Warm Kale and Rice Salad

I wish I’d taken a picture of this when I made it. We ended up eating it all because it was so yummy. The recipe can be tweaked or adapted to feed a larger crowd. I was also totally winging it so these are my best guestimates with measurements. I will update this post when I make it again.


For the dressing:

  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 1 clove finely minced garlic or 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp each of salt and pepper

For Salad:

  • 3-4 cups of kale or baby kale, whichever you prefer
  • 1-2 cups of freshly cooked, hot rice (heat will help to wilt kale)
  • Optional add-ins: avocado, grape tomatoes, black beans, chickpeas
  • You could also use quinoa instead of rice for protein

– Add kale to a large mixing bowl
– Add all dressing ingredients to a mason jar, close lid tightly and shake it like you mean it!
– Pour dressing over kale and mix it with your hands, squeeze/massage the kale to marinate it with dressing.
– Add hot rice and mix well.
– Add other optional ingredients

– Mixed with sauteed ground beef with Mexican seasonings
– As a side with grilled chicken or other protein
– As a main meal if made with quinoa, beans, additional veggies

2020 is Somethin’ Else!

Raise your hand if 2020 has turned your life upside down….

I’m sitting over here raising not one, but both, of my hands. I remember hearing rumblings of “this coronavirus thing”. I asked all my doctor and nurse friends about it. Didn’t seem like that big a deal back in February.

Fast forward to July. As it turns out, coronavirus and it’s associated illness, COVID-19, are a freaking huge deal. People are dying, it’s now normal to wear a mask in public, and businesses have closed their doors for good – including the one I worked at for the last 9 years. There’s a energy of unrest all around.

My attitude has been mostly optimistic. I am a person who tries to see the good in things, even when they’re bad, probably to preserve myself from getting sucked into darkness. I believe that things generally work out they way they are meant to. My son, Miles, provides me with laughter, joy, and hope for a bright future. I am so grateful for him during this time.

It has been quite a while since I have written here, but I want (and need) to get back into writing as a creative outlet for myself. I want to use this blog as a way to share my experience and knowledge. I thank you for reading and hope that you learn something or find something you can relate to.

Photo from January 2020. Be the light.

Hello, Again!

It’s been quite some time since I’ve published anything here and I want to take a moment to reintroduce myself. My name is Ashley Lemieux and I reside in New Hampshire with my husband, Jameson, our dog, Chip, and six chickens. In 2016 we bought a fixer upper that has great bones and we’ve slowly been making improvements to create a home that fits our personalities and needs. Home improvement and design projects are very satisfying to me and I find them to be a great hobby and passion of mine. I’ll be sharing some of our projects here on the blog.

Professionally I am a fitness and health coach. I work at a gym called OPEX Hampstead, right here in southern NH. My brother Kyle owns the gym so I am fortunate to work with him each day. Some people ask if it is challenging to work with a family member, and while I see how it could be, I find it to be quite rewarding and enjoyable. I believe that we work well together because we have created lives outside of business that we love and enjoy and over the years we have learned how our work styles fit together.

At OPEX Hampstead we offer personalized fitness and nutrition plans. It’s a unique model of fitness where each client works directly with myself or Kyle, completes their workouts in the gym or remotely when it’s convenient for them, and gets to be part of our inviting and supportive community of members. After almost 15 years of experience in the health and fitness industry I have found a mode of fitness that makes a lot of sense to me and gets people the results they want.

I am passionate about bringing truth to health and fitness. Mainstream fitness and nutrition culture creates the notion that health and fitness are easily achievable in a short amount of time. There are billions of dollars worth of products, programs, and supplements for sale that make us believe that we need to be fixed. In reality we need to find a fitness plan that works for our lifestyle and practice eating real food on a consistent basis. True health and fitness is a simple concept that it actually very challenging to realize. It is my mission to help people figure out how to make health attainable for their life. I want to honor each individual and I want to offer my knowledge and experience and lead by example.

