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True to Me: 5 reasons for not blogging all summer

Where have I been you ask? I’m still here – still 100% committed to losing weight, getting stronger and eating healthier. But after the world opened up more and people found a way to get-together in the midst of an evolving pandemic, my summer schedule suddenly filled up. I was lucky if I had one weekend free a month!

The following list is in order of priority, not date of occurrence.

1) Family

My youngest daughter turned 13 in May and started rehearsals for the Sleepy Hallow musical production of Frozen Jr., which culminated the weekend of July 17th.

My sister and her kids came for a visit at the end of May and the 2 of us found some time to go kayaking down the Missouri for a few hours. (Believe me - we North Dakotans make use of every warm summer day, since there are so few of them!)

In fact, my girls and I would drive to a beach along the Missouri River and just sit for a couple of hours – in-between shopping – just to figuratively and literally, soak up the time together. (My oldest is 18 and will not be living with me too much longer.)

Then my mom’s side of the family held a reunion in Aberdeen, SD. She is the youngest of 4 girls and every few years, we all try and get together. We call it the 4-Sister Family Reunion, since they all have different married names. It was a highlight of my summer.

It was held in the home area where the girls grew up. One of my cousins even arranged for a bus to take us all out to my late grandparents’ farmstead. He got permission from the new owner! (It’s a small town – they all know each other.) Many of the original buildings were still there, even the house, but it had been remodeled. We reminisced, laughed, cried and took pictures. A couple of my aunts are now in their 80s, but all of them were (are) in great health and still live vibrant, independent lives. It was wonderful to spend that time with them.

They remind me so much of their father. He was such a loving soul. I always had so much peace when I was around him. I knew he had strong opinions about religion and politics but he never voiced them too much around me. He would glow when he looked at me. I knew he loved me unconditionally and was proud of his family. He loved being around us.

My aunts are the same way, but I know they get into heated conversations when they are together. They have strong political views on both sides of the spectrum. But what I love most is that they never let their beliefs get in the way of the love they have for one another. It’s fierce. They each talk daily, or close to it, and would stand up to anyone who would say a bad word about one of their sisters. I don’t remember the last time I heard a swear word come out of their mouths, but I know better than to provoke one. Those women really do wear the pants in our family. I consider myself extremely lucky to have so many memories with them and I hope to make many more.

2) Friends

I love people. They (you) inspire me to work harder, be nicer, laugh more and just enjoy life! Working out is so much more fun when I can take classes with my friends at the YMCA, so that was still a big part of my summer.

I spent time with friends at Bismarck Larks baseball games, on kayaking trips, at graduations and on daily walks when possible. As explained earlier, summer is one jam-packed season and I try my darndest (is that a word?) to make the most of it!

My friends are a very close second to how I feel about my family. I suppose it has something to do with losing a child as a young adult, but I know too well that life is short and we only get one shot at it. So when the daughter of my best friend from high school invited me to a destination wedding in Whitefish, MT, my answer was, “I’ll be there!" (Even though it meant a day or two of vacation from work.)

Of course there is some history there too. When my daughter died, my friend and her sister (also a close friend) spent hours and hours, helping me get ready for the funeral. I will never be able to relay how much that meant to me. My friend kept saying “thank you for coming all this way to my daughter’s wedding” and my simple answer was, “Of course. I love you guys.” Wouldn’t life be so much better if we all went the extra mile (or 755) to be there for each other?

Before you think too highly of me, you should know that my husband, daughter and I turned the trip into a great family vacation, too. We toured Glacier National Park and got some great pictures! We ate out a lot, which I try not to do at home, went shopping and enjoyed some time in a hot tub each night. I had no idea how beautiful it is there. When you live on the plains in North Dakota, the mountains have a way of getting your attention and holding it there. My screen time was way down during that weekend!

