Cents of Style Dress Review and SALE!

Friends, I’ve been searching for the perfect dress for my son’s outdoor wedding next month. The venue is a beautiful, built-for-weddings barn and meadow. The standard mother-of-the-groom dress is not what I’m looking for; I’m aiming for something comfortable, airy, playful. On my hunt, I came across a dress that caught my attention.

The kind folks at Cents of Style generously provided me with that dress in exchange for a test drive and sharing my results with readers. How cool is that?!?

I should tell you, I didn’t have high hopes. About 98% of what I tried on in brick and mortar shops looked fantastic on the hanger, but much less so on me. I have a tough time finding a dress that fits my uniquely proportioned physique. When this little number arrived, though, I thought only positive thoughts as I removed it from the neatly tissued packaging.

Almost every dress I tried prior was fitted, constricting, too short for my generous legs’ liking…I was not having much luck. The moment I slipped into this Shelly Lattice Back Dress, I knew it was a keeper! Remember I said I wanted comfortable, airy, playful? Well this was all of that! The polyester/spandex content, a super-soft fabric, is comfier than my jammies! Its cut is generous and drapes in all the right places…so much better than the fitted straightjackets!

Keep in mind, I’m no model, so I will provide some additional pics from Cents of Style to give a better idea of what it looks like in a moment. But first…a little visit to the park with my soon-to-be-married son. He was such a great sport in capturing what this dress does for me.

I was in my element…I LOVE the outdoors, but I don’t often (well never, really) wear a dress outside. But because I didn’t feel trapped within this garment, I could be myself…I could let my light shine!

I mean, I don’t often visit a park without relaxing…

I didn’t realize just how at home I felt until I found myself doing what I do…soaking in the good vibes of nature!

And do you know how comfortable I was? Well, this is the first dress I’ve ever been tempted to climb a tree while wearing. It made me reminisce about the relaxed fit of play clothes from my childhood.

Not even kidding…I was right up there in that tree. In a dress. A dress that allowed me to be totally and completely ME!

If I’m this comfy here, I’m excited about how great it will feel to wear this versatile dress to work, play, church, parties, picnics, the beach, etc. As for the wedding, I can’t yet be certain I’ve said yes to the dress, but this could be it!

As promised, a few professional shots provided by Cents of Style. Check out the fun shape and colors…

  

Comfortable, airy, playful…Cents of Style nailed it and they want you to experience that feeling too! Friends, here’s the good news…this dress retails for $54.95. And the GREAT news…between now and Wednesday, 6/13, you can save 35% and enjoy free shipping too with this VIP Exclusive Offer just for you, FITBFFs readers!

Simply follow the link below to a comfortable, airy, playful summer dress of your own for under 36 bucks! You may not climb trees in yours, but I know whatever you choose to do, you’ll feel comfortable, airy and playful too!

Exclusive Deal for FITBFFs – 35% off Summer Dress! + FREE Shipping w/code: FITBFF

 

Win-It Wednesday OOFOS Did it Again!

Hey Friends, you’ve traveled alongside my adventures, milestones and recovery, and so has OOFOS! They’ve been there, literally supporting me every step of the way; here’s just a peek…

Wow, did it feel great to peel off my running shoes and socks and slide right into my OOahh slide sandals after every race…OOFOS’ OOfoam recovery technology is the BOMB!

Whether I was out for a bike ride, walk, hike or a marathon…the relief of my OOlala sandals were always right there waiting for me!

Through every season, I was so grateful to recover in extraordinary comfort…these OOriginal sport sandals made all the difference. I felt the OO again and again!

When Old Man Winter came, both the OOcloogs and OOmgs really helped me through some long days of work and play!

Just two weeks ago I was still snowshoeing here in Minnesota! And as OOFOS has continued to follow along my journey, they’ve made amazing strides to expand their line of support. They recently released some amazing boots that actually fit within my snowshoes! More news on those later this fall!!!

It’s been so incredible to include OOFOS as part of my Flat Carla pics…here you see what all is needed for one of my races, and those fantastic Project Pink sandals were ready for me at the finish. This particular race was Donna’s in Jacksonville to end breast cancer. How fitting that the OOFOS Project Pink line contributes $10 for each pair sold for breast cancer research.

