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

 

Here I Go Again!

Hey Friends, I wanted to let you know that although I haven’t been writing frequently lately, I am not slacking! Those of you that read my previous post know that I spent the month of October and the first few weeks this month completing a step challenge. It was a very simple idea, work toward getting the recommended 10,000 steps in daily. It was a bit harder for me than it sounded because I tended to get my activity done in ways my Fitbit doesn’t track. No worries, though, I made a conscious effort and hit the target all 42 days. Since I last posted, I continued to walk or hike daily, oftentimes with friends…

  

Even after the challenge wrapped up, I continued to find myself hitting the 10,000 step target every day…great new habit! One that put a crazy idea into my head…more on that in a moment.

I made another great investment of time lately too. A couple weeks ago, I joined a new maintenance support type of group made up of folks just like me who were members of the weight loss program I completed. We have come together to help one another through the holidays and beyond, keeping focused on our health and wellness. Our first meeting two weeks ago featured a healthy potluck. Ordinarily, the thought of a potluck terrifies me because I already know my choices will be few and far between. But this time was very different…not only were all the offerings healthy, the salads and main dishes all included recipes and nutrition info. Here’s a glimpse at one of the two bountiful tables!

This was the first potluck I ever felt safe about, if you know what I mean. So this program is simple, come together twice monthly to discuss challenges and successes, share helpful tips and weigh-in. We were also offered a food journal and encouraged to use it.

I should mention I joined this group because I not only wanted to maintain what I have left of my weight loss from these past 5 years, I want to forge ahead and drop more pounds. So this is what my first two weeks looked like…

I pretty diligently recorded my eating. I wrote most everything down nearly every day. I didn’t really begin with a calorie target for each day, but tried to keep it under 2000 calories.

I refocused my fitness efforts too. Just a few weeks back, my gym began a major renovation, one I couldn’t help thinking kind of symbolized my renewed goals too. I looked closely at my workout habits and routine and gave it some fine tuning. Beyond continuing my 10,000 daily step goal, I scheduled my strength training workouts and classes into my planner. This has been instrumental in my consistency. Because before I wrote these into my week, they were much less likely to happen.

I’m excited to report I’ve had two tremendously successful weeks. The scale dropped 5 pounds, my active wear fits much less like touniquets and I’m seeing some fun definition changes already…

Although the gym changes are obvious, you may not notice any with me. But that’s okay, I FEEL them and I know they are there. Even better? I’m driven to continue through the holidays and beyond.

One thing I’m so excited to share is that I remembered my why. Not only that, I remembered how excited I am to work toward some short and long term goals. I set an INSANE milestone goal for 2022 when I turn 50. It’s so damn crazy, I’m not going to tell you quite yet what it is. Just know I haven’t done much of anything lately that scares me, and this thing is well outside my comfort zone. Way beyond this continent even!

Friends, when’s the last time you refocused, redefined and reset? If you are spinning your wheels, maybe the time is now. It is making all the difference for me and is another great way to put our Best Foot Forward!

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!

 

Fine Tuning my Hospital Strategy

Friends, I drive past Mayo Clinic’s St. Marys Hospital Campus frequently. I was born here, had a fractured arm reset in second grade, visited the ER more times than I would’ve liked including my auto accident trauma drama. I honestly admit that each time I drive past, I thank the man upstairs every day I’m not there. I also send some positive thoughts upward for those that are.

I feel the heaviness of others when I pass by because I recall gut-wrenching days spent there with pretty heartbreaking outcomes for loved ones.

Unfortunately, yesterday found me there around the clock as my mother-in-law underwent a very delicate surgery. A day like that reminds me how fortunate we are to have world class medical care right here in our own backyard.

