Friday, June 17, 2016

In Honor of the Men in my life...

Not only is this weekend Father's Day, but did you know that June is Men's Health Month?

Although I talk a lot about my own health and fitness journey, there is more to it than that. I'm surrounded by some amazing men in my life.

My Dad, the man who raised me, has been on his own health journey a few times throughout his life.  After seeing my progress, he decided to make some changes once again.  He got rid of his sugary vices and introduced healthy eating habits along with increased exercise.  His extra weight fell right off! Apparently I get some of my determination from him because with many things he decides "this is just not an option. It's not part of the plan" and he sticks with it.   While I was losing weight, I had to do the exact same thing.  Moderation for many things is good, but for our vices (ice cream is mine) we just have to say no.  For me, and for my Dad, it's about finding healthier alternatives. A salad with dinner instead of french fries, a handful of nuts instead of that candy.
Check out this site for a bunch of healthy snack ideas!

My husband, my biggest supporter in this, has always led a fairly active lifestyle. He grew up in the country playing outside and  riding his bike to see his friends.  As an adult he has an active job while still enjoying snowboarding, kayaking, and a general inclination for manual work.
As I increased my fitness level and he began to participate in my new lifestyle even more, he did start to see where he could make some changes.  He was still drinking quite a bit of soda, eating pretty much anything he wanted, and snacking (not always the best choices) at night. During the mud runs we did last year, he could dominate the obstacles, but saw that his endurance for the running portions was lacking.

He also hadn't had a physical in quite a while. Did you know that women are 100% more likely to visit the doctor for annual examinations and preventative services than men?!  This is according to the CDC.   Considering many health conditions can be detected early with regular screenings... I wanted him to make this appointment.  Luckily, he's pretty healthy and I should be able to keep him around for quite a while (I'd like the next 40-50 years together).

This spring he has started to make intentional fitness more of a priority. Twice a week, he goes for a morning walk or jog before starting his day. He also comes with me to my favorite hiking spot whenever we can make it work.   He is trying to make healthier food choices as well, but I would still love to make him eat more fruits and veggies!

Another huge part of my changes and the fact that my husband is committed to being more active is that we are encouraging active family time and an active life for our littlest guy.   He will say to me, "Mamma, why are you going to exercise?"  I always tell him I'm doing it because it's good for me.  He loves hearing about my races and always asks me if I won.   We built a 4 foot wall in our backyard to train for the obstacle course races and guess who LOVES getting over it?  The almost 4 year old!  So much that we have signed him up for a little 1/2 mile obstacle course run.

I want my son to know how important it is to make healthy choices and to love our bodies.  Moving, staying active, finding sports we love, and eating good food is all part of it.  I never want him to experience the painful reality of being very heavy.  

Hiking near a waterfall at one of our local parks

Spending time outside is our favorite! 

Don't get me wrong... sometimes getting an almost 4 year old (one who is strong-willed) to eat is a struggle. He loves candy and sweets.  But we are lucky, he also LOVES fruit! Peaches, watermelon, and grapes are some of his favorites.  He also enjoys cucumber and corn on the cob!
Sometimes we make smoothies with his favorite fruits and they feel like a treat!
Need more snack ideas for your toddler? Click here!

My fitness and health journey goes beyond me... it's about the people I love and I happen to love a lot of men - young and old!  The middle kiddo just turned 17 and he's gearing up for boot camp in another year.  I promise he'll be doing more workouts with me to make sure his body is prepared!  If you are a fitness nut, make sure you're encouraging the guys in your life to be active, eat good food, and go for their annual physicals!

Tuesday, May 24, 2016


It's been almost 5 months since I have written....  
I've been busy and I am proud to say, my journey hasn't stopped.   Perhaps it's not quite a journey anymore, but I have continued living this new life.

So far in 2016 I have done one race every month.
 The #bestiesrunning hashtag was in full force!
January we did the Securian Winter Run in downtown St. Paul, MN.   It was actually a beautiful winter day and was our best run to date.  We felt great and were really proud of ourselves!

