Sending Out a Fitness SOS

Yesterday was one of those days for me, Friends. I wanted to get my cardio in, but I just wasn’t feeling it. It was a gorgeous, sunny 55 degrees outside…in February…in Minnesota. This was not a day to waste because by tomorrow Mother Nature will have us completely buried in snow again; the school district is so certain of this, they’ve already cancelled school!

I know when I feel less than motivated, it’s time to get a friend or two involved to get me moving. But it was already 1 pm. Normally when I text a friend, it takes time for them to get back with me. And, oftentimes, the answer is no. I can easily go down a list of 4 or 5 people and still be buddiless. I needed a better plan…Facebook to the rescue!

I realize this was extremely short notice, but totally worth a try! I put it right out there on a status update…I posted that I was looking for a buddy to walk with around 2:00 or 2:30ish and asked anyone interested to message me. I thought for a split second, this could get interesting depending on who responds. Well I was in no position to be picky; I had no doubt the universe would send me exactly the person I was meant to meet up with.

Not even five minutes later it was already done. Kristin to the rescue! As soon as she responded, I deleted my Facebook status so it wouldn’t become complicated hahaha.

Kris was ready to hit the trails at 2 pm and we soaked in that fantastic sunshine and fresh air while catching up on each others’ worlds. Our walk around the lake was exactly what I was looking for, I just hadn’t known until she responded to my SOS!

My all-call was answered quicker than I could have imagined. I’ll definitely employ the Facebook status strategy again. Friends, next time you are feeling less than ready to burn some calories alone, reach out. Asking for a workout buddy is one more very simple way we can all put our Best Foot Forward!

PSA: Please keep in mind, for safety sake, stick to your friends list, not Craigslist!

Thumbs Up, Panera!

Friends, before I began my weight loss journey, I ate out all. the. time. I based my choices on what looked good and never made informed decisions. This mistake weighed heavily on my health…literally.

I’ve learned occasional dining out can be a wonderful adventure as long as one employs mindfulness. When planning to dine out, I simply take a moment to browse the restaurant’s online menu to determine what choices would best suit my nutritional needs. Many restaurants offer very accessible info…I LOVE that!

Some restaurants take it one glorious step forward by posting calorie information on their menu boards. I can’t say enough how much I appreciate that. I took the opportunity to meet someone for lunch at Panera today. What a wonderful feeling to know I can quickly skim their menu board and order something delicious and nutritious!

Take a look at this BOWL OF AWESOME!

It’s been a while since I’ve eaten there, so this salad was new to me. You are looking at their BBQ Salad with Chicken. It comes in this enormous bowl and with the sheer volume of food and the amazing flavor, I never would have guessed there were only 470 calories in that giant salad!

It is one thing to pick an item based on its calories, it’s totally another to choose it because it’s phenomenal. Guess what I’m ordering next time?!? Way to go, Panera!

I’ve noticed other restaurants beginning to post calorie info on their menu boards too.  These are the places I will choose last minute because I know what I’m getting. Friends, eating out doesn’t have to be a disaster for your goals. Take time to make mindful choices so you can enjoy your meal even more…just one more way to put our Best Foot Forward!

Packing for Road Trip Success

Happy Weekend, fellow FIT BFFs! As I’m packing up for a girls’ getaway, I’m taking time to be mindful. Although I plan to have a blast, I also have every intention of moving foward toward my health goals. It only takes a few moments to consider how you can healthify any road trip.

As soon as I’ve made travel plans, I begin thinking about what my time away will look like, what activities it will include and how I can weave some extra activity within that schedule. I look for any notable outdoor attractions as well as any interesting fitness locales that catch my eye…fun stuff I don’t have at home. It is also crucial to think about meals and do a little research to find some healthy dining-out options. Once plans are formed, it becomes easier to pack for success.

I make sure I have twice as many workout clothes as I think I might need…you never know! I toss a pair of hiking boots and running shoes in the trunk. I never leave home without my water bottle.

A past trigger I had was buying junk at gas stations to munch on. To combat this, I now try to eat a meal at home before I leave and pack some healthy snacks for those stops along the way. I’m much less likely to buy chips, candy bars, etc. if I have options in the car.

