

My winter blues savior and new favorite word to say and is the Danish concept of hygge (pronounced hoo-gah). Hygge is a feeling of coziness, warmth, or charm enjoyed alone or with others. Hygge can be any simple ritual or action that causes you to slow down and savor the moment, like sitting down to really taste and enjoy a cup of morning coffee, or relaxing with family by the fireplace on a cold night. One of my favorite ways to enjoy hygge in the winter is to turn on some jazz, light a candle or two, and sit down to a hot bowl of soup or stew for dinner.

More often than not, my hygge-friendly recipe of choice is a bowl of homemade Beef and Butternut Squash Stew with Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Fresh Rosemary.  This recipe fills my apartment with heavenly aromatics while simmering, and it really hits the spot on a cold or rainy evening. I don’t cook much red meat, but the sweetness of the butternut squash and savoriness of the sun-dried tomatoes pairs perfectly with the tender beef here.

It’s a hearty stew that’ll really fill and warm you up, and, best of all, it comes together really easily and requires minimal ingredients.

Sometimes I add some red wine to my Beef and Butternut Squash Stew to punch up the flavor, but I’ve omitted it in this version to make this a Whole30-friendly recipe. Feel free to reduce the broth and add a 1/4 cup of red wine if you desire, but it’s wonderful without as well!

Beef and Butternut Squash Stew with Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Fresh Rosemary {Whole30, Paleo, Gluten-Free}


1 1/2 lbs beef stew meat, cubed

1 yellow onion, diced

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 cups butternut squash, cubed

1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes

3 cups beef bone broth

1 tbsp fresh rosemary, minced

1 tbsp fresh thyme, minced

1/2 tsp salt + more to taste

1/2 tsp pepper + more to taste

2 tbsp olive oil


Heat olive oil in a dutch oven over medium-high heat. Once hot, add stew meat, salt, and pepper. Cook until the beef is browned, then remove from dutch oven and set to the side.

Reduce heat to medium and add the onion, garlic, rosemary, and thyme until tender, about 5 minutes.

Re-add the beef, as well as the butternut squash, sun-dried tomatoes, and broth. Stir to combine with a wooden spoon, scraping the brown bits off the bottom of the pan.

Bring the stew to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for 1 hour.

Season the stew with additional salt and pepper to taste. Serve, and enjoy!

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January Whole30 Meal Plan Week 1

Whole30 fresh produce grocery haul

Hellooooo, 2018!

I woke up excited for the present and future, eager to set my intentions for the year, and ready to start digging into the many projects I have either dreamed up or already lined up for the new year. I hope you too are feeling optimistic and happy to embrace the newness that’s in the air!

My first big challenge of the year starts tomorrow, when I begin the January Whole30 Reset. (More info on what the Whole30 here.)

I spent yesterday afternoon peeling, chopping, and roasting a week’s worth of veggies for two, plus cooking a chicken in my Instant Pot, making homemade bone broth, and whipping up a pot of chicken green chile stew. My fridge is loaded with nourishing cooked foods, and today I’ll finish the rest of the prep.

Whole30 meal prep foods: lettuce, roasted brussels sprouts, roasted potatoes, roasted butternut squash, broccoli

I’ve shared my meal plan for Week 1 below. As you can see, the name of the game is simple. Having fewer choices makes the introductory period less stressful (especially if this is your first Whole30). Plus, having a menu or meal plan prevents you from straying from the Whole30 program rules. Pre-prepped food also allows you more time through the week to work on all your other goals (or just settle back into the post-holiday work schedule).

A lot of the foods in this meal plan are my go-tos. I’m excited to try a few new recipes for next week and include them here on the blog!

The Meals



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What is the Whole30, and What Should I Expect From It?

Hand holding the Whole30 Cookbook

I, like many, many other folks am happy to turn the page on 2017 and kick off 2018 with optimism, joy, and confidence. One of the most consistently powerful ways I have found to improve my energy and outlook is to nourish my body with quality food.

