Crushing My August Goal

Recently, my friend Katie and I loosely planned an outdoor adventure on Minnesota’s North Shore with the option of a visit to Canada because the call of the wild loudly beckoned both of us! Incidentally, this fit quite nicely within my August fitness goal to embrace summer before it’s gone!

My temperamental knee behaved well during training sessions in the weeks leading up to our adventure. I set an intention to experience everything I could, but to listen well to my body…a simple mindset.

I was nearly giddy with anticipation on my drive to Minnespolis. Katie was kind enough to put me up for the night so we could get an early start the next morning. This was to be a whirlwind of a weekend trip…non-stop from beginning to end. And, we were off! As we caught up with each other, the miles flew by…

Our energy was through the roof and we were ready to conquer the world! With no concrete plan, we were free to explore at will. So we hopped out at Jay Cooke State Park so Katie could get a taste of what I love about that place!

Yeah…I think she liked it!

We took advantage of this magnificent backdrop to enjoy a quick hiker’s lunch on the banks of the Saint Louis River. And then is was back in the car to put down some more miles.

Next stop, the SHT office…(careful spelling that one) the Superior Hiking Trail office in Two Harbors.

The woman there was a wealth of wisdom as we considered our options for the weekend. I’m not sure if this stop solidified our plans or overwhelmed us with countless more ideas, but we left with expert info. Back in the car! Next it was Katie’s turn to introduce me to a thoughful spot.

 

Yeah, I might have enjoyed Palisade Head just a little haha! What a perfect place to stretch our legs before jumping back on the road. Katie’s so full of surprises because she knew what was just ahead, and I’m so glad she did…

Seriously! What an extraordinary peek through a bridge!!! And then back on the road because we were headed to one of our best kept secrets…the Hungry Hippie Hostel just outside of Grand Marais.

This place had everything we needed and more. I’d never roomed in a hostel before but after this experience, I’d do it all again!

 

The ambiance was so “summer camp” reminiscent. We were very comfortable there and enjoyed the exquisite view of Lake Superior and the sunset.

 

And that was my sign to head to bed!

Because we had some pretty extraordinary plans early the next morning…

Plans that involved a sunrise and some sun salutations on the tranquil shore of Lake Superior…ahhhhh.

It was a quick savasana though because we had some international plans…how namaste?!?

We quickly traveled up to Ontario where we stopped to savor one of Katie’s family “up north” traditions…a smoked fish. It’s what’s for breakfast lol!

 

Yum! Well fueled, we headed into Thunder Bay to explore a bit of the Canadian lifestyle. Then stopped at a Gouda cheese farm; it was gooood-a (see what I did there?)! And then we were off for the real reason we crossed the border. We were on an elusive waterfall hunt and Pigeon River was home to this!

We weathered quite a rainstorm to behold this beaut, but so glad we did! I am in love with waterfalls, the roar of the water, the kiss of the mist, the energy you feel from your head to feet. SWOON!

My how the time was flying! We headed back to the states and Grand Marais, enjoyed some local fare despite the hustle and bustle of Fisherman’s Picnic Weekend; time to rest up for our last action-packed day!

This one started bright and early because there was still much to see! We had the amazing Judge C R Magney State Park to ourselves and beheld the mysterious Devil’s Kettle…

The gorgeous morning seemed to cheer us on in our endeavors as we took off for our next destination. Dear God, the stairs…these views did not come without a price and my knee was beginning to pay.

But the effort was well worth it! Cascade River State Park did not disappoint!

The climbs and decents were worth it every time! Check out the view on our next hike at Temperance River State Park!

There was beauty around every turn! This state of ours is such a playground, and such soul food too. But heavy-duty hikers can’t subsist on that alone, so refueling was necessary, but so welcome in a dining room like this…

Our legs were pretty fried at that point and we were feeling pretty weathered too, but there was one more waterfall we refused to miss, so we decended and climbed some insane terrain to take in our final award for our efforts…

  

Wow, Tettagouche State Park. Just Wow!

