Having My Cake and Eating it Too!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

My New Summer Love-Buddha Bowls

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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!

 

 

 

 

 

We Still Do!

Twenty-three years ago today we said, “I do.” And we still do…

It’s official, I’ve now been married to this man longer than not. He has done far more than he vowed to me all those years ago…beyond the richer or poorer, the sickness and health…he’s literally seen me through thick and thin, weak and strong, grief and joy, broken and whole. He’s loved me completely through the rough spots and cheered on my finest moments, unconditionally. This guy, he makes my dreams come true!

I loved him then, love him still…always have always will.

 

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.

Here We Go Again AKA It’s Still Nothing

Last week I wrote about a little test I was hoping to pass…if you missed it, you can catch up here.

Considering the experience I had last year, I wasn’t too excited about waiting a week for the results of that 2D mammogram. I did everything I could to remain positive, to breathe away the worry, to keep myself from emotionally eating my bodyweight in hummus and pita chips. Still, it came as no surprise I flunked that exam and had to return this week for another…here we go again.

Friends, I knew the drill and I was working my way through the order of events last year in my mind…mammogram, second mammogram, ultrasound, biopsy, lumpectomy. How ironic what they found was on the other side this year…would I have matching sharkbite scars when all was said and done? Eventually I caught myself in this useless thought process and gently moved it aside as I returned for that 3D mammogram. If you notice the look in this second photo, that’s me telling myself to shut up already! I knew the results of this test determined the next step.

And dang it, I flunked that test too. As I was immediately ushered down the hall to ultrasound, I reminded my shaky legs that this was nothing until it’s something…so it’s still nothing!

During that ultrasound, the technician seemed to zero in on an area that began to hurt. I could tell there was something there and the longer she investigated that spot, the more concerned I became. When the radiologist arrived to examine her findings, I dreaded his words and my anxiety made it difficult to comprehend them. They’d been looking at 3 cysts that were not suspect. He saw nothing suspicious and barring any new concerns, I was off the hook for a year!

Which, in my head, translated to no biopsy, no lumpectomy AND NO CANCER! Big sigh of relief. HUGE. I could have kissed that guy!

So thankful it’s still nothing.

This experience turned out to be educational because I picked up an important nugget from which we can all benefit. The 3D mammogram technology can reveal breast cancer up to 3 years earlier than the 2D exam and that’s great news in terms of early detection and survival rates. So those of you avoiding mammograms should know there is really nothing to fear here, but fear itself. I will keep that in mind next year when I opt for the 3D right away and convince my shaky legs to chill.

Yet again, I guess the moral of my story boils down to this…

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!

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!