In February we did a small race right in Hudson, WI.   The conditions weren't great - it was slushy and pretty cold, but we finished in under 30 minutes which was our goal!

At the very beginning of March, I had a bit of a scare.  One day, it felt like my left leg fell asleep. I didn't think much of it. I figured it was the heels I was wearing. The next day, I went to the gym and got on the treadmill.  I couldn't run. I looked down at my feet and at my left leg - they looked fine, but that damn leg wasn't working right.   I started to panic.  I got off the treadmill and got on the elliptical.  That seemed better.   But when I got off and started walking to the locker room, my left leg still felt weird.  It had this strange numbness and it felt like I couldn't pick up my foot all the way. I drove home crying and into Brandon's arms.   I did some stretching and used my roller as I cried; panicked that I would never run again and that something was seriously wrong.
The next day, I was still experiencing the symptoms and called my  nurse line. They urged me to get into the doctor right away.  I made an appointment with a doctor and left to go see him.   It was someone I had never seen before; he didn't know my history but I tried to explain how important fitness was to me.  He did some tests with poking each leg to see my sensation.  He said it could be my low back and we should order an MRI.  He also said there was a chance it could be something more serious, like MS.    Cue the panic again!
I went to the chiropractor and the acupuncturist that week too.  They had different opinions, but neither thought it was something so serious like MS.     I was starting to get some relief from the treatments at those providers so I decided to wait on the MRI of my low back.
I didn't do much running, I tried other things.   I cried and worried, but tried to reassure myself that life would go on even if I couldn't really run.

On March 19, I ran the Hot Dash with Krista and our Husbands.It had already been on the calendar prior to the leg issue, so... I went for it.
And I did it! I kept up with Krista in our usual running fashion.   I had to compensate for the left leg a little, but I felt so good finishing it; knowing I could still do a 5k.

With more rest, switching up my workouts a bit, my leg has been pretty good.  I firmly believe chiropractic care and acupuncture made a huge difference.   

In April, Krista and I did Goldy's Run at the U of M campus. Chuck joined us too!  It was a great race and we loved finishing on the field! No leg issues this time! 

We thought April was our last cold run... turns out, we got fooled by the weather when we signed up for our May 14th run - just a small town one in Elk River. The Officer Besser's Sunshine 5k.  It was cold and windy that morning and we stood outside way too long. Our muscles cramped up and we were generally miserable.  We still finished under 29 minutes! 

I've also been training for a 32 mile bike ride.   Not something I even thought would be a goal, but my mom asked me to do the Tour de Pepin with her.  That's coming up on June 4th. I have something planned every single month through September and there are a few events in the year after that I'm sure I'll sign up for.

Fitness has been the easy part.  Working out has become part of my life now.  I don't feel right if I skip more than a day.  I'm learning to incorporate more strength training into my routine and I can totally tell a difference.
Food... that's another story.  I realized along the way that I will always need to make "better choices".  I will never be the person that can eat whatever I want and not see any impact.  When I was trying to lose, I could be pretty strict with my diet and feel ok about it.  But with maintaining (hitting 130 pounds down - I'm good. lol), I needed to allow myself to eat more, be a little less strict, etc.   I had people telling me that I needed to allow myself more of the food I had cut out.   Here is the problem, if I'm being honest... let's say there is a box of my favorite chocolates on the table at an event.  Many people can have one, feel fulfilled, and walk away.  I have a very hard time doing that. I will take one, walk away... then I'll come back and tell myself "oh just one more".   If allowed, I could likely eat the whole box of chocolates.    That's why there are still some foods I won't eat.  Ice cream is a huge one.   I cannot go down that path again.  I will take one bite of my son's, but never order one for myself.
Admitting these things is scary - it is a reminder that at any time, I could gain everything back if I stop being so aware of my choices.

When people meet me for the first time, they see who I am now.  They don't realize where I have been.   Sometimes I feel this need to share the reality: "I was once 280 pounds - size 20/22.  This person you see here, is new. She's still learning, still figuring out what it means to be smaller, to maintain fitness and good eating habits.  And her body... it shows that she wasn't always nice to it."