Before my weight loss journey, I would treat this day as the enemy…sedentary for hours in the waiting room, emotional binge eating to no end and panic stricken with worry and anxiety. Thinking back to my dad’s lung surgery simply haunts me. Thankfully I’ve learned to approach this kind of day with a more mindful strategy…take for example how I handled my husband’s surgery a couple years ago in case you missed it…

Despite the outcome, that turned out to be a pretty successful day. Recalling that experience, I was able to face yesterday’s uncertainty by putting my needs first, to take great care of myself so I could be stronger for others. Here’s what that looked like…

Once we got my MIL checked in and off to surgery and enjoyed a cup of coffee with her sister, I did something postive to feel helpful in this setting.

Someone will be receiving a pint of high-octane enthusiasm!

Next, I hydrated and fueled on something smarter than a blood donor center cookie…what better snack than an RX bar at a hospital haha?!? After a quick recovery I wandered upstairs…

The chapel was a beautiful place to release my concerns, leaving them to the guy in charge. Feeling peace filled, I returned to the waiting room for an update from my husband and his aunt. I spent some time blogging a great recipe, then it was off to lunch. I advocated for a place across the street, an escape from those four walls where I chose a nourishing lunch to be proud of…salmon salad for the win!

We were already starting to feel some exhausting effects of being up at 4 am, but our day was far from over. Heading back to the waiting room to find surgery was still underway.

I find it so interesting that if the Mayo Clinic calls sitting the next smoking, why in the world are there no treadmills in waiting rooms? Think of the power they could generate to make Mayo greener too?!? I mean, just a thought, Friends.

It was time for me to move more, so I racked up some steps exploring this fine historic piece of Rochester like a tourist.

The courtyard was a great place to breathe deep!

Then back inside for an educational look at St. Marys beginning, like this first operating table designed and constructed by Dr. Charles H. Mayo in 1889! There are some pretty cool relics in that heritage hall.

Back upstairs to the waiting room where it is now well into the afternoon…still in surgery. I take some time to catch up on e-mails, school notifications, scheduling, snack. This place is still filled with nervous people and energy and it isn’t long before I’m back out wandering the halls to avoid them.

A stop in the gift shop for an essential oil boost gave me some energetic support I was hoping for. I continued out onto the grounds to this amazing little place.

What a thoughtful spot for some peaceful meditation. I sort of lost myself there, lost all track of time. I received a text that although surgery was still in progress, we were being moved up to the ICU floor, so I headed that way. And just like that, I was validated for my efforts…

Hit my 10,000 step daily goal…BOOM!

More family joined us and soon I was feasting on a well-balanced, calorie counted hospital cafeteria dinner that was AWESOME. It was time to settle in for some relaxation and zone out on the NFL Kickoff.

We didn’t get word from the surgeon until nearly 9 pm that the day’s efforts had been a success…nearly 12 hours I might have spent worrying, I left the impatiens to the flowers outside lol!

We knew she was in the hands of one of the world’s finest neurosurgeons…so thank goodness I’ve learned that worry changes nothing but my blood pressure and weight!

After some reflection and time spent within those walls, I am fired up, now more than ever, about wellness as a defense against aging/illness. It was an exhausting day for all of us, but I slept well knowing I had taken great care of me…put my Best Foot Forward!

I look forward to driving past that hospital again soon, filled with gratitude for what miracles they work there but thankful every day that I don’t need one!

 

My September Goal…Back to Basics!

Happy September, fellow FIT BFFs! Parents across the country are breathing a sigh of relief. They’ve survived another action-packed summer and it’s time for the kids to go back to school! It’s time for students to be reunited with friends and return to a predictable schedule.

This becomes the perfect time for parents to return to themselves, so to speak. Back-to-school season is a great time for parents to get motivated, to refocus on their own personal goals…that’s what I’m doing.

