Holiday Motivation

Has the steady slew of holiday events started to take it's toll on your workouts or eating yet? 

While it's easy to believe that falling off the wagon is just par for the course this time of year and that you'll pick things back up in January- this doesn't have to be your story.

Benjamin Franklin must have had this in mind when he said, "Don't put off until tomorrow what you you can do today".  

You have the ability to decide you will do with the moments you are given, and you are constantly making choices that either take effort to make happen, or that you allow to happen so that you don't have to make as much of an effort.

I became a dedicated exerciser when I was 13 years old and joined the cross country team.  By that following summer I was hooked and was running consistently on my own...for fun.

Since that time I have had my ups and downs with my connection to consistency and workouts, so I have become a student of what makes my own ability (and that of others) to stick to their regimen remain a constant, even when life gets chaotic.

The number one thing I know for sure about what keeps me going back to working out even when I don't feel like it is that I appreciate workouts more for what they do to my heart and soul than what they do for my physical body. For this reason I pick workouts that challenge me, connect me to my heart, and that lift up my spirits.  Tai chi has been a new thing for me and I absolutely love it!

Second, to ensure I get my time in to move I have to stay organized and intentional about scheduling time to do it.  If I wait until I want to or until I might have time, the moment is never right or something always gets in the way.  The additional benefit is that when you commit to a specific routine you know exactly what to do when, where, and with whomever you can find to hold you accountable.

Third, successful worker-outers follow a prescribed and specific routine.  There's no guessing or wondering what might feel good that day.  Here's an example of a great workout week: Monday is running and core, Tuesday is yoga, Wednesday is running and lower body body, Thursday is Yoga, and Saturday is a long run plus upper body.

Fourth, people who workout consistently identify with being an athlete or at least athletic. Movement is simply a part of who they are in the world, not just something they do. This is about their mindset or belief in themselves.  They don't need other people to justify it, but they do love to be acknowledged for their dedication to move. 

So what's the point twiddling your thumbs and waiting for one of the best parts of your day to begin? 

Movement is more than exercise, it is a way to take care of your needs so you can share your love and overflow to create a ripple effect of generosity.  (This is on the Restoration Fitness Manifesto you can access here or see below).

I challenge you to do some sort of movement every day for the next 5 days.  Send me a pic of your activity on Facebook and I'll send you a workout video to do at home over the holidays!!

I'm with you every step of the way!

XO, Nicole

P.S. I am putting the final touches on my Holiday Gift to you.  I promise you this one is going to a game changer!!  Be on the look out next week for how you can get yours.

Let's get real.  Life doesn’t typically turn out exactly the way we thought it would.  Sometimes it’s beyond better, and in other ways it is exactly what we feared.

For many years, the scene in this picture would send me in to a tailspin of depression, fear, and self-loathing.  I didn’t have kids, and yet the universe kept spitting out kids for everyone else.  I was frustrated with my home, and everywhere around me was construction and the sense that everyone loved where they lived so much.  The question, "Why does this come so easily for everyone else" would rise up and the ensuing answer in my mind would be, "You aren't enough and you don't know what you are doing."

When I was walking my son by this junior high school with the home under construction in the background recently the same old frustrations started to boil up.
Sure, it would be nice to just say “stop comparing, be grateful”.
I don’t like coveting what I don’t have.  I would much rather be content at all times with exactly where I am in life.  But interestingly enough, apparently I am human.
What do you covet that others have? A better body?  No sickness or fatigue?  Better hair?? A bigger house?  A better car?

I’d love to hear from you about what gets your goat- It’s always good to know I am not alone in this area.
Sending my kids back to school this year hit me hard.  All of the new routines, back and forth to school, not seeing my kids all day, packing lunches, and figuring out how to keep track of the newborn for sleeping and eating has left my empty and exhausted.
On top of it all I picked the first month of school to start really trying to cook more from scratch, mostly to help us all eat more anti-inflammatory foods.
What was I thinking??  
The first night of batch cooking took me 3 hours.  Trust me, this type of cooking is a labor of love.  I came unglued- tears, sobbing, and I Can’t.
Thankfully my children (while at times are over-the-top-needy) were so sweet.  After burning a new recipe, my son said, “Mommy, your cooking is the best. I love to eat what you make. It’s ok, I’ll eat it!” He is an angel.  And of course, there I go with more tears.
We all have a story of what we think would make our lives better.  Some decision we wish we would have made differently or more money, deeper friendships, better health, etc.
It’s such a waste of time and mental-emotional energy to beat ourselves up rather than stop the negative cycle and celebrate what we have.
While I am love my life and all that is in it, I am seeing my own need to celebrate the little things and acknowledge the very things I hammer home to my clients:

  1. You are worthy

  2. You are capable

  3. You are enough

Truly, YOU are too.
Which is why I decided to do a “Count your Blessings” daily video series over on Instagram.  You can find me here on Insta to catch the latest update for momming, moving, and staying mindful through the highs and lows of the day to day grind.
You’ll see my little Nolan, catch some fun with the fam, and of course get some inspiring tips and reminders for how to live your own holy, healthy, and healed life.

Also, in case you missed the last post, I wanted to remind you to go grab your Readiness for Exercise Questionnaire.  If you struggle with knowing what to do each day for exercise when you have a chronic illness, auto-immune disease, or are just getting started with fitness, then download this tool to learn how to listen to your body better and know exactly how to adjust your workout for movement that heals:

If you know someone with hashimotos, infertility, lupus, multiple sclerosis, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, or other chronic illness...especially if their heart is to become a better mother, please forward this message to them.  I love serving wannabe moms and moms who are struggling to help them overcome the overwhelm and gain strength and soul through their journey.  