For that reason, I will be doing my fourth Whole30 this January. I have many friends and family who will be also completing a January Whole30 (for most it’ll be their first!), and I’m so excited to share the experience with them.

So, What is the Whole30?

The Whole30 is a 30-day reset where you eliminate certain foods from your diet. The following are not allowed: grains, alcohol, dairy, soy, processed foods, added sugars (including honey, maple syrup, coconut sugar, and the like), legumes, and anything not “real.”

Foods to be enjoyed during the month are vegetables, meat, eggs, seafood, fruits, and natural fats. Whenever possible, it’s recommended to opt for sustainable, ethically-treated, grass-fed, pasture-raised, and/or organic fare.

The goal of the Whole30 is to make intentional, mindful food choices, feed your body well, and hopefully shift your emotional relationship with food. It’s NOT a diet.

There’s no calorie counting, portion limits, or weigh-ins. You nourish your body by eating real food when you’re hungry, and that’s about it.

What Should I Expect From the Whole30?

Having completed the Whole30 three times over the past three years, I can tell you that during some parts of the month you will feel incredible, full of energy, and so happy you decided to hop on the January Whole30 train. Woohoo! On other days (mostly towards the beginning, when your body is adapting to zero refined foods), you will likely feel quite awful. It gets better; I promise!

Here are some things you can expect to experience and learn while on the Whole30.

Meal prep is everything.

If you plan on completing the Whole30, you’re going to have to make use of your kitchen. I highly recommend making food in bulk and having meals and snacks stored in the fridge for takeaway lunches and meals at home. I personally prefer to meal prep several meals, or meal components, on Sunday night so that if I have a long day and don’t want to cook dinner on, say, Tuesday night, all I have to do is open my fridge and grab a Pyrex full of soup or casserole. Some of my favorite foods to meal prep are the following: hard-boiled eggs, frittatas, salads, soups, a whole roasted chicken, roasted potatoes and veggies, ground beef or turkey, and fruit.

Food is emotional.

I can’t tell you how many times during my first Whole30 experience I would yearn to get home after a long, stressful workday, order a pizza, and have a glass or two of wine while planted on the couch. By not being able to give into those desires like I always had, I realized that my temptations weren’t food cravings. Rather, they were ways for me to cope with stress and “treat myself” for making it through another rough day. Noticing and working through my emotional relationship with food and identifying the triggers for my food habits was groundbreaking. I struggled through this lots (and still do!), but I’m now much better at being more mindful about choosing healthier ways to deal with stress, like drinking a cup of herbal tea, working out, or taking a long, hot shower.

Sugar is in everything.

I tend to not do a lot of sweets at home. We don’t typically keep cookies, candy, or other dessert-like snacks in the pantry, so I didn’t really think I consumed that much sugar (besides fruit, the occasional treat, and cocktails). However, once you go grocery shopping and have to look at all of the ingredient in everything you buy, you would be so amazed at how much food has added sugar in it. From soup, to bacon, to sauces and condiments, sugar lurks in so many unexpected places at the grocery store. Doing the Whole30 has opened my eyes to this and taught me to ALWAYS read labels and be wary of anything prepackaged.

Go through Whole30 with someone else.

I went through my first Whole 30 by myself, which wasn’t easy. Nothing was more challenging than being home with my boyfriend while he poured himself a drink after work, or talked about how he had tacos catered in the office that day. It was bad enough to be tempted by coworkers and in social settings, but nothing was worse than living with someone who was eating Oreos on the couch next to you and sprinkling cheese all over your otherwise Whole 30 approved zucchini pasta. That’s why I’m so excited to go through this January Whole30 with friends and family. Whether it’s your husband, best friend, or even a coworker, go through the program with someone else and/or get an accountability partner; you’ll be so much happier.

Carry emergency food.