Sadly, our North Shore trek came to a close as quickly as it had arrived. Friends, we left everything we had on those trails but would do it all over again.

Because what this wildnerness sojourn took from us physically replenished so much more.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FIT BFFs Goes to Vegas

Friends, I’ve been traveling quite often the past couple years in search of adventure, fitness and fun; I THRIVE on it!

I recently spent some time in Las Vegas attending IDEA World Convention, a four-day cutting-edge experience in fitness education, networking and motivation. I specifically attended to participate in BlogFest, in hopes of energizing my blog and reigniting that spark for my continued weight loss endeavors. I’m ecstatic to say I got that and SO MUCH MORE!

I was introduced to some fantastic motivators/fitness experts/authors Todd Durkin and Jorge Cruise. They were so generous with their inspiring messages and gift of their books!

 

I was starstruck coming face-to-face with Kathy Smith in my hotel lobby and later so excited to hear her message. Was amazing to see her in person after those step workouts we did together in the comfort of my living room all those years!

We were contantly on the go, even before BlogFest officially began, we met up for an early morning warm-up…seriously a hot mess sweatfest! July in Vegas, you know!

And that was just the beginning of the workouts because we were hopping all weekend!

 

I really enjoyed this Inner Idea Experience, four separate yoga threads woven together to produce a beautiful tapestry of profound namaste. I welcomed the delightful pause it provided.

 

The calm was very helpful because it was right back to high energy-activities like the mindblowing EXPO!

My most memorable experience was at the Reebok booth where I was fortunate to spend some time with Biggest Loser trainer, Jen Widerstrom. She gave me some much needed boxing tips and a gratitude rich experience I’ll cherish forever.

I LOVE a good expo because it brings me face-to-face with new experiences I’m dying to try…

A few minutes on that thing and my core had no idea what hit it! I will be begging and pleading with my gym to add these to their group fitness schedule!

It was fun to visit with the reps of some of my favorite products. LOVE the array of colors Bosu offers!

I had to do a double take when I spotted Tim, co-owner of my beloved Rollga. I couldn’t believe he was there, as he’s just up the road from me in St. Cloud, MN. But of course he was there, his invention deserves to be in every gym around the world and I’m so happy to witness it happening!

I’m thankful to have spent some time with the fine folks at Great Lakes Gelatin because in a week’s time of using, I’ve noticed a significant reduction in pain and increased mobility in my angry knee. WIN!!!

Throughout this wonderful conference I allowed myself a little me time. I got my recharged self to the gym…and I’m so glad I did. I built a little extra me time into the tail end of my trip too; I knew I would need to decompress and let my mind digest all it had taken in.

 

So I moved off the convention site for my last few days, but I didn’t sit still for long…

Because when in Vegas, there are far more things to digest than thoughts…

 

And I was even lucky enough to spend some time with my Cousin Bonnie as we attended a funny little show that reminds me it’s definitely time to keep moving!

 

Just ask its star, Cindy Williams (you know, Shirley from Luverne and Shirley!!!), we barely caught up with her after the show on our way out haha!

No, Friends, I will never stop moving…partially because I’m still wearing off that pot pie from Hash House a Go Go, but because I know there are so many more things I want to see and do!

What a fantastic treat BlogFest in Vegas was for me, and the experience just kept giving, like the first class upgrade I was awarded on the way home…aw, thanks, Delta!

And thank goodness, because the lightening in Minneapolis lengthened my time on that plane. Which made me miss my connecting flight home, but no worries…an overnight in Bloomington and right back to the airport for my plan B workout!

Because it’s all about putting our Best Foot Forward!

 

New Month, New Goal

I know I’m a day late, but this just illustrates how quickly summer is slipping through our fingers! How did it get to be August already?

At the beginning of each month, I set new goals; some are stricter than others, but all aim toward a healthier, happier me! Yesterday I really looked inward. What improvements did I hope to accomplish? Did I want measurable results? How could I make the most of my time? What outcomes would increase my health while feeding my heart and soul? These thoughts circled my mind as I pedaled to the gym.

