Run 2 Your Own Beat

Run 2 Your Own Beat

A Health & Happiness Blog

Spring Cleaning! [Pun Intended!]


Howdy folks! I finished up my spring semester and made my way through finals week. I’m pretty satisfied overall with my performance this semester. I’ve been enjoying a nice 2 week break from classes until I start my summer courses on Monday! 

The Franco Fam has also been busy lately – we just had my brother’s Bar Mitzvah this past Saturday. Mazel Tov Ben! Matt, myself, and everyone else there had a great time. It was wonderful to see close friends and family who I don’t get to see very often, but have known since I was a little girl. I could not have been more proud of my younger brother. 


So much hard work by my lovely mother, family, and close friends to make this party happen!


Matt looks so handsome in his yamaka


I really like you say..break-it-down.


Beautiful cousin!


Cousin on the left, boyfriend on the right! Dapper AF.


Beautiful best friend!

For the past few weeks while I’ve been able to adhere to my ideal gym schedule, Matt and I have been working on our barbell cleans lately. It’s been a long time since I incorporated barbell cleans into a workout, as I usually will do KB or DB cleans. 

I love cleans because in my opinion, I feel like they can help to easily identify where muscle weaknesses may lie. They are one of the most functional movements and involve nearly every body segment. 

While barbell cleans are functional and fantastic, they are not for everybody. They are not for beginners, individuals with chronic joint issues/pain, certain types of arthritis, and some older individuals. With that said, it can be something that you can work up to. 

This is what the progression to a barbell clean can look like:

  1. KB/DB deadlift
  2. KB swing (traditional – not american swing)
  3. Single arm DB clean
  4. KB clean (sorta optional)
  5. Barbell deadlift
  6. Barbell clean

If you’ve seen any videos from the CrossFit Games or in any CrossFit youtube videos, usually you’ll see people repping out cleans and totally killing it. DO NOT let this intimidate you! Of course they look like rock stars doing those cleans, making it look unattainable to the average human being. Folks, practice makes perfect. Their cleans may look perfect in a video, but I almost guarantee you they did not start off that way!

Everybody has a jumping off point, and they are all at different heights. All that matters is that once you jump off, you will FLY!!!

Also: this was my 100th post! Yaaay Blogging!!

Where Oh Where Have I Been? [+ Fried Zucchini!]


Where in the heck have I been??

Okay folks, I’m going to be completely transparent with you here. Since the last time I’ve posted, I’ve just been living my life – literally. That’s all. Once I was finally able to go into public places without a mask and gloves on and was able to get back into the gym, I’ve mostly just been focusing on getting myself back to where I was, and I’m still working on that. 

I started back up with school at East Stroudsburg, and over winter break, while working on a coaching internship at Liven Up, I decided that I wanted to change my concentration to pre-professional therapeutic sciences (basically pre-physical therapy) instead of exercise physiology. This entails an additional 3 years of graduate school to eventually become a Doctor of Physical Therapy. 

I haven’t had time to blog as much as I’d ideally like to because my primary focus must be school. I would love to spend my time creating recipes in the kitchen and creating cool infographics of workouts, but after working on lab reports and studying for classes, I have a hard time forcing myself to sit down at my computer and do it. In addition to that, I want to share high-quality, scientifically accurate information with you, and so to do that, I want to be as educated as I possibly can be. As a result, I spend a lot of my time studying and reading my text books and learning how to apply all of that knowledge.

In light of this, I’ve been doing more ‘micro-blogging’ on my instagram (@run2yourownbeat), where I’ll share more of my kitchen endeavors and what not and such which. 

What can you expect to see here in the future?

