Tag Archives: strength training

A Letter

As we sit down to celebrate Christmas with our family and friends, I’d like to share a quick note to those who are already looking ahead to 2013 with hopes of taking control of their health and fitness — once and for all.

Dear New Year Newbie,

Welcome! I know this was a big, scary step for you to take after all these years of saying “tomorrow’s the day.” I know because I’ve been there. It wasn’t the new year when I took that first step in to the gym. But, for me — like for you, it was a brand-new start.

I’ve walked in your shoes, and I know that it can be hard to take that step, wondering what those other people must think of you when you walk through that door. But, don’t be too scared. Most people in the gym are there for the same reason: To take control of their health and to reap the benefits of exercise.

Now, you may hear people bemoaning the presence of the “Resolutionists.” I won’t lie to you: it’s true that some people will roll their eyes or make snide comments about your presence in the gym, knowing that many who “start fresh” on Jan. 1 don’t last through February.

But, I also promise you: it’s not everyone. Some people will welcome you to the gym and provide encouragement and advice (sometimes unsolicited). A majority, though, will go about their business, lifting weights, running on the treadmill or punching the heavy bag. They probably won’t even know you’re there. Because when they’re in the gym, they are there to do work — and, truthfully, they don’t care what anyone else is doing.

That last type? That’s me.

I go to the gym to get stuff done. Don’t be offended it I don’t make chit chat or approach you and say hello. Granted, if we make eye contact, I’ll absolutely smile and say “hi.” And, if you come up to me with a question, I’ll take out my headphones and answer. (OK, if I see someone looking really lost, I’ll ask them if they need help.)

I do know it’s scary to go to the gym alone because you’re afraid everyone’s looking at you, judging you. Rest assured, they’re not. Most people are like me: They want to get a good workout in, so they’re really not judging (or even noticing) the other people who walk through the door.

But, I do offer a few words of advice to make your first days in the gym a little smoother:

  • Learn the gym’s rules. If there’s a 30-minute limit to the cardio equipment, observe it. If you have to pre-register for a spin bike, do so. If there are certain lockers reserved for specific members, don’t use them.
  • Learn the “culture” of your gym. There’s a certain cycle/personality of every gym at different times of the day. For instance, I’ve learned that I’d rather lift in the morning because that’s when people are less chatty and more business when it comes to the gym. And I seldom have to push through a crowd of gossiping guys (and, yes, at my gym, it’s always the guys) to get to the weight bench. It may take time to really figure out the pulse of your gym, but you’ll be glad you did.
  • Use common courtesy. Don’t stand around blocking equipment while you’re chatting or resting or (for whatever reason) texting/gabbing on the phone. Be aware that there are other people in the gym, too. And be respectful. Oh, yeah, please (dear, God, please) wipe down the equipment after you use it.
  • Take advantage of the gym’s resources. Many gyms offer information, get-to-know-the-gym sessions, classes and nutrition resources that will help you reach your goals. What’s even better? Most of it is free.
  • Learn how to use the machines or weights or whatnot. If you don’t know how, ask. You’ll save yourself a lot of time — and injury. There is gym staff for a reason. And, if they’re not helpful, find another gym (if you can) where they are. Other gym-goers will most usually help when you ask them — as long as you do so courteously and appropriately.
  • Have confidence. Know that you’re there for one reason alone: you. And have faith in your own strengths and abilities. One thing about this new life you’re stepping into: You’ll quickly learn that you’re stronger than you ever imagined.
  • Forget them. Stop worrying about what other people in the gym are thinking about you and do what you know needs to be done. Once you get past that “ohmigoshwhataretheythinkingaboutme” hurdle, you’ll have a much more pleasant gym experience. Trust me. As soon as I realized no one really cared what I was doing in the gym (unless I was in their way), I stopped dreading the trip and started looking forward to it.
  • Don’t quit. You’re not going to be perfect at everything you attempt in the gym. I’ve failed at a lot — T2.5 often has to teach and reteach (and reteach) me how to do a lot of things. As someone who strives (STRIVES!) to be perfect in everything, this is hard for me. But, I grow so very much in the learning that it’s worth every failure when I finally succeed. So, please, please don’t give up. Love yourself to know — truly, deeply — that this is the best gift you could give yourself. And you are worth the work and the time and the money.

