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!

I’m So Excited, and I Just Can’t Hide It!

Friends, I know I’ve been MIA lately. I want to assure you, I’m not slacking! You can always check up on me on Facebook at FIT BFFs.

I’ve been keeping very busy stepping out of my comfort zone yet again. I’ve had a few recent getaways too…embracing adventure, marking things off my bucket list…living the dream, really. But also, I’ve been facing some real life stuff head-on. Through all of it, I’ve continued to take great care of myself and have put my Best Foot Forward each day, every step of the way.

I couldn’t go any longer without letting you in on a little secret I’ve been keeping for several months. A big, huge one really. I just didn’t want to say anything until I knew it was all a go. I’ve been selected to attend an upcoming event I can barely wrap my head around…

Yes, I’m heading back to Vegas, Baby! I just can’t seem to get enough of that place. But what the heck is Idea World Fitness Blogfest? It is the coming together of health and fitness bloggers from around the country for four action-packed days of AWESOME! Not only will we attend some in-depth blogging education sessions, we will show up in a sea of spandex for some exciting celebrity workouts, get our hands on the latest and greatest new products and information in the industry, and if that’s not all…exclusive behind-the-scenes access to the health and fitness industry’s largest conference in the WORLD!

I don’t know how I’m going to wait two months!!! I guess holding my breath won’t help haha! I have a lot going on between now and then. This is a crazy-busy time for so many of us! I plan to keep my head above water, Friends; I will continue to eat well, move forward the best I can and keep my attitude on the sunny side!

 

Fashion Friday Tunic Buzz at 40% Off!

Several weeks ago I debuted the comfortable, versatile Hannah Keyhole tunic from Cents of Style. I’ve had countless opportunities to wear it, and after multiple washes, it still looks new and remains amazingly soft.

Tunics are all the rage right now…a quick, trendy way to go from a walk, to school, the office, meetings, appointments, shopping and on to date night. Not many items in our wardrobes can do that! What’s more, these tunics are available in a wide array of color options in sizes small-3X! This weekend, at 40% off, it comes in under $21 and free shipping!

Cents of Style offers several versions, like this babydoll in another great palate of colors. This one is also under $21!

Or how about this simple swing tunic? Add a pair of leggings and you’re ready for the day. This one is under $15!

To grab this fantastic deal, use code FFTUNIC to get 40% off the lowest marked price, with FREE SHIPPING! This code is valid Friday, 5/5 through Sunday, 5/7.

At such low prices, these won’t last, so get them before they’re gone and be ready for any occasion!

Back to Gardening

Friends, I cringe to show you a piece of my backyard. It’s that same piece of yard I’m sure my neighbors wince at everytime they see it too. I’ve neglected my garden for the past five years while I took better care of myself.

Truth be told, I was never all that good at it; some years were better than others. The growing seasons I nurtured it well, it produced a beautiful harvest. Others, not so much. Kind of like my health, huh?

Well this is the year my garden makes a comeback, Friends! I was in heaven a few weeks back, strolling through an abundant farmers’ market in Portland. Take a look, here’s just a bit of what I saw…

 

 

 

While there, it dawned on me. Why don’t I get my gardening groove back? I have zero excuses this year. I’m not quite as busy with my kids this summer, my calendar is wide open, I’m not following an intense running schedule. This is my year, and the time is NOW!

So here it is, what I’m starting with. Boy, do I have a job ahead of me. But no matter, I’ve got this!

I just enjoyed the most cathartic couple hours back there pulling up weeds. I remember now what I used to love about it; I used to spend hours helping with the gardens of several loved ones that are no longer here. Yup, it was just like hanging out with them again.

I had some birds back there keeping me company too. By the time it started getting dark, I’d managed to clear nearly half of it. My arms and back can vouch for that. I can’t wait to get the tiller through the dirt and get planting!

Soon I won’t need the farmers’ market, I’ll only have to go as far as my own backyard. Fellow FIT BFFs, do you garden? If so, what do you plant? Leave me a comment, I’d love to hear what you grow!

Fresh, healthy foods from our own backyards…one more way to put our Best Foot Forward!