Here it is – in writing. I’m setting a goal to write 2-4 posts per month (start small, right?) with quality information about fitness-related topics that will hopefully leave you with some little nuggets of information that you can (hopefully) incorporate into your life somehow. I’ll still probably include little tidbits about my life here and there – like the killer fried zucchini I’m about to show you – but the primary focus for now will be on fitness. If you have any questions or suggestions for my next post, shoot me an email at Don’t be shy! :)


This. Was. Delicious. And it was so very easy to make. I got the recipe from this nice lady here, but I made a few modifications. I used brown rice flour instead of all purpose, I used gluten free panko, and coconut oil instead of vegetable oil. Boy were they delicious..and addicting! But I’s vegetables, right? ;) That’s about all I’ve got for now. Bye!

You Can Never Have Too Much Avocado [WIAW + Home Workout #3]

Screen Shot 2015-07-22 at 11.15.22 AM

HUMP DAYYYY! Happy hump day everyone. I hope your week is going smoothly, and I hope you’re enjoying some beautiful weather as we are here in eastern PA!

For a while before I went in for chemo and my transplant, I hadn’t eating very much avocado as a source of healthy fat. I usually got my healthy fats from nut butters and olive oils. What I’m realizing now is that avocado adds an amazing amount of variety to my diet! This week, I’ve been having avocado toast or avocado in my salad at least once a day.

Monday night's dinner - steak caesar salad!

Monday night’s dinner – steak caesar salad!

My favorite breakfast at the moment is avocado toast with some diced tomatoes and a sprinkle of salt. It really makes the avo the star of this simple dish – the crunch of the toast combined with the creamy texture of the avocado, and the salt brings out the nuttiness, while the tomatoes add just enough savory-sweetness. I’ve already eaten this morning, but just writing about it has me craving more! :)


It also works wonderfully as a light lunch with grilled chicken and salsa on top!


Paired with some greek yogurt for protein, this gave me so much energy for my workout on Monday!












Getting into a habit with a fitness routine can be tough, but I’m starting to feel myself get used to it – I’ve exercised the past three days and am going to exercise again today! With this wonderful weather, how could I not go outside? 

Collapsing in the grass, but all smiles after some sprints on Sunday!

Collapsing in the grass, but all smiles after some sprints on Sunday!

I want to share with you my upper body burnout workout I did on Monday. I hope you get a chance to try it and that you find it enjoyable! 


 Exercise Tips & Tutorials:

1A:  Be careful not to lift your butt up! Here’s a good demo:

1B: Anchor your band to a sturdy post. The knee that is on the ground is the same side as your working arm.  Be careful not to raise your elbow above shoulder height! This exercise is going to work your rotator cuff stabilizers, chest, as well as your core. In the resting position, your arm should be at a 45 degree angle from your body. Make sure your hips are facing front at all times. This gentleman here provides an excellent demonstration:

2A: This is a power movement. Don’t think of it as two exercises combined – it is not just a squat + overhead press. Hold the dumbbells in front of your deltoid (shoulder) with a neutral grip (palms facing in), making sure that you are not simply resting the dumbbells on your shoulders. Squat down, and as you come up from your squat, use the momentum to press the dumbbells overhead, maintaining your neutral grip. Here is a good demo: (Side note: You don’t have to squat below parallel – it depends on your range of motion!)

2B: This superset is meant to burnout those shoulders! Don’t take any rest time after the thrusters. For this bent over dumbbell row, bend at the hips and slightly bend the knees- eyes towards the ground. Pull the weights from the inside of your knees to the outside of your hips. Here’s a great demo:

3A: These SB scorpions are tough, but great for your obliques and lower abs. If you are unable to fully draw your leg across your body, bring your knee to the opposite elbow will do just fine. Here’s a good demo:

3B: Push ups – These are pretty straight forward. At this point, your arms are going to be fatiguing but don’t give up! Your body will thank you tomorrow. Some modifications of the traditional push up include doing the push up on your knees & hands, keeping the body in a straight line, or doing the push ups with your hands against the wall or on an elevated surface about 1 1/2 to 2 feet above the ground. The greater your incline, the easier the movement will be. Don’t forget to keep your arms at a 45 degree angle from your body!