Although I’ve lost a significant amount of weight within the past 5 years, I’ve experienced the slow and silent creep of partial regain. Hey, it happens, but I refuse to beat myself up over it. Instead, I’m reminding myself (and anyone else who’s interested) just what it’s going to take. This is what I’m calling my…

Brightly Colored Childrens Toy Magnetic Alphabet Letters on White Background

A is for Attitude, make sure it’s the positive kind.

is for Breathe…take time to quiet your mind and soul.

is for Calories, yeah, they count. Read those labels and stick to a serving size. One.

is for Determination. Some days will be easy but others you’ll need to dig deep. You’ve got this!

is for Every Day…a fresh new opportunity to be successful, so go for it!

is for Food! Remember it’s fuel and your stomach is not a garbage can!

is for Goals. Set them. Reach them. Set more!!!

is for Hard! Heck yeah, it’s hard! If it weren’t, everyone would do it!

is for Inspiration…look for it in others, never stop seeking it out. Soon you’ll be inspiring others too.

is for Journaling. Write down everything you eat…EVERY. SINGLE. THING!!!

K is for Keep Going! Start over as many times as it takes…just keep going!

L is for Lifestyle Changes…lots of little modifications make big differences. Huge.

M is for Mindful Eating. Eat at the table. Don’t rush or distract yourself with TV, computer or phone.

is for Never Give Up. Ever!

is for One Day at a Time. Results take time; be patient! Yesterday is over and tomorrow isn’t here yet, so focus on today.

is for Promise…promise yourself that you will see this through. All the way!

is for Quit, don’t you dare! And, for Pete’s sake, quit saying ” I can’t.”

is for Reward Yourself. You’re working so hard and you deserve it; buy that new pair of (running) shoes!

S is for Sleep! Get it. Lots of it. You need it….enough said.

is for Try New Things. Try it all…new activities, classes, ideas, foods and recipes.

is for Unstoppable. Convince yourself that you are, and you ARE!

V is for Vegetables. Eat them, all kinds of them; they are a weight loss friend!

is for Water…drink it often. Lots of it!

is for eXercise. Often. Do the active things you enjoy frequently.

is for You Are Not Alone. Many are on similar journeys. Find them and support one other.

Z is for Zero Regret….what you will have when you give it all you’ve got!!!

Although this may seem a vague goal, I’ll be reminding myself of these ABCs daily to move forward in the month of September, mind, body and spirit. I’d love to hear from you…what’s your plan this month?

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?

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!

Packing for Road Trip Success

Happy Weekend, fellow FIT BFFs! As I’m packing up for a girls’ getaway, I’m taking time to be mindful. Although I plan to have a blast, I also have every intention of moving foward toward my health goals. It only takes a few moments to consider how you can healthify any road trip.

As soon as I’ve made travel plans, I begin thinking about what my time away will look like, what activities it will include and how I can weave some extra activity within that schedule. I look for any notable outdoor attractions as well as any interesting fitness locales that catch my eye…fun stuff I don’t have at home. It is also crucial to think about meals and do a little research to find some healthy dining-out options. Once plans are formed, it becomes easier to pack for success.

I make sure I have twice as many workout clothes as I think I might need…you never know! I toss a pair of hiking boots and running shoes in the trunk. I never leave home without my water bottle.

A past trigger I had was buying junk at gas stations to munch on. To combat this, I now try to eat a meal at home before I leave and pack some healthy snacks for those stops along the way. I’m much less likely to buy chips, candy bars, etc. if I have options in the car.

One last tip I can recommend is to fit a last-minute workout into your schedule before you leave. If you will be on the road a while, you’ll be starting off ahead and will, more than likely, continue on your route to travel success!

Friends, it’s just that simple…a little premeditated mindfulness goes a long way. Next time you have a trip coming up, give it a try; you’ll be ready to hit the road to good health!

Don’t Forget to Love YOU!

Happy Valentine’s Day, fellow FIT BFFs! It’s kind of like any other day around here for me; I’m in love with an amazing guy. He’s loved me at my worst and supported me toward my best. I don’t know where I’d be today without him, but of one thing I’m very sure…I’m blessed.

I know this day is difficult for many. For some, it’s a yearly reminder they’ve yet to find the one. For others, it holds pain of past relationships. Many are reminded of loved ones that they’ve lost. And still others are suffering the effects of loving others so completely that they’ve neglected themselves.