Just the other day I stopped by OOFOS website to spot their latest release…their OOlala Luxe Black Glitter!

The minute I saw them, I was hooked! My friends at OOFOS generously provided me with a pair to test and recommend. I can’t tell you how excited I am when a pair shows up in the mail. I am addicted to that new smell. What’s more, I can’t get enough of how extraordinary that brand new support feels.

But what I’m most excited about with this new sandal are the many dressed-up possibilities! They’ve really stepped up their game, because this new sandal will allow me to take support even further into my lifestyle. Remember that Flat Carla above? Well, I’ve been thinking about my son’s upcoming outdoor wedding on the beautiful prairies and bluffs of Wisconsin wondering how I will survive the night in my dreaded  dress shoes, so here’s a Flat Carla of a different kind…

Problem solved! Seriously, OOFOS has been instrumental in fixing so many of my issues, and they can help you too! OOFOS has generously provided an additional pair of these exquisite sandals for a reader giveaway on this Win-It Wednesday!

To enter, simply leave a comment below stating which size you hope to win between now and Tuesday, May 8th, midnight central time.

Giveaway open to US residents only. Randomly selected winner will be announced here on Win-It Wednesday, May 9th. Good luck!

Review: Latest Bedding’s Black Bear Lodge Quilt Set

Hey Friends, I’d love to share a fun little story with you! I should start by telling you how much I LOVE my bed. You know that feeling when you travel, how you long to be back in the comfort of your own bed? Well that’s exactly my point…my bed is my sanctuary.

Several weeks back while making my bed, I thought how frumpy my bedding looked…that since we’d had it nearly as long as our oldest son (the almost 21 year-old), because it was beginning to show its age, I should think about updating. And because of how the universe works for me lately, just a few days later I was asked to review one of Latest Bedding’s quilt sets. I was just heading out for another of my adventures when it shipped, so it arrived while I was exploring Arizona. You know, I love the outdoors, right? There was this great mountain in downtown Tempe that beckoned, so of course I had to check it out!

It was a whirlwind couple of weeks. I kept thinking, as great as it all was, I couldn’t wait to get back home to my own bed! Better yet, I knew there was a certain package that required my immediate attention. I couldn’t wait to see the Black Bear Lodge Quilt Set and Black Bear Lodge Pillow Pair Latest Bedding generously provided for my review. I should mention, they pre-selected this quilt set for me, but after exploring their site, I have to admit, it’s the very one I would have chosen for myself…I mean there goes the universe again right?!?

I admit, I was hesitant in ordering the full/queen size quilt, as I feared it wouldn’t be wide enough to adequately cover my queen mattress, but it was the perfect size! I also noticed the use of the word quilt in this case refers more to the fact that the fabric has lots of embellished stitching, but is not the thick, warm weight I was expecting. But as it turns out, that is a very good thing because I was sad to think I’d be replacing my favorite down comforter…I get to use both…win/win!

The pillow shams are a great weight for decor, the pillow pair is the perfect accent, and together, this well constructed set makes my room pop!

The minute I finished assembling the new ensemble, I stepped back knowing this bed set was so ME!!! Know how I knew? Because this weekend I was back out there again, embracing Mother Nature’s glory…

A quick trip to the beautiful woods of northern Minnesota had me breathing deep, receiving all those amazingly good vibes! Yeah, of course I hugged a tree or two haha!

As spectacular as it all was, I was right back to that familiar yearning…to get back home to the comfort of my favorite retreat. But this time, upon returning home, I couldn’t help smiling when I realized I have my favorite parts of nature’s beauty all right there…the wildlife, mountains, trees and those good vibes all right here…ahhhhh.

This set couldn’t have been more perfect than if I had picked it myself. But I know the Black Bear Lodge set isn’t for everyone. That’s why you should stop on over to the Latest Bedding’s website to look for yourself…there’s something there for everyone to create a comfortable refuge that is just so THEM!