3) Girl Scouts

The way I see it, we all have a calling/passion/cause or two. One of mine is Girl Scouts. I have known since 3rd grade, when I was a Girl Scout. I learned that the motto is “to serve God and help people at all times.” Maybe I was an old soul already, but even at age 8 or 9, I knew I had found where I belonged.

So now I am on year 14 of helping and then leading a Girl Scouts troop. My oldest daughter was a Girl Scout from Kindergarten through her senior year. Now my youngest is a Cadette in 8th grade and I have been her main troop leader since 2013. Her interest is waning so I have to try harder to get her (and her fellow sister scouts’) attention. What did I do, you ask? I arranged a trip to take them to the Valley Fair in Minnesota, no less!

We took a greyhound bus, stayed in pool-side rooms at a decent hotel, went shopping at the Mega-Mall and ate out together a few times. Our troop account was completely depleted when we returned, but it was well worth it. While I had their attention on the bus, we did some troop planning and even covered some ground where their Journey was concerned. I can always tell when they are ready to be done, though. I get that “I’m so bored out of my mind” look from them, so I wrap it up as quickly as possible. It was a wonderful trip and most likely the one and only time we do it, so I am so glad that it worked out. I took lots of pictures! (Oh and I made the shirts we were wearing in the photo - front AND back designs. . . . because I have too much time to spare it seems.)

Before the trip, we volunteered to help at the McQuade Softball Tournament in June. It’s a charity tournament that donates money to organizations – some help run the tournament, but some do not. I, some girls from the troop, and my family helped run the scoreboards from a Friday night through a Sunday afternoon. It was fun, but there went another weekend.

Also, I have been volunteering at a Girl Scout camp held in early June in Mandan for the last 10 years or so. This was one of the first years that I did not sleep overnight in a tent on Saturday night, but it was a record hot year. We probably should have cancelled but who knew it would get so hot? I think it got up to 106 on Friday and then 104 on Saturday. My group was in the water on Saturday but Friday was brutal. (Hot, sweaty, crabby, stinky - me included - girls anyone?) Now that my daughter and her troop are old enough to be helpers, I am going to step back next year and just help with certain things, rather than lead a whole unit. (Famous last words, I know.)

Lastly, I nominated one of my Girl Scouts to receive free braces from a local orthodontist and SHE WON! When I heard about the opportunity, I had to send the information right away, so I stayed up until midnight that evening – writing a letter of recommendation and even submitting pictures. Only a few weeks went by before I got the call that she was selected! So I organized a surprise announcement party and invited her family and entire troop, along with the media. The end result was a heart-warming story filled with happy tears and the idea that dreams can come true.

4) Country Concerts

In 2019, I was asked to be the Merchandise Manager for a big country music event called ND Countryfest, which takes place in early July. They decided that I did a great job (of course – ha!) and asked me to come back in 2020. That was cancelled due to the pandemic, so when it started up again this year, people came back in DROVES! I and my team completely sold out of merchandise, but more importantly, had a great time doing it!

It was a 3-day festival, but I was on-site, working from 9am to 2am from a Tuesday through a Saturday. I knew I would not get to exercise, but with all of the walking and little time to eat, I was hoping I would not gain weight. But just to be sure, I even brought my scale. You can imagine my excitement when I weighed myself that Sunday morning and saw that I LOST weight after that week!

Since I was in charge of selling merchandise at ND Countryfest, I had very little time to actually enjoy the concerts, so later that month, my husband and I went to 2 big country concerts at the ND State Fair in Minot, ND. We got to see/hear Dan and Shay and Kane Brown. They are now my new favorite artists!

There is something about live music, warm summer weather with fresh air, nice cold beer and lots of people enjoying it all together. The music is crystal clear. Each instrument – from electric guitar to body-numbing base drum – completely envelops you. You forget about every stress and worry and simply enjoy the moment like nothing else matters.

Awe. I can hardly wait for next summer already!

