Well, I did it. All the training and hard work definitely paid off. 13.1. It was amazing, when it was over with.

On April 22, I ran the Earth Day Half Marathon in St. Cloud, MN. I stayed in St. Cloud the night before to avoid having a drive in the morning before the race. The evening before, I indulged in some pasta from the Olive Garden. Any excuse to eat carbs is completely okay with me.

The morning of, I ate a peanut butter and jelly, English muffin, some eggs, a yogurt and banana. I also drank plenty of water and was sure to get a lot of sleep. I ended up wearing running leggings that tied on the top so they didn’t move during the run, an Under Armour tank top and a running light zip-up jacket. I had Brooks running shoes on as well. 18033301_10155627064796874_6654001974034216975_n

As a rookie marathon runner, I figured out before the start–that you want to line up at your projected finish marker, since you will be running at a similar pace as those people.

So, once I decided where I wanted to finish (I choose the 2.5 hour marker), with hopes that I could finish around that time. Once the run started, I was feeling good. There were so many people lined up along the route, with encouraging signs and were cheering as people ran by.

For the first 5 miles, I didn’t have any pain and was running at a great pace. I was using the Map My Run app on my phone, so I knew where my pace was at each mile and what my split pace was. I was keeping up with the starter marker, and I was feeling good.

At mile 6, I started getting some cramps in my stomach and my lower back started hurting. Now before the 13.1, my longest run that I trained for was 10 miles long. When you are at 6 miles, 10 doesn’t seem that far off. When you’re going all the way to 13.1, you’re not even half way there at 6.

After reaching mile 8, my stomach and back started to feel better. There were a lot of people I was keeping pace with, and we just kept going. Once you get to 10 miles, your legs just aren’t all the way “there” anymore. My legs just kept going, although my body was very exhausted.

The last few miles were exciting, but it became hard to concentrate on anything else besides “I’m almost done, it’s almost over. Just a little longer.” The last mile was by far the best. My pace had fallen a bit at mile 11, but I was still doing better than I had originally hoped.

That last mile I gave it my all. My app I was using however, was off from the measured distance the run had calculated. So when I thought I was about done, I still had what felt like forever to go. I started to sprint, which was a great idea–but I did it too early. Knowing I was so close (may .3 of a mile out now) away from the finish line, I just couldn’t give up. I ended up making it over that finish line and just wanting to crash.

It was amazing. I felt so great. I did it. I just ran 13.1 miles, and I did it well under my goal of 2.5 hours. My final time across the finish line was 2:11:10.

My body wasn’t hurting significantly besides my lower back. I took pain pills before the run and when I finished, and the pain went away within 5 hours or so. The evening of the run, I was feeling great and was amazed at how well my body handled it. By the end of the night, I realized I may have injured myself a little more than I had hoped.

My foot had endured a lot of pain and seemed to be getting worse the more I was on it. For the rest of the weekend, I continued to ice my foot and try to rest it as much as possible. It has been about 2 1/2 weeks now, and my foot is still hurting. Unfortunately, I think I may have a slight fracture that is going to continue to need time and rest to fully heal.

I was all ready to sign up for the Tough Mudder which takes place in July, but I may be looking at the Tough Mudder 2018 to ensure my foot heals properly. All in all, I a so glad I tried a half marathon and it has inspired me to do more challenges, like the Tough Mudder.

My overall advice from my experience is to listen to your body. Goals are amazing to reach and it’s exciting to finish what you started out for, but be careful. If you’re in pain, your body is telling you it’s too much. Don’t hurt yourself in the process. Your body is a beautiful thing.



How I BEAT Irreversible Back Pain

Written by Natalie Jill, full link here.

I was fighting against “irreversible” back pain…

When the thought of a workout went from motivating and exciting to making me think of “pain”, I knew I had a problem. It began taking me longer and longer to motivate myself to workout because I knew a hard workout meant horrible back pain. The pain was intense and in my normal black and white fashion, I was determined to “fix it”! I was determined to beat my irreversible back pain.

