Here I Go Again!

Hey Friends, I wanted to let you know that although I haven’t been writing frequently lately, I am not slacking! Those of you that read my previous post know that I spent the month of October and the first few weeks this month completing a step challenge. It was a very simple idea, work toward getting the recommended 10,000 steps in daily. It was a bit harder for me than it sounded because I tended to get my activity done in ways my Fitbit doesn’t track. No worries, though, I made a conscious effort and hit the target all 42 days. Since I last posted, I continued to walk or hike daily, oftentimes with friends…

  

Even after the challenge wrapped up, I continued to find myself hitting the 10,000 step target every day…great new habit! One that put a crazy idea into my head…more on that in a moment.

I made another great investment of time lately too. A couple weeks ago, I joined a new maintenance support type of group made up of folks just like me who were members of the weight loss program I completed. We have come together to help one another through the holidays and beyond, keeping focused on our health and wellness. Our first meeting two weeks ago featured a healthy potluck. Ordinarily, the thought of a potluck terrifies me because I already know my choices will be few and far between. But this time was very different…not only were all the offerings healthy, the salads and main dishes all included recipes and nutrition info. Here’s a glimpse at one of the two bountiful tables!

This was the first potluck I ever felt safe about, if you know what I mean. So this program is simple, come together twice monthly to discuss challenges and successes, share helpful tips and weigh-in. We were also offered a food journal and encouraged to use it.

I should mention I joined this group because I not only wanted to maintain what I have left of my weight loss from these past 5 years, I want to forge ahead and drop more pounds. So this is what my first two weeks looked like…

I pretty diligently recorded my eating. I wrote most everything down nearly every day. I didn’t really begin with a calorie target for each day, but tried to keep it under 2000 calories.

I refocused my fitness efforts too. Just a few weeks back, my gym began a major renovation, one I couldn’t help thinking kind of symbolized my renewed goals too. I looked closely at my workout habits and routine and gave it some fine tuning. Beyond continuing my 10,000 daily step goal, I scheduled my strength training workouts and classes into my planner. This has been instrumental in my consistency. Because before I wrote these into my week, they were much less likely to happen.

I’m excited to report I’ve had two tremendously successful weeks. The scale dropped 5 pounds, my active wear fits much less like touniquets and I’m seeing some fun definition changes already…

Although the gym changes are obvious, you may not notice any with me. But that’s okay, I FEEL them and I know they are there. Even better? I’m driven to continue through the holidays and beyond.

One thing I’m so excited to share is that I remembered my why. Not only that, I remembered how excited I am to work toward some short and long term goals. I set an INSANE milestone goal for 2022 when I turn 50. It’s so damn crazy, I’m not going to tell you quite yet what it is. Just know I haven’t done much of anything lately that scares me, and this thing is well outside my comfort zone. Way beyond this continent even!

Friends, when’s the last time you refocused, redefined and reset? If you are spinning your wheels, maybe the time is now. It is making all the difference for me and is another great way to put our Best Foot Forward!

Fine Tuning my Hospital Strategy

Friends, I drive past Mayo Clinic’s St. Marys Hospital Campus frequently. I was born here, had a fractured arm reset in second grade, visited the ER more times than I would’ve liked including my auto accident trauma drama. I honestly admit that each time I drive past, I thank the man upstairs every day I’m not there. I also send some positive thoughts upward for those that are.

I feel the heaviness of others when I pass by because I recall gut-wrenching days spent there with pretty heartbreaking outcomes for loved ones.

Unfortunately, yesterday found me there around the clock as my mother-in-law underwent a very delicate surgery. A day like that reminds me how fortunate we are to have world class medical care right here in our own backyard.

Before my weight loss journey, I would treat this day as the enemy…sedentary for hours in the waiting room, emotional binge eating to no end and panic stricken with worry and anxiety. Thinking back to my dad’s lung surgery simply haunts me. Thankfully I’ve learned to approach this kind of day with a more mindful strategy…take for example how I handled my husband’s surgery a couple years ago in case you missed it…

Despite the outcome, that turned out to be a pretty successful day. Recalling that experience, I was able to face yesterday’s uncertainty by putting my needs first, to take great care of myself so I could be stronger for others. Here’s what that looked like…

Once we got my MIL checked in and off to surgery and enjoyed a cup of coffee with her sister, I did something postive to feel helpful in this setting.

Someone will be receiving a pint of high-octane enthusiasm!

