My Blog Has Moved!

Hope you all enjoyed a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday with your family and friends.

Just wanted to update you regarding some exciting news.  My blog has moved! You can now find my blog incorporated into my website at www.betterhealthbyheather.com  (Go to the “About Me” tab and click on “Blog”)

Let me know what you think.

Much to share with you this holiday season. Until my next post, enjoy this wonderful time of year!

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Trick or Treat and LOTS of Sweets

‘Tis the season to be surrounded by sugar – pretty much from Halloween through the end of the year poses a big challenge for many of us in managing our intake of sweets and other toxic substances.  In fact, this weekend was a bit of a challenge for me too!  Saturday night was trick or treating so Cruella deVille and her BIG dalmatian took our clone trooper, scary skeleton, and empire of evil out for their annual candy collection.  It was a balmy 40 degrees and oh so much fun!  During the course of our two hour candy collection adventure, we managed to consume hotdogs, a cocktail or two, and for me,  two pieces of candy.  By 8pm, I had quite the headache – an unusual occurrence for me.  Wonder why?!  But most importantly, great FUN was had by all as we walked the streets in our costumes.

Cruella, Dalmatian, Scary Skeleton, Emperor of Evil & Clone Trooper

The evening lasted a bit longer with a post T or T party which involved a few more bites of sugar, more gluten, high fat dip, and another cocktail.  The party also proved to be a lot more FUN!  It’s not too often I sample all of my “bad stuff” in one evening.  My boys complained of stomach aches on the way home from the festivities.  Wonder why?!  And today, my belly was a mess as well 😦  (Loaded up on digestive enzymes, probiotics, greens, lots of water, and some good clean eating today.  Hoping tomorrow will be better.)

I’m planning to get back to my avoid-the-bad-stuff lifestyle this week.  And I don’t think it will be too difficult until Thanksgiving (although I am hosting this year so I have some food control).  In case a few of you are struggling with the sugar monster, I wanted to share a few of my favorite tips for surviving the sugar challenge from now until the end of the year:

(1) Eat Regularly – Try to eat 3 meals/day with a couple snacks to help balance your blood sugar levels. At breakfast, combine a protein and fat in your meal – don’t just eat a carbohydrate only breakfast.  This will help reduce sugar cravings later in the day.

(2) Choose Whole Foods & Lots of Water – Try to eats foods in their natural state, or as close to it as possible.  Processed foods tend to contain higher levels of sugar and other toxic substances.  Water can provide a feeling of fullness, so you are less tempted to sneak a naughty treat, and it also helps to eliminate the toxins from your body.

(3) Get Moving! – Whatever is is that you like to do (swim, bike, run, jump rope, yoga, play frisbee, baseball, volleyball) to get your body moving – do it!  You will feel more energized and decrease your need to look for a sugar lift during the day.

(4) Keep it Out of Reach – Empty your cabinets, car, closets, office, purse, and any other area where you stash your fix and get it out of your life.  If it’s not nearby, you cannot reach for it nor put it in your mouth.

(5)  Do a Detox – A detoxification or cleanse period allows your body to reset itself.  Your appetite and taste buds can re-adjust to life without sugar (as well as a few other unhealthy substances).  If you are interested in a 7 Day Detox, feel free to contact me as I have recently organized one that has been working well for many of my clients.

And I could go on-and-on with more tips for beating the sugar blues.  But this is enough for you to read and digest tonight.  If you were out T or T’ing this weekend, I hope you all stayed warm and had as much fun as I did.  And if you are heading out Halloween night, think about a few of my tips to control the sugar monster.  And stay tuned later this week for details on my successful candy buy-back program.

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Eat to Beat Cancer with Your Fork

The month of October is flying by!  Cannot believe it is almost half over already and we are only 15 days from Halloween, 37 days from Thanksgiving, and 70 days from Christmas!  As I continue to reflect during Breast Cancer Awareness Month,  I thought it may be helpful to share some of my favorite anti-cancer foods as well as some of my favorite reading resources related to this topic.  Many of you know family and friends battling some type of cancer and much of this information may be valuable to you and your loved ones.