 

 

 

Set Your Intention with Aurorae

Friends, we did it…we survived the hustle and bustle of Christmas! If you’ve stopped by in the past few weeks, you may have caught one or more of my Carla’s Favorite Things posts where I highlighted some of my favorite products for gift-giving suggestions. I purposely held off on one more because this idea is for YOU!

Perhaps you didn’t get quite what you’d hoped for for Christmas. Or maybe (especially if you usually end up buying for yourself) you didn’t get much of anything…this recommendation is just for you! And the timing couldn’t be more perfect!

Those of you who’ve been following me for a while know I LOVE the mindfulness practice of yoga.

If you’ve seen posts on my Facebook page, you know I have a couple pretty sweet yoga mats that come nearly everywhere with me, like to the pool…

Last year, Aurorae generously provided me with a yoga mat, bag and towel in exchange for a review. You can check out what I thought about them here.

That was over a year ago, and that towel still goes on vacation with me because it takes up such little space in my suitcase and dries super quickly!

I have two of Aurorae’s amazing quality mats now and love taking them anywhere I go for a few moments of peaceful retreat…whether it’s here in my neighborhood…

Or on a soulful getaway…

The luxury thickness and durability stand up again and again wherever I go!

As I stated earlier, the timing could not be more perfect for you to peruse the many products on Aurorae’s website.

Why? Now that the demands of the shopping, wrapping, decorating, card writing, mailing, baking, parties and sleeplessness have subsided, it’s time to come back to you. To set an intention for yourself in the new year. If you already practice yoga, a new mat, bag or towel might be just the treat you need to return to your mat with renewed enthusiasm.

Or perhaps you’re brand new to yoga; Aurorae has everything you need!

Setting a new intention with Aurorae is a wonderful way to put your Best Foot Forward in 2018!

Namaste.

Give the Gift of Nothing!

Friends, if you are still running around, frantically trying to find the gift for that someone special, I need to let you in on a little secret…I know the PERFECT gift and it is…NOTHING!

Now, before you think I’ve finally lost it, hear me out! Last Friday, I took a time-out! A retreat in the midst of my chaos that began the moment I walked in the door.

I literally spent 90 minutes doing absolutely nothing in a sensory deprivation float tank at Nalu Float and Healing Center in Rochester, MN.

I’ve floated before, multiple times and I find it to be the most effortless modality of healing there is. It’s been a while since I’ve climbed into a tank, but thanks to the generousity of owner Jon Maki, it was time to float and tell!

That tank contains 10 inches of water, saturated with 800 pounds of Epsom salt that together made me feel absolutely weightless as I floated, motionless. The light is completely optional, but I chose to float in darkness. The water was heated to skin temperature at 93.5 degrees Fahrenheit. So let’s put this all together…when I’m in there, I only hear the faint drum of my heartbeat, I see nothing, I feel nothing. I am literally in a state of nothingness. And for 90 minutes the only thing I did was breathe and set my thoughts aside.

As with each experience I’ve had, I found the time within a tranquil, peaceful gift. As I continued to push thought aside, I lost all concept of time, space, reality. And when my session drew to a close, I emerged renewed and grateful. I realized as I left Nalu, the monkey chatter of the multitude of things running through my mind when I had arrived was gone.

My mind was so relaxed, I felt as if I were floating home. I spent the rest of the evening feeling like a million bucks! Although I find myself in Christmas crunch-time, I’ve had a wonderful week. I don’t feel the normal stress associated with the holiday, and I’m pretty sure that has a lot to do with my mindfulness time-out last week.

Local Friends, if you are still looking for the perfect gift for that special someone, you ought to consider giving them the gift of nothing. Check out what Jon has to offer at Nalu Float. Pick up a gift basket with your choice of items, or do what I did and purchase a gift certificate for a float session. Stop by his Facebook page for more details and contact/location information.

For those of you who aren’t local, search online for your nearest float center. If you’re looking for a bargain, jump on Groupon…I’ve purchased several float sessions on there while traveling and paid even less for nothing.

And finally, might I suggest, when you’ve finished all your preparations, and as the celebrations and family time come and go, promise to treat yourself to the rejuvenating gift of nothing for a job well done! You’ll never feel calmer or more relaxed.

