Tag Archives: Health

Let’s Be Careful Out There

Today I want to talk to you about safety.  Primarily biking safety, but some of these can be applied to other outdoor activities and just life in general.  I decided to write this after a person on one of our bike club rides (I was not present but heard about it later) had a heart attack.  They called an ambulance, but it took what seemed like an eternity to arrive, and in the meantime, the man quit breathing.  One of the riders was a nurse, thank God, and she performed CPR until the ambulance came.  He is thankfully okay, but he needed bypass surgery.

Now, it’s not that this person was being unsafe, but it made me start thinking about it because what if there had not been anyone on the ride who knew CPR?  And what if it had been a bike crash instead of a heart attack?  Or accident a car or truck?  According to bicyclinginfo.org, there were 677 bicyclist deaths and 38,000 bicycling related accidents in 2011.  These are just the reported cases, and actual figures are much higher.  Interestingly enough, 80% of those injured were male, so maybe the best advice I can give you is “Don’t be a man”….HA!  So what can we do to reduce the risk of becoming a statistic?


Helmet: WEAR ONE.  End of discussion.

Okay, not the end of the discussion (you knew it was too good to be true).  Seriously – God gave you ONE HEAD.  Notice he gave you two eyes, two arms, two legs, etc.  If He only gives you ONE of something, it might be a good idea to protect it.  So use your head, and wear your helmet.  Sure, you might look like a dork, but remember – Pride goeth before a fall – Proverbs 16:18.  See, it’s biblical.  WEAR. A. HELMET.

HELMETS!  (Francois Lenoir/Reuters)

(Francois Lenoir/Reuters)

Mirror:  There are a lot of great gadgets to buy for your bike (trust me, I have most of them) and it can be difficult to decide which one is worth your hard-earned cash.  A rearview mirror costs about 20 bucks, and it could very well save your life, so it’s pretty easy to justify this investment.  Of course, for it to be effective, it means you need to actually use it.  Which brings me to my next item…


Look at all the crap on this bike. Notice especially the rearview mirror and the blinky light – two things I would keep over all the rest.

Pay Attention:  Look ahead and around you  for any possible issues like gravel, pot holes, or dogs.  Look behind you for cars and other riders (using your rearview mirror, of course!).  And if you ride with music, please consider unplugging, especially when riding on the road.  Remember the head God gave you – the one you have your helmet on?  Well, it’s full of sensory organs to help save your life and if one of them is getting blasted with music, then you can’t hear the impatient jerk in the truck behind you revving his engine, who will then scream past you, spitting out gravel, mud, beer cans, and language that would make a sailor blush.

road rage

Bicyclists vs Drivers – butting heads since the dawn of time.
Photo courtesy of eta.co.uk

Use A Blinky:  A “blinky”, not a “blanky”.  Although there are days I wish I still had a “blanky”.  Anyway, a “blinky” is a blinky light.  Usually clear or red, attached to your bike and/or helmet (currently residing ON YOUR HEAD) and has a variety of settings ranging from constant, to strobe, to chase, etc.  If you can only afford one, get a decent one for the back of your bike.  If you can afford more, then get a small one for your helmet and one for the front of your bike as well.

Be Seen:  Besides your blinky, you can add to your visibility by wearing bright clothing.  This is a no brainer for exhibitionists like me, but others may not be as comfortable wearing neon.  It helps if yellow is your favorite color.  Or you’re in a wedding party.  Or a middle-aged gang.  

Obey Traffic Laws:  It’s very tempting for cyclists to invent their own rules on the road, feeding the road rage fire between cyclists and motorists.   A small list of common infractions include blowing thru intersections, swerving around cars at a stop light, riding against traffic, crossing the road at a non-intersection, etc.  WE HAVE ALL DONE THESE THINGS!  And one day, it’s going to bite one of us in the ass.  As much as I would like a reduction in the size of my ass, I don’t think I want the surgery done by a motor vehicle.  

Road ID:There’s a great company out there called Road ID where you can purchase a wrist or ankle band that lists your pertinent info, ICE (In Case of Emergency) contacts, and medical history.  It’s pretty cool, comes in fun colors, and it’s fairly inexpensive.  When an emergency occurs, others either won’t feel comfortable or won’t have time to dig thru your belongings for your health history and emergency contacts.  If it’s on your wrist or your ankle, the people who need it will find it.  I just got mine the other day, in fact!  And promptly forgot it on my bike ride tonight.  Geez Louise.

Road ID

Road ID. Get yours at http://www.roadid.com

Ride Together:  If you are riding with someone and something happens, there is someone to laugh at you and pull you out of the pickers.  Or maybe dial 911.  You know.  Whatever.  Besides, what are you – a hermit?  The most fun I have had riding has always been when riding with others.  

Let Others Know Your Route:  When your riding solo, be sure to leave knowledge of your route with someone else.  If you don’t show up for work the next day, someone at least knows where to start looking.  Scary to think about, but you need to think about it.  I usually ride one of three routes when I ride alone – I like them and they’re easy for Dave to remember.  There are also wonderful tools out there that allow you to map your rides and give them names.  You can simply tell someone “I am riding Route Q on MapMyRide” and give them access to your account.  Easy peasy.