So, please, try not to be too nervous about the gym. I know that it can seem to be an intimidating place. But, once you get to know your gym, you’ll grow to love it and the feelings of empowerment and strength it can help you realize. And, if you ever doubt your strength — or your place in the gym — tell yourself, “I am worth this. I deserve this. I belong here.” Because you are, and you do.

I’m not an expert by any means, but I do know about my experiences (and my successes and my failures). And if you’d like to reach out and ask questions at any point along your journey, I’d love to answer them.



P.S. I’m really proud of you for setting these goals and making this commitment to yourself. You deserve only the best, and I’m excited to see how far you can go!

NApolean New YEar



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What’s Next?

Lest you think I’ve stopped thinking about my health and fitness goals, here’s an update on where I am.

Full disclosure: I’m still 28 pounds away from my “goal weight.” The closest I ever got was within 10 pounds. And then I trained for — and ran — a marathon. And I gained 15 pounds. And then, over the last year, I’ve gained 3 more.

I’m not mad. Or disappointed. Or stressed.

Sure, I like seeing the scale go down and feeling my efforts pay off. I like watching my muscles come out from underneath my loose skin. I like working really hard at a goal and succeeding. I like fitting into clothes I never thought I’d wear.

I mean, sure, I get mad at my body sometimes. Sad for a lack of progress. But I know why I’ve not made progress — it’s because I consciously made the decision over the past year to maintain where I am so I could focus on other areas of my life. (And, yes, I count the year’s 3-pound gain as a maintenance.)

I had been actively focusing on losing weight since late 2009. My mind, my body, my soul needed a break from the obsessive counting of what went in my mouth and calculating of calories for every activity I did. I needed a reminder of why I want to do this, why I want to be healthy. I needed to enjoy my progress and just live.

Besides, just because I’ve gained some weight doesn’t mean I’m a failure (she says to herself). It means I’m a 100 percent normal human being. This is normal life. A normal life I’ve loved living.

Making an effort at health and fitness isn’t so I can reach an ultimate goal weight. It’s so I can do things like, well, live an active life.

me and mr. b hiking

And do things instead of just think about them. And see things I never thought I’d get to see.

on the appalachian trail

Besides, the beautiful thing? I have the skills I need to get where I want to be. I know where I want to be and what I need to do to get there.

sitting on a rock

I’ve had my year to focus on enjoying my life, maintaining my fitness — treating myself sometimes more than I should and sleeping in sometimes more than I should. But it’s time to keep moving forward — and make the changes I need to make so 3 pounds doesn’t become 30 pounds.

The next step, as I look forward is to bring together what I know about leading a healthy, active life and incorporate that as Mr. B and I start our new life together as husband and wife, ensuring we’re both living our best lives possible — and taking care of ourselves so we can enjoy many more adventures together.

at niagara falls

Stay tuned as I dive back into training — a few half marathons on the horizon, and a brand-spakin’-new program from T2.5 to jumpstart things in the gym.

I hope Mr. B is prepared for what this means …


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Slimming Down the Lakeshore

I’m not ashamed to admit that I love this state. Michigan has a bad rep in the news media — for a lot of reasons. Some deserved; some notsomuch. But I love this place. And I absolutely love my fellow Michiganders — sorry, no matter how many times you try to tell me it’s now “Michiganians,” I will ignore you.

And it bothers me that Michigan is the 10th state in the nation for obesity rates of adults — a full 31.7 percent of my beloved Michiganders are obese, with the rate climbing every year. Last September, Gov. Rick Snyder presented an address on health and wellness, where he attributed approximately $3 billion in annual medical costs in Michigan to obesity. I could go on and on. But I won’t. You can read the depressing statistics for yourself in the links above.

My reason for this post? It’s not all doom and gloom. There are solid efforts among Michigan citizens to improve the overall health and well-being of the citizens of this great state. Personally, I try to share my story and talk about health and fitness as often as possible — to the annoyance of some. Because I know it’s a hard road, but it’s one people need not fear — especially in this land of plenty for outdoor adventure. There’s so much more of Michigan you can enjoy when you’re healthy and fit.

Someone else spreading the fitness love in The Great Lakes State is Cari Draft. Her latest effort, with the help of an extremely talented team, is the Lakeshore SlimDown Challenge. A quick backstory: I first “met” Cari through my participation in EcoTrek Fitness, which she founded.