Next, I hydrated and fueled on something smarter than a blood donor center cookie…what better snack than an RX bar at a hospital haha?!? After a quick recovery I wandered upstairs…

The chapel was a beautiful place to release my concerns, leaving them to the guy in charge. Feeling peace filled, I returned to the waiting room for an update from my husband and his aunt. I spent some time blogging a great recipe, then it was off to lunch. I advocated for a place across the street, an escape from those four walls where I chose a nourishing lunch to be proud of…salmon salad for the win!

We were already starting to feel some exhausting effects of being up at 4 am, but our day was far from over. Heading back to the waiting room to find surgery was still underway.

I find it so interesting that if the Mayo Clinic calls sitting the next smoking, why in the world are there no treadmills in waiting rooms? Think of the power they could generate to make Mayo greener too?!? I mean, just a thought, Friends.

It was time for me to move more, so I racked up some steps exploring this fine historic piece of Rochester like a tourist.

The courtyard was a great place to breathe deep!

Then back inside for an educational look at St. Marys beginning, like this first operating table designed and constructed by Dr. Charles H. Mayo in 1889! There are some pretty cool relics in that heritage hall.

Back upstairs to the waiting room where it is now well into the afternoon…still in surgery. I take some time to catch up on e-mails, school notifications, scheduling, snack. This place is still filled with nervous people and energy and it isn’t long before I’m back out wandering the halls to avoid them.

A stop in the gift shop for an essential oil boost gave me some energetic support I was hoping for. I continued out onto the grounds to this amazing little place.

What a thoughtful spot for some peaceful meditation. I sort of lost myself there, lost all track of time. I received a text that although surgery was still in progress, we were being moved up to the ICU floor, so I headed that way. And just like that, I was validated for my efforts…

Hit my 10,000 step daily goal…BOOM!

More family joined us and soon I was feasting on a well-balanced, calorie counted hospital cafeteria dinner that was AWESOME. It was time to settle in for some relaxation and zone out on the NFL Kickoff.

We didn’t get word from the surgeon until nearly 9 pm that the day’s efforts had been a success…nearly 12 hours I might have spent worrying, I left the impatiens to the flowers outside lol!

We knew she was in the hands of one of the world’s finest neurosurgeons…so thank goodness I’ve learned that worry changes nothing but my blood pressure and weight!

After some reflection and time spent within those walls, I am fired up, now more than ever, about wellness as a defense against aging/illness. It was an exhausting day for all of us, but I slept well knowing I had taken great care of me…put my Best Foot Forward!

I look forward to driving past that hospital again soon, filled with gratitude for what miracles they work there but thankful every day that I don’t need one!

 

My September Goal…Back to Basics!

Happy September, fellow FIT BFFs! Parents across the country are breathing a sigh of relief. They’ve survived another action-packed summer and it’s time for the kids to go back to school! It’s time for students to be reunited with friends and return to a predictable schedule.

This becomes the perfect time for parents to return to themselves, so to speak. Back-to-school season is a great time for parents to get motivated, to refocus on their own personal goals…that’s what I’m doing.

Although I’ve lost a significant amount of weight within the past 5 years, I’ve experienced the slow and silent creep of partial regain. Hey, it happens, but I refuse to beat myself up over it. Instead, I’m reminding myself (and anyone else who’s interested) just what it’s going to take. This is what I’m calling my…

Brightly Colored Childrens Toy Magnetic Alphabet Letters on White Background

A is for Attitude, make sure it’s the positive kind.

is for Breathe…take time to quiet your mind and soul.

is for Calories, yeah, they count. Read those labels and stick to a serving size. One.

is for Determination. Some days will be easy but others you’ll need to dig deep. You’ve got this!

is for Every Day…a fresh new opportunity to be successful, so go for it!

is for Food! Remember it’s fuel and your stomach is not a garbage can!

is for Goals. Set them. Reach them. Set more!!!

is for Hard! Heck yeah, it’s hard! If it weren’t, everyone would do it!

is for Inspiration…look for it in others, never stop seeking it out. Soon you’ll be inspiring others too.

is for Journaling. Write down everything you eat…EVERY. SINGLE. THING!!!

K is for Keep Going! Start over as many times as it takes…just keep going!

L is for Lifestyle Changes…lots of little modifications make big differences. Huge.

M is for Mindful Eating. Eat at the table. Don’t rush or distract yourself with TV, computer or phone.

is for Never Give Up. Ever!

is for One Day at a Time. Results take time; be patient! Yesterday is over and tomorrow isn’t here yet, so focus on today.

is for Promise…promise yourself that you will see this through. All the way!

is for Quit, don’t you dare! And, for Pete’s sake, quit saying ” I can’t.”

is for Reward Yourself. You’re working so hard and you deserve it; buy that new pair of (running) shoes!