That’s it for The Easy Stuff.  My next post will involve The Hard Stuff and I don’t mean moonshine, people.  I mean the stuff that needs extra time and commitment, and is often ignored because people just don’t want to do it.

Until next time – Let’s be careful out there!

Enter…If You Dare!

tshirt1As some of you know, a friend of mine, Vicki Wilson, is battling a rare form of MS called Primary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis.  PPMS does not respond to traditional MS treatments, and will continually progress with no remissions until death.  Since her diagnosis just over a year ago, Vicki has continually lost mobility and strength.  Simple things like walking her dog have become a challenge, and yet she has remained positive and hopeful.  She is getting ready to go to Russia for a stem cell transplant in the hopes of slowing or halting the progression.  Serious business, that.  Any help you can give her via prayer or donation would go a long way (you can read more about Vicki here).

Treatment will be arduous and sometimes frightening and lonely, as she will be far away from family and friends.  Therefore, Vicki has declared the months before she leaves in August as the “Summer of Fun”.  She has thrown down the gauntlet to family and friends to go out this summer and have as much crazy fun as they can, and then share their experiences with her.

Dare me to have fun?  Summer of Fun Challenge accepted.

Now, all of you can sit back and just read about my exploits in my blog, or you can join me in my quest for fun and foolishness.  You can take part in the Summer of Fun in a couple of ways – by sending me ideas of fun things to do, or doing your own fun things and letting me blog about them.

I do have a couple of rules, however.  Don’t get all freaky – they aren’t hard to follow.  Well, except the first one.  Okay, they are both hard but there are only two!

1.  NO WHINING DURING THE SUMMER OF FUN.  This means you.  No complaining about your job, the weather, being fat, flabby arms, cellulite, having hot flashes, and becoming an old bag.  These just may actually be my own particular “whines”, so really this probably means ME more than you.  However, feel free to fill in your own personal complaints.  And then, obviously, stop whining about them.

2.  CHANGE HOW YOU THINK.  Catch yourself when you start thinking something negative about yourself and replace it with something positive.  My personal favorite will be changing “my fat roll is showing thus making me self-conscious” to “nobody gives a rats butt about my fat roll.  I shall have a donut” or “I am a dork.  Nobody likes me” to “I may be a dork but I am good enough, I’m smart enough and doggone it – people like me!”.Smalley

And that’s it!  See?  Easy peasy, and now you will have the proper mindset for the Summer of Fun.

No Negative Nellies!

No Negative Nellies!

I have also given much thought to what should constitute “fun”.  Obviously, different people have different ideas of fun.  Therefore, I have selected a few categories of “fun” for you to use as a guideline.  You will notice there is no “Watching the Brewers Play” category. So not fun this year.

1.  Outside the Box Fun.  Something outlandish, like a Jell-o Slip n Slide or something. I will need help with this one, people.  Send me your ideas!!

2.  Risky Fun.  Like sky diving or bungee jumping.  I will be doing none of these.  Feel free to do them yourselves, though, and send me pictures and a paragraph or two about the experience.  I will enjoy posting about them from the relative safety of planet Earth.

3.  Spontaneous Fun.  Fun you have spontaneously.  Duh.

4.  Silly Fun.  Fun that you may not consider because you are an adult.  Like blowing bubbles or jumping in mud puddles.  Or fighting with your brother about what channel to watch because he wants to watch stupid Star Trek and you want to watch the Mickey Mouse Club.

5.  Kinda Weird Fun.  Fun that draws stares.  My friend Jeannie and I used to have a lot of Kinda Weird Fun in high school.  One time we drew Jeannie’s cartoon character on paper plates and tacked them all over our favorite teacher’s trees.  He was on vacation, and his entire neighborhood got to look at those plates for a week (see her character and order greeting cards here but I suggest you don’t tack them to anything.  Mail them instead.  Jeannie LOVES the United States Postal Service).  Or the time we dressed as trees and asked people if they were going to vote for George Bush (it’s a pun, and it’s not funny if I have to explain it).  Probably the type of fun I am most famous for.


Weirdo Fun

6.  Messy Fun.  Fun that involves mud or something.  No dead bodies.  That’s a different kind of “mess”.

7.  Trashy Novel Fun.  Any fun that involves being lazy and wasting time but in a fun way – like reading a trashy novel at the beach or laying in your hammock in the back yard while your cabana boy brings you drinks with little umbrellas in them.

8.  Scary But Not Pee Your Pants Frightening Fun.  This covers any kind of fun that takes you out of your comfort zone, but doesn’t leave you needing to change your underwear.  For me, this would be something like zip-lining.

9.  Free Fun.  Is anything really free?  No.  Get as close as you can, and we’ll call it good.

10. Most Fun Had While Using Your Credit Card.  This would cover pretty much any fun had by shopping or traveling.  DO NOT send me pictures involving paid “escorts”.  Really.  Ain’t nobody wants to see that.

11.  Athletic Fun.  Fun had while bike riding, kayaking, roller blading, running, etc.  It can be argued by many that running is not fun.  Live and let live, I say.

We had fun.  Really.  Tears of joy.

