Tag Archives: exercise

Fitness Foodies…

It is difficult to talk about diet, weight and health without including the topic of physical exercise.  During my dietary guidelines research, I unearthed a statistic that I have pondered over the past few weeks.

USDA data reports that more than 50% of adults in the United States are not physically active. 

While I likely define the words “healthy weight” more loosely than the Obama Administration, I do think that everyone benefits from physical activity.  When we discuss fitness at the Feed Yard Foodie residence, we do not discuss weight — rather — we talk about building muscle, cardiovascular strength, and the ability to be active.  My favorite farmer and I are life-long athletes.


I devote time to coaching youth athletics because I believe that we need to create a culture of fitness in young Americans.  To build a culture, exposure must start early and it must be fun.  I hope that my volunteering plays a positive role in the lives of the kids that I mentor just as my dedication to fitness is a result of my parents and coaches teaching me to love exercise at a very young age.  Although almost 20 years have passed since I retired from collegiate athletics, I still love a workout.  Apart from making me feel good, being fit allows me to experience better health and a healthy weight.

I’ve heard that “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree”…

My favorite high school student recently chose to learn to be a Fitness Trainer for a semester project in math/science.  She selected family members as her first “clients”.  Basic kinesiology, benchmark testing, training, and fitness goals permeate family dinner discussions as our favorite trainer leads the current family fitness journey.

Sunday morning found us at the track doing an “Owen’s Circuit”.  I have to admit that when Ashley Grace began my parenthood journey 15+ years ago, no one at the hospital told me that this would be part of the challenge 🙂  For those of you that are unfamiliar with an Owen’s Circuit (which one could argue is a good thing), it is a series of upper body, core and leg strength exercises intermixed with running repeats on the track.



After 400 yard repeats -- note that the smile on the youngest member of the family's face :)

In between 400 yard repeats — How awesome is the smile on my youngest daughter’s face?!

Rocket jumps...

And, rocket jumps…

100 meter sprints...

Topped off with 100 meter sprints…

And a myriad of other fun things like push ups, burpees, lunges and dips that help you find muscles that you might have forgotten existed!

While the primary focus of this blog post is to provide a bit of “light humor” in the midst of a very serious discussion, I do want to point out the importance of fitness in life’s journey.  Everyone will likely define the word using different difficulty scales (I wouldn’t recommend an Owen Circuit workout to the general public), but the fact remains that being healthy almost always involves some sort of physical activity.  Take your dog for a walk, swim a few laps, play racket ball with your spouse, or have a rousing game of tag with your kids in the front yard.

If our country is going to effectively tackle the problem of obesity and its subsequent health challenges, I believe that it is equally important to learn to love exercise as it is to eat a balanced diet full of protein.  As many things are, the answer is complex and requires personal buy-in to be effective.calendar race

Both diet and fitness are personal choices –As a country, we will make positive change by empowering life choices that can be both fun and healthy. 

This isn’t something that occurs through Dietary Guidelines and regulation, it happens when the American people are motivated to become Fitness Foodies…


Filed under General, Nutrition (cattle and human)

The 12 Days Of (Christmas) Fitness…

I have a habit of making up words to songs that I enjoy.  Over the years, my family has picked up this same tendency which ensures much laughter in our daily lives.

Our family also has a habit of fitness.  Matt and I are lifelong athletes, and keeping physically fit is important to us.  We often sing when we exercise — sometime the correct words and sometimes our own funny remake of a song…


My favorite blonde cowgirl took her daddy to the community wellness center a couple of days before Christmas.  After running a bit, they did a circuit exercise set that Megan devised to the old favorite song, The Twelve Days of Christmas.  Unfortunately, I missed out on the fun as I was tied up working at the feed yard, but I have thoroughly enjoyed the retelling of the session and figured that I would share Megan’s Twelve Days of (Christmas) Fitness with each one of you.