Whether you plan on hitting the gym after a long day at the office, have a meetup with friends planned for after work, or you’re anticipating a long day of travel, always bring emergency food with you. I almost always had an apple and a bag of almonds in my purse or gym backpack just in case I wouldn’t be getting home on time on any given night. While snacking is frowned upon on Whole 30, there have been several instances where I hadn’t eaten since noon, just had an intense workout, had no plans of going home anytime soon, and simply needed some food in my stomach before getting seriously hangry. In fact, nothing is worse than reaching that state and not being able to find anything Whole30-approved nearby. You’ll be way less likely to give into temptation and be way more pleasant to be around if you’re always prepared and have emergency food on you.

Are you planning on completing a January Whole30? Let me know in the comments below if you are, or if you’re interested in joining an accountability group!

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Les Mills Virtual Bodypump Class Review


When I’m lacking the motivation to push myself on the treadmill or the weight room, or I just want to mix up my training, I love a good group fitness class. I really got onboard with them when I started taking Les Mills Bodypump classes many years back and realized that I could get a great full-body workout in in just under an hour.

Traditional group fitness classes are in full swing before and after the 9-5 workday, but if you have a more unique schedule where a mid-afternoon or late-night sweat are more the norm, it’s not always easy to find scheduled group classes.

Fortunately, Les Mills has introduced its new Virtual workouts, which allow you to access Les Mills fitness programs on a screen in your local gym at your leisure. Choose the program of your interest (Bodypump, Grit, Bodycombat, and more), the workout duration, and intensity, and follow along with the on-screen workout whenever it’s convenient for you. It’s like having access to a massive collection of Les Mills workout DVDs at your fingertips.


I was able to try out a few of the classes this week at Bladium Fitness in Alameda. In addition to maintaining their full schedule of instructor-led group fitness classes, they recently launched their Virtual program and now have a dedicated Virtual group fitness studio within the gym. Pop in whenever it’s convenient for you, pick a workout on the touch screen, and get to it!


I came in to Bladium around 2pm on a weekday and tucked into the room for my very own workout. I picked a 55-minute intermediate Bodypump workout and got a great sweat in at a time when no other group fitness classes were being offered. The room was fully equipped with bars, plates, benches, and mats, and I didn’t have to think about anything except following along with the movements on the screen.


While I still love working out with others in a group setting, this new Virtual program is a wonderful option for when my schedule gets busy and a before- or after-work workout isn’t in the cards. It’s also a great way to revisit Les Mills releases that you loved from the past, and prevent your workouts from getting stale.

I do suggest that you feel comfortable with the fundamentals of each workout before trying the Virtual version out, especially those involving weights. The biggest downside of working out with the Virtual program is that you don’t have an instructor to adjust and encourage proper form. When in doubt, follow the verbal queues from the video and use the studio’s mirrors, if possible.

I can’t wait to enjoy more Les Mills Virtual workouts at Bladium! It’ll definitely be my go-to option when I’m too lazy to program for myself or when I can’t make it to a regularly scheduled group fitness class.

Have you taken a Les Mills Virtual class before? What did you think? If not, would you be interested in this type of workout setting? 

Les_Mills_Virtual_Bodypump_Class_at_Bladium_Fitness_Squat_Track Check out the Les Mills/Bladium GRIT Challenge I recently completed!

*Bladium Alameda sponsored this post. However, all opinions are my own!

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Bladium GRIT Competition + GRIT Challenge Results

Performing burpees at the Bladium GRIT Competition at Bladium Fitness Alameda

Six weeks ago I began the GRIT Challenge hosted by one of my local gyms, Bladium Fitness. I started the challenge excited to incorporate Les Mills high-intensity GRIT classes into my workout routine while I trained to improve my half marathon race time. Check out my starting point here.

I began the challenge knowing that in order to succeed I would need to prioritize my nutrition and incorporate enough strength training to combat muscle loss from running. I also knew that dramatic results in only six weeks were very, very unlikely. Rather, this challenge would be a great way to try out new fitness classes and make some great beginning strides towards less body fat and the foundation for more lean muscle mass.