We had fun. Really. Tears of joy.

12.  Geek Fun.  Fun had while playing video games, creating a working model volcano in the back yard with baking soda and whatever else it is you mix with it to make it erupt (I can’t remember that episode of the Brady Bunch), or watching endless reruns of the Big Bang Theory.

13.  Gender Fun.  Fun that tends to be gender specific and is stereotypical.  Things like pedicures, hunting, spa treatments, etc.

14.  Indoor Fun.  Museums, concerts, crafts, movies, etc.

15.  Hangin’ With Your Homies Fun.  Any fun you have fartin’ around with your friends.

Okay, that’s enough categories.  I’m running out of ideas and it’s past my bedtime.  Now, here is what I want you to do:  Partake in fun.  Shoot me an email or FB message me about your ‘Fun-complishment’ (see what I did there?) and include pictures if you got ’em.  I will in turn post them on my blog for all to read and enjoy.  I’m serious people.  DO IT.  My blog will be very boring without your contributions!!


PS: Don’t forget to visit Vicki’s blog (click here)!  And buy a T-shirt!  Anyone purchasing one of her t-shirts and sending me a photo of yourself in it while having fun will get their name in a drawing for $50.  Yes, you heard me.  50 big ones.  50 dolla-roonies.  50 green backs.  Fiddy.  Fiddy bucks.




I happen to love bacon.  Probably not as much as cake, but it’s up there on my list of delicious foods.  However, this post isn’t really about bacon.  I just used it to get your attention, because who doesn’t love bacon?  And I am pretty sure you were all hoping I had a new weight loss solution that involved unlimited bacon.  Sorry about that (not really).

What this post is really about is revamping your workout (if you have one).  This has been a rather long winter, and if you are like me, you are at the point of sticking bamboo shoots under your fingernails than face another excruciating day in the gym.  Here, then, are my top 5 ways to get your exercise head out of its rut.

  • MUSIC – Did you see me change font colors there?  I’m, like, a professional.  Okay – this one is pretty easy.  Pick new music for your exercise playlist.  Be creative and look at music you might not have considered.  Ask your friends for ideas or look at music you already have that you don’t listen to normally.  See below for some of my favorites.  No picking on me either.  
  • GET OUTSIDE – Again, pretty easy.  So what if it’s snowing and the wind is howling and throwing ice pellets in your face.  You’re an animal!  A machine!  A warrior!  Cold increases your metabolism!  Tornadoes make you run faster!  Snow is just an excuse to run in snowshoes!  Only wussies stay inside!  Are you a wussy?  Exactly!
  • TRY SOMETHING NEW – Do you run every day?  Or spin?  Or do you lift the same routine?  Even if you are mixing it up, you may still be bored.  Time to hit YouTube and check out the bazillion workout videos posted there.  Some are cheesy, some are awesome.  See below for some awesome.  Don’t freak out if you run across something you are not sure you can do – this happens to me all the time.  The point is to TRY, then MODIFY.  
  • PUT YOUR MONEY WHERE YOUR MOUTH IS – Sign up for an event.  Better yet, sign up for an event that requires a little fundraising and helps out a charity, plus you get to meet some pretty cool people.  Step out of the box and look at something you have never done.  Nothing motivates like a looming physical challenge.  See?  Now you just have anxiety and panic, but no more boredom!  Whee!
  • BUY NEW WORKOUT CLOTHES – I know this is shallow, but it works for me.  I love wearing new fun colors, and even if I still hate the workout, it at least gets me dressed.  Even a new exercise bra is motivating to me (yes, I know I’m a weirdo.  No need to point it out).  Besides, that gym shirt you have worn for the last two years probably has some major smell issues going on, no matter how much you wash it.  Don’t be that guy.

As promised, here are my top 10 Workout Songs!

1.  Bad Reputation – Joan Jett

2.  Pump It – The Black Eyed Peas

3.  What I Like About You – The Romantics

4.  Numb – Linkin Park

5.  Big House – Audio Adrenaline

6.  A Little Less Conversation – Elvis

7.  One Thing Leads To Another – The Fixx

8.  Ballroom Blitz – Blue Oyster Cult

9.  I’m Shipping Up to Boston – Dropkick Murphys

10.  Motivation – Sum 41

And some awesome folks who have some great workout videos, like Zuzana Light and Blogilates:

And for the completely impossible – this guy:

Please tell me your favorite workout songs or videos!  I am always looking for new music and ideas!

Stay classy San Diego,



Beauty of a Woman Blogfest: Skin Deep

boaw-2013A couple of days ago, I let you all know I would be participating in the Beauty of a Woman Blogfest, sponsored by August McLaughlin, and inspired by the Sam Levinson poem (click the link to go to her site and check out all the entries, which will be posted Friday.  I promise it will totally be worth your reading time).  Here is mine:

Most of you have heard the term, “Beauty is only skin deep”.  Probably someone used this statement to console you at one point or other in your life, when you felt intimidated or inferior to someone who used their physical beauty to belittle you.  At the very least, you heard it in passing.  But is it?  Is beauty only skin deep?

