I Have Celiac Disease and Love CrossFit. Here’s How I Fuel My Workouts on a Gluten-Free Diet.

Emily Tara Sabalbaro, a manager and coach at OpenBox Athletics, shares how she fuels her busy week eating a gluten-free diet.

gluten-free diet

Emily Tara Sabalbaro shares a week in her life of CrossFit workouts and a gluten-free diet. Photograph courtesy Emily Tara Sabalbaro.

Welcome to Sweat Diaries, Be Well Philly’s look at the time, energy, and money people invest in pursuit of a healthy lifestyle in Philly. For each Sweat Diary, we ask one Philadelphian to spend a week tracking everything they eat, all the exercise they get, and the money they spend on both. Want to submit a Sweat Diary? Email ccunningham@phillymag.com with details.

Who I am: Emily Tara Sabalbaro (@inspirenjoy), 32, from Graduate Hospital

What I do: Manager, coach, and yoga instructor at OpenBox Athletics

What role healthy living plays in my life: I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease seven years ago, at the same time as I became a yoga instructor. When I switched my diet, all aspects of food — learning about ingredients, cooking, and eating — opened up to me. I can’t eat mindlessly, but I enjoy thinking about what I put in my body, and it has been a huge blessing. I have always been a competitive athlete and got into CrossFit a few years back. The better I eat and the more fit I am, the better able I am to sustain this lifestyle of leading others through fitness and wellness. It’s super invigorating to instruct full-time, but it’s also physically draining. If I don’t eat what fuels me or I don’t do something active each day, I feel more drained. After having a baby last year, I am learning what my body and mind are capable of!

Health memberships: $0. The perks of being a fitness professional!


gluten-free diet

A family portrait at the BBQ. Photograph courtesy Emily Tara Sabalbaro.

6:45 a.m. — Rise and grind!

7 a.m. —  Baby snuggles. My little one says “momma” and it melts me. It’s her first birthday today!

7:15 a.m. — Walking to work. The gym I manage, OpenBox Athletics, is around the corner, so I bring my dog with me!

8:15 a.m. — First breakfast is one banana. I clean the gym, and do all the tasks that involve moving around. If I avoid sitting down behind the front desk this early in the day then I avoid Laptop Daze.

10:15 a.m. — My workout time! Today’s CrossFit WOD (workout of the day) includes a rowing warmup, pull-ups, and power cleans. I add in some strength conditioning of box squats at 145lbs.

11:20 a.m. — Snack time! Fuel For Fire protein pouch and FitAID recovery drink.

12:15 p.m. — Lunch time! Cheddar cheese stick, fresh grape tomatoes, and baked maple salmon on white rice.

12:45 p.m. — I head home from the gym, letting the dog get a nice long walk.

2 p.m. — My daughter’s school is having a family picnic on the same day as her birthday! My husband and I head to Dunkin’ Donuts to grab 50 munchkins for the kiddos and a hot coffee to share and head to the park ($8).

4 p.m. — There are BBQ treats at the picnic! I eat half a burger (sans bun) and two deviled eggs — yum!

5 p.m. — I take a cat nap with the baby.

6:15 p.m. — I teach a sculpt class at OBA.

7:30 p.m. — I meet the fam at Rita’s Italian Ice for more birthday treats because #treatyoself! I grab a vanilla custard in a cup with rainbow sprinkles and Snickers toppings ($6).

8 p.m. — I put the baby to bed, then I catch up on emails.

10 p.m. — Wind down with deep breaths and meditation.

11 p.m. — Bed time!

Daily total: $14


gluten-free diet

Sabalbaro fuels her intense workouts on a gluten-free diet. Photograph courtesy Emily Tara Sabalbaro.

5:40 a.m. — Rise and grind! Grateful for another day of doing what I love with the people who love and support me.

6 a.m. — I meet with a personal training client. I sneak a quick Mint Chocolate RXBar as a snack while my client rests between sets. My daughter is still sleeping when I leave (bummer, but no complaint!)

7 a.m. — I come home to grab the dog and walk him back to work. I also give the baby a quick kiss!

8:30 a.m. — My workout time! Today’s WOD includes weighted pull-ups, kettlebell lunges, sit ups, jump rope, and biking. I add in accessory work of handstands and mobility.

9:15 a.m. — I eat breakfast, a Noosa Yoghurt.

9:30 a.m. — Time to teach a boot camp class.

10:45 a.m. — I eat an apple and fresh hazelnut butter from the Rittenhouse Square Farmers’ Market.

11 a.m. — I answer emails, help members, do some marketing and other projects.

11:30 a.m. — Lunch is salmon and rice again. Thank you #mealprepSunday!

12:15 p.m. — I head home with the pup.

12:30 p.m. — Nap time. The “no phone allowed in my bedroom” rule gets immediately broken, but I’m still able to close my eyes.

2 p.m. — I am working on an application for our gym to host a training — I click submit and cross my fingers!

4 p.m. — First dinner: chicken adobo and pancit — homemade Filipino leftovers from my baby’s first birthday party with family on Saturday.

5 p.m. — Dog walk, then off to pick up the little one from school and hubby from work so he can watch her while I teach.

6:30 p.m. — I teach Power Stretch & Sculpt for Philly Dance Fitness — I’m going on five years with this studio.

7:30 p.m. — I put the little snugglemonster to bed.

8 p.m. — Second dinner, including more Filipino leftovers, this time Lechon and white rice.

9 p.m. — Finally some alone time with hubby to catch up on our days!

