Maria is a registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN) and a Washington State certified dietitian-nutritionist (CDN) with a Master of Science degree in Human Nutrition and Food Science. She is the creator and owner of Inspired Eating, a Health at Every Size® practice that helps people who feel anxiety and guilt around food, who engage in disordered eating thoughts and behaviors and those who are in eating disorder recovery make peace with food and eat in a supportive and nourishing way. Maria works with clients from a trauma-informed and Polyvagal Theory lens. Consults focus heavily on understanding behaviors, intuitive eating strategies, shifts in mindset and support.
Maria is also a professional mountain ultra trail runner for the shoe company, La Sportiva. Her athletic accomplishments include North American Mountain Running Champion, Trail Half Marathon National Champion, and member of multiple U.S. teams competing throughout North America and Europe.
Primary activity: Mountain Ultra Trail Runner
Location: Bellingham, WA
Introvert or extrovert: Introvert
Caffeinated or decaf: Caffeinated
What is your primary mixed terrain activity or passion?
I am a mountain ultra trail runner for the shoe company, La Sportiva. I have been competing for over 20 years, having started my career in middle school cross country and track. I continued with a successful high school resume and progressed to run track and cross country on scholarship for West Virginia University, an NCAA Division I college. After college, I started competing solely on the mountain and trails as that was a way for me to stay injury-free and also experience some of the most beautiful places that you can only get to on foot.
What impact does nature, and your movement in nature, have on your wellbeing?
I feel incredibly blessed to have the privilege to be able to move my body on a daily basis. Having the opportunity to unplug literally and figuratively every day is extremely powerful in keeping me healthy physically and mentally.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
I start every day by answering any client emails and preparing for consults later in the day. I typically train from 9am to noon. This includes a run, stretching, mobility and strength work. After lunch I take a nap and then wake up to switch hats from athlete to dietitian. I meet virtually with clients until 6pm and then rest the remainder of the evening.
What is one habit of yours that makes you a better athlete?
I take rest really seriously. Naps may seem indulgent, but they are necessary for me to be able to function at my work and recover from running 80-90 miles a week.
How do you measure success?
As long as I give my best, even when I make mistakes, that is success to me.
What is one struggle you’ve had and how did you overcome it?
I struggle with panic attacks that affect my day to day life. I don’t drive because of an intense fear of losing control and hurting myself or others. This has been a challenge in my life for about 9 years now, but it is something that I hope to overcome in the future. I also have a lot of anxiety about crossing bridges or being alone on the trails.
What life lessons did you take from the experience?
I have a really supportive husband who knows when to push me and when to support my decision to stop or turn around. It really helps to have someone you trust.
What habits have you developed to help manage your wellbeing and mental health?
I make sleep a priority, I run with my phone and a tracker, and I give myself a lot of compassion.
What habits do you wish to develop to help manage your wellbeing and mental health?
I wish to develop the capacity to just be with my feelings of fear instead of running from them.
Have you recognized triggers you now avoid to manage your mental health?
I don’t do certain things that will trigger my panic attacks, but this avoidant behavior tends to make the anxiety worse.
What advice do you have for someone in a similar experience as you?
Don’t be afraid or ashamed to ask for help. Speaking from experience, it’s comforting to know there are other people with the same or similar struggles as me.
Describe an adventure you undertook that had an impact on your life.
A big adventure that had a significant impact on my life was the first time I ran all the way around Mt. St. Helens in Washington state. The circumnavigation along the Loowit Trail tested all of my physical and mental capacities. I feel like after completing that loop I grew significantly as an athlete and a person. I gained so much confidence from pushing through and overcoming my fear and fatigue.
What apps, gear, or training tools can’t you live without?
What nutritional camp do you subscribe to, if any?
I don’t subscribe to any nutritional camp.
What are your responsibilities/interests outside of training?
I am a registered dietitian with a virtual private practice called Inspired Eating.
When and where are you happiest?
I love the feeling after a long and hard effort when you know you’ve given it your all and can now celebrate with friends and loved ones.