Like many women, I have struggled with body image since I was a little girl, and first heard someone tell me I was fat.  I have dieted, exercised, cried, lamented, criticized, rationalized, judged, and binged my way thru the last 45 years.  I once described myself as a “Big, Beautiful Dutch Woman”, as a tongue in cheek way of trying to accept myself for who I was.  It was mostly a bravado filled, fake it till you make it statement.  But I think I am finally ready to own it.

And it’s about time, I guess.  I am one year away from my 50th birthday, and I don’t think I want to waste any more of my precious time or energy worrying about measuring up to someone else’s idea of beauty.  I have better things to do, and frankly Society, I just don’t give a damn anymore.

I’m tired of worrying if someone will notice my size 11 feet, my man hands, or my jiggly belly.  Tired of wondering if someone disapproves of my loud laugh or inappropriately placed comment.  Tired of feeling exposed and vulnerable just because I am a size 16 and not a 10.

At the top of my blog, I reference a scripture about our bodies being the temple of the Holy Spirit.  I originally chose that as a way to remind myself to feed my body and spirit with healthy things, to keep it prepared to be God’s servant.  But now – now I see it as the defining start to beauty.  It begins with God’s accepting and loving Spirit entwined with mine.    Fearfully and wonderfully made.  Oh hell yes.  Because He is the Author of this piece of work I have held in judgement and loathing for so long, and He sees His creation as beautiful.  Who am I to argue?

So I will embrace the goofy German woman – unconventional and glorious – who hams it up for the camera, loves the spotlight and relishes the laughter from her audience.  Who giggles at off-color jokes and makes funny faces.  Who sings “Plop, Plop, Fizz, Fizz” loud and joyously in the bathroom and whistles her way thru life.

But I will also embrace and accept the judgmental side of this woman, who can be quick to criticize and use shame as misguided motivation, and I won’t beat myself up anymore for having these traits.  I will continue to ask God to help me channel them into constructive behaviors, to use them to problem solve and organize, love and accept.  To use them to fuel my determination and spirit, to reach my goals and God’s.

I will embrace the Belgian woman, who loves puns and word play, and really, really dumb jokes.  Who loves a good fluffy book and a bag of chips with her butt plopped on a sandy beach and nothing but blue sky above.  Who is nurturing and gentle, kind and encouraging.  Who comes thru the door at the end of the day, and can’t wait to see her family.

But I will also embrace and accept the lost, passive side of this woman, who can spend too much time as a wallflower and go unnoticed in a crowded room.  Who is uncomfortable with people she thinks may be above her and not assertive enough to claim what is hers.  I will ask God to give me strength to believe in myself, to step forward and accept a compliment, and to recognize my worth in any situation, among any group of people.

And finally.  The big, beautiful Dutch woman.  I will embrace this woman most of all, as she is the one I have had the biggest love/hate relationship with.  Her big hands, breasts and feet have been the prime source of contention and ridicule in my life.  She is the one I see in the mirror when I get out of the shower, that I cover as much as possible to avoid having her be seen.  She is the one I have been ashamed of.

But this woman is also the one who has brought me the greatest joys.  She gave me the strong legs that pedaled 100 miles and ran 13.2…twice!  The strong arms that carried my babies and helped my husband with chores.  A body that at 49 can keep up with the 20 year olds in the gym (well, maybe the 30 year olds).  A body that nurtured, grew, and birthed the two greatest gifts God has ever given me – my kids.


Me and my “babies”

She has cellulite and scars.  Saggy skin (not to mention the direction the ‘girls’ are headed) and stretch marks.  Age spots, moles and wrinkles.  Bunions and cracking knees.  Her feet hurt, she can’t remember where she put her car keys much less the name of the person she just met, and she has some old-fashioned values her kids don’t always appreciate.  But she is beautiful and lovely and gets up every single day and does what I ask her to.  So, from this day forward, I will love, accept and cherish every single square inch of her.

Several years ago, I started trying to see other people – family, friends, enemies and strangers – as God saw them.  I tried to picture them thru His eyes, and it truly has helped me grow as a person, to be more loving and accepting of others, to be kinder and more forgiving.  But I left someone out of that equation.  Me.  Today I will begin a new journey, of remembering to see myself as God sees me – fearfully and wonderfully made, a home to His Spirit.  I will truly believe I am His temple, that my beauty starts in my core where His Spirit resides and engulfs mine, bubbling joyously to the surface.

Beauty is not skin deep.  It is Spirit deep.



Mom and Dad

The beginning – my parents wedding – German on the right, Belgian and Dutch on the left.

Measuring Up

How do you measure the beauty of a woman?  Is it the number on a scale? Her BMI?  Bra size?  If she is in your league?  If she’s out of your league?

On Thursday, I am going to try to answer that question, by participating in the 2nd annual Beauty of a Woman Blogfest, sponsored by August McLaughlin.  As a person whose goal is to not only redefine her own body image, but help others to as well, this topic is very near and dear to my heart.