Everything hurt my back; sitting, standing, sleeping, and working out made the pain unbearable at times. My normal no excuse mentality was ringing louder than ever. Something is broken and I need to fix it…quickly!

Doctors, medical bills , surgery options and prescriptions…

beat irreversible back pain with natalie jillI sought out orthopedic surgeons and had an MRI, which confirmed a reason for my back pain. I had severe arthritis in my lower back and two bulging discs. I guess all those years of constantly wearing high heels and skipping my workout warmups were starting to catch up to me 🙂

I began a series of doctors’ appointments and all of them prescribed arthritis meds, pain meds, coritsone shots, etc.  No one believed I could fix the cause of the pain, so instead, they all wanted to “mask” it.

I saw 4 physical therapists, 3 orthopedic surgeons and 2 chiropractors. All resulting in false hopes, a lot of money spent on medical bills, and hearing the same information: the arthritis is permanent. Basically they said I had irreversible back pain.

The choices I was given were: STOP working out, take anti inflammatory medication, cut the nerve, and use medication when needed to manage pain.

NJFit TWEETit: I was told my back pain was irreversible. It wasn’t, and I fixed it the NATURAL way. #feelinggood @NatalieJillFit

The back pain just wouldn’t stop…

The options presented were not sitting right with me, but when pain takes over, you don’t always think rationally. The pain never stopped. It was constant and it was bad. I gave in to a cortisone shot that was done under anesthesia and inserted during an x-ray. This was supposed to take away the pain. It did for about a day, and then came back stronger then ever. The pain management doctor had an answer though: more pain medication and a more aggressive surgery.  No thank you!

I remember thinking to myself, I’m 40, maybe this is just the way it is?

I never accepted that things had to be this way, but wow, when pain takes over you start to reconsider your options. I was determined to figure out what was going on and find a natural way to stop the pain. So, my mission began and now I will share with you what I learned.

You can’t get “rid of” arthritis” but you can stop what is causing the pain.

beat irreversible back pain with natalie jillIt is not actually the arthritis or disc causing the pain, it’s other imbalances around it causing you to FEEL pain where the issue is.  You have to fix other areas of your body to get around the muscle imbalances, which is what typically causes the pain. For me, for instance, my current workouts, the way I was sitting, standing, etc… were aggravating muscle imbalances and creating terrible pain in my back.

My workouts were no longer working for me.

I was in a comfort zone of doing the same workouts I had always done. I was in denial that they were now wrong for me. I had to accept this fact and take on the challenge to re-learn the exercises and corrective circuits.

I am diligent about doing these now and there are some exercises, like weighted leg presses, that I can never do again or my back pain will instantly flair up.

I had abs but my CORE was not functional

beat irreversible back pain with natalie jill

I had abs so I THOUGHT I had a strong core… right? WRONG!

When I tried to do simple stability moves I had absolutely no core strength. It’s amazing how quickly this can change with practice.

I moved primarily to exercises utilizing my own body weight and REALLY worked to develop my core. No sit-ups (those only work the abdominal muscles), but TRUE core strength. I’m not suggesting you start at that point, but something to work towards.

You have to walk before you can run to TRULY rebuild your core.  It might seem like you are going backwards at first, but if you stick with it, you WILL see amazing results!

Eat a clean anti-inflamatory diet

As a celiac and licensed sports nutritionist, I always ate healthy, and of course gluten-free (a must for a celiac). So I decided to take things up a notch and get diligent about adding key anti-inflammatory foods to my diet including the removal of grains and dairy.

I started doing corrective circuits

Doing the right corrective circuits will help to activate muscles you haven’t been using and help you calm down and release the muscles that are tight and over active. I worked very closely with two NASM certified Corrective Exercise Specialist to re-train myself.

As an example, my glutes were under active, which is common in women. My quads and lower back were picking up the slack for my glutes which were under-active and not firing.  Now, I do a full corrective circuit to activate my glutes prior to my workouts so that my glutes pull their weight and take additional strain off my quads and lower back.