And Suddenly..SALAD. [Home Workout #2]

Happy Saturday! *dances the weekend dance* ;)

This week ended up going by much quicker than I anticipated. I kept myself busy with several doctors appointments, and lots of cooking! Tuesday was my appointment with my transplant doctor, and he lifted two more of my restrictions – I don’t have to wear a mask and gloves anymore in public and I can have salads/raw fruits/veggies!! SWEET FREEDOM!!  On Wednesday, I did a total of three miles – running the 1st and 3rd miles! I followed that up with some core work. I also had my first salad in almost 5 months!! 


I had to go with chicken caesar salad, since I’ve been craving it for so long! I love the deep green color of the kale, spinach, and chard mix. Instead of using a heavy, cream-based caesar dressing, I used Cardini’s Light Caesar vinaigrette..It’s delicious! During my grocery shopping adventures, I stumbled upon this gem..spoiler alert – it’s fantastic!! 


Thursday morning I had an interview, and later on, I had a salad with peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes, chicken, avocado, and cranberries..and homemade croutons with sprouted grain bread! I’ll post the recipe for those next week :)

IMG_9267       IMG_9269 2


Friday, I spent some time with family for brunch, but didn’t feel well for the rest of the day so I just rested on the couch. I hate when I feel like that, because there’s always things I could be getting done, but my body holds me back. I just have to keep reminding myself – it’s a marathon, not a sprint!

 As promised, here is Home Workout #2! 



How do you stay motivated with your fitness routine? If you would like any tutorials for these workouts or have any questions, contact me at :)

Home Workout #1: 45 Minutes or Less!

Howdy folks, and happy Monday! This past weekend was beautiful here in Eastern PA! My boyfriend and I enjoyed some wine on the Level3 Rooftop of Melt on Friday, and on Saturday we swam in his parents backyard pool and grilled chicken, corn, and veggies for dinner.


Friday Evening enjoying beautiful weather and wine!

It was definitely a great weekend together before he left on vacation!

Unfortunately, because I am still within the first 100 days since my stem cell transplant, I’m not allowed to travel on planes or out of a certain radius from my doctor, and I’m not allowed to go to the beach. I’m having some serious FOMO (fear of missing out) right now – Kayla is in California for BlogFest, boyfriend is on vacation, and some of my other friends seem to be out of town too! It’s killing me! 

The best thing I can do, however, is to continue to use this time to focus on me. Last week I did some great home workouts, since I’m not allowed to go to the gym yet either! My only equipment used is a 20 lb kettle bell, a set of 10 lb and 15 lb dumbbells, a resistance band w/ handles, and a stability ball. If you possess some or all of these items, you can give yourself a great muscle-building, calorie-burning workout! I used to lift a lot heavier before my transplant, so having lighter weight forces me to find creative ways to challenge myself. I’ll be posting them throughout this week!


An Ode to Salad


Having a stem cell transplant is a relatively quick process – at least the transplant itself is. Stem cells are already collected, so they literally just push them into the IV and it takes less than five minutes. The difficult part, at least for me, is the precautions that have to be followed during recovery. I can’t go in public places without a mask and gloves, and I have to be on a low-microbial diet. 

The most difficult part for me, however, has been the diet. I can’t eat any raw vegetables or fruits, except for thick-skinned citrus fruits and bananas, or washed/peeled apples and cucumbers. I also can’t eat any leafy greens. 

No spinach.

No kale.

No chard.

No radicchio.

No spring mix.

No romaine.

No happiness :(

When people think ‘diet’ or ‘healthy’, they frequently think of salad. Why? Because salad packs a powerful punch of nutrients in a very low-calorie package. Beyond its functional purposes in any healthy diet, salads are SO fun.

Imagine salads as those goodie bags you used to get from birthday parties as a kid. Quite honestly, that was the part of the parties I looked forward to most – getting to the end of the party to take away a colorful plastic baggie of assorted dollar-store toys and candy. You could put any combination of items in a bag and call it a goodie bag, much like you can also put any combination of food items in a bowl and call it a salad.

