Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Here’s to Healthy Hops!

Another great guest blog by Melissa Mathes, RDN, MPH, CSSD

Xanthohumol (XN) an anti-oxidant compound found in hops an ingredient in many beers, (spotlighting Guinness this month in honor of St. Patrick’s day), has shown to be a protectant against Alzheimer and Parkinson’s diseases according to the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. Other researchers at the University of Oregon found that XN can boost cognitive function. XN has also shown in studies to have heart protective properties, anti-clotting, and because it is an anti-oxidant helps reduce risk of cancer.

  • Another study from the Journal of Agriculture and Food and Chemistry in 2014 found another anti-oxidant polyphenols in hops called Bracts that may help fight cavities and gum disease.
  • Researchers published a study in Arthritis and Rheumatology, discussing the benefits of beer for staving rheumatoid arthritis. Beer is also a significant source of silicon, which is significant for boosting bone mineral density.

It is recommended to drink in moderation (1-12 oz./day for women & 2-12oz./day for men) IF you drink. Beware, the calories can add up quickly when drinking beer or any alcohol, be mindful of how much you consume. If you don’t drink beer, this article isn’t to encourage you to start, just to note there are some health benefits. You can get multiple health benefits from anti-oxidants by consuming fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds amongst other foods.

Guinness Beer, high in XN and Bracts. Nutrition facts: serving size: 1 pint, calories 210, carbohydrates 18.2 grams, protein 2grams.


Thanks, Melissa! It’s always great to get the Registered Dietician’s side of the different things we consume… Another reason we love Melissa with Total Nutrition Counseling – she knows we’re human and she works with us! Shows us the positives and the possible negatives to what we’re choosing to put into our bodies & then WE make an informed decision.

I think I’ll have a Guinness on Friday. Cheers!


And because this month in the challenge, we’re focusing on strength…

Student Spotlight – March 2017

The focus for March for the 2017 Challenge is Strength Training & our goal is to get at least 2 days of strength training in every week.

We have a lot of strong women to choose from, but I couldn’t think of a better person to highlight than Melissa Hill. Melissa has been really consistent with her strength training since she started at Pacific Strength back in 2009. She has made HUGE strength gains in that time & everyone loves when Melissa’s in class – she encourages everyone who trains with her to push it to the next level.

Here’s what Melissa had to say when I told her she was chosen for our Student Spotlight:

Melissa: Wow! What an honor!! I am thrilled – I’ve always wanted to be a student of the month!! Here is what I can say first before I answer your questions: it was when I met you and Katie Pike down at those surf lessons and watched you surf standing straight forward on your board (just the first few waves then your turned sideways) and riding the waves like you were a bullet, that is when I realized I wanted more. You were fearless out there, no matter the size of the wave or the force of the rip. I came to realize that your fearlessness and confidence came from your strength. I didn’t realize your strength until I saw you without your wetsuit and could see your strong back and shoulders. That’s when I knew that I wanted to be like Val. Being like Marilyn is awesome and I hope to be like Marilyn my entire life. I will always strive for her attitude, her strength and her mental sharpness. But, I know I just have a few years to Be Like Val. I want to have strength. I have always wanted muscles and you were and are my inspiration. You have never judged and have always encouraged to try more, do it again, lets try it this way. You have even have called me and asked me to come train when there wasn’t even a class. I have so appreciated the past 8 years and my 7 pull-ups are because of your encouragement and training. Thank you.

Thank You, Melissa! So, yes, Melissa & I met in a Surf Class for women, taught by two female professional surfers. I had no idea what I was doing. None whatsoever. And I was afraid of the ocean. Growing up in Buffalo, I didn’t have much (ok, any) experience with the ocean and it was really scary. BUT, I wanted to learn how to surf. The ocean is so beautiful & calming & people talk about how invigorating surfing is… I was something I needed to do. In those surf classes, I felt like a bumbling fool, just trying not to break my board. I don’t remember being fearless or confident. But I do remember admiring Melissa for her great attitude & positivity & for her ability to encourage others to do things they didn’t think they could do (and she is still doing that in class today). Funny what each of us remembers and how we see others v. what we see in ourselves… (but that’s probably for another blog post)

Back to Melissa & the Questions!

Pacific Strength: In our 2017 Challenge, March’s focus is on getting at least Two (2) Days of Strength Training every week. You’re a busy mom with 4 very active kids. Is it ever a challenge for you to get it in? 

