5 Tips for a New Year and a New You

5 Tips for a New Year and a New You | katielean

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The turning of the calendar to a new year gives everyone the opportunity to make a fresh start on some aspect of their lives. Tackling challenges toward better health are some of the most common resolutions, but only a fraction of people who begin on health quests in January are still at it six months later. Some people want to stop smoking, others desire to lose weight and still others seek to increase their fitness. Regardless of the ultimate goal, the lack of success may be due to an overly ambitious start and a failure to focus on the process, not the results. Let’s look at five tips that can help keep you on track for your “new year, new you” pledge.


Be Realistic

Just because it is a new year doesn’t mean you have changed your identity. If you were reluctant to exercise on Dec. 30, that still will be the case on Jan. 1. The key is to be realistic about your expectations for yourself. It is OK to make a slow start and just be persistent. You don’t have to achieve huge levels of success in the first week. For example, if you want to quit smoking but know that you will struggle, start by cutting back your total number of cigarettes for the day. Reduce the number you smoke by one per day until you are down to zero. Then, focus on maintaining that new status quo. Let yourself off the hook for setbacks and just try again the next day.


Start Slowly

Getting going on an exercise regimen is one of the most challenging pledges, especially if you have been sedentary in the past. Going all-out in the first week is a bad idea. Set yourself up for success by predicting difficulties and getting tools to help. For example, there are many benefits of compression garments you can take advantage of. These articles of clothing keep your muscles warm and can prevent strains while reducing recovery time after workouts. Garments wick sweat away to help avoid rashes and chafing, meaning you will be more comfortable and more likely to continue exercising. Finally, the right amount of compression can help oxygen move through veins and reach the muscles that need it.


Allow Recovery Time

People working toward better fitness might choose weightlifting or yoga classes as tactics for reaching their goal. These should be done on an every-other-day basis at most, otherwise, serious injury could result. It is vital that no matter what your health goal, you allow your body time to recover after every strenuous outing. There is no shame in taking a day off. It prevents burnout and keeps you interested. Remember, it is the journey, not the ending, that is most important in the long term.


Reward Milestones

When you do make progress on your path to improved fitness and health, even baby steps, it is important to note the achievement in some way. For example, for every five pounds you lose or 20 miles you run, you could treat yourself to a little massage session or update a chart where you are tracking your progress. Letting your friends and family know about the milestone can also help hold you accountable for continuing to work hard.


Consider Mental Factor

Your mind and body are connected, so if you plan to improve your body’s fitness, don’t forget to work on your mental health as well. Working on gaining a positive outlook on life and about your appearance can help keep you in the resolution game longer. If you strive to improve your mental strength at the same time you are working on your muscular strength, you will be able to reap the rewards of both for the long term.


Improving your mental and physical fitness is a wonderful goal. These tips, from starting at a reasonable rate to taking advantage of the benefits of compression garments, should help you get going and stay on the path toward success.

The Healthiest Brands in My Life Right Now

I love small businesses.  If you’re regular reader that should come as no surprise, as I frequently feature them here and on social media. The foods and companies that fuel & inspire my life are truly killing the game, so I wanted to share them with you.  Not all are “small” businesses necessarily, but they’re all in a niche market and you might not otherwise know about them.  Here’s the healthiest brands in my life right now (besides the obvious Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, etc):


Hope Foods is dominating the hummus market. My favs are the dark chocolate hummus (crazy good, don’t knock it till ya try it) and the thai coconut curry.  Hummus kind of bores me sometimes, but the flavors Hope churns out are next level.  Find them in a store near you with their locator.

Purely Elizabeth granola. I have their original and pumpkin fig ancient grain granolas in my cupboard. I’m dying to try their probiotic and grain-free granolas! Their ingredients are simple and they contain less sugar, more fiber and protein than other brands. Purely Elizabeth is just an overall great (woman founded and lead 😀 ) company.

Amazing Grass it might be too early to say for sure but I’ve been using their green superfood powders for a little over a week and at this point it seems like they might be life-changing. My skin looks more glow-y and my digestion feels healthier (as someone with IBS anything that has this effect is a keeper). I shopped their Cyber Monday sale and now have three tubs in rotation! I’ll keep you updated with how it’s going on my Instagram.

Hammer Nutrition. I know this isn’t a first time mention here 😉 but I can’t really talk about brands without talking about Hammer. Their gels, omega and probiotic supplements, Recoverite, vegan protein and Fully Charged (pre-workout) are staples in my daily life and workouts. If you want a discount on your first order pop me a message on my “contact me” page!

Nature’s Path Organic – particularly their Kamut Puffs. I make smoothies super thick because I like to eat them out of a bowl with a spoon, and lately I’ve been topping them with the puffs and Purely Elizabeth granola. It’s my go-to breakfast, and at 50 calories, 2 grams each of protein and fiber for a whole cup you really can’t go wrong!