Here’s a BRIEF synopsis of some of my favorite anti-angiogenic foods (anti-angiogenic means “inhibit the growth of new blood vessels” – so these are foods that may help inhibit the spread of cancer by inhibiting the growth of new blood vessels).  Some of my favorite anti-cancer veggies include:  onions, leeks, garlic, shallots, scallions, spinach, kale, bok choy, broccoli, maitake mushrooms, watercress, swiss chard, pumpkin, and butternut squash.

A few of my favorite anti-angiogenic spices and herbs include: turmeric, curry, chives, rosemary, ginger, basil, and nutmeg.

There are also delicious fruits and nuts that exhibit anti-cancer properties: black raspberries, blackberries, raspberries, blueberries, tart cherries, grapefruit, pomegranates, walnuts, almonds and pecans.

My favorites are only a PARTIAL listing of the many foods that have been shown to have benefits in fighting different types of cancers.  There are some great reading resources out there for those of you who would like to learn more.  “The AntiCancer: A New Way of Life” by David Servan-Schreiber, MD is this physician’s 15 year journey through brain cancer. (Ultimately, he battled brain cancer for 20 years!) He describes what makes cancer cells thrive and what inhibits their growth; how to structure our diets around nutrient dense cancer fighting foods; the role of Vitamin D in fighting cancer; and much more.  Learn more about Dr. Servan-Schreiber and his book here.

“The Cancer Fighting Kitchen” by Rebecca Katz is a wonderful collection of nourishing, big-flavor recipes for people going through cancer treatment and recovery.  She teaches patients and caregivers how to prepare powerhouse meals, using key ingredients, to build a cancer fighting culinary toolkit.  Rebecca is  a nutritional educator at one of our country’s leading cancer wellness centers and she has spent many years helping physicians and patients come together to eat well to maximize cancer treatments, minimize side effects and improve outcomes.

Two grads from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition (IIN), where I recently graduated from, just released a book called “Kicking Cancer in the Kitchen.”  Annette Ramke and Kendall Scott are both cancer survivors so they know exactly what it is like to deal with the “Big C.” Their book is a collection of their experiences and emotions surrounding their individual cancer journeys.  It is also a collection of cancer fighting recipes to soothe and nourish during and after treatment.

The recipes contained in all the books mentioned here are wonderful for those of you NOT fighting cancer as well!

Lastly, I wanted to take a moment to mention a farm in SE WI that is dedicated to growing powerful anti-angiogenic foods.  NuGenesis Farm is a fabulous place to visit, for adults and children,  to have some fun creating healthy pizzas, learning about anti-cancer foods, and discovering how to prepare these foods in your kitchen.  Founded in 2010 by three-time cancer survivor Kathy Bero, NuGenesis helps you prevent disease, support your body through a chronic illness and prevent recurrence through the food you choose to eat.  Take a moment to check out the NuGenesis Farm website and learn all about what they are offering our community.  As it happens, October is also National Pizza Month – the perfect time to make a trip to the farm and make spectacular pizzas in their amazing outdoor pizza oven.

In two short weeks, the world of pink will fade away – the NFL will lose it’s pink shoes, towels, gloves and hats; KOHL’s department store will return to it’s maroon colored lettering; make-up and nailpolish lines will move into the true fall/winter colors; my local grocery store will lose it’s large rack of pink attire at the front door; and my 3″ lashes and pink hair (for a recent fashion show to benefit BC) will be long gone.  But for those who continue to battle breast cancer – the pink remains.

If you know someone who is battling breast cancer, or any other type of cancer for that matter, I encourage you to check out a couple of the resources outlined here and share the knowledge!  There is so much that can be done to beat cancer with your fork.

Eat to beat cancer!

