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Mandeville Canyon Fire Road: The Hidden Gem of West LA

As a Southern California resident, hiking has quickly become one of my favorite fitness activities. It’s a great way to get some extra cardio in, and since many of the trails here come with steep inclines, I often get a fantastic leg workout as well. Last Sunday was so beautiful here (sorry to rub it in) that I just had to spend some time outdoors. I hopped on Yelp to find a hiking spot nearby that was dog-friendly, and one location in particular caught my eye: Mandeville Canyon Fire Road. I am a total sucker for trails with ocean views, and when I read that dogs are allowed off-leash in this spot, I was sold. Reese couldn’t contain her doggy excitement as I strapped on her harness and loaded her into the car.

Getting to the trail was seriously a breeze. I hopped on the 405, exited at Sunset and headed West, then took a right on Mandeville Canyon Road, a left on Westridge Road and drove for about 2 miles up a steep incline. The trailhead was very easily recognizable (Westridge basically dead-ended right into it), and there was plenty of parking both in the lot and on the street. For those of you who live close enough to make the trip, here is an address to plug into your GPS: 2652 Westridge Rd., Los Angeles, CA 90049.

The trail is about 3.9 miles each way and starts off pretty flat. Reese was in absolute heaven (especially once she realized she was off-leash). There were other people on the trail, but it certainly was not as busy as other hikes in the area (read: Runyon) and everyone was really friendly (dogs and people alike). It does eventually get pretty hilly, which I appreciated for the nice little leg workout I got. I would say the difficulty level is easy to moderate (though I didn’t do the entire thing – it was 80 degrees and I forgot to bring a travel water bowl for Reese).

Here are some photos of the area for you to enjoy:





I know I often look for new hikes that are accessible but still a little off the beaten path, so I wanted to pass this one along. What are some of your favorite hiking spots? 

Let’s connect!
Twitter -> @katymarie5
Instagram -> @katymarie5
Bloglovin’ -> Joy Laughter Sweat

5 Ways to Love Greek Yogurt

When it comes to snacking, plain non-fat Greek yogurt is one of my go-to choices. The health benefits make it a no-brainer: it is loaded with calcium, potassium, zinc and vitamins B6 and B12, and is low in carbohydrates and sodium. Compared to regular yogurt, it contains double the protein, which is important for post-workout recovery and hunger management. It also contains less lactose, making it easier to digest, and the probiotics in yogurt help improve digestive function and strengthens the immune system.

More than that, Greek yogurt makes a stellar substitute for fatty ingredients found in many recipes (eggs, oil, sour cream and mayonnaise, to name a few). Here are five of my favorite uses  for Greek yogurt:


Greek yogurt is notorious for having a tart taste. Topping it with berries is the perfect way to counteract the tart flavor, and is also a great way to kick off your day with a serving of fruit.


Spinach and Chicken White Sauce Pizza
I got this recipe from Alysia over at SlimSanity and LOVED it. The sauce is made of nothing but Greek yogurt, spinach, garlic and onion powder. Throw some vegetables on top and you are in for a tasty (and pretty healthy!) meal.

Photo Credit: Peas and Crayons

Photo Credit: Peas and Crayons

Twice-Baked Potatoes
The thought of a baked potato used to make me cringe – often times, people load them down with sour cream and butter and make them uber unhealthy. However, this recipe by Peas and Crayons substitutes sour cream with Greek yogurt and has changed my mind about the baked potato.

Photo Credit: Dashing Dish

Photo Credit: Dashing Dish

Taco Night
This Turkey Lettuce Wrap Taco recipe, compliments of Dashing Dish is quick, healthy and delicious. You can always opt for a whole-wheat tortilla if you’re not a fan of lettuce wraps. Top your taco off with a dollop of Greek yogurt, and you’re all set!


Healthy Pumpkin Muffins
Packed with protein thanks to Greek yogurt and a little protein powder for good measure, these fall favorites make a great snack all year long. A word to the wise (after learning the hard way): be sure to keep these muffins refrigerated.

Weigh In: What is your favorite use for Greek yogurt? 