Wishing you holy, healthy, healing,


P.S. After a long hiatus I am excited to announce that I am making a comeback to coaching online.  It is my hearts desire to give moms and change makers hope, strength, and stamina to help them be the woman they dream of rather than feeling tired, neglected, and overwhelmed.

When you Just Can't.

When was the last time you threw in the towel and said, "I Just CAN'T anymore"?

I can't do my workout body is too tired/painful/beat up.
I can't even begin to think about what to cook for dinner...I'm so sick of it all.
I can't imagine having the time to do what I really want to do...there's always so much on my plate.

Well, there's a time to be a hero and push yourself to get off your tush and keep pushing.

Then there's a time to listen to your body and actually do what it is telling you to do. 

I've helped my clients to listen more, and you can learn too.

This may sound foreign to some of you, but your body is a well-spring of amazing information when you tune into it.

I have been reading Amy Myers book the Auto-Immune Protocol this summer and she reminded me of just how incredible the communication systems in our bodies really are.

For instance, when you eat you send a signal that tells certain hormones like insulin to be released to help direct your food where it needs to go.  You also set off triggers for your immune system in your body when foreign invaders sneak in.  Too much of the wrong foods can even send your immune system into a frenzy when your body identifies the food as a foreign object.  When you are over-tired your body tells your adrenals to work overtime to pump you up with cortisol and epinephrin.

These days I witness the miracle of the communication system in my body multiple times a day when breastfeeding.  Literally all I have to do is take 3 deep calming breaths, close my eyes, imagine a water fall and my milk lets down.  This is so crazy cool.

What I've learned is that it is best not to mess with your body's wisdom and to LISTEN.

Our problem is we get too caught up in expectations, should's, and ought to's- especially when it comes to exercise.

So how do you know what to do when you are on the fence about exercise?

Of course there are those days when you don't feel like working out, but in the end you know movement would help. 

How can you discern what to do to honor your body and still get in some soul sweat?

I developed a simple questionnaire you can use, particularly if you struggle with chronic illness, fatigue, or auto-immune issues.  And it's exactly what I use to hep my clients with their discernment too.

Movement might be the furthest thing from you mind, but as I witness my husband and his journey with Hashimotos and my own history with depression, movement nearly always gives us back our glow when we choose things that light us up.  Movement can come in so many different forms.  Use the questionnaire to help you know what's appropriate for you today.

If you know someone with hashimotos, infertility, lupus, multiple sclerosis, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, or other chronic illness...especially if their heart is to become a better mother, please forward this message to them.  I love serving wannabe moms and moms who are struggling to help them overcome the overwhelm and gain strength and soul through their journey.  

Wishing you holy, healthy, healing,


P.S. I am about to launch my online Strength and Soul program and I cannot wait to reveal how this program will give moms in the making hope, strength, and stamina to help them be the mom they dream of rather than feeling tired, neglected, and overwhelmed.  Stay tuned!

How to work out your regrets

Holding on to regrets is like wearing a noose around your neck. 

In my last blog I let you all in on our family's pursuit of healing for my husbands auto-immune condition.  You can read about how I have been navigating this in my last post, When Not To Run.

We found out Dan had Hashimoto's about a year after moving to Colorado.  We'd been feverishly remodeling a basement in our first home for that entire time while Dan got more and more sick.  

Late nights and too many poorly planned meals had caught up to us.  It was also during this time that we finally had to face the music that we weren't getting pregnant. 

It took us 6 years and a whole lot of heartache to get out of that house and to finally get pregnant and meet our twin boys.  While I have so much joy now...boy have I let those years torture me with regret.

Life is simply too precious to spend wallowing in what might have been and the mistakes we've made. 

However, I've been guilty of allowing far too many missed opportunities haunt me and keep me paralyzed from taking action in the present moment.   The stress that those years have caused and the lost time I often covet can only be redeemed if I let it all go.  

Letting go ain't easy either.  It takes faith that those years will have meaning beyond the pain.  That God will heal the hurts and make beauty from the ashes of my past. And sometimes the only way I can step into that faith is to move.

Working out has always been and continues to be my number one way to process my grief, regrets, and confusion about why bad things happen in life.  I ALWAYS walk away from movement feeling lighter, more engaged with what my heart really needs, and a renewed perspective of hope.

If you struggle with lingering and persistent regret and even bitterness about what you have done or what has been done to you, then you must try THIS EXERCISE.

This "keep-up" exercise can be life-changing when applied in any situation where you need to literally throw your worries, regrets, and stress behind you.

Friend, if an auto-immune issue is keeping you down or holding you back from your dreams, be sure to download my new free resource

When not to run

I have a love for running- and yet, too often in life we are running away rather than leaning in.
Running has taught me perseverance. It has shown me my strength. It has brought me community and given me a place for self-reflection.
But running has also been a scapegoat at times.  At one point in my life I ran so I wouldn’t have to face people or deal with my own heart.  Rather than feel, I ran to see if I could escape. 
Sometimes it feels easier to run and hide in our fears rather than face the hard stuff of life.

My husband and I have been married for over 17 years.  While we were dating we ran a lot together and I LOVED it. 
In 2006 my darling husband was diagnosed with an autoimmune thyroid condition.  We have had to make the choice to lean into the healthy lifestyle practices that will help him (and ultimately our family) rather than run from the daunting changes we need to make. 
Since then, I have learned that there are times to run, and then there are times to sit, be still, and work IN rather than workout.

