My Top 5…gym bag “GOTTA HAVE EMs”

Hobbies are great-life would be so boring without them. But be honest, how many hobbies are free? Quite honestly, I can’t think of a single one. Unless you count people watching…which is a brilliant way to pass time, but not sure you can consider that a hobby. I think at that point it’s considered stalking and transition from past time to criminal offense. But truly, whether its gardening, sports, quilting, fine alcohol connoisseur, or stamp collecting you are spending money in one way or another on something you really enjoy doing. And the industry knows we are greedy, materialistic fools and will spend money on the new, flashier, “better” products that they come out with, despite the fact that we DON’T NEED THEM! It’s just sick I tell you! SICK!

SO let’s talk about the money sucking monster called CrossFit. Rogue, Reebok, Progenex and Lululemon…do we need any of this? NOOO! Does it make us any fitter or better at what we do? NOOO! But it makes our asses look good while we do it, so that’s why we need it! OBVIOUSLY!

Okay so let me be more clear, there are definitely many several products out there that DO provide a competitive edge or enhance training to some degree. Depending upon the person and what their goats are their gear of choice may vary. I try not to need EVERYTHING out there and like to think I am selective on what I do “waste” my money on. Yet, my gym bag still manages to look like this mid workout…


Amidst this well organized mess lies my Top 5 Gym Bag “GOTTA HAVE EMs.” They are…

  1. Knee sleeves/knee pads, whatever you want to call them. When you start putting heavy weight on a barbell and dropping your ass to the ground these puppies can make your life a lot easier and make your knees feel a lot sturdier. A lot of brands exist, despite the fact that these TK ones give me quad muffin tops and I’m on my 4th pair in 2 years, they are the most supportive ones I’ve ever tried.
  2. Wrist wraps. There is just something about these that make me feel naked when I’m not wearing them. Building wrist strength is on my list of “To Dos” for 2015, but until that attains proficiency, wraps will adorn my wrists. Like the sleeves, these help you feel more secure when supporting heavy weight, especially when Olympic lifting when your rotating your wrists quickly.
  3. Ironically, I’m constantly lacking it. I always seem to be running out… use it too much apparently? This keeps my thumbs from being TOE UP! Hook gripping can really do a number on my dainty girl hands. A lot of people don’t use tape…they are hardasses. Cheap and easy to come by when your husband is head of the athletic department at his school, tape is a must when cycling a barbell!
  4. Weight belt. Maybe it’s just me and my “here to stay” back injury, but 70% is my cue for a weight belt to enter. A constant reminder to keep my core tight, my squats, cleans and snatches are much more strong feeling and looking when I slap this sucker on. The many leathers ones with the actual buckles on them are a bit much…I like the velcrowy colored ones J
  5. Not so much an issue now that its winter, but when it’s hot hot hot and the sweat starts a rollin’ you better believe that these accessories turn from fashionable to functional. A far cry from the stellar 80s style sweat bands, these beauties are fun while still serving a purpose-for both males and females. That right, I said MALES….DON’ T TRY TO ARGUE WITH THIS, BOYS!

My head is weird shaped or my hair is too slippery or something-I can’t wear the “infinity” style, unless they are FAT/WIDE sized. My Black Legion Bondi Band will always be my favie 🙂


How did I come up with this list? It goes like this…Since I REFUSE to pay for a checked bag when I fly, I am forced to shove all my gear in my carry on. With limited space you have to only take what you NEED. I find myself always bringing these items, when forced to choose. Sometimes I manage to fit my jump rope and I usually wear my Nanos. So, while you go out making your Christmas list of all the things you want/need, start here. From my experience all the rest is just clutter….seriously. Who wants to carry all this around?!


Aspire to Inspire

The last Christmas I got to spend with my mom, she gifted both my sister and I the same book called “The Purpose Driven Life” by Rick Warren. You might be familiar with this best seller for it’s Christian affiliated reputation. If you aren’t familiar with it, the best synopsis I have is written by Wikipedia as  “a 40-day personal spiritual journey, and presents what Warren says are God’s five purposes for human life on earth.” While I am a woman of faith, this isn’t a soapbox about religion or me push my beliefs on anyone here…that’s not where this is going…

This book had a profound effect on my mother and therefore, on me. Spending time with her towards the end of her days, I remember very vividly, her saying more than one time, “I still haven’t figured out why I’m here..” or “What has my purpose been?” in an almost desperate way, as if she felt aimless. It broke my heart to hear her say this, because  I of course knew her purpose: to be an amazing mother to her daughters, providing them the most perfect role model and hero they could ask for as impressionable young women. But her musings made me think to myself…”Why am I here?”

