Finding the right words on this Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. I realize that my vegetarian lifestyle isn't best well suited for this holiday but for me, it's not about the food. 

When I was growing up, we always celebrated Thanksgiving together as a family. My brother, my mom and dad and any relatives who could drive/fly to be with us. Sometimes we would go out of state and sometimes we would be at home in Lexington, KY. 

When I was in college, I really looked forward to being with my family because I didn't see them all the time like I did growing up and throughout High School. As a high school and collegiate swimmer, the holiday season was often our high volume time of the year so  my carb-rich heavy feast was very well enjoyed (and useful) for my active body especially when I looked forward to a 8,000-10,000+ yard swim session the day after Thanksgiving. 

After college, I moved to Florida for graduate school and luckily, my dad got a job in Florida as well (at the VA clinic as the chief Optometrist) so my mom and dad were no longer in Kentucky but instead, just 3.5 hours away from me.
I remember my very first Thanksgiving in my new home of FL at my parents house and it occurred on the same day as my first longest run ever. I was training for the Miami Marathon and my run was 14 miles. I had never ran that long before!  I was so incredibly sore, I could barely move to drive up to my parents home. But I was so excited to see my family as it had been a few months since I had seen them, probably the longest I had ever gone without seeing my parents at one time. My brother traveled home from UMichigan to be with us as well. It was a really lovely time to have our family together in our new home. 

After graduate school, I found myself with negative dollars in my bank account (graduate student with a new endurance triathlon and running obsession) and with a very expensive Master of Science degree in Exercise Physiology. So, what's a daughter to do than to move-in with my parents. This was just 6 months before I met Karel and less than a year before my first Ironman. 

I remember celebrating Thanksgiving in 2006 with my parents and my boyfriend Karel (who as you know, is from Czech and has his entire family in Czech Republic). I was now an Ironman finisher so that was the on the conversation list over our meal and once again, I just loved being with my family and having them get to know Karel. My brother was now in Pittsburgh so it was always great to see him when he could get away from work for the holiday. 

When Karel and I moved to Jacksonville FL for his new job as the GM of the Trek Bicycle Store, the Thanksgiving holiday was always a busy time for him as it is for everyone in the retail industry. Overtime, I became a RD and had a PRN position as a clinical RD so I didn't mind relieving the other RDs at Baptist Medical Center Beaches around the holiday as I knew Karel had to work the day after Thanksgiving anyway.  It was only 1-2 times in the past 6 years that I can remember not spending Thanksgiving with my family and that is probably the only time I have never spent Thanksgiving with my family. 

Last year was a very special Thanksgiving. I was able to spend Thanksgiving with my dad. And unlike the last 31 years with my mom and dad, that Thanksgiving was not the easiest of holidays to celebrate.
My dad was diagnosed with stage IV metastatic cancer to his spine in June 2014, had major spinal surgery a few weeks later and was not given a good diagnosis  if he would ever walk again nor the survival rate of someone who is otherwise perfectly healthy and fit with this type of aggressive cancer. 
After many visits to my parents home (3.5 hours from Jacksonville) in June and July and then before and after we raced in IM Lake Placid, I knew that this Thanksgiving may be our last Thanksgiving together as a family. I didn't want to convenience myself that it would be true but I wanted to make sure I didn't take this Thanksgiving for granted. 

Funny how things work out because in October, there were some changes at the Trek Store and Karel and I discussed our options and decided it would be a great time to grow Trimarni Coaching and Nutrition.  This was an overwhelming time for us with so many changes but like always, I reached out to my dad who always gave the best advice and when we told him what we were considering, he could not have been more supportive. 
The best thing about the recent change with Karel leaving the Trek Store was that it allowed us to have more time visiting my family. The hospital completely understood my situation so rather than spending just a few days with my family, we were able to spend a full week (and Campy too) making memories with my dad. 

My dad worked hard and learned to walk again. After 3 months with a spine brace, wound vac and walker (and assistance with all daily activities) and loads of medications, radiation, chemo.....my dad made it down the aisle for my brothers wedding in Pittsburgh in the end of September and continued improving his strength to be able to move around the house by Thanksgiving with his walker, by himself. He prepared the Turkey, made me my  out-of-the-bird stuffing like always and even made sure to save some leftovers for Campy. With all that had been going on my dad lost a lot of weight and had little appetite but Thanksgiving seemed to turn things around as his appetite came back just in time for a few of his favorite eats. 