5) Long Workouts

When I said that I am still 100% committed to this new lifestyle – I meant it! Each day, I typically do a one-hour class such as Zumba, Body Pump or Step, and then I walk 5-6 miles or lift weights, if I hadn’t done so in class. All told, I spend 2-3 hours a day, sweating up a storm. I have learned the importance of loud music and keeping up a strong pace. If I take a break or let my heart rate drop too much, I lose momentum, so I probably annoy my fellow work-out friends with my high-intensity and the way I take up extra space on the dance floor and near the free-weights, but I am not making any excuses for it. Just move over people and make room for me. I have plans, goals and dreams and ain’t NO ONE or NOTHING going to get in my way!

Oh, and one more thing about exercise. I happen to LOVE it! I am addicted. I love the rush of adrenaline and I truly love the competition happening inside my brain, telling me to run faster, lift more weight, stretch farther and just see how far I can push myself. There are down-falls, though, like losing a toe nail (often called Runner's Toe) because my shoes were too tight. Even though I have lost over 50 pounds, I still need to buy shoes that are labeled "wide-width." Who knew?

So that was my summer. In a few days, it will be fall and the weather is already predicted to get cooler. My girls are back in school and my weekends are a little less busy. But they are much busier than they were a year ago – when the pandemic had shut everything down. In any case, I am ready to re-commit to eating better and tracking calories more often. The good news is, I did not GAIN weight over the summer, but I did not lose weight either.

Are you shocked? How can I work-out 3 hours a day and not LOSE weight? Because for me, it has always been and always will be, about the food. I started out the summer around 197 pounds and this morning I weighed 196.2. I guess I am losing weight, though, since I got down to 190 in early August. The thing is, we just got back from Montana, where I ate “off-plan”, and I had a harder time getting back on track this past week, so I am sure I will get a few pounds off pretty quickly.

In any case, I am ready to set some new goals and make bigger strides in my weight-loss effort. Let’s be real. I still need to lose 30 pounds or so, according to health experts. It’s time to get a little uncomfortable. (I know, your comfort level and my comfort level are two very different things. Maybe you just need to add a walk in everyday.) I may have to go to bed feeling a little “empty” as they say.

I want more. I can DO better.

But I also want to tell you that this past summer was AMAZING! I just got a tear to my eye because I have never felt this good about myself when I was out with people – including family. When my oldest aunt turned 80 a few years ago and we had a party for her, I remember how bad I felt about myself. I was the biggest family member in the room. Some of my cousins looked so good and I stuck out like Miss Piggy. I had a sip of wine and I almost fainted from the anxiety and overall wish to be ANYWHERE else. But I wanted to be there for my aunt so I endured.

Well this year, I was one of the smallest cousins! I was glowing with self-confidence, instead of sweating with a stomach ache. I felt good in my clothes and didn’t even WANT to eat the high-sugary foods. It’s freaking amazing, how a year of healthy choices can change a person’s life. Every event I listed in this blog entry was completely different than years-past. In fact, I still do a double-take when I look in the mirror. It’s hard to change your expectations when the reflection was the same for the last 25 years! Now I have one chin instead of 2 and I can see my shoulder bones! (The wrinkles are a little more prominent too, but that is for another day.)

So maybe I still want to lose weight and I am ready to put myself on the top of my priority list, but if you really think about it, I really have been all summer. I am not losing 2 pounds a week, but maybe 2 pounds a month. I am wearing the smallest size of clothing I own. My rings are just about falling off and I had to decrease the size of my watch-band again.

It really is a wonderful feeling to know that I only need to track my calories a little closer a few more days a week. That’s it. Because when it comes to working out, eating good foods, getting plenty of rest and feeling good about myself, I am already there.

With the realization that I already am the person that I want to be, it’s only a matter of time before I hit my next goal – which is to be in the 180s. How about next week?

Let’s go people! We can do this. Who’s with me????

Need inspiration? This song really does it for me:

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