353 Dollars, 13 Pounds, and 5 Weeks

So I last left you at the bottom of Mt. Washington, my friends and I reeling in the glory of our accomplishment, smiles plastered across our exhausted faces. Although my blue toe may have been a blip on my radar at the end of the day, it grew into a much bigger problem. $353 in doctor bills, 13 pounds, and 5 weeks later, I finally began to pick up the pieces after a serious injury.

We all hear about injury protection and worry about over-exerting ourselves. But for the most part, it remains just that: a worry. Now, of course I didn’t go through Tommy John surgery or a broken femur, but I can imagine the experience is similar, on a grander scale, of course.

Suffering through an injury is a grieving process, it comes in stages, it leaves you a better person for going through it, and it hurts like hell.

Stage 1: Denial

“No, babe, I’m fine, I just need to keep it elevated and relax,” I told Tom. My feet were propped up on three pillows at the end of the bed, the right looking normal, and left about twice it’s normal size, flushed, and topped with a dark blue big toe.

“I just need to take a shower first,” I said as I hoped off the bed, hobbling around the room. I couldn’t feel anything below my ankle, so my gait was awkward, clunky, and I relied completely on my right leg. Tom tried to help, but I refused to look weak. Injury? What’s that? After struggling to take off all of my clothes and get the shower started, I stood under the pouring water, bracing myself against the wall. Every movement felt more uneasy than the previous, so I slide down the back of the tub, tuck my knees into my chest and let the scorching water run down my body, finally letting my muscles release. The water burns but my left foot throbs hotter, like it’s soaking up all of the water like a sponge. I think about anything to get my mind off of the pain, what am I going to workout tomorrow at the gym? I’ll probably be pretty sore, maybe it’ll be a yoga day. Or how about some handstand practice? I wonder if my arms will be sore too…

Once it’s felt like a long enough time for a proper shower, I crawl to the front of the tub, turn off the water, and sit there, air drying is a thing, right?


Stage 2: Anger

All couch and no gym makes Mia an angry girl. I can barely stand sitting around on a Sunday, let alone every day of every week for about five weeks.

It took a lot for me to accept that I had to go to the doctor in the first place, and then for him to tell me that I basically couldn’t walk for the next three weeks, I was not a happy camper.

“Well, basically we have two options,” Dr Malcom told me, “you need to stay off of it as much as possible, then in three weeks we will have a follow up where I’ll either have to make an incision and fix things manually, or you’ll be good to go!” Well that’s fine and dandy, but what on earth is wrong with my foot? “What we have here is acute frostbite, combined with an impacted nerve.” Who the hell does that happen to?

The anger spiraled from that appointment, to me ordering people around from the couch, to spewing out pure negative energy at all times of the day, every day.

It felt like I had a certain amount of energy that had to be released every day, and since I was barred from the gym, most activities at work, and basically anything aside from watching Netflix, that energy had to come out in anyway possible; unfortunately the easiest way was to just overflow in anger and frustration.

I was mad that I couldn’t do anything, I was mad that I was gaining weight, I was mad that my half hour doctor’s appointment left me with a $100 co-pay and $150 antibiotics. It began to spiral out of control, to the point where I was barking orders at everyone around me, lashing out in any all every capacity.


Stage 3: Bargaining

By week three, I was exhausted. The energy I couldn’t place in any healthy capacity began to fade, and was replaced with endlessly restless thoughts. If only I had checked my boots one more time before heading down the mountain…if only I hadn’t worn the liner socks…if only I had said something when my toe started to hurt… At this point, I think everyone around me became grateful that I had quieted down, but the gears were still turning just as quickly. All of the anger internalized, and I tried to think my way out of my injury, fixating on every detail of the hike.

I made a lot of pacts with myself during this stage of the injury. “I will listen to my body more throughout my workouts,” “I will allow myself to rest in order to not over exert myself, “ “I will do yoga twice a week,” “I will stretch after every workout,” and the list goes on and on. This was the fist light of positivity, but the internalized anger began to slowly change into an inner sadness that I slipped into quite quickly.