On a whim and as a point of comparison, I decided to ask my husband a few questions.  We were talking about parenting, and I asked him if he ever worried if he was or had been a bad parent.  He never hesitated when he said “No”.  I stared at him.  “Geez,” I said, “I worry about that ALL THE TIME.”  Even now, after my kids are adults.  If I could go back in time, the first thing I would fix would be the times I failed as a parent.  I know he worries about them – their safety, if they are happy, how they are succeeding.  But he doesn’t take on the extra baggage that if they are not happy or safe or succeeding, that it is his fault.

I knew the next questions would take him out of his comfort zone a little.  I didn’t want him to think I was fishing for compliments or that I was going to ask a “Do I Look Fat” No-Win-Doomed-Husband question.  I wanted an honest answer, so I explained the blogfest and why I was asking.

By now he had the deer in the headlights look, so I eased into it by asking him if, when he saw a buff man on TV – like the guy in the Super Bowl Calvin Klein ad – he felt pressure to look like that.  His “No” was quick and confident.  And, expected.  I already knew those weren’t the sorts of things that kept him awake at night (pretty much NOTHING keeps him awake at night.  Except maybe the occasional bout of heartburn.  And sex.  Sometimes.  If we are lucky and both of us are awake and don’t have heartburn).  I replied with “You realize that women are the exact opposite.  That we see a model on TV and then beat ourselves up because we don’t look like that.  That we look in the mirror and all we see are faults.”   He nodded carefully, sensing Wife-Seems-Pissed-About-Something – Proceed With Caution.

I blurted the last question.  “So, what makes me beautiful to you?  And you can’t say my boobs.  And you don’t have to answer right away.  I know I am putting you on the spot and you aren’t always comfortable with this kind of stuff.”  I was surprised to find myself nervous at his answer and a little uncomfortable myself.  I rarely think of myself in terms of beautiful.  I know that’s wrong, and I want to change that.  This was my first major step.  Again, without hesitation, he said, “Your smile.  And your personality –  people like you and want to be around you, want to be your friend.  And that you get along with everyone, even the people you don’t like.”  Wow.  And all this time, I thought it was my boobs.  Old guy just might get lucky tonight.boaw-2013

Driving Forces

“Never, never, never quit!” – Winston Churchill (paraphrased)

What inspires you? I ask this because I wonder if you are like me, in that you need almost daily motivation to keep you moving towards whatever goals you have in front of you.

A friend of mine once told me that I inspire her. While she was not specific I assume she meant it regarding exercise, and not something like blurting inappropriate comments at work (which I have done) or burning down the building with microwave popcorn (something I almost did). It made me pause because we have been friends for a long time and frankly she knows what a dumb ass I can be. But it also had the reciprocal effect of inspiring me back. I mean, if I am someone’s inspiration, then it motivates me to keep trying.


Finish line with Shari – Fox Cities Half Marathon, September 2009

In turn, I have been inspired by a lot of people in my life-mostly friends and family. Like my dad who began running in his late 40’s or my mom who used to walk six miles a day. My friend Dawn who helps me to be more accepting of myself or my friend Amanda who gave me the courage to go after a job I was afraid to reach for. Or my friend Shari, who asked me to run a half marathon with her, planting the seeds of belief and confidence in my ability.

My second half marathon, the Cellcom, I ran as a member of Team In Training for the Leukemia Lymphoma Society, as a way of giving back for the research that saved my daughter’s life (she is a survivor). I had to fundraise, and for every donation I received, I asked if the donor had someone they would like me to run for. As the list grew, I became inspired by people who couldn’t run for themselves, and every step in every training run became a prayer for loved ones on my list. For my friend Lee, who was dying of pancreatic cancer (Miss you, Lee!), a co-workers sister newly diagnosed with liver cancer, a co-worker’s niece, a friend of my sister’s, a friend’s daughter who had already passed…the list was long. But each person on it kept me training, thru injuries, discouragement, and fatigue, until the day of the race.

Cellcom 2011

My shirt with all the names on it from the Cellcom Half thru Team in Training in 2011

My friend Vicki was recently diagnosed with Primary Progressive MS, for which there is basically no treatment nor cure. But instead of giving up, she has done her research and now uses a specific food plan, exercise, and natural supplements to help her keep moving forward. I am sure she has down days, but it’s not evident in her daily Facebook posts or in the positive way she greets these new challenges in her life. Reading about her journey (you can read about it too, here- Kickin’ MS) reminds me that each day is a gift and an opportunity for me to choose a healthy lifestyle.

Last November my good friend’s differently-abled nephew asked me to be part of his running team in the 2013 Bellin, through the My Team Triumph organization. This organization places differently-abled Captains with a team of Angels, who do the physical running while pushing their Captain in a myTEAM TRIUMPHspecially designed stroller. However, it is the Captain who provides the heart and spirit that fuels the legs of the angels, and I can already tell that Joey is high-octane! I want to be in the best shape I can for this event, not only to make it fun and memorable for Joey, a courageous young man who has faced more obstacles in his 26 years than most of us will face in a lifetime, but to have a physical body that can match the joy and determination he brings to the table.

I have this framed Erma Bombeck quote on my desk from the year I ran the Cellcom:

When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say “I used everything You gave me”.

It was a Christmas gift from Shari, and I refer to it often when I want to quit. It reminds me of why I am here, why I try, why I keep fighting. I want my life to count. I don’t want to look back on time spent frittered away, but on a life where I have invested the gifts given to me by God, and turned a profit for His glory.

