Strong in Sweatpants

Strong in Sweatpants

As a child I was a massive tomboy.  I’m not sure that term is PC now, but then, it defined a girl who dressed like a boy, played ball instead of dolls, and chose camo over lace.  Maybe it was because my brother was my best friend, or maybe it was just because I really loved the way I felt when I cracked a ball off a bat, or tackled someone who was trying to get away, or sprinted to tag someone who gave me a run for my money.  If my lungs burned and my legs ached it was a good day.


My body was something that could be strong, fast, and powerful.  I never looked at my body as anything more than a vessel that provided me a chance to run, throw, and jump.   I was blissfully unaware of how the world saw a woman’s body.  How women’s body’s were “used” for selling things and manipulated for getting attention.  Then, things changed.  Wouldn’t you know it, I turned out to be one of those early “bloomers”. Once that happened, the way boys looked at me changed, I changed.


I started getting curious attention, and it was not for my remarkable competitive nature or scrappiness.  While at first this attention was awkward and uncomfortable, eventually I liked that attention and started to dress differently and be more girly to get more of it.  I could never completely abandon my love for sports, but this new territory wrapped me in.  Unaware, I continued to play my cards and get attention and change a little of who I was to be more of what boys liked.

Almost 40 years later and I find myself in the similar situation.  I still feel some worth by how I look.  I’ve lost that pure and unadulterated childhood feeling of loving myself for who I was and my body for what it can do.

Now, as a mom, I want nothing more than my girls to see their bodies as I did at a very young age.  A powerful gift, something from which we can find rest, creativity, and strength.  I want them to honor that by doing things they love that make them feel good.  I want them to feel free to wear camo, or sweats, or a swimsuit, without comparison of what they are or are not.  I desperately want them hold tightly to the idea that their worth is not in how they look, but in who they are.

We, in the fitness world, seem terribly bassawkwards in this arena.  We are supposed to be champions of celebrating the body for its’ ability to do and be.  Instead, I find my facebook feed crowded with messages of perfection.  Perfectly poised selfies with six pack abs and buns of steel.  I still see quotes all the time like, “What’s your excuse?”  Do we hope to inspire people by shame and comparison of what they’re not?   It’s time we offer a new perspective of where worth lies.  Perhaps we can start with a little more sweatpants and a lot less spandex.

The run that killed me.

The run that killed me.

A little over a month ago, during a perfect coffee date with my college roommates, I made a fairly bad decision.  Katie, one of my dearest friends, told me she qualified for the Boston marathon and planned to run the following year.  Now, this is particularly important because next year we all turn 40.  While she was talking I felt inspired, and being both high on caffeine and love, I decided, I too should try to qualify for Boston.

Just one day later I hit the google search hard to find a race with the farthest date away that could qualify me for Boston.  I found one on the 17th of September (the deadline for Boston) in Walker, MN.  That gave me just over 6 weeks to train – Lord help me. It was a trail race and boasted of beautiful scenery – how lovely.  Sounded good to me.  I signed up.  If only I knew.

Sara Jespersen fake-smilesThe following weeks became a grueling schedule that I wasn’t quite ready for.  I read as much as I could about marathoning because, although I’ve run them before, I’ve never run for a time.  I read about tricks and hacks so I could turn 6 weeks of training into a performance that would have needed more like 36 weeks.  My clients helped tremendously, one, who I am particularly fond of, Maria, rode her bike at 4am with me so I could have light, company, and water if I needed it.  Another, Emily, joined in on runs with endless support and offered special potions to cure what ailed me.  My dad biked my long weekend runs, he wanted to be sure I was safe (it’s really dark in the wee hours of the morning), and his presence alone made me work harder and train with more heart.  It was awesome, really awesome.

So, this weekend, my family traveled north 3.5 hours for the big race.  I was blissfully unaware of what lied ahead.  I was carb-loaded, fuel belt prepared, and feeling lethal with my game plan in tack.  The night before, in the hotel room, my family even practiced the water hand off, fuel refill, and electrolyte water timing.  I was actually running through the room, with ferocity and speed, so that when the time came we, team Jespersen, would nail it – comical now considering how it all played out (wish I was embellishing the story, but nope, we are that nerdy).

In the morning I did my typical pre-run prep.  Got up 3 hours before race time to eat, drink and pray for every runners very important “duty” to call pre-run.  Funny enough, when I got to the start, I met other runners in the bathroom who shared their very important “duty” stories with me – seriously, what’s wrong with us?  It was go time and the reality of the tiny size of this race really set in.   They counted down the start of the race with no microphone, no gun, no fanfare.  Just 4,3,2,1 go.  I started with a dozen guys…I felt amazing – one guy, en route, told me the final 1/2 mile hill to the finish line was brutal (I smiled inside, he didn’t know that I live for hills).  Each and every mile I felt like I was holding back, trying to keep my pace no faster than 8 minute mile because I wanted to leave fuel in the tank…good advice everyone shared…start slow.  Check.  The first 6 or 7 miles were hilly, but nothing I couldn’t handle.  Then came an unexpected turn.  An arrow pointing down to a ditch that said (to mile 7)…what?

