Well, here goes…

Voice-memo’s and verbally expressing myself…. absolutely.

Lists, doodling, and bullet-points… yes, please.

Forming long and vulnerable sentences and posting them publicly as a blog = meh.

So, as a part of the Scare Your Soul Challenge this weekend, I decided put my pride aside and formulate those long and vulnerable sentences and string them together in this lovely little blog post that I am posting publicly, right now.

I cringe thinking that this post has no “perfect flow” or “point”…but that is exactly why I am doing it. To test the fact that:

a) I can CHOOSE to cease the resistance to blog posting and social media sharing, and

b) that I can actually post something without it being “perfect”.

You see… my competitive soul has battled the concept of social media for ohhhhhh, a long time. Sure, I post something on Instagram daily or I share an encouraging article on Facebook, but I have been struggling with it because I feel I am “doing the same thing as everyone else.” The ironic thing is, I actually really thoroughly enjoy a lot of people’s social inspiration and personal journeys.

I AM COMMITTED TO PUTTING MY EGO ASIDE. And no, I will not snap out of it this second and it will not be some magical overnight a-ha moment, just by posting this. It will be a process. But the declaration is all that matters. Okay I am rambling. Onward.

A little snippet about me (that most all of you know) is that I THRIVE off of communication, verbalization, expressiveness, connectivity, relationships, and, of course…voice-memo’s of ALL of my thoughts and outlooks. THAT is the essence of my “extrovertism”. Everything else, contrary to popular belief, lies within my introverted, self-explorative, competitive self.

Two weeks ago, I got frustrated “writing” and tossed this post aside in hopes to find clarity to begin again. So yes, I am currently having a staring contest with my cute lil MacBook Air’s blank page.. I am ready…and willing to explore how my ego is rocking my world.

I just finished listening to an epic podcast by Ryan Hawk, where he personally got psycho-analyzed by Steven Sisler. One of the things Sisler said was the following:

“Some of the most competitive people are not competitors. They are competing against themselves. They are trying to be what they think they can be, because they are not content with what they are.”

So what does this really mean? As humans, we all crave to be significant….to soar beyond our self-induced limits. And if we don’t want that, then usually we are scared to admit that we want that.

I consider this entire self-inflicted pain, that of competing against myself. I am so hard on myself. And not for one second am I scared to admit that. I KNOW deep within my heart that this doesn’t mean I am weak. Nor does it mean that I don’t have a clue who I am. As humans, our identities are absolutely ever-evolving. BUT, at the core…..the CORE… is our soul. That soul is something that shows with our every step, our smiles, laughs, genuine friendships, supportive love and beautiful struggles. It is the essence of who we are. I personally stuff myself with the idea that I must, ought-to and should be perfect. WHATEVER that is…

I preach on how beautiful being vulnerable is, and yet, I struggle to express myself vulnerably. I almost need a bit of inspiration. I get stuck in the “needs” and I “should have’s”. So I ask myself…at what point am I going to take the needs and shoulds out, and start actually practicing what I preach?

I will tell you why. IF I admit to being in a vulnerable spot in my life, in my mind, I have failed everyone around me. All of the glorious people I coach and work with would think that I don’t have my successful world together. Really, truly. Yes, that is what my brain thinks.

So what is it that I am seeking to grasp? What is this perfect illusion that I am creating to be my only “reality”? Is the very thing that made me successful (my ability to never be satisfied) now hindering me from living a life of inner-peace and personal-satisfaction?

 I pride myself on truly knowing my soul, deep down. I value my reflection time, as it is grounding and foundational to my core. I thrive off of pure adventure with a side dish of love and significance.

So what is stopping me from letting go of what I feel I SHOULD do, have, and BE…and living the carefree life I crave? It might be time to reassess… what is MY version of success? It is such a simple question with a loaded answer.

I think the answer is in the DOING.


…and on that note I am going to let this blog post be, in part because I want to leave that last question to sit and simmer. Forcing any more of my thoughts to paper is the exact opposite of what I am striving to express, which, in the end, is to just begin.




Building Routines & Creating Structure


PodcastBuilding Routines

WebsiteElise Gets Crafty


I discuss ALL of these topics and more. Scope it, it is now posted on Elise Blaha Cripe’s Elise Gets Crafty podcast above! Enjoy you lovely creatures of habit… 🙂


Design Your Change

YOU are the most influential person in your world. Your life thrives around fitness, athletic, and health goals. But, you feel stuck. You have a mental block with your sport, a rut in your workout routine, or are drained finding the energy to get going with your healthy lifestyle that you know you are capable of.