I realized I could still have “INTENSITY” while working out, but I had to CHANGE those “intense” moves

My old workouts put too much stress on my lower back. I don’t do things like weighted leg presses anymore, which used to be a staple in my workout. Instead, I do exercises that keep my core engaged, using all of my muscle fibers (a huge fan of ring and strap training now) and I don’t do stable moves anymore. No more machines for me, as I find they are too isolating and can lead to the creation of muscle imbalances.

How I feel today after I beat my irreversible back pain…beat irreversible back pain with natalie jill

Today, my back is no longer in constant pain. It is not 100% gone, but my days of pain are are now extremely limited to a few hours of pain a few days a month. It is no longer the constant nagging pain I used to deal with EVERY single day.

My workouts are back to being intense and I am once again changing and improving my body without the added fear and result of pain. With everything I have learned, I have developed myDVD’s  as well as the more intense STRONGER which mimics the corrective circuits, workouts, and nutrition I currently do! These will BOTH teach you the exercises I did to stop my symptoms.

“Be Happy…Be Healthy…Be Fit!”

– Natalie Jill

HITT Workout to Blast the Bellyfat

So by now you’ve heard about “HIIT” training, right? High Intensity Interval Training is everywhere and if you spend any time at a gym or looking at workouts online you can’t miss it. And while the focus tends to be on the cardiovascular benefits HIIT provides, it can also be a great way to blast belly fat as well! This workout is designed to give both the information you need and the exercises you’ll love to blast off that belly fat.

First and foremost, it is important to recognize that the only REAL way to get rid of belly fat is to eat cleanand do some intense exercise. That’s right. People who attempt to do 100 crunches a day to try and flatten their belly end up deeply disappointed. Others who purchase the newest and latest ab machine from a celebrity endorsement end up with just one more item for their Craigslist pile. Spot reducing does not work; the only way to flatten a tummy is to get rid of the fat that is covering it up AND strengthen the muscles that sit below it. Let’s take a look at both.

Getting Rid Of Belly Fat

The fat on your belly did not happen overnight. Thus, it will likely not go away overnight. It will take a little discipline and a little time, but you will see changes if you stick to this plan:

  1. Eat a clean diet: Go for foods that come from the earth, not from a box or a bag. Make the produce department your new best friend. Get in some good, quality protein every few hours. Stay away from processed food and alcohol as well as sugar and sugar-substitutes. These will only add to the belly you currently have.
  2. Use interval training when you exercise (– i.e., HIIT)

Working out with high intensity intervals—short periods of time where your heart rate really gets up there and you find yourself panting through your mouth and needing recovery —shakes up your metabolism and forces your body to go into sugar and fat stores to find the necessary energy to not only get through the interval, but also for several hours following the workout. In other words, in order for your body to come back to its normal place (“homeostasis”), it requires extra time and extra oxygen which leads to extra fat burn. It’s that simple. This workout will provide you with great ideas for these kind of intervals. All you have to do is work hard enough to make them effective.

Related: Why HIIT is Good For Burning Fat

Strengthening The Transverse Abodominus (The “TVA)

This is the muscle that sits deep and low in your belly. By taking time to strengthen this muscle properly, you are creating a built-in “corset” for your body that holds the abs in tight and protects your low back. This workout will give you some great moves to strengthen your TVA mixed in with some cardio moves for that extra high intensity boost.

The Workout

Remember, the key to your results is dependent on your effort. For each exercise you will go hard for 20 seconds, then rest for 10 seconds before going to the next move. Repeat the entire sequence again for a total of 8 intervals.

BLOCK 1 [20 seconds each/10 seconds in between. Repeat 2x]

11. Skiers

-Stand with feet together and knees bent holding bent elbows next to your side.

-Keep feet together and jump turn so hips and toes point right.

-Now jump feet together and turn so hips and toes point left.

-Continue to switch jumping right and left keeping legs tightly together and arms and waist turning as if you are holding ski poles.

2. Medicine Ball Toe Touches

(If you don’t have a ball use a weight or nothing at all!)

-Begin on your back with legs together straight up above hips holding the medicine ball with two hands at your chest.