Having an autoimmune condition, or caring for someone who does is confusing, unpredictable, and life-changing.  It’s taken us years to work through living with an autoimmune issue, and while we haven’t solved the entire puzzle for him yet, we have learned quite a few things.

  1. You can’t run from your body.  Your health will chase you down and force you to deal with it…or at least if you don’t you will pay the price sooner than later.

  2. You are your greatest advocate.  The explosion of autoimmune issues is not well researched yet, and western medicine does a pretty poor job of helping people find optimal solutions.  Find the resources and practitioners who will be your partners for seeking answers for you to recover health in ways you can manage.  Thankfully there are now more resources than ever to help someone struggling with an autoimmune condition, such as: Amy Myers, MDIsabella Wentz PharmD, Datis Kharrazian PhDChris Kresser MS, L.Ac. and Dr. Mark Hyman and many others.

  3. Diet, sleep, and stress management are the keys to feeling better.  And one of the best ways to deal with stress is to breathe through calming movement.  Here’s a great example for you: Breathing Squats

  4. Communication is crucial for helping your loved ones help you.  It can be easy for those around you to think you’ve hit the lazy-easy button.  In reality, if you need an extra nap, or have got to get time alone to catch up on recovery, then say so and ask for what you need.  

When it comes to your health, it’s no good to run when you are having a flare-up (both literally and figuratively).

Even more importantly, it’s no good to run from your diagnosis.  You must face your issues and take action.  Your life matters far too much, especially to your family, kids, or the children you’ll have one day to ignore your body.
It’s my mission to help wannabe moms or moms in action who have an auto-immune issue to restore their energy and take back their health so they can parent with all of their soul strength.
If you know a woman who is struggling with an autoimmune issue like hashimotos, graves, rheumatoid arthritis, celiac, multiple sclerosis, etc. please forward this message to her as I would love to be a support and light of hope for those who are suffering.

Blessings and Health to you,


Peace and plenty

I learn a lot from fairy tales.

“Once upon a time, a golden harp lived in a beautiful castle.  The harp’s magic song cast a spell of peace and plenty over the land.  Everyone was happy in the land called Happy Valley”  - Mickey and the Beanstalk
In most fairy tales, the enchantment is focused on an evil witch/stepmother/meanie who casts a spell to put a princess to sleep, or keep her locked in a tower, or take away her voice, etc.
But in this knock-off story of James (Mickey) and the Beanstalk, the Golden Harp is there to cast spells of PEACE and PLENTY.
What story do you believe about your health and your body?
Are you in a state where you find yourself run down, overwhelmed, foggy and fed up?
What would it be like to feel at PEACE with your body and have PLENTY of confidence and energy?

If you are like many moms- particularly moms with little one’s like me, or who have more than one child, or who are burning the candle at both ends to keep your life going and still work or tend to other family needs, then finding this Golden Harp sure would be helpful.
Obviously there is no Golden Harp coming any time soon to rescue you or the one you love who is in this boat.  However, you can access peace with your body and find plenty of energy and confidence.
It starts with your story.  Or at least the story you tell yourself.
If you believe that:
- you cannot take time for yourself
- you are all alone
- your body will never “be the same”
- you have too much going on to make changes now
- nothing has worked in the past, so why try now…
then, you will remain stuck.
However, if you start to shift your thinking and at least open your mind to the possibility that there is peace and plenty available for you as you take baby steps, then you are already a huge leap forward toward accessing your own beanstalk miracle.
Here’s a Thursday Throwback Video I made for you from 2010 to help you manage your expectations and start finding renewed peace and plenty.

I'd love it if you would share this message with any stressed out, over-tired, and/or frustrated woman you know!  And if this message hits you at home- don't hesitate to reach out for a chat, I have some tricks up my sleeve to help you out.

Healthy Blessings,


Compliments and Comebacks

What do you do or say when someone says, “You look great!”?
It has been 10 days since delivering our fourth little angel.  It took me 9 months of enduring sleepless nights, swollen legs and varicose veins, 30+ pounds of weight gain, and of course the ever-growing belly that was always getting in the way to get this little precious being into the world.
But trust me, I never really ever complained.  Seeing my body evolve and grow was always a fascinating and miraculous process.
When I read blogs about the recovery process of having a baby, it usually focuses on all the blood loss, pain, pelvic floor re-training, etc. 
What I really want to read and understand is how you can go from such a bountiful baby bearing body back to nearly “normal” in six to twelve weeks.  The way I see it, I worked hard to build up that 9 month body, and then it’s gone in just a couple months?! 
Already I have had a few people compliment me that I am really looking great.  Which is such a nice thing to say.  And I am sensitive to the fact that many new moms long to hear those very words. 

The funny thing about compliments is you never know what is going on the inside of the person you are speaking to. 
When I hear those words I want to cry- because it means my baby body is shedding away, and will likely never be again.  I do my best to enjoy the process of all of the change, and yet, there's a part of me that yearns to keep some of the curves, the baby belly, and the cushiony embrace my little one meets when he greets me now.
Which is a strange thing to hear from the fitness expert, right? 
Here’s the thing, compliments about a woman’s body are so complicated.  Perhaps one of the best things you can do is encourage a woman in whatever space she is in that she has a glow that cannot be undone by her size, shape, or circumstance.