 

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Passionate About Pink – The Battle is Back On

Well, as most of you know, unless you are living under a rock, in a cave, or without an ounce of modern technology, October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  According to the America Cancer Society there were an estimated 230,480 new cases of invasive breast cancer diagnosed in 2011; there were an additional 57,650 cases of in situ breast cancer that same year; approximately 39,520 women died from breast cancer in 2011 (only lung cancer accounts for more cancer deaths in women); and there were approximately 2,140 cases of breast cancer reported in men last year.

Approximately 1 in 8 women will face the challenge of breast cancer over her lifetime. With these types of statistics, it is not unbelievable to think that every reader of this blog knows at least one woman (if not more) who is currently battling or has battled breast cancer at some point in time. Unfortunately, I know and love a wonderful, dedicated, loving, inspirational, caring, faithful, determined, smart, passionate, beautiful (I could keep going)  young wife, mother, daughter, aunt, friend and so much more who is now battling Stage IV breast cancer.  Some of you started following Molly’s story 2 years ago with her BC diagnosis, double mastectomy, and year of chemo and radiation. (You can see more about Molly’s journey on her caringbridge site.)   Now, the battle continues as Molly started chemo again a few weeks back.

Throughout this journey, Molly has been AMAZING!  If you met her on the street, you would never know she was fighting the BC battle – always a smile, always patient and kind, always offering to help others, never complaining, never losing faith, and always striving to gain strength and knowledge. Well, the Susan G. Komen Foundation feels exactly the way I feel about you, Mol.  They picked one of the most beloved and inspirational women to be one of their ambassadors for the month of October.  Congrats!  I encourage you to please take a moment to read Molly’s story (scroll down list to “Molly Fuglestad”) and reflect on Mol’s thoughts. And then take a moment to think about “the girls” and how you are taking care of them. Do your monthly self breast exam and if something doesn’t feel right, call your doctor.

Honestly, it is a little painful and heartbreaking to watch Molly’s battle – but, at the same time, it is inspirational, energizing, and encouraging to think about all the women that Molly may be helping by talking about her diagnosis and journey.  And she is doing SO MUCH MORE!  Keep it up Mol!  There is an ARMY praying for you and sending you positive thoughts and energy.

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Blending vs. Juicing – The Great Debate

My last blog post Juice, Juice Baby referenced a couple of my friends who were starting out the first few days of the Reboot Cleanse.  Well, happy to report that J & L are still on track to make it through the entire 15 day program.  WOOT! WOOT!  Way to go you two. J is down more than 15 pounds and L is down 5 too (although she does not have any to lose!)

A few of my readers, who know I own a beloved Vitamix, commented, “What about blending?” So I wanted to take a few moments to share a couple thoughts about blending as well and how it differs from juicing.  (By no means is this a comprehensive analysis of both!)  Blending  and juicing are very beneficial in different ways. Here is an ultra quick comparison of the two:

Juicing is a process which extracts nutrients and water from produce and discards all the “skins” and pulp, which contain the majority of the fiber.  Without a lot of fiber, your digestive system doesn’t have to work as hard to break down the food and absorb the nutrients. The nutrients can be easily assimilated directly into your bloodstream in a short period of time.  This is especially helpful if you have a sensitive digestive system or illness that inhibits your body from processing fiber. Fiber helps slow down the digestive process which results in a steady release of nutrients into the blood stream. When you remove the fiber from fruits and veggies, the liquid juice is absorbed into your blood stream all at once causing a spike in blood sugar.  Unstable blood sugar levels may lead to fatigue and energy loss,  mood swings, shakiness, memory problems and more. Fiber is what helps to fill us up – without the fiber in the juice, you will be hungry again quickly.

Blending is the process of chopping up the entire fruit or vegetable, skin and all, to produce a smooth consistency. Fiber is retained in a blended mixture. This helps create a slow, even release of nutrients into the blood stream, avoiding spikes in blood sugar. The fiber in blended smoothies also helps you feel full longer.  By including the fiber in your smoothie, the volume will increase. You can pack more servings of fruits and veggies into a single serving of juice than you can into a smoothie.

