A New Journey

Sometimes you want a change.  Sometimes you “just need a change”.  Sometimes life changes you.  So I did something that I’ve been saying for many years that I would never do.  I’ve heard the hype, I’ve heard the good, the bad, the ugly.  I’ve heard about the workouts, the competitions, and the competitors.  I’ve watched them on TV.  I’ve followed them on Facebook.  But I’ve never tried it for myself.  Which is unusual after all.  I’m usually one willing to take risks, try new events, try new fitness routines, and certain willing to try something when encouraged by my friends.  Until recently, I never had a reason to try.  This time, I’m doing it on my own.  No friends are along for the ride, this time I’m challenging myself.  To be better, to do better, to lift better, stronger, faster, and to be a competitor.  This time, I’m trying CrossFit!

Yes, I’ve been in the fitness industry in some form or fashion my “whole adult life” since age 19.  I started at the College of St. Benedict as a Personal Trainer for my on-campus work study job.  I had the greatest blessing of being supervised by our Strength & Conditioning Coach at St. Bens, Professor Don Fischer.  Don certainly encouraged my fitness career and helped me fall in love with the industry just by his passion for it.  Since then, I’ve trained at a number of facilities: a sport-specific franchise in the metro, small town private studio, the largest fitness company in the Midwest, my own 24/7 gym, personal training out of my home, senior residential living facilities, a high school weight room, and the pool deck. I’ve served as a personal trainer, group training instructor, aerobics instructor, coach, manager, owner, employee, independent contractor, and volunteer.  But I’ve never tried CrossFit, until now.  For the benefit of many of us in the industry who’ve “tried it all”, I thought I would share my journey.

Now, I want to be sure you can relate to me.  I’m a young-adult, female, in moderately “good shape”.  I’ve done a Couch to 5k class, I’ve also ran 5k, 8k, 10k, and 2 x Half Marathons.  I’ve done 2 sprint triathlons. I’ve raced a muddy 5k Warrior Dash, served in the pit crew twice for the 24-hour World’s Toughest Mudder in Las Vegas.  I’ve been a swim coach, figure skating coach, strength coach, and a Chair of a local health and wellness committee in my small town. I’m a daughter, a sister, a girlfriend, I work full-time but I don’t have children. If you can’t relate in any way to me at all yet….let me tell you this.  I STILL GET NERVOUS WALKING INTO A NEW FITNESS CLASS FOR THE FIRST TIME.  There. I said it.  The truth of what you’re all feeling.  Hopefully this blog will help to ease your nerves.

I started my initial session by meeting my coach, whose name I won’t reveal until I tell her about this blog!  She told me to come in workout clothes and I knew I would be meeting her alone.  She did NOT tell me any specifics of what to prepare for but here it is:

My CrossFit Assessment
500 m row
40 body-weight squats
30 sit-ups
20 pushups
10 pullups
To be completed in less than 11:00 minutes.  Very doable!

Next, she spent time sharing with me the CrossFit philosophy, which I plan to research more myself.  I am an educator after all but I think it’s most important to educate myself before I share my findings with others.  Here it is:

The CrossFit pyramid

  1. Sport
  2. Weightlifting
  3. Gymnastics
  4. Metabolic conditioning
  5. Nutrition

While I understand all of these terms that she explained, I’m very excited to put them into action.

1st workout: HEAVY DAY (Monday)
Luckily, as a 1st timer…I didn’t have to do “heavy day” Not for me!  Squats with PVC pipe working on form, 1-1 with my coach was the safe place to start.

Wednesday: (non-CrossFit) cardio
6 laps on outdoor hill for :45 min cardio, light jog, walk up hill, run downhill, 1 set 20 stairs (each lap)


While working out early on a Saturday morning may not be considered a “Favorite Day” to you, it was a great start to my morning.  And it was right up my alley.  Group fitness ! Not necessarily specific to CrossFit as a workout but working on the Metabolic Conditioning part which is the foundation of the CrossFit.  For a gal who loves to run, swim, hike, loves a good circuit or HIIT workout, or can spin through thousands of spin classes, this is my style of workout.  Even better is doing it with 14 other women!  New friends, might I add. I’ve always specialized in working with female athletes from my college work-study days, to fitness classes, as well as personal training clients.  Naturally, I felt very comfortable in this class.

