What My Weight Loss Journey Taught Me

Veeve and I

Veeve and I Both Got the Pink Memo!

I’m a putz, I know. I haven’t blogged in over a week.¬†Tomorrow, I’ll blog about being a putz. But today, my mind is on other things. ūüôā

So last night was a very inspiring night.

Nate and Veeve of FKS Fitness hosted a Watch Party for¬†a client who was featured on “Extreme Makeover”. If anyone truly deserved success, it was Chantell. She’s lost 159 pounds and literally discovered a whole¬†new person along the way.

After the show, we Skyped with her and had a chance to offer our congratulations. It was obvious she is truly a beautiful person inside and out.

During one of the commercial breaks, Veeve asked me to share my testimony with the group, which on the heels of the show, inspired today’s post.

I teared up last night when I talked about how different I am today. There were some things I expected to achieve: losing weight, finding muscle, feeling better. Having more stamina. Less muscle pain. More energy. Sleeping better.

What I really never expected was how the confidence in myself that I built through my journey to fitness would bleed into other areas of my life.

In¬†December of 2011, several months before my 50th birthday, I began to think about where I was at physically and where I wanted to be.¬† I wasn’t happy with myself,¬† and I worried about¬†remaining healthy as I aged.¬†My philosophy was that I could either¬†spend money on¬†a personal trainer and¬†enjoy the benefits of¬†looking and feeling fabulous, or I¬†could wait and spend¬†money on medical treatments.

I pictured how I would feel lying in a hospital bed waiting for a cath or heart surgery. Hmmm. This sounded, by far, like the lesser of two evils. I knew, at this time in my life, I had a choice.

That choice led me to FKS, where Veeve tailored a program for my goals and needs.  I kept telling myself that the first two weeks of training would be the hardest. I just needed to keep showing up. In mid-January, I departed for Florida, carrying with me a list of workouts to do while I was gone, courtesy of my trainer. I worked out consistently in Florida, ate my normal diet, enjoyed cocktails, and was rewarded with a loss of 2 pounds when I got home 6 weeks later.

And I’m still doing it. I told Veeve I think she’s stuck with me. ūüėČ

Since then, I’ve lost 30 pounds through a lifestyle change. I’m not done yet. I still have 20 to go. But I know now I can do it. It’s just a matter of time.

Veeve pushed me farther than I would have ever pushed myself. We do all kinds of activities, from lifting to walking to jumping to Pilates to stretching. Indoors, outdoors, every day I do something different.

I’m not going to kid you: it¬†was hard. Some¬†days it still is.¬† There¬†have been¬†days I know if¬†Veeve wasn’t there waiting on me, I wouldn’t have gotten up off the couch. Once in a while I still have those days. ¬†I sweated a lot. (I still do!)¬†I had sore muscles, but sore in a good way. (You see, exercising done properly shouldn’t cause pain). Well, except for feeling the muscle burn. HA

I learned how important, and what a difference breathing makes. I discovered “the zone” that I’ve only heard about (not that I get to spend much time there, mind you…we’re too busy mixin’ it up so I keep improving!)

Most of all, I discovered how much potential I really had inside me. I developed¬†‘body confidence’…because I¬†realized my body was an incredible machine capable of great things.

I remember my “AHA” moment, just like yesterday.¬†I was on a trip to Florida last¬†November, out for my morning workout.¬†In the beginning, to run 30 seconds made my lungs feel like they were going to explode. During a 30-minute interval training workout, I ran for 7 minutes straight. I couldn’t believe it. I felt powerful! And exhilarated. YES! This is living!

I believe God has an amazingly perfect system in place. Those who work hard and do the right things reap the most rewards.

I believed it before, but now I KNOW I can do anything I put my mind to. Suddenly, the rest of my life began to fall into place, just as it should be.

Fitness isn’t an all-or-nothing proposition; it’s a process. Any activity, done in proper form that gets your heart rate up is good for you. Even if your budget can’t afford working out consistently with a trainer, a basic package will help you learn what to do and how to do it…safely. I’ve learned how incredibly important form is, not only preventing injury but helping you target the correct muscle. The slightest shift in¬†movement can make the biggest difference.

And I also learned that fitness is not something you do, check off your ‘to do’ list, and then you’re done with. Fitness, like life,¬†is a journey.

It’s taught me patience. And persistence. And fearlessness. And an appreciation for my Powerful Self. ūüôā

Reflections on My Leadership Retreat

Class of 2013

Class of 2013

Today’s regularly scheduled “Funny Friday” post has been postponed until tomorrow. I just got back from my Leadership Retreat, and my head is buzzing with other stuff. So come back tomorrow for regularly scheduled programming!

