It’s a Girl!

Many of you had no idea I was expecting! I’ve been keeping a very big secret lol!!! I’ve known about this life-changing opportunity for several years, but it wasn’t until this spring I knew the time was finally perfect. After all, my teenage sons are in that don’t-want-anything-to-do-with-Mom phase!

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I’ve set out on an exciting new journey that included an application process, a background check and an interview/orientation with Bolder Options last month. I really looked forward to hearing I had been matched with someone! Bolder Options is a genius organization here in Rochester and Minneapolis, that pairs mentors with at-risk youth to promote and engage in goal setting, physical activity, confidence building and healthy life skills development.

Meet my new teenage mentee, Kiara! Isn’t she adorable?

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I’m so excited to begin this journey with her. We will spend 2-4 hours together each week exploring health and wellness topics, participating in group activities (like a cooking class we attended last night), training for some 5K race events and 15 to 30 mile bike rides, or just getting some great exercise together.

The above picture is from our Zumba on the Plaza experience Monday night. We had a great time getting to know each other better as we walked to this community event. Once there, we joined about 100 other people in a 90-minute sweat and giggle session that is Zumba! Although this was Kiara’s first experience with Zumba, I doubt it will be her last!

In our initial meeting last week, it became obvious we have a lot of interests in common. As we began brainstorming all the fun activities we could do, it occured to me just how quickly our year together will fly. I’m honored to have an important role in Kiara’s life this year, but I’m not sure anyone quite understands how important this opportunity is for me…all new reasons for me to remain active, a rewarding chance to enhance a young person’s life, a way to give back, purpose.

Healthy Eating Obstacle #737

With only two more days before I leave for Iowa’s Ragbrai, my biggest physical challenge yet, this seems like a very inopportune time for an issue. I’ve been eating a few naughty things here and there knowing I will be crushing a billion calories in the next week…still not a great reason. I know!

I admit, it feels like there are a million obstacles attempting to derail a person’s intentional healthy eating. I experienced a whole new one this week…one I didn’t have time or energy to deal with. Our two year old refrigerator decided to go on vacation. The freezer had been giving us little hints for a few weeks in the form of frost build up. But I’ve been so busy with both running and cycling training miles, that I paid little attention. Okay, I flat-out ignored it.

Well it got our full and undivided attention when the milk and creamer were room temperature. You can only put things like this off for so long. It put a real damper on our meal choices for the past two days while waiting for a technician. This was our reality this morning…

Fridge

I’m going to choose to look at the upside of this opportunity. In sacrificing the entire contents of our fridge in the name of safety, I get to start from scratch. And that’s not a bad thing! Today I know there is nothing in there that is expired. There is nothing that will encourage me to sabotage my progress. We won’t talk about the ice cream in the freezer (that seems to be working perfectly).

Fortunately, the fridge only required a bit of pampering and a new fan. So it seems we are back up and running in the refrigeration department.

When I hit the grocery store this afternoon, I plan to make only the best choices of those main staples. That will be even easier to do with my teenager away at camp, not to mention I will be cycling across Iowa for the next week. I feel like this purge happened at a great time because when I return from my 419 mile tour, I will be ready to move forward past the roadside pie and pork chop stands in pursuit of renewed healthy eating.

The moral of this dead-fridge purge tale? There is a bright side to everything. I’m not looking at this experience in terms of what we lost, but rather an opportunity to improve!

Mark That Off the Bucket List

Hey Readers, remember how I said I’d try just about anything once? When we learned of an event, my cousins and I were all over it. What could be more fun than racing 4 1/2 miles down the Wolf River on a raft of our own creation? I couldn’t imagine anything better to do last weekend, so I took off for Wisconsin Friday night.

Saturday morning my cousins Andrea, Nadia, Brett and I went to work on a very simple design…a couple Coleman air mattresses, some duct tape and a ball of twine. That was it. We named it KISS…you know, Keep It Simple Stupid. We wouldn’t win any awards for creativity, but that wasn’t our aim.

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As we finished our quick construction, other teams looked our way in disbelief.

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Heck, they came right out and laughed. They’d planned their rafts for months and had some pretty impressive designs. Their rafts were desined for a swift float down the river with little physical exertion necessary to reach the finish line. We didn’t mind the sneers and jeers…we had some pretty awesome propulsion plans of our own…this was to be our workout for the day!