A woman’s body is a divine wonder that brings light and life into the world.  Period.
And now, let’s talk about comebacks.  We all have times when life knocks us off our little path and forces us to hit the reset button. 
It has sort of been my rule of thumb to take it as easy as possible for the first 2 weeks after delivery.  As of this weekend we will be reaching the 2 week mark and here is my list of the first things I long to do for my comeback post-delivery:

  1. Go for a walk while wearing Nolan (I am a huge baby wearing fan)
  2. Work slowly up to 100 kegels a day (for the dudes reading this, those kegels are really good for your body too)
  3. Keep writing. 

Thank you to all of you who read these posts and for those who have reached out to encourage me.  You are part of my extended family and I love that you can find something that speaks to you through these words.  It means so much to me when I hear from you about what has created meaning for you.  Be sure to write me with your own “Comeback” list from wherever you are starting today!

Blessings and Health to you,


The gift of pain

Perhaps I'm crazy, but for the second time I chose not to have any pain relief on board for the delivery. 
It was hard.  It felt horribly painful.  But I am so grateful I did it. 
There is no right way to have a baby- and no matter how they come in the world, they're always a blessing.
What I can tell you about this process is that it has always been hard for us to get pregnant.  Because of that- I didn’t want to miss even a shred of what pregnancy and delivery had to teach me.
Our bodies are absolute miracles.  Too much of the time, our heads get in the way because of our fear of pain.  In fact, our society has taught us all too well to avoid pain at all costs.  I would be lying if I didn’t tell you that at least some of the time, I was afraid and whimpering about the pain. 
However, in this particular scenario, it was easier to see the pain through a lens of love. 

By trusting that love was coming through my pain, I could endure it. 
After the delivery I was asked by the nurses on many occasions what my pain level was like.  I was even apologized to that my pain was still a 6 out of 10 at one point. It seems their job is to keep me as comfortable as possible- which is nice.  But I've learned that pain is a wonderful teacher and guide.
“Pain nourishes courage. You can't be brave if you've only had wonderful things happen to you.” – Mary Tyler Moore
Pain tells me when to stop. 
Pain tells me when to breathe.  Really breathe.
Pain exists to help me step into courage so that I can let my body do the wonderful things it is capable of.
There is so much of life we cannot control. Pain is often the thing that helps remind me to trust love wins and release my fears and hesitations to God. 
In the end, I nearly always find relief and comfort. 
Being an athlete was one of the best things I could have done for myself when I was young.  It taught me such valuable lessons about leaning into the pain and experience the truth that I could push beyond discomfort to a greater joy of perseverance.

My encouragement to you today is to listen to your pain.  To lean into it rather than push it away.  Then reach out to me and let me know what your pain is teaching you.  I would love to hear about it!
By the way, I am taking this summer to listen to A Course In Miracles as a way of staying present during breastfeeding time.  I encourage you find your own inspiration to stay present…I’d love to hear what you are reading or listening to as well!
Healthy Blessings,


Why your health needs deadlines

Let’s face it, when given a deadline we get stuff done.
The issue is most of our healthy-living choices are life-long, which creates an unknown deadline.
No Bueno.
Here’s the deal, if we only have a minute to do something, it will take a minute, if we are given an hour to do it, we will fill the hour with details and effort. 
This is a phenomenon called Parkinson’s Law, which I cover in more detail in this 5-Day Health Revolution Video Challenge on Day One. If you find that a lack of time management is zapping your energy, this is the video for you.
In my Strength & Soul group health coaching program we are talking about the radical benefits and secrets to setting deadlines for sticking to your health goals- particularly your workouts.
A deadline is helpful because it

  1. Sets a time frame by which something must be completed.

  2. It is a line or limit that must not be crossed.

When was the last time you set a deadline for a health goal?

Has this ever even occurred to you?

And I don’t mean, "I will lose 5 pounds in 3 weeks."

This means actionable tasks you can control.  I honestly think one of the reasons I enjoy being pregnant that even though I can't really control the exact day I will deliver, it is this journey toward a specific deadline.  

You can prepare yourself for your own "labor" too.

Here are some examples:

  • I will walk 10k steps per day every day for 2 weeks.

  • I will eat 5 servings of vegetables per day for 30 days.

  • I will run a 5k without stopping in three months. 

Here’s the thing that makes it stick:  Commit to these deadlines OUT loud, and preferably show up to do them with a group.  Create Accountabilty. And then don't forget WHY you are even dedicating yourself to this labor/deadline in the first place.
I can’t even begin to count how many times people have done the work to start running simply because they committed and paid to sign up for a race. 
That race has a deadline and people are expecting you to show up.  Boom.
Too many of us simply don’t want to make the commitment.  But remember a little further up the page where I mentioned that life has no deadline?  That’s exactly the reason we need to push to get to the things that really matter to us.
Taking care of your body is a line in the sand. It’s a boundary and belief that must not be crossed by other conflicting interests.  You are worth it.
When we have these deadlines in place we start to say and act on things like:
“No thank you I can’t stay up late tonight, I need to be up early to run.”
“I’ll take a side of steamed veggies rather than the fries”
“Yes, I will go to my workout even though it’s been a long day”
BECAUSE…I am focused on my deadline for this X, Y, Z goal.
And how do you come up with these goals and stay accountable?
The best way I have found is to work with a coach, friend, or community that keeps you on the straight and narrow path.
Are you hungry for more accountability and actual, real progress to get more energy and feel stronger in your body?
If so, I am opening up slots this week to take you through a complimentary breakthrough session.
These coaching calls will help you learn what steps to take first and how to really commit to them in a way that matches your lifestyle and physical needs. 

