Musings of a Forty-Something Athlete

“You don’t look 45”. “You don’t look like you’re in your 40s”.

What does being in your 40s look like exactly? That’s my first thought when someone says that to me. Honestly, it’s that response that’s old. And it almost always comes out of the mouths of 20 and 30 somethings. I know they consider me, “old” and fear the inevitable when it happens to them. I’ve overheard younger men refer to women in their 40s as “old” or “not real women.” Of course it’s nonsense coming out of the mouths of babes. Babes who could stand to learn A LOT from us 40-something women.

As athletes? Forget it. We’re considered old, over the hill, worn out and past the age of accomplishing anything meaningful in sports. Almost an expendable species of human. If only they knew how it feels to hear shit like that. But you never understand until you get there.

Maybe I give them an odd sense of hope. “Maybe it won’t be so bad.” “Maybe I won’t look old”. I never really felt fear or loathing about turning 40. Don’t get me wrong, on my 40th birthday, there were a few moments of, “Holy shit I’m 40”! I felt shock (although obviously I knew it was coming)and laughed about it for a few moments. I celebrated by spending a week in Paris with my husband, and we had a wonderful experience on our first trip to Europe.

After that I went back to business as usual. I felt no different physically that year and I still don’t five years later. I still work out vigorously in my sport of Olympic-Style Weightlifting, something I love and feel passionate about. I continue to get stronger, maintain great mobility and have the energy to train for several hours several days a week. I’m just as productive, if not more, in my life and business overall.

I recently read, “Finding Ultra” by Rich Roll, an attorney who had overcome alcohol addiction earlier in his life and found himself on the eve of his 40th birthday, having a hard time getting up a flight of stairs because he was severely out of shape and in poor health. I won’t ruin the story for you, but he found himself through high level Triathlons like Iron Man and Ultra Man in his early forties. In case you don’t know, an Iron Man Triathlon consists of a 2.4-mile swim, followed by a 112-mile bicycle ride and finally a marathon (26.2 miles), raced in that order and without a break. An Ultra Man Triathlon is an invitation-only 3-day event that consists of a 6.2-mile ocean swim, 171.4-mile bike ride and a 52.4-mile double-marathon. On top of that, he adopted a whole-food only vegan diet.

Conventional sports nutritionists and most in the sports performance world would never support that approach of course, but it worked for him and I’m not going to judge. We are all individuals with different nutritional needs. Other factors come into play too like gender, genetics and environment to name a few. Nevertheless, that was his approach and he achieved a high level in the sport. Some of the data is quite frankly proven to be false (for example saturated fat being artery-clogging). But I 100% agree with the whole foods approach to health and performance. You don’t need to be vegan to commit to a lifestyle of eating whole foods made from scratch. That’s a whole other conversation altogether. All that being said, I loved his story and recommend reading it, especially if you have anxiety about turning forty.

Just for kicks, I checked the results of the 2016 Ultra Man and really got excited when I saw that of the top 10 finishers, four were in their forties and two were in their fifties!

In so many ways, this book was an inspiration to me. As an athlete over forty, it’s my goal to get as strong as possible in my sport, compete and continue to improve…and do it for me. Middle-age does not make me less than athletes or women younger than me, despite conventional thought and average, in-the-box thinking. I choose to be more and do more in my life. My age doesn’t define me. It’s not who I am.

Real food matters. It’s medicine. And it matters at every age, but especially as you hit middle age and beyond. Whatever your dietary beliefs or lifestyle is be it paleo, Mediterranean, vegan, vegetarian, pescatarian, yada yada, eating whole foods are vital to achieving and maintaining great health, aging gracefully and great athletic performance.

Following your passion matters. It’s never too late to follow your heart and become awesome. Give yourself permission to do it, whatever “it” is for you. Never let anyone tell you different. Rich Roll followed his heart. With passion and purpose. He put the work in consistently and did it his way. I intend to do the same. What does being in your forties look like to you? Envision what you want, follow your heart and don’t let age be a defining factor that holds you back.

Posted by Vanessa in anti-aging, Food for Function

Recovery is Not Optional

Do you or your coach include recovery in your programming? I’m not referring to deloading.  The two are not the same. Recovery is part of the program and not optional.  Not even if you’re a 20 year-old Olympic hopeful that has the strength of 10 spartan warriors.

What is recovery? Recovery is actually a physiological status. It’s the ability to meet or exceed performance in a particular activity.  In other words, to get better and adapt.

Recovery is necessary for:

  • Returning to normalization of physiological functions/homeostasis  (heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature, etc.)
  • Restoration of energy stores (blood glucose, muscle glycogen)
  • Replenishment of cellular enzymes
  • Rebuilding of muscle tissue
  • Decreasing inflammation

Recovery is necessary for giving your body the opportunity to replace the things that were used while you were working out; in essence bringing the body back to its pre-workout state.

