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Why I Became Health and Fitness Obsessed This Year

Why I Became Health and Fitness Obsessed This Year

No, it wasn’t a New Year’s resolution. But by coincidence, January 2016 marks the time when I made the decision to not just change some things, but overhaul my health and fitness habits.

I didn’t have particularly unhealthy habits. I’ve always been a real food, treats on special occasions, play outside, chemical conscious kind of girl. I wasn’t (and I’m still not) on a weight loss mission and spandex culture never really appealed to me.

But, the world seemed to grab me by the jaw and give me a clear direction of where I have to go from here.

Here’s the story.

It’s late summer 2015, and it’s coming to light how bad my Nana’s Alzheimer’s disease is getting. By Christmas, we’re hitting the reset button on our conversations every 30 seconds. Several times through Christmas Eve dinner she thought she was at a wedding, and my brother would bring her to a wall to show her the photo of the two of them dancing at his wedding a few years ago.

She repeatedly asks how many children I have, though they’re standing right in front of her. She claims she never saw me pregnant, but she absolutely did. I know this because I remember she loved telling me I was eating well, winky winky.

Christmas Eve, 2015 marks the day I decided that Alzheimer’s is the disease I fear most.

Around the same time, my active, athletic, hardworking, relatively young father-in-law gets diagnosed with cancer. Pretty much anyone would fit the picture for cancer better than he would, but we all know cancer doesn’t always follow the rules.

He had been on a chemo regimen before Christmas, and had to take frequent rests during gatherings. I think that threw us all.

Then there’s that always looming idea that my mom was 38 when she was diagnosed with the cancer that would take her. I’m 33, and in my head, the countdown is on. My overall health has to beat the clock.

If all that isn’t a wake-up call, I had a health scare of my own.

Let’s set the scene. We’re in the baby life stage for six years in a row, seven if you count pregnancy. It seemed that when my youngest turned two, life became easier than it had been in a long time. I wasn’t pregnant or nursing, everyone started sleeping. Everyone fed themselves, two thirds were wiping their own noses and tushes, and thanks to slip ons and sandals, everyone started putting on their own shoes!

Life became a lot less hands on, and I had space to notice myself again. What I noticed needed to be addressed ASAP. I went to the doctor with a whole laundry list of strange symptoms I could have brought up – losing my hair, weight loss, breakouts – but I settled on fatigue and forgetfulness. I expected to be politely and respectfully laughed out of the office, because we’ve all heard of “mommy brain” and how many tired mom coffee memes are circulating the internet?

Instead, she took one look at my face, a quick look at my hands, and asked me some questions to which I answered “yes” over and over. She gave me a STAT bloodwork order and a stern warning not to elevate my heart rate. My test results confirmed her suspicions.

What I thought was silly mom stuff was actually a severe (but treatable) condition that could cause me to have a heart attack. It could be fixed if I either underwent major surgery or would take Class I carcinogens for the rest of my life.

“Can we wait a couple months? I could try this diet and those supplements…” I asked.

“You’re a heart risk. Let’s get you to a more stable place before we try things,” she answered.

My case was severe and treatment was necessary, so I went on two prescriptions that would remove immediate threats. I figured I would do this short-term to lengthen my runway once I decided to go off of the medicines and try to get my body to reset itself.

While I was on the medications, I made some intense lifestyle changes. Gradually, I cut coffee, cut sugar, lowered carbs, began intermittent fasting, tripled my already high vegetable intake, added superfood shakes, prioritized sleep, ramped up my physical activity (once cleared to do so), drastically reduced household and personal care toxins. By the time I was able to go off of the medications, my body was better equipped to function without them.

I’m better now. The best way I can describe how I feel is…undead. This is how I’m supposed to feel, and it’s incredible.

Several friends have said to me, just in the last few months, “I don’t know what it is, but you look amazing.”

It’s not a new lipstick. It’s a new life.

But I’m not finished.

See my family members’ stories up there?

I’m terrified.

But more than fear, I feel readiness.

I crawled out of a hole that I didn’t even know I was in, and now I’ve got my feet on the ground, in broad daylight. And I’m suited up to climb.

Having a healthy basis back, I’m ready to become the best version of myself that I can. There’s no better way to give what I’ve got to my husband and kids than to have something in the tank to give.

I’m never going into that hole again.


The Gift That Made Me Say, “Do I Have To?”

The Gift That Made Me Say, “Do I Have To?”

Me and my big mouth.

A few months ago, I had a fleeting thought of something I might want to try, sometime in the unforeseeable future. And then that thought went away.

Until Mister brought it back, and put it into a box.

Want to know what I’m talking about? He took a video of my reaction, and here I am sharing it with you, PJs and unbrushed hair and all. That’s right, my first public YouTube video and I’m straight out of bed.

Yes, I opened up a gift and said, “Do I have to?”

I grumble in jest, though. I’m pumped about doing a mud run! As grown-ups, we don’t get many excuses to get dirty, climb up things, swing from things. And how often do we forego challenging ourselves for what’s comfortable?

He nailed the gift this year.

Now, it’s up to me to figure out how to train for this thing.

I’ve been doing the gym thing for a while, so we can check weightlifting off of the list. My upper body strength could use work, so bodyweight work will help me make a respectable showing when I need to climb and pull myself up. Balance work is probably a good idea so I can get across mud puddles or whatever there may be, and then there’s that endurance thing that I don’t like so much.

I’ll come up with a little mud run training program and post it soon.

If you’ve done something like this, be sure to leave me some pointers!