My final request in this post is to ask that if you found inspiration in my words, that you would return the favor and tell me what inspires you! What drives you? What are your talents? How are you using them or how do you wish to use them? Hopes and dreams will remain hopes and dreams unless you speak them into being. Let me hear from you!


Dreaming Big

ListI’m a goal setter. I make lists at work and at home of things I need to do or want to accomplish, and then joyfully scribble them out when complete. Most days it’s mundane things like “laundry” or “clean up email”, and I keep lists to stay focused on what needs to get done or I will while away my time on Pinterest (and believe me, I can spend a lot of time on Pinterest) or camped in front of the Big Bang Theory, while my laundry begins it’s world domination plot like some bad episode of Pinky and the Brain. But I also

Pinky and the Brain

My laundry can take these guys.

keep lists because I LOVE the feeling of accomplishment that comes with crossing something off.

Sometimes I set bigger goals. These are not chores that need to be done to keep the world safe from my laundry. These are life changers. Personal Quests and Personal Bests. Goals that fuel my imagination, motivation, dedication, anticipation, concentration, inspiration and aspiration – and any other ‘tions’ you might like to throw in. These goals are usually challenging but attainable – like reading the bible cover to cover in a year or completing a century (100 mile bike ride) – both goals that I accomplished last year.

So when I sat down to write this post and explain my motivation behind changing my diet, I was at a loss because while I can feel the overall goal in my heart, I am having trouble putting the magnitude of it into a single explanation. Of course part of it is weight loss and health, and part of it is because I have some physical goals I want to reach this year (another post in the making!).

But I also have these other carrots God is dangling in front of me. Carrots that will take longer than a spring of training, and will in fact take a life time to realize. And a lot of divine intervention.carrots

For instance – I would like to be a motivational speaker. Or inspirational. Or spiritual. But I like speaking in front of people about things I am passionate about. A friend of mine once said she thought I was an exhibitionist – she was just kidding (I think) but there was some truth to it. I have spoken a few times in church and I think I did alright. I just want to share what I have learned with other people, especially other women, because:

I have a passion for helping women love themselves for who they are. I want to redefine body image, not only for myself but for anyone who has ever looked in the mirror and found only fault. I want to learn to see myself as God sees me, and then help others do the same.

You all know I love to work out. It’s not because I enjoy pain or hanging around with sweating, grunting men (although there is something to be said for that). It’s because exercise tires out my body and my brain. I have clinical depression, but since I have been exercising regularly, I have not had a major dip. At the end of a 4 mile run or a 20 mile bike ride or a really good strength training session, my brain is empty (no comments on that from the Peanut Gallery). I sleep better. I have more confidence. I am stronger, both physically and emotionally. My head is clearer and I can think better.250px-We_Can_Do_It!

Well, I want to share that too, with people who are afraid to work out, or don’t have the money to join a gym, or the confidence to even try. Maybe they think they are too awkward or weak or fat or ugly or old or unable. But they aren’t. I want to help others to feel that confidence that comes from accomplishing a physical goal. It’s unbelievable how that changed my life.

I also want to buy the old De Pere Library (thanks for planting that seed, Collie), currently a law office, and turn it into a women’s gathering place/coffee house/craft consignment/creative outlet/peaceful getaway place-thing-house-store-shop-house-thing. With one room full of big loungy furniture and cushy pillows; another room with tables and chairs for games or eating or creating; another room – maybe like a chapel area – for when you need to be quiet and meditative; a coffee bar area with comfy stools; a consignment area where people can sell their artwork or jewelry or handmade items. And books. I think there will have to be books in there somehow. I will be cruising around with my walker because I will be 150 years old by this time, but hey. A girl’s gotta dream and if I’m going to dream, I’m going to make it big.

I just finished reading Mark Batterson’s book, The Circle Maker. In it he talks about the importance of Dreaming Big, Praying Hard and Thinking Long. Right now, this is just a nebulous idea, a gleam in God’s eye. He at least knows whats going on. But until God gives me a better handle on it, I’m just going to refer to this whole thing as Brick House Ministries. Maybe it will be a real ministry or maybe it will only ever be a name. But I will never know unless I try. And somehow, making that dietary change is the first step of the journey. With God, and all of you by my side, I am willing.

When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would have not a single bit of talent left and could say, “I used everything you gave me.” – Erma Bombeck

Back In The Saddle

2013Hi Folks!

Haven any of you made New Years resolutions? I usually don’t, because I hardly ever keep them, but this year I had a bug up my butt and decided to make a few.


This is just a bug, and not a bug up my butt. Aren’t you glad?

The “bug” in question has been an increasing dissatisfaction with my weight and my BMI (body mass index). Okay, really it’s just my weight, because I am to chicken to do my BMI. I don’t need to hear that I am “obese”. Getting on the scale was hard enough, although the overall results not as bad as I thought.

bmi chart

I really, truly hate this chart. I have never made it to yellow! Ever!