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What these folks didn’t know is that our number one goal was to support the event…it was the 6th annual fundraiser in memory of our cousin Kari to help find a cure for cancer. We didn’t expect to win, we came to represent the family and have a darn good time doing it!

Our plan included a high school state swimmer who provided a powerful tow up front while three very athletic women kicked off the back.

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Although some of the big guns pulled ahead of us right from the start, we took a sizable lead from others. As we began to fatigue, we regrouped with two paddlers up front and two kickers behind.

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All told, it took a couple hours to complete the distance as we enjoyed a glorious day in the water while burning a billion calories.

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What a great way to bring the gym outside, and support a perfect cause too. What a blast we had! I couldn’t tell if my abs hurt more from all that activity or from laughing hysterically, non-stop for hours. Who even cares…we finished that Wolf River Raft Race…much to the surprise of many who didn’t expect our raft to make it. How do I know that?

Although we didn’t place, our team still won an award…the Crash and Burn trophy!

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Those in on the judging didn’t know who they were nominating. We were the most determined team on the river that day. We didn’t crash or burn; we merely did what we set out to do…we raced down the river with all our might and hearts to help find the answer for cancer.

Gave T’ai Chi Chih a Try

Fellow FIT BFFs, I’ve said it before and I’ll keep saying it…I’ll try almost anything once. When I took a look at the current class schedule for the gym in search of something new to try, I found just the thing! My body is tired this week, so after a less than stellar run/walk this morning, I was looking for something calm, gentle…something to ground and focus myself.

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I’ve been intriqued by T’ai Chi but have never tried it until today. The class I attended this afternoon was the first session of many so we were all new learners, making it very low on the intimidation scale. This class, T’ai Chi Chih, “Joy Thru Movement” consists of a series of 19 movements and 1 pose that combine to make up a flowing, meditative exercise practice. One that’s practiced by tens of thousands of people worldwide. Its basic principles are thought to have been used in India and China as far back as the 6th century BCE!

I enjoyed learning some essentials such as the basic stance and rocking motion. Our instructor then worked us through the Bird Flaps its Wings, Around the Platter, a Platter variation and Bass Drum. And I have to admit, although none of the movements looked much like we were doing anything, when we finished, I could feel the difference. My mind was quiet. I felt centered, at peace.

We only learned a few of the 19 movements today, but I can’t wait to return next week to review them and learn more. It’s rare to find something capable of tuning out the stress in our lives. I feel like I just learned a big secret, Friends, a soothing, stress-busting strategy I can practice for the rest of my life! Best of all? T’ai Chi Chih is something anyone at any fitness level can do…why not give it a try?

 

Divine Timing

I’ve been dragging since last weekend’s Totally Nuts challenge trifecta. Monday I willed my legs to spin through a studio cycling class. Yesterday my trainer Cody found 101 ways to torture me with a basketball, stability ball and a staircase which rendered my legs completely useless. To his defense, I might have asked him to kick my ars. I now know I should choose my words very carefully around that guy haha!

Which brings me to this morning; I decided on a three-miler to keep my running schedule on track. I’d like to say that I felt strong and tore up that sidewalk, but my torn-up legs had other thoughts lol. My legs were still shaking from yesterday’s persecution as I hit mile two. That’s when I saw a beautiful, wonderful vision…my MOM!

Mom

There she stood, just outside her house preparing for her morning walk. Friends, I firmly believe that everything happens for a reason and the fact that she was out there, at that very moment, was meant to be! I knew what this little synchronism meant. It was my permission to cut myself some slack and/or that Big Guy Upstairs suggesting I spend some time with my mom!

I couldn’t have been happier about this…neither could my legs! We headed up the street for that familiar mile ahead that we’ve done together a thousand times.

So thankful for such divine timing. Mom thanks for always being there when I need you most. Today you were a sight for sore legs!

Win-It Wednesday Winners!

Happy Win-It Wednesday, Friends! It has been so much fun reviewing products from these generous companies for my Blog Birthday GiveawayAurorae, Rollga, CozyPhones, The Work(in), Thunderbird and Noodles & Company!

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Thanks, Readers, for validating why I do what I do here at FIT BFFs…it’s because of you this blog has turned 2! Thanks for entering the giveaway too! I look forward to making good use of your suggestions for future blogposts.