Personally, I favor blending over juicing because of my past issues with insulin resistance. I follow a very low glycemic diet and juicing tends to rapidly boost my blood sugars and leave me feeling a bit shaky a couple hours later.  Blending, on the other hand, gives me the fiber I need to stabilize my blood sugars.  However, juicing is a wonderful treat for me.  I tend to juice only low glycemic fruits and veggies and when I drink the juice I may have a high fiber/protein combo along with the juice.  When I blend, I don’t need to worry about this.  For those of you following a low glycemic diet, blending may be the way to go.  (My Vitamix is also capable of making nut butters, soups, and flour…something my juicer cannot do.)

If, on the other hand, you have major GI sensitivities and issues, juicing may be of more benefit for you.

We are all individuals living with our own bio-individuality.  Juicing and blending both offer pros and cons.  Learn to know your body so you can make informed choices regarding which may be a better fit for you.  (Of course you can contact me if you need help with this.) Choose the one that is right for you and continue enjoying all those great veggies and fruits!

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Juice, Juice Baby

I have a couple of friends who are doing a juice cleanse this week (driven by a viewing of Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead – check it out if you have not seen it). Apparently, my friends have been getting a little flack, and limited support, for their decision to take on this project.  Well, way to go J & L!  I’m behind you 110%.  The movie spoke to you, and I commend you for taking action to improve your health.  This week is probably going to be a bit tough as you get rid of the coffee, sugar, alcohol, etc.; however, in the end, you will feel great, look great, and it will all be worth it.  Based on some of the feedback J & L have been getting, it sounds like there’s an opportunity to educate here, so I decided to blog a bit about juicing.

There’s been quite a buzz the past year about juicing as Dr. Oz, Dr. Weil, and many others have introduced their favorite green juice recipes to mainstream America.  Recent studies have shown that consuming raw, living food can have a significant impact on reducing one’s weight and improving one’s other health challenges such as digestive issues, allergies, chronic illness,  immune issues, eczema, skin eruptions, and more.  Freshly made “juice” is the ultimate in raw food.  When you are committed to consuming live juice on a daily basis,  you too, can experience these amazing health benefits.

Regular juicing can change your internal environment and rainforest.  Raw juices, especially those made with lots of dark leafy green veggies, are rich in antioxidants and they help the body get rid of stored toxins and wastes.  Sometimes, toxins may interfere with cellular function, so it’s important for our bodies to get rid of them.  In addition to antioxidants, your “garden-in-a-glass” also offers an abundance of vitamins, minerals, enzymes, phytonutrients, and biophotons (the light rays of energy that plants get from the sun that are destroyed by pasteurization).

Raw juice is concentrated with tremendous nutrients, that when introduced into the body may aid in weight loss when one has not been successful with other weight loss endeavors.  This maybe due to the improved detoxification process.  In addition, juicers may experience a significant increase in energy, improved mood, and an overall feeling of lightness, mental clarity, and creativity.   These benefits, accompanied by a possible improvement in chronic conditions, encourage juicers to continue with their green drinks.

So, my friends are taking a brief period of time – about two weeks – to eliminate all the crap in their diets right now (sugar, caffeine, alcohol, processed foods, dairy, wheat) to give their bodies a chance to detoxify.  After this brief period of time, I’m sure they will continue juicing as they are going to LOVE their newfound energy and mental clarity.  In addition to the juicing, they will begin to introduce other food items back into their diet (i.e. grains, nuts, eggs….whatever else they choose to add back in…I’m sure there will be some wine involved too). This will be a great opportunity for J & L to re-introduce one new food group at a time to ensure they continue to feel great.

Kuddos to you J & L for taking on a challenge that many are not comfortable with. You are giving your bodies a wonderful opportunity to re-boot and heal while using the powerful tools of nutrition.  By the way, the cleanse J & L chose to follow can be found here.

And to be fair, juicing is not the only way to incorporate green drinks into your everyday life.  Many health nuts, myself included, are proponents of blending.  Stay tuned for my next blog on blending. And J & L, start saving your $$$’s for that Vitamix fund.  You will love it as much as your juicer!