I know that weight is just a “number” (or so I have been told) but it’s a number that can be used to gauge overall trends in a person’s health. So in my case, the number has gone continually up the last three years. And although I have worked out during those three years, my fuel intake has been more than my energy output, and that equals weight gain, my friends. I can’t really work out anymore than I already do, so it’s time to evaluate the intake.

About 7 years ago, I was very out of shape and overweight. Probably hit ‘morbidly obese’ on the BMI Richter scale. I was saved by my sister, who invited me to a group that helped me recognize my unhealthy relationship with food, and provided a food plan that actually worked for me. However, it involved cutting sugar, wheat and flour from my diet, and adding a lot of fresh veggies and fruits, true whole grains like brown rice and millet, and lean protein. It was really hard but once I got in a routine, it became easier. I lost a lot of weight, felt great almost all the time, and was hardly ever sick. I cruised along for about 4 years this way.

off the wagonSo what happened? I fell off the wagon, that’s what. At some point, I decided life was too short to be so restrictive. Plus I was participating in longer runs like half marathons where I had to refuel, and the easiest thing to carry was sugar. Gradually, I began to allow more sugars and flours in my diet, and now here I am 40 pounds heavier.

Starting January 2nd, I started the first step of my first goal of 2013, by cutting out sugar, flour, and most processed foods. I will be honest with you too – I don’t plan on being a freak about it. Last Saturday was date night, and I allowed myself to have something off-plan – a New Glarus Moon Man. That’s a fancy schmancy beer, if you were wondering. It was pretty tasty. Not as good as a Spotted Cow, mind you, but worth the experiment. You may wonder why I treated myself to a beer, and not a piece of cheesecake. Simple – I can stop after one beer. Not so much on the cheesecake.

It’s been going surprisingly well. I expected more bumps in the road, more nights of agonized wailing and foot stomping (I NEED A FREAKING COOKIE!!), more “a few chips won’t hurt me” moments. And it’s not that I have any super human willpower either. I think it’s more because I have a specific goal, and I know this is the first step to reaching it.



Now here is the funny part. I know I mentioned being unhappy with my weight in the beginning of this post, and you would think that weight loss would be the goal that is driving me, but it isn’t. I do hope it’s a by-product, but my real goal involves something else. My post is much to long already, so I will address it next time. I will leave you with this hint though: It’s the reason I started this blog.

Pray Hard. Dream Big.


Black Friday

Black Friday

Well, at least they are running…

Oh yes, I just shamelessly used the words “Black Friday” in my title, knowing it might give my blog a few more hits.  But for those of us trying to maintain a healthy weight, the day after Thanksgiving can indeed feel like Black Friday, should one be so stupid as to step on the scale.  Therefore, instead of being out shopping with the Crazies, I am at home, drinking coffee and writing an exercise entry in my blog.


Oh yes. This is exactly what I look like drinking coffee. Uh huh.

If you are like me, you know the holiday season can wreak havoc on the best laid plans of healthy eating and exercise.  In the long, dark days of winter, it’s very easy to choose sleep over an early wake up call to the gym, or to just go home after a late day at work, and watch the Big Bang Theory while eating your dinner instead of bundling up for a walk or run in the dark.  So, now is the time I encourage you to add some spice to your normal routine.  Boredom is the number one killer of exercise programs!


“You can’t make me go to the gym! You can’t make me, you can’t make me, you can’t make me!”

The first thing I did this year was to join the Y.  I haven’t belonged to a gym in over 3 years, choosing instead to utilize the gym we have at work with my co-worker workout buddies.  Very cheap (free) and it’s always more motivating to know someone else is depending on you to be there.  But lately, we find more and more excuses not to go.  It seems like such a chore – depressing even – and if one person backs out, it sucks the motivation from the rest of us.

Joining the Y has brought some spice back into my workout plans.  I can join a spin class, hit the pool, jiggle my love handles in Zumba, or run on the indoor track (so thankful I won’t have to think about running across ice patches this year).  It was just enough to bump my brain out of hibernation mode.  If you already belong to a gym, but are bored and find yourself not going, try creating an at home program.   Or find ways to exercise outside – like snowshoeing or cross country skiing if you have snow, or biking, running and/or walking if you don’t (be sure to read some articles on cold weather exercise.  There is a good one here:  ACTIVE.COM).  Or join a new gym – maybe one that offers some things you don’t have at your current gym.



The next thing I did was purchase an Ipad, which led me to justify said purchase by figuring out how to use it for reasons other than playing Spider Solitaire or Siege Hero.  I started looking for good workout apps, and found a few worth mentioning:  Daily Workouts, IPersonalTrainer, and Workout Trainer.  I’m not going to review them today, but brought them up because it was in my search for workout apps that I ran across a video called Plank Workout for Flat Abs and Toned Arms, led by a cute, perky girl who made doing a plank look oh-so-easy, even while adding in weights and arm movements.


Even perky while planking!

Further investigation brought me to more videos and then her website –Blogilates.com.  Oh my goodness – so much more perkiness (really, I am 48 years old – not much of me is too perky anymore) and sweating.  Seems an odd combination, but this girl has some killer moves.  Her name is Cassey Ho, and despite her everlasting good mood, or maybe because of it, I absolutely love her workouts.  They challenge my strength, they teach new moves to this old dog, and they make me sweat like a pig.  (Hmm…maybe that last bit wasn’t very appealing…).