We will discuss your very first deadlines and find ways you can create follow-up systems to ensure you meet your goals.
Friend, you are a gift to this world and you deserve to feel energized and strong to pursue your passions.  This is especially true if you are a burnt out mom or woman who struggles with an autoimmune condition who is desperate to get her healthy body back.
Don’t miss this chance to schedule with me.

Overcome fear with movement

We all know working out is good for us, but why is it so hard then to keep our commitment to maintaining a regular fitness routine?

For many of us our reasons are scarcity of time and energy. However, most often I find it actually boils down to a deep-seated fear of having to face shame, fear of failure, or fear that we might feel worse rather than better when we move more.

Learning how to exercise is the cure for your fears and next steps for creating movement momentum.

How to use movement to overcome fear

Life is full of unexpected twists and turns. Fear is real. However, exercise is the cure to overcoming your fears - even when we're been moving all day!
When faced with fear some of us will keep plowing forward, retaining the mainstays of our lives unscathed. However, our fears can be elevated and paralyze us when life changes from a family death, a job loss or promotion, a divorce, or a personal health crisis. 
Who of us hasn’t wanted to curl up in a ball when we need to face hard stuff?
As of the last poll in the US, only 18% of women are getting the recommended minimum activity of at least 2.5 hours of moderate or75min of vigorous cardio activity and 2 days of strengthening activities per week.
Reasons most women don't exercise:
"I am too busy"
"I am too stressed"
"I am too tired"
"I am too distracted"
"I am too dedicated to something else"

It’s most often true that women who are under-exercising aren’t holding back because they don’t want to move more or take more time for their health...
It’s more likely we aren’t exercising enough because we are afraid of getting even more tired, feeling even more sick or sore, facing even more shame, or losing out on even more time that we prefer to give to other things we love.

Why you should go the extra mile (literally)

1. Gain Energy
Exercise can give you incredible energy.  Research shows even 10 minutes is more invigorating than a cup of coffee.

2. Pain Relief
Exercise can relieve pain and improve recovery, even in those with fibromyalgia and osteoarthritis.

3. Boost Confidence
Exercise can boost confidence and is one of the best ways to reduce anxiety and depression.
After my pregnancies I have found so many reasons for why exercise might not be a good idea. What if it reduced my milk supply? What if my varicose veins get worse? What if I pee when I run? What if I yell at my kids because exercise made me too tired?
But time and time again when I have the courage to move- I am always, always, always so happy I did it. Not because I have checking something off a list, but because I feel a thousand times better body and soul after I have done it. 

Think about it...

What would it feel like to look forward to exercise, knowing you could do it in a way that boosts your energy, creates greater healing, and leaves you feeling more alive and confident?



Upcoming Facebook Live
Wednesday 4/18/18 @ 12pm MST

Learn exercise tips to overcome
• Chronic illness or pain
• Auto-immune conditions
• Chronic fatigue
• Stress / Anxiety

Nicole Irlbeck, Founder of Restoration Fitness, will be sharing what has worked for her and her clients to overcome the deadly traps that keep us from working out and creating positive energy in our daily life.

Overcome a negative funk with movement

Overcome a negative funk with movement

When life gives you lemons, how do you make lemonade?  Self-compassion and movement.  Nicole shares her story at 27 weeks pregnancy and how she overcomes her negative funk.  Learn simple tips for self-compassion and how to get moving toward feeling stronger and more supported in your body and health.

Love and Life

What my high school essays can teach you about love and life.

Being an adult is really hard.  Sure, it comes with perks, but I often find myself wishing there were a better manual for this life.

My brother-in-law presented me with a folder he found in their files that had a handful of my writings and essays from my senior year of high school. Don’t ask me why it was there, but somehow it had made its way back to me.

At first I brushed it off and didn’t even really want to read what was inside. 

You see, as an adult I had started to compare myself to other writers and believe that I’m not saying anything meaningful and definitely not as eloquently as others.

And, I know I am not the only one who has played the comparison game and lost.

Ask anyone in my family or close circle, and they’ll tell you how much

I love to write.

I started journaling when I was ten to help me work through all the changes in my life after my grandpa died and we moved to a new home across town. I can still remember getting so frustrated that my hand couldn’t write as fast as my mind wanted it to in order to relieve the thoughts and emotions that would spill out of me.  Praise God for the computer now.

Before there was running- my primary means of dealing with my emotions through my teens and twenties, there was writing.

Why do we adults so easily discard the very things that bring us joy and relief?

Of course, we have responsibilities and kids and pets….etc. etc. so we kill our joy and desires on the alter of I should and I must.

What occurred to me as I read those old essays is that I didn’t even think about whether I was good or not when I was writing back then.  I did it because I loved it and somehow it seemed to love me back.  And it was assigned.

I see people give up on exercise so often for mane of the same reasons. 

“I don’t have time”

“My energy is completely spent on my job, my kids, and everything else on my plate”

“Exercise is too painful now that I have X,Y,Z going on with my health”

“Why bother, it isn’t going to change anything anyway”

This sort of thinking really is death to our souls.

Albert Einstein once said, “The only reason for time is so that everything doesn’t happen at once.” 

I take this to mean that there is a time for everything. 

There’s nothing like the loss of a loved one to help put life in perspective.

This past week we lost our sweet 12-year old dog Cherry. She was a beautiful dog and a precious soul.  She had terrible separation anxiety and was often pretty naughty when we were away- especially as she got more and more sick.

But she LOVED her people. 

Cherry of all “people” reminded me that life is meant to be spent on the things we love most, regardless of the outcome.

Who cares if no one ever reads this?  Who cares what you look like at the gym?

What if my writing sucks? What if you are a terrible dancer but you do it anyway because you like it?