Anyway, when Cari asked me to serve as one of the “appraisers” for the initial participant selection in the challenge, I didn’t even have to think twice. What an amazing way to share my love of a healthy, fit lifestyle with people who were truly seeking help.


I'm appraising.

The crew of six appraisers listened as 41 contestants shared their story — in two minutes or less — about why they needed Cari’s help. Some of them were easier to rule out than others, based on what they shared. (I can smell someone who fakes commitment from a mile away.) Others? It was tough. There were a lot of people who came out who were seriously grasping. In the end it was about commitment, desire, personality and drive. And eight were chosen.

The Trainer

Cari Draft

Cari Draft — full of energy and awesome tips —leads the Lakeshore SlimDown Challenge group.

Cari is an incredibly inspiring, outgoing and positive force in West Michigan’s fitness realm. As I mentioned, she founded EcoTrek Fitness. And she’s a personal trainer. But she’s ohsomuch more than that. Check out her blog and see for yourself.

Cari was approached by a former client, Darlene Cyr — a contestant in the challenge who works for David Loring Productions — about doing a “Biggest Loser”-esque type show in West Michigan. Cari, not a fan of “Biggest Loser” for several reasons, was game — as long as it wasn’t some “cheesy, local cable show.” After some discussion and compromising, the Lakeshore SlimDown Challenge was born.

“It’s not really about getting these eight individuals ‘skinnier’; it’s about providing the right tools to make real, long-lasting lifestyle changes — and have that happen in their real day-to-day lives,” Cari said. “We’re not shipping these people off to a ranch to do this. We need these changes to happen with the support of their family and friends. And hopefully these lifestyle changes will carry a ripple-out effect to those around them.”

In 2010, Cari was awarded the Presidential Council on Healthy & Fitness Community Leadership Award for EcoTrek Fitness providing communities new options to get fit and healthy outdoors. Only 50 of these awards are handed out each year across the nation.

“After receiving that prestigious award, I thought ‘What else can I do for the community to help them get healthier?'” Cari said. “And this challenge was the answer.”

The Participants

The contestants

Top Row: Brittany, Charlotte, Darlene, Diane; Bottom Row: Merila, Stacy, Don, Kendra

There simply isn’t enough space to share the stories of these eight wonderful people the way they deserve to be shared. (You should definitely check out the show.) But, let me just say, a couple of them made me cry. And several of them made me smile — really big.

To give you a taste of what some of these fine folks had to say, I thought I’d share a few quotes from my after-selection interview with them. Because you need to hear it in their words.

Darlene: “In the last year my 17-plus-year marriage ended and then I found a man that loves me for who I am and doesn’t mind the ‘curves.’ This took the pressure off of me to lose the weight for someone else. I am happy with my life, stances I took, the business woman I’m becoming and the love in my life. But I am NOT happy with the fact that I can’t physically do the things I want to do with Jeff and the kids. Now is the time because I have the support I need without any guilt or unrealistic expectations.”

Diane: “I lost 70 pounds last year and need to lose more and keep it off.” So, why now? “Something snapped and I started to get serious about it. (This time) my mind frame is different. I want to live healthy instead of just losing weight.”

Stacy: “My biggest challenges are remembering to make time for myself. Sometimes I get caught up in taking care of everyone else I forget to take care of myself …. After the challenge I want to just live an active and healthy life; I want to have fun with my boys and raise them to be happy healthy little people. I want people to know it can be done, and there are a lot of people out there to help if you need them.”

Don: “I would say that, at first blush, I along with many other people will say that their busy schedule is their biggest obstacle, but that really isn’t it at all. It’s my inability to prioritize health and fitness to the point that it is part of that busy schedule. Be it an excuse, or laziness, is immaterial — the priority has to be just that. I’ve always thought, ‘well, I can do this myself,’ and failed. This time I am really focusing on the learning about nutrition, and how it interacts with my fitness, and the leadership from Cari and the experts, I respect, and hope we can drive this home.”