Posted in Cancer Prevention, G.I. Sytem, General Health, Immune System, Juicing, Nutrition, Skin Care, Weight Management | Leave a comment

Graduation! (And WTH is a Health Coach Anyway?)

Just got off my graduation conference call. It’s official! I am now a Certified Holisitic Health Coach, a graduate of the Institute of Integrative Nutrition, and certified by the American Association of Drugless Practitioners (AADP).  And I could not be any more excited about my new career and what lies ahead during my continuing health coaching journey.  Over the past year, I have had the opportunity to work with many wonderful individuals all of whom, with the help of an inspirational and fun health coach, have made significant improvements in their health and wellness.  It’s such a joy to watch as they regain self confidence, lose weight, learn to make healthier choices for themselves and their families, and truly start to enjoy life again. Helping people is my passion and I’m so thankful to have found a career where I can do just that.  Over the past year, I have changed as a person – I have learned to journey through life with greater intent; to spend more time doing what I love and enjoy; and not to sweat the small stuff.  My past year at IIN has made me a better wife, mother, friend, and health coach.

So, what the heck is a health coach anyway?  You’re not the only one who is wondering. I get this question at least three times a week from people I encounter in my activities of daily living.  So I thought, on the day of my graduation, this would be an opprotunity to share with you who I am and what I do as a health coach.

There are a few different terms you may hear pertaining to my area of work – certified holistic health counselor (or coach) also known as a CHHC; health coach or health counselor (HC); and certified health coach (CHC). They all mean basically the same thing and the titles may be used interchangeably to some degree.

So who am I? I am a wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend, volunteer, health coach, triathlete, IRONMAN, entrepreneur, pianist, avid reader, former pharmaceutical rep, biology/chemistry major, and so much more!

And what do I do? I help people. It’s my passion. I help clients with a variety of issues surrounding their individual health and wellness goals, issues that they would like to focus on such as weight loss, balancing blood sugars, busting the sugar blues, increasing energy, managing insulin resistance, and making healthier lifestyle choices for themselves and their loved ones.

What do my clients gain? And think of me? Who better to share than my clients:

“Heather, after working with you, I’m in a much healthier place, making better choices. I truly enjoyed learning from you and your creativity in planning what works best for me and my schedule. My weight is down and my energy is up. I’m making better food choices – more organic, less meat, almost no sugar, reduced my caffeine intake and increased my water intake. My anxiety about cancer reoccurrence has decreased and with my increased energy I am a better wife and mom. Heather, I loved meeting with you!” (Kara V., Brookfield area).

“Working with Heather has been a blessing for my family. She has been teaching me about making healthy choices but not just for me.  She is showing me how to incorporate these choices into ways the whole family can benefit. After Heather’s initial evaluation of my needs, we have been working on eliminating sugar, soda, and bad fats while increasing water intake, greens, and healthy snacking choices. Heather has offered me lots of options so I have choices. The great thing about Heather’s approach is that she doesn’t just tell me what I should do or give me hours of reading material. She really listens and gives me options that will work with my life. Heather presents relevant information that is easy to understand. It is one thing to tell someone what they need to do. It is another to give them a road map of how to do it. Heather’s style is one of teaching and supporting me through the changes I need to make to live a healthier life. She has been very motivating in my quest and she is really FUN to work with. And, isn’t it always better to have fun? I think so.” (Tanya S., Miwaukee area).