  • On the first day of fitness, my favorite farmer gave to me: 1 Pull Up
  • On the second day of fitness, my favorite farmer gave to me: 2 Knee Curls
  • On the third day of fitness, my favorite farmer gave to me: 3 Single Bounces with a Heavy Jump Rope
  • On the fourth day of fitness, my favorite farmer gave to me: 4 Tosses with the Medicine Ball
  • On the fifth day of fitness, my favorite farmer gave to me: 5 Wheel Rolls
  • On the sixth day of fitness, my favorite farmer gave to me: 6 Sit Ups with a 10# Medicine Ball
  • On the seventh day of fitness, my favorite farmer gave to  me: 7 Step Throughs with a Jump Rope
  • On the eighth day of fitness, my favorite farmer gave to me: 8 Jumping Jacks
  • On the ninth day of fitness, my favorite farmer gave to me: 9 Push Ups
  • On the tenth day of fitness, my favorite farmer gave to me: 10 Lunges
  • On the eleventh day of fitness, my favorite farmer gave to me: 11 Toe Touches (with straight legs)
  • On the twelfth day of fitness, my favorite farmer gave to me: 12 Double Bounces with the Jump Rope

If you remember, the song goes through each day of Christmas repeatedly as it goes from 1-12.  I am happy to report that by the end of 12 pull ups, 22 Knee Curls, 30 Single Bounces with a Heavy Jump Rope, 36 Tosses with the Medicine Ball, 40 Wheel Rolls, 54 Sit Ups with a 10# Medicine Ball, 54 Step Throughs with a Jump Rope, 40 Jumping Jacks, 36 Push Ups, 30 Lunges, 22 Toe Touches, and 24 Double Bounces with the Jump Rope that my favorite farmer was breathing hard enough he was no longer singing out loud 🙂

I hope that each of you found some time last week for moments of laughter, peace, and share memories.  Each Christmas with my family reminds me of how truly blessed I am.

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Filed under Family, General

Trading Drugs For Fitness…

My youngest daughter contracted a serious pneumonia infection during the fall of 2011. She spent five days in the hospital as an incredibly sick little girl. The severity of the illness led to a very slow recovery, and lingering challenges that were eventually defined as “illness induced asthma”.


Karyn is naturally very stoic in nature which made properly diagnosing the ensuing period of diminished lung capacity a journey. Five months after the infection, it became obvious to me as I coached her on the track and in the swimming pool that her lung capacity was not normal despite her lack of complaining. It was a shock when further testing discovered that she was operating at just over 50% of normal capacity.

From April of 2012 to December of 2013, Karyn’s pediatrician steadily increased her asthma treatment medicines as I kept asking the question, “Will she ever fully heal?” Over the next year and a half, Matt and I became increasingly uncomfortable with the levels of steriods prescribed all the while Karyn continued to contract many additional respiratory illnesses and a second pneumonia infection. Ultimately, we decided to travel to Omaha to see a pulmonology specialist.

I did not know what we would find under the care of Dr. Kevin Murphy at Boys Town National Research Hospital, but my heart told me to keep looking and have faith. I read articles about using fitness training to strengthen lung capacity as a natural augmentation to regular asthma treatment. I thought that it might be a good fit for my sports-loving young athlete.


In addition to being an esteemed pulmonologist, Dr. Murphy is the father of two competitive swimmers which enabled us to find common ground on the natural fitness component of a new treatment plan. He switched Karyn to an inhaler that more deeply penetrated the lungs in order to reach the damaged tissue while also instructing me to create a strenuous fitness program that included both swimming and running in order to naturally strengthen her respiratory system.

Eight months later, we have begun to wean Karyn off of the daily preventative QVAR inhaler with incredibly exciting results. Her overall health is excellent and her lung capacity and general immune function are strong. For the first time in almost three years, I truly believe that Karyn will fully heal. I am confident that there will be a day when daily drug treatment will no longer be necessary. I am just as confident that fitness will play a permanent role in Karyn’s life journey.