I am two days away from my favorite holiday to be with my family and I find myself holding back the tears because it will be without my dad. I'm so happy that my mom is now a Greenville resident and my aunt, uncle and cousin will be joining us for Thanksgiving. 

It was exactly 6 months ago today when I had my last chat with my dad (on the phone) when he was in Moffitt hospital. I remember the day so clearly. I remember talking to my dad a few times that weekend which was rather unusual since I usually talk to him once a day. But I just had so much to tell him as it was my first time exploring Greenville for training and I couldn't wait to tell him that I climbed Ceaser's Head with Karel and went for a lake swim in Lake Jocassee with our friends and told him about all the beautiful places in Greenville that I couldn't wait for him to see when him and my mom would move to Greenville (they had their house on the market). I knew my dad was not feeling good but he remained his normal cheery self and wanted to hear more from me than to talk about himself. What happened next was not expected.  

The next time I would see my dad would be a day later on life support. Two days later, my life changed forever.

On May 28th, I lost my dad to his 10-month fight with Cancer. Since that time, I have had to experience life without him for the past 6 months. No longer is my dad around for me to talk to about life, training, questions and to catch up. 

I look back at all the years we had together (3 days short of 32 years together) and all the Thanksgiving's that we spent together as a family. 

Thanksgiving is a holiday that you will likely find me yumming a bit more than normal but for me, the holiday is not about the food. 

As Julia Child said "People who love to eat are always the best people."
Thanksgiving is a wonderful time to surround yourself with friends and family and to reflect. It's an opportunity to yum over a meal that was created on traditions, stories and laughs. It's an opportunity to slow down and give to those who are less fortunate and to be grateful for your gifts. It's an opportunity to be kind and loving to those who are most important in your life but also to those who you need a smile from you. 

I wanted to share my love of this holiday with you because it is one of my favorite times to be around family. Here are a few things that I would love for you not to say on your Thanksgiving day to ensure that you get the most out of this special holiday. Regardless if you are with friends, family or alone, remember to give thanks to your awesome body. 

Instead of saying "I shouldn't be eating this"
Say "I rarely eat this. I am so excited for this occasional opportunity to indulge responsibly."

Instead of saying "I hate that food!"
Say "I haven't yet learned to appreciate it yet."

Instead of saying "That food is off-limit."
Say "The reason why I do not eat that food is because ______ but that doesn't mean that you can not enjoy it. There is no such thing as bad foods."

Instead of saying "I hate cooking."
Say "This is a great opportunity for me to be challenged in the kitchen and to be inspired by new recipes and meals."

Instead of saying "I'm worried I'll eat too much."
Say "Rather than having second portions, I am going to make a plate of food to give to someone in need of food."

Instead of saying "I'm going to start my diet tomorrow."
Say "I realize that I ate a bit more than normal but a quick fix will not make yesterday's occasional feast go away. I promise myself that I will not go into the meal starving and will eat controlled portions so I can enjoy a little of everything without food guilt."

Instead of saying "I have no idea how I will burn off all these calories!"
Say "I am going to aim to move my body a bit more than normal next week. Nothing extreme but I will walk more, take the stairs and enjoy all of my planned workouts."

Instead of saying "I am so bad around _______ food/drink."
Say "I recognize that I am still working on my relationship with food. I am learning how to enjoy a more varied diet or I am learning how to eat more mindfully. I am not going to feel anxious about the foods that I am presented but instead, take positive action by allowing myself to make Thanksgiving not just about the food. I am going to be good with my food choices so that this holiday makes me a better me."

Instead of saying "I ate too much"
Say "I am grateful for all of this food. Now I will help someone else in need by volunteering my time or donating money to someone who needs it."

Instead of saying "I feel so fat!"
Say "I know that fat is not a feeling. Sometimes I can feel overwhelmed with so much food around me and I often find myself uncomfortable in my own skin. But I need to change that feeling because this same body has allowed me to ________ (ex. cross a finish line, care for your children, get a bonus/promotion at work, etc.). Not eating, dietiting or overexercising will not make everything perfect. I love and accept myself and I take full responsibility of what I put into my body and I want to feel good with all of my food choices."