I continued to consider what I hoped to achieve this month during my workout. As I biked nearly halfway back home, clarity…

I can’t possibly slow summer down, but I can spend more time enjoying it while it’s here. Why not take my workouts outdoors to soak in that sun, breathe deep the fresh air and embrace all that’s left of this season?

Folks, it couldn’t have been any clearer than the crystal blue water before me. I’ve decided to turn my focus from diligent calorie counting and the vigorous routines that have become habit for me at the gym toward embracing the outdoors in my pursuit of fitness. This doesn’t mean I won’t continue to watch what I eat and get my workouts in, it simply means mindfully spending more of my energy in an environment I can’t seem to ever get enough of.

I’ve already made some exciting plans to get myself outside more. Instead of mourning summer’s end with regret, I plan to look back with fond memories of epic adventure and wellbeing. While my results may not necessarily be measurable, I intend for them to be unforgettable!

Friends, you’ve got an entire month left of summer, how will you plan to make the most of it?

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!

 

Forever Connected

I’ve had a tough time observing Father’s Day since my dad died 5 1/2 years ago. Grief subsides and the hurt fades, replaced with sweet memories. But every year it returns, fresher than ever. Today I thought I’d allow myself time to remember, process…take a moment to share what’s been happening.

I was unmistakably Daddy’s little girl. I followed him around like a shadow. He took me everywhere he went. And at the end of his workday, I’d meet him at his city bus stop where we’d walk home hand in hand. As years passed, he led me down the aisle and placed my hand in Eric’s. But he wasn’t ever far when I needed him.

If you never had the opportunity to meet Lotus Conrad, you should know he always had an arsenal of jokes at the ready, a trickster and gifted storyteller who loved to make others laugh. Sure, he experienced his share of obstacles and heartache in life, but he relied on his witty sense of humor to smooth out the rough edges. He employed this talent right up until his last night. And because we were two peas in a pod, where else would I be?

Friends, I never thought I’d be someone to experience what I’m about to share; and not for a second did I think I’d ever feel comfortable sharing it with others, because some folks may label me any number of things…but it doesn’t matter. See, it didn’t take long after his death for me to realize, he was far from gone.

In life, I followed him, but now he follows me. He’s the blue jay or cardinal that flies alongside me on a bike ride, the limitless contrails when I look up for guidance. We have this strong flight/plane connection as he was in the Air Force…see his pj’s in the photo above? I made those for him.

He’s the cookies that introduced themselves when my mom was having a rough flight to Hawaii, and now pop up on every flight I take.

He follows me in ways I can not explain, like my second trip to Hawaii. Multiple miracles occurred for me to be there to run my first marathon. I don’t even know how I got there, but am assured it was him pushing me across the finish line. As I walked in the door to our condo on Waikiki, it all made sense.

Together, we used to watch Lefty Gardner YouTube videos of P-38s. Now I catch the clock saying 7:27, 7:37, 7:47, etc…all planes. If you don’t believe me, ask my husband…I see those times everywhere, those numbers on license plates, road signs, the sides of semis, my breakfast total at the airport!

Speaking of airports, as my friends awaited their departure from a vacation we shared, they sent me a birthday greeting text with a photo. Little did they know, he was sending his wishes too…see the bald guy in the gray sweats and loose wristwatch, yeah, that’s him…don’t know how, but he photobombed!

Lately I’ve been in the sky A LOT and many of those trips have had his hame written all over them again and again.

How extraordinary to glance out the window to see our plane’s shadow encircled in what I choose to believe is my orb of protection!

I feel that protection everywhere I go. It has even saved my life in a nasty car accident. Always looking out for me, he’s the sticker on a trailhead post I spotted after hiking in Zion; I know he was there, keeping me from plummeting to my death on those narrow ledges!

I could go on and on, but you get the idea. Friends, I’m not just imagining these little signs and messages…my imagination is simply not that creative!