You’ve got your bean salads, quinoa salads, egg salads, pasta salads, berry salads, nut salads…the list goes on. 

I’m going to sit here lustfully as I look back on all of the salads I’ve posted on my blog. And I’m not going to feel bad about it!


Lettuce Wraps

Buffalo Chicken Lettuce Wraps with Carrots



Mexican Quinoa Salad



Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad




Holiday Picnic Salads



MORE Holiday Picnic Salads



Salad with Berries



Salad with chicken and fresh mozzarella!



Kale salad! (bottom left)



Salad with rainbow peppers and berries!



Salad inside a pita!



Restaurant Salads at the Beach!


photo 4-1

Salads with Toast!



Salads on the go!


Chicken and apple salads!



Salad with goat cheese!



Wegmans salads!



Salads at work!



Salads in wrap form!



Twisted Olive salads!



Crappy airport salads!



Salads in Las Vegas!



COLORFUL Salads in Las Vegas!



Salad leaves disguised as taco shells!!



Everything but the kitchen sink salads!



Steak salads in California!



Salad jars!



Lunches on the left, dinners on the right!

Salad jars with actual salad and chicken salad!


I will end my ode to salad with an open letter to salad directly:

Dear Salad,

I’m sorry I ever took you for granted. We humans always want something new and exciting, but we also fail to realize that you, Salad, are as new and exciting as it gets! Your ability to ‘keep things interesting’ and ‘spice it up’ forever leaves me lovestruck. I promise I will never ever leave you again. Please forgive me for being so neglectful of you and cooking you while on this low-microbial diet. I promise to love you in your true, natural form. 

Yours indubitably,


Stem Cell Transplant: Moving Forward


Howdy folks! Since I have so much time on my hands, I thought this would be a great time to get back into the habit of blogging. I love sharing my workouts and healthy recipes with you, however due to recent events, I found it hard to find inspiration because I had so much to worry about with figuring out logistics and dealing with my treatments, etc. 

What I’ve Been Doing

Sometimes, a whole lot of nothing! When I first got to the Hope Lodge, I was still a lot weaker than I was before. The day I got out of the hospital, I walked 10 blocks with my aunt and cousin. I was really pushing it – that exhausted me. Once I checked into the Hope Lodge, I was still very tired and even cooking for myself was a chore. I’m lucky enough to have had my aunt as my caretaker, and she did most of the cooking while I was still weak. 

I started doing Daily Burn again – I’d done a review of the site before, and I loved it! I stopped using it though because I had the ability to go to the gym all the time. This ended up being a perfect time to pick it back up again. I’ve been doing the yoga program for a little over a week now, and I’m already feeling stronger. I’m also really sore!! :P I do yoga every other day, and even on the days I do yoga, I try to meet my daily step goal of 5,000 steps. 

My FitBit has been awesome in this recovery because it helps me stay active, inching my way towards my goals. Here’s a snapshot of my yoga workout that I logged from the other day. Since I have the Charge HR, it shows a graph of where my heart rate was throughout the workout:



I’ve also been participating in some daily/weekly challenges with some friends from back home – if it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t be moving as much as I am! Thanks guys for pushing me to keep getting stronger!!

Some of my walks may or may not have been to some of the stores during off-peak hours and I may or may not have done some shopping.. :D

Other than yoga, walking, cooking occasionally, reading, and catching up with TV shows on Hulu, I spend a decent chunk of time wishing I could just be home again. My stamina isn’t near what I want it to be, and I still get tired easily, but I am getting stronger every day!