Instead of saying "I don't want to go back to work on Monday."
Say "I feel so lucky that I am healthy and well and I can make the most out of every day of my life. I am excited to start another week and to continue to work hard for my goals in life and to make memories with my friends and family. I am lucky I have a great job that allows me to put yummy food in my body an also to pay for my active lifestyle."

Instead of saying "I hate my body."
Say "Thank you body for giving me another year of life. I look forward to tomorrow with you."


Exploring Greenville

Greenville, SC is the perfect place for our active lifestyle. After 10 years of living in Florida and the 6 past years living in Jacksonville, FL, we were ready for a change.

So, we decided to exchange the beach for the mountains and we haven't regretted our decision since we moved in mid-May.

We absolutely love exploring our new city and we have so much more to see but I thought I'd share some of our favorite finds in Greenville, SC.

Let me start off with the yummy stuff first.

Everyday Organic - 100% organic restaurant and bakery with delicious meals that satisfy almost every diet and taste (vegetarian, gluten free, vegan and meat options)
Green Lettuce - fresh, delicious, Mediterranean inspired cuisine
Pomegranate on main - traditional Persian food with excellent appetizers and entrees
Chicora Alley - a variety of cuisine (vegetarian/vegan options available) which is a fusion of exotic island and southern cooking. You can find burritos, salads, burgers and sandwiches.
Passerelle in the Park  - enjoy a beautiful view overlooking Falls Park. Enjoy chef inspired fare that's a little French, a little European and a lot local. Dog friendly.
Barley's - Pizza, salads, burgers, fries and 72 carefully-selected craft beers on tap and over 200 bottled beers. Dog friendly.
Lazy Goat - Mediterranean-themed restaurant with a menu featuring global influences from Spain, Morocco, Italy, France, Greece, Africa and the Middle East. Dog friendly.
Trio brick oven cafe - Gourmet wood-fired pizzas, a wide variety of homemade pastas, wraps, sandwiches and an extensive wine list. Dog friendly.
Mary Beth at McBee- known as the best breakfast in Greenville but now serving lunch and dinner too.
Growler Station - Fresh craft beer to go OR bring your dog inside and have a beer and chillax.

Le Grand - French bakery
Strossners - German bakery
Bavarian Pretzel factory - German bakery
Coffee Underground - cool vibe, coffee and food available
Spill the Beans - Great coffee and ice cream
Westend coffee - buy a bag (or two) of fresh coffee that is roasted in-house.
Swamp Rabbit Cafe - Right on the swamp rabbit bicycle trail. Great selection of local foods, fresh breads and the best baguettes!

Paris Mountain State park
Jones Gap State park
Cesear's Head State park
Devils Fork State park
Hotel Domestique  - George Hincapie's hotel. Enjoy an overnight stay during your cycling adventure or a fine-dining experience with a great view.
Pedal Chic - All women's bike shop.
GHS Swamp Rabbit Trail - cycling, walking, running
Falls Park on the Reedy- Named the 9th best park in the US (Trip Advisor 2013)Westside aquatics - This is where we swim. We just love this pool. Throughout the year it changes from short to long course. We also belong to Caine Halter YMCA.

Greenville Humane Society - the largest no kill facility in the Southeast. Donate HERE or volunteer, foster a pet, donate a Kuranda  bed or apply for a job.


Beauty, Balance and Badassery - for the ladies

I'm so lucky to have a few very special, amazing women in my life who give me positive energy, strength and wisdom. I would like to introduce you to two of them. 

The first is Kelsey Abbott. My friend, Trimarni athlete, owner of Find Your Awesome and creator of BBB (read below)
The second is Beth Chernosky of Transformative Wellness ME. I met Beth through social media and she is a beautiful person, inside and out. 

I'd also like to add Gloria to this list. As you may know, Gloria Petruzzelli is my best friend, a Trimarni athlete (we coach her amazing hubby Ken as well) and my mental skills coach.

There are many more amazing women that I follow on social media, ALL of the inspiring Trimarni female athletes, my Oakley Women family and so many more that are just so amazing!
I think it is just so awesome that there are too many amazing women to add to this list!

So now I bring you to the purpose of this post.
I want to welcome you to Beauty, Balance and Badassery which is an online, private Facebook group designed just for women. As a monthly contributor (nutrition chat) to this group,  I can't tell you how my life has changed since being part of this group. Kelsey and Beth make you think...in a really strong, beautiful, balanced, powerful and BadAss way.