Let’s connect!
Twitter -> @katymarie5
Instagram -> @katymarie5
Bloglovin’ -> Joy Laughter Sweat

Leg Strengthening HIIT Workout

Thanksgiving is almost here and Elf for Health continues to move along. I am so enjoying this challenge, and am looking forward to completing today’s task (new workout) after work. Since I did a lot of strength training for my arms on Monday, I want today’s workout to focus on legs – so I created a new HIIT workout to do just that:



Are you participating in Elf for Health? What new workout did you try today? 

Let’s connect!
Twitter -> @katymarie5
Instagram -> @katymarie5
Bloglovin’ -> Joy Laughter Sweat


How to: Buy a Gift for the Person Who Has Everything


We all know one. That person who has everything, or is so unbelievably picky that it makes buying gifts a real challenge. Unfortunately for me, that person is my boyfriend – so I’ve gotten pretty good at coming up with creative ideas when it comes to gift-giving. Here, I share four no-fail pointers on being an A+ gift giver this holiday season:


Mini Wooden Speaker by Uncommon Goods

Think Tech-Friendly
When in doubt, think shiny and new (especially if you’re giving a gift to a dude). Here, Huff Post Tech offers up a list of 12 must-have gadgets for the holidays (a GPS tile for your keys or purse? Yes please!) I also am a fan of this Mini Wooden Speaker from Uncommon Goods – because who doesn’t need a portable sound system for an impromptu dance party?

Photo Credit:

Photo Credit:

These days, you can get a subscription box for just about anything (don’t believe me? Check out these 15 unique subscription services). I personally subscribe to StrideBox, a monthly box for runners, and have never been disappointed (it’s usually the highlight of my day when this fun little box arrives at my door). Other great subscription ideas? See below:

  • Tonx Coffee will set you up with bi-weekly deliveries of fresh-roasted coffee ($19 per shipment)
  • Pijon Box, a monthly care package for college students (starting at $25 per shipment)
  • Craft Beer Club, monthly deliveries of craft beer from around the country ($37.75 per shipment)
  • Birchbox features hair and makeup samples for her, and manly grooming products for him ($10 per shipment for women, $20 for the male version)

Instagram photos on a coaster from Coastermatic

Go Sentimental
A thoughtful gift really does go a long way, especially when you take the time to think of something truly meaningful. Tyler is wrapping up his first year at his music management startup and back in June one of his artists released his first mix tape. More than that, Tyler’s cousin actually did the cover art for the album – so I am having it nicely printed, matted and framed for him (let’s just hope he doesn’t read this post!) Other ideas – celebrate the runner in your life with a 13.1, 26.2 or 5K sterling silver charm (only $9!) There are also plenty of photo options – Instagram photo on a coaster, anyone?


Photo Credit:

Plan an Outing for the Two of You
Let’s be honest. There is no greater gift than the gift of yourself. Put together an itinerary for an entire day of funtivities that the two of you can enjoy together. You can even create a custom book using Datevitation so the recipient has something fun to open. Keep in mind, this doesn’t just have to be for a significant other – your mom, dad, grandma, brother, sister, best friend (you get the point) would love this gift as well!

Let’s connect!
Twitter -> @katymarie5
Instagram -> @katymarie5
Bloglovin’ -> Joy Laughter Sweat

MIMM: An Exciting Week Ahead

Happy Monday, friends! Let’s face it, this Monday is even happier since we all can enjoy a shortened work week thanks to Thanksgiving! I would like to start by apologizing for my brief blogging absence. I am in the process of redesigning my blog and transitioning to a self-hosted platform, which is very exciting stuff – but also time consuming.


This week I’m linking up with Katie’s Marvelous in My Monday party to share details of my weekend (which was not all that exciting) and also talk about some actual exciting things happening this week. Let’s jump right in:

Friday: Sushi + Spartans
After a busy week last week, I spent Friday night relaxing with some take-out sushi and Spartan basketball. If you pay any attention to this blog, you know that I am pretty obsessed with all things Michigan State. I was happy to be able to catch them in action on Friday night, participating in (and winning!) the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic.


Saturday: More Spartans and Runvember 
Saturday morning started with a Spartan football victory – usually I wouldn’t bore you with more Michigan State details, but this is significant because it means Michigan State will be battling Ohio State in the 2013 Big Ten Football Championship Game on December 7th. I am a Michigan State grad and my dad, grandma and little brother are die-hard OSU fans. This, folks, will be quite the family rivalry – and my grandma can talk smack like you wouldn’t believe (I’m not even kidding). This should be fun.