So, without further ado…the winners are:

Marisa  Aurorae yoga mat, tote and towel

Jill  Rollga roller

Cassie  CozyPhones headphones headband

Kris  The Work(in) core ball and resistance bands

Angela Thunderbird Real Food Bars bar assortment

Plus, each of these winners will also receive a pair of BOGO coupons from Noodles & Company too.

Congrats, Winners! Watch your email for a message from FIT BFFs!

Yeah…I’m Totally Nuts!

Hello, fellow FIT BFFs; I hope your week is off to a great start! Because I’m off work for my summer break, I try to fill it full of adventure and challenges to keep me on track. I’m living and loving every last minute of it. Last weekend I attempted a crazy challenge right here in my hometown.

Why crazy? Because most of my family and friends thought I was out of my mind when I told them what the challenge was…the name really said it all! I participated in Triton Events’ Minnesota Nut House Totally Nuts Challenge. Why nuts? Because in order to fulfill the challenge I was to complete a 5K Friday night, a 10K Saturday and a half marathon Sunday. My friends and family know I will try anything once, so of course I had to try!

July weather is a real crapshoot here in the midwest, but I was willing to risk it. I would do just about anything for a set of medals as cool as these…you’ll see those in a minute. Luckily, the weekend weather forecast looked amazing!

I looked forward to Friday night. My husband Eric agreed to run the 5K, and I was thrilled when my son Logan and his girlfriend Anna decided to go for it too! I had to run hard to keep up with Eric. He kicked my tail! The course was beautiful through downtown Rochester’s trails and very well organized and supported too. What a great 5K!

Nut House 5K finish

As Saturday rolled around, I was ecstatic to have a running buddy for the 10K. My high school friend Rhendy agreed to run it with me and we had a great time catching up amidst our attempt to stay neck and neck with her sister-in-law Robyn. Here we are at the start…great photo, Triton Events!

Nut House 10K

Another great, well organized race complete with an abundance of aid stations. The scenery was lovely throughout the wooded trails along the river. Before we knew it, another race was done and another medal was around our necks!

Nut House 10K medal

And now this is where I knew things would get interesting. I normally taper and rest the last couple days before a half marathon. But I’d been running for the past few days and I not only wanted to do some nourishing recovery, but I needed some carbs, so a terrific dish of Bilotti’s spaghetti it was!

Nut House Carbs

I didn’t sleep well Saturday night…intuition can be a real buzzkill sometimes. I sensed foreboding; I just couldn’t put my finger on it. When I woke up, I checked the weather and instantly knew why. Unexpected thunderstorms were moving in and threatened to stop the half before it began. I headed to the race start anyway…after all, I was going to earn that last medal if I had to run through a wall cloud… Not. Even. Kidding. Check out the front that passed through!

Nut House Clouds

It was a cold, wet wait as the race officials continued to push the start time back every time lightening struck. I was second and third-guessing my attire choice. Who knew Minnesota windchill would be a factor in July?!?

Nut House Rain

Waiting 75 minutes under some tents turned out to be a blessing. I got to know some pretty dedicated runners who had traveled hundreds of miles to achieve this challenge…hearing stories of their other travels and races was inspiring. Yeah, we were all crazy to be there in that blustery moment, but it was great affirmation. We’d all come together to do what we love, to realize one more goal. If this was so crazy, at least I wasn’t alone! I’m glad to say the storms cleared out and the race went on. Good thing too…I’m not sure what would have become of the person who would tell these runners they would not be getting that third medal!

Nut House Start

The weather turned out to be a godsend. I started out soaked and chilled to the bone, but it came in so helpful to combat the heat that cranked up toward the end. I was astounded how many volunteers stuck it out through the downpour and time delay to fully and enthusiastically support the race. I beamed with hometown pride knowing they put on such an impressive series of events.

The course took me through some pretty enchanting miles of Rochester I’d never seen before. I can’t wait to do some training runs on those paths again soon. The miles all came together before long and the end came into sight. When I saw the series of finish line inflatables, I had to laugh…they were about as waterlogged as I was haha!

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And so it happened…medal #3 of the weekend earning me the Totally Nuts title!

Nut House Half

Completely crazy, but totally worth it!

Nut House Medal Nut House Medal 2

Win-It Wednesday Birthday Giveaway!