Overtraining is the consequence of not allowing for adequate recovery. Signs and symptoms of overtraining include:

  • Aches and pains
  • Increased risk of injury
  • Excessive muscle soreness
  • Boredom, lack of motivation and/or moodiness
  • Immune suppression (cold sores, frequent colds )
  • Hormonal imbalances (elevated cortisol to testosterone ratio, female athlete triad, etc.)
  • Elevated C-Reactive Protein
  • Poor nutrition
  • Dehydration

There are different types of recovery:

  • Immediate recovery occurs during the exercise itself (between reps).
  • Short-term recovery occurs between sets or intervals.
  • Between workout recovery occurs between work-out sessions.

A balance between the three approaches can help you last longer in training and make gains while reducing injury risk. Keep in mind that the more intense the training is, the more recovery you will require between workouts.

Recovery is dependent on many factors like age, gender, type of training, current level of fitness and volume and intensity of training.  So how much do you need and how often do you need it? There is no set formula.  In general, if you are training 3 days a week, allow for 1-2 days in between workouts.  You must listen to your body!!

Ways to Recover:

  • Active Recovery: Walking and passive stretching help maintain blood flow, remove waste and helps bring the body back to homeostasis.
  • Massage
  • Chiropractic
  • Foam Rolling
  • Sleep!
  • Take a day to be unproductive.  Lay on the beach or binge watch something while lounging on the couch (especially satisfying if you train hard AND work full-time in the rat race).
  • Epsom salt baths
  • Hydrate!
  • Nutrition: Replenish carbohydrate and protein sources, replace fluids and electrolytes and eat to minimize inflammation.

If you don’t currently include recovery as part of your training regimen, I hope this article inspires you to do so. You won’t regret it!

Please share if you found this helpful:



  1. Optimal Recovery Practical Recommendations for the Recreational Athlete, ACSM
  2. J Strength Cond Res. 2008 May;22(3):1015-24. Recovery from training: a brief review:

    Bishop, Jones and Woods, 2008




Posted by Vanessa in Training

12 Easy, No-Nonsense Ways To Improve Sleep

“Sleep is the golden chain that ties health and our bodies together”

~ Thomas Dekker

12 Easy, No-Nonsense Ways To Improve Sleep

  1. Remove all clutter from your bedroom.
  2. Progressively get to bed a little earlier each week until you are getting at least 7.5 hours a night.
  3. Remove the TV from your bedroom.  You don’t need it to fall asleep. No you don’t.
  4. Make your room pitch black. Use black out curtains or invest in custom-made window inserts.
  5. Make the room cooler. Lower the heat to between 65-68° F.
  6. Go to bed at the same time every night. Even on the weekends.
  7. Stop drinking liquids at least 2 hours before bed.
  8. Avoid alcohol 3-4 hours before bed.
  9. Avoid technology in bed. Turn off all technology an hour before going to bed.
  10. Before retiring to the bedroom, do mindful breathing for a few moments to let go of all the events of the day, good or bad.
  11. If you like to read for a few minutes before bed, read an actual book, and let it be something relaxing for your mind, like fiction perhaps.
  12. Try journaling for a few minutes, or write down 5 things that you feel grateful for that day.


Start with one habit per week and be consistent. Within 12 weeks you should notice positive changes in how you sleep, function, feel and perform.

If you want to see my other tips and learn other ways to improve sleep, download my Free eBook today.


Posted by Vanessa in Sleep

How to Black Out Your Windows With Sleep Panels

Black Out Your Windows With Sleep Panels

Sleep isn’t a luxury.  It’s vital for health and well-being. You need consistent, quality sleep to support emotional well-being, healthy weight, creativity, thought, your looks, hormone balance, brain cleansing and recovery from intense athletic training. To create an optimal environment for quality sleep, your bedroom needs to be dark, quiet and cool.  Depending on how noisy your street and what direction your bedroom faces, custom-made window inserts might be the answer for you. Indow sleep panels are an elegant solution that provides more darkness and sound dampening than any alternative. Plus they eliminate drafts making them energy efficient.

Indow sleep panels block 100% of the light (dark curtains do not) and more than 50% of the noise coming through your windows. Night-shift workers, those who live a Paleo lifestyle, parents of young children and others seeking undisturbed sleep can finally get it. These panels are custom-made and just press into place. When it’s time to let the natural light in, they are easily removed.

Check out this testimonial:


Indow sleep panels are designed and assembled in Oregon.  Click here for more info and to get a free estimate.

For more great tips on how to eat, sleep, live and perform better contact us here:


Posted by Vanessa in Sleep

One Minute Anti-Inflammatory Mayonnaise

Store-Bought Mayonnaise Is Inflammatory

Look at the ingredient list for most brands of store-bought Mayonnaise (and salad dressings) and the first ingredient you see is Soybean oil.  Soybean oil is very high in Omega 6 fatty acids which makes it inflammatory.

We need Omega 6 and Omega 3 fats, but excessive amounts of Omega 6’s contributes to inflammation.

Egg yolks are fairly high in Omega 6 fats as well (1 large yolk yields 601mg) but they contain vitamins, minerals and amino acids that we need.

One tablespoon of Soybean oil contains a whopping 5,101 mg of Omega 6 fats.