Let’s talk. Let’s make some change. Write to me by Sunday, August 23rd, at caroline@stilwellness.com, and tell me in what area you feel that you’re trudging through mud. Let’s get clear with your WHY, purpose, and goals.

I will choose ONE person for a complimentary 1.5 hour session, where we will tap into your hidden drive in order to shift your perspective!

The PERK? Because taking care of yourself on the inside is as important as taking care of yourself on the outside,  my winner will also receive a code to spend $100 on the natural skincare line that I personally use and love, Natura Culina (www.naturaculina.com).

Healing Foods

Herbs and spices in wooden spoons - beautiful kitchen image.

You know that feeling when someone asks you what your favorite movie or book is, and you sit there and say “THAT IS HARD! I DON’T KNOW!”..Well, yeah. It is. But, in this case, I do have a favorite “book”. However, calling it merely a “book” is an not doing it justice! Healing With Whole Foods by Paul Pitchford is a genius of an almanac… a 753 page gem of a resource on how we can heal our body with whole foods. It focuses on combining healthy Chinese medicine practices along with our current Western research to create an optimal path of nutrition!

My goal? To increase your peak performance in your sport, athletic ventures, and in your life. I work alongside my Stilwellness athletes and exercisers alike on how to optimally live their lives so that their physical, mental, and emotional selves align in balance. Below are 3 of my core findings of an individuals’ physical and mental stressors, as well as respective foods/herb choices that has been proven to heal.  **{These are merely facts/suggestions from the almanac, however I always support a natural/functional medicine doctor or herbalist as needed. I recommend picking up a copy of this almanac to further read and have explanations for the following!}

1) IMMUNITY– our lives keep getting “busier”, and we don’t slow down. The result?Low immune systems and possible sickness. Implement: ginger root, elder flowers, chamomile, rose hips, garlic, cayenne red pepper, peppermint, yarrow, cabbage (rich in vitamin C), parsley, carrots, grapefruit/most fruits, chlorophyll-rich foods (spirulina, sea-vegetables)

2) ANXIETY/STRESS– again, we are in an “information age”, and the daily mental overload is inevitable. Welcome…anxiety. This causes an excess of yang which can in turn create a sense of heat in our hearts and minds. When this spirals, we become sad for long periods of time, struggling to figure out we are not in sync. Implement: Magnesium rich foods (brown rice, oats are both proven to calm the mind), nuts and seeds, adzuki beans, olive and coconut oils, dill, basil, chia seeds, mulberries, lemons, chamomile, cucumbers, and celery.

3) INFLAMMATION– Whether it is physical activity that causes swelling of the muscles, or discomfort and “fire” in our guts from a diet that does not agree properly, the health issue of inflammation is increasingly on the rise. Implement:  turmeric, ginger, pineapple, sweet potatoes, oats, Chinese cabbage, spirulina, squash, flax seed, avocado.

*Again, there are so many more foods and herbs that can be implemented. Consulting an acupuncturist or a functional medicine doctor can often be helpful in assessing how to best heal your mind and body with real, whole foods and nutrition.


Check it out on Amazon! 



Guy East

This October, I am embarking on a trip to Rosarito, Mexico with Hope Sports Foundation to build homes with a group of other fellow Olympians! Two of my rad friends (Rebecca Soni & Kim Vandenberg- who are going to build this month) ran it by Guy to contact me, and the rest is history. So pumped. Anyway, his story was so compelling to me, that I wanted to dive into the driven mind of the elite U.S. cyclist and founder of Hope sports — GUY EAST. (see bio at bottom).

1)       Guy, you are a man with a foundation based in your holistic development. Tell me what your PURPOSE in life is now compared to when you were a professional athlete. 

As an athlete my purpose in life was to win races and make money. When I started competing I loved riding my bike but when I became a professional I no longer enjoyed riding my bike. My purpose as an athlete was to cross the line first and my existence was based on winning. Now, my purpose is to see the lives of professional athletes changed so that they reach maximum potential in sport and life. Sport is a wonderful thing and I’m competing professionally again with passion but the difference is that I no longer find my identity in my performance, even though I still love to win. 

2)       Hope Sports Foundation… wow. Props to beginning this incredible movement. What has been the most challenging aspect of creating a business?