One last tip I can recommend is to fit a last-minute workout into your schedule before you leave. If you will be on the road a while, you’ll be starting off ahead and will, more than likely, continue on your route to travel success!

Friends, it’s just that simple…a little premeditated mindfulness goes a long way. Next time you have a trip coming up, give it a try; you’ll be ready to hit the road to good health!

Don’t Forget to Love YOU!

Happy Valentine’s Day, fellow FIT BFFs! It’s kind of like any other day around here for me; I’m in love with an amazing guy. He’s loved me at my worst and supported me toward my best. I don’t know where I’d be today without him, but of one thing I’m very sure…I’m blessed.

I know this day is difficult for many. For some, it’s a yearly reminder they’ve yet to find the one. For others, it holds pain of past relationships. Many are reminded of loved ones that they’ve lost. And still others are suffering the effects of loving others so completely that they’ve neglected themselves.

Many put so much passion and energy into our significant other, our children or others, that there’s nothing left for ourselves. I’ve been there, and although I thought that was my responsibility as a wife and mother, it left me ingnored, overlooked. At the risk of sounding selfish, it has taken me several years to realize I deserve at least as much of my attention as I give anyone else. I mean if you don’t take care of yourself, who will?

I encourage you to devote a few moments today (and every day) to administer some self love. Get yourself in front of a mirror and look lovingly into your eyes. It may seem awkward at first, but that just means you need to get reacquainted. Smile! No, really…SMILE! If you are kind to others, you certainly deserve that same kindness, so it’s time to tell yourself some important things. Choose a few or all of these self affirmations or others of your choice (but keep it positive!!!) and tell that lovely person in the mirror…

  • I accept myself unconditionally.
  • I am beautiful.
  • I am strong.
  • I believe in me.
  • I am important.
  • I deserve happiness.
  • I am talented.
  • I am capable of accomplishing my dreams.
  • I am worthy of success.
  • I can do anything.
  • I am loved.

Again, this may feel strange at first, but that just means you need to talk to that wonderful person much more often! Take this strategy with you. Anytime you need a pick-me-up, put these affirmations to work. Repeat them in your mind and heart again and again. Choose the ones that resonate with you and convince yourself you mean them.

We all deserve to be loved, Friends, not just today, but everyday. Remember to treat yourself at least as well as others around you, then let that love shine! One more way we can all put our Best Foot Forward!

 

Monday Makeover

Happy Monday, Friends! Yes, I said happy! Some of you may not share my enthusiasm for that sentiment. There is one attitude surrounding Monday that is anything but positive.

Not long ago, I would have called the Happy Monday notion an oxymoron. I used to look forward to Mondays about as much as getting a flu shot or paying bills…but why? Monday is that day after the weekend when people are forced to return to the daily grind, the day we are thrown back into the insanely-paced, over-scheduled reality. At the time, a Monday seemed anything but happy.

I’m glad to say a lot has changed for me since then. Gradually, I’ve made many small, mindful shifts that have helped make Monday one of my favorites. I understand we all live with our own set of circumstances, therefore, some of these ideas may seem ludicrous to you.

I left a position that silenced my happiness; I didn’t want to work myself deeper and deeper into a job that left me yearning for retirement…life is way too short already! If your career is robbing you of your joy, it may be time to rethink that path.

A very simple thing I do to set the tone for the week is make the bed. It doesn’t seem like much, but it gives me a sense of accomplishment right away, every day. And as I’ve heard somewhere, “The state of your bed is the state of your head.” Not only does it look better, it keeps me from wanting to crawl back in.

I began purposefully devoting time every Monday to embracing gratitude. It’s amazing what abundance we can experience if we consider what we have, rather than what we don’t or what we wish we did have.

A cup of coffee and some time of reflection and journaling remind me my appreciation has developed far beyond the material. I find myself most grateful for my faith, loved ones/friends, good health and resilience. It’s awesome what little we actually need to feel complete. And what a wonderful feeling to radiate on a Monday!

I find no matter how I ate over the weekend, Monday is a perfect opportunity to reset. It’s a great day to refocus my efforts on cleaning up my eating, to be aware of what’s on the schedule so I can set myself up for success throughout the week. A bit of planning affords problem solving and positive choices.