Currently, the ratio of Omega 6 to Omega 3 in the Western diet is 15:1 – 16.7:1
The recommended ratio is 1:1 – 4:1

You Can Make A Healthy Mayonnaise Simply At Home

To help combat the inflammatory nature of high-fat Soybean oil, try this recipe out. I’ve experimented with both Extra Virgin Olive oil and Avocado oil (and varying ratios of both) and every time it was too bitter and heavy tasting for me. Also, feel free to experiment with different herbs if Tarragon doesn’t work for you. I love this finished product. Once you find the right blend for your taste you won’t want to go back to store-bought mayo. It’s delicious with eggs or meat and you can make an awesome tuna salad as well. Enjoy!

Anti-Inflammatory Mayonnaise Made Easy

You will need:
An immersion blender & a
tall(ish) jar


1 Room Temperature  Egg
1 tablespoon Dijon Mustard
1 teaspoon fresh Tarragon
2 teaspoons Apple Cider Vinegar
1 cup Extra Light Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper to taste

Combine ingredients in jar.
Insert blender to the bottom of the jar. Hold button down & hold still for about 10-15ish seconds, then slowly work blender up the jar and watch mayo thicken and rise. Blend to desired thickness.
Store in fridge for up to one week.

Recipe courtesy of: Dr. Vanessa Nicoletta

Nutrition info source:

A rising tide lifts all boats! If you found this info to be valuable share!!

Posted by Vanessa in Food for Function

Get Melatonin Naturally: 5 ways to make it yourself

Millions of Americans experience difficulty sleeping each year.

According to a survey from the National Sleep Foundation in 2011, two-thirds of Americans say their sleep needs are not being met during the week.  Forty percent of adults say that they are so sleepy during the day that it interferes with their daily activities.   Studies have shown that sleep deprivation is worse for women.  Researchers at Duke University found that sleep deprived women experienced higher amounts of depression, psychological stress and anger.

According to this study, pharmaceutical companies had reported an increased number of prescriptions filled for sleep medication in the last two decades.  Like any drug, these medications can have side effects.  But not sleeping is more harmful. Lack of sleep is associated with high blood pressure, type II diabetes, heart disease, depression, cancer and obesity.

Continue reading →

Posted by Vanessa in Sleep

Minimize Inflammation to Feel Better & Improve Function


We are seeing more on the subject of chronic inflammation as the root cause of disease.

We all suffer from varying chronic health issues that are caused by ongoing inflammation. These issues can manifest themselves in varying degrees of severity ranging from allergies, joint aches and pains, itchy skin, headaches, chronic fatigue, moodiness, depression, digestive conditions, arthritis, chronic annoying injuries, dysmenorrhea and asthma to osteoporosis, hypertension, diabetes and cancer.  The best way to address our own chronic inflammation is to reduce and/or eliminate pro-inflammatory foods from our diet, improve sleep hygiene, minimize emotional stress and reduce exposure to as many chemical stressors in our environment as possible.  This post will focus on reducing inflammation through the diet.

Continue reading →

Posted by Vanessa in Food for Function

Go to bed to clear your head



” Early to bed, early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise”

– Benjamin Franklin 

 In this TED talk, neuroscience researcher Jeff Iliff explains how our brains clear out waste while we sleep.  The brain has no lymphatic vessels.  The fluid surrounding the brain called Cerebrospinal Fluid (CSF) is pumped around the surface and into the deeper crevices of the brain along the blood vessels helping to clear the waste products between the cells.

The main waste product of interest in recent research studies is Amyloid Beta.  Amyloid Beta builds up in the spaces between the brain cells, and it’s build up is thought to be one of the steps in the formation of Alzheimer’s Disease. According to Iliff, the clearance of Amyloid Beta occurs much faster when the brain is asleep.


While you sleep your brain shifts into cleaning mode.  Yet another reason to get consistent quality sleep.  If you liked this talk share it!


Posted by Vanessa in Sleep

Your Bedroom..a cold and dark place


Sleep is something I harp on these days although I didn’t used to. I used to hate going to bed. “I’ll sleep when I’m dead ” was my attitude. Years ago when I was training and competing in Olympic Style Weightlifting I would get an average of 5-6 hours of sleep per night.  I look back now and to this day I think the lack of sleep negatively affected both recovery and performance. Not to mention my overall health.  These days when it comes to training my priorities are as follows: train, sleep more, and eat clean (within reason).  Now that I’m an older athlete and back to regular training I really notice the difference in my energy, focus, and performance when I haven’t slept enough. One of my health goals is to consistently get at least 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep every night.

Continue reading →

Posted by Vanessa in Sleep

Clean Your House Without Harsh Chemicals

“Our house is clean enough to be healthy and dirty enough to be happy.”

– Unknown

I was organizing the cabinet under the kitchen sink and quickly realized how many old brand name cleansers I had.  Between several different brands of window cleaners, bathroom cleansers, and polishes, I wasn’t sure which ones to throw out first. Then I decided they all had to go. Especially the stuff that had been sitting under there for years! Think about it, between inhaling cleansers in a smaller room (like your bathroom) and having that stuff touch your skin (maybe you use gloves, maybe you don’t), it’s highly likely that toxins are getting into your body one way or the other when you use them. Continue reading →

Posted by Vanessa
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