What a blissful way to put your Best Foot Forward!

Carla’s Favorite Things…Gonesh

I know, I know, it’s getting down to the wire for holiday shopping, Friends! I wanted to share with you some products that showed up in my mailbox a short while ago in case they might be that perfect something you are looking for!

I would’ve told you about these sooner, but as with any products I show-and-tell, I take the opportunity to get to know them well first. I recently began using some Gonesh products thanks to their company generously providing me with a couple of essential oils, a multitude of incense, and an incense holder. I LOVE using incense and essential oils as part of my mindfulness/meditation/wellness practice, so imagine my excitement level when I opened the box to find these…

I didn’t know which one to begin with because I was intrigued by ALL of it! I was instantly struck with how large the packages were, the actual sticks are much longer than standard ones I’ve used in the past and there were 20 to a pack unlike most brands with 10. I was also impressed reading how Genieco’s incense has the highest charcoal content of any brand currently on the market to deliver the purest, cleanest burn and clear fragrances.

I had a busy day of crafting for my etsy shop ahead. The hustle and bustle of the season were keeping me very occupied. I needed my workspace to remain positive so I decided to venture into the Inner Source line of incense first. This line of sticks was created to help turn negative energy into postive synergy…who doesn’t need that? I lit up a PEACE stick, quickly blew out the flame and placed it into the beautiful Hamsa hand holder they provided. I LOVE that holder, as it reminds me I’m always protected.

The scent of the stick instantly transformed my room into a peaceful sanctuary for my crafting and packaging. The stick lasted a really long time as it slowly burned down. The entirety of the ash was neatly collected by the hand, and when the stick went out, the beautiful scent remained for hours! I knew right then, this collection is going to last me a very long time…I’m so excited!

I’ve continued to work my way through the various scents of the Inner Source collection. Each scent has its own rich and vibrant personality and seems to deliver the mood each promises…Beauty, Harmony, Love, Sharing, Spirit and Peace. I love them all! And I especially appreciate that a portion of the Inner Source purchase proceeds will be donated to the Greater Chicago Food Depository. LOVE!

Gonesh also sent me several packs of their Extra Rich collection of aromatherapy incense including yummy Lavendar, Sandlewood, Jasmine and Nag Champa. They are all fabulous too, but I have to say the Nag Champa has a hold on me like no other; what a beautiful way to unwind and clear a space!

As if that weren’t a wonderful enough experience, I still had some essential oils to enjoy. I purposely requested the Patchouli and Frankincense since I’d been eyeing them recently at stores. I placed a drop of Patchouli on my wrist pressure point and rubbed it in with my other wrist and enjoyed the lingering fragrance for the whole day. I don’t have many oils that stick with me that long, but I’m so glad this one does!

As I began preparing my living room for the holidays, I placed a few drops of both oils in my diffuser and enjoyed the Patchouli/Frankincense treat all afternoon. What a soothing, sensory-pleasing way to work! One thing that really surprised me with Gonesh’s Via Nature essential oils is the generous size of the products. Most of my oils are a tiny .17 to .33 of an ounce. These oils are a huge full ounce each and the price is about the same (or even less in some cases) as the smaller bottles of other brands! That got me excited about where I will be purchasing replacements in the future!

Friends, my encounter with Gonesh products was a beautiful experience. I highly recommend them both for your own personal use and for your gift-giving needs. It’s not too late to get these in time for Christmas, but they are also available for any occasion. If you’ve been considering adding incense or essential oils to your meditation/mindfulness/wellness practice, stop by the Gonesh website for a great look around

 

Carla’s Favorite Things…Rollga

Friends, the chase is still on for that perfect gift! And I am still not Oprah, but I will continue my favorite things theme today with something I would not want to live without. Need a gift for your favorite athlete, or an idea for yourself? Look no further than Rollga!

Nearly 18 months ago, I was picking up my race packet and attending the Med City Marathon Expo when I met Tim. I was instantly drawn to him, as he was rolling around on an intriguing new item. Before I even knew what happened, I was rolling around on one too!

