Reader Questions: Running Apps, Great Abs + Shepherd’s Pie

Mastermind Weekend 1/16

Hey there!

I'm Tina

I’m the owner of Carrots ‘N’ Cake as well as a Certified Nutrition Coach and Functional Diagnostic Nutrition Practitioner (FDN-P). I use macros and functional nutrition to help women find balance within their diets while achieving their body composition goals.


An in-depth, 4-week reverse dieting course for women who feel like their metabolism has slowed down, think they might have hormonal imbalance and can’t lose weight no matter what they do.

Hello, hello!

My inbox was filling up with all sorts of reader questions, so I finally replied to a bunch of them earlier this week. I thought you guys might be interested in some of my responses, so I decided to write a round-up of them in a blog post. I hope you find them helpful!

I’m a pretty new follower and I was wondering how you met Mal! I love hearing stories like this.

We’re actually high school sweethearts. Well, sort of. Here’s the story!

What running app do you use to track your runs?

I use RunKeeper and really love it. It gives you all sorts of weekly and monthly totals (mileage, time, elevation, calories), which are fun to see and compare.

I have been reading your blog for a long time now and I just wanted to ask you what type of ab exercise do you do and how often. I was looking at your pictures and you look really toned.

I actually don’t work my abs all that often. I had a baby back in June, so I am still dealing with some ab separation (diastatis recti), so I pretty much stick to planks and “dead bugs” when it comes to more traditional ab exercises. However, I do CrossFit and KFIT (similar to CrossFit, but more bootcamp-y) on a regular basis, which has me doing all sorts of movements that work my core (toes-to-bar, KB swings, overhead squats, etc.). The strength training and high-intensity nature of these workouts really challenges (and changes) my body, so I build muscle and burn fat. And, of course, diet is soooo important to your body composition– even more so than exercise! You’ve probably heard this before, but “you can’t out train a bad diet” and “great abs are made in the kitchen,” and it is so true. I do my best to eat well and fill my diet with a healthy mix of carbs, protein, and fat (and treats in moderation), which helps me lose fat all over. You can work your abs every day, all the time, and until you are blue in the face, but if there is a layer of fat over them, you won’t be able to see them. Some of this also has to do with genetics, but I truly think a healthy diet with some high-intensity cardio + strength training will help get you the abs you want!

Why aren’t you doing CrossFit anymore?

I am! I absolutely am. I love CrossFit, but, sadly, it’s tough for me to get there with our little guy, marathon training, and Mal’s CrossFit schedule. KFIT is similar to CrossFit (I actually think it’s harder sometimes) and there’s daycare for Quinn, so I end up going there and/or running on the treadmill more often than I go to CrossFit. I canceled my monthly membership at CrossFit, but I still have a per-class membership, so I try to get there every other week or so. Once marathon training is over, I’m sure I’ll get there more often– and definitely this summer when Mal is out of school!

What app do you use for your running pics on Instagram?

It’s an app called FitSnap. I use the free version, but the paid one has even more cool features!


When did you stop with sit-ups while pregnant?

I stopped doing sit-ups at 25 weeks, but I did kipping or strict knee raises as a modification throughout the rest of my pregnancy. Check out this post for more of my pregnancy exercise modifications!

How do you make your shepherd’s pie?

Truthfully, I never make it the same way twice! I make this Deconstructed Shepherd’s Pie (so easy) every once in awhile, but my usual method is super simple: Steam and mash potatoes (in the microwave – either regular or sweet potatoes), cook up 1 – 1.25 pounds of ground beef or ground turkey in a pan on the stovetop, and then layer, in a oven-safe dish, in this order: ground meat, frozen veggies (peas, corn, or a mixture of peas, corn, carrots), and mashed potatoes on top. (Sometimes, I top the mashed potatoes with shredded cheese.) Then, I bake the whole thing on 375 degrees F for 25-30 minutes.

What type of wraps do you buy?

I really like the Joseph’s Flax, Oat Bran and Whole Wheat Flour Tortillas because they’re chewy and fold well, but I often switch it up and buy whatever is on sale at the grocery store. I’m not too picky when it comes to wraps. I just make sure the ingredients aren’t totally terrible.

How do you make your steel cut oatmeal?

They’re crazy easy to make! Check out this post!