That question is scary as eff. There’s no quicker way to make you feel like a grain of sand on a beach and make you read don’t kill yourself books than pondering of the meaning of your life. At the time never really troubled myself with this intense thought. I had found the love of my life, had great friends and family, involved in healthy hobbies, and was solid in my career path…plus, being 25, my youth made me invincible and unconcerned about “the big picture.”

John Piper - "God is always doing 10,000 things in your life and you may be aware of three of them."

Recently I’ve really been forced to acknowledge this topic though. It’s unreal how many things have been glaring “signs” if you will, that have me looking at this all a little closer; looking at “my purpose.”

Last week a good friend and training partner posted a blog that reopened this can of worms in my mind. But this time, I felt more confident in knowing the answer. I mean, I don’t know ALL the answers or how IT ALL works out, but right now, I know I’m meant to help people feel good, inside and out.

When we think about careers in high school and college, when someone asked what you think you want to do, 75% of answers are “I want to help people”…and that can literally be the definition of ALL occupations. So, I’m not playing that card. But knowing I make an actual, lasting impression on a person to make their day or their life even .01% better, is extremely fulfilling. But, through what type of “work” would I get to have these experience day in and day out?

They also tell you, “If you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life.” The only thing I felt seriously passionate about was my own personal wellness- eating properly and living at the rec was what I was known for. Doubt that’s a career choice. I was coming up short for the “ideal occupation” of combing my desire to truly  help people while doing what seriously i enjoy: working out.

All along I’ve felt my fitness endeavors have been somewhat of a selfish act; my CrossFitting has all been done in vein, for my own fun. It wasn’t until recently I realized THIS is HOW! THIS IS HOW I DO IT! Never in my life would I ever imagine being approached by complete strangers saying how inspiring my performance is, how motivating it is to compete next to me, or how “tough” I am. Receiving those sorts of affirmations is by far one of THE BEST feelings I’ve experienced. Knowing that what I love doing is bringing good to others in some way is incredible. It has become one of the major reasons I want to pursue this sport in the way I do.

do what you love

While I have this extensive background in nutrition education, I never thought I’d find such a platform to share that knowledge with others. It is no coincidence that this has all aligned. I have been blessed with a talent. Using this talent as a means to reach out to others, to aid in making positive change and improve their quality of life…that’s it’s intended purpose. That’s my intended purpose- at least for right now. It will surely change, as it should- we should always grow and change. But for now, I know I must use my gifts…as the saying goes…

“When you learn, teach, when you get, give.” – Maya Angelou

Your life has a purpose. Your story is important. Your dreams count. Your voice matters. You were born to make an impact. #ACN #Inspiration

Though I admit, I haven’t read the book the whole way through yet…but since having this experience, it’s at the top of my to do list. Bet on that.

A Lil’ Q&A Sesh

I realize not everyone on earth does fitness for time. I also realize that not everyone that does does so in a competitive fashion. Honestly, that wasn’t my original intention…it’s just sorta how it’s played out. Hey, I aint mad about it.
But for those that have drank dat CrossFit Kool-aid, you know in some way it’s involved with whatever is on your brain and/or coming out of your mouth, roughly 75% of the time.

you've been warned! lol!

It’s crazy to think I’ve been doing this ish for a solid 2 years now, which by no means makes me a professional. However, with each competition I do and each article I read, each video I watch and each day that I train I feel I gain a little more knowledge on functional fitness. Experience is the best teacher, right?

So, when I do get around those that enjoy competing (as I was all weekend and literally as I type this) and do so regularly, these conversations arise that are obviously going to revolve around fitness and things related to it. And I get a lot of questions.  So, as I sit here filling the 3 hour gap between my events, I thought I would ponder some of the questions that people might wonder or I have been asked, specifically related to competing.

