PSA…Don’t Delay!

If you’ve been following me, you know health is a major priority in my life. I’ve spent some time here the past few days…

Not for any reason other than preventive care. Yesterday I took care of my yearly girly-business check-up and this morning I returned in hopes of passing one more test!

Recently, I’ve come to revere the mammogram; this test is of utmost importance to me. Why? Because I put one off for an extra year, and when I got around to the next one, there were issues. I told myself it was nothing until it was something, to keep my nerves in check. Biopsy results came back benign. Nothing.

But when my medical team called back to schedule surgery for removal of the tumor in question, it no longer felt like nothing.  In fact, as a bit of a flight response from the whole situation, I literally ran away. Twice!

 

Avoidance didn’t accomplish anything but prolonged worry. Sometimes you just learn the hard way I guess. It was time to take care of business.

So I did, but you should know I beat myself up over missing that annual mammogram. However, I’m also damn thankful I went in when I did because that precancerous tumor, left undiscovered, could have told a much different story.

Lesson learned.

So, Friends, I am here to tell you…don’t delay! Just as in my case, it could be the difference between nothing and SOMETHING!

Here’s what the American Cancer Society recommends as screening guidelines:

  • Women ages 40 to 44 should have the choice to start annual breast cancer screening with mammograms (x-rays of the breast) if they wish to do so.
  • Women age 45 to 54 should get mammograms every year.
  • Women 55 and older should switch to mammograms every 2 years, or can continue yearly screening.
  • All women should be familiar with the known benefits, limitations, and potential harms linked to breast cancer screening. They also should know how their breasts normally look and feel and report any breast changes to a health care provider right away.

Those of you who’ve been scared off by what others have said of the discomfort associated with mammograms should know, this is not your mom’s mammogram. Technology has improved to allow the test to be performed under less pressure. Amen to that!

If you’ve had mammograms in the past but have let them lapse, it’s time to make that appointment! Prevention is great medicine and a wonderful way to 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!

New Month, New Goals

Happy May Day, Friends. I don’t know about you, but April was a complete blur for me.

I had setbacks, I made progress. There were struggles, but also victories. I made some poor choices, yet achieved some big stuff. I experienced some ordinary doldrums, but knocked several accomplishments off my bucket list. It’s truly amazing what a single month can hold, yet so easy for 3o days to slip by without creating momentum toward an intention.

That’s why goal setting is imperative for success. What better time than today?

I’m setting some clear, simple goals to move myself forward during the month of May and I’ve enlisted the help of my new accountability buddy to get it done!

Together, we will shoot for 10,000 steps every day!

Friends, a plan without a goal is just a wish. So set a goal today, then get busy working on it.

I’d love to hear what you plan to do with your month. Let’s all put our Best Foot Forward!

 

Self-Avoider or Advocator? That’s the Question!

Fellow FIT BFFs, I have a confession to make. I have a ridiculous tendency to ignore my basic needs; do any of you relate?

Here’s an example…I’ve been struggling with knee issues for 8 months. After cortisone and physical therapy didn’t solve my issues, rather than pursue further care, I settled by overlooking the pain, limitations and frustrations. Day after day, I allowed this to continue by not making its resolution a priority. Although it was keeping me from activities I’ve desperately missed (RUNNING), I simply ignored it. Now how ridiculous is that?!?

If this was my husband or either of my kids, I’d be on it! Why do I still struggle with this idea? Why did I put me off for so long? After messaging a friend over the weekend, I realized it was time to address this. Of course he was right. What the heck was I afraid of? Yeah…I won’t even go there haha!

So yesterday I called Sports Med and made myself an appointment. But it isn’t for another few weeks. I needed relief now…more relief than icing can provide. I looked at my shoes and realized I’d been putting myself off in that department too. There was nothing left to do but get to the running store!

It’s been quite a while since I’ve had my gait analyzed, and was kind of surprised to find I needed an entirely different type of shoe. Mallory, the shoe guru at TerraLoco had me try a couple options and I knew the instant I put these Hokas on that I’d found the ones!

My cat completely agreed with my choice the minute I got them home…oh, Spanky!

I could hardly wait to get to the gym this morning to get my new kicks on the track. And do you know what? Although my older shoes still, theoretically, had many more miles to go, my new ones felt a hundred times more supportive!

I guess I took a step in the right direction, who doesn’t want dynamic stability? Ha!

I’m actually looking forward to that Sports Med appointment because with today’s diminished pain, I’m already happier…think of what no pain will do for me!

While I was at this self-advocacy thing, I decided to give my comfort zone another square kick in the behind. Following last year’s multiple episodes of mammogram/biopsy/surgery drama, I realized it was time for me to make my annual date with the boob-smasher…yikes!

Although this was the very last thing I wanted to do, I picked up the phone and scheduled that too. Why give it any more energy or power than it deserves…time to just get er done!

Friends, can you relate? Are you a self-avoider or advocator? Is there something important you need to deal with that you’ve been putting off? It’s time to treat yourself at least as well as your loved ones. And if I can do it, so can you. It’s just one more way we can all 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!

Dietitian Store Tour

I’ve been working my way through task after task of a highly motivating Nutrition Scavenger Hunt this month, created by dietitians at my local gym. One of the suggested activities on the list is to attend a grocery shopping tour with a dietitian at Hy-Vee.