My Monday morning workout is a must, and if it’s outdoors in a locale I love…even better! I take this time to set positive intentions for my week. Now that this has become habit, I really notice a difference if it doesn’t happen…like my whole week is off. That’s why I’ve come to defend this time and work hard to Never Miss a Monday!

Of course your schedule and priorities look much different than mine. If it works for you, that’s awesome! But if you find yourself in the blahs whenever a Monday rolls around, it might be time to consider a Monday Makeover! After all, everyone deserves a Happy Monday!

 

Evolution of a Walk

I’m wallowing this weekend in an upper respiratory nightmare. I had high hopes of getting to the gym this morning, but I didn’t want to be found unconscious beneath a machine, nor did I think anyone wanted what I’ve got. So I invited my husband, who’s suffering the same malady, to join me for a gentle walk on a most beautiful day.

The weather was unseasonably warm for a February morning in Minnesota, so fitness plan B turned out to be the perfect choice. It’s amazing what fresh air can do to restore a person’s head, heart and health.

The thawing warmth, combined with the playful puddles and joyfully singing birds put me in a place of reflection. As we worked toward completing our leisurely 3.5 mile stroll, I considered the evolution of my perspective toward walking.

Here’s what I mean. As I thought back to the time before my weight loss, I remember feeling very differently…like back in 2011 when I didn’t consider shoveling a great workout, it was simply a chore. And if someone had asked me to take a walk after that, I would’ve been too exhausted.

About this same time in 2012…winter camp at my unhealthiest, should someone have invited me to walk, I would’ve recommended they dial 911 before we begin…not. even. kidding.

Friends, here’s where things get exciting because a few months after this picture, I set off on my healthy lifestyle journey and things began to change dramatically! About this same time in 2013, if you had asked me to walk, I would have suggested we do it in the hilly woods of Oxbow Park because I had some serious training to do with around 30 pounds strapped to my back in preparation for an upcoming backpack hiking adventure.

I had lost a significant amount of weight by this same time in 2014 and was in fantastic shape, but if you had asked me to walk then, I would have had to pass. I was very busy doing nothing, or rather healing from automobile accident injuries. Dang it, one step forward, two steps back…

I behaved my butt off during that time so I could return to an active lifestyle better than ever. It took lots of patience and pep talks, but I bounced back with a force to be reckoned with! And should someone ask me around that same time in 2015 if I’d like to take a walk, I may have recommended we do it above ground because I was pretty wildly into high adventure, like swinging through the trees in Flagstaff. Guess I had something to prove to myself, huh?

By this time the following year, I had replaced the adrenaline addiction for a longer sustained endorphin high. If you had invited me to walk with you in 2016 I may have suggested a half marathon!

A lot has changed between then and now. I ran myself silly that entire year and am now taking some much needed time to restore a reluctant knee. So if any of you are interested in a calm walk of any distance, now’s the time to ask…though you may want to wait until my germ circus leaves town. A walk with Eric this morning was exactly what I needed to get my compass pointing true north again, to put into perspective how thankful I am to be back embracing a walk.

Just the Beginning

Friends, it took me a few days to process the closure which occured this week. The words were not readily available, and they continue to escape me. But I want to attempt to share the best I can. My 4 1/2 year stint with a dietician, health coach and trainers has drawn to a close. I was astounded at the multitude of memories and emotions that bubbled up surrounding my final training session, weigh-in and coaching appointments. Profound Gratitude, Friends!

I remember the broken woman I was when I first met each of these life-changers. When I take time to reflect on that time in my life, I’m inevitably and instantly in tears. I was absent back then, in a deep dark hole of despair. I was (246 pounds) morbidly obese, aimlessly suffering the loss of a loved one, medicated for high blood pressure and feeling out of touch with everything and everyone. Lost.

But now, when I look back at the infinite things each of these people taught me, tools they provided, confidence they instilled, patience, heart and soul they shared…I’m simply blown away at what a gift this experience was and is. And when an old tendancy attempts to creep in…worry, the fear of future failure, I shut that stuff down immediately because I’m no longer defined by a number or a diagnosis. I am strong, healthy, empowered, loved, determined, inspired, dedicated, focused, centered, healed and whole. Found.

I hesitate to call this my before/after because it’s not. It’s simply then and now; not at all the end, rather, Just the Beginning of anything I dare to dream!