Goals, Pushing Limits and Why I Needed to Find a Fitness Buddy

Goals, Pushing Limits and Why I Needed to Find a Fitness Buddy

I never set out to work out with a fitness buddy, nor get onto any type of program at all. The gym was the place I would hop on the treadmill and listen to a few chapters of an audio book while while my kids hung out with their buds in the childcare room. It was my break more than anything.

Then there was that game-changing dinner out, and before I knew it my go-whenever-do-whatever gym routine accidentally turned into a legit exercise regimen.

It started when my friend Paula and I both talked about wanting to get back into a routine after taking time off for our respective injuries. We both talked about wanting to try the weight training class but chickening out over and over.

I can’t speak for her, but I had been wanting to try the class for three years.

No, I’m not exaggerating. Three years.

And I hadn’t tried it until recently, which means I successfully talked myself out of it for three years.

The bars and plates are too intimidating. No way I’m doing a push-up in public. What if I use too much weight? I’m clumsy, what if I drop the whole bar? I’ll be mortified if I take a regular’s “spot.”

Apparently I wasn’t the only one, because Paula said she had been wanting to try it too but had the same types of hangups as I had.

With that, we made plans. We became fitness buddies. And here’s what that looks like.

We show up

For our Grand First Day Back, we decided to try that scary weight training class. We happened to pull into the parking lot at the same time, and we both confessed that we were thisclose to flaking out, and if we were going solo we would have skipped, no question.

Same conversation had on week two.

Both weeks, I felt like skipping. She felt like skipping. But we both dragged ourselves in there simply because someone else was watching for us.

Accountability. It’s powerful stuff.

We try new things

First we tried our new favorite class. Next, we’re planning to start a 12-week program recommended by a personal trainer friend. We’re modifying it because it’s a bit obsessive, but as long as it’s planned in advance, we’re playing by the rules.

My effectiveness will improve just by starting an actual program instead of zoning out with my earbuds. I never would have tried it had Paula not suggested it, but here we are, assembling our Google docs and calendar.

We encourage each other

It took a lot to show up to that first class. In motivating each other, we motivated ourselves, and we did it.

We keep each other in check

Our new routine involves resistance training to fatigue, meaning we should be using enough weight that we’re pretty spent on that last rep. I imagine this will take more than just showing up. We’re going to have to pull each other along.

I’m trusting Paula to watch me to make sure I’m using enough weight, because either I’m more capable than I think I am and I need to be convinced, or because I’m a cheater cheater pumpkin eater when it comes to exercise.

She can decide how to deal with me.

(On shoulder day, I’ll be eating pumpkins for sure.)

On the flipside, I’ll take it upon myself to make sure she knows how capable she is.


Trying Vegan and a Most Conscious Abandonment

Trying Vegan and a Most Conscious Abandonment

As many of us did last Thursday, I ate until I was about to burst, and I felt the effects. That evening and all of the next day I felt sluggish. Lazy. Overall exhausted.

Mister has limited time off and I spent his long weekend feeling blah, likely as a result of stuffing my face. I didn’t like it one bit.

So, I came up with a radical idea to combat fatigue.

Go vegan.

2015-06-13 15.24.07

I’ve been listening to a vegan athlete’s podcast which is incredibly motivating and inspiring in other areas – he covers health, nutrition, creativity, entrepreneurship, all kinds of things. His way of eating has been in the back of my mind for a while now.

Having to cook gluten-free and being a former vegetarian, I wasn’t afraid. I know my way around weird foods and modifications. So, I took a spin around the produce section of the grocery store and dove in.

But, I lasted four days. Since Friday evening, I’ve been hungry all the time and I’m clearly compensating. I haven’t loaded up with this much white carbs and sugar since my ninth birthday party.


My skin broke out, my middle is all ballooney like a beachball, and my complexion has taken on a yellowish hue. That part may be in my head, but I totally thought I looked yellow this morning.

I have (local, small farm) beef thawing out for tonight’s dinner, and I do not feel a moment’s hesitation about breaking.

After years of pregnancy, breastfeeding, baby weight on, baby weight off, next baby weight on and off again, then the next, I’ve found myself at a place where no small people are being fed from my energy stores. After all that time, I’m finally in tune. I eat when I am hungry, I stop when I am full, and I almost never crave anything. Feeling “hangry” is a thing of the past.

Then I went and messed with it.

I’m not convinced that I have my way of eating wired, and I’ll fully admit that I didn’t give veganism a fair shot. But I felt like I had aged ten years in four days, and I had plenty of cues that my metabolism was going wacky. People struggle for years to get metabolism in check, and I worried that I wouldn’t get it back on track if I messed it up.

Still, I’m glad I gave it a try.

go vegan

Some final thoughts on my 100-ish hours of veganism…

All three kids will crush any dish containing mushrooms. Hearing my little guy’s adorable “more mushen peese” was well worth it.

I’m adopting the excuse that a gluten-free, soy-free vegan diet is way restrictive and I was set up to fail.

I didn’t even know I had forgotten all about my favorite vegetarian dishes, and through self-imposed limitations they were all coming back to me. Creamy mushroom soup, Italian lentil stew, black bean burritos, they’re all here to stay.

Coming up with blended fruit and vegetable smoothie concoctions is kind of fun, and may be a better vehicle for a nourishing energy boost than chewing on kale all day. I think the vegetable smoothie may become a daily practice.

Oh, and the fatigue? Mister gave me a friendly reminder that I always get into something and stay up later than I had planned. Couple that with the fact that our youngest is doing this 4am wake the house up thing, and yeah I’m spent.

And I don’t always shove that much pie into the ‘ol pie hole. That may have had something to do with it…

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