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Conversations with the Inspiring Taylor Nakakihara

Today we’d like to introduce you to Taylor Nakakihara.

Taylor, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I am a blogger, full-time student, full-time office manager, and have been running a minimum of three Spartan Races per year for the past two years.

I started my first blog in 2013 as a place where I could share my experiences with the celiac disease. My diagnosis was a three-month-long nightmare that left me feeling robbed of my youth and emotionally and physically weak, and blogging really helped me come to terms with my new reality. I was able to be so honest and so free in my writing that eventually, I became more comfortable being that way in real life, and I was able to overcome some deep physical and mental obstacles once I decided not to let my chronic illness own me.

Within a year, I got tired of pigeon-holing myself into the “food allergy blogger” category and wanted the freedom to be able to write about whatever I wanted without having to connect it back to celiac disease. This is what sparked the launch of two practice sites, finally ending in the launch of

When I decided to write about whatever I wanted, I opened up a whole new world for myself. Around the time that the First Edition of was around, I was also introduced to the Spartan Race community, and that was where I found my health and happiness once again. While grueling, a year-long, a three-race Spartan season is just what I needed to kickstart my life again, and in my third season, I have finally built the confidence to try for a six-race season!

I am proud to say that I am in a good place in my journey to one day being a known lifestyle blogger in my personal life, and a trauma counselor in my professional life. Obstacle races, my abundant and varied workloads, and navigating life as a young woman has not only given me tons of potential content, but also have helped me to better understand who I am and what I stand for.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
I think about my three less-than-successful stabs at blogging more often than I think anyone would realize; for a long time, I kind of treated them as black marks on my “permanent record of blogging” and I really couldn’t start anything new without addressing my negative feelings of “unfinished business”. Take your “failures” in stride – if you’re failing, at least you’re trying! Don’t stop now – reevaluate your actions and try again.

You might be young, but you need to invest in your health. I had the unfortunate experience of getting really sick right as I hit adulthood, and it has taken me years to regain my health. When you are young, this is the best you will ever look or feel without trying – don’t take it for granted! Sleep well, eat properly, go to the doctor when you are supposed to, drink the boring plain water, exercise – you’ll thank yourself later, even as soon as 25!

One of the biggest challenges is also how you talk to yourself. When you say things like “no one wants to read what you’re writing about” or “you’re really not fit enough to discuss fitness” or worse “you are not capable of handling all of this”, you open wounds up in yourself that is just big enough for other’s criticism to get in and hurt you more. Your personal criticisms cut a lot deeper than anyone else’s! When you make it a priority to be your own biggest fan, you take away a lot of opportunities for others to hurt you.

My last best piece of advice is to do things with integrity. At the end of the day, you want to be able to sleep at night knowing that you have done your best and done the right thing. Listen to that little voice that says “Something’s not right here” – this could really save your bacon if you ever happen to say, run for POTUS or you’re about to take your private company public. Plus, it would really suck to do something underhanded that cripples you ten years down the line – don’t cut your future short before it begins.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into Taylor Nakakihara story. Tell us more about the business.
My blog,, is where I feel free to write about great places I visit, foods I sample, and more. While this is the third incarnation of my original blog, my message is the same – honest, insightful reviews that you can enjoy reading. I am finding a lot of joy in being invited by owners and PR firms to experience local businesses, both because I can offer them an honest review and because I am loving getting up-close-and-personal with the Phoenix valley!

I also have the advantage of offering reviews from the perspective of a working student with a chronic illness, aspects of my life that some might see as more of a curse than a blessing. While my circumstances aren’t the simplest, I think that there are a lot more regular people like me than shiny bloggers with no budget or health issues to worry about. It’s easy to tell someone how to meal prep, far harder to tell someone how to meal prep on a shoestring budget with a severe food allergy and exactly two hours of available prep time per week.

This same busy, limited-budget lifestyle I lead also makes me proud to be a Spartan Race brand ambassador. A lot of people can assume that obstacle racing is for rich or insanely fit people and I feel good showing people that you don’t have to fit this mythical mold to truly enjoy the sport of obstacle racing.

I also take pride in sharing my experiences as a gluten-free eater, both when I can applaud a place for a great gluten free dish and when I am telling people to tread lightly to avoid getting sick. As someone with celiac disease, every single time I eat at a new place it is a gamble, so it makes me happy to be able to share my experiences with others.

It would be great to hear about any apps, books, podcasts or other resources that you’ve used and would recommend to others.
One book I love is called, “Spartan Up!”, written by Spartan Race founder Joe DeSena. Of course, as a Spartan Racer myself there are obvious reasons why I love this book, but overall, I think there are a lot of things in there that can help anyone live their best life, athlete or not. Life throws you some obstacles, and it’s great to overcome them and make it to the other side, but it’s even more valuable to overcome and grow from them.

I am also reading a new release from Happier app CEO Nataly Kogan called “Happier Now: How to Stop Chasing Perfection and Embrace Everyday Moments (Even the Difficult Ones)”. The title says it all – you can find happiness in everyday moments if you just stop trying to be perfect. This book is especially dear to my own journey to be successful, and I recommend it to anyone who has ever worried that they weren’t good enough.

I listen to exactly four podcasts – “Spartan UP”, of course, followed by “Brute Strength”, “The Gary Vee Audio Experience”, and one from a friend called “Good Times, Bad Friends”. The first three are loaded with stories, tools, and challenges that I think help me get mentally and physically stronger with each episode, the last is one reminds me to enjoy the good times and make memories, no matter how embarrassing or wild.

My favorite task management app is Asana. I have mine categorized into Home, School, Personal (incl, Social Media), and Work. I get a lot of satisfaction out of checking things off and also seeing what has been completed, which Asana can do. Linking subtasks, ability to add tasks via an email message, this site and its app are the bee’s knees! My success depends on my ability to complete tasks in an orderly and timely fashion, so I think I owe a lot of this year’s success to Asana.

Tasks go in Asana, but reminders, follow-ups, and important dates are all kept in my planner. I keep a good, old-fashioned paper planner with me at all times. Yes – there are about 100 apps for this, but the act of writing things in a planner is what works for me! I am all over the clip-and-ring style planners that you can pick up at your local Staples (Arc Notebook) or Office Depot/Mac (TUL Notebook) that offer a wholly customizable line of filler pages and covers. Plus, this gives me a reason to buy super cute stickers and fun gel pens that take me back to the good ol’ days of the 90’s.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Ron Brewer Images, Spartan branded images – Spartan Race

Getting in touch: VoyagePhoenix is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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