High Protein Veggie Scramble

Hi fellow FIT BFFs! I often return from the gym famished after an intense workout. It would be easy to chow down on whatever I can quickly get my hands on, but I want to be sure to replenish my body properly. I’ve made a variety of these throw-together kind of scrambles and found this combination to be a generously portioned, relatively low-cal, high protein powerhouse. The bonus…teamed with an english muffin, my appetite is satisfied for hours!

High Protein Veggie Scrambler

Ingredients:

1 large egg

2 large egg whites

2 tbsp red onion, diced

1/4 green bell pepper, chopped

3 oz mushrooms, diced

1/4 cup 2% shredded cheddar

1 medium Roma tomato, diced

1/4 medium avocado diced

Himalayan pink salt and pepper to taste

Non-stick cooking spray

Directions:

In small bowl, beat egg/egg whites with wire whisk; place in non-stick cooking sprayed small fry pan. Mix in onion, bell pepper and mushrooms. Cook over low heat. Occasionally loosening contents from the bottom of the pan and turning, as you would scramble plain eggs. Continue scrambling until egg appears cooked. Add shredded cheddar and mix with the scramble. Once cheese begins to melt, immediately plate mixture and top with tomato and avocado. Salt and pepper to taste.

Makes one serving at 282 calories with 25 grams of protein! Add an english muffin for meal total of about 400 calories!

My Wedding Ring NSV

Friends, if you don’t already know, I’m an eternal optimist! Though life can be terribly rough at times, I do my best to find the bright side in every situation. Sometimes a person has to be patient for all the pieces to come together to make sense. It can be intense when it does; I believe everything happens for a reason.

I’ve had an experience this past month that is just too phenomenal to keep to myself…my a-ha came today and it blew my mind!

Nearly a month ago, I realized the diamond from my wedding ring of 22 years had disappeared. Instead of freaking out, as I would have before my weight-loss journey, I was surprisingly calm. The old me would likely have cried, puked, feverishly searched and stressed through a sleepless night over the lost stone. This was a true test for the new me I’d worked so hard to become.

I simply breathed while considering how many places the diamond could have fallen throughout my day of errands…it could have been anywhere inside any number of stores, or outdoors where everything was covered in crunchy snow. Of course, I looked around the house, but I wasn’t willing to make myself sick over it. The truth of the matter, that thing could be anywhere, and a trillion times tougher than finding a needle in a haystack!

I had to admit, I was surprised, myself, how at peace I was. A ring was just a symbol of something much greater, and if Eric wasn’t upset, why should I be? I kept remembering how, toward the end of my weight-loss, the ring had become so loose on my finger, I was afraid I might lose it. How ironic the stone turned up missing instead.

A wise friend suggested the stone disappeared because it was from our old relationship. And just as I’ve transformed, so too had my relationship with Eric. It was time to replace it with a renewal to our commitment. I LOVED that beautiful sentiment; it had me in tears (the good kind). 

I set the empty ring aside and didn’t think much more about it except when I glanced at it every now and then. I know this is going to sound kind of crazy, but I had the calmest feeling, like everything was going to resolve itself. But how?

Nearly two weeks later, I spotted something shiny on the carpet mere inches from a furnace vent. Yup, found it! It seemed miraculous that it turned up, yet I wasn’t at all surprised because, you know…everything happens for a reason, right? Only what was it?

I was thrilled to have the same stone back. Eric and I both decided it was still a symbol of our love, whether old or transformed. I missed having that ring on my finger and was excited to know it would be back on there soon!

So far, I bet you’re wondering what’s the point of my story. Well, I was thinking the same thing…why did this happen. I wasn’t able to pinpoint that one yet.

This week has been rough. It marked three years since our car accident. I also had my final training session for my weight-loss program and I was unraveling. Why? I’d been successful throughout those 4 1/2 years. I’d worked through an immense amount of baggage and habits. I’d been given every tool imaginable to be successful. But the safety net had been cut away and that made me nervous. I spent the week on the verge of tears.

Thankfully, another wise friend sent me some magically timed words, “It is a new beginning. Not an ending…You my dear, the Queen of finding signs and meaning with everything in life, this is a sign that you are ready to go and make your way with the skills you have been provided.”