My Results

Having just finished the challenge, my body composition changed very minimally, as expected. However, my fitness level has definitely improved since introducing GRIT HIIT classes into my routine, and THAT’S what I’m excited about!

I call this challenge a victory because I had fun, I pushed myself out of my comfort zone (especially during the GRIT Competition I describe further down), and I made progress in what my body is capable of. While plyometrics still don’t come easy to me, I’ve made huge strides in my alternating jumping lunges, squat thrusters, and more.

I’m looking forward to continuing to incorporate more Les Mills GRIT classes into my routine and pairing them with lots and lots of resistance training.

At the beginning of this challenge, I couldn’t tuck jump to save my life. Near the end of the challenge, during the Bladium GRIT Competition, I did 20 in a row after already being completely exhausted.

So, what is this GRIT Competition, you ask?

A week and a half ago, I participated in the Bladium GRIT Competition, a relay-style team competition where several teams of four raced against each other to be the first to complete several different series of movements like sprints, burpees, overhead squats, and lots more. The winning team would win a whopping $500, so you bet there were lots of people excited to participate.

The competition was held at one of the indoor soccer fields at Bladium Fitness. We started with a quick warm-up, then began the first phase of the competition, burpees at every beep just to fatigue us from the beginning. The point of these weren’t to do more than anyone else, just to get us nice and tired before the real part of the competition began.

Each person had to go through a series of nine moves, 10 reps each, then tag the next person on the team who would do the exact same, until each person on the team went.

Here are the moves:

10x Plate​ ​Overhead​ ​Squat
10x Plate​ ​Row​ ​and​ ​Upright​ ​Row
10x Plate​ ​Lunge
10x Lateral​ ​Jumps​ ​Over​ ​Plate
10x Double​ ​Jack​ ​Pushups
10x Forward​ ​Long​ ​Jumps
10x Tuck​ ​Jumps
10x Backward​ ​Bear​ ​Crawl
10x Sprint​ ​Shuttle

Weighted Lunges at the Bladium GRIT Competition at Bladium Fitness Alameda

Then we divided up those same nine moves so that each person owned 2 or 3 of them and had to do 20 reps this time. We could choose to go in any order and strategize to play to our individual strengths, though the whole team had to collectively complete 20 reps of each move.

I did the 20x Plate Row and Upright Row, plus 20x Tuck Jumps.

Each team had a coach to make sure everyone was doing the moves correctly and the full number of reps, and our amazing coach, Coach Liz, even endured some of the hardest parts of the competition with us. Almost everyone struggled through the Forward Long Jumps and Backward Bear Crawls, and whenever she saw fatigue set in among myself or one of my teammates, she got right in there with us and finished with us to completion. Thanks for the encouragement, Coach Liz!

When were neared the end of the competition, everyone on my team was drenched in sweat and completely exhausted. I was so tired and focused on doing my best physically, as well as supporting my teammates, that I paid zero attention to any of the other teams and their progress. I was in a blurry bubble of adrenaline and fatigue that, honestly, didn’t go away until many, many hours later.

When our last teammate finished her final sprint of the competition, total joy and a huge sense of accomplishment set in. We were DONE! We weren’t first to finish, but it sure felt good to know we gave it our all. I was especially proud that I pushed myself to do something that scared me (i.e. team competition).

We then cheered on the other teams who were still finishing up, took some group photos, and called it a night.

I definitely took a rest day after the competition, but I’ve jumped back into a few more GRIT classes this past week. I’m also already so excited to participate in the next GRIT Challenge and Competition next spring!

*Bladium Alameda sponsored this post. However, all opinions are my own!



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Bladium Alameda 6 Week GRIT Challenge – Getting into GRIT

Bladium Alameda 6 Week Grit Challenge Fitness Challenge

I love a good fitness challenge, so I was so excited that the wonderful people at Bladium Alameda invited me to join their Bladium GRIT Challenge, a six week HIIT-focused fitness challenge that encourages participants to set exercise and health goals and work towards them in a supportive “we’re all in this together” atmosphere.