S is for Sleep! Get it. Lots of it. You need it….enough said.

is for Try New Things. Try it all…new activities, classes, ideas, foods and recipes.

is for Unstoppable. Convince yourself that you are, and you ARE!

V is for Vegetables. Eat them, all kinds of them; they are a weight loss friend!

is for Water…drink it often. Lots of it!

is for eXercise. Often. Do the active things you enjoy frequently.

is for You Are Not Alone. Many are on similar journeys. Find them and support one other.

Z is for Zero Regret….what you will have when you give it all you’ve got!!!

Although this may seem a vague goal, I’ll be reminding myself of these ABCs daily to move forward in the month of September, mind, body and spirit. I’d love to hear from you…what’s your plan this month?

Travel Hack #1

Friends, I’m in the midst of packing my bags for the IDEA World Blogfest/Fitness Convention in Vegas.

I feel as though lately all I’m doing is packing or unpacking, but I’m not complaining! I love to travel, but it sure can put a dent in the budget. I was thinking about that as I contemplated how difficult it could potentially be to find healthy, affordable food options throughout the busy conference. I put my Boy Scout Mom experience to work in solving my dilema! Check this out…

Here’s my solution for a quick hotel breakfast, a simple and healthy way to start each day. I prepackaged 1/4 cup raisins and 1/8 cup chopped walnuts to mix with a regular oatmeal packet every morning. Wonder how I plan to prepare it? This is my genius hack…heat the water in one of these…now days every room has one, right? With an extra cup here and there, my problem is solved!

I packed five breakfasts for less than the cost of one purchased at the hotel, and at 330 calories per serving, I will be starting my day off fully charged and satisfied! I threw them all into a quart-sized bag with plastic spoons and breakfast is ready!

As convenient as this will be, I also packed some snacks to keep my energy up throughout the day…almonds, cereal, fruit, a couple energy bars. It got me wishing I could pack some other meals to avoid the $16 convention sandwich and completely blowing my healthy eating. That’s where more of my Scout Mom ingenuity came into play! I plan to take a break between sessions for a little down time and lunch in my room. And yup, that little honey of a coffee maker will come in handy again!

Friends, I know there are even healthier ways to get the job done, but these genius little Mountain House dried meals I loved on a recent backpacking adventure will do just fine. All I need to do is add 3/4 cup boiling water and let them sit for a few minutes…the cooking is done for me! I paid close attention to the nutrition labels because some can get pretty high in calories and sodium. I picked up these convenience meals at Wal-mart for under $5 each. If you think about it, I am foregoing the $23 temptation lunch buffet, my portion is controlled and I am left feeling okay with dinner on the town.

If you’ve done similar hotel room cooking, I’d love to hear what you’ve made, please leave a comment below. It would be great to add more convenient, frugal healthy options to my packing list…one more way we can all put our Best Foot Forward!

 

Having My Cake and Eating it Too!

I nervously wrote my first blog post three years ago. I had no idea what people would think of my frequent doses of humor, sarcasm and (hopefully) useful information as I apprehensively hit publish. I wasn’t sure people would take me seriously in my pursuit to live and share my healthy lifestyle. I wasn’t a professional anything, simply a gal on a journey to improve her health and pass on what she learned along the way.

See, my goal in blogging was to inspire others who may have considered adopting a healthier lifestyle, to encourage them in knowing if I could do it, anyone could. I aimed to share thoughts and ideas I experienced so others might feel less alone. I realized many of my posts may have lacked relavance to many, yet I felt led to put them out there anyway,  hoping my honesty touched someone struggling with similar issues. This blogging gig has always been my desire and intention to help others.

But friends, I never expected what FITBFFs would do for me, no idea what an accountability tool blogging would become. Remember, the vast majority of people who lose a significant amount of weight soon gain it back and more. I’m beyond five years from the beginning of my weight loss and I’m determined to never write that apology post to you, Readers. EVER!

Nowhere in my wildest dreams would I predict what else would happen as I shared a few photos of my progress, some helpful products, a new favorite food or recipe, a few strategies to stay motivated, etc. I never imagined the incredible people I would be introduced to, the generous companies I would partner with, the ideas it would place before me, and the places it would take me. This blogging adventure has turned out to be a most amazing blessing, a fountain of opportunity that continues to wash over me with surprise after remarkable surprise.

Not a day goes by without a kind message from one of my readers, or being approached in public, an email from someone reaching out seeking help to begin their own transformation, a company wishing to share their great products or services with you! One word sums up what all this means to me. Gratitude.