The most challenging part of starting Hope Sports was “creating the space” and proving to people that this was a necessary piece to their program and athletes. What we’re doing is counter-cultural in professional sports. Naturally, coaches want athletes to be 100% devoted to achieving peak performance 365 days a year. That means 100% focused on self, diet, recovery, training, etc. But what we’re saying is that that is not necessarily the best way for athletes to have long lasting careers, joyful lives and achieve peak performance. What we’re saying is that once the athletes begins to see outside of the box and begins to live with greater purpose, even while competing, their performance and overall life will improve. That’s not an easy idea to sell to pro teams but it’s true.

3)       You are big on how your mind affects your performance, in both life and sport. If you had to define what “Sport Psychology” is in one sentence, what would that be in your eyes?

Sport performance is holistic, mind, body and soul. Those who do not recognize those 3 elements as vital to sport performance fail to reach maximum potential in sport and life. 

4)       What do you wish you knew as a pro athlete that you know now? Name 3 main things…can be anything personal or professional…

I’m loved regardless of whether I win or loss and regardless of whether I’m skinny or fat. 

I’m not any worse or better of a person whether I win or lose

I can keep dreaming and achieving great things after sport. Life after sport is far better than people make it out to be. 

5)       You traveled the world… where did you go and what place molded you in a way you never thought possible?

I’ve traveled to almost 50 countries, most of that has been for racing and some of that was after I retired when I traveled the world for two years serving the poor with different organizations. I have a heart for the entire Latin region from Mexico to Argentina. I love the Latin cultural and having lived in Mexico for the past 3 years and Argentina before that understanding the Latin way of life has been both challenging and exciting. If I don’t show up on time to a meeting it’s because I’m taking a siesta! 

6)       Who is your role model, and why?

My parents because they love me for who I am, not what I did. They showed their love me by investing time into my life. They traveled the world following me as I competed in various events. They didn’t care whether I won or lost, they wanted to see me do my best. They were one of the few relationships I had that was based on unconditional love. 

7)       What books have been the most influential in your life?

The Bible is the most influential book in my life, more specifically Ecclesiastes and Romans. The Pursuit of God by A.W. Tozer, The Alchemist by Paulo Coehlo and the Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl have also left significant thumb prints on my life and I would recommend those books to anyone. 

8)       Do one thing a day that scares you. Yes or no?

I take a lot of chances and I’m a bold kid. I do a lot of things out of my comfort zone each almost everyday. It’s hard to do uncomfortable things because I never know the outcome but I rarely regret it, although I always make a lot of mistakes which are great opportunities to learn.

9)       What is one quote or affirmation statement that you live by, and why? 

“A sculptor does not use a ‘manicure set’ to reduce the crude, unshapely marble to a thing of beauty. The saw, the hammer and the chisel are cruel tools, but without them the rough stone must remain forever formless and unbeautiful. To do His supreme work of grace within you, God will take from your heart everything you love most. Everything you trust in will go from you. Piles of ashes will lie where your most precious treasures used to be!” A.W. Tozer

God takes us, however imperfect we are and shapes us into who he wants us to be as far as we let him work in us. I love this quote and try to constantly remind myself that I am a work in progress and to keep letting God shape and mold me. 

10)   What would you like to tell the athletic youth of our generation about living a life filled not only with success in sport, but with personal intention and purpose? 

If you only pursue success in sport and that is your objective in life you’ll never find contentment. You’ll never fill the void in your life. Winning should stem from your passion for sport. If you think you need to win to feel joy, fulfilled, etc you’ll never get what you’re looking for and suddenly something will happen and one day you’ll lose everything. It’s like a house built of straw, when the storm comes it blows it down but if you build a strong foundation in your life, when the storm comes the house will remain. 

Guy is a professional track cyclist who competed on the US National Team and/or professional cycling teams since 2005. In 2009, at the peak of his career Guy saw extreme poverty while racing in Mexico City. Guy began to question his purpose in life and decided to stop racing. He sold all of his possessions and traveled the world serving the poor. After two years of serving the poor Guy decided to return to professional racing but this time combining his desire to compete and his passion to serve. Since 2012 Guy has been organizing service trips for professional and Olympic athletes to serve the poor together in Mexico. He founded Hope Sports which a nonprofit organization with the purpose of uniting athletes to bring hope to the world. Hope Sports grows out of Guy’s vision to see professional athletes live with greater purpose and a heart of service. 

Hope Sports partners with Homes of Hope in Baja California, Mexico to build homes for the poor over the course of a weekend. Homes of Hope has built 5000 homes in 16 countries over the past 25 years. 

Check out this video so you can get a feel for how incredible this is!


