Another Month, Another Challenge

Happy October, Friends! I’m not sure how it’s here already, but September is clearly gone. I spent last month returning to the basics to realign my focus, but I had some pretty heavy stuff to deal with following a family member’s health issues. Its time consuming nature really tempted to hijack my success. Although I’d love to tell you I made great strides of progress, I was lucky to escape September holding on by my fingernails. The good news is I didn’t backslide.

Many of you ask me how I stay focused, how I continue to pick myself up when I need to and start over. Friends, I look forward to the beginning of each new month because it gives me opportunity to look back, readjust and move full speed ahead. I also know I can turn the page every week if I need to…heck, each and every DAY is a fresh new chance to begin again!

So let’s hit RESTART together! Today is a whole new month! I’m still facing some obstacles that keep me from working as hard as I would like, but I won’t let that discourage me. Why? Because I’m grateful for what I can do. When I take time to examine what I’m still capable of, it inspires me to get out and JUST DO IT!

I’m always keeping my eyes open for new motivation, so when my husband’s employee wellness program announced their October and beyond challenge, I jumped aboard. I LOVE their pic and the name…Walktober!

I plan to spend the next 42 days enjoying the fall foilage as I walk to accumulate points. I downloaded the Walktober app and will use my Fitbit to track my steps. I’m excited because my husband is on board too.

And better yet? Here’s where you come in…I’m inviting any of you that live within a reasonable distance to message me on the FIT BFFs Facebook page to schedule a date you’d like to meet up and join me for a stroll through the crispy crunchy leaves…a walk on the trails, a hike in the park…whatever works, because the only thing more fun than working toward my goals? Not having to go it alone!!!

I’m serious, Friends! NOTHING would make me happier than having you reader friends as walking buddies each and every day of this challenge. My schedule is pretty flexible and you can pick the speed and distance, within reason haha!

So PLEASE hit me up to let me know when we can walk or hike…one more way to put our Best Foot Forward!

Seriously…let’s do this!

 

Bookworm Workout

Once Upon a Time…

like just this week, I was struggling to find my normal workout determination and motivation. I was looking for adventure, a unique and fit activity that would occupy both mind and body while enjoying the spectacular fall weather…so I did a little brainstorming.

And lately, Friends, I’ve noticed some super cute little book houses popping up all over town. So I decided to do a little research to learn more. I was intrigued to discover that some of these neighborhood libraries are part of a nonprofit organization initiative that fosters free neighborhood book exchanges around the WORLD! I found this information about Little Free Library here. And upon doing a search of my hometown of Rochester, MN, I found this…

But when I took a closer look at the map, I realized there were quite a few more around town I had seen that were not on this map. So I dug deeper and did a little search for Rochester neighborhood libraries and was sent to my local library’s website that provided me a map with even more options…

I enlarged the map enough to jot down multiple addresses in an area I wanted to explore and my adventure took shape. I made a mental map of the route I would take on my bike considering safety and distance. I filled my waterbottle, tossed a snack in my backpack, secured my bike helmet and was ready to ride! I rode for only a couple blocks before I came to the first one.

Now keep in mind, the selection is small, but changing daily. Also, the cost is free and there are no due dates or late fees…my kind of library! I was impressed with what I found within in terms of something for everyone. Friends, there were board books for babies, picture books for toddlers, early readers for preschooler-primary, chapter books for the more experienced, adult non-fiction and fiction…so many genres in one little place. I didn’t find a book that sparked my interest, but no worries…I had several more addresses to explore. So after a big drink of water, on I rolled!

This little library was color coordinated with the owner’s house…how cute is that? And again, a wide assortment of titles for all ages. Still nothing for me, but I was just getting started.

This one was painted to resemble some of the flowers in this owner’s beautiful garden. This was beginning to be somewhat of an art tour as well. I think how excited my boys would have been if these had been around when they were little. I imagined them popping out of the bike trailer to see what fun things awaited them at each stop! Just thinking about it made me smile.

What inviting little places to pause! This house offered a bench to enjoy the library’s contents right then and there in case you wanted to stop by for a quick little read. I took the opportunity to hydrate before moving on.

This library was perched on the edge of an enchanting garden with a welcoming bench lining the sidewalk and driveway…how nice is that?!? I’d put several miles down between these stops and was beginning to get hungry, so I sat down to enjoy my snack while perusing a Minnesota wildflowers book. I’d yet to find a book that called to me, but I wasn’t done yet, and I was getting one heck of a great workout! Time to hydrate!

Stop after stop, I was becoming more excited with each library I arrived at because this was like a fun little treasure hunt. I knew, eventually, I’d find a book or two that were meant for me!

And there it was…just the inspiration I was hoping to find! I popped that baby into my backpack, excited to find something that will light my motivational fire. I could hardly wait to get home and start reading, but I had a few more addresses to go. I marveled at how many miles I’d gone and how much fun I was having. Could this really count as a workout lol?!? Another drink break and I was back on the road.