The last couple of days, the Missouri Association of Realtors’ Leadership Academy Class of 2013 spent “retreating” at the Stoney Creek Inn in Columbia. This was our 4th retreat, so we’ve gotten to know one another pretty well by now.

We’ve become a family.

As we’ve gotten to know and be more comfortable with one another, each retreat has been more enriching…and more profound.

The Leadership Academy teaches us not only how to be better at what we do, but to be better leaders in our communities, in our workplace, on our local boards, and at the state level if that’s what we choose to do. Each retreat is filled with incredibly dynamic speakers on a variety of subjects, group activities, team building exercises, and fun…all in interesting places around the state that I might not have visited in the first place.

These are all things that I expected to learn. I expected to have a blast. I expected to enjoy my classmates, and to enjoy the whole process.  I did not expect it to be life changing.

Here’s a few of the things I pondered on the way home today:

1. Leaders are made, not born. Some people may have natural leadership skills, but the best leaders are constantly learning and trying to become even better at what they do.

2. If you think you know all there is about leadership, you probably don’t.

3. Leadership is about listening: keeping your mind open, and hearing what others are saying.¬†I¬†assumed I would learn something from the people around me…I just didn’t realize how much. And from how many. And how meaningful it would be. I realized that if you always have to be right or to “win”,¬†you’re missing an opportunity to learn from those around you.

4. When you have a group of people working together, what everyone has to say is important, and has merit. Everyone contributes to the whole. While the final product won’t have everything you wanted, it will have some of what you wanted. Because great leaders know that when we work toward compromise and helping others win – we all win.

5. And, sometimes the best course of action is to simply change course altogether.

6. Leadership has costs. Whether it’s financial, time away from your family, stress, fewer¬†friendships, less social time…there are costs involved. “There is no such thing as a free lunch.” [Thanks to my dad for patiently paying¬†for me to get through college on the¬†12-Year-Plan and¬†only to remember 3 things…and that’s one of them.]

7. Everyone has something unique to bring to the table: a different style, personality, attitude, sense of humor, whatever. But that’s what makes you authentically you, and makes you effective. And genuine. And believable.

It’s an amazing¬†process to take 12 diverse, opinionated people with various backgrounds, experiences, personalities, and ages and¬†somehow transform them into a unified whole.

I like to think of it in terms of each of us being a piece of a pie: each slice has a slightly different appearance, and the filling components vary, but each is full of flavor and contributes equally to the whole.

So I’m just sayin’…if we were a pie, I think we’re a hot, wonderfully delicious, all-American – baseball and everything – Apple Pie. Only with nuts. ūüėÄ

Creating an Open Floor Plan

Before Wall Demolition

Before Wall Demolition

I love houses. I love everything about them. I love organizing them. I love¬†decorating or staging them (I’ll explain the difference between the two in a later post.) I love making them feel like home.

Most of all, I love¬†BEING at home in my own! But that’s the way it should be.

If you aren’t loving being at home, then there’s some tweaking that needs to be done somewhere.

A friend of mine contacted me recently; she and her husband loved their home, but wanted to give it an updated look. They had several things they wanted to accomplish with this remodel.

My mission: to create a fresh, timeless update that my overwhelmed friend would love, her husband who hated change could be on board with, and would suit their lifestyle and their expanding family for years to come.

This was the perfect project for the new Stanton Contracting Design/Build Division; our partner, Reid Yardley and I collaborated on their remodel. (Reid always makes my ideas even better.)

I promise I will post the complete series of Before and After pictures when it’s complete. In the meantime, the remodel is a surprise for a family member, so I can’t tell you who the client is. Yet. ūüôā

One of the things the homeowner wanted to accomplish was creating a more open space between their kitchen and family room.  While open floor plans are pretty much the standard in most new construction and remains in demand by buyers, often you can re-create the feel in an older home.

Simply knocking out a wall and leaving a half-wall opens up and makes for a ‘friendlier’ space. The impact of a wall demolition in a room can really give you a lot of ‘bang’ for your buck!

In the Before picture, the wall divided the kitchen and the family room. The pillars, which were original to the house, make the room look dated.

After Wall Demolition

After Wall Demolition

The After picture was taken shortly after the wall was removed. Clearly, there’s work to be done. But look at the difference!

Reid will be installing a countertop on the half wall, and the kitchen will now have a¬†little ‘nook’ in which to sit down and have a snack. It’s very on-trend right now to have countertops that coordinate but don’t exactly match if you have a kitchen island or bar.

The half-wall will still allow the homeowner to utilize that space for furniture, a necessity when the room’s dimensions are smaller and you need the wall space.

Our design calls for an archway with pillars on either side over this space, which will make a nice visual transition between the two rooms.