The gift of being an adult is that we get to make a choice. 

How will you choose to make the changes necessary to put your loves first?

The work I do with clients is something else I really love.  I’d be happy to spend some time talking with you about how you can shift your time and priorities to get back some of the joy you long for in your life.  Here’s a link to schedule now.

Blessings of joy and health to you,

- Nicole Irlbeck
Founder of Restoration Fitness

P.S. If you still haven’t had a chance to register to join my 5-day Health Revolution challenge, I HIGHLY encourage you to sign up now.  These 5 videos are jammed with so much inspiration and focus on how you can get your energy, food, and fitness aligned with your life. Click here to join

6 lessons to losing 70lbs in 8 months

Regardless of whether you lose a single pound you will live a healthier, happier, and most likely a longer life when you take care of your body.
The good news is IT IS possible to lose weight for the right reasons. 
I have been working with a client through my online health coaching services for the last 9 months. He lost 70 pounds over the first 8 months of working with me. It’s amazing to me that I had never seen his face until he sent these pictures, and yet, in our work together he found the courage, tools, and determination to stick with the process.

Here is what Arnold learned...

  1. I can stay focused and intentional with my choices when I am facing a temptation.
  2. I don't have to go overboard to feel satisfied.
  3. I have tools and awareness of what food choices help me.
  4. I know what types of consistent movement will keep me on pace.
  5. I make prepping food a fun event with music and I stay curious about what I can learn from finding new meals/recipes I like.
  6. I make a plan for what I will eat before I go to the store and I keep healthy foods on hand at all times.

This wasn’t an overnight process. Arnold took time to invest in his health, to do the prep work each week for his food, and he set time aside for exercise. He works out twice per week doing an interval and core class at work and he preps his food for the week every Sunday.
Honestly, what has surprised Arnold the most is how much easier it has been to follow the guidelines we set for him. He was miserable when he was trying to lose weight by starving himself and doing it on his own with little success.
He has more energy now than ever to spend time with his grandbabies, and he is no longer beating himself up about every little mistake he might be making with his health.
Health coaching is truly effective as multiple studies are now confirming. In a recent randomized control trial, patients who achieved their health goal of getting things like their blood sugar levels, blood pressure or LDL cholesterol to health levels was 47.1 percent at 12 months and dropped only slightly to 45.9 percent at 24 months. 
Of course you know what to do. That’s not the point. The point is now you need to start :)

My holiday season gift to you... 
As a reader of this blog I am offering you a free 1-week coaching trial!

How to redeem:
1) Click here to download the Nudge app
2) Use Promo code "cherry" to find me as your coach.

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Be still to boost your strength

There is strength in stillness.

As I watched the palm trees sway in the wind of the hurricanes last week I am reminded that nature is a wonderful teacher.
How often do you find yourself saying, “This week has been SO busy - my schedule is crazy... I feel like I never get anything done... I am so overwhelmed!"
We are often so prone to fitting in just one more thing that we forget to be mindful of the strength of staying still in a moment.  

Take in the small little moments to notice the rain falling, your breath, and your heartbeat in order to let your stormy mind become just a little more quiet.
As I have learned more and more about the human body over the years, I am more stunned by how our strength grows as we stand strong amidst what comes up in the stillness as I am the ability to push hard through life.
It isn’t easy to face pain no matter how it comes, but pain is what will make you stronger. You can face the pain of lifting a heavier deadlift; you can face the pain of standing still with your emotions and letting her heart feel them so you can actually deal with them. 

Both take a physical strength. Both will make you feel and live more in touch with what makes you feel connected, confident and courageous in the end.
Make no mistake, standing in stillness, especially at the beginning can take work. With practice, you can use stillness to ground your body, settle your mind and heart, and to create resilient energy to use as a springboard for forward motion in your life.
Tai chi is literally “meditative movement” and I am falling in love with it.  Here’s a great beginners tutorial for how simple standing with intention and breathing can generate results. 

30 Day Workout Challenge

Start your day simply breathing in a standing posture for 5 minutes. Over the course of 30 days you will feel your body, mind, and soul connect!

Get your head out of routine

Life can get pretty routine.  Which is nice because we don’t have to think too hard about things.

The problem is when we don’t think about things we aren’t engaging as much in our lives and we tend to stay on auto-pilot.

While at an athletic training symposium this week, I heard a talk on sport psychology from an ATC who works with elite athletes.  He mentioned that everyone has a super bowl they are training for.  When an athlete goes down with an ACL tear, their eyes get fixed on getting back on the field, or winning a championship on a restored and healed leg.

We “regular folk” aren’t necessarily playing a competitive sport.  But we are in the game of life.

“The game of life has two participants, players and spectators.  Pick one.”
— unknown

Good athlete’s don’t get that way because they sat around thinking about it.  They got better and excelled because they took action on a daily basis with tenacity to fight for it.

How much have you side-lined your personal goals and dreams because of a nagging injury, or fear of putting yourself out there to accept a physical challenge?

There is always a way to find victory in your pursuit toward your own Super Bowl moment:  

1)   Get empowered: Find a way to get inspired and find hope again.  This step is one of the hardest, and yet in the end the most simple.  Say yes to taking the first step. You are capable.

2)   Fail:  There is no better way to get over your fear than to fail and realize you can get through it.  Failure is what helps you learn.  It’s not a weakness.

3)   Celebrate your milestones:  Find ways to reward yourself with the little things. Never miss an opportunity to find appreciation for progress.