10 p.m. — I do the dishes and clean up the house.

10:45 p.m. — Bed.

Daily total: $0


gluten-free diet

Yoga session at OpenBox. Photograph courtesy Emily Tara Sabalbaro.

6:30 a.m. — Rise and grind!

7 a.m. — Toast two frozen buckwheat waffles and head to the gym with my furbaby.

7:30 a.m. — Coach boot camp! I drink a FitAID while I coach for an extra energy boost.

8:30 a.m. — Today is my active recovery day, which means a full hour of yoga upstairs in our studio.

9:30 a.m. — Clean the gym, empty trashcans, re-stack weights, all that good stuff that gets the blood flowing!

10:15 a.m. — I do some computer work while I snack on cheddar cheese and avocado.

12:30 p.m. — Heading home from the gym.

2 p.m. — Filipino leftovers from the party strike again! I love leftovers, truly.

4 p.m. — I clean the house, do some personal emails, then rest for a bit.

5 p.m. — I pick up my daughter from school and head to see a house for rent.

6:30 p.m. — I meet my private clients at the gym for yoga and Pilates. I bring my daughter to play with their 1.5 year old.

7:30 p.m. — It’s the baby’s bed time.

8 p.m. — Tonight calls for some CBD gummies and pain relief rub and a spiked seltzer.

10 p.m. — I wind down for bed. I wash the baby’s bottles and high chair and clean the kitchen.

11 p.m. — It’s finally bed time.

Daily total: $0


gluten-free diet

CrossFit at OpenBox Athletics, fueled by Kettlebell Kitchen meals that fit a gluten-free diet. Photograph courtesy Emily Tara Sabalbaro.

6 a.m. — Rise and grind!

7 a.m. — Head to the gym with the pup.

7:30 a.m. — By Thursday, my body is feeling it, so I do the foam roller, Crossover Symmetry machine for shoulder activation, and some brief but splendid yin yoga before I kick into work mode.

9:30 a.m. — Coach boot camp! I think I toasted them today.

10:30 a.m. — I eat a protein-packed breakfast from Kettlebell Kitchen ($12). They deliver to our gym, and doing this helps me stay on track and excited about my meals, especially after hump day. Breakfast today is egg whites and ground beef and a lemon poppy cookie.

11 a.m. — I mix up an Ascent pre-workout drink in my shaker bottle and set up on the barbell for my favorite lift: deadlift. I go heavy and hit a new deadlift PR of 5×2 at 200 pounds. Today’s WOD includes rowing and farmer’s carries — also my favorites!

12:30 p.m. — I head home from work with the furbaby in tow.

1 p.m. — I have to hustle to get to my next class. I’m teaching Baby + Me at Lumos Yoga & Barre in Fairmount and I’m ready for the baby coos and smiles! Next week is another session for slightly older babes right afterwards, making it a Baby+Me double-header.

2:45 p.m. — Kettlebell Kitchen lunch at Lumos while I chat with the students and staff! Bacon Chicken Waldorf yummmm ($8).

3:15 p.m. — I drive home and chill — it’s been an action-packed day. Time to decompress.

5 p.m. — Pick up the babe from school and enjoy those kisses and snuggles that she’ll be too cool for one day.

6 p.m. — Dinner time. I heat up Kettlebell Kitchen family-sized pulled pork and sweet potato mash for the whole fam with some green beans from our freezer ($23).

7:30 p.m. — My daughter is not feeling well, so we have a rough time getting her down for bed. I decide to get coverage for tomorrow to be with her. I am so lucky to have a great co-manager and coaching staff who agree to cover my hours and classes tomorrow so I can stay home.

10 p.m. — I listen to the 10% Happier podcast with Dan Harris, straighten up the kitchen, and wash dishes and her bottles.

11:30 p.m. — Bed time.

Daily total: $43


gluten-free diet

Sabalbaro’s daughter. Photograph courtesy Emily Tara Sabalbaro.

6:45 a.m. — Baby wakes up. She’s doing much better, but last night involved lots of Tylenol! She’s teething. Usually Fridays are another workout day for me, but I am staying home with her and not heading into the gym.

7:30 a.m. — Breakfast with my daughter. Kettlebell Kitchen flaxseed pancakes and apple pecan grits — she loves them and is covered in sticky maple syrup (around $12)!

8:30 a.m. — Lots of walks in store for us today. We take the dog out for our first walk and get as much cool, fresh air as possible early in the day.

10 a.m. — Morning nap with my baby.

12 p.m. — Lunch time! I make some Udi’s frozen gluten free chicken nuggets with ketchup for us and a side of mixed frozen veggies.

1 p.m. — More outside time! We walk to the playground around the corner from our house.

3 p.m. — I take an afternoon nap.

5 p.m. — I snack on a plum and some cocoa nib brownies from Kettlebell Kitchen (about $3).

5:45 p.m. — Fresh air and live community jams with my daughter at the Julian Abele Park concert series!

6:30 p.m. — Meet some friends for dinner and drinks at Sidecar Bar & Grille ($48). Hubby meets us too. Look at us, real adults going out on a Friday night!

9 p.m. — I book my acupuncture and cupping session tomorrow at South Philly Community Acupuncture. I find that booking this before bed or when I’m stressed is an instant mood-boost and gives me something to look forward to.

10:30 p.m. — Bed time. What a great week!

Daily total: $63

Weekly Totals

Money spent: $120

Classes taught: 8

Workouts: 5

Kettlebell Kitchen meals: 4

Naps: 4

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