One more thing I’m grateful for, Friends…I’ve learned how to have my cake and eat it too on this Blogiversary!

Thanks for reading, fellow FIT BFFs; let’s keep putting our Best Foot Forward!

 

My New Summer Love-Buddha Bowls

Friends, back in April I was introduced to the Buddha bowl in Hood River, OR, at the friendly little family owned and operated Remedy Juice-Cafe. It was a term I was not familiar with, but with the laundry list of amazing ingredients and the fact that I love to meditate…my order was a no-brainer!

Last month before a week’s vacation at the lake, I decided to do a little research to formulate my grocery list. In googling Buddha bowl, I was introduced to the idea of meatless, one-bowl meals. Unlike the bowl I devoured at Remedy, most Buddha bowls are vegan, containing only vegetables, plant proteins and whole grains.

I was intrigued by the origin of the idea as explained in several posts I read, but even more drawn to the idea for its colorful, appetite-satisfying concept. While checking out numerous pics, I jotted down my favorite ingredients for vacation. Once there, I spent some time creating some flavorful combinations…

I don’t think I preferred one over the next; they were all refreshingly cool and delightful!

Each had its own character and all kept me full for hours.

This week after returning from 4th of July festivities with family, it was time to get my eating back in check. I didn’t have much in the house, so I did a little Buddha bowl search to inspire my shopping list. A quick trip to the store this morning and I was back in creation mode. I love that I can throw these together without a recipe…a little winging it and, BOOM, a nourishing powerhouse is served!

Friends, I challenge you to give Buddha bowls a try. They might just become that next thing to motivate your progress and a great way we can all put our Best Foot Forward!

 

 

Time-Saving Smoothie Hack

Hey Friends, I just got out of the kitchen. I had the ingredients out for my lunch smoothie and figured since I had a little extra time, I’d invest it to save for later!

By pre-measuring and pre-packaging some ingredients, I’ve saved myself the time of taking these out and measuring the next 12 times I prepare a smoothie. I’ve been enjoying this hack for the past two years. If you’d like my little smoothie booster recipe, click here.

Streamlining a task creates efficiency, affording me more time to do the things I love! Friends, that’s just one more way we can all put our Best Foot Forward!

Back to Gardening

Friends, I cringe to show you a piece of my backyard. It’s that same piece of yard I’m sure my neighbors wince at everytime they see it too. I’ve neglected my garden for the past five years while I took better care of myself.

Truth be told, I was never all that good at it; some years were better than others. The growing seasons I nurtured it well, it produced a beautiful harvest. Others, not so much. Kind of like my health, huh?

Well this is the year my garden makes a comeback, Friends! I was in heaven a few weeks back, strolling through an abundant farmers’ market in Portland. Take a look, here’s just a bit of what I saw…

 

 

 

While there, it dawned on me. Why don’t I get my gardening groove back? I have zero excuses this year. I’m not quite as busy with my kids this summer, my calendar is wide open, I’m not following an intense running schedule. This is my year, and the time is NOW!

So here it is, what I’m starting with. Boy, do I have a job ahead of me. But no matter, I’ve got this!

I just enjoyed the most cathartic couple hours back there pulling up weeds. I remember now what I used to love about it; I used to spend hours helping with the gardens of several loved ones that are no longer here. Yup, it was just like hanging out with them again.

I had some birds back there keeping me company too. By the time it started getting dark, I’d managed to clear nearly half of it. My arms and back can vouch for that. I can’t wait to get the tiller through the dirt and get planting!

Soon I won’t need the farmers’ market, I’ll only have to go as far as my own backyard. Fellow FIT BFFs, do you garden? If so, what do you plant? Leave me a comment, I’d love to hear what you grow!

Fresh, healthy foods from our own backyards…one more way to put our Best Foot Forward!

Vacation Transformed Part 2

Friends, I’ve been home from Colorado for more than a week and I keep returning to what a memorable success it was. If you missed Part 1, you can read it here. In that post I mentioned some mindful modifications we’d made to our standard vacation for better outcomes.

That week progressed quite nicely into one of my favorite trips of all times. We continued to venture out of our condo every morning with a new version of the same view…

   

And if that awe-inspiring daily welcome wasn’t enough, we drove all of two miles to enter this phenomenal playground…

Eric, Connor and I spent an afternoon exploring Rocky Mountain’s Bear Lake. Although it was still frozen over, it provided the freshest air, great vibes and opportunity to get lost in it all!

That afternoon beat any video game, thrill ride or entertainment…nature is all we needed!

As the afternoon wound down, it was time to meet up with my college friend, Lynda.