Jivin’ with Jill

“Flutist Yogini” Jill Bartine reveals her latest winter obsessions… See for yourself! 

jill bartine 2 

1. Cashew butter from Trader Joe’s. My go-to snack, just a spoonful on its own…

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2. Tops with thumb holes! Kinda like the lululemon henley I’m wearing right now!FullSizeRender-10

3. Our gas fireplace. I know, not as cool as the real deal, but instant warmth, no mess, and my eyes don’t get bothered by the smoke. I can’t stand being cold! Good thing I teach hot yoga. 😉

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4. Indian food. Buffet at Sitar for lunch usually once a week. I avoid the naan and the fried things and try not to overdo it on rice. So comforting and warm.


…….well, heck, this is turning into a cold weather, staying warm kind of list!

5. Leggings that are long enough to tuck under your heels. Wunder unders!  FullSizeRender-4 2      

6. Pose variations, like an arm balance or headstand with one hand and one forearm and funky legs. Normal is overrated!

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7. Bracelets are my jam at the moment, especially yoga-inspired ones.

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8. Yin poses with lots of props. So delicious and what my normally yang personality needs.FullSizeRender-3

9. Natura Culina shea butter on my feet and elbows – the Delight scent is to-die-for.FullSizeRender-5 6

10. Boots. ’nuff said.

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Check our her website at www.flutistyogini.com for any and everything Jill Bartine!

instagram: @flutistyogini

As Wild As It Sounds, I Was Embarrassed To Be An Olympian

medal podium 2008 beijing

I am embarrassed to admit that, for a few years after winning a bronze medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, I actually resented the fact that I was an Olympian. Of course, I understood that it is a remarkable feat to represent USA, on the podium, in front of the entire world. In fact, it had been a dream of mine for 10 years.

But ironically, months after returning back to Gainesville, Florida, from China, I was craving an identity that other people could approve of. Swimming had been my entire life. How would I be measured now that I was retired? I was lost, and felt washed-up.

Deep down, I had NO clue what I truly wanted for a career, and that terrified me. Success in the pool was great, yes, but now the voice inside my head was telling me that I had to live up to that with whatever I did next. What kind of career would produce those kinds of results? I didn’t want to go into medicine. Not law. Not teaching. Not swim coaching.

My passion was helping people achieve a new level of personal greatness. But how would I ever make money doing that? And did “making money” really equate to success?

I was so desperate for an identity beyond my sport that if the topic of my competing in the Olympics came up, I felt as if I were bragging by discussing my experience — even when I was just answering other people’s questions!

I had mentally downplayed my accomplishment so much it was like it never even happened. A nagging voice continued to convince me that maybe I hadn’t deserved to be there. Had it been it a fluke?

To make matters more confusing, when I was back in Florida, I had felt that some people only wanted to be my friend or get to know me because I had been in the Olympics. No one was rude or using me, but it was unsettling that I seemed to get so much more attention simply because I had competed in Beijing.

I had accomplished things both in and out of the pool for University of Florida already, how did that go unnoticed? Was I not doing enough? Plus, I felt that I had always loved supporting others and making friends along the way. Maybe that went unnoticed, too?

I wanted so badly to be wanted as myself. And even more importantly, I wanted to feel comfortable with myself.

Growing up, I had always felt like I had more to give to this world than swimming. Ever since I was an eight-year old pool rat, it was never about winning or getting ribbons. It was about my friends, my experiences, and running around in my swimsuit until the sun set.

As I got older and kept training, my rewards came from being named team captain, from taking part in motivational discussions, from giving hugs and being part of celebrations.

How could I take these experiences and carry them into my post-athletic life? How could I re-create an environment where I could measure based on whether or not I had made a difference?

I needed a goal. A goal to regain momentum in my life, and to help me redefine what success was. But I had no idea what that was.

Over the next four years, three things happened that helped me finally accept the fact that I am indeed not bragging when I talk about swimming, and actually am taking ownership of my accomplishment, once and for all. And in making peace with my past, I figured out my passion.

Here are those key moments:

1. I saw my bother race in the 2012 London Games.

Watching my brother, Clark, compete for USA in the 200 Breaststroke helped me understand what my experience was like for other people. I was observing from the outside, and it was beautiful: the energy, the atmosphere, the entire world coming together in one city to celebrate the greatest collaborative sporting event in the history of the world.

I was proud, not only of my brother, but for myself and for my family. Finally! It was an emotional moment for me to realize that being an Olympian was not just the product, but rather an extension of my passion, which was celebrating the successes of myself and others.