2ND workout: MetCon or Metabolic Conditioning (Saturday)
4 x 1:00 minute circuits for 24 minutes total
1:00 situps/ 10 pushups
1:00 row
1:00 handstand (free/wall/box/plank)
1:00 Farmer carry with 2 KBs or 1 KB single-arm overhead press for 60 m

3rd workout: HEAVY DAY (Monday)
Back to heavy day and this time I get to participate!
5 x 5 back squats
Warmup 45#, workout 95#
4 x 25 reps abdominal/low back set

And now, I’m on week 3 of my CrossFit journey and I love the challenge!  The only thing I wish was that I could get there more than 3x per week. It’s nothing to be scare of and if your personality meshes well with your Coach, you’ll be sure to have a safe and fun experience.  I’m still just getting started but now I hope you do it too!

Volunteer Service Award


Jessica Wendland, Miss MN International 2016 Candidate, Volunteer Service Award

Mary Kay Foundation Independent Sales Director, Mary Kay Foundation Ambassador January 2009 – current Hours: weekly, 1-2 hours

Spread the word of The Mary Kay Foundation℠ in communities across the United States. Serve as a speaking liaison, local communicator and advocate, host fundraising events for the Mary Kay Foundation.

Phone: 1-877-652-2737 or Email: MKCares@marykayfoundation.org _____________________________________________________________________________________

Heart of Hutch Heart of Hutch Steering Committee Member, Heart of Hutch Move Committee Chair
2014 – current Hours: 2 hours per month meetings, 6-8 hours per month service work

Lead the Move committee in promoting and hosting local fitness, physical well-being, family, outdoor activities in Hutchinson. Steering committee combines move, connect, and eat committees based on the Blue Zones book towards healthy communities.

Jim Lyons, Hutchinson Health Chief of Clinic Operations, Phone: 320-484-4403 or Email: jlyons@hutchhealth.com


Hutchinson Jaycee Water Carnival Miss Hutchinson Princess, Talent Winner, Finance Committee, Sporting Events Chair, Publicity Chair, Queen’s Mom Chair, makeup for pageant and coronation
2005 – current Hours: 2 hours per month now, several more hours in the past

Reigned as Hutchinson Princess 2005-2006, now serve an annual committee roles to host the week-long festivities in June in Hutchinson. Seek financial donations from local businesses, host the 5k/10k/1k run, promote events to newspaper, radio, chamber, social media, and local television, service pageant needs for 8-10 candidates each year.

Jeremy Carter, Commodore, Phone: 320-583-5874 or Email: jcarter@ci.hutchinson.mn.us _____________________________________________________________________________________

Tough Mudder Ambassador

November 2014 – current Hours: week-long service trip in Lake Henderson, Nevada 2014 and 2015 World’s Toughest Mudder Pit Crew Chair (9-man team)

Served as Pit Crew captain previous 2 years for 4th and 6th place-finishing teams at World’s Toughest Mudder. Includes organization food and nutrition, medical and safety needs, overseeing team of 9 individuals for race strategy. Now serve as an Ambassador via social media for Tough Mudder, International.

Andrew Healy, Team Captain, Phone: 651-233-6971 or Email: healy081@gmail.com _____________________________________________________________________________________

What do you dream of?

I spent some time this morning meditating, or reflecting, before I started my day.  Do you believe in the power of meditation?  Do you dream about your goals?  Do you pray about your goals?  Do you practice the preparation for the goals?

I feel asleep last night after watching the DVD of the 2015 Miss MN International pageant and so I dreamt about it all night!  I could picture my dresses: pink, mint, blue, the feel of the fabric, smooth, soft, comfortable, the sparkling crystals.  I imagined my earrings, the shoes, which way my hair would part.  Seeing is believing.  As I focus these next two weeks on the final steps towards my pageant, I plan to visualize my journey each day.

I practiced my walk, right, left, right, I practiced my hands, fists, hands on waist, straight down at my sides….can you smell it?  can you hear it? can you taste it?  The more intense the visualization the more accurately you can predict the outcome as well as be aware of your emotions towards the outcome!  I challenge you to take a few minutes to visualize your next big win!wp-1458345344946.jpg


#TeamWheaties #World’sToughestMudder #WTM2014 @ToughMudder #LasVegas #TheStrip #Venetian #determination #discipline #perseverance #RunTheRaceSetBeforeYou #WhatATrip

They usually read something like this. That is, the tweets, the Instagram posts, the Snapchats, the Facebook posts in the past six days. Almost every post was followed by a minimum of three and on upwards of six or eight hashtags of words that represented our experience. However, in this social media clad world, a hashtag does an injustice to the World’s Toughest Mudder. And not necessarily the race itself, but the trip. The journey, the mudders, the Pit Crew, the two-hour dust storm, Lake Las Vegas, the men from Team Wheaties, and the week we had in Henderson near Lake Las Vegas, Nevada.