Stage 4: Depression

This is the stage that I got stuck in the most. Self-pity is an ugly thing we never want to admit to, but the sadness overwhelmed me, and soon the gears stopped turning, but I remained silent, stuck in my own head, wallowing in my sadness. I binged not only on crap food I never used to bat an eye at, but even more so on feeling bad for myself. “aw, poor me, I don’t even know who I am anymore” I was completely detached from the woman I was pre-injury.

The pacts I’d made faded away, I stopped writing, and I barely paid attention to the TV shows I spent all of my time watching. My work began to suffer, and even Tom began to suffer, feeling helpless as he watched me fade into a very different version of myself.

At this point, there really was no energy being transferred anywhere. I could no longer identify with myself or anything else; I became my injury.

“Why don’t we just go to the gym and do some abs and upper body?” my good friend and gym buddy, Kara, asked me. “I can’t even put my gym shoes on, I don’t want to be seen in there in Uggs.” I’m sure she could smell the bullshit, but she understood. I would come up with any excuse I possible could to stay in this safe, comfortable depression I found myself in. Not only had I grown a little more fluffy and complacent, but also lazy. It was just easier to be depressed, after all I had an excuse, right? I had freakin’ acute frostbite!


Stage 5: Acceptance, Healing

His hands were cold as he poked and prodded at different parts of my foot. The tip of my big toe was still numb, but it was back down to its normal size, no longer throbbing, and the nail wasn’t completely purple.

“Good news,” he started off with, “It looks like the nerve has settles back into place on it’s own, the nail matrix feels in tact, and I don’t think we’ll be cutting anything open today.” I was waiting for the next sentence, the “but…”, the bad news. When nothing came, I asked, “so, can I, like, go to the gym and stuff?” Dr. Malcom laughed a little and just said “yeah.”

In my head I’m thinking, what??? How long have I been able to go back to the gym. I can go back!!! I can use my foot! And although that co-pay was an odd $103, I was dancing out of that office like I had never been injured at all.

Just hearing that I was okay, changed my entire outlook immediately. I finally snapped out of my injury depression and was ready to push my boundaries and get back into action.

Sure, it took another few weeks to get completely back to normal, and I’m still not where I was, physically, but my head was back in the game right away, and a bum foot, or a few extra pounds is nothing compared to a sick mental state. The physical aspect of an injury is just the tip of the iceberg, below there are layers and layers of self-doubt, anger, depression, and so much more. It’s no wonder to me now that there are sports psychologists getting paid millions of dollars each year to work with professional athletes through the pain and frustration of injury, recovery, and re-instatement into their respective sports.

I may still not be completely healed, but I know my body better, and I know my self better.


Meathead: Grass-fet Bison Burgers Wrapped in BACON

What do you do when you realize the bison meat you just bought has a sell by date of tomorrow? you improvise!

The best part is, Tom was actually willing to try these bad boys! Unlike 95% of what I cook: “veggies…ew!”

I had looked up a million and a half bison recipes trying to find the most alluring dish, but when it came down to it, I wen’t for simplicity. I’ve definitely learned that simple recipes just work.

These giant burgers are juicy and delicious. Perfect for paleo-ers and everyone else!
These giant burgers are juicy and delicious. Perfect for paleo-ers and everyone else!

And so, I introduce to you: Bacon-Wrapped Grass-Fed Bison Burgers


1 lb grass-fed ground bison meat (found at my regular grocery store!)

1 whole egg

1/2 white onion, finely diced

prepared steak seasoning (yeah, I know its not strict paleo or “clean”…it’s just easy!)

salt and pepper to taste

4 slices thick cut bacon


  1. preheat oven to 350 F
  2. combine bison, onion, egg, seasonings in a bowl
  3. form into 4 even “patties” but keep them pretty thick! (they will seem huge!)
  4. Wrap each patty with one slice of bacon, it should be the perfect length to not have to cut any excess off. Secure with toothpick for baking.
  5. Place on a foil-lined baking sheet and back for 30 minutes.

Chicken Apple Breakfast Patties

In deciding to give the paleo diet an honest go, I’ve encountered more struggles than benefits so far.  Now before you go and tell me that the science behind the “cave man diet” is bogus: I know! But there are still benefits to avoiding dairy and grains that can’t be underestimated. It’s all about trying it all until you find what works for you…and then trying even more just to see!