4)   Surround yourself with the Positive: Constantly reinforce your positive thinking by finding people who will encourage you, listen to inspiring music or podcasts, or share your journey with social media as a way to document how far you are going and to get accountability to reach your finish line.

5)   Lean into the Magic: you have to be in constant touch with your hopes and dreams. Keep your vision and your super bowl moment top of mind by creating vision boards, putting pictures on your screen savers, talking and reading about it with whomever will listen.

“Capacity, audacity, and tenacity will take you to your mountaintop” –Robin Sharma, author of The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari series.

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Your dreams and goals are worth pursuing.  If you need a helping hand to get started, give me a buzz and I will help you create your first action steps!

How to get More Healthy Proteins into your Diet

For the second time in the last 6 months, I am cooking 100% vegan for at least the hubs and me.  The first time I had to call it quits when I got super sick about 2 weeks into a 3-week program.  This time, I am going strong with 1-week left of an updated three-week program.

It has sincerely been awesome to eat more veggies, lentils, beans, and to cut back on meat and dairy.

If there is one surprise many of my clients have when they start taking a look at what could be holding them back in their diet is that they are typically low in getting in the daily recommended intake of proteins for their unique needs. 

When you are trying to increase energy, lose body fat, increase lean mass, or balance your hormones, one of the best things you can do is to get your protein intake up to an optimal level.

In case you don’t know how much protein you should be getting, the RDA recommends getting no less than .8 grams per kilogram body weight.  However, if you are highly physically active, over the age of 65, are attempting to lose weight, or are recovering from an injury, you will need more protein.   The exact amount is variable, but most nutrition experts agree that getting somewhere between 1.0-1.2 grams per kilogram is a good estimate.

You can calculate your protein intake needs using this calculator

And here is a list of my favorite veggie based proteins you too can start adding to your repertoire! Protein values are per single serving.

  • Tempeh: 16 grams in 3 oz
  • Red Lentils: 18 grams per cup
  • Split peas: 16 grams per cup
  • Northern Beans: 15 grams per cup
  • Kidney Beans: 15 grams per cup
  • Lima Beans: 15 grams per cup
  • Black Beans: 15 grams per cup
  • Garbanzo Beans: 14.5 grams per cup
  • Quinoa: 8 grams per cup
  • Pumpkin/squash seeds: 8.5 grams per ounce
  • Almonds: 6 grams per ounce
  • Hemp Seeds: 9 grams per ounce
  • Chia Seeds: 4.7 grams per ounce
  • Green Peas: 7.9 grams per cup
  • Spinach: 5.3 grams per cup
  • Squash: 5 grams per cup

For some awesome recipes that I love, you can check out Kris Carr’s site here.

I’d love to hear how you are using this list to make some additions or substitutions to your normal protein intake!  Send me your photos or recipe loves, and I will repost for all to share.

Using Routine to Dial Up your Workouts

After interviewing some the most successful people on the planet, experts know that the majority of these highly successful people have an intense dedication to movement and exercise.

They know what we know about the benefits of exercise, but they will dedicate time to make sure it gets done regardless of what else is on their plate.

Exercise improves memory, focus, our sense of organization and recall, sleep, and most importantly it improves our mood. 

So how do we get motivated to keep our workouts a top priority, especially when work and family life are already so full?

Routine.  Not just a schedule, but a ritual that makes the process of moving a part of our existence that we realize we cannot live without.

A world-class dancer, Twyla Tharp says it like this:

“I begin each day of my life with a ritual; I wake up at 5:30 A.M., put on my workout clothes, my leg warmers, my sweatshirts, and my hat. I walk outside my Manhattan home, hail a taxi, and tell the driver to take me to the Pumping Iron gym at 91st street and First Avenue, where I workout for two hours.

The ritual is not the stretching and weight training I put my body through each morning at the gym; the ritual is the cab. The moment I tell the driver where to go I have completed the ritual. 

It’s a simple act, but doing it the same way each morning habitualizes it — makes it repeatable, easy to do. It reduces the chance that I would skip it or do it differently. It is one more item in my arsenal of routines, and one less thing to think about.” – The Creative Habit

Twyla doesn’t always start out motivated.  She finds motivation once she has started her ritual.

James Clear, author of How to Be Motivated Every Day says,

 “The key to any good ritual is that it removes the need to make a decision.”

If you are struggling with consistency or motivation to workout, find a routine that gets you in motion.  Once you get started, more often than not you will experience that an object in motion will stay in motion. 

Meditate for 5 minutes; take 5 cleansing breaths, listen to the same song, sip on tea out of the same mug each day, do 20 jumping jacks. 

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The ritual doesn’t matter as much as what you decide it does for you to take away the question of whether or not to move forward.  As long as the answer is always yes after you complete the ritual, it is the right one.

Get creative and stick with your ritual for as long as it works for you.  Be sure to send us your ideas and rituals so we can learn from you too!


What to do when you have joint pain

Nearly one in every four people have arthritis in the US and nearly five percent of the population deals with debilitating joint pain on a daily basis. 

Even if you don’t have severe joint pain, dealing with a painful knee, ankle, shoulder, hand or back due to a chronic injury or arthritis can cause you to alter your lifestyle in a meaningful way.

And that ain’t no way to live.

There’s so much you can do to manage joint pain that most MD’s typically won’t get into because it isn’t something they can easily write on a prescription pad.  In part because arthritis is one of those medical issues for which we have no cure.  And while science has allowed us the benefit of joint replacement (thank goodness), many of us are far from that stage but still need relief.

So what can you do to not just deal with your joint pain but, rather, thrive beyond it?