As it’s always hard to know what to expect heading into a new journey, a vacation with five strangers, a week away from home and work, it’s amazing and rewarding when you come out on the other end. This trip was an unbelievable experience, a once-in-a-lifetime, never forget, didn’t want to leave, kind of moment. I thought the 24-hour race itself would be an adventure and it was. On top of that, I learned a lot about myself, about the four young men I was traveling with, and even had a few winks in there to know I was doing the right thing.

I was given the opportunity just a few short weeks prior to the race to join Team Wheaties in Las Vegas for the 2014 World’s Toughest Mudder race as part of their Pit Crew. The team consists of Andrew, Alex, Kent, and Michael, and their coach Ryan. My duties in the Pit Crew included: planning and preparing food for the 24-hour race, helping with changes in gear and equipment for the athletes, taking photographs and posting live on social media, and scouting other teams while keeping an eye on timing and logistics for the race course. I realize that sounds like a lot and even looks like a lot after I typed it. I knew this was a challenge I was up for and could confidently handle the race set before me. When the team was interviewing me they questioned why I wanted to do this. From the beginning, it was 100% about the team. I planned to do everything in my ability so these young men could have the best race possible.

Their goal was no small feat. With a corporate sponsorship in hand, prize money on the line, and 100+ days of intense training under their belts, the goal was clear: come out on top. The emotions rose and nerves became tense as we headed into registration on Friday before race day. More than anything, the energy sky-rocketed. From registration and setting up the pit, to the Carb Load dinner and guest speakers, and to the pre-race strategy meeting in the hotel, the adrenaline and positivity grew. The race was off in no time and we immediately started a 24-hour countdown. They were physically, emotionally, and mentally tested through all 13 laps and 65 miles the team completed. Not to mention the countless obstacles and calories consumed. Team Wheaties proudly came out in 4th place out of 38 teams, ahead of the 1st and 2nd place teams from the prior year. This was considered a victory.

What I saw in these men was discipline, mental toughness, endurance, heart, friendship, encouragement, and a never-give-up attitude. They fought until the end. Their bond with each other, especially on the course, was strong. They are the true definition of teamwork and their motto is One Team, One Dream. I know they will soon go back out on the course as One Team, Same Dream and I look forward to seeing their achievements. I am so honored to be a part of this experience and will never forget.1383979_10100116819954605_8700151850613941678_n 10403131_10152776351011293_2423070771700290100_n 10458804_10100116820508495_1015020370937401868_n 10632870_10100116952339305_3814153062301338000_n 10456442_10100116819999515_6604705291948386445_n 1463711_10100116365156025_2878786647059985896_n 1010125_10100116658872415_386998741267484805_n 149379_10100116952493995_174816686093788385_n

Right Now. This means everything.

Boom. Ba dap ba dah ba dah. Boom. Ba dap ba dah ba dah.

Don’t wanna wait ‘til tomorrow,

Why put it off another day?

C’mon turn this thing around…

Right now, hey

It’s your tomorrow.

Right Now, c’mon.

Right Now.

This means everything.

Van Halen had it. That rhythm, beat, tune, catchy chorus, that takes you right back to that feeling. It takes you back to the moment, the event, a standstill of time. You can smell it, you can taste it, and you can feel it.   You know exactly what you were wearing, who you were with, and what car you drove that year.

For me, Right Now, is a MN State High School Swimming Championship in Fall of 2003. We were the Tigersharks, the #1 team, the Champions. Our highlight DVD even kicks off with that song. Sending chills up your spine, the song gives me an adrenaline rush, the nerves, the excitement, as I step up onto the starting block at the University of MN pool. As the song builds you can hear when the starter blows the whistle and feel the big splash of the cool water. The impact immediately sends you into a flutter kick, adrenaline rush, arm-spinning, sprint that requires only 1-2 breaths in the next 25 seconds.

Prior to Sections or playoff season we spent the first 30 minutes of swim practice in meditation. We thought it was silly at first; after all we were teenagers. Now, it’s a vivid memory of so many swim seasons. I can feel the humid pooldeck tiles on my back, the stiff concrete floor underneath me, smell the chlorine (this was a permanent perfume), as the voice of my coach is softly in the background. We started always focusing on a bright, white light that appeared small and then became bigger as you moved towards it. We took our mind all the way until we entered the light and then would focus on colored objects and numbers. Then we would visualize our race from start to finish: wall-to-wall and every stroke, breath, noise, lane line in between.

As we entered the white light we went to our “happy place”. The place where we felt totally relaxed, calm, at ease, almost mindless and on top of the world. My happy place was, and is still, floating on a inflatable raft in the middle of the lake under the hot sun. The raft was a clear, chair-type raft with the holes in it. You know the kind that you can stick your drink in but usually just fills with cold water? I’m floating in the middle of Lake MinnieBelle on a quiet midweek afternoon with no boaters to be found.