Every day, I make decisions as both a mom and a cattle caregiver. I believe in the power of fitness — both for my children and my animals, and that governs my decision making process. There is tremendous beauty to be found in putting together the necessary pieces for well-being; and I love it when we can replace drugs with fitness in order to maintain optimal health.




Filed under Family, General

Fitness Is A Personal Choice…

I remember going for runs with my dad when I was in elementary school.  I think that I did my first 2 mile fun run in 2nd or 3rd grade.  My dad is a life-long runner and never got out of the habit when he retired from the Army Reserves.  He is still an active runner and walker today at age 67.  Fitness has always been his choice and he passed that on to me…

The habit of running paid off with two Florida Cross Country Team Championships…This championship was my junior year in high school–my teammate and I individually took first and second places and all five of our scoring runners placed in the top 20.

I also remember vividly when our family got our first VCR player.  I was in high school.  I came home from swimming practice one night with a friend, and heard very strange noises coming from the family room.  My friend remarked, “What is that?”

It was my dad, trying out his new VCR player and turkey calling instructional tape.  His sole reason for purchasing the VCR player was so that he could practice his turkey and duck calling prowess and become a more skilled hunter.  Apart from the embarrassing moments of friends stopping by while my dad practiced his unique skills, the VCR and TV remained virtually unused at my house.

Instead of watching TV, our family went for runs or did various other outdoor activities (including putting those turkey and duck calling skills to work hunting on ranches in Central Florida).  By the time that I graduated from high school, I could hunt, fly fish, run, swim, and sail with the best of them…

I shot a wild hog on my 13th birthday. My brother was my “guide”…

It would be pretty easy to say that I grew up in a very active and fit family.  Just about the only thing that we did not do well was sit still…Fitness and activity were an integral part of my upbringing and they still play a huge role in my life today.

I spend my days working with large animals at the feed yard.  When I come home, my hobby is working with and riding my horses.  I also still run, walk, and swim pretty regularly.  It seems as though the only time that I sit still is when I write blog posts!

I love to care for animals…

You could argue that I weigh 110 pounds soaking wet because I have good genetics, but I believe it to be much more than that.  I believe that my personal choice to be active and to eat a balanced diet also plays a large role in my physical stature.  There is no secret to my diet—I simply balance my food intake to include protein, whole grains, fruits and vegetables, while also balancing my activity level with the amount of chocolate that I eat (yes, I love chocolate dearly…).

I love to be active…

It seems as though every time the radio news comes on, someone is talking about the growing problem of obesity in our country.   In fact, I just heard the other day that Mayor Bloomberg of New York City decided to issue ultimatums curtailing the sale of beverages that contained sugar in order to combat the problem of obesity.  As I heard the radio announcement, I thought to myself fitness is a personal choice.

I volunteer many hours coaching the youth in my community because I believe that they will learn good life long habits of fitness by participating in athletics…

I teach my girls that every action has a consequence, and I believe that wholeheartedly.  Food choices and exercise are personal decisions, and they each play a role in our physical fitness.   Perhaps the answer to combating obesity is encouraging our youth to be active—fitness habits are learned early in life.

I not only “coach” my daughters, but I also lead by example and compete in the same swimming meets that they do thereby reinforcing that exercise is a life long habit…

The time that I spend with my girls achieving fitness is time that I truly cherish.  We not only train our bodies to be healthy, but we also build an invaluable loving family relationship.  Fitness and family fun go hand in hand—What is your favorite fitness activity to do with your family?


Filed under General, Nutrition (cattle and human)

Sweetheart, Why Did God Give You Legs?

I asked my favorite 12 year old this question at swimming practice recently.  You see, she is a talented runner with strong legs; however, she sometimes fails to see the need to use those legs to kick while swimming…As her coach, I consequently see the need to inspire her to use them so that she will swim faster!