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 Part 2

Friends, I’ve been home from Colorado for more than a week and I keep returning to what a memorable success it was. If you missed Part 1, you can read it here. In that post I mentioned some mindful modifications we’d made to our standard vacation for better outcomes.

That week progressed quite nicely into one of my favorite trips of all times. We continued to venture out of our condo every morning with a new version of the same view…

   

And if that awe-inspiring daily welcome wasn’t enough, we drove all of two miles to enter this phenomenal playground…

Eric, Connor and I spent an afternoon exploring Rocky Mountain’s Bear Lake. Although it was still frozen over, it provided the freshest air, great vibes and opportunity to get lost in it all!

That afternoon beat any video game, thrill ride or entertainment…nature is all we needed!

As the afternoon wound down, it was time to meet up with my college friend, Lynda.

And it’s great we did because she knows that park like the back of her hand…she took us places that blew my mind! Thanks for a spectacular tour and evening, Lynda!!!

If I lived close to this, I would come every single day. I don’t think it could ever get old! This waterfall was both enchanting and mesmerizing.

   

I just couldn’t leave without some more yoga. It just seemed like the right thing to do!

That day’s light, love and energy seeped clear into my bones and soul.

Our week in Estes Park continued to be a challenge for me to eat healthy, but if one looked hard enough, good choices could be found. Take for instance this entree from The Egg and I…LOVED it!

I needed to keep fueled for our last day because I had something important to check off my bucket list. Since the moment I’d seen this place on an episode of Extreme Weightloss, I knew I had to go!

Red Rocks Amphitheater has played host to countless performers and their sold-out concerts on hot summer nights. But in daylight, this venue welcomes those looking for an unforgiving workout. It was exactly what I was hoping for on our final day in Colorado.

Because my knee was less than functional, I had to run/walk, but that didn’t take away from the amazing accomplishment I felt having traveled across each of 69 rows down, then back up again. I logged five miles of harsh slopes and relentless heat.

I was ecstatic too, because although this was likely not on Eric’s bucket list, he got me there and even joined in!

That workout took all I had within me that day…I left it all there! Which turned out to be a good thing because the next day and a half was spent driving home from this astounding vacation.

The drive home was somber, it was tough leaving such beauty behind. I replayed the amazing experiences we’d had over and over again in my mind and heart. That second day on the road, although tiring was an a-okay way to spend my birthday. Why? Because my beloved Pita Pit was only a couple hours from home!

Friends, I think we finally got this vacation balance thing right! I returned home tired but nothing like trips of the past. I’m recharged and ready to work on that bucket list of mine…a list I never bothered dreaming up until my weight loss transformation proved was possible!

 

Vacation Transformed!

With spring break upon us, I’ve thought a lot about what vacations used to look like for my family and me. They consisted of ALL our favorite junk foods, a jam-packed schedule of busyness designed to entertain and engage our kids from morning to night in locales that catered to non-stop fun. We made a million memories, but most of mine were of indigestion, sensory overload and exhaustion. When I look at the photos, I wish I saw the fun and excitement, but I’m brought right back to the overwhelmedness.

I’m happy to realize throughout my weight loss journey, our vacations have transformed as well. I put serious thought into what I wanted out of this spring break, then set some mindful plans into action. We chose a location conducive to well-being as our top priority and hit the open road.

 

Fuel stops found me jumping at the pump and avoiding the endless empty calories I used to gather from gas stations. I was prepared, having packed a jumprope and plenty of healthy snacks.

Upon reaching our destination, I knew we’d made a great choice. Check out the view literally just two steps outside our rental condo…my soul smiled when I saw the exquisite view and heard the playful stream.

Ahhhhh.

I have come to an awareness that vacation can’t mean taking time off from myself. So with that in mind, we made plans to be active. Our first day in Estes Park found us hiking picturesque Lily Mountiain…

I only regret our older son was unable to join us because this would have been right up his alley.

You should know that hiking is my thing!

However, my husband Eric is not at all fond of heights and our younger son Connor is not a fan of hiking. At all. But they both sucked it up to climb the steep two miles; although there were some pretty tense moments scrambling up the final snow-covered section the breathtaking summit was well worth the fear-factor!

 

The view was stunning and unforgettable!

The descent was tougher than I expected, but this was the kind of memory I had hoped we’d make while we were here! I’m so proud of those two!

