This week we’re chatting with Sarah Parker, a mom with a passion for fitness and allergy-friendly cooking.
How would you describe yourself and your blog?
My blog TheFitCookie.com is all about health, fitness, and allergy-friendly recipes. I am a personal trainer and group fitness instructor part time, so blogging is my other part time job that I really enjoy! My kids and I have multiple food allergies and sensitivities, so the cooking gets interesting in our house! I started my blog as a way to share my allergy-friendly recipes with people. I started a second website for fitness and wanted to keep them separate, but decided to merge them into one site earlier this year.
As an athlete, I love variety! I want to try lots of things and I don’t stick to just one form of exercise. I do PiYo, yoga, weight lifting, Zumba, running, metabolic conditioning/bootcamp, rock climbing, biking, and hiking. Variety is the spice of life and I want to be good at LOTS of things!
I don’t fit into a category with fitness but I like it that way. I have done a triathlon, lots of 5Ks, a mud run, an adventure/scavenger race, and 50-mile charity bike rides. I want to run a half-marathon next year, and participate in another triathlon and beat my time. It’s all good stuff! It’s great to work your muscles and your mind in different ways, so things don’t get boring.
The same principle applies to my diet and recipes. I don’t really fit into a formal “diet”. I’m not paleo but I have cut back my grains and I eat a lot of meat. I’m not vegan but most of the recipes for my baked goodies are vegan since I can’t eat eggs and dairy. I’m following a mostly low-FODMAP diet but still enjoy avocados and pit fruits. I find what works for me and go from there! Labels just make us feel guilty when we don’t stick to the “diet”, so I encourage people to find what works for them.
How did you get started?
I started getting serious about working out when I started college. I knew I needed to make a commitment to exercising but I was getting tired of doing DVD workouts at home. I joined a gym with my student discount and started to take group fitness classes to learn some things about fitness and I haven’t looked back! I eventually became certified to teach Zumba and taught for 5 years (it’s fun!!) and I became certified as a personal trainer a couple years after that.
Never stop learning and making new goals! I’m working on a running certification and I want to get yoga certified next year.
What is your best training tip?
Don’t be afraid to take days off and relax when you need them. One of my favorite ways to spend an active rest day is to go for a hike or a drive up to the mountains. I love it! The change of scenery and the fresh air does wonders.
What keeps you motivated?
How good I feel when I move. Exercise isn’t just physical; it’s mental too. I have struggled with depression off and on and I feel better mentally when I exercise, even if it’s something short. Those benefits are more noticeable when I can exercise outside and get some sunshine and fresh air!
When I exercise and race, I feel good about what I have accomplished and what I am capable of. Seeing progress in my strength, race times, or distances is encouraging to me and motivates me to set new goals.
What advice would Sarah Parker give someone who is just starting on his or her fitness journey?
Don’t compare yourself to other people. Focus on YOUR journey. It’s great to have others to motivate you, but people get too caught up in looking at what others are talented at and what others have that they forget that fitness is a very individual and personal thing. You have to find what works for you and what you enjoy regardless of what everyone around you is doing. Stretching outside your comfort zone is good, but don’t forget that your exercise is YOURS, not someone else’s and it has to mean something to you if you want to make it long term.