So, I smiled to myself and ran into the ditch and up a fairly steep hill into the woods.  That’s when the race got real.  Now, I’m from northern MN and am no stranger to 4 wheeler trails, but this was a rollercoaster through the woods.  The trail was marked with bright orange paint on any obstacle, so I got busy dodging mud puddles, tree stumps, and high stepping through protruding roots.  Impossible foot angles and nerve zingers in my heels became a constant reminders of the unsteady terrain.  From the moment I entered the woods, I saw no one.  Running alone can be both cathartic and challenging.  On this day, it was challenging. There were some mud bogs I couldn’t get around, so I had no choice but to sludge through.  My shoes were wet, my quads were on fire, and I felt every ounce of the 10 mile trail.  There were a few minutes I felt my toenails fall off – at least I thought they fell off.  Found out later I just had blisters on every toe, 2 on some, and that feeling was just them popping along the way – lovely.  Turns out flailing down hills stubbing toes on roots and turning your ankle a handful of times does add up.  If you ever watched the episode of Friends where Pheobe runs, you can then picture what I looked like on every downhill.


I knew my pace slowed significantly in the woods. I just kept telling myself that when I got back out to the road I could make up time.  When I got to a clearing my hope peaked, until just 1 mile later, I had to turn back up a daunting, but breathtaking, hill into the woods, that’s when my body said no, and the mind game began.  Marathons, after all, are mind games.  In all my life, I can’t remember wanting to cry during a workout of any kind…until that mile.  Adding insult to injury, my mapmyrun was perfectly synched at mile one, but slowly my miles didn’t add up to the course miles, and when the mapmyrun lady told me I’d run 20, the course mile markers told me I just passed 19.  Worst. Mind. Trick. Ever.  I pulled some pep talks from the depths of my soul to get me through the climbs.  Why don’t they give marathons a degree of difficulty?  Seriously, this was a mix of tough mudder, meets ski hill, meets marathon, meets Avatar.  No wonder there were so few of us at the start line.


My family, champion supporters, were ever hopeful and encouraging along the whole route.  I knew, however, the moment I missed my qualifying time. My husband, who has been so supportive, Nater, looked a little grim and said, “Do you want to know what you need to do?”  I said, “nope” – I didn’t want to face the reality.  The thought of all that hard work…and no qualifying…it was too much to accept in the moment.  Not long after that my phone died at mile 22.75 (really mile 21ish), and the last thing I heard through my headphones was 3 hours 5 minutes.  That meant I had 35 minutes for 5.2 miles.  Now I’m not very mathy, but the basic numbers were clear enough, I wouldn’t make it.  I could barely move.  My heart broke a little, but I really couldn’t have given more…I was whipped.  At least I had a dirt road for the last few miles.  I quickly regretted my initial thought of ending on a hill being simple.  Humble. Pie.

I finished, trying desperately to sprint alongside my uber cheerful youngest daughter running and shouting over and over, “You Can Do It!!” (my favorite mantra).  God bless her, I hoped I wouldn’t vomit on her.  I finished and promptly fell into the grass trying to catch my breath. I was 8th overall.  First for females.  Sounds impressive, but not really if you consider how few people actually did the race.  I now know why…wish I would have got the memo!  I missed qualifying for the famous Boston marathon, but I will never forget the challenge.  It was gorgeous, rigorous, and painfully awesome.

Maybe prayer doesn’t really work

Maybe prayer doesn’t really work

or does it?

It’s been an emotional week.  About 10 months ago we got news from a friend that his wife, Tina, was diagnosed with stomach cancer.  Her story was particularly heartbreaking because she had just given birth to an incredibly special baby boy and was immediately hospitalized.  When we heard the news, my family started praying for her every single night.  Now, before you paint some Norman Rockwell type image in your mind of a family on their knees, I should be more specific.   Every night we pile into bed together and “say” prayers.  Some may say, myself included, that our prayers seem a little less than holy.  Often times said with eyes half open and occasionally not even finished with an amen.  My youngest, Ellie, often says, “Dear God, what I usually say, and especially what I said last night, Amen.”  A good 4 out of 7 days may go that direction for her.  None-the-less, we do the same routine every night.  There are a handful of people we usually pray for and whenever I have updates about the friends we pray for I share them before we pray.