The challenge is complete with a before and after body composition analysis, fitness assessments, nutritional support, workout tips, and motivation from Bladium group fitness coaches via a members-only Facebook group, and for the competitive folksprizes for those who have the most improved body composition and improved athleticism at the end of the challenge.

Specifically, this fitness challenge is focused on incorporating several Les Mills GRIT and SPRINT classes into your weekly workout routine.

What are Les Mills GRIT classes?

Les Mills GRIT classes are 30-minute high-intensity interval training (HIIT) fitness classes. These classes are short, yet intense, and designed to keep your heart rate up and burn fat.

Classes include GRIT Strength, GRIT Cardio, and GRIT Plyo. Les Mills Sprint classes are also included in the challenge, which is a HIIT-style spin class that will leave you dripping in sweat after a mere half hour.

GRIT Cardio is a bodyweight-based workout that is filled with burpees, tuck jumps, mountain climbers, and all the things to make you want to melt into the gym floor and never get back up again.

GRIT Strength is 30 minutes of HIIT-inspired strength training using a barbell, free weights, and bodyweight. If you’ve ever taken BODYPUMP, Strength features lots of the same moves, but done faster and with no rest time between sets.

GRIT Plyo is another 30-minute workout involves lots of explosive jumping and agility work. (This type of workout is NOT my forte, so it’ll be fun to push myself here!)

GRIT Cardio 30-Minute Workout Results on My Apple Watch

My Starting Point

I had a DEXA scan done by BodySpec a year ago and was so excited to get another body composition scan as a part of this challenge. Nutrishop Alameda brought equipment into the gym so that all participants could take the 5-minute scan. All I had to do was take off my socks and shoes (and any heavy clothing), stand on a scale-like contraption, enter a few details about myself, like my height, weight, age, and gender, hold onto some small joystick buttons, and let the thing scan my body.

body composition scan machine from nutrishop alameda at bladium

My results printed out in a matter of minutes, and I snapped a shot so that I could remember my stats.

Right away, I was super excited to see that my BMR had increased by about 100 calories. This means that even if I were to literally lie in bed all day and not move at all, my body would automatically burn more calories that it would have doing the same thing a year ago. (Thanks, weight training!) I have also gained several pounds of muscle since my last scan (hence the higher BMR), and I have lost some body fat.

Honestly, I’m starting this GRIT challenge feeling comfortable in my skin, and I believe my mindset is in a generally good place. A huge reason why I workout is for mental benefits, and I eat lots of vegetables and “healthy” foods because I love and crave them, not as punishment.

However, I do want to improve my athletic performance and achieve a few other goals by the end of these 6 weeks.

My Goals for the Challenge

As a runner who wants to improve my speed, one of my main goals for this 6 week challenge is to lose body fat while maintaining my muscle. Less body fat means less effort to run, which should help me cross finish lines faster. GRIT Cardio and Plyo should be a huge help here!

In order to maintain muscle, I’ll have to maintain some level of weight training (GRIT Strength) + solo gym sessions, as well as properly fuel my body with ample nourishing food.

I’ll aim to take at least two GRIT classes each week at Bladium, as well as get in one or two short lifting sessions, and three runs. By combining the short 30-minute GRIT classes with a short lifting session, I’m setting myself up for five days at the gym each week, which should help give me two recovery days for yoga, foam rolling, and light stretching.

Finally, I’d like to be more aware of how and why I eat over the next several weeks. I’ll be pushing myself to fuel my body with primarily nourishing foods that will give me enough energy to perform well. I’ll also try hard to avoid trigger foods, like chips and alcohol, but I’m not going to 100% restrict myself from anything. Meal prep combined with intuitive clean eating will be lots of help here!


Wish me luck as I continue into Week 2 of this GRIT challenge!

Have you ever participated in a fitness challenge? Would love to hear how you stayed motivated!


*Bladium Alameda sponsored this post. However, all opinions are my own!

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