My favorite 12 year old doing her favorite stroke…

My parents believed that participation in athletics as a child and young adult would instill good lifelong fitness habits in me as well as keeping me busy enough that I stayed out of trouble during those wonderful teenage years.  My parents are very intelligent and insightful people.  Inspiring me to be a life-long athlete was one of the greatest gifts that they gave to me.  I am doing my best to give that same gift to my children.

Swimming meets are family affairs—Matt does a wonderful job of supporting his girls!

With the help of a couple of other coaches in town, my favorite 12 year old appears to be following in my adolescent footsteps.  She gets up every morning at 6:30am to run three-four miles before the summer time heat sets in.  She also has swimming practice every day.  In addition, Monday, Wednesday and Friday’s she also has a team cross country run that she chooses to participate in.

Athletics teach her that the harder she works, the better she will become.

She is eating me out of house and home as my mother used to say to me, but her body is strong and lean.  She is not only learning to train it to be stronger every day, but she is also learning how to fuel it so that she can be successful in her athletic endeavors.

Good eating habits revolve around understanding the balance of nutrients that the body needs to be successful…She learns that from her daddy and I—it is our job to teach her!

I ask my girls frequently to list out the foods that they eat during the day and also place them into the appropriate food group.  Together, we analyze the balance of their daily food consumption in an effort for them to learn how to have a healthy diet.  It seems as though I can frequently be heard saying, “It sounds like you owe me fruit”, but they are slowly getting better at identifying what their body needs relative to what they feed it…

I see this most especially with my oldest daughter as the increasing physical demands that she makes on her body mandates that she figure out how to properly fuel it.  Protein, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains are staples at our house.  While she tends to prefer protein and whole grains over fruits and vegetables, she knows that a balance of all of them is important.

The animals that I grow and care for provide her with the important ZIP (zinc, iron,and protein) that her body needs to be strong…

Throughout her athletic career and far beyond it as she moves into adulthood, this lesson of good health will set her up for success.  With every day that passes, she is learning that God gave her legs so that she could use them and a brain so that she can understand how best to fuel them!  I am proud to say that she is fueled by the beef that her mama grows for her, and this summer will also be fueled by home grown vegetables that we are growing together.

Interestingly enough, she finds the same peace weeding our garden on a nice cool morning that she does running…She’s not likely to readily admit it, but she has an awful lot in common with her mama…

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Filed under Ashley Grace's Corner and The Chick Project..., Family, General

A Change of Address…

#718 spent the remainder of the fall, and until the end of January in a large pen with his herdmates near the AL Ranch headquarters.  The end of January, #718 and his herdmates were trailed from their “backgrounding pen” to the main corrals in order to load on a semi-truck, and be shipped to my feed yard.  #718 weighed 925# at shipment time (he’s come a long way since weighing 86#’s at birth!).  It takes about two hours for the cattle to make the trip from AL Ranch to the feed yard.

Upon arrival at the feed yard, #718 was unloaded and moved to the home pen with his herd mates after a short acclimating session.

Unloading off of the truck...

Arriving at the feedyard...

“Acclimation” is a very important process that we follow at the feed yard when we receive new animals.  It occurs over a 5-7 day period as we transition or acclimate the cattle to their new home.  We implemented acclimation protocols at the feed yard about five years ago, and it has made a tremendous difference in lowering the stress level of the calves as they transition into the feed yard.

Watch these next series of (obviously amateur and unedited) videos as I take a group of cattle through an acclimation session…The video clips show 1. emptying the home pen, 2. trailing down the alley way to the corral, 3. cattle handling in the corral, 4. returning to the home pen, and 5. back in the home pen at the end of the session.  I shot this footage last Sunday morning as I exercised cattle at the feed yard, and I hope that it will give you a deeper understanding of what “acclimation” means, and how important I believe that holistic care is for my animals.


Filed under Animal Welfare, Beef Life Cycle--Calf #718, CAFO