This summer I will wear a bikini for the first time.  Not because I have the perfect body (because believe me, I don't), but because any woman can.    I have seen women of all sizes in bikinis and I always think they are brave and beautiful.  Why shouldn't I be brave?

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

The Article... My secret was out

I was going to write more about my journey, but the Pioneer Press kind of beat me to it.

My boss has been a part of the American Diabetes Association of Minnesota for years now. We have gone to their annual Gala 5 times!   My boss happened to mention my progress to the director and she asked if I would be willing to talk to them.   See... years ago now, I was told that I was pre-diabetic. This was along with my diagnosis of PCOS.    Weightloss was always suggested, but honestly, I ignored it for a long time.

I wrote up a short little description of what I had been doing and sent it to the director at the MN ADA.   The next thing I know - I'm getting a call from the Pioneer Press so they can use me for a story - with before and after pictures! Up until that point, I hadn't been too public about the amount of weight I had lost.  But there it was one evening practically going viral on Facebook.
I had hit 100 pounds lost that week.

Friends were sharing the article left and right. People were commenting - telling me what an inspiration I was.   In all reality - I was a little embarrassed.  Embarrassed because it was admitting to the world that I started 100 pounds heavier. I can't really explain all of the emotions about the attention, but I will tell you that I had only told a handful of people that the article was happening. I didn't really plan on telling everyone.   I'm not sure why I thought I could get away with that little secret.

I never thought I would lose 100 pounds. My initial goal was 85 and I hit that on July 22nd.  I had a "Stretch Goal" of 100 - like MAYBE.   And there it was in October.   Maintenance has been hard. I've lost more since October. More than I really meant to, but I'm trying to figure it out.   I need to eat more than I was before, but obviously not too much! And I still want to eat the right things (most of the time).  I also want to keep working out - fitness has become huge for me.

Say What?? Fitness?? 

I used to say that I would only run if someone was chasing me (that someone being a murderer or a zombie).  Well this year I decided maybe running would be a good idea.

In July we did the Color Run. I ran parts of it and finished the 5k in about 46 minutes.

Then I did the Dirty Girl Mud Run with my bff, Krista. This was my first 5k with mud and obstacles!
I ran as much as I could - I would catch up to Krista at the obstacles so we could do them together. I conquered a fear of going down a fireman pole (with Krista yelling at me from the bottom).  I felt amazing afterwards!

Then.. it was Rugged Maniac.  The real test of my mud/obstacle running.  I am so thankful that my amazing hubby stuck with me (for the most part).  This was hard. It was up a ski hill numerous times, the obstacles were way harder.  Going over some of the walls was impossible without his assistance.  But you know what? I finished in about an hour and 14 minutes.  Thank goodness for Best Friends being there with me!

Krista and I did a Halloween Run too - a 10k.  That was a push! I had to stop to walk a bit more than I would have wanted, but I had been sick that week. It was also rainy and cold that day.  But once again, we finished it! I think it took about an hour and 12 minutes. Somewhere around there...

The following weekend was the Chocoholic Frolic. I had signed up alone, but lots of other people said they were doing it.  That day came and most people had to miss it for one reason or another.   So it ended up being my first race completely alone.  I made myself run more than I ever had.   The hubby and T were there to watch me finish and cheer me on.   It was my fastest 5k yet! Under 34 minutes.

My final run of 2015 was on Thanksgiving.... with Krista of course!  It was a 6k and although it was raining a bit when we first arrived, it turned to snow as we started.  Krista is a great running partner... all of a sudden we did a mile and I was like holy crap, I did a whole mile without stopping! Then it was 2... at one point I told her my legs hurt and she said "ok, keep pushing. We can slow down, but you are not walking."   So not only did I meet my goal of running/jogging an entire 5k, but I did 6k :-) It was a great feeling and I was thrilled to get that medal! 
Along with my jogging, I have also been doing R.I.P.P.E.D at the YMCA and some Zumba during the lunch hour at work.  Krista has been showing me a bit more weight training as well.
Some days, I don't know who I am.  Other days, I realize maybe I am exactly who I was meant to be - finally.