Many put so much passion and energy into our significant other, our children or others, that there’s nothing left for ourselves. I’ve been there, and although I thought that was my responsibility as a wife and mother, it left me ingnored, overlooked. At the risk of sounding selfish, it has taken me several years to realize I deserve at least as much of my attention as I give anyone else. I mean if you don’t take care of yourself, who will?

I encourage you to devote a few moments today (and every day) to administer some self love. Get yourself in front of a mirror and look lovingly into your eyes. It may seem awkward at first, but that just means you need to get reacquainted. Smile! No, really…SMILE! If you are kind to others, you certainly deserve that same kindness, so it’s time to tell yourself some important things. Choose a few or all of these self affirmations or others of your choice (but keep it positive!!!) and tell that lovely person in the mirror…

  • I accept myself unconditionally.
  • I am beautiful.
  • I am strong.
  • I believe in me.
  • I am important.
  • I deserve happiness.
  • I am talented.
  • I am capable of accomplishing my dreams.
  • I am worthy of success.
  • I can do anything.
  • I am loved.

Again, this may feel strange at first, but that just means you need to talk to that wonderful person much more often! Take this strategy with you. Anytime you need a pick-me-up, put these affirmations to work. Repeat them in your mind and heart again and again. Choose the ones that resonate with you and convince yourself you mean them.

We all deserve to be loved, Friends, not just today, but everyday. Remember to treat yourself at least as well as others around you, then let that love shine! One more way we can all put our Best Foot Forward!

 

Monday Makeover

Happy Monday, Friends! Yes, I said happy! Some of you may not share my enthusiasm for that sentiment. There is one attitude surrounding Monday that is anything but positive.

Not long ago, I would have called the Happy Monday notion an oxymoron. I used to look forward to Mondays about as much as getting a flu shot or paying bills…but why? Monday is that day after the weekend when people are forced to return to the daily grind, the day we are thrown back into the insanely-paced, over-scheduled reality. At the time, a Monday seemed anything but happy.

I’m glad to say a lot has changed for me since then. Gradually, I’ve made many small, mindful shifts that have helped make Monday one of my favorites. I understand we all live with our own set of circumstances, therefore, some of these ideas may seem ludicrous to you.

I left a position that silenced my happiness; I didn’t want to work myself deeper and deeper into a job that left me yearning for retirement…life is way too short already! If your career is robbing you of your joy, it may be time to rethink that path.

A very simple thing I do to set the tone for the week is make the bed. It doesn’t seem like much, but it gives me a sense of accomplishment right away, every day. And as I’ve heard somewhere, “The state of your bed is the state of your head.” Not only does it look better, it keeps me from wanting to crawl back in.

I began purposefully devoting time every Monday to embracing gratitude. It’s amazing what abundance we can experience if we consider what we have, rather than what we don’t or what we wish we did have.

A cup of coffee and some time of reflection and journaling remind me my appreciation has developed far beyond the material. I find myself most grateful for my faith, loved ones/friends, good health and resilience. It’s awesome what little we actually need to feel complete. And what a wonderful feeling to radiate on a Monday!

I find no matter how I ate over the weekend, Monday is a perfect opportunity to reset. It’s a great day to refocus my efforts on cleaning up my eating, to be aware of what’s on the schedule so I can set myself up for success throughout the week. A bit of planning affords problem solving and positive choices.

My Monday morning workout is a must, and if it’s outdoors in a locale I love…even better! I take this time to set positive intentions for my week. Now that this has become habit, I really notice a difference if it doesn’t happen…like my whole week is off. That’s why I’ve come to defend this time and work hard to Never Miss a Monday!

Of course your schedule and priorities look much different than mine. If it works for you, that’s awesome! But if you find yourself in the blahs whenever a Monday rolls around, it might be time to consider a Monday Makeover! After all, everyone deserves a Happy Monday!