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!

 

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!