Melissa: Getting into class used to be much more challenging than it is now. My kids are all in school and if I can get them out the door without forgotten lunches, instruments or projects, I know I can make it to class on time! I really enjoy the class so I try my best to organize my morning to ensure I can get to the 8:30 classes.

PS: You started at Pacific Strength back in 2009 & I remember clearly that if was difficult for you to squat without any extra weight. Now you can squat with double 20kgs (that’s 88bs!) & you’ve trained for a couple TSCs. I know for most people, those first few weeks or months of strength training are really tough. What made you push past that initial phase? And what kind of things are you able to do now that you may not have been able to do before you started strength training?

M: This is the big one and the reason I keep coming. I vividly remember the first week after my introductory class. I couldn’t walk, I couldn’t sit, I couldn’t stand. I knew that I had to get back in there quickly or I’d never go back again. I went back 3 times that week and just tried to work out the soreness. I can now probably squat 20’s, maybe 22’s (almost 100lbs!), I’ve come a long way since that first crazy swing/squat ladder we did that I couldn’t squat with a bell at all! I have two favorite new things that I can do that I certainly could not do before training. The first is the Pistol Squat (one-legged squat). I never thought that would be possible and then I had it for awhile and then lost that ability. Not sure if it was strength or confidence that was missing, but now it has come back together and I can do the Pistol again. And my second favorite new strength is pullups. From the beginning I strived for 1 pull up and could never get past the sticky spot. It took me years but I just got the pullup for the October TSC and now I can do 7… hoping for 10 by April 8th!!!

PS: You came to kettlebells at my old gym after we met in a surfing class. I remember you having a great & infectious “I’ll try anything” attitude back then and in the years I’ve known you, that has not wained. Have you always had that? & what would you say to someone who is nervous about getting into strength training?

M: “I’ll try anything” is the only way to try something new. If I am taking the time and energy to do something, I have to do it like I mean it. I really don’t like wasting time and there is no point in trying something without jumping in with your whole body. Just go and give it all you’ve got. As far as telling hesitant friends, I try to emphasize the importance of strength training as we age and it will never be easier than it is now. It will only make us better in all aspects of our lives. There are no negatives to strength training, other than it’s hard and there will be a week where you won’t be able to sit, stand, walk or move, but it’s all worth it after that week!

OMG. See why we love Melissa?

PS: We’ve joked about you “bulking up” with all of the heavy weights you use… People can see in the picture, but you are tall and thin & I’m not sure we could do much in the gym that would change that. What has your experience been with lifting heavy?

M: I never knew how much I would enjoy lifting heavy weights! It has taken me a few years to get the confidence and the desire to lift heavy. I have always been quite lean and had skinny limbs. I love that with challenging myself in each class to do my best, I can see that I have muscles! At 44 years old (almost 45) I know that I am stronger now than I have ever been and I am thrilled.   

PS: Final thoughts?

M: The group of people down at Pacific Strength is what makes this place awesome. The workouts are killer but the people in the class are so encouraging. Val, you are the glue of everything and Gina and Sharon make us want to do more. I love being surrounded by strong, like-minded women (and men) that are doing everything they can to stay fit and make their lifestyle active and strong. I love this place and look forward to class everyday that I go.

Thanks Val!  It’s not often we get to sit back and take the time to think about the reasons behind things.  This has been quite a journey with KB and I love it!

And people like Melissa are why we do what we do. Truly. Helping people find their strength is so rewarding. Thank you, Melissa, for being a part of our journey!

February 2017 – Student Spotlight

Marilyn is the reason we’re doing the 2017 Challenge… we all want to “Be Like Marilyn” & be Younger Next Year. So we asked her a couple of questions because we want you all to know some things YOU can do to be more like Marilyn, Pacific Strength’s Student Spotlight for February.

Pacific Strength: As you know, Marilyn, you’re the inspiration for this “Younger Next Year” challenge. Not only do you act younger (in a good way) than most people half your age, you have more energy too! What’s your secret?

Marilyn: Compulsivity. Like it or not I am a tightly wound ball of endless energy, not really accepting limits to what I can or should do.

PS: You brought me an article on the “Younger Next Year” book and then talked to me about it several times. You were so excited about it that I HAD to read it! Why do you think this book resonated with you so much?

