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!

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!

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!

 

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!

Goals Get Things DONE!

Friends, we are a full week into March. How are you coming along with your goals? I’d love to hear what you’re working on and how it’s going. Leave a comment!

Remember when I told you last week about my integrated goals for March? If you missed it, you can catch up here.

In setting some simple, succinct goals that were designed to go hand in hand, I motivated the heck out of myself. Check it out…

As of yesterday, here are 7 days worth of donation receipts from Goodwill. I’ve spent this first full week finding all kinds of items that our family has outgrown, treasures we no longer use; I bagged them up and dropped them off, a bag every day on my way to the gym. I’m excited to announce I was able to close the door to my very organized closet for the first time in years…this thing is working!

This morning I received this notification that (as of yesterday) I’ve accrued 7 gym check-ins. It has become habit, and that’s a very good thing because I’m more driven in my workouts than ever!

Today, Day 8, is continued success…I even got my workout in first because I got such an early start…had to wait for Goodwill to open haha.

Friends, this is how goals are supposed to work! The more I chip away at them, the better I feel about what I’m accomplishing. I can’t help but think of what little I would have done if I hadn’t set them. The bottom line here is elementary; goals get things done!

New Month New Goals

Happy March, fellow FIT BFFs! With a new month comes unlimited opportunity for focus, improvement and growth. If you’ve set any goals for this month, I’d love to hear about them…leave a comment below!

As I thought about what I wanted to accomplish this month, I realized it was quite a list, so I attempted to streamline it a bit to make it more realistic, more manageable. I took a few health/fitness, spiritual and housekeeping goals and rolled them into a bit of a multidiciplined approach for the month…here’s what I mean.

Of course I want to continue to push myself physically this month to not only maintain but increase my strength and endurance. I’m committing to a trip to the gym daily in the month of March.

Incidentally, today begins the tradition of Lent in my faith life, it is a time of prayer, sacrifice and good works. I’ve been intrigued by a challenge posted on Facebook of donating a bag of items daily for the 40 day duration of Lent.

Quite coincidentally, I’ve noticed my house seems to be bursting at the seams and in need of an early spring spruce-up. Those who know me know I love simplicity…I’m not about the stuff at all, so the clutter is kind of suffocating. I recently ordered this…

Although I’m only 34 pages in, I am ready to employ some of the strategies recommended to enjoy the breathing room decluttering would afford. I was taken by a quote by Kondo, “When we really delve into the reasons for why we can’t let something go, there are only two: an attachment to the past or a fear for the future.”

I LOVE that because, since I’ve become a champion for living in the present, I am both a fan of dropping the useless guilt of the past and the senseless worry of the future. It’s the stuff that bogs me down, and it’s time for it to go!

So here’s where the integration of my goals is taking me this month. I plan to bag up a pile of unnecessary belongings every day, deposit them at the donation center of the nearby Goodwill and immediately proceed to my gym across the street for my daily workout.

I love the simplicity of this plan. Later each day, I will return home to sift and sort through another category of the house that deserves attention, providing further discards for the next day’s bag. As space frees up, it will be easier to straighten those places, thus reaping the rewards of my three targets this month…exercising daily, giving to others and tidying/calming my home.

Here’s today’s bag of motivation, which means I’m also off to the gym! I can’t wait to see what this process does to me this month. I’m excited about the propects and love this Kondo quote, “The question of what you want to own is actually the question of how you want to live your life.”

I’m so done being weighed down and ready to let it all go…one more way to put my Best Foot Forward!

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!

NSV…Look What I Can Finally Do!

I was eager for my training session today…hopeful to finally put weight on the bar for my press. I’ve only recently started pressing the naked 45 pound bar and today was the day to increase. I admit, when I saw how small the weights were, my first instinct was to be embarrassed at how pathetic it must have looked to the heavy lifters around me.

Shame on me for going that direction! It quickly dawned on me how significant this was; in that moment, my perspective shifted to gratitude.

Although there is just no flattering angle for today’s NSV…this non-scale victory is so important! I don’t know if you can even see those weights on that bar, but I am pressing 55 pounds. Today I am especially grateful for the ability to lift anything considering it has taken me three years (post car accident) to work up to this following broken ribs/sternum and the chiropractor putting shoulder, neck and collarbone stuff back where it all belongs. It feels downright awesome to be fully functional again. ALIVE!

Friends, have you struggled to finally achieve something you’ve been spinning your wheels to accomplish? Instead of beating yourself up about how long it has taken, grant yourself a moment of grace. Look back at barriers you’ve had to overcome in order to be where you are right now, then consider it a NSV to celebrate! A shift in perspective may be exactly what you need to embrace where you are right now; it’s just one more way to put your Best Foot Forward.