Q: Do you take pre-workout?
A: I used to…not so much anymore. I am extremely sensitive to stimulant. Like, if I drink more than a half a cup of coffee I feel like I’m going into cardiac arrest. If I do take it, one scoop of if will literally last me all day. I’ll take a few swigs before each WOD. However, I like to sleep at night so I try and get high off life, not pre workout.

Q: What do you eat when in competition?
A: Oh Lord, the mother of all bombs has been dropped when asking this question. Because the answer is never simple with me when it comes to nutrition. And it’s never a simple operation, me and comp food prep. I require multiple bags of a variety of options. What can I say, I am my mother’s daughter-I was raised on bringing a cooler of food everywhere you go JUST IN CASE!


all of these lovely selections accompanied me this weekend. Generally speaking, fruit, beef jerky, nuts, baby food pouches, peanut butter, sweet potato and Questbars or other protein bars typically round out my satchel of nomnoms.

I don’t love eating a ton during competition, which is usually the general consensus of most people. However, I have also learned the hard way that if you don’t eat and do multiple WODs in a couple hours span, you will not do so successfully. Basically, I’d rather feel like I have to vomit  than feel like my body is shutting down mid workout. I by no means eat EXACTLY like I would on a typical day, which is what’s best, but I definitely eat. It’s not perfected but I’m still working on it.

Which leads into a second questions…

Q: What supplements do you take on comp days?

A: Well, this is when I start to turn into “the bag lady”….


I tote this thing everywhere. Usually it just chills in the back of my car so I can scoop it out before/after workout sessions. But when you’re camped out all day, ya gotta take all your gear with ya. So, in this bag I carry my essential supps: protein (1st Phorm Phormula 1,) a carb supplement (1st Phorm Ignition,) BCAAs, and creatine. I consume more of this than anything else throughout competition, as it’s obviously easier to take down a beverages vs solid food when you come off of any given workout in which you might experience a “I just brushed shoulders with death” sensation. Each tub serves a purpose, but that’s another story for another day.
Either way, I’ve got bags on bags on bags.

Q: Do you warm up/cool down?
A: Yes, yes, a thousand times over, yes. I have to. This bod does not work without appropriate transition from cold to hot and vice versa. In all honestly, it takes me a solid 30 minutes to get warmed up to Kenzie standard. Mobilization and flexibility practices are huge in my warmup routine. If I don’t do them here I don’t do them at all, cause my life is that awesome that I can’t spare a minute to lay on a foam roller. Sad, but true. I’m pretty hell bent on ensuring my body has all the resources to repair itself to good feeling so yes, cooling down is something I’ve become a huge fan of. I encourage others to do the same!

Q: Do I get nervous? Scared?
A: The good kind of nervous. I believe this is called excitement, or at least that’s what I like to call it. Nothing like a good surge of adrenaline to make you do things you never thought you could right at the moment you need to do it most. Dramatic effect is awesome.

Never scared though. A lot of people make the mistake of letting a workout intimidate them and before even starting it they’re already defeated. Like any situation in life: you can control it or let it control you. Not every situation will be ideal, not every workout will be in your wheelhouse, but having a fearful of negative attitude about it isn’t going to help the outcome. Acknowledging it’s not the best arrangement for you is one thing, as long as you override those thoughts with optimistic, “I’m gonna give it hell” attitudes, issall good. Dwelling upon, repeating/whining outwardly, and flat out hating the situation at hand, workout or beyond, is the worst thing you can do, and quite honestly, kind of annoying. Put on your big kid pants and conquer that B. Seize every opportunity with an open heart because you never know when you’ll surprise yourself.

And that’s all I know about competing in exercise.

Oh wait, go fast. Yeah, okay, that’s all.

P.S. If you ever have a burning question of your own, feel free to submit them to me via message on my Facebook page!

A New Endeavor

So many thoughts right now. Too many thoughts right now. Can’t even get them all down on paper. It’s like herding cats in my skull. Brain working too fast. Fingers can’t keep up. Sentences not sentences. Word vomit. Help! Bah!

I am sitting on a plane-scored a seat with NO SEAT MATE!- divulging all my brains contents right now…stick with me…


I just spent the last 4 days in the DIRTY SOUTH (what up Hotlantaaaaa!?) having some of the most amazing professional experiences that are changing my life in huge ways.