M: The book and their subject just fits my psyche. It is how I have felt about exercise and food for quite some time but needed to see it written in a fantastic, intelligent, book format.  I have always needed to feel like I should exercise all the time but most of my friends and acquaintances would tell me I was “nuts”. I know that most food is full of preservatives and is poison to our bodies, (my favorite quote is “the whiter the bread the sooner you’re dead”) but when I would tell others they would roll their eyes and of course I would talk about the deadliness of white flour and sugar and on and on and on.  So with this book I feel somewhat normal. Along with my many quirks I am a compulsive overeater, white flour and sugar are a serious drug to me, I am a recovering alcoholic, sober 47 years. So I understand obsessive behavior, of which I possess.

PS: In our 2017 Challenge, February’s focus is on getting Exercise Six (6) days every week. In the book, he says that actually 7 is preferable, but they don’t want to scare people away. We know you have been committed to your exercise routine for a while now. How long have you been exercising 6-7 days/week? Is it ever a challenge to get it in? Or is it just your routine now?

M: Not sure how long, I have always been compulsively (there is that word again) active. Once I decided to enter the first LA Marathon in 1986, I was 47 yrs old at the time, never ever running, I walked and thought I would die, my feet were bleeding and I was a wreck, so I decided to run (jog slowly and walk quickly) 10 marathons by the time I turned 50, I did in fact I went on to do 7 more after turning 50. So daily exercise, if possible became a habit in my busy life, working full time and caring for my family and husband.

The total freedom to really dedicate myself to exercise every day happened when I retired from a full time job in Dec. 2016,  I know that doing this and eating correctly and less portions will carry me on to a very long lifetime.

PS: You started at Pacific Strength back in 2009. What has made you come back all these years and if I can quote you, “Actually pay for this kind of torture!?!”.

M: Val, Gina, Sharon & Gabby make me come back for MORE.  I have found a place where I fit in and belong and that is the secret of Pacific Strength. My children are grown and gone, my husband has gone, hopefully to heaven, my grandchildren and great children are mostly grown, so the family I have found at Pacific Strength makes me feel complete.  I am waiting to achieve more and more and possibly grow up with all of you.

PS: For someone who is intimidated by kettlebells or thinks our classes might be too challenging, what would you say to them?

M: There is no limit to what you can accomplish when you bring “strength training” into your lives, it is what will keep you fueled as you age (a word we don’t like) but so true.  Any age you enter into a strength training program is the right age!! I began at 70 . . . in April I will be 78 (good grief)


Marilyn is truly one of my favorite people on earth. I’m glad we asked her these questions and I hope you all picked up on her honesty and sense of humor. There are gems in there that I highlighted so that we don’t skip over them. To be like Marilyn:

  1. Do not accept limits.
  2. Do what you know you need to do to feel better and be stronger, no matter what other people say.
  3. Face your fears and challenges head on and don’t give up because it’s tough.
    After doing her first marathon at 47-years-old where she “walked and thought (she) would die, (her) feet were bleeding and (she) was a wreck”, she decided to run 9 more marathons in the next 3 years. She IS NUTS! But that’s why we love her. She doesn’t accept limits and no challenge is too difficult for her.
  4. Find something you care about and do it with people you care about. We are family here at Pacific Strength.
  5. Every age is a good age to start strength training!

Thank you, Marilyn! We love you!

Go Green in 2017

Guest Blog by our friend, fellow-kettlebeller, & Registered Dietitian Melissa Mathes


Eat More Plant Foods for your Health

Your parents were right… “Eat Your Vegetables!”. It’s no surprise that eating more plant-derived foods in your diet like fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes, dried beans and grains are healthy for you.   Consuming a predominately plant based diet, or being a vegetarian (consumes plant derived foods, dairy and eggs and avoids animal flesh. Vegan is strict avoidance of any animal derived products), can improve your health substantially.


