Tag Archives: fitness

The Good Life Halfsy…

Last week, I signed up to run The Good Life Halfsy. My favorite farmer thinks that I am crazy and my favorite blonde cowgirls are claiming that my mental status has been in question for years; but there are a variety of things compelling me to complete my first half marathon.

 The first, and most important, is that Ashley Grace asked me to do it with her. My favorite brunette begins her senior year in high school this fall, and I am incredibly excited to be able to share this experience with her. While we will not really run it together (she will cross the finish line well ahead of me), it is a mother/daughter bucket list item.

Apart from a few 5k races completed recently as a fitness building tool with my family or the Haymaker Cross Country team, I have not competed in a running event since high school. The six minute miles that I used to kick out on the XC course provide an interesting history, but little relevance to the race in late October. Much has changed over the last twenty-four years 😉

The second reason that I hit the “go button” on the registration form is simply that I canFor the first time in 13 years, I am physically strong enough to finish the race. To be completely honest, this race is a mental (as well as physical) stretch for me. However, I believe that it is a symbolic event as I celebrate a level of health and fitness that, during my years with active Graves Disease, I worried I would never again attain.

I recently wrote a blog entitled Life’s About Never Giving UpIn a number of ways, this race will be living proof of my words.

  • It is a difficult challenge to lose your health.
  • It is often a long journey to regain strength and fitness.

But, there is an awesome sweet spot to find as you pack your FAITH along the healing process. I’m hopeful that sweet spot will make a strong appearance the morning of the race as my main goal is to complete the half marathon with a smile on my face and peace in my heart.

I hope to have many great moments over the next five months as I train and prepare for the race; but what I most look forward to is seeing the pride in my daughter’s eyes as she hugs me on the finish line.

 

One of the reasons that Life’s About Never Giving Up is because there are so many awesome things to do as we live it 🙂

 

 

 

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

Haymaker Swimming…

I competed in my first backstroke race the summer of 1979 at the age of 4.  My mom taught me to swim almost before I could walk, and USS Swimming played a huge role in the first 21 years of my life.  In addition to allowing me to compete as an athlete at the national level in high school, it also helped me to matriculate at Dartmouth College in the fall of 1993.  I wasn’t as smart as the general Ivy League student population, but I knew how to work and I was never known to back down from a challenge.

Although I drifted away from the sport during my twenties as I built a life on the farm and gave birth to my three greatest blessings, I became reunited with it the year my youngest turned 3.  At that point, swimming provided a healing influence, and played a vital role as I regained my health after a difficult struggle with Graves Disease.  The combination of physical fitness challenge as a swimmer and the mental fitness that I acquired as a coach enabled me to find the “old Anne” and shake off the deflated self esteem that often develops when battling a chronic illness.

Looking for a "high 5" at the beginning of the meet...

Looking for a “high 5” at the beginning of the meet…

Years later, our local swim team thrives with 46 young competitors aged 7-16.  Coaching is the highlight of my summer and I love to watch the sport play a positive role in the growth of our community’s young people.  It is not just speed and strength that gets developed in the water — it is character, work ethic, and respect.  The almost twenty hours a week that I put in as a volunteer coach during the summer months nurtures my altruistic side despite the fact that during hard workouts my athletes have been known to classify me as evil

What they likely don’t realize is that I push them because I care about them: both the young people that they are today and the awesome adults that they will grow up to be tomorrow.  I hope that sometime ten years down the road each of my swimmers will rattle off one of the many motivational phrases that I am known for and take a moment to appreciate what we built together.

Our league also allows for adults to swim, so each week I get to hit the water to prove to myself that I still can.  I love that I demonstrate with each day that passes that swimming is a life sport and fitness is fun.

  • Every practice is a challenge to be met.
  • Every race is an opportunity to embrace.
  • Every awesome effort proves that while the road to excellence is rarely comfortable, success thrives in an uncomfortable environment.

annecoach2.jpgGo Haymakers!

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Filed under General, Rural Communities

The Haymakers Rock the Pool…

The Haymaker Swim Team rocked the pool during the 2015 Plains Tsunami Swim League Championships.

52 Haymaker Swimmers competed garnering a total of 210 medal winning swims, and 13 individual swimmers earning High Point Awards for the meet. The stack of medals is indeed impressive – glittering brightly to match the smiles of the swimmers after they powered through more than 70 PR’s and secured the team victory.swimteam2015a

Words cannot describe how proud I am of the team, and it is my fervent hope that each swimmer finished the season stronger and more confident than they began. Many share my enthusiasm for our team’s success in 2015, but very few realize that I held an additional and very important personal goal for the 2015 Championships.