And it’s great we did because she knows that park like the back of her hand…she took us places that blew my mind! Thanks for a spectacular tour and evening, Lynda!!!

If I lived close to this, I would come every single day. I don’t think it could ever get old! This waterfall was both enchanting and mesmerizing.

   

I just couldn’t leave without some more yoga. It just seemed like the right thing to do!

That day’s light, love and energy seeped clear into my bones and soul.

Our week in Estes Park continued to be a challenge for me to eat healthy, but if one looked hard enough, good choices could be found. Take for instance this entree from The Egg and I…LOVED it!

I needed to keep fueled for our last day because I had something important to check off my bucket list. Since the moment I’d seen this place on an episode of Extreme Weightloss, I knew I had to go!

Red Rocks Amphitheater has played host to countless performers and their sold-out concerts on hot summer nights. But in daylight, this venue welcomes those looking for an unforgiving workout. It was exactly what I was hoping for on our final day in Colorado.

Because my knee was less than functional, I had to run/walk, but that didn’t take away from the amazing accomplishment I felt having traveled across each of 69 rows down, then back up again. I logged five miles of harsh slopes and relentless heat.

I was ecstatic too, because although this was likely not on Eric’s bucket list, he got me there and even joined in!

That workout took all I had within me that day…I left it all there! Which turned out to be a good thing because the next day and a half was spent driving home from this astounding vacation.

The drive home was somber, it was tough leaving such beauty behind. I replayed the amazing experiences we’d had over and over again in my mind and heart. That second day on the road, although tiring was an a-okay way to spend my birthday. Why? Because my beloved Pita Pit was only a couple hours from home!

Friends, I think we finally got this vacation balance thing right! I returned home tired but nothing like trips of the past. I’m recharged and ready to work on that bucket list of mine…a list I never bothered dreaming up until my weight loss transformation proved was possible!

 

Vacation Transformed!

With spring break upon us, I’ve thought a lot about what vacations used to look like for my family and me. They consisted of ALL our favorite junk foods, a jam-packed schedule of busyness designed to entertain and engage our kids from morning to night in locales that catered to non-stop fun. We made a million memories, but most of mine were of indigestion, sensory overload and exhaustion. When I look at the photos, I wish I saw the fun and excitement, but I’m brought right back to the overwhelmedness.

I’m happy to realize throughout my weight loss journey, our vacations have transformed as well. I put serious thought into what I wanted out of this spring break, then set some mindful plans into action. We chose a location conducive to well-being as our top priority and hit the open road.

 

Fuel stops found me jumping at the pump and avoiding the endless empty calories I used to gather from gas stations. I was prepared, having packed a jumprope and plenty of healthy snacks.

Upon reaching our destination, I knew we’d made a great choice. Check out the view literally just two steps outside our rental condo…my soul smiled when I saw the exquisite view and heard the playful stream.

Ahhhhh.

I have come to an awareness that vacation can’t mean taking time off from myself. So with that in mind, we made plans to be active. Our first day in Estes Park found us hiking picturesque Lily Mountiain…

I only regret our older son was unable to join us because this would have been right up his alley.

You should know that hiking is my thing!

However, my husband Eric is not at all fond of heights and our younger son Connor is not a fan of hiking. At all. But they both sucked it up to climb the steep two miles; although there were some pretty tense moments scrambling up the final snow-covered section the breathtaking summit was well worth the fear-factor!

 

The view was stunning and unforgettable!

The descent was tougher than I expected, but this was the kind of memory I had hoped we’d make while we were here! I’m so proud of those two!

That hike was one heck of a workout and my knee was not at all happy…traitor! The next morning it was still cranky, but I had some strength training plans!

Thank goodness for a fitness center at the resort! The rest of the day was set aside for some sightseeing, grocery shopping for the right kinds of nourishment, and relaxing.

Although many of my friends chose warmer climates for spring break, imagine my excitement when I woke up to this…

How beautiful is that?!? This Minnesota gal’s heart was warmed waking up to this gorgeous Colorado morn. And because I have goals in place, there was only one thing to do…haul over to the fitness room for some cardio!

 

And after a great sweat sesh of a warm-up, there was only one thing on my mind for a cool-down. Would you like to build a snowman?!?

Why, yes I would! My teenager had zero desire to help me, because he brought his friend named X-box haha!

So there you have it, our transformed vacation! We still have several more days to embrace all Estes Park has to offer. I’m thrilled to report, since making mindful changes to our typical vacation, I’ve yet to experience indigestion, sensory overload or exhausting. Mission accomplished!