Kendra: I entered Lakeshore SlimDown Challenge because I need a serious change in my life. Over the past six years I experienced a lot of tragedy … all the while trying to raise my three little girls (ages 10, 8 and 6). I lost myself just trying to cope on a daily basis. I was so depressed; I would literally get the girls off to school then go back to bed. I didn’t care about anything.  Last spring a friend of mine asked me to sign up for a half marathon in Vegas. I thought ‘what a great way to get past my depression — run away from it.’ I successfully ran my first half in December; it wasn’t pretty. I didn’t train well. I have the athletic ability but no discipline or structure. Therefore, when I heard about this I was so excited! I need accountability, boundaries and goals. I’m tired of living in the past, of waiting for my life to get better — if it has got to be it is up to me. It is time to change, time to look forward and time to live. I need to set a positive example for my girls. I want to run more races but not with this extra 40 pounds.”

The Show

The Lakeshore SlimDown Challenge is an eight-week fitness challenge, led by Cari. They meet every Monday at Anytime Fitness in Grand Haven, where they talk about their week and “enjoy” an group workout with Cari. Oh, and there’s a camera filming them while they do it. They also have “homework” from Cari to complete during the week, including everything from food makeovers to workouts. Throughout the week, they all stay in touch with each other — and the world — through a special Facebook group, open to anyone who wants to follow along, chime in or get some tips themselves.

Throughout the eight weeks, the show will be recorded — and will air Tuesday nights at 8 p.m. (Get the full details here.) What’s more, there’s a weekly radio show running concurrently, where Cari and the contestants — as well as special guests — talk health, fitness and, well, life.

Radio Time

I had the pleasure of joining Cari and some of the Lakeshore SlimDown Challenge crew on the air last weekend. I had a blast.

It was a complete joy — and my honor — to have a small role in this amazing effort to help get Michigan in shape — one, or eight, at a time. And, yeah, you can bet that as soon as my radio appearance is posted I’m going to be sharing it with you — even if I don’t know if I can bring myself to listen to it.

One last little bit of goodness — for those of you who stuck around ’til the end who want to know how you can take control of your life: “No. 1: Grab a buddy and move your body! Healthy living is contagious, but you’ve got to start,” Cari advised. “Go for a walk, breathe fresh air, nourish your body with fresh food and speak to a trusted health professional about what’s right for you!”

Or, as I like to say:

Feet on the floor, butt out the door.


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A Long-Run With the Best of Intentions

Today’s schedule called for 10 miles. I also had a 5k planned with my co-workers. Well, the starting line was between 7.5 and 7.8 miles to my house. I decided to run home from the race. Then, when I saw the weather report for today (it’s already almost 80 degrees), I decided to run to the race. No big deal — I just wouldn’t be running for any medals or records during the race. It was a fun race with a team of co-workers anyway.

Well, last night I went to one of my local running stores and spent some time chatting with the owner. I mentioned my plans for running to the race, and he pulled out a huge map of all the roads and helped me map a route that was A) not on a major highway and B) included some shade. Perfect! I had the route; I had the plan; I had my alarm set.

So I got up and ate my oatmeal pancakes (a MUST before any long run) and got ready while breakfast digested. Packed up a couple of Gus, filled my water bottle, slathered on some sunscreen and plugged in my headphones. I was off. As I was running I was thinking that the course seemed a little long. When I hit 6.5 miles, it became increasingly clear that there was no way I was going to make it to the starting line in time — much less pick up my packet and meet my team. At about mile 7.5, I called a teammate to pick up my packet and then come pick me up so I could make it to the race. I feel so bad for having to call her and take her away from the race — where she’d already parked and was ready to go. She wasn’t able to find me before she had to head it back to the race. So, I ran the whole way and made it to the starting line with six minutes to spare.

Guess what my Garmin said. Yep: 9.02 miles. I ran 9 miles to a 5k race, with another 3.1 miles stretching out in front of me. No worries, I knew I had it in me. But, since I wasn’t exactly planning on it, it was just a tad annoying. I decided to take it a bit slow and ran with one of my coworkers who was just back from maternity leave for her first run since a C-section. After running with her for the first 1.5 miles, I took off on my own to finish with whatever I had left in me.

Ended up finishing in 32:17. Not my best time — I’ve run much faster 5ks than that. But, I’m still happy with it. I got good mileage in today at an average 10-minute pace for all 12.27 miles. Yes, 12.27 — the 5k was actually 3.25 miles.

All in all, a good way to start the day. Not exactly how I envisioned it, but, all in all, I’m pleased.