 “Before I started working with you, I was in the process of losing weight and had met with a dietician a couple times. The dietician had provided me some helpful guidelines but you, Heather, helped me take my health to the next level. You taught me so much about greens, grains, and proteins and how to make them which made it easier to incorporate them into my daily life. Your collection of recipes gave me the choice of what I thought I’d enjoy the most. I have been so overjoyed to learn that eating healthy can be so fun and really taste great!  I truly benefited from the on-on-one counseling with you. Not only did I learn a lot from you, but you have been FUN to work with. Heather, you have a glowing personality that is positive, contagious, and uplifiting. Your encouragement made me feel like I had a number one fan staing in my corner for my health, and for me as a person all around.  I wish I could keep you as my health and life coach forever. I feel blessed to have worked with you.  All your tips on food, vitamins, pre & post workouts, grocery shopping, food storage, exercising, water…and the list goes on…will be forever valuable to me.  Learing about health and wellness is really endless. Thank you Heather for all your time, help and support! I know you are going to help so many people in your future, enriching their lives. Thank you for being such a positive role model in mine!” (Krissy N., Jefferson area).

And that is what truly warms my heart more than anyone will every know – the kind words of clients who have found great benefit from my coaching. It’s a pleasure to share my knowledge, dedication, inspiration, and resources with others and I look forward to continuing to empower, educate, balance and instill belief for many years to come.

Feel free to share my website (www.betterhealthbyheather.com) and blog (www.betterhealthbyheather.wordpress.com) with others. Coming very soon will be my exciting new website which will integrate my site and blog into one!

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The Run and Crossing the Finish Line

Most of the humor of my IM day occurred during the swim and bike.  The run was bit more tough, although I met some great friends along the way.

The first 7 miles of the run where surprisingly tolerable for me.  Had no idea how my body was going to tolerate all the activity.  My legs felt great off the bike; however, I was only running an 11 minute pace over the first 7 miles…a much slower pace than I anticipated and trained at.  But I was running.  There were quite a few walking all around me so I just kept plugging away at my slow pace.

Just after mile 6, things started getting really hard. My socks and shoes were soaked from kind spectators cooling us down with their hoses, sprinklers, and squirt guns.  In addition, there had been quite a few cups of water poured over my head, ice cubes down my shirt, and cold sponges tucked in strategic places like under my hat and in my shirt.  By 3 miles into the race, the soaking wet socks and shoes had already started to cause mild chaffing on my feet.  By mile 6, the chaffing had turned to complete rawness  and was getting very painful. Could feel the blisters starting to form.

And then, as I rounded the end of my first loop, on the double loop run,  I saw my dear friend Molly and her son M cheering me on.  I was SO excited to see my beautiful, inspirational friend!  Molly was one of my friends on my IM prayer list for the race. She truly lifted my spirits and encouraged me to keep on going.  M raced down the course, along side of me for a bit, and I was able to keep running through mile 7. By mile 7, my feet were in so much pain from the many blisters that were forming along the inside of my feet and the balls of my feet that I started walking.  However, I kept moving forward, putting one foot in front of the other.  But the clock was ticking very quickly and I was moving very slowly.   This really bummed me out since I was tracking to finish the run in about 2:20 which would have been ok by me considering all the activity I had done prior to the run. Ended up taking me 20 minutes longer than that.  My worst half marathon ever. A complete disaster in my mind.

There was a “positive” to all the walking though.  Had a chance to talk to those walking around me and met some really nice folks  – a couple from IL who were also doing an Ironman as their second tri (so I was not the only crazy one out there); a young business man who was going to start working on his MBA and start saving money to do other IM’s around the country (yes, he was single with no children…and kind of cute but I did not get his number…sorry single ladies…truly LOVED his energy though); a trainer from a gym who was having the same wet socks and shoe issues I was (we compared notes on how we were going to manage the healing of our blisters);  and finally, a most inspirational young man, dressed in all his fireman gear in the 95 degree heat, out on the course to raise money for his cause and to prepare himself for IM Madison in September. Truly inspirational and amazing!

Finally, I was into the last mile of the “run.”  And that’s when I made up my mind to ignore the pain for a few more minutes and finish strong with a big smile.  My family and friends were gathered along the finish chute (which I was hoping but did not know until I saw them) – I owed them a fantastic finish!  Thanks to Dave and the boys, my mom, my in-laws, RS, BR, SE and her family, TW, KI, EL, and AM and I.  You are the best friends a girl could have!