As promised, Friends, it’s time to celebrate FIT BFFs Blog’s Belated Birthday!

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Remember those packages that arrived last month? It’s time for me to spill the surprise…what’s a birthday celebration without PRESENTS?!? The best part? The gifts are for YOU, my readers. After all, what would FIT BFFs be without YOU?!?

Would you like to know what I’m giving away? Well, if you’ve been keeping up with me lately, you know I’ve been reviewing some pretty cool products. Those great companies not only provided me with those items for me to review, they also generously provided another item for the FIT BFFs Birthday Giveaway!

Without futher ado…here are the birthday presents you can enter to win…

This beautiful Aurorae yoga mat, tote and microfiber towel I reviewed here: http://bit.ly/25MGE5Q Thanks, Aurorae!

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This awesome Rollga therapy roller I reviewed here: http://bit.ly/29zuYKV Thanks, Rollga!

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This fantastic assortment of all nine Thunderbird Real Food Bars I reviewed here: http://bit.ly/28SLRCG Thanks, Thunderbird!

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This terrific CozyPhones headphones headband I reviewed here: http://bit.ly/29n138l Thanks, CozyPhones!

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And last, but certainly not least, this amazing The Work(in) CORE ball and resistance loop bands set I reviewed here: http://bit.ly/29dl98a Thanks, The Work(in)!

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Five great gifts…BUT WAIT, there’s more!

Remember how much I loved Noodles & Company’s new Chicken Veracruz Salad that I reviewed here: http://bit.ly/1PlTosz?

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Noodles & Company has provided me with BOGO coupons, so each winner of the above items will also receive two Buy 1 Bowl Get 1 Free tickets to enjoy their Noodles favorites! Thanks, Noodles & Company!

Noodles BOGO

Those are pretty fun presents, aren’t they?!? So how can you enter to win? Simply leave a comment below mentioning something you’d like to read more about here at FIT BFFs between now and Tuesday, July 12th, midnight central time.

One lucky winner for each of the FIT BFFs Birthday Giveaway Presents above will be randomly drawn and announced next Wednesday, July 13th, 2016. Giveaway is open to US residents only.

Good luck and thanks for reading!

Rollga Review

Fellow FIT BFFs, I have something I need to share with you because keeping it to myself would be downright selfish! I attended an expo recently where I met Tim, the co-owner of something that would soon change my life. Am I being dramatic? Not. One. Bit!!!

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Tim is the co-creator of Rollga, an ingenious recovery tool I have grown to crave after a long run or cycling session. When I first laid eyes on it, I had no idea how I’d come to need it! Actually, I had no idea what it even was lol! Luckily, Tim was at the expo demonstrating this invention and after spending a short time getting some pointers, I knew it would soon be one of my favorite pieces of at-home equipment!

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Tim generously provided me with a complimentary Rollga to test drive and review for all of you. I have used foam rollers at home and in the gym for over a year now to relieve tight muscles after tough workouts. I looked at those recovery sessions with fear because, frankly, it hurt; I sometimes wondered if people could hear my IT band screaming from across the gym! Those of you who foam roll know what I’m talking about!

This is where the Rollga is different! Rollga’s unique design boasts the first connective tissue therapy roller that was created to better target problem areas in less time with more stability…its shape is key and this is what Rollga has to say…

“By avoiding muskuloskeletal bone structure, Rollga Rollers penetrate muscle tissues that lie below the elevations of the skeletal structure. Because of this patented design, you will certainly feel Rollga’s natural ability to release trigger points that you have never been able to touch in the past with traditional foam rollers.”

The Rollga is offered in three different foam resistances…softer, firm and extra firm. And as their website states, “At 18 inches, Rollga is big enough to treat your whole body and small enough to fit in your backpack.”

I appreciate that Rollga has a durable surface that’s easy to clean. I’m also excited to share that Rollga’s headquarters are right here in St. Cloud, MN…I LOVE that!

Because the website offers an easy to follow, downloadable user guide it’s a snap to get started right away here: rollga.com

With several running events and a long-distance bike tour this summer, my quads will be doing lots of rockin’ and rolling on that Rollga. I have a feeling it will make a significant difference in my training, performance and recovery.

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Thanks, Tim of Rollga, for the fantastic opportunity to get acquainted with your awesome product; I give Rollga two very enthusiastic thumbs up!