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Loving Me — All 2,000 parts

I’ve never been one who hated her body. I can’t really remember a time when I looked in the mirror and thought that I looked disgusting or hated what I saw — no matter how cruel kids were to me or how few clothes I could fit in. Was I happy with my body all the time? Of course not.

There always were those parts of my body that I didn’t love. And I’ve always been self-conscious about certain parts of me. I’ve never really loved my calves. Too big for my liking. My shoulders have always been broad. Super broad. And my feet? Yeah, those were too big, too. My neck? I never even really had one. And I always wished my arms had a little more muscle and a lot less, well, fat. But hate? I think that word’s too strong — when talking about anything, really, not just my body.

I’ve always settled for what I had and made the best of it. I worked with what I had. And, yeah, for 28 years I never really made any effort to improve the parts I didn’t love. But now that I’ve lost weight, my body and I have reached a place in our relationship where I no longer just don’t hate her, I’m loving her — all 2,000 parts.

From the Tips of My Toes

When you start to lose weight, no one tells you your feet are going to shrink. Cuz they do. And I’m not just talking the width, either. That I would totally understand. My feet actually went down from a size 11 to a 9-1/2 or 10, depending on the brand. Still large by American shoe-size standards, but a much more workable size than I had before. Now, I can walk into nearly any shoe store and find something cute and flattering for my formerly fat feet. Before, the only place I could really find shoes to fit me was Payless or the men’s department. Now, this girl has choices! Honestly, though, the last thing I needed even more of was choices in the shoe department. That little “addiction” didn’t need anymore feeding.


Loving the ability to find shoes in my size almost anywhere. Not loving how much money it's costing me!

My calves have always, always been my least favorite body part. They were large man-calves with absolutely zero definition and no real difference between my ankles and my calves. I knew that they’d get smaller and more “appropriately” sized for this new body. And, boy, was I looking forward to that! I’ve tried peering at my new calves several times, and the gym mirror has been the best option for that. So, yeah, when I’m lifting weights, I sometimes flex my calf muscles and bend and sway and swivel so I can see what these calves have become. Still not a true view, as they’re backwards and upside down. The other night I gave into temptation to see what I was really working with down there. Let me tell ya: Surprise of my life. I no longer have to worry about concealing these calves! Thanks to countless hours running, spinning and weightlifting, these calves aren’t something to hide — they’re something to be proud of! And proud I am.

my calves and hamstrings

I still don't believe that these are my legs, my dreaded calves. Thank you running and spinning and weightlifting.

My thighs are large — still are — but they’re much firmer than they used to be, even with the loose skin that has taken up residency in the north. But they are strong. They do all I ask of them and more. They never complain. Well, sometimes they do speak up — but only to thank me (through pain) for a solid workout the day before. And my hamstrings? Well — shockingly! — they exist. They’re long and lean and gorgeous. I don’t appreciate them enough, I know, as they deserve more stretching and massages and attention from The Stick.

To the Curve of My Hips

My hips have always hidden beneath my under-stomach — that second roll of skin and fat that lived below my waist. But since that has started disappearing, my hips have made themselves known. They don’t always come out to visit, as they’re still hidden under some of that pesky loose skin. But when they do show up — when I’m lying down or turn just right when I step out of the shower or tighten my belt a little too much — I feel a sense of pride and appreciation for the future children they’ll one day (I hope) help me carry.

And then there’s my booty, my bum, my butt. I have one! I may complain every time I have to do a lunge or a squat. But then, I catch a glimpse of my glorious rump and can’t believe what I see. I love her, and (I think) she loves me!

my booty

I've become quite proud of this rump.

Did I mention a waist above? Never before have I paid attention to my “natural” waist — as so many pants manufacturers talk about. My natural waist was the area my indent was between my upper and lower abdomen. But now, turns out I have an actual, physical waist. And, yes, the cut of the jeans really does make a difference in fit and comfort.

Now, by breasts — or boobs or chest or whatever makes you comfortable — is the one area I’m not quite pleased with a shrinking size. I never had an ample bosom to start with, so to take away what I had has left me, eh, fair to middlin’. And they’re pretty well deflated — no perk, spunk or bounce left in ’em. But, if I have to trade the health of my body — and, quite frankly, the girls — for a little in the size department? Well, of course I’ll do it. Besides, I actually can shop at Victoria’s Secret now. And I do. And I love it.


With the right bra, even I can create the illusion of cleavage. (And, yeah, I have a cleavage freckle — and I love it.)