My dear friend BR captured a video of the last final moments of the race; however I cannot get the file to upload directly here! AGH!  (Think it’s too big.) Check it out at this link (and it will take a minute to download): Heather’s IM Video Finish.

And here are a couple great pics of my support crew for the day. So thankful to have all of you in my life!

The IM Family

My Mom

My AWESOME Support Team – Thanks All!

I’m excited to say, that since this race, I have sparked the tri bug in a few other friends. One has committed to an Olympic distance event for next summer.  Another two have committed to their first tri ever!  Can’t wait to help you both out!  And I know there are many more of you thinking about it.   It was truly one of the most unbelievable feelings to cross that finish line.  Everyone should experience it once in their lifetime.  GO FOR IT!!!!!

Posted in General Health, Inspiration, Ironman Training | Leave a comment

This Will Make You Laugh

It’s been one week since I crossed the finish line and became an Ironman. Thankfully, I’ve been feeling mostly great with very little pain – just some muscle fatigue. My blistered feet have healed beautifully and I made it to the gym a few times this week for some recovery workouts.

This picture was taken about 20 steps from the finish line.

Being that this was only the 2nd triathlon I’ve ever completed, there were a few funny things that happened along the way that I thought I’d share to make you smile.

Apparently, I missed the IM Memo about the strippers on the course. After I exited Lake Michigan, and struggled for a 1/4 mile through the sand,  I was pleasantly surprised to hear people calling out, “Wet suit strippers here. Do you want help?”  Had absolutely no idea that there was such a thing as a wet suit stripper until that moment in time.  I was overjoyed by this discovery because my full wetsuit is a beast to take off!  So I ran down the lane toward the strippers.  Came upon two young ladies who told me very emphatically, “Sit down.”  I answered back, “On the ground?”  They just looked at me like I was clueless – because I was!  Looked around, and sure enough, everyone had their suits pulled down to their waist, then they plunked on the ground, and the strippers whipped the wet suit off.  So I followed orders and thankfully, my wet suit was stripped without any struggle.

Then it was into T1 (transition 1) to prep for the bike.  As a tri-newbie, I may have over prepared my transition space a bit. Had everything there but the kitchen sink.  It was quite comical. Wish I had snapped a photo so I could have shared how my space looked compared to others.  Had everything laid out and ready to go (or so I thought).  Changed into my bike jersey, dried and wiped my feet (to get all the sand off), slathered on more sunscreen, packed my PB&J’s in my bike shirt pocket, took a few swigs of water, put on clean socks and my biking shoes, checked the time...it’s no wonder my first transition was over 7 minutes. LOL!  (The pros took about 2 mins in transition.)  Hopped on my bike and off I went for 56 miles.  About 53 miles into the ride, I realized I never put on my biking gloves…so much for having everything laid out and organized.

Somewhere around the 45 mile mark on the bike, a friendly gentleman decked out in his fancy bike outfit, expensive sunglasses, racing helmet, and $5000 tri bike pulled up next to me and said, “You look like you’re having too much fun. This is a race you know.”  His comment was driven by the fact that I had just sat up to stretch my back and neck, was looking around soaking in the sights of the countryside, and absorbing as much hot sun as possible while riding my trusty road bike.  So, I  looked like a total tri-newbie at this point.  I answered him back with a big smile, “I may only do this race once in my lifetime, so I’m trying to soak it all in.”  He thought that was great and he proceeded to up his speed to 20+ miles an hour and left me in the dust.

One other new, smooth move that I managed on the course was pulling over for my water stops. I pulled over, unscrewed the tops on my lovely insulated water bottles, dropped in my electrolyte tabs, refilled with more water, screwed the caps back on….I even pulled over to switch the bottles between cages when one bottle emptied.  For all you hard core bikers out there, hope you are having a great laugh.  Don’t think I saw one other person pull over to do this the entire race.  Lesson for future: figure out the water bottle situation on the bike.