I knew Hy-Vee stores employed dietitians, but have never really known what they do there. I recently emailed Sara from one of our Rochester locations to schedule my shopping tour. She met with me earlier this week with her intern, Deanna, to give me a store tour from a dietitian’s perspective. Here, they introduced me to Bolthouse dressings (I brought home the mango chipotle…YUM).

In my 4 1/2 year get-healthy journey, I thought I knew a great deal about the multitude of products available to those who care to make more mindful choices. I’d like to think I know my way around a grocery store too. But this store is a giagantic recent addition to Rochester, and having been intimidated by its size, I shied away from it. Until now!

I mean, check out this bulk area for instance…it houses 997 items. I stood there wondering where a person would even start. But with Sara by my side, she zeroed in on one of her favorites…

Organic red lentil beans, something I never knew existed, but was glad she pointed out, because some of those went home with me!

Spending hours in a store on your own, attempting to make healthy discoveries can seem overwhelming. I know, I’ve been there so many times. But strolling through the isles with these knowledgeable ladies was a treat. They pointed out so many products that offer lower calories, lower sodium content and a cleaner list of ingredients! Take for instance this awesome tomato sauce, it contains tomatoes…and that’s it! Better yet, only 10 mg of sodium!!!

Yup, that went home with me too!

As Sara and Deanna steered me down the chip isle, I joked (actually quite seriously) there couldn’t be anything healthy in that isle! But Sara led me straight to these…

Although the calorie range is equivalent to other chips, these contain only a few ingredients, the first of which is whole navy beans! Must be why they have 5 grams of protein and fiber in each serving. I went home with the white bean chips with hint of lime flavor. I ate some last night…delish!

Snacks can sometimes get me in trouble, but these flackers were developed by a doctor to promote health in a multitude of ways…how cool is that?!?

The tour lasted an hour, but Sara and Deanna’s recommendation list went far beyond! I’ve become aware of so many new super food items, many with convenience in mind…like this ready-made quinoa.

And these amazing cauliflower crumbles that save time and mess!

I’d show you the spiralized veggies that intrigued me, but I can’t; when I went back to choose some, they were sold out!

I’m happy to know there are some great products out there to replace others that didn’t fit well in my diet, like these seasonings to help me avoid salt.

And how about these instead of tortillas? At 60 calories and a plethora of flavors, I’d reach for these every time!

It was eye-opening what I learned in an hour. Sara, many thanks for your expertise and willingness to spend an hour with me, so glad Deanna accompanied us too. I’ve gained much valuable insight!

I’m freshly inspired knowing there’s even an ice cream out there that aligns with my goals!

Shout out to the Rochester Athletic Club dietitians for such an innovative way to observe National Nutrition Month; I’m off to complete another task on the scavenger hunt!

What Makes You Happy?

I find it no coincidence that the first day of spring and International Day of Happiness fall on the same day…spring and happiness are one in the same for me!

The notion of an international day of happiness threw me into reflection mode. Friends, if you want to get straight to the heart of what brings you happiness, grab a sheet of paper, or do what I do, keep a journal of things that make you happy. The thoughts that end up recorded there might surprise you. But something else that may occur as you take time to put your happy to paper, is the sheer feeling that begins to surround you…HAPPY!

On a day I need a pick-me-up, I open the pages, begin to remind myself and soon I’m right back in the zone. Another way to boost my happy is looking at photos, memories of joy.

When I look years back, I’m reminded of the millions of little things I did with my parents and brother, later my husband, then our babies and on to our growing boys with so many relatives and friends. It was a streak of lovely, happy chaos. But now, as the years have passed and my kids reach beyond needing me, I’ve carved out a new niche of happiness.

Thankfully, I’ve captured this more recent time in pictures too, because my memory isn’t what it used to be. Immediately, as I flip through these photos, the happiness floods back. I realize it has become something quite different. It’s quieter now…

It’s calmer…

But doesn’t lack adventure. Rather, happiness finds me bolting clear out of my comfort zone again and again!

 

Climbing new heights…

Gaining new perspectives…

 Reaching for new dreams.

Embracing the here and now…

Wherever I go…

Whatever I do…

Pretty soon it becomes easier and easier to find.

Because happiness isn’t a place.

It’s a joyful sense deep within, when I’m doing what I love.

And once a person figures out what that is, they can easily reach for it again and again!

In observance of International Day of Happiness, I invite you to take a quiet moment, take a deep breath and jot down what makes you happy. Then get busy doing that which makes you feel that way!

Friends, I’d love for you to leave a comment below sharing something that makes you happy…let’s light this happiness thing on fire; heck…I’ll even start!

Found Another Favorite!

Friends, are you hungry for something spectacularly healthy? I sure was recently when I dined at Applebee’s. I found a spectacular entree that is both a flavor and nutritional thumbs up!

But that’s nothing new, I’ve been happily dining off Applebee’s Lighter Fare menu section for years; the calorie information is right there on the menu. I know I can easily stay within my calorie range and that’s why I’ll return again and again. Plus, I’m kind of partial to a very friendly, young conscienctious server named Logan.

I’ve learned that by trying new things often, I find new favorites that help me stay motivated to keep on track. When Logan served up this plate of awesome, I knew I’d found a new love!

Friends, this generously portioned (Lent-friendly) Shrimp Wonton Stir-Fry contains a mere 580 calories, yet supplies a whopping 24 grams of protein. And, as delicious and satisfying as it was, I have a new favorite; I can’t wait to order it again! Applebee’s, you just keep doing it…you make eating out so simple for my FIT BFFs and me!