I selected Ashley Finding Balance as the name of my blog several years ago. The concept of balance is rampant in the health industry and after years of trying to “find it” I actually believe that it may not exist in the way we think it should. Balance is about creating a lifestyle that is satisfying and fulfilling for you, and that means it may be different for everyone. For example, a person who works 70 hours per week may not appear “balanced” to an outsider, but that work may bring him or her so much joy and fulfillment that without it they feel a sense of imbalance. Perhaps that 70 hours of work doesn’t feel like work and they are able to reach all of their goals and desires for life. We have to be careful not to judge balance for others or be too critical of ourselves for feeling like “nothing is in balance”. We must work to recognize when something seems out of whack and pursue a plan for making it feel better for our life. That, my friend, is finding balance. 

I look forward to the year ahead and hope you will join me on this journey!

Where you can find me:

Instagram @ashleyrochefort
Facebook Personal @ashleylemieux
Facebook Page Find Your Balance Nutrition & Lifestyle
Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, and Spotify where I co-host the Long Live Fitness Podcast

ashl reintro

Patience, Grief and Trust

The Journey
I believe that you need to look at your health and fitness as a journey. There will always be peaks and low points, and even plateaus. I also believe that the variance is what keeps you alive, learning, fighting for more, and making progress. If the journey was constantly the same you would begin to rest on your laurels, get bored, become complacent, and eventually stop.

Over the last two years my journey has changed drastically. I went from wanting to be competitive in CrossFit as a sport to not wanting to workout at all, all while experiencing pretty much everything in between. Each time I make may way through one of these transitional times in my journey I look back and appreciate all of the feelings and experiences that got me to where I am. The hard part is when you are actually in it and you feel stuck; like everything is going wrong. There are a few concepts that have helped me through.

Having patience with yourself is one of the most difficult things to do. We now live in a time of instant gratification. We are able to access anything and everything we want and need in a matter of seconds. When it comes to health and fitness, progress doesn’t come so quickly and we begin to judge ourselves, compare ourselves to others, and lose sight of what is really important. I have fallen victim to this many times. Limiting my social media and “unfollowing” accounts that got me feeling inadequate was pivotal in helping me overcome these judgmental feelings.

One concept that had a major impact on the last year of my life is grief. When I used to think about grieving death would be the only thing that came to mind. A good friend of mine helped me to see that we can grieve all kinds of things. I was grieving a version of myself that I was moving on from. Grieving the body I once had while trying to accept a new one; grieving for the status that athleticism made me feel; and grieving some of my personal identity as an athlete. It’s tough to let go, but we need to honor those feelings of sadness and grief in order to heal and go on with our lives as our authentic selves.

Another concept that has been critical in my journey is trust. This one was particularly surrounding food. For years I have been following some sort of diet. South Beach diet, low carb diet, Paleo diet, gluten-free diet, counting macros diet. I finally wanted to break free of all that and I have. I’ve been learning to eat again like when I was a kid. I’m talking about listening to my body’s signals that let me know that I am hungry and full as well as what I want to eat so that I am satisfied. Our bodies are amazing like that. We just have so much noise coming in that we forget how to listen to them. Learning to trust my own body again has been amazing and freeing!

Self care has been something that I struggle with because of who I am at my core (independent people pleaser) but also because sometimes I simply don’t make time to do it. Self care is different for everyone but usually consists of things that allow you to “fill your cup”; experience relaxation, joy, happiness, freedom, positive emotions, and radiant health. Examples of self-care for me would be getting enough sleep, being in nature, spending time with family and close friends, not forcing myself to exercise or obsessing over whether I got a workout in, and creating boundaries around my work life in order to create more peace at home.

I hope that by sharing my journey with you I can help you with your own. Let me know if I can help you in any way or if you’d like to know more about my experiences with patience, grief, trust, or self-care.




The Dark Corners

“Be happy”…
“Stay positive”…
“Turn that frown upside down”.

We are told to be happy, stay positive, choose to have a positive attitude. But what about when we just feel really crappy?

Something I am learning is to actually feel and honor feelings, whatever they might be. It seems simple but I actually find it very difficult. Instead of avoiding uncomfortable feelings I am practicing actually feeling them and being okay with them.

Life is not always sunshine and chirping birds. Sometimes there are dark clouds and dark corners that you need to push yourself into in order to grow. I find that I learn a lot about myself, life in general, and becoming a better human when allow myself to feel. And yes, most of the time it’s happiness and positive vibes, but other times it’s feeling down, hopeless, and sad.