-Slightly curl chin forward, relaxing through the back of the neck.

-On an exhale, squeeze your abdominals to reach the ball up toward the toes to touch, then gently release back to start position.

3. Mountain Climbers

-Start in a plank position with arms and legs long.

-Draw in your abdominals and drive one knee into the chest then switch legs quickly.  Continue with right, left, right, left knees “running” to the the chest. Prevent bouncing up and down in your body by keeping abs tight.

4. Upper Cuts

-Stand with feet shoulder width apart and knees slightly bent.

-Make two fists and hold arms next to side with elbows bent.

-Punch the right fist in an upward motions, stopping firmly at chin level.

-Switch to left fist.

-Continue to switch right and left until you are at a fast, rhythmic pace, always stopping at chin level as if you are punching a target.

BLOCK 2 [20 seconds each/10 seconds in between. Repeat 2x]



1. Medicine Ball Russian Twist

(If you don’t have a ball use a weight or nothing at all!)

-Begin in a seated position with knees bent, feet off the floor and holding medicine ball in front of chest a few inches.

-Twist the ball to your left hip bone, keeping body centered.

-Twist the ball to your right hip bone, keeping body centered.

-This is one repetition. Continue to twist back and forth for desired number of repetitions or length of time.

2. Knee Thrust

-Start standing with feet wider than shoulder distance apart and turn both feet in one direction allowing the hips to follow like you’re in a shallow lunge. The front knee is a 90-degree angle and the back heel lifted. Arms are in guard position in front of the chest.

-Drive the back knee up to hip height towards the hands, and hands in towards the thigh. Return the foot to floor and repeat as fast as possible back and forth. Do right knee first time through and left knee second time through.

3. Medicine Ball Plank Jacks

(If you don’t have a ball you can do this with hands on the ground)

-Begin kneeling on the floor with hands cupped around medicine ball.

-Tighten abdominals and glutes and stretch your legs behind you to a straight line. Straighten arms but keep shoulders down away from ears.

-Jump your feet out to shoulder width apart, then jump them back in together. Continue jumping legs out and in without letting the body bounce up and down.

4. Front Kicks

-Stand with feet hip width apart and arms bent and held in front of you.

-Lift right leg up, bending knee slightly, and kick right foot forward. Keep ankle flexed and push through your heel.

-Place the right foot down and switch to the left.

-Continue to repeat for desired amount of time or number or repetitions.

If you like this workout, try out our HIIT Training on GHU TV. Trainer Chris Freytag will motivate and guide you through some awesome workouts just like this one, including a 10 minute belly blast!

Workout from Kim Pieper, read full post here.

Kayla Itsines Total Body Workout

I have been doing Kayala Itsines By Kayla Itsines
Feb. 25, 2016
View step-by-step directions on each exercise here.


It’s perfect for beginners and fitness fanatics. I created this beginner-friendly workout specifically for Motto readers. It consists of two rounds of two circuits, each lasting seven minutes. Start by setting your timer for seven minutes, and aim to complete as many rounds of the exercises in Circuit 1 as you can before the timer goes off.

Once you’re done, take a 30-second break. Reset your timer to seven minutes, and do the same thing with Circuit 2.

Repeat Circuits 1 and 2 again for your full 28‐minute workout. While you’re aiming to complete each exercise as quickly as possible, remember that the most important thing is to maintain proper technique throughout.

Circuit 1 (upper body)
Commandos x 24 (12 per side)
Start by placing your forearms (wrist to elbow) on the floor and extending both of your legs behind you, resting on the balls of your feet (A). This is called a plank position. Release your left forearm, and place your left hand firmly on the floor directly below your left shoulder (B). Push up onto your left hand, followed immediately by your right in the same pattern (C). Ensure that you brace through your abdominals to prevent your hips from swaying. Return to plank position by releasing your left hand and lowering onto your forearm before doing the same with your right hand. Repeat this exercise, starting with your right hand. Continue alternating between right and left for 24 reps (12 per side).

Read more: Kayla Itsines Answers Once and for All: What’s the Quickest Way to Get Fit?