2. I realized how silly I sounded when I avoided my accomplishments.

I was taking a meeting with some folks from Health Factory, which is a new Paleo Eatery here in Knoxville, Tennessee, where I now live. Mid-conversation, the owner asked me what I do and why. While that’s a simple question, I beat around the bush for three minutes before my friend Caroline had to interject and state my accomplishments.

After we left, Caroline and I bickered a bit, and I knew she was not happy with me anymore. Either I own it, or I stop pursuing this coaching dream of mine. Talk about a wakeup call! I would never encourage my clients to shy away from their proudest moments; why was I doing this to myself?

3. I was ready to move on in a new direction.

Caroline Zwick is to blame for this one. We chatted on Skype, and, as you MindBody readers know, she is magical. A true lifestyle expert, she generated the drive within me to create this blog post. This is the largest step I have taken to do anything in this area, and between her inspiration and the constant positive energy I receive from the group of true friends in my life (you know who you are), I feel like I am ready to use the Olympic Games as a platform … and get going.

What I finally realized, starting in 2012, was that being an Olympian could actually bring me closer to people rather than apart from them, and enable me to relate to them even more as a life coach, just like I did in my age group swimming days.

And that’s been my passion ever since.


Featured here on MindBodyGreen

5 Simple Tips to Start Loving Your Body


  1. Stop Obsessing. What we focus on… expands. It is the Law of Attraction. Be mindful of your thoughts. If you tell yourself you ARE something…well, then, you ARE. Choose wisely.
  2. Compliment Others. Stop for one second. Don’t you feel good when someone tells you, genuinely, that you look fantastic? Also, don’t you feel good when you tell someone else the same thing? Perfect. Then do it. Win-win.
  3. Stop Comparing. Comparison is the root of all heartache. By comparing yourself to others, you are telling yourself that you are not enough. Repeat after me: YOU ARE ENOUGH.
  4. Body. Language. Carry yourself with poise. Prop your shoulders back, smile, and harness that positive energy when walking and talking. By approaching life this way, you will in turn, feel yourself becoming more confident.
  5. Take a Break from Social Media.  Sure, we are all guilty of stalking the oh-so-perfect-yoga-pose Instagram accounts, or drooling over the “perfect” bodies in every fitness magazine, but do yourself a favor… disconnect from time to time. Take a few hours every Sunday to put your phone down, “forget” about perfection, and start living your life. There will always be another time to snap your own star-studded photo!

Hit The Refresh Button

be all there

Lately, I have been feeling FAR too dependent on my phone and laptop (yes, as I am sitting here typing away). When I say dependent, let me specify…SOCIAL MEDIA dependent. Instagram. Facebook. Snapchat. “Following” every blog or website possible.

In addition, I am far more addicted to texting than to phone calls (with the exception of coaching calls, I almost never talk on the phone).  It is to the point where I almost feel naked without my phone. It actually bothers me to think that I have let it get to this level!

When I seek to “unwind” , it has been to internet-surfing on my laptop nearly every single night. This past week, I decided to make a change. I posted one Instagram post and one Facebook post. This is a decrease of about 6 posts per week. And guess what? I lived. AND… I feel better for it. I didn’t feel the need to sit there and browse someone else’s life, when I was busy creating and sifting through my own!

Yes, social media is a wonderful networking tool, when used correctly. And that being said, I am ALL for that type of social power!  However, when you find yourself comparing aspects of your life to the glamorous Instagram accounts out there, you may recognize that you feel a bit down on yourself. I am by no means blaming social media on anyone feeling this way, but I am sure you can think of a time when you saw something of “perfection” and jumped to a comparison thought right away as to why YOU cannot have that. I know I have to constantly remind myself, as a perfectionist, that there is no such thing as perfect. Only perception. And perception is everything. We can choose to perceive things as intangible or unattainable, or we can decide that anything is possible. We create our own version of success, and that is individual for each and every person.

Make a vow to yourself…take a few hours each week to:

a) Power OFF. Put down your phone / laptop for a few hours on a Sunday or any evening.

b) ENGAGE. Have an actual conversation with loved ones, read a book, watch a movie, listen to music, cook, or play a game.

c) Open yourself up. ACCEPT and love each and every other “account” out there for what it is and for what it offers, instead of constantly comparing yourself.

My personal promise to myself is to be fully present in each and every moment; to actually feel the real, live emotions (not e-motions); and to remember that if I genuinely love life, it will love me back. 

“To lose our connection with the body is to become spiritually homeless. Without an anchor we float aimlessly, battered by the winds and waves of life.” –Eastern Body, Western Mind by Anodea Judith