When the dark clouds do roll in it’s easy to judge yourself. “I have everything I need in the world; a wonderful life, partner, home, job, family…I should feel happy”. Yes, I do have all of those things and more and those things allow me to feel happiness, security, and fulfillment, but they do not make me immune to all of human feelings that I experience.

Something that has helped learn to navigate my emotions and feelings is visualizing different “spaces” for all of them. Just as we multitask in life, we learn to multitask with our feelings. If I am feeling down I allow myself to feel it and accept that it is there, but I know that I can also feel happiness at the same time and acknowledge it. If I create space for all of the feelings I don’t feel like I have to avoid or push any of them away.

It’s easier said than done and it takes A LOT of practice. I have discovered that I am very harsh with myself and very judgmental. But the first step is being aware and just that is a victory. Don’t fear the dark corners. They are there to help you learn and to make you a kinder, more accepting and balanced human being. Be good to yourself, allow yourself to feel what’s actually happening.


The New Year 2017

Before the New Year even comes we are bombarded with messages from diet, fitness and “health” companies usually trying to sell us a product or service that will make us smaller, tighter, and less fat than we were in the previous year.

It’s bullsh*t. Pardon my language, but I am just so sick of it. Ever single stinkin’ year it’s the same thing. The sad part is that it’s absolutely brilliant. At a time when we are feeling so guilty, not to mention bloated, from all the holiday treats and festivities, these companies come at us with ads and commentary about “New Year, New You”. It sucks.

As a health professional I even feel the pressure. I have practiced shutting these messages out for years and it helps me a ton mentally, but they are still there. Hearing and seeing these ads, whether on TV, radio, or in social media makes us feel like we are not good enough just as we are, like we need to be smaller or more fit, or that the extra body fat that we might have is unsightly and needs to go away…and fast!

Most of these products or programs cost money. Many people spend their money without giving it a second thought because they want to do whatever it takes to feel less guilty and bloated and they think they will be happy once those extra pounds are gone. The problem is that for true health and fitness there is no magic bullet, or challenge, or potion, or “fix”, that’s going to remedy it all. The truth, and the message we should be hearing, is that for true health and fitness we must do the work. 

You must eat a well-balanced, nutrient-rich assortment of foods. You must move your body; whether in a gym, outside, or in your home. You must have a support system and social network that encourages you. You must do this all consistently, making it your lifestyle and not something that’s optional or temporary.

That, my friends, is where the magic happens. It’s not with a pill or fancy shake. Those things can act as external motivators for some time and may in fact get you started, but the romance will wear off. If your desire to feel better and to take control of your health and wellness does not come from inside of you, you can almost guarantee it will be as temporary as the infomercial about stubborn belly fat.

For a long time I searched and searched for a way to get the perfect body, not realizing that there is no such thing. I have been through this journey and continue to learn about myself each and every day. I feel armed with the tools I need to hear all the noise around me but not let it get too far into my thoughts. I have practiced intuitive exercise and eating and I have found the magic there, along with a sense of health and well-being that took over 10 years to discover.

My wish for all of you in 2017 is that you find something that truly motivates you to want health for the body that you have right now. Whether it’s CrossFit, yoga, running, finding new healthy recipes to cook, or learning a new sport. If you’d like to chat with me more about health goals you might have or about where you are in you fitness journey I’d be thrilled to do so! Simply fill out the contact form below and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.


Coach Ash and her pup, Chip!


The Holidays are Here!

Guess what?! The holidays have arrived. I am going to let you in on my secrets for not completely losing control of you sh*t.

  1. Stay active. Go to the gym, go for a walk or run, snow shoe, ski, yoga class, whatever, just please continue to move your body regularly. This will keep your mood up, it will help you to expend some of the extra energy (calories) you are taking in, and it will help you to detoxify your systems.
  2. Drink enough to have fun but not enough to be sloppy. Unless you don’t drink alcohol at all you will be faced with the choice of having drinks at parties. You need to establish a boundary to that you are not annihilating yourself all the time. Maybe it’s a 2-drink limit and “wine only”. Or maybe you know that you need to eat a full meal and have some water BEFORE you have an adult beverage. Whatever it is, find that boundary you are comfortable with and stick to it. You will feel much better and still be able to have fun at parties. The best part is that you will have mild hangovers, if any.
  3. Honor your food sensitivities. If you have any food sensitives, aka things that “mess you up” in some way, avoid them. For example, I cannot do gluten. I break out in weird skin rashes and eczema, mostly near my face and also feel very inflamed in my joints. Maybe it’s dairy or refines sugar for you, but if you know that weird things happen when you eat it, just don’t! Indulge in other things or find a way to make your favorites gluten-free, or refined- sugar-free, etc. It’s just not worth feeling crappy. Also, overdoing it with foods that don’t agree with you will affect your ability to move your body and/or make it to the gym (Tip #1).