They always say that it takes a while for your brain to catch up to your body when you have a large weight loss and I am finding that it is SO true.  Sure, when I pick up clothes I say "this will never fit" and magically, it does.   But stranger is that when I am walking through a crowd, in my head I still feel like that size 20 girl. I feel self-conscious walking to the restroom in a bar or restaurant like everyone is looking at the fat girl walking through.   The one that although she might feel cute that night, no one else would take a second look.
I told my husband this and he said "but you aren't that girl anymore. No one is looking at you and seeing a big person"
I'm not sure that feeling will ever go away.... 

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

The Evolution...

So where was I?  I started MyFitnessPal.... and I pretty much told my work team that they should all do it too. We focused on drinking a ton of water, working out as a team, and logging our food. Realizing how many calories were in my "normal" foods was a complete eye opener.
That super yummy Caribou Cooler I loved? Between 400 and 500 calories.  I started realizing how I had gotten back up to my highest weight, but I also realized that it was possible to change things.
I can't be like some of the people around me; eating and drinking whatever they want with no real impact to their waistline. That's just not how I'm built and I need to be ok with that.

There were moments I wasn't ok with it; lets be honest.  A couple weeks into things we went to a big event with a lot of friends. I was trying to be REALLY good with my eating and my drinking. I ended up having a panic attack, but thankfully my husband talked me through it and my bestie took me to a Zumba class the next morning. 

2 months into my journey, I had lost about 30 pounds.  Exercising was starting to become a habit and my work team was on the road to a healthy lifestyle with me!  We set a big goal as a team and would workout in the gym at work or around town! Each week at weigh-in, I was surprised at the progress that I was making.

March 31, 2015 in our fitness center at work

March 29, 2015, walking in my neighborhood
April 15, 2015, walk with  my work team by our local stadium

What I realized in the beginning...
Food had been my comforter for far too long.  On bad days (before all of this), my amazing, wonderful, loving husband would go get me ice cream.  He did it because he knew that for a little while, this made me happy.  Taking away this comfort was hard.  There was one day where I was stressed out and emotional and I sat down and cried because I didn't know what to do. I couldn't eat to make myself feel better!

Things that were REALLY hard in the beginning started to become less hard. It is possible to go from super out-of-shape to the person who works out every day.

Team accountability makes a HUGE difference. It made me weigh-in each week, it made me WANT to meet my goals, and we forced each other into working out even if we didn't all want to.

My husband can change from the amazing, loving person who gives me ice cream to the amazing, loving person who always makes sure I have time for a workout and makes sure I have food that I can eat wherever we are. He is a huge support to me.

I was changing my life right in front of my own eyes... No more saying NO.
For Mother's Day, I played paintball with the middle kid at his request.  I said YES to Paintball.

For our anniversary, on May 22nd, I went kayaking for the first time!

I LOVE it!

I say yes when  my bff makes me try stuff! May 29th

I got a new bike

Monday, September 21, 2015

You've Always Been Beautiful...

Let's go way back... back to when I was young - elementary school even.  What is one thing that sticks out so clearly to me?   I was the fat kid. How did I know?  Well, there was the time when a few kids called me a whale as I walked off my bus (this was probably at age 7 or 8) or the time in 6th grade when a girl said, "why didn't you get a pull-over starter jacket? Couldn't find one to fit?"
I know, kids are mean. They will say horrible things for no reason at all or pick the one thing that will get to you and keep picking, but the weight wasn't imaginary. I was heavier than most of my classmates. I couldn't shop in the same stores as my friends, couldn't wear the same clothes, and had a woman's body much earlier than some.   I lost some at one point in high school, but it came back plus more - especially during college.

Sure, I always had a boyfriend and people would tell me I had a gorgeous face.  I had friends who always said they loved my style even if I couldn't shop in a normal store.
But what was always in the back of my head?   - If only I was thinner - life would be so much better.
I feel like that's what we're taught by the media and society as a whole.  Heavy/Fat = BAD.  Thin = Good and Happy.    