That hike was one heck of a workout and my knee was not at all happy…traitor! The next morning it was still cranky, but I had some strength training plans!

Thank goodness for a fitness center at the resort! The rest of the day was set aside for some sightseeing, grocery shopping for the right kinds of nourishment, and relaxing.

Although many of my friends chose warmer climates for spring break, imagine my excitement when I woke up to this…

How beautiful is that?!? This Minnesota gal’s heart was warmed waking up to this gorgeous Colorado morn. And because I have goals in place, there was only one thing to do…haul over to the fitness room for some cardio!

 

And after a great sweat sesh of a warm-up, there was only one thing on my mind for a cool-down. Would you like to build a snowman?!?

Why, yes I would! My teenager had zero desire to help me, because he brought his friend named X-box haha!

So there you have it, our transformed vacation! We still have several more days to embrace all Estes Park has to offer. I’m thrilled to report, since making mindful changes to our typical vacation, I’ve yet to experience indigestion, sensory overload or exhausting. Mission accomplished!

Quinoa and Black Beans

As March winds down, I am completing work on a Nutritional Scavenger Hunt I’ve been chipping away at all month. The challenge was provided by the dietitians at my local gym and has really motivated me!

One of the tasks was to prepare some provided recipes, and when I tried this one, I knew I had to share it with you. I’ve been doing a lot with quinoa lately. I don’t know why it took me so long to get on board with it, I avoided it thinking it was complicated. Friends, quinoa couldn’t be simpler to work with and the results are delicious and nutritious!

Quinoa and Black Beans

Ingredients:

1 tsp vegetable oil

1 onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped

3/4 cup uncooked quinoa

1 1/2 cups vegetable broth

1 tsp cumin

1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

salt and pepper to taste

1 cup frozen corn kernels

1 – 15 oz can black beans, rinsed and drained

1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

Directions:

  1. Heat oil in a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat. Stir in onion and garlic to saute until lightly browned.
  2. Mix quinoa into saucepan and cover with vegetable broth. Season with cumin, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper. Bring mixture to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes.
  3. Stir frozen corn into saucepan, continue to simmer about 5 minutes until heated through. Mix in black beans and cilantro.

This recipe yields ten 1/2 cup servings at 76 calories each with 2.6 grams of protein and 1.9 grams of fiber.

Quinoa and Sweet Potato Chili

Happy weekend, Friends! I’m continuing to work through the tasks of the Nutrition Scavenger Hunt happening at my local gym this month. This has motivated me to prepare another recipe provided by the Rochester Athletic Club Dietitians. I actually received this one about 4 years ago while a member in their weight-loss program, ridiculous that I waited until now to try it…better late than never!

I made this for a casual weekend lunch today with the goal of nurishing my post-workout hunger. I enjoyed the simplicity of preparation and an amazing, gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan, Lenten-friendly twist on a cool-weather comfort food. This would be a great recipe for meal prep too!

If you’re looking for a super food cooking adventure, look no further!

Quinoa and Sweet Potato Chili

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 onion, chopped

5 garlic cloves, minced

1 – 6 oz can tomato paste

1 tablespoon chili powder

1 tablespoon cumin

1 teaspoon oregano

1 – 29 oz can low sodium black beans, rinsed and drained

32 oz low sodium vegetable broth

1 sweet potato, peeled and cut into bite-sized chunks

Salt and pepper to taste

1 cup quinoa, uncooked

Avocado and cilantro for garnish (optional)

 

Directions:

  1. Heat olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed soup pot over medium-low heat. Add onion and cook until soft and lightly browned, about 10 minutes.
  2. Add garlic and cook for 2 minutes.
  3. Add tomato paste, chili powder, cumin and oregano. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring continuously.
  4. Add beans, vegetable broth and sweet potato. Season with salt and pepper. Cook for about 5 minutes, then add quinoa.
  5. Continue cooking for 15-30 minutes, stirring frequently, until quinoa and potatoes are cooked and chili has thickened. If chili becomes too thick for your liking, add water to achieve desired consistency.
  6. Serve hot and garnish with avocado and chopped cilantro, if desired.

This recipe yields six servings at 330 calories with 15 grams of protein and 14 grams of fiber!