This year I celebrated my 40th birthday as well as my 10 year anniversary with Graves Disease. A few months prior to my 30th birthday, this autoimmune system disease racked my body – leaving me physically debilitated and mentally shattered. My anemic and painfully thin body refused to function and simple things like lifting my 12 month old baby or reading aloud to my children became nearly impossible.

As my physical strength deteriorated, my mind ran on constant adrenaline leaving my mental and emotional fitness devastated. My Graves journey was unique and I experienced some unexpected complications both from the disease and the treatment. I have few specific memories from those first 5 years of my 4th decade, but many regrets for the trauma that my family experienced as a result of the disease.

My biggest fan...

My biggest fan…

The last five years have been years of healing for me – finding new balance – and accepting that my flawed body (with the help of modern medicine) can indeed persevere. Losing fitness is difficult for anyone, but it hit me particularly hard as my identity was closely tied to athletics. Soul searching eventually led me to decide that I needed to come full circle in order to effectively “finish the Graves Chapter” of my life.

On my 40th birthday, I made a promise to myself that I would train and compete as a 19 and Over Swimmer for the 2015 season. While I have haphazardly swum for a few years, I had not set an athletic goal since getting sick. I have to admit that it scared me. I am naturally driven to accomplish personal goals and my flagging confidence worried that I would fall short. Despite my trepidation, I recognized that it was a critical step in my journey.

I too was personally victorious at the Championships. I completed the meet with a sweep of Gold Medals (200M freestyle, 100M freestyle, 50M Backstroke, and 100M Individual Medley) and a collection of very decent swims to mark the first year of my 5th decade. My healed body showed stamina and strength which brought a feeling of pride and closure.

This picture was taken about a month ago -- since then, my favorite 10 year old has passed me by and I am now the shortest two-legged member of the household!

My Graves journey was life changing. I look at the world differently today than I did 10 years ago. There are a few physical challenges that still remain, but I have overcome the heart of this trial. As a result, I truly understand that the road to excellence is not meant to be comfortable.  I would not be where I am today without the love and support of my favorite farmer and the three girls with which God blessed us.  We persevered together.

Every day is a gift — Every race is an opportunity.

Go Haymakers!

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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.

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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.

Crunches...

Crunches…

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…

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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…

familytree2.jpg

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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The “Turkey-Less” Tetrazzini…

My favorite farmer bought a 21# turkey for the five of us to enjoy at Thanksgiving. My daughters were quick to point out that it was a bit silly for him to provide us with 4.2# of turkey per family member.

In typical “Matt fashion”, he smiled, shrugged his shoulders, and stuffed his prized bird…

As you might guess, we had plenty of left over fowl after our Thanksgiving meal. I try to not waste food, so we have been eating a variety of turkey dishes since the initial feast. I grew up on homemade “chicken tetrazzini”, so one night last week I amended the dish with the plan of using up the leftover turkey.

I put together a nice cream sauce with cheese and white wine, boiled some homemade noodles that were a gift from a friend; and threw the casserole into the oven to bake just before I headed back to town to get the blondes at gymnastics.

Forty five minutes later, I served the casserole and noticed that Ashley Grace was picking through it with a strange look on her face.

“Mom, did you put the turkey in the casserole?”

This question was followed by a chorus of laughter as my favorite farmer struggled to not shake with mirth…I could have cried (literally), but I decided that joining in the laughter was a healthier choice.

The next day, Matt dropped a page of notes of my desk at the office with two sets of numbers listed on the top:

3000/500.

I looked up and innocently asked, “What does 3000/500 mean?”

He replied, “According to Dr. David Kohl from Virginia Tech University, human mental, emotional and physical fitness are disrupted when an individual spends more than 3000 hours per year working and more than 500 hours in volunteer service.” Silence ensued as he looked at me with a thoughtful, albeit omniscient expression on his face.

We both knew that I failed both of these parameters, so arguing seemed pointless…

I push myself hard – I always have – but the last 5 years have seen a huge increase in the number of volunteer hours personally given without a balancing decrease in the number of hours worked for pay.

The result —

Turkey-Less Tetrazzini…

I feel compelled to mention that I was also 15 minutes late picking Karyn up for school earlier that day because I lost track of time at the office — And, I also forgot to get on a scheduled conference call for the BQA National Advisory Board.

Hmmm.

It appears that my favorite farmer has compelling evidence to prove his point.

I rarely make “resolutions”, but perhaps I need to spend some quality time figuring out how to balance my life. When I figure it out, I’ll be sure to let you all know…Annealley.jpg

Until then, bear with me as I find my way.

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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.jpg

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.

karynbreast.jpg

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.

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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.

 

 

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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?

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Filed under General, Nutrition (cattle and human)