Please comment if you have tips of your own, I’d love to read about them!



My yoga teacher read this last night during savasana at the very end of class. It nearly brought me to tears. During this holiday season remind yourself that you are loved, you are love, and you are perfect and enough – just the way you are.


I want to be strong.

The debate about CrossFit making women “bulky” rages on. Every time I hear this word I giggle a little and also get a bit annoyed because it is just such a loaded term. Like, what does “bulky” even mean? I love listening to others’ interpretations of what bulky means to them.

“Women get “bulky” when they do CrossFit”. I have my personal stance on this topic which I want to share with you.

I think that when people use the term bulky they are referring to mass added to the body (muscle and/or fat) after prolonged CrossFit participation, or, in other words, they get bigger. So…since women gain muscle very slowly, it’s safe to say that CrossFit will not make a woman bulky in a year’s time. If you’re lucky, you might gain a pound of muscle in a month – maybe. If you’re eating well, training appropriately, sleeping well, genetically capable, and limiting stress it’s possible.

As soon as a woman begins to appear more muscular than she once was she is automatically labeled as bulky by those around her who subscribe to the notion that women should be small, lean, dainty, and “toned”, but not muscular. Most of this mindset has been culturally and societal created and fostered by the media. We have been lead to believe that women should look a certain way and even value people based on their appearance. Many people believe that body fat equals laziness, lack of will power, unhealthy, low motivation, while leanness equals motivated, hardworking, healthy, beautiful. Many also look at well-muscled women and think (or say), “she looks like a man” while a thin, slight figure is more feminine and “natural”.

We see women who are professional CrossFitters. These are women who are training all the time, sponsored athletes, heading to the Regionals, and maybe even in the Games. They appear VERY muscular as a result of their training and dedication to their sport.  I don’t know about you, but if there was a realistic chance of me winning over a quarter of a million dollars and being that physically accomplished you’re f*cking right I would let my body take whatever shape it needed to!

Training at such a high level is not sustainable – the body cannot handle it forever and ever. So there is a point where these athletes will need to make a decision about how hard they are pushing. My thought is that if a person had the time, desire, and other resources needed to see how far they can push, then why would they not see how far they could go. #YOLO. It’s better than wondering for your whole life and wishing you’d pushed a little harder.

I totally see the other side of the picture too. Many women do not desire to look like CrossFit Games athletes and are concerned that by joining their local CF gym that this bulky look will soon be their destiny. As a CrossFit coach I try my best to assure women that this will not happen, but I still hear and see the fear on a regular basis. There is no perfect answer for everyone.

The truth is that every woman’s body is unique and different. After years of experience working with women I can give a good prediction, but I cannot see the future. I wish I could be there to create perfectly portioned meals and make sure enough water is being consumed and enough sleep is happening each night. But sadly, I cannot. It is mostly your responsibility to eat well most of the time, keep a sleeping routine that allows you to feel rested and recovered, and to drink enough water. I’m not going to tell you to not eat the cupcake, but I am also not going to tell you it’s okay to eat cupcakes every week if you want to be lean.

So yes, you might actually get “bulky” after YEARS of CrossFit. And by this I mean you might gain some hard-earned muscle. In my eyes this is not a bad thing because of my perspective and definition. I see women who gain a few pounds or whose weight remains the same but whose bodies morph into shapely, powerful machines. Their muscles are sculpted and visible. These women can lift weights and do handstands and pull-ups, but they can also go home and lift their children, their groceries, and the heavy boxes in the basement. I also see women who will not be frail and dependent on others in their older years of life. “Bulky” is in the eye of the beholder. I don’t equate bulky with bad, I see hard work, perseverance, sacrifice, and strength. But I get it, it’s not for everyone.