I receive these spontaneous little gifts constantly and they leave me stunned, intrigued, sometimes breathless, but always loved. I’m thankful for each one and hope they never stop…we’re connected forever!

Grief is rough, especially today. Those of you missing your dads, I’m so sorry for you enormous loss. Hopefully you’ve experienced some similar events; if you haven’t, keep your eyes and ears open…they are right there by your side!

Happy Father’s Day!

 

 

 

 

 

Do You Know What Day it Is?

Guess what day it is, Friends?!? It’s National Get Outdoors Day!

It’s a soulful walk for me because nothing makes me feel more alive than breathing in that fresh air and embracing the warmth of the sun. With so many ways to enjoy the outdoors, what are you waiting for?

Friends, what’s your favorite way to play outside?

The Close of a Very Good Chapter

While raising two teenage boys, I often wondered what it would be like to have some girl time. Several years ago I’d seen a booth at a community event promoting a local mentorship program and knew it was speaking directly to my heart. The idea simply refused to leave me alone, so a year ago I acted on it.

Meeting up for a couple hours a week, we’ve had an unforgettable year. Running and bicycling are major components of this program and I love both, but Kiara was less of a fan; so the goal we set was to sample as many experiences as we could squeeze into that year, like Zumba on the Plaza…

Some orienteering and hiking…

 

And more hiking…

  

We worked on some tennis skills…

 

Headed to the pool…

Did some impressive cardio and strength training…

  

We did manage to hop on a bike a few times on open trails and studio cycling class.

 

We even climbed the walls!

  

We took some cooking classes and tried new foods like parfaits and pancakes and hummus, oh my!

We just kept showing up for one another, laughing all the way!

 

Playing hard was our job and we rocked it!

 

We met some great people like former Minnesota Vikings quarterback Tommy Kramer.

And hometown legend Darrell Thompson…we’ll forgive him for playing for the Green Bay Packers haha, because he’s the outstanding president of Bolder Options!

Motivational speaker, Inky Johnson inspired us to keep moving forward no matter what!

And that was valuable advice because throughout the disappointment and unpredictability associated with an injury and a halt to my beloved running, Kiara was the constant that kept me focused and determined. We just got creative and kept going…like to the library!

And her first yoga class, namaste!

One of my favorites was taking her on her first snowshoe trek. Yeah, she really blazed the trail!

  

This mentorship never felt like work because we played our way through the year!

  

What a treat to throw animals into the mix!

 

We did sneak in some volunteer “work” but that was fun too!

 

And went right back to play, although sometimes it was one heck of a workout. So proud of Kiara for squatting, lunging and drumming her way through BarreAmped and Pound Fusion. I don’t think we ever sweated more!

 

Where did time go? This week after countless adventures together, we graduated from Bolder Options stronger and more confident than ever. But I don’t think this is the end for us…it’s merely the close of a very good chapter.

Five Years of Climbing!

Fantastic feelings surrounded me when a fun little memory popped up in my Facebook feed this morning, a priceless reminder of what I embarked upon five years ago this week…

At a glance, I barely remember that lady. But when I pause to recall what it felt like to exist in that body, so many feelings flood back. I see that smile and know it was merely a facade. I was suffering within, physically, mentally, emotionally.

I think back to the continuous hard work and dedication necessary to be where I am today and don’t regret one single day of those five years it took to get healthy.

I liken my transformation to climbing a mountain. It was a giagantic undertaking, one which couldn’t be achieved quickly. Looking up, this task seemed unsurmountable from the trailhead. But, with clear goals, a keen sense of direction and a fire deep within, I put one foot in front of the other over and over again. I encountered many obstacles along the way, but did my best to navigate each of them with focus. I climbed.

Some moments I put forth more effort than others. Often times I gained a lot of ground, others I stumbled. Still others, I fell flat on my face. The true gift in this journey was grace. When the going got tough, I forgave. I picked myself up, brushed off the dirt and realigned my mind with my body and soul. I climbed on.