First things first, Atlanta is chaotic. Never actually ventured further than the airport before this weekend, so that was an adventure in itself. Holy. City. I think I have officially diagnosed myself with anxiety after navigating that traffic. If there is a record for most interstate changes in a one mile stretch, this city has that title on LOCK. However, the weather was gorgeous and they have a Trader Joes, so I can roll with it. I also got the chance to hang out, train with and befriend some super rad people at CrossFit Rx. Some solid athletes, these people are. Not to mention really fun and great dancers-my kind of folk. I highly recommend this joint to anyone WODding while in the ATL!

But the REAL reason I spent time in the peach capitol of the world (at least I think it is?) was for the Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo aka FNCE (fen-see). Basically, all the dietitians of the world come together to talk about, learn about, and consume mass quantities of food for 4 fun filled days. Typically, these sorts of events annoy me, mainly because RD’s (registered dietitians) like to act like they know everything there is to know about food…and pretty much anything else. They are so set in their ways, preaching the same nutrition guidelines they have their whole careers, despite that things are different than they were 30 years ago. Also, everyone is fat and is just getting fatter…obviously these guidelines aren’t working. UUUGH it get’s me SO HEATED! But, I digress…like I was saying, typically I don’t love these gatherings, but there was something special about this year’s FNCE. That difference was me, where I am professionally today vs. ever before. I am at a crossroads in my career, and was really needing some insight on what to do and how to do it, in pursuing a new career endeavor. What better resource than being surrounded by 10,000 other experienced professionals in your field?

umm... winning! - umm... winning!  Charlie Sheen Meme


I talked to more people, handed out more business cards, and received more follow up emails/texts than I ever have before in my life! I have professional mentors offering to work with me, correspond over the miles, and be an active player in my personal success. To me, this was HUGE. To have these conversations with people who were in my position, sharing the same feelings as I was at a point in their lives who are now highly successful, reputable professionals in the field. Just in a few brief conversations, their advice set me on FIRE to start moving and shaking!

Some of the best one liners that spoke to me:

“Self doubt is self abuse; no one deserves that.”

“Don’t say ‘but,’ it negates everything you just said.”

“There is no such thing as security; it’s a perception.”

“If you wait for the perfect time, you’ll be waiting forever.”

These small tokens of conversation resonated with me so deeply-and they are all so true!

So, here I am back in the glorious Midwest ready to snap neck and cash checks -POW!

Although not as BRAND SPANKING NEW as it could be, I kind of feel it’s appropriate to “officially” announce my newest endeavor: my very own business! I never thought myself an entrepreneur, but YOU ONLY YOLO ONCE  right?! So, here it is y’all: Real Results Nutrition Consulting by none other than yours truly, the one and only Kenzie Riley, fitness superstar wannabe.

Basically, I have 6 years of college tuition’s knowledge on nutrition,  a pretty respected career as an athlete in a sport I love, and a lot of experience in “trail and error” in life, diet, exercise, goal achievement…Why the hell wouldn’t I combine these things to help others become the most awesome versions of themselves?!

If you are tired of the same old feelings of complacency and frustration, why go another day? Feeling good and confident in you own skin, working hard to achieve a goal you reach for, and living the life you dream of living is the essence of joy in life.

"The only thing standing between you and your goal is the bullshit story you keep telling yourself as to why you can't achieve it." Jordan Belfort

CAPRE THE EFFIN DIEM! Start that change today!  and let me know how I can help you 🙂 #nowisthetime


As I sit out on my back deck this afternoon, wrapped in a hoodie and my trusty NorthFace jacket, I fear it’s officially official…the time has come that we all must surrender to the change of season. I am a total summertime junkie. My heaven is a place where tan skin, green grass and bodies of water optimum for swimming in are constants. Also, temperatures that allow for my default wardrobe to be worn comfortably day in and day out is also a plus. However, California is just too expensive for the Riley’s; we discovered that this summer. So, as we must endure all the seasons here in the Midwest, it’s now that time of year when the temperature drops and the lady bugs penetrate the cracks of your home. ..when there is a festival or community social event every weekend for the next 3 months…when you see an influx of IG posts of boots, pumpkin spice lattes and foliage with #nofilter from all the girls that “can’t even”…it’s summer’s naughty twin sister, FALL!