I’ve been on both sides. I spent years going to the gym trying to be smaller and thinner because I thought if I looked this way I would fit in with society’s ideals for women. I wanted thighs that didn’t touch and arms that were skinny.  I got them. But being thin didn’t make my life any better. I thought I would be happy, but being this way only left me feeling bad if I couldn’t sustain it. And I couldn’t because it’s not the natural shape my body wants to take. The other downside was that I felt weak. My clothes fit better, but I felt weak and so tired. I lived alone at the time, so feeling weak was not ideal while trying to manage household tasks.

I’ve also trained hard in CrossFit to see how far I could push my body. It was exhilarating. To finally front squat 200 pounds and finally get muscle ups and to be able to do 30 kipping pull ups unbroken was stuff I’d always dreamed of. I was so strong and capable and I felt so great in the gym. Outside of the gym I felt like I had too much muscle to be accepted in the “real world” but I didn’t really care because I knew what I was capable of and that outweighed the negatives. I also had to be very diligent with my nutrition so that I was appropriately fueling my body and my training.

Now I am somewhere in between and it feels good. Although I am not as strong, I still feel like I am able. My muscles are not as defined and I have more body fat. I don’t know if people look at me and consider me bulky and I don’t really care because I love the body I have. I care that I feel good, healthy, vibrant, and strong. I participate in CrossFit class three times per week. I also love to take a walk or jog 1-2 times per week if I can fit it in. Otherwise I stay active around the house and by doing yard work. Once the winter comes I will probably get back into yoga, skiing, and snowshoeing.

What I think is important to recognize is that each woman has a different desire for her body and endeavors. What I want may not be what you want. Whatever the goals may be, we need to support each other and build each other up.

Side note: If you feel you are getting bulky while doing CrossFit, please be honest and sit down to talk with a knowledgeable coach. Usually there are solutions and tweaks that can be made in your training and nutrition that will ease your mind and get you the results that you desire.

Photo credit: Vanessa Halliday

Photo credit: Vanessa Halliday

Products I love!

It’s spring time in New England. I feel like I am finally coming out of my winter slump, slowly but surely. I wanted to share with you some of the products that keep my going these days. Enjoy.

  1. Champion Shape Too High-Impact Sports Bra. THIS is my go-to bra for any athletic endeavor. I have about 6 of them and I hoard them whenever they go on sale. They are pricey at $48.00 but so worth it because they keep the girls comfortable and in place. I can run, jump, do yoga, and Olympic lift thanks to this bra. Kohl’s sells them but I have also found them at the One Hanes Place Outlet stores in Kittery and Merrimack. **Champion may have discontinued this bra, but sometimes you can find them with huge mark-downs online. PIL bra
  2. ACURE Dry Shampoo. I love this dry shampoo because it is all natural, it works, and allows me to go an extra day without having to wash my hair. It’s got ingredients like corn starch, white clay, and essential oils and comes in some awesome packaging. Unlike other dry shampoos it does not come in an aerosol can or contain alcohols. You simply twist open the top and squeeze the container. Puffs of the powder shoot out and then your brush it through your hair with a brush or fingers. It adds volume to my hair and is affordable at under $10.PIL acure dry shampoo
  3. Young Living’s Breathe Again Roll-On. This roller has saved my life a few times with seasonal stuffy nose and sneezing from all the pollen in the air. I love being outside, but it’s rough this time of year. The essential oil combo in this pre-mixed roller helps to support the sinuses and the eucalyptus is refreshing and makes breathing a breeze! PIL Breathe Again
  4. Sunbeam Candles. I really love the light and ambiance that candles create. Most candles, however, are made from paraffin wax which is terrible to breathe in on a regular basis. Most contain artificial scents and perfumes and can give off carcinogenic chemicals when burned. I began to use an essential oil diffuser to create great-smelling air, but really missed the light that candles emit. Then I found Sunbeam Candles. This company creates beautiful candles using solar power, made with beeswax, soy wax, eco-friendly dyes and essential oils. Beeswax candles are great for air purification and may help with seasonal allergies and smells amazing when burned.

I hope you can get your hands on some of these products. Let me know if you have questions. Get out there and enjoy the sunshine!