  • Springmann et al, found that eating fewer animal products could result in 5 million preventable deaths per year globally, while a vegetarian or vegan diet could prevent 7.3 -8.1 million deaths/year.
  • The long-term Seventh-day Adventists study shows that they remain healthier into an older age, in fact they tend to live 10 years longer than most Americans. This religious group practices age enhancing behaviors like, exercise, maintaining a healthy weight and consuming a vegetarian diet and avoiding tobacco and alcohol.
  • Research has shown that the therapeutic use of a vegetarian diet is effective for treating overweight and obesity in both the short term (< 1 year) and the long term (> 1 year), and may be a better alternative then an omnivore diet (not conclusive though, since eating fish has high health benefits). The range of weight loss ranged from 3.2%-9.3% at 12 months across several studies
  • Type 2 diabetes: A vegetarian diet has shown to decrease hemoglobin A1c as well or better than omnivore diets. A predominately plant based diet can reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes. In the Seventh-day Adventist vegetarians’ risk of developing diabetes was ½ the amount of non-vegetarians.
  • Cancer: Hundreds of studies suggest that eating lots of fruits and vegetables can reduce the risk of developing certain cancers, and there’s evidence that vegetarians have a lower incidence of cancer than non-vegetarians do. But the differences aren’t large. A vegetarian diet can make it easier to get the recommended minimum of five daily servings of fruits and vegetables, but a purely vegetarian diet is not necessarily better than a plant-based diet that also includes fish or poultry. For example, in a pooled analysis of data from the Oxford Vegetarian Study and EPIC-Oxford study, a plant based diet with fish (pescetarian) had a lower risk of certain cancers than vegetarians.
  • Vegetarian and vegan diets are a valid therapeutic way to decrease total cholesterol and improve LDL (bad) cholesterol. In fact there is a 7.2% – 26.6% range decrease in total cholesterol and 8.7%-35% range improvement in LDL cholesterol. There is strong evidence of this.

Consume a diet that is predominately plant based for your overall health. You don’t have to become a vegetarian of vegan to reap some of the health benefits above. However, I haven’t listed all the health benefits of a vegetarian diet. Vegetarian diets have economic and environmental benefits as well. Nutritional deficiencies CAN be common in vegetarian diets, seek help from a registered dietitian to help you become educated about those nutrients and their food sources to alleviate those potential issues.

Fill your pantry and refrigerator with these convenient healthy plant derived staples:

1) Always choose ORGANIC when you can!

  • Nuts and seeds unsalted, raw organic put in jars so you can see them. Add to salads, oatmeal, or a snack. Use ¼ cup measuring cup to keep calories low
  • Canned beans, variety of types. Rinse them out of the can before you use them to get most of the sodium off. Quick and easy to add to salads, or as a side dish, or a main dish in burritos, etc.
  • Dried fruit in glass jars. Use in moderation because they are high in calories but packed full of iron, fiber, and other nutrients dependent on the type
  • Whole wheat or brown rice pastas
  • Fresh organic fruit, keep in a bowl on the counter to remind you to eat. Frozen fruit can be used in a healthy smoothie.
  • Whole grains: Brown rice, quinoa, millet, you can get these frozen for quick convenient use for meals. Instant plan oatmeal (you can get the rolled or steel cut, just using a convenient source), corn tortillas, rice chips, whole wheat crackers
  • Vegetables: Cut up pre bagged and washed fresh vegetables to have on hand. Frozen vegetables without sauces, steam quickly in a microwave or pan.
    • Pre bagged lettuces, arugula, spinach, kale, etc. place in bowl with some cherry tomatoes and already shredded carrots and you have an instant salad!
    • Buy low sodium V8 or some of the Green juices like Suja or Naked juice. Watch the calories!
  • Starchy vegetables: Sweet potatoes , quick cooking options below
    • Quick way to cook, is cut them vertically in ½ inch slices, place on a Panini grill, cooked in 15 mins.
    • Shred up, add and a beaten egg to bind and shape into hash brown pancakes, with a touch of olive oil in a fry pan, cook until golden brown and cooked through
    • Regular potatoes, boil and eat.
    • Corn, peas buy frozen organic and steam quickly
    • Squashes, like butternut, buy cut up in chunks for easy prep and cooking

Daily Goal for Plant derived foods:

  • At least 5 vegetable servings/day, you can always have more!
    • Get 2-3 at dinner, make ½ your plate veggies and a salad
    • Snack on veggies throughout the day to keep you full and get your servings in
    • Serving sizes: ½ cup cooked, 1 cup raw and 2 cups of greens all equal 1 serving
  • Fruit 3 servings/day (varies/individual if you are an athlete, more may be needed)
    • 1 serving= 1 tennis ball size, 4 oz. juice, ¼ cup dried fruit, 1 cup of chopped fruit, ½ cup of canned fruit (in it’s own juice!), 1 cup of berries, ¾ cup of blueberries, 1 ½ cup of strawberries
  • Whole grains and starchy vegetables
    • Keep it at about ¼ of your plate at all meals. Again this varies with individual, athletes who train almost daily will need almost a ½ plate!
  • Nuts, nut butters and seeds: servings /day 2-3
    • 1-2 tbsp. of nut butters
    • 1-2 tbsp. of seeds
    • ¼ cup of nuts unsalted
  • Legumes, dried beans 1-2/day
    • ½ cup of beans or legumes = 1 serving

Eat your greens in 2017! The rest of the rainbow as well! The high fiber content will keep you full and displace opportunities that you may take to eat junky food, thus you may see weight loss. Most people experience some without trying.