Of course she was right!

Friends, it’s about to get so good…stay with me! I took the ring to be repaired today and the jewelers marveled at how amazing it was to have found the diamond. Apparently, it was a miracle, but an even better thing happened next! I mentioned the irony of having lost the stone rather than the ring because it is so loose. The ladies pulled out the sizing guide and I’m convinced this whole thing happened so I would feel victory in decreasing the ring when I truly needed a win!

One of the women mentioned that she had been on a weight-loss journey too and when we shared a bit more of our stories and I showed her my before pic…

she came clear around the counter and hugged me. She thanked me for inspiring her! But what she doesn’t know is that in them encouraging me to resize the ring, I’ve just built in the accountability piece I desperately needed…my new safety net!

It gave me chills thinking how this wedding ring was a symbol of our marriage vows, and with this diamond escapade, has become a further commitment…the promise I needed to make to myself this week…to both of us, really. With this ring, I thee WELL!

Friends, this one ended far better than I could have ever imagined, my all-time greatest NSV all thanks to the Guy upstairs!

 

 

Mended More Than a Shirt!

Friends, I made a breakthrough of epic proportions last night which I’m feeling led to share. I don’t even know if it will make sense to anyone else…but here’s hoping!

My epiphany began when I lifted the remnants of a sweatshirt, my favorite sweatshirt from it’s resting place.

It had been balled up in my mending basket for quite some time. I messed with it every so often, but each time it left me feeling broken. It still held heavy memories that I continued to stuff down, feelings I thought had been dealt with long ago. But as I picked it up again last evening, that heaviness bubbled right back up. I knew that if I didn’t face this baggage, release and set it free, it would continue to resurface again and again. It was time.

If you’ve been reading for a while, you may know I was injured in a serious car accident a while back. If you need a refresher, here’s a post about it from last year.

Maybe if I’d thrown the sweatshirt away like the rest of my clothes from that night, there would have been no reminder. But I had a plan for that thing that involved healing. I knew at some point, when it was stitched back together, I’d likely be whole again too. Here’s what its shreds looked like after being cut off me in the ER.

Only one cut-length remained last night when I was determined to finish it. As I began stitching, my body tensed up something fierce; it’s like I was reliving the pain of my healed injuries. See, I thought I’d fully recovered from it, but my mind continued to present me with notions I hadn’t considered earlier. This past year had been filled with a ridiculous amount of training runs and events…marathon, half marathons, Ragnar.

And, mile after mile of training rides in prep for RAGBRAI, the little 420 mile bike ride across Iowa.

On several occasions throughout that busyness, people asked why I was pushing myself to that degree. Upon much soul searching, I didn’t have an answer. I simply didn’t have a clue. I mean, I thought maybe I continued to push the limits to see how far I could go. But as physical breakdown soon replaced the fun and adventure, I continued to push through the pain, as if forced to continue.  I didn’t know why, until last night!

The closer I came to completing the mending, it became clearer and clearer. I’d relentlessly pushed this past year to prove the accident had no hold on me. How ironic, because in working that hard, it became clear it had a stronger hold on me than ever. And there it was, I was face to face with the baggage!

The realization hit me in the feels…HARD! With only a couple inches left to stitch, the tears rolled down as I let it all out. I can’t tell you how freeing that was. How crazy to think it took this long to figure out. I couldn’t help wonder if I’d finished mending the sweatshirt much earlier, would I have reached the same, important closure then? Who knows. The important thing is that it happened.

I’m relieved to have finally figured out what I was running and biking from. I’m ready to do things now because I want to, not because I had something to prove. As I placed the last few stitches, in that moment of clarity, came peace…and my fully mended proof that I not only survived, I THRIVE!

I’m looking back at that night three years ago, one more time. When I consider how differently things could have turned out, gratitude completely washes over the entire experience. My husband and I still have each other. Our boys still have their parents. My body has attempted and pretty successfully proved nearly unstoppable. I still have my favorite part of the car! And my sweatshirt, although noticably scarred, is whole again, and still my favorite!

It’s become a work of art, really. I’ve entitled it What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Stronger, and I intend to wear it and feel its/my strength for years to come!

Life is good, Friends…damn GOOD!