To the Strength of my Shoulders

Oh, baby, my arms. Where, oh where, did this definition come from? Well, I mean, I know where it came from. It came from many early morning hours lifting weights. But, I had no idea that arms that used to wibble and wobble and jiggle and joggle like mine could have muscle tone and definition. And that loose skin that just isn’t going away on my legs — no matter how many miles I put in? It’s becoming less and less noticeable on my upper arms. Yeah, I still have it. Thanks to genetics and years spent obese and overweight. But with every strength-training session I have, the skin seems to sag a little less and reveal just a little more muscle tone.

arms and shoulders

Strength? Shape? Definition? You betcha!

I used to joke that I had the shoulders of a football player. The same shoulders my older brother has. They’re broad and thick and beefy. Made for intimidation and load-bearing activities. On my brother, that’s great. On a teenage girl? Eh, notsomuch. I was so worried that once I started lifting weights my shoulders would become broader and even manlier. But those same workouts that have brought me such defined arms have strengthened and tightened and toned my shoulders into something any woman would be proud of.

strong shoulders

I no longer feel like I'm walking around with a football player's shoulders.

A short note on those collarbone you see a couple photos back: I love that I have them! I always thought they were a feature of the too-skinny. Turns out, they’re just a feature of the healthy! A lot of people who are working to lose weight see the appearance of collarbones as a milestone. And it was for me, too. Honestly, though, sometimes I think they’re too apparent and make me look like I’ve lost too much weight. That, I suppose, is all in my head and depends on what I happen to be wearing.

To the Top of my Head

While we’re all born with a neck — it’s kind of a key body part, you know — mine sort of disappeared at some time in my life. I don’t remember when or how, to be honest. But I remember when they started making turtleneck necks smaller and when necklace chains got shorter. Then, a funny thing happened as I started losing weight. The jewelry companies started making necklace chains longer, and turtlenecks no longer tried to strangle me. Or, maybe, my neck was becoming a neck instead of an extension of my shoulders. For the longest time on this weight-loss journey, my neck was my favorite part. I loved the way it looked all sleek and skinny-like. I loved watching it move my head up and down, side to side. And I was constantly on the lookout for new necklaces to show it off. Then, disaster struck. Surgery. Surgery that meant a big scar on my neck. And I started to not love my neck anymore — even before the surgery. All I could picture was a Franken-scar ruining what I’d just started to love. And, yeah, there’s a scar. Even though Mom swears it’s hidden pretty well, I think it’s rather large and noticeable. And it’s certainly caused me some stress. But I’m learning to love it. I think it’s unique. And it has an interesting story. And it’s not going to stop me from wearing fun jewelry.

surgery scar

I see the scar every morning, noon and night — and it's growing on me.

While I’ve never really cared one way or another about having gorgeous cheekbones, I’ve always admired women (like my younger sister) who had them. My cheeks were more for pinching and less for dressing up with makeup or inspiring portraits. But recently, from the right angle, I’ve seen my cheekbones. And I like what I see. They’ve made friends with my face and definitely improve its overall shape. So, while I try to be indifferent, I’m enjoying them. And the strong, square chin they’ve brought with them.


And Everything in Between

While I’m proud of all I’ve accomplished and the efforts I’ve made to build a healthier body, that doesn’t mean I’m not proud of who I was before. And it doesn’t mean I’m perfect — or ever will be. It most definitely doesn’t mean I’ve forgotten my strengths, those things — unchanging — that make me me.

  • My brain has brought me far in life. Its love of knowledge, of reading, of thinking and of examining will forever be one of my best assets, my source of pride and my investment in the future.
  • My heart gives all it can, and then some. It may not be noticed, but it’s there. I have an open-heart policy and enjoy welcoming anyone I can, family, friend or stranger. My love of love brings me endless hours of happiness and hope.
  • My smile carries joy with her wherever she goes. She comes out when she senses I need a visit. More importantly, she makes herself known when she senses someone else needs a visit. She laughs with me and shines through my tears. She’s an unchanging force through life’s storms.
  • My arms are open, ready for hugs whenever they’re needed — and sometimes just because. There’s no substitute for the warmth that comes from a friendly hug. These arms, though stronger than before, will never shy away from giving (or receiving) a hug.
  • My freckles have been with me through thick and thin, though they try to hide from Old Man Winter. When they start coming back in force (you know, in the spring, with the sun) I get very excited. I love my freckles. I love their uniqueness. I love the way they make me look just a little different every time you look at me. Besides the whole skin cancer thing, one of the reasons I will never tan is because I don’t want to create a consistent bronze on my body — I want my freckles to stand out, loud and proud!