Then it was time for T2. Stripped off my biking jersey while eating another quarter of a PB&J sandwich which was really hot and sticky from being stuck in the back of my bike jersey for 3.5 hours.  But, by this point in the race, I did not care (at least it was not moldie).  Apparently, I had a lot to do during T2 because it took me 8 minutes!  Like 7 minutes was not long enough!  No idea what I did for 8 minutes in T2. But, it was at this point that I had removed my bike helmet and sun glasses to change into my running shirt. Grabbed my running hat and then my sun glasses to put them back on.  It was then that I noticed a big, gold, oval sticker on the front of my sun glasses…a big sticker that said, “UV polarized protection.” I had run out to REI the night before the race to get a better pair of sunglasses for race day (yes, I know, nothing like waiting until the last minute). I managed to remove the price tag prior to the race, but not the UV sticker. Rode with it on all 56 miles and never noticed!  I think back to the guy who pulled up next to me on his bike, I’m sure he didn’t miss the big gold sticker on my glasses….and I’m sure he was laughing all the way into T2.

Finally, it was on to the run.

Posted in General Health, Heart Health, Inspiration, Ironman Training | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

My First Taste of 40 – I Am an Ironman!

In less than two weeks, in eleven days to be exact, I will be celebrating a milestone birthday that will bring me into another big decade – my 40’s.  I’m having a bit of a difficult time accepting the fact that I have reached this significant point in my lifetime as I never imagined I would be the one with gray hair, fine lines, 3 little peeps wrapped around my legs, and a little bit of belly fat here and there.  But, here I am!

About a year ago, I thought it would be fun to mark this grand occasion with a spectacular event. That thought, in conjunction with the motivation and inspiration of a dear friend, led me to sign up for Ironman 70.3 Racine.

And on this past Sunday, after  7+ hours in the hot, hot sun, I became an Ironman! Technically, I was only 39 when I crossed the finish line; however, for IM purposes, they use your birth date as of December 31st of this year. So on Sunday, I was 40 years old – and it felt great! If this is what a decade of 40’s is going to feel like, then I’m up for it!  And two days after the big event, I still feel great.  Very little pain or soreness, just a bit of overall muscle fatigue and some nasty blisters on my feet from my soaking wet running shoes and socks. (It was blazing hot so spectators were hosing us down, which was great. But I had a very poor plan in place for dealing with wet feet. In fact, I had NO plan.  Lesson learned).

There are so many stories I want to share about my exhilarating and inspirational day; however, I cannot sum them all up in just one blog post. You guys would be reading all night!  So I just want to start off with a great big thank you to all of you who inspired and supported me throughout this journey over the past 20 weeks, and ultimately, this past year.  I would not have crossed the finish line without each and every one of you.  A huge heartfelt thanks to my dear family and friends that joined me during the race and at the finish line.  You are all an amazing part of my life!  Love each of you.

American writer Ursula LeGuin once said, “It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.” And I am realizing how true this is.  I have learned so much about myself – my body, my mind, my emotional state, my spirituality, my commitment, my determination, my sweat rate, my tastes, my gut, my ability to juggle, my creativity, my tolerance for eating moldie protein bars and allowing laundry to reach piles that were sky high – plus tons more over the past year.  In addition, I have learned so much about my close family and friends and their unending support, love, willingness to help, understanding, flexibility, generosity, patience, and kindness.  Truly, I am blessed to have a wonderful support circle surrounding me and encouraging me in my life’s endeavors. This has been a most inspirational journey.  Thanks to all of you!

Later this week, I will update you on some really funny things that happened to me on race day – all pretty much a result of being a total tri newbie – as well as more on the race itself.  Some of you may not know, Ironman Racine was only the second triathlon I have ever done in my life (the first one was last summer and it was a sprint tri).  With my inexperience, there were bound to be a few “oops” and there were.  Also hope to share some pics and video clips with you very soon as well.

Signing off to check out a few pics my hubby took of the race and to savor my first taste of 40!

Posted in Inspiration, Ironman Training | 2 Comments