Random question: is it autumn or fall to you? Autumn, to me, is like a girl’s name. It sounds way more fancy and like an actual thing. Fall is more short and to the point, however it’s also a verb that describes what I do often times on box jumps.


It’s more what we are taught as kids I think, unless you’re from somewhere more sophisticated than Sullivan, Illinois. Maybe Ill start taking a poll and asking people. Anywho…

I try and be a glass half full kind of girl; I try and see the positives in all situations. Sure, I’m sad my tan lines have faded, but I get the trade off of some of my favie autumn time joys. Yoga pants on the reg, inappropriately carved jack-o-lanterns, scarves that make any outfit “dressy,” saving money on electric because its neither heater or AC worthy temps, and gross amounts of Reese’s pumpkins are the major things that come to mind. Yet, I would have to say, like any dietitian you might expect, that the seasonal FOOD is my favorite part of fall. Last year I wrote about squash, which holds a special place in my heart forever and always. But I’m going with the masses on this one and have to talk about PUMPKIN LOVE for this post.

I honestly think I like pumpkin flavored things more than the average person. In fact, Ill go as far to say that I love pumpkin as much as my dog loves sticks…

emomw emom

…and that’s a lot.

Taking advantage of this orange-y delight I have gone ape sh*t on pumpkin recipes the past few weeks. NOTE: I’m not promising any of these to be PALEO, GLUTEN FREE, CLEAN, HEALTHY, WHATEVER DIET RESTRICTION YOU HAVE, so please, proceed with caution. I let the naughty thoughts take over here and made some pretty deliciously bad for you stuff…#sorryimnotsorry. However, a few healthy yummies squeaked in.


Pumpkin Pie Puppy Chow
IS this for real? Like, seriously….who invented this and why did it take me 27 years to find out about it? With 3 ingredients it doesn’t get any simpler. I took the liberty of adding chocolate chips in my melting process…so technically, this is Chocolate Pumpkin Puppy Chow. Damn I’m good. The only catch is that these Pumpkin Spice kisses only come out seasonally…GET ‘EM WHILE THE GETTIN’s GOOD!

image 3

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls
It just makes sense…as cinnamon is a total complimentary/necessary spice in any pumpkin recipe. I’m not ALL that cray cray about canned pumpkin pie….I’d rather use canned pumpkin puree and add my own ingredients. Something about “eat it right out of the can” food just makes me wanna vom. However, when you’re in a pinch, do what ya gotta do. The one thing I learned with this recipe is ALWAYS WORK WITH COLD DOUGH. These GORGEOUS (obviously kidding) looking rolls were so gooey and stick and falling apart its a miracle they even worked. I let the crescent roll dough sit out too long. #rookiemistake However, another rule of “don’t judge a cinnamon roll by it’s shape” was also learned because despite their mangled appearance, these mugs were GOOOOOOD!!


Pumpkin Laraballz
This recipe was healthy enough to qualified for my website recipes! Yeah, I try not to look too gluttonous while promoting healthy and wholesome lifestyles. Luckily, these yummy lil ballz are both nutritious AND delicious! The ingredients read closely to that of a Larabar, one of my favorite snacks on the go, hence the title. I plan to do some experimentin’ with these in the future, making some delicious spin offs, but for now, enjoy the pumpkin experience!


Slow Cooker Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal ( steel cut oats)
This is probably one of my most favorite recipes I’ve made to date. Steel cut oats are ALL THE RAGE (said in valley girl voice) today. High in protein and fiber, these whole gains are as grainy as its gets. Good roughage, if ya now what I mean…  Oats (any kind) are HUGE in my world- a clean eating carb that really helps keep those glycogen stores in check when going SO HARD on the reg. Again, this recipe earned my #recipesforrecovery hashtag on my site, as it’s great fuel for a hardworking body!


I would love to know if you try any of these recipes, let me know! Post it up on them social media sights like Spacebook (Facebook), Tweeter (Twitter), or that Instant Gram (Instagram) those kids are all talking about. Just tag @itskenzieriley or #recipesforrecovery! I’d love to know what ya’ll think!