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?