Lay-down push-ups x 15
Start by lying flat on your stomach, with arms extended out in front of you and legs straight behind you with feet slightly apart (A). Position your toes in toward the floor as shown. Bring your arms in toward your body, and position your hands on either side of your chest (B). Push through your chest, and extend your arms to lift your body into pushup position (C). Ensure that you maintain a neutral spine and stabilize your abdominal muscles throughout the entire movement. Slowly lower your body completely to the floor, and extend your arms out in front of you (A). Complete 15 reps.

Straight-leg sit-up + twist x 24 (12 per side)
Start by lying flat on the floor on a yoga mat with your feet extended out in front of you (A). Bend your elbows to place your hands behind your earlobes, and engage your abdominal muscles by drawing your bellybutton in toward your spine. Using your abdominals, slowly lift your head, shoulder blades and torso off of the floor. As you sit up, extend your right arm and twist through your torso to touch the floor next to your left leg (B). Slowly untwist, and release your torso backward and bring your right hand toward your ear (C). Repeat using your left hand (D). Continue alternating for 24 reps (12 per side).

Plank x 1 minute
Start by placing your forearms firmly on the floor and linking your fingers together. Raise your hips and torso off of the ground, and rest on the balls of your feet, ensuring that your elbows are directly below your shoulders. Brace your abdominals, and ensure that your body remains in one straight line from head to toe for 1 minute.

Circuit 2 (lower body)
Reverse lunge + knee lift x 24 (12 per side)
Plant both feet on the floor slightly farther than shoulder-width apart (A). Carefully take a big step backward with your right foot. As you plant your right foot on the floor, bend both knees to approximately 90 degrees, ensuring that your weight is evenly distributed between both legs. If done correctly, your front knee should be aligned with your ankle and your back knee should be hovering just off of the floor (B). Extend both knees, and transfer your weight completely onto your left foot. At the same time, lift up your right foot and bring your knee in to your chest (C). Release your right leg from your chest, and place it back on the floor behind you. That’s one rep. Complete 12, then switch sides and do another 12 reps.

X hops x 24
Plant both feet on the floor slightly farther than shoulder-width apart. Looking straight ahead, bend at both the hips and knees, ensuring that your knees remain in line with your toes. Continue bending your knees until your upper legs are parallel with the floor (A). Ensure that your back remains somewhere between a 45- and 90-degree angle to your hips. This is called squat position. Propel your body upward into the air. Extend and reposition both of your legs to land in a lunge position, with your left leg forward and right leg back (B). Ensure that your weight is distributed evenly between both legs. Immediately propel your body upward into the air again. Extend and reposition both of your legs to land back into squat position (C). Immediately propel your body upward into the air again. Extend and reposition both of your legs to land in a lunge position, with your right leg forward and left leg back (D). Continue alternating between lunge and squat movements for 24 reps. (Each movement of the feet is equal to one rep.)

Burpees x 10
Bend both your hips and knees, and place both hands on the floor directly in front of your feet (A). Kick your feet backward so that your legs are completely extended behind you, resting on the balls of your feet (B). Transfer your body weight onto your hands, and jump your feet inward to land in a crouched position with your feet shoulder-width apart (C). Propel your body upward in one explosive movement, extending both your legs beneath you and your arms above your head (D). Land in a neutral standing position, ensuring that you maintain “soft” knees to prevent injury. Complete 10 reps.

Split squats x 10
Stand with both of your feet together on a step (A). This is your starting position. Bend your knees slightly, and propel your body upward into the air. Reposition your legs so that your feet land in a sumo (wide) squat position. Continue bending your knees until your upper legs are parallel with the floor, ensuring that your back remains somewhere between a 45- and 90-degree angle to your hips (B). Propel your body upward into the air again, and reposition your legs to bring your feet together. Land in a neutral standing position on top of the step, ensuring that you maintain “soft” knees to prevent injury. Complete 10 reps.

Kayla Itsines is a personal trainer from Adelaide, South Australia. She is known for her Bikini Body Training Guides and has a newly released fitness app, Sweat with Kayla.