If the following information makes you smile, makes you think, makes you believe that this group was designed with you in mind, I hope you take advantage of being part of this group to make 2015 an amazing year for you. 

The information below is from Kelsey at Find Your Awesome. You can contact her via her website for more information about joining the group. 

Imagine…a supportive group of inspiring women.
Imagine…a safe place where you can share life’s challenges and celebrations.
Imagine…an inspiring place to grow into your awesome self.

It’s real.

Imagine…weekly coaching office hours.
Imagine…weekly distance Reiki.

It’s all yours.

Imagine…virtual hugs when you need them.
Imagine…unicorn bitch slaps on demand.

And finally, imagine a place where beauty is universal, balance is a common topic of discussion and badassery is infectious (in a good way).

That place is Beauty, Balance and Badassery
It’s a group coaching program for awesome women who are ready to live and love the hell out of their lives.

If you’re ready to toss your invisibility cloak and show up as your awesome self in every aspect of your life, this group is for you. If you’re ready to go outgrow your old habits and beliefs, Beauty, Balance and Badassery is calling your name.

Join us.

It’s time to feel empowered. It’s time to feel awesome. It’s time to BE the rockstar/super hero/goddess that you really are.

No more waiting. No more hiding. No more putting your desires on the back burner while you take care of other people. No more excuses.


Make a commitment to yourself. Join our safe space. Join our team. We’ve got your back.

It’s time.

I just want to say how much being in this group has meant to me and continues to mean to me. You women are amazing and the insight and thoughts you've shared with me about my situation and about your own have blown my mind on too many occasions to count! I can't even express how glad I am I joined in on this group! I remember telling my best friends in Vancouver about it at the beginning and not even knowing how much more it would mean to me now!!!
-Nicole Tunstall

Let’s talk details…

As a member of Beauty, Balance and Badassery, you’ll get:
-weekly coaching office hours with me
-access to weekly distance Reiki sessions with Beth Chernosky of Transformative Wellness ME
-monthly coaching calls with me
-badass challenges
-spontaneous coaching from me
-10% off any confidence coaching packages with me
-monthly chats with guest experts like:
            Marni Sumbal, RD of Trimarni Coaching and Nutrition
            Karen Taube, CPC of Elationship Coaching
            Shauna Gullbrand, CPC, International Radio Host and Tarot Maven

-And surprises….lots of awesome surprises are in the works!

Feeling like a beautiful, balanced badass shouldn’t be a logistical nightmare. We use the magic of technology to make group participation as easy as possible. You can be anywhere in the world as you participate in all the action. The month coaching calls take place over the phone and everything else happens in the private Facebook group.


Beauty, Balance and Badassery is a team of awesome women. 
We work together to support and inspire each other. 
And to make sure we do that in the best way possible, we have a few ground rules:

1. Be here and be you.

2. YOU define yourself, your desires, your comfort zone and your fears.

3. No judging yourself or others.

4. Everything that happens in the group stays in the group. All coaching is completely confidential.

5. Support others in the group. We’re all in this together.

6. Share yourself, your adventures, your awesomeness, your victories and your struggles.

7. Strive to live a life of HELL YESes and HELL NOs. There are no HELL MAYBEs. (HELL MAYBE would be half assery and we believe in BADASSERY, not half assery.)


What’s the value of all this awesomeness?

Oh my, it’s about $1000. BUT you pay only $97/month.

Can I try before I buy?

No, Beauty, Balance and Badassery is an intimate group based on trust. You must commit to three months at a time.

Why three months?

Because it takes a while to build relationships and this group is all about relationships.

Your fearless leader - Kelsey

Hi, I’m Kelsey Abbott and I really truly believe in your awesomeness. I also believe in the power of community. That’s why I created Beauty, Balance and Badassery. You see, we’re all on this wild ride together and by supporting, challenging and inspiring each other, we grow together, we excel together and we shine together.

I believe in freedom, passion, curiosity, unicorns, triathlons, playing big and being open to awesome possibilities.

And for those of you interested in the nitty-gritty details, I’m a Certified Professional Coach (CPC), Energy Leadership-Master Practitioner (ELI-MP) and COR.E Performance Dynamics Specialist. I earned my coaching certifications through the Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching (iPEC) and my Associate Certified Coach (ACC) credentials through the International Coach Federation (ICF). I’m also a USA Triathlon-certified coach who coaches swimmers, bikers, runners and triathletes to their best athletic performances.