The more I stopped, the more I found myself thinking about putting one of these babies in my front yard. I would LOVE to share the gift of reading with my neighbors! As I starting considering the possibilities of what ours might look like, I arrived at the final address on my list. I was grateful I had found a book, but figured it would be the only one I was returning home with until I spotted this…

I LOVE when the universe works in this way because as I spotted the title, I knew that book had my name written all over it; it was there just waiting for ME! Not only had I enjoyed an amazing outdoor workout, I found just the thing that will keep me motivated for many rides to come…a biking trail guide for Minnesota and Western Wisconsin! BOOM!

I rode home with renewed energy. This had turned out to be a great day…getting fit with lit hahaha!

Friends, if you are in need of renewed motivation and a creative workout, look up your community’s neighborhood and little free libraries, map them out and get moving. This bookworm workout is one more way to put our Best Foot Forward and…

Live Happily and Healthily Ever After!

 

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?

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?

Oola For Women Review

While waiting for my flight to Portland last week, something awesome happened…something very Oola! Because the flight was overbooked, the airline offered generous compensation to a volunteer willing to catch the next flight. I just happened to be traveling alone, was scheduled to arrive earlier than necessary and, incidentally, had a book I was dying to dive into; without a moment’s hesitation, I stepped forward!

As I tucked my easily obtained reward (enough to purchase my next getaway flight) into my bag, I pulled out my advance reader copy of Oola For Women I received in the mail just days earlier. There was nothing to do but relax and digest the wisdom of Dave Braun and Troy Amdahl with Janet Switzer and the inspiring stories of 42 women.

This was sort of deja vu for me as I recalled reading Braun and Amdahl’s original Oola book last year on a flight to San Diego! That’s when I was first introduced to their 7 key areas one needs to balance and grow, to live the life of one’s dreams…fitness, finance, family, field (career), faith, friends and fun. I’ve had some amazing opportunities to put these areas to work in my life and have found extraordinary balance in doing so.

These same 7 key areas are beautifully re-presented in Oola For Women, using powerful stories to further the reader’s understanding and connection. The poignant story each woman humbly shares brilliantly illustrates these areas, and beyond as the authors warn of traits that block one from living the life of their dreams, as well as ways to accelerate reaching those dreams.

I kept thinking as I read story after story, how they resonated deep within, how I related to so many as if they could be me!

The last section of the book invites the reader to look deeper into her life, to get real with where she is and where she wants to go. A simple strategy designed to get readers on The OolaPath is spelled out in a straightforward manner, and as they say, “Once you start, there’s no going back to ordinary.”

Braun and Amdahl are currently traveling across the country in their OolaBus collecting a million dreams, so how appropriate there is a blank OolaWoman Goal sticker in the back of the book to record that dream! It’s become difficult for me to narrow it down to a single dream, so I will continue to think on that.

In the meantime, as I finished their book during my Portland vaca and know the OolaGuys are big fans of doughnuts, there was only one thing left for me to do…

 

Dave, Troy, these VooDoo Doughnuts are in honor of your beautifully crafted tool for women to find that delicate balance in an unbalanced world! You two are changing lives all over the world with one word!

Why not treat yourself to less stress, more purpose and uncover that greatness within! Friends, Oola For Women hits bookstores across the country tomorrow, May 2nd. If you’d like, check it out at Barnes and Noble or Amazon.

 

Oh, and keep your eyes open for that VW OolaBus!

Sending Out a Fitness SOS

Yesterday was one of those days for me, Friends. I wanted to get my cardio in, but I just wasn’t feeling it. It was a gorgeous, sunny 55 degrees outside…in February…in Minnesota. This was not a day to waste because by tomorrow Mother Nature will have us completely buried in snow again; the school district is so certain of this, they’ve already cancelled school!

I know when I feel less than motivated, it’s time to get a friend or two involved to get me moving. But it was already 1 pm. Normally when I text a friend, it takes time for them to get back with me. And, oftentimes, the answer is no. I can easily go down a list of 4 or 5 people and still be buddiless. I needed a better plan…Facebook to the rescue!

I realize this was extremely short notice, but totally worth a try! I put it right out there on a status update…I posted that I was looking for a buddy to walk with around 2:00 or 2:30ish and asked anyone interested to message me. I thought for a split second, this could get interesting depending on who responds. Well I was in no position to be picky; I had no doubt the universe would send me exactly the person I was meant to meet up with.

Not even five minutes later it was already done. Kristin to the rescue! As soon as she responded, I deleted my Facebook status so it wouldn’t become complicated hahaha.

Kris was ready to hit the trails at 2 pm and we soaked in that fantastic sunshine and fresh air while catching up on each others’ worlds. Our walk around the lake was exactly what I was looking for, I just hadn’t known until she responded to my SOS!

My all-call was answered quicker than I could have imagined. I’ll definitely employ the Facebook status strategy again. Friends, next time you are feeling less than ready to burn some calories alone, reach out. Asking for a workout buddy is one more very simple way we can all put our Best Foot Forward!