Post-football game, I headed out on a 5-mile run to knock out some of my Runvember mileage (click here for challenge details, hosted by Jacqueline at Skinny Chick Blog). I am currently at 26.5 of my 30 miles for the month and feel relieved that I should be able to complete the challenge no problem (I had a slow start to the month). Saturday night, Tyler and I met my brother and his girlfriend at The Gardens of Taxco for dinner. This place has a great reputation and I would agree that the food was good, but I wouldn’t recommend it based on my overall experience. We arrived for our 7:45 reservation right on time and they wouldn’t let us sit down because our whole party wasn’t there (which is common and I understand), but then the hostess disappeared for 15-20 minutes, leaving the lobby packed with hungry and grouchy patrons. They also do not offer menus, which means people have to depend on their waiter to dictate everything. Ours had a heavy accent and was very hard to understand – I wasn’t entirely sure what I ordered until my food actually arrived. Not to mention we had no idea how much we were paying for our meal, and I think we were all a little shocked when the bill came (it was more than we expected).


Sunday: #Elf4Health Prep
Sunday was a pretty slow day, and I would say the highlight was receiving my Elf for Health pairing and prepping for the week! My elf is Holly, who blogs over at The Cooper Family, and I could not be more excited about my pairing. Holly and I have already had great conversation, and I am excited to spend the next two weeks with her.

For those of you who are not familiar with Elf for Health, here are some details: this is a six-week challenge, hosted by Lindsay at The Lean Green Bean and Elle at Nutritionella, which started today and ends on December 22nd. Each day brings a new task (see the schedule below) that participants complete with encouragement from an elf that has been randomly assigned to them. Daily challenges are not just about eating healthy – they are about living an overall healthy lifestyle, and doing good for others in the process. There are also some great sponsors awarding prizes to the best elves throughout the course of the six weeks (Mizuno, Nature Box, Bondi Band, and more!) Unfortunately, registration for round one is finished, but you can still register here for round two, which kicks off with elf assignments on December 8th!


This week should be a good one, since my blog redesign should be finished (fingers crossed!) and my Runvember Challenge will be complete! I hope you all have a fantastic week as well.

Weigh In: What are you excited about this week? 

Turkey Trot Playlist


I seriously cannot believe that Thanksgiving is less than two weeks away. Wasn’t it just the 4th of July?! For the occasion, I’ve put together a special Turkey Trot edition of my monthly running playlist – complete with a little Christmas music mixed in, to get us all in the spirit. Total play time is about 47 minutes:

1. Carol of the Bells (Christmas Dubstep Remix) by Swedish Revolution & ARIA
2. Get Me Bodied by Beyonce
3. Hide & Seek (Roksonix Dubstep Remix) by Imogen Heap
4. Nothing Really Matters by David Guetta ft.
5. The Wire by Haim
6. All I Want for Christmas is You by Mariah Carey
7. Pockets by RL Grime
8. Revolution by Diplo ft. Faustix, Imanos & Kai
9. What Now (R3hab Remix) by Rihanna
10. Run Run Rudolph by Kelly Clarkson
11. Trust a Try by Janet Jackson
12. Come Together (Omega Remix) by The Beatles

Special shoutout to Gina at SoulCycle for introducing me to many of these songs.

As always, you can also access these songs via my Spotify playlist, here. Here are a few of the SoundCloud remixes that cannot be accessed on Spotify:

Let’s connect!
Twitter -> @katymarie5
Instagram -> @katymarie5
Bloglovin’ -> Joy Laughter Sweat

6 Picks for Cold Weather Running

Happy Monday! As I sit and write this, my Facebook feed is filling up with photos of the first snowfall across the Midwest – perfect timing to discuss cold weather running gear! Check out my top picks below; these pieces are both stylish and functional for staying warm in the cold temperatures of November and beyond.


Weigh In: What is your favorite piece of running gear for the cold weather? 