What I’ve Been Eating

For the first 100 days after the transplant, I have a relatively weak immune system – like that of a baby. I have to be on a low-microbial diet, meaning limited fresh fruits/veggies, no leafy greens – anything that could potentially be harboring any bacteria that my immune system cannot yet handle. It hasn’t been too bad so far – I’ve found ways to make sure I still get vegetables in my diet, and some fruits. I’m eating a lot of frozen veggies, and I found a brand that makes hormone/antibiotic free, all natural grilled chicken strips that taste delicious. I can eat some fruits/vegetables if they are well washed and peeled though! I’ve been eating three solid meals a day, which is fantastic and I’m slowly starting to get my taste buds back. Oh, also, I can’t drink for 3-6 months. Boo :( 

Here’s the first ‘home-cooked’ meal I had since mid-march – cooked all by myself! (Okay, with some help from my aunt!) I made an egg scramble with peppers, tomatoes, and onions, hash browns, and bacon! YUM! I’ve also been LOVING bulletproof coffee lately!!


On a day earlier this week when I was feeling super energized, I decided to try a recipe I found online for Gluten Free Monkey Bread. I know it’s not the healthiest option, but it’s never a bad time to…


It. Was. Fabulous. I used Bob’s Red Mill GF pizza dough instead of making dough from scratch, and I spent a solid chunk of my afternoon making this recipe. I didn’t mind it though, because it gave me something to do. I shared it with some of my friends on my floor and they loved it!  



So..that’s about all I’ve got to share for now! I’m going to be starting a year of a maintenance drug called Brentuximab on Tuesday, and that’ll be a 1 hour infusion every 3 weeks. It’s relatively well tolerated, and as long as I don’t have any reactions to it, I’ll be heading home by the end of next week! YAY!!!! And just for kicks, here’s a picture of me in my new wig enjoying some fresh air, being a rebel without my mask and gloves! :o


Dealing with Recurrence


Happy spring everyone! I’m back from my hiatus..sort of. I mean, I definitely have more time on my hands, and I figure this might be the best way to offer insight into what I’ve been dealing with the past two months.

When I left you on my hiatus, I was working almost 30 hours a week at Liven Up Health and Fitness and trying to keep up with college classes. I was taking on more responsibilities at work, including managing their blog and doing marketing and promotional work for them. On February 11th, I was officially rediagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma.

I knew something was off with my body because my primary symptom, chronic systemic itching, was back. I called the doctor, had blood work done, and had a PET scan. By february 11th, the results were in and my doctor informed me of the treatment plan. It was supposed to be 3-4 rounds of intense ICE chemo, followed by a stem cell transplant.

For the transplant, I had to choose a major hospital to do it wih, so I chose Memorial Sloan Kettering in New York, NY.

Here I am, getting a pedicure, after one treatment of ICE at St. Lukes in Behlehem, and one augmented ICE treatment at MSK. The second one was ROUGH. I even got sick in the hospital, which I hadn’t done from any of my other chemo treatments. That was just last week – I was in the hospital from Monday to Thursday. On Tuesday, they took my port out, and on Wednesday, they put a catheter in my chest so they can collect my stem cells.

Every day for the past week, I have to give myself 2 injections of Neupogen at home so that my stem cells will be present in my blood, instead of staying in my bone marrow.

I’m heading into NY from sunday til tuesday or Wednesday for the stem cell collection, then again the week after for another PET scan. If that scan shows no evidence of disease, I’ll be good to go for my stem cell transplant. For that, I’ll have to stay in the hospital for 3.5 to 4 weeks because my immune system will be starting from zero.

Trust me, trying to wrap my head around all of the treatments I’ve got ahead of me is like going to school. Speaking of which, I thought I could stay up to date with everything, but I can’t. The timing of this diagnosis couldn’t be more off. So I’m looking into a medical withdrawal, but unfortunately, the Department of Education doesn’t distinguish between a medical withdrawal and a regular withdrawal..causing me to lose out on the several thousand dollars in financial aid loans. I’m..trying to figure that out. I’m in the process of applying to ESU so I can continue and finish my exercise science degree when this is all over.