  1. See a doctor. Depending on your level of pain, it is recommended that you have x-rays or potentially an MRI done to rule out any additional disease and to ascertain the extent of your arthritis.  Knowing more about the type, extent, and location can help you take a more direct plan of action.  Be sure to ask around for positive referrals to local doc’s who are familiar with treating your issue.
  2. Eat a wide variety of lots and lots and lots of veggies.  The goal is to reduce sugar and highly processed meat intake- both of which increase inflammation in the body.  Aim for 5 servings of veggies every day.  You can always eat fruit too, but vegetables tend to be lower in glycemic index,which keeps your inflammation down. Research suggests eating vitamin K-rich veggies like broccoli, spinach, lettuce, kale and cabbage dramatically reduces inflammatory markers in the blood.
  3. Take an omega-3 rich fish oil or flaxseed oil supplement daily. Daily supplementation with as little as 2.7 grams of EPA and 1.8 grams of DHA can markedly reduce the number of tender joints and increase the time before fatigue sets in. Some studies have also noted a decrease in morning stiffness and at least two clinical trials concluded that arthritis patients who took fish oils could eliminate or sharply reduce their use of NSAIDs and other arthritis drugs.
  4. Of all the arthritis banishing supplements studied beyond omega-3 rich fats, Turmeric and Curcumin (which is the most active constituent of turmeric) appear to be the winners in reducing joint related pain. According to Dr. Weil, taking 400 to 600 milligrams of turmeric extracts (available in tablets or capsules) three times per day or as directed on the product label can be a wonderful aide for those with any inflammatory disorders. He directs his patients to look for products standardized for 95 percent curcuminoids. However, curcumin nor turmeric taken orally is well absorbed unless taken with black pepper or piperine, so when shopping for supplements, be sure to choose one that contains black pepper extract or piperine.
  5. I’ve had four people in my practice in recent weeks who’ve all had severe forms of arthritis or chronic injury who were still able to find ways to get in a total body workout without further aggravating his or her pain.  In fact, after nearly every single workout I would get a message saying, “My knee/back/hip actually felt better today after our workout!”  It is possible, and even recommended that exercise and arthritis coexist. People with arthritis who exercise regularly have less pain, more energy, improved sleep and better day-to-day function.

So what should you do for exercise?  Stay tuned as I will be talking more and more about this in the weeks to come, but for now, the easiest thing to do are those things that are less-impact like swimming, biking, or walking on low incline terrain.  Mild stretching is always highly recommended to keep the joint as mobile as possible. 

Because here is the thing, movement lifts your spirits, improves your overall health, and will also motivate you to eat healthier too. You don’t have to be a slave to your condition, no matter what it is.  There is always more you can do to take back your energy, to move your body, and to find joy in your health.

Please forward this message to anyone you know who suffers from arthritis or chronic joint pain, and comment below if you have found these or any other pain relief options you love and can share.  

The best number to track to get fit

We have been coaxed into believing the scale is the highest measure of health and fitness.  But the scale fluctuates a ton depending on how much water you retain, what time of day you weigh in, how much fat vs. muscle you have on your body, your bone density and more.  It’s a pretty crappy way to evaluate whether you are actually getting more fit or not.

While I was vacationing in Mexico this past weekend, I jumped on a treadmill for my usual jaunt.  I started pushing the speed button and it was like I was floating.  Up and up the miles per hour went until I was gracefully moving at a 11.5 mile per hour pace.

Folks, that’s a 5:13 per mile pace, and the fastest I have ever run just one mile is 5:14. 

I kept this pace up for just under 40 minutes.  I felt like a BEAST.

Obviously, this treadmill was lying to me.

There’s comfort in knowing the numbers, right?  We want to be assured that what we are doing is working and that we have something concrete to prove that our invested time and energy has produced results.

There are many numbers we actually have control over.  Things like…

  • How many real push-ups or full pull-ups can you do
  • In what time can you run a mile around the track
  • How long can you hold a perfect plank
  • How many glasses of alcohol consumed in a week

The possibilities are endless.  But the number that matters the most is the number that resides in your heart. 

I am not saying to ignore the hard and fast, tangible proof, what I am saying is that we need to dig deeper.

The best number to track to get fit and improve your health is to use The Joy Scale

Yes, I know, I know, fitness is all about getting more physically strong, racking up a better VO2Max, holding that long yoga pose to improve your flexibility.  But the REAL end goal of doing these things is that they actually provide us with the capacity to live life more fully engaged.  Which is to say, that you are able to find deep joy in your day-to-day activities and being because you are getting stronger and connecting with your physical strengths.  Getting stronger helps us to sustain our energy and to act upon our passions so that deep joy bubbles up in us.

Are you workouts both bringing you joy and allowing you to open yourself up to more joy in your life overall? 

If not, here are some suggestions that can up your joy through movement:

  • Consistently workout whether you feel like it or not.
  • Listen to inspiring music while exercising.
  • Get curious about how much your body can actually do.  Push yourself to the outer boundaries to let it show you what you are capable of.
  • Surround yourself with people who encourage and uplift you during your movement.

Movement can reduce depression, it can clarify your mind, it can improve your immune system, and boost your confidence.

Of course it’s great if you can bust out push-ups, rock a deep squat, and run a 5 minute mile- but using movement to increase your joy is a wonderful motivator and method to make your whole life better.

And regardless of what that treadmill told me, I felt absolutely amazing running on my vacation.  Joy welled up in me in ways I don’t get from any other thing.

The number on the screen was irrelevant. 

Where do you find your joy in movement?