Melissa A. Mathes, MPH, RDN, CSSD

Am J Clin Nutr. Mortality in vegetarians and comparable non vegetarians in the United Kingdom, 2016 Jan;103(1):218-30. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.115.119461. Epub 2015 Dec 9

Harvard Womens Health Watch Newsletter Becoming a vegetarian updated March 18, 2016

National Institute of Health Newsletter Linked to lower mortality? June 2013

Obesity Review 2016 Nov;17(11):1067-1079. doi: 10.1111/obr.12439. Epub 2016 Jul 13.

Effect of plant-based diets on obesity-related inflammatory profiles: a systematic review and meta-analysis of intervention trials.

Eichelmann F1, Schwingshackl L2, Fedirko V3, Aleksandrova K4.

TSC Time Again – April 8, 2017

Seems so far away but it’s time to start training!

January 28th is 10-weeks away. We should start training sometime before February 11th (8-weeks from the TSC).

Training Plan Options:
(1) Use one of your previous plans & train on your own or during regular class times ($0)
(2) Use one of your previous plans, I will change the numbers to reflect your current goals, adjust what didn’t work, & you’ll have access to more training times set aside for TSC ($50)
(3) Totally Personalized New Plan – Two 4-week Plans at my Program Design rate ($100 for each 4-week plan) + get the extra training times too!


Just ran across this gem! Loved these two training together & pushing each other for their first TSC last year!

2017 Challenge

I tried and tried to make this challenge a pretty 6- or 8-week thing, but I just couldn’t.

Every time I was trying to work it out, I thought… we need more time with this stuff!

So, we’re going to spend all year focusing on the 7 things that YOU can do to make sure you’re Younger Next Year. First, grab the book – I like the hard copy, but the kindle version is available and it’s with you all the time.

Here’s the list of things we’ll be doing all year (and for the rest of our lives):

  1. Exercise 6 days/week
  2. Strength Train 2 days/week
  3. Cardio 4 days/week
  4. Eat Less Crap
  5. Spend Less Than You Make
  6. Care
  7. Connect & Commit

How will this challenge work?

A. To have a great challenge, we need an official T-Shirt. These will be long-sleeved and really cool (and a little bit of a surprise). Can’t wait for everyone to sign up so we can get them ordered and delivered!

B. The best way to make sure you’re sticking to the plan is to write it down! Everyone in the challenge will get a training calendar with instructions on how to plan, execute, and complete great training weeks every week for the whole year!

C. Included in the challenge will be 6 skills clinics throughout the year to help you achieve your fitness goals.

D. To keep everyone on track, we’re going to break the habits up and focus on one each month.

February – Exercise 6 days/week
March – Strength Train 2 days/week
April – Cardio 4 days/week
May – Eat Less Crap
June – Spend Less Than You Make
July – Care
August – Connect & Commit
September – Re-Visit ‘Exercise, Strength, & Cardio’ – How are we doing?
October – Re-Visit ‘Eat Less Crap’ – How are we doing?
November – Re-Visit ‘Spend Less Than You Make’ – How are we doing?
December – Re-Visit ‘Care, Connect, & Commit’ – How are we doing?

E. We’ll also highlight someone each month. They’ll tell us what they’re doing to be younger next year and how they’re doing it. What they’ve changed and how they’re doing with the changes.

We really want EVERYONE to participate in this challenge. It’s going to be great & I’m really looking forward to a communal focus.

There are Two Options:

  1. T-Shirt, Calendar, Monthly Emails, Six (6) Skills Clinics, & Community Events
    $175 – Sign Up Here!
  2. Just the T-Shirt, Calendar, & Monthly Emails (purchase skills clinics separately, at the the time of the clinic at $35-50)
    $60 – Sign Up Here!

Sign Up Today & Send us an email with your tshirt size!