Friends, I’d been no stranger to a foam roller, but we were far from friends. In my opinion they were torturous devices designed to prolong this runner’s agony, OOPS, I mean a tool to massage sore, tight muscles and promote recovery. I used them frequently, but OUCH! Anyway, there I am rolling on a Rollga Roller and look at my face…I’m not grimacing in pain. Why? The secret lies within those grooves. It actually felt GOOD!

Good enough to go home with one! Wow, did I use that thing often throughout the next six months of races. We were kind of inseparable…

It got to the point where I’d leave the gym following my workout and stretches and foam roll at home. Why? Because my gym doesn’t have Rollgas yet…but I think that’s about to change!

I should mention I was especially impressed that this crafty fitness gadget was developed right here in Minnesota!

This past summer I was out in Vegas at the IDEA Health and Fitness Association World Convention’s enormous expo. And who did I run into but Tim! Rollga’s unique design and comfort had caught on around the world…how fun is that?!?

By that time my Rollga and I had become one!

Earlier this fall I was in the area and decided to drop by the Rollga Headquarters in Sartell, MN. Not only did the generous creators Tim and Taggart roll out the welcome mat, they treated me to a tour, the history of Rollga’s evolution and some amazing product…a special green one for me and others to share, wink, wink!

And if that’s not cool enough, they introduced me to their latest creation…the Rollga Activator 3in1 Helo Massage Ball. This little guy travels with me all. the. time.

 

Friends, if you have pain anywhere or know someone that does, this little gizmo would make the perfect stocking stuffer. Why? Well I can’t explain everything it does, heck, I can’t explain it at all haha! All I know is this little miracle ball allows you to…”restore movement while trigger point locators relax unwanted tension.” And I don’t know about you, but I have plenty of tension to relax! The Activator has become a tool I don’t even think about using. It’s pretty mesmerizing and somehow seems to seek out tight spots all on it’s own. In my mind it could become the addictive fidget spinner for adults!

What a great opportunity it was to meet Taggart and see the Rollga operation in action. I continued on my way and spent the week doing some soulful, restorative yoga and Rollga off the end of a dock.

I’m glad to say that new Rollga and I are best buds. It has gently allowed me to roll lots of knee inflammation away. I discovered another great use on that trip. I had a pretty rotten headache off and on for a few days and the Rollga helped me suppress it simply by lying the back of my head against the center ridges. No medication necessary!

Tim and Taggart informed me of a fantastic tool to help make Rollga a part of my everyday routine…

The Rollga app is a valuable guide, almost like having a trainer right there with you at all times, demonstrating the many possible uses for optimal relief. You can find this handy tool in the app store for your smart devices.

If you are still looking for that perfect present for those fitness enthusiast friends and relatives, or someone who suffers from frequent muscle aches/tension/pain…take a moment to check out Rollga’s website for some amazing gift ideas!

Rollga, one of my favorite things…it’s one more way to put our Best Foot Forward!

Carla’s Favorite Things…OOFOS!

Friends, it’s that time of year…the chase is on for the perfect gift! Although I’m not Oprah, I thought I’d take the opportunity to showcase some of my favorite things this week, in case you are at a loss for some great ideas.

I became acquainted with OOFOS recovery footwear in 2015, when I was actively preparing for my first half and full marathons. My feet were exhausted after those long training runs and when I slipped on my original OOlala Sandals, it felt as if I wasn’t even touching the ground…like I was walking on clouds!

I love sharing with people my testimonial about fininshing my first marathon (Honolulu-exactly 2 years ago today). Immediately after crossing that finish line I peeled the shoes and socks off my weary feet and slid into those sandals. My feet experienced prompt relief…so much so, I was able to comfortably walk another mile back to our beach condo. I quite literally felt the OO!

As the months passed, I completed many races, each time relieved to know my OOFOS were waiting for me at the finish line…

It’s just a relief you can’t fully experience until you replace pain with comfort…

 

Those were all races I completed in warmer climates throughout the winter/spring. So when things warmed up here in the midwest, I kept running!