PSA: Please keep in mind, for safety sake, stick to your friends list, not Craigslist!

Evolution of a Walk

I’m wallowing this weekend in an upper respiratory nightmare. I had high hopes of getting to the gym this morning, but I didn’t want to be found unconscious beneath a machine, nor did I think anyone wanted what I’ve got. So I invited my husband, who’s suffering the same malady, to join me for a gentle walk on a most beautiful day.

The weather was unseasonably warm for a February morning in Minnesota, so fitness plan B turned out to be the perfect choice. It’s amazing what fresh air can do to restore a person’s head, heart and health.

The thawing warmth, combined with the playful puddles and joyfully singing birds put me in a place of reflection. As we worked toward completing our leisurely 3.5 mile stroll, I considered the evolution of my perspective toward walking.

Here’s what I mean. As I thought back to the time before my weight loss, I remember feeling very differently…like back in 2011 when I didn’t consider shoveling a great workout, it was simply a chore. And if someone had asked me to take a walk after that, I would’ve been too exhausted.

About this same time in 2012…winter camp at my unhealthiest, should someone have invited me to walk, I would’ve recommended they dial 911 before we begin…not. even. kidding.

Friends, here’s where things get exciting because a few months after this picture, I set off on my healthy lifestyle journey and things began to change dramatically! About this same time in 2013, if you had asked me to walk, I would have suggested we do it in the hilly woods of Oxbow Park because I had some serious training to do with around 30 pounds strapped to my back in preparation for an upcoming backpack hiking adventure.

I had lost a significant amount of weight by this same time in 2014 and was in fantastic shape, but if you had asked me to walk then, I would have had to pass. I was very busy doing nothing, or rather healing from automobile accident injuries. Dang it, one step forward, two steps back…

I behaved my butt off during that time so I could return to an active lifestyle better than ever. It took lots of patience and pep talks, but I bounced back with a force to be reckoned with! And should someone ask me around that same time in 2015 if I’d like to take a walk, I may have recommended we do it above ground because I was pretty wildly into high adventure, like swinging through the trees in Flagstaff. Guess I had something to prove to myself, huh?

By this time the following year, I had replaced the adrenaline addiction for a longer sustained endorphin high. If you had invited me to walk with you in 2016 I may have suggested a half marathon!

A lot has changed between then and now. I ran myself silly that entire year and am now taking some much needed time to restore a reluctant knee. So if any of you are interested in a calm walk of any distance, now’s the time to ask…though you may want to wait until my germ circus leaves town. A walk with Eric this morning was exactly what I needed to get my compass pointing true north again, to put into perspective how thankful I am to be back embracing a walk.

Treasure Trove of Free Motivation!

Friends, when my boys were young, we lived at the public library. Their constant hunger for knowledge was regularly satisfied with a large tote filled with new books, computer games, music cds, audiobooks and movies each week. Their eyes lit up like it was Christmas when they’d spot something that sparked a new interest, and we were often mesmerized at the sheer volume that building held. I often wondered, if a person calculated the msrp of all the materials we’d borrowed, how many millions of dollars the library afforded my little learners!

We were often treated to some wonderful enrichment opportunities there as well. Storytellers, magicians, musicians, artists and scavenger hunts to name a few, all these priceless educational activities…FREE!

My boys are in high school and college now; although no longer frequent patrons, a homework assignment sometimes brings us back. And now that I’m no longer needed in their search for materials, a visit allows me to realize what an amazing adult playground exists there too!

I was recently impressed with a display…

Of course, it is ever changing because these resources are constantly borrowed. A walk around the corner reveals stack upon stack of engaging resources related to healthy lifestyle, mindfulness, nutrition, wellness, fitness and beyond…and these are just the items that aren’t checked out. I’ve spent hours on the library’s website browsing the limitless offerings and reserving materials that are constantly checked out.

My favorite feature is reserving them to our local bookmobile that stops every two weeks, just two blocks from my house. These items literally come to ME!!

Friends, many of you have asked me how to live healthy on a budget. Here’s an answer right here. The price is better than budget-friendly…it’s free. But priceless!

Those who’ve told me they can’t afford a gym membership or workout equipment…here’s my answer to that…

There are multiple stacks of shelves at my library with hundreds of workouts for any ability level. There is a class of your choice, available any time, day or night, just waiting for you to hit play! No membership dues, no intimidation of any gym-related nature, ready at your convenience. Some of these DVDs were instrumental in my weight-loss success early on when I was building my fitness confidence. Even now, I find a few new ones that spark my interest each time I visit.

Or maybe you find you need that community connection of working out with others? Or looking for a professional talk related to various wellness topics? Look no further…

Check out what your local library has to offer. I’m willing to bet it offers more than you think. And a wonderful bonus? If your library doesn’t have a resource you are looking for, many are able to borrow from neighboring community libraries or take requests for new purchases…how cool is that?

If you’re looking for some fresh motivation, give your local library a visit…a free source of encouragement and one more way to put our Best Foot Forward!