So my biggest struggle right off the bat has been breakfast. I lived off oatmeal or Ezikiel bread and peanut butter….now all of those have been taken off the table. In order to get a quick and easy protein/carb combo, I came up with these little sausage-like patties that are completely paleo and will make your kitchen smell amazing!

Chicken Apple Breakfast Patties

Three chicken apple patties and some yolk porn
Three chicken apple patties and some yolk porn


1 lb ground chicken

1 apple peeled and diced (I used a Fuji apple)

1 T fresh thyme

3 T fresh parsley

1 T fresh oregano

2 t garlic powder

coconut oil



  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees
  2. Using about 3 T of coconut oil in a skillet, cook down the apples with the thyme, parsley and oregano until apples are soft. This will take about 7 minutes. More if you use less coconut oil.

    The smell of the apple, thyme, parsley and oregano is incredible
    The smell of the apple, thyme, parsley and oregano is incredible
  3. Once cooked and cooled, combine apple mixture with ground chicken, garlic powder and salt and pepper to taste.
  4. form into 12 even patties spread out on a foil-lined baking tray
    ready to pop into the oven, consider doubling your batch, as I did, and freezing half for later use.
    ready to pop into the oven, consider doubling your batch, as I did, and freezing half for later use.


  5. bake for 20 minutes.
  6. Store either by refrigerating, freezing, or both!

A Fresh Twist: Pesto

Growing up in a 100% Italian household has always been delicious. Has it always been healthy? That’s a more difficult question to answer. Ever since I began this food and fitness journey, I have sought to stay true to my Italian roots.

One of my favorite Christmas presents finally getting thrown into action
One of my favorite Christmas presents finally getting thrown into action

This recipe takes a fresh twist on an Italian staple and stays true to Paleo guidelines. Also…it was freakin’ delicious!!

The final product, almost as pretty as it is delicious
The final product, almost as pretty as it is delicious

Artichoke Pesto and Chicken


1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast, cubed

1 large spaghetti squash

1 jar artichoke hearts (I used a small jar)

1/3 C walnuts


5 T vegetable broth

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 handful fresh Italian parsley (NOT cilantro!)

1 handful fresh basil

1 lemon, juiced

5 cups baby spinach

My own brand of Spaghetti Squash?
My own brand of Spaghetti Squash?


  1. preheat oven to 375 degrees
  2. cut squash in half, length wise, and remove seeds and loose strings with a spoon.  Place face down on a foil-lined baking sheet, and roast for 45-50 minutes.
  3. Use a fork to scrape the isnide and loosen the “spaghetti” from the skin.
  4. While in the oven, in a large pan over medium-high heat, add a little bit of the oil preserving the artichoke hearts in the jar and 1 minced garlic clove.  When the garlic becomes fragrant, add the halved artichokes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and saute for about 5-8 minutes, until sides are slightly browned.
  5. Add browned artichokes to a food processor along  walnuts, olive oil, vegetable broth, and second garlic clove (I threw it in whole). Puree until smooth.
  6. Add the parsley, basil, lemon, and salt and pepper. Puree once more until smooth.
  7. In the pan used to brown the artichoke hearts, cook cubed chicken breasts, adding salt and pepper to taste.
  8. Once chicken is cooked, add a few spoonfuls of the pesto and the baby spinach. Cover and let spinach steam.
  9. Combine “spaghetti”, the rest of your pesto sauce, chicken, and spinach.
  10. Enjoy!

Paleo Lavender Vanilla Bean Scones

Lavender is a perfect image of spring time, reminding us of all of the beautiful smells, tastes, and colors coming to life.
Lavender is a perfect image of spring time, reminding us of all of the beautiful smells, tastes, and colors coming to life.

As you will learn, I have a serious sweet tooth, so I am constantly searching for guilt-free treats. Combine that with my curiosity for new flavors and techniques, and you get stuff like this! I found this recipe on one of my favorite healthy recipe sites paleomg.com

This was my first time working with most of these ingredients, so I did my research careful to learn exactly which part of the lavender plant to use, and how to handle a true vanilla bean.

Another thing to note in this recipe is how easy it is to make your own nut meals/flours. Here we use cashews for their sweet but still robust flavor.