 

Yeah, I ran until I couldn’t anymore…curse that knee injury! Very soon after that the dreaded runner’s knee settled in too. And ever since that, osteoarthritis has become my constant companion. What a pain!

But here’s the cool part, Friends. I realized each time I wore any of my OOFOS footwear, the pain was significantly diminished! This resulted in a decreased need for pain meds…how cool is that?!?

I’ve continued to experience pain off and on for over a year. I dread tasks that require me to be on my feet for hours on end, so imagine my excitement when OOFOS generously mailed me this care package…OOcloogs and OOmgs!

I put them to the test immediately! I’ve been repping Fitbit products at Best Buy this holiday season and a day of retail in “support” dress shoes nearly killed me! These arrived just in time…that first shift I switched to the OOmgs, I completely understood the name.

 

It was seriously an entire day of me thinking OMG, how did they do this! Not only did my feet, ankles, knees and legs not hurt at the end of that shift, but I was ready for more! Those OOmgs are a total game changer for the remainder of the holiday retail season and beyond…not. even. kidding!!!

As for the OOcloogs, I’ve had a snazzy pair of their Luxe clogs in the past. But OOFOS just keeps wowing me with new products…how fun are these new Geo OOcloogs?!?

 

I can’t thank OOFOS enough for continuing to meet my ever-changing needs! Their perfectly engineered, shock absorbing technology and attention to fashion will keep me coming back again and again, Friends! Whether you are looking for fitness recovery or relief from injury, arthritis, or plantar fasciitis, do your feet a favor and stop over at the OOFOS website!

One more way to pur our Best Foot Forward!

D’Moda Sportswear Review

True confession time, Friends…I’ve struggled with negative body image issues most of my adult life. Throughout my weight loss journey, I’ve worked hard to set aside the damaging self-criticism. In all honesty, it’s not easy releasing something that has been part of me for so long. Mindfulness has allowed me to listen to my thoughts, but not necessarily believe them.

Here’s a great example, early on in my journey I struggled to find workout wear I felt comfortable donning in public. The playful, energetic prints that fascinated me on the hanger took on completely different characteristics stretched across my abundantly proportioned body. I often left stores with nothing but frustrated, negative feels. And although I’ve lost considerable weight, those thoughts still linger, their echo deafening if I’m off guard. Does this make sense to anyone else?

On my recent Vegas adventure to IDEA World Convention‘s Expo of all things fitness, I learned a very important lesson. Diana Aguirre, entrepreneurial creator of D’Moda Sportswear had generously agreed prior to the expo to provide me with a pair of her leggings. When I arrived at her booth to see nothing but wildly fun prints, the anxiety of the past began to bubble up. I think Diana’s empathy was on full blast, as she seemed to sense what I was thinking. She didn’t miss a beat in pulling multiple options from the rack for me to try on. I’d love to tell you they all looked as incredible on as they did on the hangers, but those darn thoughts were running their loop in my head again. I chose a pair that fit my spirit far better than my perspective at the time.

Here’s where things get interesting.

I read D’Moda Sportswear’s guiding philosophy…Diana’s wish for women everywhere is to be able to love and accept themselves as they are. D’Moda Sportswear is designed and manufactured to give women the support and style they need to go out there and be active in life with confidence and express themselves freely and fiercely.

I’ve read these words over and over this month as I pulled on the leggings. I have no idea why I waited this long! Maybe it took me that long to begin to love and accept myself enough to do it? Regardless, I was instantly impressed with the weight and unique four-way stretchiness of the polyester/elastano fabric. I wore them around the house all day, enjoying the tucked-in feeling of compression they afforded my loose-skinned tummy, legs and behind. I should mention I’m not afforded that luxury in my ordinary leggings. I also must admit I paused often throughout the day to rub my hand down my leg, appreciating the sheer comfort and texture of these pants.

As D’Moda encourages, Express YOU Fiercely, I decided to do just that to demonstrate how well these new pants fit within my lifestyle. I hiked one of my favorite places to calm, clear and energize…

Unfortunately, I soon brushed up againsts several burr plants and spent a good portion of the trail removing the stubborn little pests from my pants. I was so afraid pulling them off would damage the fabric. But after plucking off nearly 60-75 of them, they left no trace of snags, runs or tears. I KNOW my other leggings would’ve succumbed.