I know that my strength doesn’t come from the muscles on my arms or the definition in my calves. My confidence can’t be found in shapely shoulders and dainty feet. And my source of success certainly doesn’t hide in my hips or ride on my cheekbones. I’m a whole being with a body, a heart, a mind and a soul. I love my whole being, my entire self. And I think she’s beautiful because of her strengths and because of her flaws.

’cause a face without freckles is like a sky without stars. Why waste a second not loving who you are? Those little imperfections make you beautiful, lovable, valuable; they show your personality inside your heartreflecting who you are. ~Natasha Bedingfield, “Freckles”


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2010: In Bullets and Pictures

I’d feel a lack of closure if I didn’t do some sort of a wrap-up of 2010. So, here is my 2010 all bulleted up:

  • Rang in the new year with Amor.
  • Turned 29.
  • Started running.

Photo of me running down the street

  • Hired a trainer.
  • Got rid of old trainer. Hired Trainer 2.0.
  • Moved Amor (No More) back to Mexico — by car. Yes, we drove from Michigan to south-central Mexico.

Photo of road trip to Mexico

  • Started weight lifting.

Pic of me weight lifting

  • Ran in the shadows of a castle in Scotland.

Photo of Scotland Castle

  • Fell in love with spinning.
  • Sprained my ankle — two days before my first official running race. (I did get to drive the lag car, though.)

Photo of me in lag car

  • Visited Amor in Mexico. Fell in love with his family, his country.

Photo of Guanajuato

  • Ran. Oh, boy, did I run.

Photo of me at a race

  • Broke up with Amor.

Photo of me crying

  • Zip lined through the rain forest in Costa Rica.

Photo of me in the rain forest

  • Ran some more.

Photo of me running

  • Had some surgery.

Photo of my surgery

  • Set PR after PR after PR in my races.

Photo of me with a race medal

  • Registered for a half marathon.

Photo of marathon registration

  • Lost 47 pounds (on top of the 58 I lost in 1009).

Photo of me in my fat jeans

  • Last, but certainly not least, in 2010 I found my strength and learned to put myself first.

Photo of my muscles

So, how do I feel about the possibilities 2011 presents?

Photo of me jumping

Jumping for Joy!


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Adventures in Strength Training

I met for the second time with Trainer early this a.m. Took some measurements, fat percentage, photos — all that fun, favorite stuff that slaps you in the face and says, “What have you done to yourself!?” But, having all the information lets you approach the battle fully armed (and dangerous).

We had already talked about some nutrition info during our first meeting. Trainer pointed out that I need to increase my protein intake. And I totally agree. I fully admit that this is my weak area. My fat intake is right on target, but it’s those blasted carbs that keep throwing me off just a bit. The last couple of days I’ve been a bit more aware of the food I’m making and ensuring I’m preparing (or eating) some good, healthy lean proteins with every meal and adding in some nuts or healthy oils to my snacks. It’ll take some time to make it a true part of my routine, but I’m getting there. Small steps make this journey much more doable.

I feel great about the head start Weight Watchers has given me. It has given me some great information and helped me change a lot of my views of food. WW has also given me an easy way to track my intake — and output, actually. It’s a great tool that has helped me shed 56-plus pounds and allowed me (encouraged me) to get my butt up and move. I’ve only missed a few days of cardio the past six months, and now it’s time to take the next step: strength training. Enter Trainer. We worked quickly on proper form for squats and lunges today (ouch) and talked about some of Trainer’s basics. Next Monday we’ll jump into the actual training sessions with our first one bright and early at 5:30 a.m. (I say “bright and early,” but here in the north it’s still awfully dark at that time.)

I’m very excited to see the new ways I can push myself and the ways my body will change while I do that. Admittedly, I’m a bit nervous because I’ve never done any “real” strength training before, and I have no idea what I’m doing (and I hate admitting I don’t know what I’m doing). But with the help of Trainer, I’m sure this Adventure in Strength Training will teach me things about myself that I don’t yet know.

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