In 2010 I lost about 40 pounds before our wedding. Over the course of the last 5 years, it came back. Working at a new job, then going through the adoption process, and then being a new mom - I allowed myself to go back to eating whatever I wanted.  I knew I had gained and I knew that I wasn't making the best choices, but... I don't know... it didn't quite hit me.

Then, on January 28, 2015 I had a doctor's appointment. They weighed me and for some reason this time I looked at the number they wrote down. I was shocked to see I was back to my highest weight.
I went to work that day and I think cried a little and told my work team that I needed to make a change.  That was the beginning of something...
I went home and talked to Brandon about it - I was so upset. How could I do this to myself? How could I let it all come back? How did I not notice??  I couldn't continue to live like that.

The next day I signed up for MyFitnessPal, an online tool that helps you track your food, count calories, and your exercise.

September 2014

December 2014

To be continued...

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Remember Us?

So it's been a couple of years since I've posted. It's amazing how busy life can get and all of a sudden that baby that you dreamed about is three years old, talking non-stop, with tons of sassy attitude and smarts.


I can't even explain how he is this old. How that sweet baby turned into a kid.  A kid who is fearless on the playground, but hates loud noises and still wants us to hold his sippy when he has milk.  A kid who has been known to say "Mom, you can't tell me no" but then also says "Mom, will you sit with me and snuggle?"   I walked into the house yesterday and he said "Mom!!!!" with a  huge smile on his face then asked "Mom, how was your day? Good?"   Sometimes Brandon and I look at each other and just smile.  Even in the moments where he is throwing a fit, I'm amazed at him.  He almost climbed up the fridge the other day while trying to get a toy we took away!  He completely explains the term "threenager" at some points.  
A few other things about our 3 year old... he's totally potty trained during the day. We were so lucky here. It was pretty darn easy!    His favorite tv shows at this moment are Lego Ninjago and Octonauts. We wants a lot of Netflix rater than actual TV.   He saw his first movie in the theater last week - Inside Out.   He says he wants to be a firefighter when he grows up.  His favorite people besides mom & dad are Grandma (my mom) and a friend's daughter who babysits sometimes.  He begs to go see them.

Why did I post now? Well.. I've had some major changes in my life, but it didn't seem right to switch subjects without giving an update on this handsome little man who stole my heart!

Friday, August 30, 2013

Wait... he turned ONE??

I know, I've been horrible at keeping up with the blog.    I had no idea that I would never have time to sit down at the computer!  I can keep up with Facebook and Instagram just fine, because I have my smart phone.  Updating a blog is a whole different story!
Somehow, time has flown by.   My teeny, tiny, sweet little baby boy turned ONE YEAR OLD on July 25th.
The weeks leading up to that day were very emotional for me.  It was saying goodbye to my life as a mommy to  a BABY.  Never again will I have that experience.  From the moment he first held my hand to the moment he put his birthday cake in my mouth.... I have discovered an amazing, true, love that can only be felt when you become a mommy.

We were lucky enough to be surrounded by friends and family at his birthday party, which my mom helped me throw.   It was a Little Man theme with mustaches and ties!  He won't remember, but this momma sure will.  He was spoiled of course and received so many lovely gifts.

12 Month Stats:
20 pounds, 8 oz
31 inches tall
5 teeth
Taking a few steps (probably up to 10 on his own)

Shortly after his birthday, we got his hair cut!!  I cried when they removed all of that hair!  We did bring him to a barber shop that is predominately African American men and they decided taking most of his hair off with the clippers was the best thing to do. They told me it will grow back in with his natural curl pattern.  It still broke my heart a little! 

Now at 13 months, the kid is walking like it's his job. He is also CLIMBING a lot!  I find him standing on chairs, trying to go up the stairs by himself, standing on boxes, etc.  He even started trying to climb INTO his crib.   He definitely has a mind of his own and is trying to figure out how he can get what he wants.  He screams, he throws fits, and tests the limits.  He also giggles like crazy, has the best smile, and gives lots of snuggles and hugs.  And his hair is growing back and is actually pretty cute now :-)
Mommy and T (with oldest Brother in the corner) while camping in August