I have to say I was very pleasantly surprised by this recipe. I was hesitant about my proportions, nervous about all of the new ingredients, and a little intimidated (still) by clean baking in general, but it turned out to have an incredibly delicate flavor and rich texture that perfectly solved my sweet craving.

So, without further ado…

Paleo Lavender Vanilla Bean Scones

Lavender Vanilla Bean scones topped with homemade raw honey butter and coconut crystals
Lavender Vanilla Bean scones topped with homemade raw honey butter and coconut crystals


1.5 C cashews (I used roasted, unsalted), ground into a meal/flour

1 t baking powder

pinch of salt

3 T lavender buds

2 vanilla beans, cut lengthwise with a sharp knife, all seeds removed (directions from The Kitchn)

1 egg, whisked

1/4 C coconut oil

3 T maple syrup

2 t vanilla extract

1/4 C arrowroot flour (add extra if your dough feels too wet!)

Scone toppings:

3 T raw honey

1 T butter

1-2 T coconut crystals


  1. preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Run the cashews through your food processor until it becomes a slightly coarse meal/flour.
  3. In a large bowl, mix together the cashew meal, baking powder, salt, lavender buds, and vanilla bean seeds.
  4. Then mix in your egg, almond oil, maple syrup, and vanilla extract and combine.
  5. Lastly, mix in your arrowroot flour to help thicken.
  6. Add the dough into a ball onto a parchment lined baking sheet then press down to help flatten out evenly.
  7. Place in oven and cook for 20-25 minutes.
  8. Let cook slightly.
  9. While the scones are cooling, mix together honey and butter (heating the two up together) and top scones with the mixture and some coconut crystals.

Makes 8 scones

Fresh, Fit & Fast

There is nothing more important than fresh ingredients when it comes to making a delicious meal. I can’t stress that enough especially when it comes to quick, healthy meals. It is the fresh parsley and lemon juice that really elevates this quick dinner from blah to amazing!

Today I visited Sid Wainer Gormet Outlet here in New Bedford and was completely blown away by the assortment of products. They have a whole entire room of cheese and a walk in refrigerator for customers to hand select their own locally grown organic produce. Needless to say, I will be back here time and time again!

My first visit to Sid Wainer's in New Bedford.
My first visit to Sid Wainer’s in New Bedford.

So today I was focusing on my paleo Lavender Vanilla Bean Scones, and wanted a quick fix for dinner, but still healthy! Here is what I came up with:

Lemon-Oregano Chicken and Veggies

Pardon my photography skills…need to look into a food photography course!
Pardon my photography skills…need to look into a food photography course!


1 lb chicken breast, cubed

2 T olive oil

1 T minced garlic

salt and pepper to taste

1/4 C fresh oregano, roughly chopped

1 steamer back frozen mixed veggies

juice of 1 fresh lemon


First, add olive oil and garlic to pan. Add chicken, salt and pepper, stirring around until chicken is almost fully cooked. Next add oregano, followed by mixed veggies (cooked according to microwave directions). Between stirring, squeeze lemon juice over pan.

Makes 3 servings. DELICIOUS!


6,000 Ft., 8.5 Hours, and 7.3 Miles

On a snowy, 23 degree morning, my boyfriend, our friends Andrew and Emily, and I stared up 6,288 ft at the summit of Mt. Washington. Known originally as “Mother Goddess of the Storm”, it is not only the highest peak in the Northeastern US, but it is most famous for its dangerously erratic weather. For 76 years until 2010 it held the record for the highest wind speed ever measured on earth at 231 mph. At 7am on Monday, March 2nd, 2014 it looked like a scene out of a movie. Snowflakes the size of a penny floated slowly in thick blankets around us. Going into this experience I prided myself on being in excellent shape in terms of both strength and endurance. After all, I go to the gym every day, six days a week and am constantly striving to lift heavier and run further. But in the gear room, I wasn’t putting on a pair of Nike’s and a sports bra.

Emily on our PB&J line
Emily on our PB&J line

Emily and I worked on our PB&J express line as the boys geared up. Everyone was pretty quiet, acting busy with the task at hand, but really just grateful for our last few moments indoors. The first inkling I had that it would be a rougher journey than anticipated came when our guide, Shawn, handed me the ice pick. We were already wearing 2 inch spikes on the bottom of our boots…how much more traction could we possibly need?