4 Tips for Staying Fit During the Holiday Season

Holiday Fitness Tips

For many people, the term “holiday fitness” probably sounds like an oxymoron.  Even I used to brush November and December off as “rest months” and vow to resume my workouts again in January.  Between the traveling, holiday parties, shopping and food, keeping fit during the holiday season can be a challenge.  Here are four tips for staying on track:


1. Register for a Holiday-Themed Race: Committing to a fitness routine is always easier when you have something to prepare for.  Luckily, there is never a shortage of races during the holiday season – from Turkey Trots to Jingle Bell Jogs, 5K fun runs to half marathons, there is something for everyone.  And, navigating holiday races is easier than ever since Runner’s World gifted us with their Race Finder!  Use the tool to search for a run in your area.


2. Set a Personal Goal: Stay motivated by setting a personal challenge during the holidays.  This can be something simple, like vowing to fit in three workouts each week, or something more difficult (like Jacqueline’s Runvember/Thirty in 30 Challenge).  Just make sure that your goal is one that you are able to achieve – if you feel overwhelmed, you are less likely to follow through. If you’re having trouble coming up with your own challenge, you can always peruse Challenge Loop for one to your liking.  This platform is also great because it provides a supportive environment where other people can help hold you accountable. 

3. Keep Your Workouts Simple: With all that needs to be accomplished during the holidays, sometimes the hardest part is just finding time to workout.  For this reason, at-home workouts with minimal equipment are ideal.  HIIT workouts like this one from The Fitnessista are perfect because you can squeeze them in between gift wrapping and cookie baking.


4. Cut Yourself Some Slack: Half the fun of the holidays is all the delicious food!  Allow yourself to eat the food you love in moderation (grandma would be totally offended if you turned down one of her famous cookies), and be sure to drink plenty of water.  Often times, we confuse hunger for thirst, so staying well hydrated will help cut down on over-eating.

Weigh In: How do you stay fit during the holidays? 

Let’s connect!
Twitter -> @katymarie5
Instagram -> @katymarie5
Bloglovin’ -> Joy Laughter Sweat

Introducing SweatGuru: Your New Best Friend in Fitness

SweatGuru hi res logo

Working out just got so much easier, thanks to Jamie Walker and Alyse Mason Brill, founders of SweatGuru.  Developed for fitness professions and consumers alike, SweatGuru is an online marketplace for fitness classes and experiences.  As a heavy consumer of fitness classes, I could not be more thrilled to finally have a website that allows me to search, organize and share all in one place.

SweatGuru search results

Looking for a yoga or spin class in your area?  You can head to the site, browse classes online, sign up and pay right there.  You can also start fitness groups – a feature I am most excited about, since I would love to start a running group in my area.  Other SweatGuru amenities I look forward to enjoying:

• Sign up for classes online
• Earn rewards that can be redeemed for great prizes
• Create community groups (i.e. running clubs, walking groups, tennis leagues)
• Search and view profiles and classes of fitness professionals in your area
• Share classes with friends and invite them to join you
• Notifications when favorite classes are about to begin
• Favorite instructors, classes, and studios for quick class access
• Your whole fitness profile in one place (attendance, memberships, favorites)

SweatGuru studio profile

SweatGuru for Fitness Professionals
Fitness pros can add their business to SweatGuru and immediately begin attracting clients.  Trainers, instructors and studios can list their class schedules and services online and gain access to a full suite of tools, including payment processing, online reservations, customer management and marketing analytics.

SweatGuru Home

Signing up for SweatGuru is a breeze (the site is designed really well and is super user-friendly).  It is currently available in Los Angeles (yes!), New York and San Francisco, but will be growing to other cities soon.

In which city would you like to see SweatGuru available? 

Let’s connect!
Twitter -> @katymarie5
Instagram -> @katymarie5
Bloglovin’ -> Joy Laughter Sweat

My First 13.1

Fair warning: this post is long.

And just like that, it’s over. 

It’s funny: when you devote so much time and energy to preparing for a race, it becomes so much more than training – it becomes your whole life, and now I’m not sure what to do with all of my time.

The Rock ’n’ Roll Half Marathon Los Angeles was truly a life-changing experience for me.  I played sports when I was younger, through high school.  In college I dabbled with running – I would grab my discman and head out for a mile or two.  Certainly nothing to write home about.  Never have I felt like such an athlete and so accomplished until I began this half marathon journey.  It just goes to show you, it is never too late in life to change your course.