Today marks the transition for the homeowner¬†from the ‘demolition and removal’ phase to the ‘reconstruction’ phase.¬†This is¬†the fun part! Each day when the homeowner comes home from work, there will be something new to see.

I can’t wait to see the finished project! ūüôā

Funny Friday: “I Have WHAT in My Tree?!”

Trees at Knight's Key

Trees at Knight’s Key

Okay, first I have to tell you that this picture has nothing at all to do with this story. I just liked the picture, and it has trees in it. So now you know. ūüėČ

15 years ago this fall, I moved back to Missouri to be with my beloved, now my husband. He had a cute little house, and had done a nice job making some improvements. It just needed to be…”girly-fied.”

One particular Saturday I was at the Wally World picking up some things to do just that.

You know how it is there…you end up going back and forth throughout the store. You forget things, they move things, you search for things…

One of the things I had on my list was a ficus tree. We had one corner of the living room that really needed some color, and at that time, silk plants were all the rage, and you could get them at the Wally World.

Toward the end of the excursion, I was browsing the greeting card aisle, deciding on which card or cards I was going to buy. Another lady who’d came behind me stepped up close and spoke to me.

“Excuse me ma’am,” she said politely. “Did you know you have underwear in your tree?”

I’m sure my eyes were as big as saucers. “No!” I told her. Shocked, I stepped around to the front of the cart where the ficus tree was hanging over the edge.

There, in front of God and everybody, were two pairs of brightly-colored men’s Speedo-type bikini underwear.

On hangers. Swinging merrily as I moved the cart. Probably waiving at everyone I passed.

I was mortified, at the time. I thanked her profusely, and promptly removed them from my tree, glancing around me to see if anyone else noticed. (Can you imagine watching this on a security camera?)

The moral of the story is: whatever mortifies you today may become favorite cocktail party conversation later! ūüėÄ

Recipe by Request: Turkey Burgers

Flavorful Turkey Burger

Flavorful Turkey Burger

My friend Beth and I were sitting on her front porch one evening talking about World Peace and other such important matters when the conversation naturally came around to food.

Like me, she is trying to work a variety of foods into her family’s diet, rather than eat the same old things. It is SO easy to get into a cooking rut. Trust me: I know.

At her request, I’m sharing this delicious recipe here so all of you have an opportunity to try it. ūüôā

This is from my Food Lover’s Make It Paleo cookbook. If you have no idea what the Paleo diet is, just know that Paleo recipes are almost always very flavorful, and made from natural, whole-food products. They are usually also without sugar or grains.

If you like lots of flavor, you’ll like this recipe…and the simplicity of it! You can also use ground beef with this recipe. In the cookbook, it was served as an open-faced sandwich on a Portobello mushroom in the place of bread.


1 lb. ground turkey or ground beef


1 tsp. garlic powder

1 tsp. onion powder

1 tsp. salt (I always use kosher salt in my recipes)

1 tsp. pepper

Mix together seasonings, and pour over ground turkey.

NOTE: If you’ve ever worked with ground turkey, you know it can be somewhat sticky. Just before I dive my hands into the meat to mix, I wash them and spray them with oil. This will make it much easier to make patties without half the meat sticking to your hands.

Form the meat into four equal-sized patties.

I also spray my grill grates before grilling any kind of meat; I even spray my spatula when working with turkey. Pam makes a spray oil just for grilling; your oil just needs to be able to endure high heat.

The recipe says: Grill turkey patties on high for about 5 minutes per side, flipping once.

If you know your grill, you know how much heat works best and where your “hot spot” is. I heat up the grill to about 300, and turn the heat to low, grilling them until the outside edges start to look a little white and there are grate marks clearly visible (which is about 5 minutes).¬†Then, I turn them, watching them closely until there are visible grate marks and they look “done”.

If you cook them too long, they are still flavorful, just dry. It works best if you check them frequently and pull them just at the point they are done.

I can’t roller skate and chew gum at the same time, I don’t know why I ever thought I could multi-task while I was cooking. ūüėÄ Enjoy!

Mine are served here with grilled zucchini and a lettuce wedge with homemade ranch dressing. YUM!


Groundhog Tales: Chapter 2

Mr. Groundhog and the Shed

Mr. Groundhog and the Shed

So, this isn’t the best picture in the world. I had to dig through some film camera archives and pull it out. But trust me…you’ll understand why when you keep reading.

In the last installment of “As the Groundhog Turns” (he he) we had just left Jimmy being green in our smoke-filled house. If you missed that story, you can read it here:


We hadn’t seen Mr. Groundhog for a while. This is one of the first pictures I took of him.

At least,¬†we’re totally assuming it’s a him.¬†It’s not like we¬†have¬†supporting evidence to back up that assumption. You can see him through the deck spindles, with our old shed in the background.

I’ve circled him, just to make it easy.