Siggi’s is probably familiar to most of you but it deserves a mention because they make my favorite yogurt ever. I toast a slice of Food for Life Ezekiel Bread or English Muffin and top it with peanut butter, plain or vanilla Siggi’s and cinnamon.

Perfect Bar lives up to its name! You can find them in the refrigerated sections of your grocery store (more and more are carrying them these days). My favorite flavors are peanut butter, carob chip and fruit & nut – they pack the most protein per bar of any of the varieties and have the most balanced macro counts. Check out what makes them perfect here.


This one is easy: ThredUp, Janji, Oiselle, Madewell (definitely not a small business but they’ve had some great sales lately). Go fall in love, it’s not hard to do.


Jeannette Ogden from shutthekaleup has been my food inspiration for a while now. She just gets it – give her a follow and don’t miss her adorable and delicious Insta stories.

Joe Rogan – his podcast and social media. If you’re a podcast person you won’t regret listening to him! He has everyone from ultrarunners to MMA fighters to life coaches and gurus on his show and it makes for some great listening.

GoPro’s YouTube channel. Want to have your mind blown? Watch any of their specials.


Farmhouse Culture has a new line of fermented vegetables coming out soon and I’m STOKED to try them.

Honey Mama’s paleo chocolate bars. I’m pretty loyal to Taza when it comes to chocolate but paleo…chocolate…come on!

Barely Bread



I’m probably forgetting a bunch of things and there are SO many more amazing companies out there but what are your favorite brands right now? Who is inspiring you?

Mount Toby 14 Miler and Being More Human

Mount Toby 14 Miler

A few weekends ago I ran a 14 mile trail race around, up and down Mount Toby here in Western MA.

My longest single-run-mileage prior to the race was a mere 7 mile hilly training session.  Lately I’ve predominantly been lifting, CrossFit-ing, doing yoga and going on shorter (3-5 mile) runs.

I found this race while searching for winter races and I knew instantly I wanted to sign up.  I’m not entirely sure why, but I think all runners sign up for races they cannot entirely explain.Mount Toby 14 Miler | katielean

Wearing Janji’s India Kali Race Shorts and Sunset Pocket Tank 

Because I was a bit unprepared (hah) I rested more than usual that week.  Two days beforehand I didn’t work out at all.  I had a Hammer Gel before and during the race and drank Recoverite right after!

Surprisingly, the race went really well.  Hills are always challenging, but getting to book it downhill is one of my favorite things in the world.  You can’t help but smile while bounding down a forest trail (and I didn’t even fall once, which is pretty darn impressive for a trail race).  I ran the first 7 miles in 1:18:29 (predominantly uphill) and the second 7 in 1:07:43 (predominantly downhill).  I felt stronger than I have while racing in a long time!  Not my fastest pace ever, but considering the course and loose footing I’m more than happy with it.  I was also the youngest runner at the race that weekend!  Forever inspired by people that continue to kick ass well into their prime 😉

Mount Toby 14 Miler | katielean

Being More Human

When you’re spending a couple of hours in the woods, mostly alone, you get to think some deep thoughts.  The one I’d like to share with you is this: you need to get outside.  Start with outside, anywhere.  Work your way up to REALLY outside.  In a national or state park, the middle of absolutely nowhere, a place where you’re pretty sure there’s so little cell service your phone would just disintegrate upon entering.  (I’m not saying my trail race was this far out there, just getting across a point.)

If you’ve even been on a hike with me you’re probably sick of me saying things like, “This is what the world was like before us!”  (Us being humans.) I find wonder and awe in imagining what it must have been like to be an early human finding a new plot of land.  The true outdoors is what this beautiful planet we call home was like before anyone starting manipulating its features (for better or for worse).  Now I know that we’re changing places humans have never even been to with climate change, but for the sake of this example let’s ignore that.

I wish that everyone could experience and – eventually – be comfortable with themselves outside.  Trust their instincts and know that deep in every person is the longing to be outdoors, that homes provide maybe too much comfort and that we all need to explore more.  It’s no surprise that when you take someone who isn’t used to being outside on a nature walk they suddenly find themselves more aware and present than they’ve felt in ages.  We tell people who are stressed to go on walk to clear their mind.  It’s because it’s where we’re supposed to be.  When I realized that I was no longer surprised that I felt better in this trail race than I have in any road race I’ve done recently.  There’s something to be said for technology and architecture and all that goes along with it, but I worry that we’ll eventually forget our roots.

So let’s combat this by running through the woods until dusk, cooking over fires (could write a whole post on how what makes us human is the fact that we cook, or you could just go read or watch Michael Pollan’s “Cooked”), sleeping under the stars and opting for walking or biking over anything else.  You don’t have to go hike the Appalachian Trail or bike across the country to do your part. Simply acknowledge that the Earth has been here long before a human ever took their first breath.  There’s more wisdom in nature than in any person alive today and we can’t afford to forget that.

Race the State

Finally!  My race report of Race the State Rhode Island.