And what a roller coaster the last three months of training have been.  There were stitches and head colds, major wins (my first ten mile run, followed by my first twelve mile run) and disappointments.  Perhaps my biggest lesson was this: there are bound to be setbacks throughout the course of any training program.  There will be bad days and sometimes bad weeks – but if you do the best that you can, your hard work will pay off.

I went into the half with a goal of finishing under 2:10.

Race day went something like this: 
My alarm went off at 5am.  I hit snooze and laid there for an extra nine minutes (I’m not sure why I bothered, I was so anxious about the race I’d hardly slept that night and was wide awake when my alarm went off).  By the time 6:30 rolled around, I’d eaten half a bagel with peanut butter, had a little bit of coffee, some water, perfected my playlist for good measure, and was on my way downtown.  Race time was 7:30, so immediately upon arrival, I made my way to the porta potties to empty my bladder, popped my first Gu  (peanut butter flavor!) at 7:15, and then headed to find my spot in line.  The anticipation of starting was killing me.

When we finally got moving (I was in the 9th corral, so we started about 11 minutes after the first group), I felt ready.  Everyone kept telling me ahead of time that my adrenaline would carry me for most of the race, and that was absolutely true.  The miles were flying by. By mile three, we were running around the perimeter of the Coliseum and at mile six we were back in the area of LA Live, with thousands of people cheering us on.  I had no idea what my pace was (I purposely chose to ignore it and just be in the moment), but I knew it was strong. At mile 8 I popped my second (and final) Gu as I started to feel slightly less energetic.  It helped. Then came the hill at mile 9.


I could see it in the distance – the incline was intense.  The people on the hill didn’t even appear to be moving. At first I thought they were spectators, standing in place and encouraging runners below.  It wasn’t until I moved closer that I realized this was part of the course and I would soon be part of the uphill battle, too – literally.  It seemed to go on forever.  People all around me stopped to walk.  On the palm of my hand, I’d written the words “you can and you will.”  I had to look down at it about ten times to remind myself that I was capable of this, I would make it to the top, and I would not walk.  Lo and behold, I made it! The reward was the sharp decline that followed, which felt a little bit like a recovery.  At that point, I was pacing 8:36.  However, I started feeling very fatigued right around mile 10.5.  Finishing was truly a mental battle.

Of course the best part of the entire race was right around mile 12.75, when I spotted Tyler, my little brother and a good friend (who surprised me!) cheering me on from the sidewalk.  This was the push I needed to run it in hard to the finish.  I’ve never in my life been so happy to stop running, but I’ve also never felt a sense of accomplishment quite like this.  My final time: 2:03:06.  Nearly seven minutes faster than my goal.




So what other lessons have I learned over the past three months of training? Here are my top five:

1. Running distance is only a piece of the puzzle: I think the most important part of my training was the speedwork I did on the treadmill. Spin classes also really helped improve my cardiovascular fitness and made my legs stronger.  Weight training was also key, especially with a focus on core.

2. Ice is your best friend: After each of my long runs, I iced my knees for a period of time. This was such a lifesaver.  I’m fairly certain ice is the reason I can walk today.  Ice baths are a perfect complement to training as well, if you can tolerate them!

3. Rest is okay: Sometimes your body will send you signals telling you to slow down.  It is perfectly okay to listen and take a day or two off (or more, if necessary).  Two and a half weeks prior to the half marathon, I came down with a nasty cold and was forced to take almost a week off of training.  I learned that it was more important to rest and get healthy than try to push my body and make it worse.  In the scheme of a three or four month training program, a few days won’t make a difference.

4. You can’t do it alone: I was lucky to have an incredible amount of support from friends, co-workers, family members and trainers.  Talk to people about your training and your goals. Accept encouragement and advice.  It will only help you.

5. You are stronger than you think you are: This one is pretty self-explanatory.  Sometimes your mind is going to freak out and want to give up.  Mine certainly did as I made my way up the hill at mile 9, and as I rounded the corner at mile 11.  Realize that you are strong and you are capable and just keep moving.

Weigh In: What are some accomplishments you’re most proud of? How do you keep going when things get really tough? 

Let’s connect!
Twitter -> @katymarie5
Instagram -> @katymarie5
Bloglovin’ -> Joy Laughter Sweat

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