I was home one afternoon when Jimmy burst through the back door, shouting:

“Where’s my gun?!¬† I went in the shed to look for something, and that @#$%&*¬†groundhog nearly jumped on my head. I’m gonna shoot that [expletive deleted]!!!”

I’m not sure if he was more mad or excited. It was sort of hard to tell.

He grabbed the gun, which at the time, was conveniently located next to the back door. It must have been close to deer season.

He disappears into the shed.

The next thing I hear: BLAM! (pause) BLAM! (longer pause). Then: BLAM!BLAM!BLAM!BLAM!BLAM!BLAM!BLAM!

Several minutes later, the back door opens.

“Well, did you get him?”I asked.

“I’m not going to tell you.¬†With you being an animal lover, you might be upset. So I’m not going to tell you.”

I’m reasonably certain that meant No.

That was the last we saw of Mr. Groundhog for a while. At least until Spring. BWAH HA HA HA HA HA ūüėČ

The Finished Flowerbed

Finished Flowerbed Can I just say that right now I am in Project Heaven?

I work best and am happiest when I can work like a butterfly. And sting like a bee. (Sorry, I couldn’t help myself. Or was it ‘move like a butterfly, and sting like a bee?’) My apologies if you aren’t old enough to remember Mohammed Ali. But I digress.

I am happiest when I am juggling multiple projects and can flit from one to the other, whether it be work or play or work at home.

Anyway, the flowerbed is done. *Happy Dance!*

I did not enjoy it.

But doesn’t it look nice?

I have one blue fescue plant that is struggling; it’s a sun-loving plant that was living in the shade at the store. And of COURSE there was no other blue fescue in town, so I’m hoping it will come out of it.

I typically go with a color palette of pinks, purples, and white, and a variety of textures in my landscaping. Easy on the ornaments. ¬†I’m liking the look. Just in case you forgot what it looked like before, here is the ‘before’ shot.

Front Flowerbed The perfectionist in me crept in once. I realized I there were a couple of plants that I should have moved a couple of inches a different way.

Two inches.

Dig up a plant on a hot day and move it two inches? N.O.

I got over it.

Then I really got over my perfectionism when I sent two men to the store to pick up pea pebbles for me. Graciously, they complied. And brought home two different colors of pea pebbles. (!) Fortunately, it takes a lot of pea pebbles.

After I was done, I realized it didn’t match the pea pebbles in the other bed.

Who knew there were so many colors of pea pebbles?

I didn’t need it to be perfect, I just needed it to be done.¬†Chances are, you would have never noticed it didn’t match the other bed.

Now I’ve made you want to look. ūüėČ

Time to celebrate! ūüėÄ

The Day I Met My Husband

The Night We Met

The Night We Met

15 years ago today, July 3, 1998 I met a guy in a bar in Kirksville. Little did I know then that I would end up spending the rest of my life with him.

Actually, it was two days later that I realized that.

This is a picture of us the night we met. (Who is lucky enough to have a picture the night you meet your spouse?) Sorry about the quality…keep in mind it was before digital cameras.

At the time, I was a showgirl in Las Vegas (kidding!) Little did I know when I made the spur-of-the-moment decision to come back home for a vacation just how momentous that decision was.

After I got back here, I called my friend Denise, and we decided to go out and hit the town. If memory serves me correctly, we never got beyond our second stop.

It rained 3 inches that night.

I belched in front of him.

He peeked down my shirt.

We got my car stuck.

The tow truck driver who came to pull me out in the pouring rain said, “I don’t know where you found that guy, but if he won’t even get out and help you, I’d get rid of him!”

So I married him instead. ūüėÄ

How to Stay Married While Working on a Home Project

Before Restore

A Note About the Stone Wall

So, I finished my flower bed project today. But before I show you that, I wanted to tell you about the time Jimmy and I spent a Saturday dry-stacking the stone wall several years ago.

We still managed to stay married.

We were still speaking at the end of the day.

And by the evening, we were best friends all over again.

We have not always been this successful.

It all comes down to Strategy.

Ya gotta have one BEFORE you start. You know it’s gonna happen…so plan for it in advance.

So here’s what we did:

We decided that when one of us (ahem) said something that the other found offensive/insulting/hurtful/etc., the offendee would say “Dorito”. (We tried to pick the silliest word possible that had nothing to do with what we were doing, and didn’t make the other (ahem) feel as though they were in the wrong.)

Then, we had to smooch.

How can you be irritated at someone, think about Doritos (yum, especially with sour cream, but please don’t tell anybody) and then have to smooch on them?

It worked marvelously.

If nothing else, it makes both parties more aware of your choice of words. In the end, I think we only smooched once or twice.

At least, just after saying “Dorito.” ūüėČ

Mission accomplished!