I paused at my happy place to remind myself I am not my thoughts, merely the thinker of them.

This body of mine has done remarkable things. It has brought forth new life twice, it has survived immense loss, extensive trauma, injuries, carried me across multiple start and finish lines and still shows up. Every. Single. Day. If those aren’t reasons to love and accept myself, I don’t know what else would be.

Okay, yeah, that got kind of deep. But I would like to give D’Moda Sportswear leggings two thumbs (or legs) up! I wholeheartedly recommend these pants and this company if you are looking for comfortable, dependable leggings that put that FIERCE within each step. You can check out their vast array here.

Thank you, Diana, for helping me get to this place with a fantastic pair of pants and very compassionate support!

Namaste

Great Lakes Gelatin to the Rescue

Friends, I happened to glance through my Facebook memories this morning and got hit with a biggie…

This was kind of the beginning of the end, so to speak. A year ago today my knee decided to show me who was in control of my upcoming race schedule; unfortunately, it wasn’t me.

 

I did some physical therapy, consulted sports med, got a juicy dose of cortisone injected all in aim to put me at the start line of last year’s Marine Corps Marathon in October. Somehow I crossed the finish line that day too, but it was the end of far more than that race.

I’m not a great patient, nor am I patient, so the rest of the story is my own darn fault. My next option for treatment was a round of more injections, but that didn’t appeal to me at all, so I limped my own direction. I was dealing with pain from a combination of a mad meniscus, patellofemoral pain syndrome (runner’s knee) and a raging mad case of osteoarthritis.

My running came to a screeching halt. I was frustrated but did what I could to keep moving. I’ve continued to strength train the best I can. What I did enjoy about being slowed down was catching up with friends. Those who were intimidated by running have joined me for walks. Others have shown up on the mat next to me for some restorative yoga. I was able to keep the swelling in check by frequent icing and modifying my activities, but no matter how easy I’d been taking it, I couldn’t get relief from the pain.

I worked turmeric and glucosamine chondrointin supplements into my diet, but they never seemed to make much of a difference.

I continued to hobble around until July when I schlepped myself to Blogfest at IDEA World Convention…all things Fitness and Nutrition in Vegas. All those workouts and walking, boy was my knee angry! I looked at a lot of products designed to ease my discomfort, but when I literally stumbled upon the fine folks of Great Lakes Gelatin and read about their Collagen Hydrolysate, I was intrigued. But when they generously put the product in my hand and encouraged me to give it a try, of course I had to! What did I have to lose but pain and inflammation! They told me to give it a month to 45 days to notice a difference. I was grateful, but skeptical…why would this be different from what I’ve tried?

I started mixing the powder into my morning coffee at the end of July and within a week’s time I already noticed a marked reduction in pain and increased mobility. As the days went on, I no longer needed to ice my knee because the inflammation was gone! I continued to take the gelatin and in August I was traipsing around the Boundary Waters with a canoe on my shoulders!

Although my knee got kind of cranky from this epic trek, the inflammation never came back! A few days of rest following that trip and it was feeling fine again. I felt foolish at the beginning of this month when I looked closer at the can and realized I could have been taking it TWICE a day, so I’ve started doing that to experience its full effect.

Friends, I must admit I am not cured. I still experience some stiffness and discomfort when the clouds and thunderstorms roll through, but NOTHING like it was. I’m back doing almost everything in the gym because not only does it not hurt, the tightness and thickness that previously grounded me has diminished!

I plan to continue using this product because I am astounded by the difference it has made! I should tell you too, that I’ve noticed some bonus benefits of a great complexion and stronger nails and hair. And for a lady in my mid-40’s…I’ll take all the help I can get!

If you’ve been struggling with age or sports-related collagen loss/cartilage damage or joint/pain discomfort, consult your physician. But also keep Great Lakes Gelatin in mind for what your doctor-recommended pain relievers can’t help!

I whole-heartedly give this stuff the FIT BFFs stamp of approval!