I was wondering when you worked at Harvard, did you commute via the subway or driving? I am moving to Lenox Farms in Braintree and wanted your opinion. 

When I worked at Harvard, I lived in Quincy (and then South Boston for a short time), so I took the subway from N.Quincy (red line) straight to Harvard. It was kind of a long commute during rush hour, but super easy since the red line is a direct shot (no switching lines). If you’re moving to Lenox Farms, you’d probably want to drive to the Braintree or Quincy Adams T stop. Braintree is probably closer, but the parking garage fills up pretty fast, so Quincy Adams is probably a better bet. Plus, the garages are the same price ($7 per day) and you’d be a few stops closer to Harvard. If you’re commuting early, like if you plan to exercise before work, I’d go to Braintree, so you can get a seat. It makes the commute so much nicer!

Have more questions? Check out these posts: Frequently Asked Questions and Frequently Asked Questions {Baby Edition}!



  1. Hi Tina, I’d love to know more about ab separation during pregnancy. I’m currently 27 weeks and have been reading about it online, but I’m left with more questions than answers. Does everyone get it? Can you do things to avoid it? How can you tell if you have it? These are currently on my list to ask my doctor next week, but our gym just had sit-ups in the WOD yesterday so it got me thinking about it. Thanks!

    1. I’ve heard so many different things. I’d definitely talk to your doctor! Sorry I’m not more help. I’m still trying to get the separation to go away myself.

      1. @Tina: Not everyone gets it, I had an 8lb 14oz baby in November and did not have ab separation. But I’m sure there are a lot of factors like how you carry, body type, size of baby, etc when it comes to why some people have ab separation! I’d talk to your doctor too for more information. Congrats!

  2. Love these posts. Even as a long time reader I always learn something new and fun! My question is how do you manage and schedule workouts with Q and Mal. I’ve been giving it a go but man, between feedings and exhaustion they often get neglected.

  3. Can I ask a stupid question? How do you know if you have ab separation, or do all new moms? I’m not able to do any exercise right now because of a rib injury from falling recently, but once that’s cleared up I’d like to get back on the core-workout bandwagon. Anything I need to know?

  4. Great post! It’s so true that you can’t out-train a bad diet. I work out (both strength and cardio) about 6 times a week, but if I don’t eat well, it makes little difference to my physical appearance. Healthy food is really the key.

  5. Are you planning on doing speed work for your marathon training? I can never motivate myself to do it for marathon training, cause it’s usually a lot longer than 5k speed work training.

  6. I didn’t realize KFit is a lot like CrossFit–cool! Having gym daycare is definitely so important. There’d be no way I could teach fitness classes without it. And we both leave happier, so that’s a win. hah!

  7. My husband and I are high school sweethearts too 🙂 Most people don’t realize it though since we dated 10 years before getting married 😛 Love your prom photos! Such little babies!

    I think FitSnap is the only reason I don’t like Android. Anyone out there know of a similar Android App?

  8. I definitely recommend visiting a physio who specializes in women’s health to get you on a rehab program for your diastasis, especially since you’re ramping up your mileage in preparation for a marathon.

    I had a 9-finger width separation after my twins were born, and am a marathon runner. The self-checks are pretty inaccurate unless you’ve had someone help teach you.

    At 8-months postpartum, the separation is not going to heal on its own, and the rehab is an investment in your long-term health and fitness! You definitely don’t want to be side-lined with a back injury!

  9. Glad to hear you’re still doing Crossfit! But I’m also proud of you for taking the time to explore other workout options 🙂 I’ve recently been doing the same thing. Taking a little break to try out of things like pilates, yoga, and spin!

  10. You’re just as bad (or good depending on how you look at it) with shepherds pie as I am. I’ll use whatever I can find as long as it’s ground beef or lamb with some sort of mashed potatoes on top.

    I haven’t had one I didn’t like yet except some were definitely better than others.

  11. Crossfit is good. I have recently explore to other workout options and the most special one I am having is Chinese Kung Fu. Of course I am not saying like Bruce Lee thing but it is really good to learn something new like Wing Chun.

  12. Runkeeper was great for giving insight and statistics, I’ve since moved my efforts away from cardio though. Awesome that you’ve been together since a young age, you don’t see it often anymore.

  13. I use the RunDouble app for android. It makes it easier for your to run to 5K by keeping you organized. You do have to pay to use it though. So their might be better free running apps out there.

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