Frozen waterfall
Frozen waterfall

The first several miles are a steady incline on rather easy terrain. We hiked quickly, hearts racing, trudging through the snow. It felt familiar. Sweat building, pulse racing, breathing deeply. I could do this all day, I had practiced for this on the treadmill. I did my best to focus on my surroundings, it really did look like the entrance to Narnia. Distraction is key for any endurance workout, you can’t focus on each footstep against the pavement, you think about the end goal, whether it be the top of Mt Washington, the finish line, or minute twenty. After about an hour we stopped to switch up our gear and get ready for the next section of the hike. Snapped out of cardio-mode, it wasn’t until then that I realized no one else was enjoying themselves. Tom looked completely exhausted, Emily focused on her gear with a zoned-out look in her eyes, and Andrew was already cringing. Looking to break the mood, Shawn lead us in some stretches. “Shit,” Tom was leaning over to his left, in a lat stretch. I was worried about him a little bit. Tom doesn’t really workout, and the last time I could remember us doing something active was the summer before when we did a light hike up to Diana’s Bath to see the waterfall. I chickened out of asking  him about  climbing a mountain of the winter twice before Andrew and I sat him down after a few beers and broke the news. Tom laughed a little, “yeah, I think I pulled a muscle.” Part dumbfounded and part amused, I think everyone else took it lightly, but I was concerned. Convinced that I knew what the day ahead would be like and how I would react and everyone else too, I figured they all had a long day ahead of them. In reality, I was completely clueless. About another hour in, after slightly steeper climbing, I figured we had set the pace and was looking forward to my endurance being tested, and my muscles feeling nice and sore the next day. The trail, however, got thinner, and steeper. It’s funny, really, how fears and anxieties rarely settle in until we’ve taken a step back, paused, and re-assesed the current situation. One moment you are trudging along, content in the monotony of labor, and after a small rest, doubts flood our thoughts. Taking a sip of my frozen slush-water, a chill ran down my spine, my muscles clenched, and I couldn’t catch my breath. My body felt as if it had to lean forward onto the mountain. So crouched on all fours, I refused to turn my head around to look at the view with the others, all I could picture were rocks outlining the almost vertical drop down towards the basin of Tuckerman’s Ravine. I could barely even think about the trail, let alone my footing. My thoughts were clouded with a mess of anxieties, one stringing into the next. I grew quiet, and concentrated, and couldn’t separate myself from my thoughts to enjoy any aspect of the experience. Still, I didn’t feel like I was at the point of crying, just very numb and cold like my surroundings. Tom grabbed his phone to take a picture, “C’mon, fake a smile for the camera,” he said.

Smiling for the camera through the pain and fear
Smiling for the camera through the pain and fear

Cheese. Behind his phone I could see the same concern in Tom’s eyes that I’m sure I had during out stretch. What was for? I’m fine. That can’t be for me. Oh god, it’s for me. The idea of being the weak-link of the group didn’t settle well with me. But rather than snap me back into Mia-mode, it just sank in until it became a visceral feeling. I took inventory of the feeling in my toes, calves, and quads. Everything seemed to be alright, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was not in a safe place, and even the slightest misstep would sling me down the mountain to my death. I shuffled along the trail on all fours, feeling more grounded to the mountain.  Each shuffled scraped my knees and my right shoulder throbbed with pain from pulling up most of my body weight with each hack of my ice pick. My breath grew shallower, and my eyes wide, focusing on nothing but the next foot or so of trail. I started to notice more and more rocks on the path. “Soon, we’ll approach the treeline at 4,500 feet in elevation,” Shawn yelled up the trail, “you’ll see the trees get smaller and smaller until a tree up to your knee is actually hundreds of years old.” “With less and less trees,” he continued,” the wind drifts are higher and there is no protection for the snow, so we’ll be doing some bouldering and rock climbing work.” The next thing I saw when I looked up was the bottleneck, a small section of trail in which only one person can climb either up or down at a time. There was a rope set up, strung through the tree roots and anchored at the top of the section. We didn’t even get to see Tom climb, he was already up, waiting for me with a smile. He was coaching me along, but his words were washed out by the fear ringing in my head. My toe felt like it was slipping, but the next foot hole was up on the other side of my right knee—on the opposite side of any hope for a handhold. I grabbed onto the rope, but the glove muted any sense of security. I climbed slowly and solidly with a determination fueled by Tom’s even keel voice coaching my every move. I collapsed as soon as I reached the top. My muscles felt like they couldn’t take it anymore, and the lump in my throat threatened to spill out into a messy fit of tears. I fought to choke it down so hard I almost forgot about and lactic acid pooling in my legs. “You alright babe?” He asked with a little laugh at the end. “No.” I whispered, refusing to look up at him. I lost track of how many times I said “No, I’m not fine,” but I kept on with a steely determination. The hike blurred at this points into memories of pain and fear paralleled with Tom’s calming voice and incredible confidence. Soon I began to focus less on my own pain, and more on the funny miniature trees and the incredible strength that Tom was able to transfer into me.