Plus, she makes new videos all the time!  And she has a clothing line!  And she has a monthly workout calendar.  And she has recipes.  And meal plans.  And inspirational stories.  And icing on the cake –  she is FREE (although you do have to subscribe to her newsletter for access to some things, like the workout calendar).

Her videos are about 10-15 minutes long, so perfect for those days you need something quick.  Or you can do two or three in a row, or you can do what I did.  I went thru a few of her videos, pulled out the exercises I wanted to try, and created an hour long workout routine that we did in the gym at work.  Holy sweat balls of fire.

And my last bit of advice – sign up for an event that will make you start training.  It doesn’t have to be grandiose (but it can be, if you want) – maybe as simple as just wanting to get personal best, or try something new.  Need some inspiration?  There are a lot of charity events and Team In Trainingorganizations (like My Team Triumph or the Leukemia Lymphoma Society Team in Training) you can work with to add some meaning to your training.  I have found I train better knowing I am running for someone who can’t run for themselves.  It adds a spiritual level to my workouts, and reminds me to be grateful and humble.

And that my friends, is that.  For now…



It’s A Bird…It’s A Plane…

It’s a Super Food!  Super food – a popular buzzword in the nutrition industry, designed to peak your interest in less popular but highly nutritive foods.  Like spinach, for example.  Personally, I’m not a fan of spinach unless it’s in a dip, but that sort of defeats the purpose.  And that’s the real push of the whole “super food” campaign –  to try to get people to try foods out of their comfort zone by promoting them as avenues to health.

I will admit to being pretty stodgy in my veggie and grain experimentation in my young adult years.  Exotic grains were more likely to be found in the liquid I drank on a Saturday night than on my plate, and I thought corn was the only ‘vegetable’ that mattered.  I was more likely to eat foods that came from a chemists lab than from a farmer’s field.

And now, here I am, so much older and wiser (well, for sure OLDER), touting the benefits of super foods and about to give you some recipes of my favorites.  Please note that many of my recipes will not have sugar or flour in them, but they may have gluten (some whole grains, like barley, have gluten in them), dairy or eggs.  My main goal isn’t to adhere to any specific plan, but to give you the opportunity to try healthy alternatives to processed foods.

Two of these are foods that I like, have made in the past, and will make again.  Most likely, you may have eaten them already too, especially the first one I list.  The last one is something I experimented with over the weekend, and I am not sure I will make again.

1.  Sweet Potato Fries – this is very popular in restaurants now, even ones that offer more mainstream entrées.  Feel the Force of the Super Food, Luke.

sweet potato fries

Sweet potato fries…shut my mouth!

4 medium sweet potatoes / 1.5 tablespoons of olive oil / 1/4 teaspoon paprika / 1/2 teaspoon of salt / pinch cayenne pepper

Preheat oven to 450.  Cut potatoes in to wedges and place in large bowl.  Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with paprika, salt and cayenne pepper.  Toss to coat evenly.  Arrange in single layers on cookie sheets and bake 25 minutes.

2.  Pumpkin custard (an alternative to pumpkin pie – a favorite of mine at Thanksgiving).

pumpkin custard

For the record, my pumpkin custard does NOT look this pretty. Probably because I break the rules and don’t cook it in the pan with water. Do as I say, not as I do!

1 can evaporated skim milk / 12 oz can pumpkin / 4 eggs / 1/4 teaspoon each of cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger (or to taste) / sweetener (optional – I use agave nectar as a drizzle over the top when I eat it)

Beat all ingredients together and place in two mini casserole dishes that have been sprayed with non-stick spray.  Put the casserole dishes in a larger pan with 1 inch of water (I actually never do this – I just pop the pans in the oven, but my OCD and anal retentiveness will not permit me to omit this step from the written recipe) and bake at 350 for about 30 minutes or until the custard is set (inserted knife comes out clean).  Chill overnight (I don’t always do this either.  I’m such a rebel.)

3.  Kale chips

This is the new one I tried.  I have eaten kale before – I tried it when I heard how many nutrients it contained.  I wasn’t a huge fan – it has a pretty strong taste.  But when a friend of mine posted on Facebook that she was making these, I decided to give kale another shot.

For those of you who are new to the nutrition game, kale is a leafy vegetable that looks rather like romaine lettuce on steroids.  It’s not super popular, so you may have to check your larger grocery stores to find it.

Remove the leafy sections of the kale from the stalk.  Rinse and pat dry.  Lay as many leaves as you can in a single layer on a cookie sheet.  Coat with olive oil (I use olive oil cooking spray – worked pretty slick if I do say so myself) and sprinkle with your choice of seasoning – I used Mrs. Dash table blend, salt and a little garlic.  Bake at 350 for 10 minutes.

You know what?  I mostly liked these, but I put way too much salt on them, and then I got lazy and didn’t make another batch.  Also, a few of the chips had a stronger taste to them than some of the others, and I wasn’t sure I liked that.  I think I will try them one more time and go easier on the salt!

Until next time!