Sometimes I could see the top of that mountain clearly, others I couldn’t make it out at all. Thank goodness, I knew in my heart it was up there just waiting for me! So I continued climbing.

On the toughest of trials, I stopped to look down, to consider giving up, turning back. But I knew I’d never be happy if I quit…never forgive myself. So I kept climbing.

 My favorite part of the adventure was never being alone. So many wonderful people jumped in to join me for sections of the ascent, and that made ALL the difference.

Reaching the top was a precious gift of an extraordinary view. A fresh new awakening of immense affirmation. As I peered down to where it began, I remember those crushing feelings of heaviness within. Each step upward a bit lighter, a little easier until I reached that summit where I breathed deep, that fresh mountain air, and knew in my heart…I DID IT!

Have You Met TED?

I was getting a few things done around the house yesterday, not really feeling in the zone, when all of a sudden, sheer awesomeness came straight at me! This is not at all out of the ordinary as, thankfully, it happens quite often. I LOVE that!

I got my hands on tickets to last night’s TEDxZumbroRiver in my hometown of Rochester, MN. I knew my attitude was about to make a u-turn. I know this because I know TED!

Have you met TED? Trust me, you would know if you did! TED is not a guy, it’s an amazing idea…rather an enormous collection of ideas worth spreading. TED started back in 1984 as a conference where Technology, Entertainment and Design were united. TED is a contagious nonprofit spreading thoughts and ideas all over the world.

I became acquainted with TED talks on a Delta flight, where I found I couldn’t get enough! I watched each talk available on the plane’s entertainment system. These short, yet powerful talks inspired me to think and dream right there on that plane! Hungry for more at the end of the flight, I got on TED’s website and was simply blown away by its abundance…over 2400 talks in more than 100 languages, just waiting to inspire its captivated viewers. I was hooked!

I’ve often thought about how cool it would be to attend a live TED event; and just like that, I found myself at TEDxZumbroRiver!

TEDx events are independently organized community experiences offered all over the world. Last evening’s TEDx program consisted of some fascinating speakers from Southeastern Minnesota and beyond, each sharing insightful messages aimed toward the theme of what’s possible.

Mind blown.

Friends, next time you’re not really feeling in the zone, take the opportunity to explore TED talks. You may lose all track of time, but the inspiration available will be worth every minute you spend there. Fellow FIT BFFs, check out a plethora of health and wellness topics sure to motivate.

Simply stated, you’ll be glad you met TED!

I’m So Excited, and I Just Can’t Hide It!

Friends, I know I’ve been MIA lately. I want to assure you, I’m not slacking! You can always check up on me on Facebook at FIT BFFs.

I’ve been keeping very busy stepping out of my comfort zone yet again. I’ve had a few recent getaways too…embracing adventure, marking things off my bucket list…living the dream, really. But also, I’ve been facing some real life stuff head-on. Through all of it, I’ve continued to take great care of myself and have put my Best Foot Forward each day, every step of the way.

I couldn’t go any longer without letting you in on a little secret I’ve been keeping for several months. A big, huge one really. I just didn’t want to say anything until I knew it was all a go. I’ve been selected to attend an upcoming event I can barely wrap my head around…

Yes, I’m heading back to Vegas, Baby! I just can’t seem to get enough of that place. But what the heck is Idea World Fitness Blogfest? It is the coming together of health and fitness bloggers from around the country for four action-packed days of AWESOME! Not only will we attend some in-depth blogging education sessions, we will show up in a sea of spandex for some exciting celebrity workouts, get our hands on the latest and greatest new products and information in the industry, and if that’s not all…exclusive behind-the-scenes access to the health and fitness industry’s largest conference in the WORLD!

I don’t know how I’m going to wait two months!!! I guess holding my breath won’t help haha! I have a lot going on between now and then. This is a crazy-busy time for so many of us! I plan to keep my head above water, Friends; I will continue to eat well, move forward the best I can and keep my attitude on the sunny side!