Tom and I
Tom and I

As cheesy as it sounds, I fell in love with him all over again that day. But on a different level than I had ever experienced before. And not to say that it was any more passionate or deep, but moreover that it was different, that I was able to connect with a new part of him that I had never experienced before. Another piece in the puzzle. It was going to be another 45 or so minutes to Lion’s Head when we stopped for a quick break to look over the edge of Tuckerman’s Ravine. My anxieties began to melt away as the trees faded into the distance below us, and the sight of the 90 degree drop into pure unadulterated snow parked a bubble of elation from somewhere deep inside of me. Warmth began to flow through my veins, and I couldn’t help but smile as a gust of seventy mile per hour winds came up and slapped us all in the faces. Mother Goddess of the Storm warning us that she could take us down any minute if she wanted to. The feeling, however, was not contagious. As soon as we stepped away from the edge to prepare ourselves for the summit, the smiles faded. Andrew had aggravated an old injury. Emily’s boots were jamming into her shins no matter how many times she adjusted them, and Tom had to take his off and bare the elements in order to change a bandage for the second time in the day. Only, he was able to do it with a smile.

If you look closely, my eyelashes had turned to snowflakes
If you look closely, my eyelashes had turned to snowflakes

We shared a few sips of power aid slush and some Eskimo kisses as the winds whipped around us. A beautiful reprieve that promised the end was near and we would make it through this trip. The peak of our trip was not what you would expect. No one waved flags, jumped into each others’ arms.  It was beautiful, it was moving, and it was beyond spectacular, but it was also cold, painful, and over quickly. We jumped at the opportunity to turn around and head back to camp. “Well, this part should only really take two, two and a half hours,” Shawn said. Those were some of the best words any of us had ever heard. The rock climbing sections would be tough again, but gravity was working in our favor and we would get down that mountain. Walking downhill in crampons felt a lot less secure than I’d originally imagined. On one hand you have huge spikes gripping you into the snow, on the other hand, if you didn’t lean back onto your heels, your center of gravity would pull you headfirst into a downhill roll. My solution was to walk sidestep the entire way down. Right foot first until my right quad became exhausted, and then left foot first. Emily and Andrew didn’t have much of a choice, no matter which way they tried they were in pain. They trudged down almost zombie-like. Tom, after accidentally stepping off trail into waist-high powdery snow a few times, sat himself right down and used his butt as a sled all the way down the face of Mt. Washington, completely fearless and thrilled. I had never seen elation on him like I did that day. The bottleneck was rough, the fear came back, and I pictured myself rolling down to my doom a few more times, but the promise of a good meal kept us trudging down the mountain just like that minute 20 or mile 13.1. There was no runners high, no crazy endorphins, or out of body experiences at the bottom of the mountain. It wasn’t pretty at all. We were cold, we were in pain, and we were exhausted. The discovery of my blue toe and swollen foot didn’t even faze us at the time. We ate fast and fell asleep quickly without so much as a “brr” or “ouch”. It might sound anti-climactic, even dull. But the range of emotions and the level of exertion was like nothing else. Those 7.3 miles, 8.5 hours, and 6,000 feet in elevation made up one of the most impactful days of my life so far.

Andrew, Emily, Tom, and I feeling very accomplished after climbing Mt. Washington
Andrew, Emily, Tom, and I feeling very accomplished after climbing Mt. Washington