I haven’t been working since late February, but I have been trying to keep up with the blogging and digital marketing for work.

I’m feeling a lot better from last week’s round of chemo, but the neupogen injections are starting to give me bone pain.

There are, however, some positive things to come out of this – thanks to Whitney D’Errico. She is not only my boss, but she is a mentor, a role model, and an inspiration to me. Because of my rediagnosis, she is starting a nonprofit foundation called the Work It Out foundation, to help not only me it many others in any kind of struggle they may be in, using fitness, nutrition, and other aspects of wellness. We’ve filmed some videos which will all be debuted on April 18th at the Broadway Social from 1 to 3 pm. I’ll post something about that on facebook. The day before, I have been asked to speak at the Relay for Life event at DeSales University. I could not be more honored and thrilled to be able to share my story and inspire and help others in any way possible.

My first diagnosis was an awakening to change the course of my life, and this recurrence is a second awakening further directing me to where I’m supposed to be in life. While my success train may be temporarily derailed, it is getting some serious upgrades in the body shop. Stay tuned for updates!!!


Happy belated new year, all! I hope 2015 has been good to you so far. Prior to my last update, the frequency of my posts had been dwindling. I love blogging – so much. I love cooking healthy meals and experimenting with recipes and trying new workouts. But I’m also still in school, and working every night during the week and saturday mornings. At my job at Liven Up Health and Fitness, my responsibilities stem beyond just front desk staff. I’ve been taking part in a lot of the company’s blogging, and helping to increase their social media presence. 

It’s become a little bit difficult for me to manage both my blog as well as Liven Up’s, while contributing interesting, original content to both, but that’s difficult while I’m working a lot and managing schoolwork. I want to ensure that I do my best in school, with a courseload of 12 credits this semester. Long story short, I will officially be taking an indefinite hiatus from blogging at I will still post on Instagram and Twitter occasionally though! 

Thank you for your support through the past 2 years! I’ll be back soon enough. :)

Gobble Gobble! #Bacon.


I know, that title is really original, right? So, I told you in my last post that there would be good things ahead. And there are!! Like Maple Bacon Brussel sprouts. If you don’t like brussel sprouts, this recipe will probably make you like them. Because bacon. So…..bacon.

I’m currently working at an amazing facility called Liven Up Health & Fitness, and a majority of my time to blog will be spent writing for their blog – Check it out here to stay updated with their posts! I’m about to be quite consumed with their new 25 Days of Fitness campaign, as well as wrapping up the fall semester. I’m thrilled to be part of such a supportive, enthusiastic community!

I will do my very best, though, to give you read-worthy content!!! In my opinion, bacon = read-worthy. So, here it is!! 

By the way, it was almost 70 degrees here in eastern Pennsylvania in NOVEMBER, and in 2 days we are supposed to get 6+ inches of snow. What? Mother Nature, make up your mind, woman! She’s worse than me getting ready for a night out! (Because I change outfits like five times before leaving..get it? Okay. Bad joke. MERP.) I’ll just give you the bacon recipe now:

Maple Bacon Roasted Brussel Sprouts
Because BACON.
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Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
40 min
Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
40 min
  1. 1.5-2 lbs Brussel Sprouts
  2. 6-7 slices of bacon (preferably organic)
  3. 1/3 cup Maple Syrup
  4. 1/3 cup Olive Oil
  5. 1 tsp salt
  6. 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  7. Dash of pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees
  2. Rinse brussel sprouts, and cut them in halves.
  3. Chop bacon into small pieces
  4. Toss brussels with maple syrup, bacon, olive oil, salt, and pepper.
  5. Place brussel sprouts cut-side down on a baking sheet (or two, if you run out of room). Cook for 10 minutes, then use a spatula to flip them. Cook for 10 more minutes, or until tender.
  6. BACON
Adapted from Gabby's Gluten Free
Adapted from Gabby's Gluten Free
Run 2 Your Own Beat