Race the State is a relatively new (this was its second year) multisport endurance event consisting of 5 legs:

  1. 3.8 mile run
  2. 1 mile stand up paddleboard
  3. 12.3 mile run
  4. 5.6 mile kayak
  5. 28.5 mile bike

On top of the specific sports, my training included CrossFit, two SUP races, and a shorter bike/kayak/run race.  There was a lot of double-days (two workouts in one day), SO much sleep and a pretty strict focus on my nutrition in the months leading up to race day.

Hammer Nutrition is by far my favorite sports nutrition brand.  In training for Race the State I used Endurolytes, Recoverite, Perpetuem and Heed.  I credit Hammer in preventing soreness, my GI issues that I’ve experienced throughout races and long runs for years, and even post-exercise headaches.  In short, I highly recommend their products.  If you have more specific questions about Hammer products (I’ve tried almost all of them) and/or my supplement usage in general PLEASE ask!!  You can write to me in the Contact Me page if you prefer not to leave a public comment.

Leg 1

The first run went great.  My legs were fresh, I wasn’t going slow but I felt I didn’t go out too fast either.

As you can see, it was incredibly beautiful.

Race the State | katielean #katielean #multisport

Leg 2

In the transition zone, I stuffed my socks into my shoes, tied the laces together and strapped them to my life vest.  The paddle was a straight-shot across some mildly choppy water.  Because of the current and lack of turns it was lefty-paddling the whole time.  I was expecting that, so this leg went well.

Race the State | katielean #katielean #multisport

Leg 3

The second run started with a steep, long uphill.  Not ideal!  A couple of miles into this leg I realized that I had done something funky to my left “lat” muscle while paddleboarding.  I think this pain combined with the course being so spread out (I hardly saw anyone during the run) made me go into a bit of panic mode.  I had a hard time breathing, so my time was much slower than I had anticipated.  My goal became to get to the kayak rather than post a good time here.

Leg 4

Eventually I finished the run, grabbed some water, and pushed my kayak off into the bay.

I knew the route relatively well, but I truly wasn’t expecting it to be as high-traffic as it was.  From ferries to barges and fisherman casting VERY close to me from docks and piers, the paddle was probably more mentally challenging than anything else.  Also, with so many large boats coming through the wakes really slowed everyone down.  There were times when I had to just sit and bob up and down in my kayak between wakes until I could make forward progress again.

The support boats were awesome; shoutout to the volunteer who gave me his water bottle (for obvious reasons, you can’t really have a water stop during a kayak)!

A little later than halfway through we got out and had to bring our kayaks across the road (with help from volunteers) and put in again on the other side.  This second half of the leg was much calmer than the first!  This was a fun section.

Race the State | katielean #katielean #multisport

Leg 5

After the kayak I made my way up a hill to the transition zone.  I slipped my bike shorts on over my current (soaking wet) gear and hopped on my bike.

The bike was only hard because it was the last leg.  Normally a beautiful 28 mile ride like this would have only been a bit of a challenge, but let me tell you every hill was a struggle!  And – despite the fact that you don’t really think of Rhode Island as a hilly state – there were quite a few!

Most of the road crossings and intersections had police officers working them.  This was awesome and super helpful!  Occasionally I would come across a spot where I had to dismount and wait to be able to cross, but almost every turn had a crew member working at it.  Very impressive!

Thankfully I had rented a really awesome road bike from Goodale’s Bike Shop that made such a huge difference in my comfort and speed.  Hoping to buy a nice road bike some day…


Biking across the finish line was one of the best feelings in the world.  I’m not a cryer, but I did burst into tears.  (On the way home my dad made me feel a little better by saying I definitely wasn’t the only one that did the same.)  It was a combination of exhaustion, lat pain (that I finally realized hurt a lot), amazement and happiness.

When I race I almost always get into a zone where I’m aware of pain but I don’t really feel it.  I don’t think about anything besides the moment I’m in.  Of course I pop out of that to pay attention to cars, remind myself of race strategy, etc.  But for the most part I’m in what I jokingly call “race blackout”.  I’m the most intense version of me.  It’s almost like meditating.  Hopefully you’ve trained yourself to feel good through the majority of the race (which I feel I did) but no matter what kind of day you’re having there’s always a point when it gets tough.  And as weird as it is, that’s the part of racing I love the most.  You realize that most people would have stopped long before the state you’re in, but you keep going.  It’s something that’s hard to explain to people that don’t have this type of mentality engrained in them.  But I do know that if you have this gene/personality/passion you love pushing yourself more than pretty much anything else.

Final Thoughts

Race the State is the longest and most ambitious race I’ve ever done.  I have to say I have a new love for multisport racing, as I say to my friends and family “I’m not the best at any one thing but I’m pretty good at a lot of different things”.  These type of races seem to be perfect for people like me.

There’s no question that I’ll be doing more races like this in the future!

What’s the craziest race you’ve ever done?

Race the State | katielean #katielean #multisport