Nothing is Impossible

Friends, it’s very hard for me to believe what blessings this past year has brought my way. Exactly one year ago this morning, I was in Honolulu starting a marathon…A MARATHON! I admit, if you had told me two years ago I’d run one, I would have told you, “Impossible!”

I’d only just begun running the year before, and never imagined in a million years I would run 26.2 miles. In one day. For fun. Yet I found myself meeting up with Rhonda and Matt, complete strangers at that time, to do exactly that!

honolulu-start

Just a few short years before, this concept was impossible. Unthinkable! Because at 246 pounds, the first few miles would’ve surely induced cardiac arrest!

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But having lost the weight, adopted healthy eating habits, a love of fitness and a wellbeing in my soul, I allowed myself to think crazy thoughts. And when certain thoughts just couldn’t be ignored, I set goals. Little by little those goals became realized dreams I never even knew I had a few short years ago.

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It took everything I had to give that day, but I knew all along it was there.

honolulu-together

And when it was done, I was able to say what I never thought I could…I was a Marathoner!

honolulu-medals

And better yet, with continued determination, the astounding generosity of others, despite injuries, health setbacks and mental blocks…these further impossibilities became realities:

  • Carlsbad Half Marathon, Carlsbad, CA (January)
  • Donna’s Half Marathon, Jacksonville, FL (February)
  • San Diego Half Marathon, San Diego, CA (March)
  • Beginner’s Luck Half Marathon, Henderson, NV (April)
  • La Jolla Half Marathon, La Jolla, CA (April)
  • Rockin’ Robin Half Marathon, Rochester, MN (May)
  • Med City Half Marathon, Rochester, MN (May)
  • Mammoth Lakes Half Marathon, Mammoth Lakes, CA (June)
  • Bubble Run 5K, Madison, WI (June)
  • Mini Iron Man, Many Point, MN (June)
  • MN Nuthouse 5K, 10K and Half Marathon, Rochester, MN (July)
  • RAGBRAI 420 miler, IA (July)
  • Ragnar Great River, WI/MN (August)
  • America’s Finest City Half Marathon, San Diego, CA (August)
  • Med City Fall Half Marathon, Rochester, MN (September)
  • Mankato Half Marathon, Mankato, MN (October)
  • Marine Corps Marathon, Washington, DC (October)
  • Rock’n’Roll 5K and Half Marathon, Las Vegas, NV (November)
  • Silver Lake Walk with Friends Half Marathon, Rochester, MN (December)

And to think it all started a year ago today; all of it seemingly impossible, yet…

impossible

Friends, you can do ANYTHING you set your mind to…ANYTHING! Believe in yourself, your hopes, dreams and ambitions. Set multiple short and long-term goals to get yourself there. Tell yourself I’M POSSIBLE and put your Best Foot Forward; there’s no telling where we can take ourselves if we remember NOTHING is impossible!

December Challenge: Advent Calendar of Wellness

Happy December, fellow FIT BFFs! Not sure how it arrived so quickly, but here we are in the final month of 2016. I know how crazy December can be. Prior to the beginning of my journey toward wellness, the holiday hustle and bustle threatened to take me down…year after year. One December actually found me in the ER with what I thought were heart attack symptoms. Thankfully, it was an anxiety attack, but I should never have allowed that month to feel so out of control. I’m happy to say I’ve made diliberate changes to avoid recurrence. In reminding myself, I thought it also helpful to share this little idea with you.

Two years ago, I prepared an advent calendar. You’ve all seen these, it’s a December tradition with little doors that children open, one for each day leading to Christmas…some even include chocolate.

Advent Calendar

Having lost a significant amount of weight by that time, my calendar did NOT include treats, but instead, was chock-full of motivation. It was simply a blank calendar I posted on my fridge as a constant, visual reminder to move. Each day as I completed a workout, I recorded it. Here’s a glimpse…

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I found with each passing day, I was more and more motivated to fill those boxes. By the end of the month it had been completely filled which left me feeling accomplished. I’m ready for that sense of satisfaction again…I’ve got a fun calendar printed off, posted and ready to fill with my fit activities.

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I invite you to join me in this festive fitness challenge. Simply print off this free printable calendar made available by the fine folks at iMOM here, and get busy gifting yourself a little wellness every day this month.

Let’s give ourselves a gift of wellness every day this month…one festive way to put our Best Foot Forward!