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

 

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?

The Close of a Very Good Chapter

While raising two teenage boys, I often wondered what it would be like to have some girl time. Several years ago I’d seen a booth at a community event promoting a local mentorship program and knew it was speaking directly to my heart. The idea simply refused to leave me alone, so a year ago I acted on it.

Meeting up for a couple hours a week, we’ve had an unforgettable year. Running and bicycling are major components of this program and I love both, but Kiara was less of a fan; so the goal we set was to sample as many experiences as we could squeeze into that year, like Zumba on the Plaza…

Some orienteering and hiking…

 

And more hiking…

  

We worked on some tennis skills…

 

Headed to the pool…

Did some impressive cardio and strength training…

  

We did manage to hop on a bike a few times on open trails and studio cycling class.

 

We even climbed the walls!

  

We took some cooking classes and tried new foods like parfaits and pancakes and hummus, oh my!

We just kept showing up for one another, laughing all the way!

 

Playing hard was our job and we rocked it!

 

We met some great people like former Minnesota Vikings quarterback Tommy Kramer.

And hometown legend Darrell Thompson…we’ll forgive him for playing for the Green Bay Packers haha, because he’s the outstanding president of Bolder Options!

Motivational speaker, Inky Johnson inspired us to keep moving forward no matter what!

And that was valuable advice because throughout the disappointment and unpredictability associated with an injury and a halt to my beloved running, Kiara was the constant that kept me focused and determined. We just got creative and kept going…like to the library!

And her first yoga class, namaste!

One of my favorites was taking her on her first snowshoe trek. Yeah, she really blazed the trail!

  

This mentorship never felt like work because we played our way through the year!

  

What a treat to throw animals into the mix!

 

We did sneak in some volunteer “work” but that was fun too!

 

And went right back to play, although sometimes it was one heck of a workout. So proud of Kiara for squatting, lunging and drumming her way through BarreAmped and Pound Fusion. I don’t think we ever sweated more!

 

Where did time go? This week after countless adventures together, we graduated from Bolder Options stronger and more confident than ever. But I don’t think this is the end for us…it’s merely the close of a very good chapter.

Have You Met TED?

I was getting a few things done around the house yesterday, not really feeling in the zone, when all of a sudden, sheer awesomeness came straight at me! This is not at all out of the ordinary as, thankfully, it happens quite often. I LOVE that!

I got my hands on tickets to last night’s TEDxZumbroRiver in my hometown of Rochester, MN. I knew my attitude was about to make a u-turn. I know this because I know TED!

Have you met TED? Trust me, you would know if you did! TED is not a guy, it’s an amazing idea…rather an enormous collection of ideas worth spreading. TED started back in 1984 as a conference where Technology, Entertainment and Design were united. TED is a contagious nonprofit spreading thoughts and ideas all over the world.

I became acquainted with TED talks on a Delta flight, where I found I couldn’t get enough! I watched each talk available on the plane’s entertainment system. These short, yet powerful talks inspired me to think and dream right there on that plane! Hungry for more at the end of the flight, I got on TED’s website and was simply blown away by its abundance…over 2400 talks in more than 100 languages, just waiting to inspire its captivated viewers. I was hooked!

I’ve often thought about how cool it would be to attend a live TED event; and just like that, I found myself at TEDxZumbroRiver!

TEDx events are independently organized community experiences offered all over the world. Last evening’s TEDx program consisted of some fascinating speakers from Southeastern Minnesota and beyond, each sharing insightful messages aimed toward the theme of what’s possible.

Mind blown.

Friends, next time you’re not really feeling in the zone, take the opportunity to explore TED talks. You may lose all track of time, but the inspiration available will be worth every minute you spend there. Fellow FIT BFFs, check out a plethora of health and wellness topics sure to motivate.

Simply stated, you’ll be glad you met TED!

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!

 

Just the Beginning

Friends, it took me a few days to process the closure which occured this week. The words were not readily available, and they continue to escape me. But I want to attempt to share the best I can. My 4 1/2 year stint with a dietician, health coach and trainers has drawn to a close. I was astounded at the multitude of memories and emotions that bubbled up surrounding my final training session, weigh-in and coaching appointments. Profound Gratitude, Friends!

I remember the broken woman I was when I first met each of these life-changers. When I take time to reflect on that time in my life, I’m inevitably and instantly in tears. I was absent back then, in a deep dark hole of despair. I was (246 pounds) morbidly obese, aimlessly suffering the loss of a loved one, medicated for high blood pressure and feeling out of touch with everything and everyone. Lost.

But now, when I look back at the infinite things each of these people taught me, tools they provided, confidence they instilled, patience, heart and soul they shared…I’m simply blown away at what a gift this experience was and is. And when an old tendancy attempts to creep in…worry, the fear of future failure, I shut that stuff down immediately because I’m no longer defined by a number or a diagnosis. I am strong, healthy, empowered, loved, determined, inspired, dedicated, focused, centered, healed and whole. Found.

I hesitate to call this my before/after because it’s not. It’s simply then and now; not at all the end, rather, Just the Beginning of anything I dare to dream!

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!

 

Finding My Joy

Friends, those of you who’ve met me more recently would be surprised to know, it wasn’t long ago I was in a rather dark place. I was overweight, overscheduled, overwhelmed. I fell for the perfectionist trap in so many aspects of my life. When I often fell short, I dug myself deeper into a sense of failure. Despair.

I made it my mission to be in control of situations in an attempt to make everyone else happy. It was an exhausting existence. One which consumed me with worry…suffocating every chance for personal fulfillment. See, in living in this manner, I unknowingly left myself out of the equation time and again. If you had asked me what my hopes and dreams were, I couldn’t give you an answer because I was running the program, going through motions that never made sense but seemed expected. It was just what the women in my family had done for generations. In trying to measure up to certain standards, I found myself constantly falling short.

How did I get to this place? I had the love of family and friends…the support was always right there for the asking. But I was missing the integral puzzle piece to my wholeness…ME.

I’d become so caught up in the frantic pace of pleasing others, attempting to meet everyone else’s needs, I forgot myself. Ignored me. It has taken me 4 1/2 years to shift my focus from looking away to looking within. At first it felt terribly self-centered, but wasn’t that the point? Don’t we all need to meet our own needs first in order to be of any help to others? YES!

I admit, this was a terrifying concept at first, because putting myself at the top of my list of priorities negated everything I thought I knew. Yup, this was a scary place. But, little by little, I’ve chipped away at the senseless expectations in my head, jumped clear from my comfort zone, again and again, to create a profound sculpture of a healthier, happier me.

I’m no longer smothered by worry or expectation. I’m trying new things almost daily to point me toward my life purpose. I’m not only able to dream again, I’m living those dreams! And the result? Contentment. Exhilaration. Pure JOY! These are great feelings to take into the new year.

Friends, set aside some quiet time this week to focus on YOU…one more way to put your Best Foot Forward