Last week we hosted a Paddleboard Yoga class on the lake with a group of ten students practicing. It was quiet, serene, at sunset and we were anchored just off the shore of Lake MinnieBelle. We took members there from our gym, many of them first timers. While we meditated at the end of our sun salutations on the board I found myself following a bright, white light. With my eyes closed it got bigger as I moved toward it until it slowly swallowed me. The paddleboard suddenly felt squishy and I could feel the warm water sneaking underneath me behind my legs and the small of my back. And then, the song started playing.

Boom. Ba dap ba dah ba dah. Boom. Ba dap ba dah ba dah.

…Catch that magic moment, do it Right here and now It means everything Right Now.

Hey, it’s your tomorrow.

Right now.

In that moment, I realized I was living a vision of something I dreamed up as a teenager. That vision of my happy place came full circle to sharing an amazing, first-time experience, with members of our gym that we had taken offsite to realize that fitness and wellness is so much more than a treadmill. It’s a way of life that we fully embraced as the sun set over the glistening water.

Right now this means everything.

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3 Special Words

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Has someone told you those 3 special words?  The take-your-breath-away, once-in-a-lifetime kind of moment… you imagine you will be alone, in a private place, you can feel your heart racing, shivers run down your spine, the room suddenly has this completely different feeling, different aura, different weight to the air.  The words you have been waiting to hear…never.  You.  Have.  Cancer.

In this lifetime you will most likely be one of two things: a Survivor or a Caregiver...” started the intro speaker.  “Please stand if you are a Survivor.” (applause).  “Please stand if you are a Caregiver.” (seems like a long pause as people look around the room).  I shove back my chair against the rough carpeted floor of a seemingly too-large conference room, in a church of course, of adults that are generations beyond me in age and maturity.  As the chair creaks, I come to stand up, tugging down the front of my dress, head looking to the floor in the front of the room.  Do we stand and smile?  Doesn’t seem like the appropriate occasion.  Do we stand and wave?  This doesn’t feel like a parade.  I guess I never thought I would only have the option to be 1 of 2.

Can I be the 3rd option?  The person who never has to battle this disease and never has to watch a loved one fight through it?  Can I be the 3rd one, the invisible one, the person NOT invited to this banquet?  I’ll pass on the complimentary catered dinner, the fresh flower centerpiece, the guest speaker, and the fancy balloons.  I’ll skip the tough questions…How many years have you been a Survivor?  Did you have a single or a double?  Did you have chemo or radiation?  These words were all jargon to me, a different language prior to the Summer of 2010.  I would be happy to never go another day with tears welling up in my eyes when I remember “that Summer”.  But I can’t.  I’m the 2nd option.  I’m the Caregiver.  It’s been 4 years since I’ve been the Caregiver and I’ll forever be the Caregiver.  I’ll forever do fundraisers to support prevention and research for cancer, walk in the Relays for Life, the 3-day 60-mile walks, wear the Pink Ribbon.  I’ll forever be invited as a guest to the Survivors banquet (as long as my Mom will have me!)

As a guest at the American Cancer Society/ Relay for Life Survivors banquet I had the benefit of hearing the guest speakers who shared with us four ways to deal with cancer:
1) Positive Attitude
2) Support System
3) Faith
4) Sense of Humor

It’s now my role to embrace these four ways to deal with cancer.  Even more so, we can use these four ways to embrace the future. We may not have a choice in being Option 1, Option 2, or the ideal Option 3 but we do have a choice in how to move forward.  There’s a reason my Mom and I are so tough.  There’s a reason we were chosen as options 1 and 2 to be the pillars of support to help others in this journey.  Not only cancer journeys but life journeys.  Each day we can choose to be positive.  We surround ourselves with family, dear friends, mentors, leaders, pastors, counselors, and those from whom we’d gladly seek wisdom.  We continue to pray for those fighting their own battles.  And, well a sense of humor, at least you get to custom design the “new ones”.  After all, I did meet a new friend at the banquet and the Tiramisu was pretty tasty.  What better way to spend a Thursday night in July, right?

What this has taught me most about being Option 2 is that I still get to be the Caregiver each and every day.  It’s really a good job.  Who wouldn’t want the…take-your-breath-away, once-in-a-lifetime kind of moment… you imagine you will be alone, in a private place, you can feel your heart racing, shivers run down your spine, the room suddenly has this completely different feeling, different aura, different weight to the air. The words you still get to tell your Mom, Option 1, in person…

I. Love. You.