Last week, we learned that Tina would be entering into hospice care.  So, as usual, I shared about her progress before we prayed.  For many reasons, I suppose, I cried when I shared the news.  I tried so hard to be stoic, but as always; failed miserably.  As the tears streamed down; and I fought for the right words, my daughter stopped me and asked, “Why are you crying for someone you don’t even know?”  I was caught a little off guard, but she was right, I didn’t know her, but after all this time I sure felt like I did.  Valid question.  I answered, “I’m sad for her, for her kids, for her husband, for her family, and it really makes me think of how hard this would be if it were us”.  Both girls nodded solemnly.  We talked a little more and prayed for Tina and her family again.  After a longer-than-usual hugs and kisses time, Nathan and I walked out of their room and sat down with a sigh, we had our own thoughts and emotions to collect.  After a few minutes had passed I could hear my youngest crying.  I walked back to her room and climbed in bed next to her.  I rubbed her back and asked her what was wrong.  Her little eyes were so red and she looked at me with such sincerity while she tried to choke back tears and take a breath.  “I don’t want Tina to die”.   I nodded in agreement and we held each other and cried.

What shocked me was that she didn’t say she was scared of losing me someday.  She was really sincerely heart broken that Tina might die.

For 10 months we prayed for a miracle.  We tried to put ourselves in her shoes, we tried to imagine the pain and worry her family felt. For 10 months, the miracle didn’t happen.  For ten months, however, we all found a deep love and compassion for someone we’d never met.   Ellie may have felt her prayers weren’t answered and, well, that was true, but I, for the first time, saw something different in prayer.  This strong women, in her fight for cancer taught us all to love someone we’d never met.  Taught us compassion and care for another family.  Taught us that life was worth fighting for.  Helped us to see blessings and have gratitude for even the small things. This women, who didn’t get her miracle, had miraculously affected hundreds if not thousands of lives.

I don’t mean to make this a religious thing.  I think it’s simply a love thing.  If we all spent a little more time, even if it’s not the story-book kind of time, thinking about others, hoping for them and trying to understand their struggle, we’d stir up some serious love.   And now, more than ever, we need love.   Love, in the end, does conquer all.

mom and girl crying

One of those days.

One of those days.

It was 5:30am.  My alarm allowed for an extra hour of sleep – it was going to be a great day.  I got up and started packing – my family was leaving for Lake of the Woods for an extended family vacation.  We do it every year – meet up with my parents and siblings and their kids and fish, swim, and play.  Something I always looked forward to.  In order to start the day out right I wanted to get going early – we had a 6 hour drive ahead of us.

Since we are living on a boat for the summer, everything is a bit tricksier than normal.  For instance to pack up, we need to first grab a rolling trailer to haul all our stuff down the dock, which land to boat is 1/10 mile.  So I started piling the suit cases and coolers and boxes by the front hull and Nathan loaded up, grabbed the kids, the trailer, and dog while I did my last minute packing.

I arrived at the truck just minutes later, with my suitcase and announced, hope it fits!  Then I ran for one more quick bathroom break before we headed off.  Nathan pulled the truck and boat forward towards the bathroom and off we went.  We were just 30 minutes in, and stopped at Trader Joe’s for one last grocery run.  I was feeling so proud – a whole hour ahead of schedule.  While approaching check out I get a call from my hubby who was in the parking lot with the dog.  Apparently I left my suitcase at the top of the dock!  I guess my “hope it fits” announcement, was just that, an announcement.  Well, at least we were an hour ahead and this, because of my superb planning, would be no big deal.  So, we headed back to Stillwater.

I texted my breeder, who would be watching our pooch, that we were on our way.  We needed to meet her before a specific time, and so far, I am still way ahead of schedule for that!  Yay me.  Until…an hour into the drive we hear a bad noise.  A quick glance at my husband and his side-eye frown confirmed a tire had just went flat.  We pull over to a side road, and our boat trailer has a flat.  Bad news, but at least we are still in a big town and can certainly buy a new one.  We quickly unload the entire truck onto the blvd, to get at the tools, cleverly stashed under everything, to remove the tire.  It’s just 90 degrees out, no big deal.  The bolts are rusted tightly on, so, well, it’s not as quick as we hoped, but I still have plenty of time.  I call Walmart, of all places, and they have tires for trailers , just what we need.  Except, when we remove the tire, we see the spring is broken.  Now, we need a flat bed tow and a repair shop.  More calls, more waiting…no more boat for us.  So, my hubby painstakingly puts the tire back on for the tow and I re-load the entire truck again so we can get back on the road.  Both of us, at this point, have sweat through our clothes.  It was a hot one, and because of the extra issues, I’ve missed the timeline for the pup.  No worries though, he’s a good boy and we decide to take him along.  No. Big. Deal.

broken spring
broken spring on boat trailer

With the boat towed away for repair, we are all a little bummed, but are hopeful to be moving again.  As we near northern territory, my smile feels a little bigger and heart warmer, but the weather looks daunting.  We hear thunder and it begins to downpour.  I give my hubby “the look” and he gives me a knowing grin like of course…a storm, fitting.   Minutes later we hear another suspicious noise.  I am now in disbelief.  It’s another tire noise.  No. Way.  Our truck with our fancy new tires has a flat.   Now, I kinda want to cry, but laugh.  You see these tires were a special gift from my husband to my husband on his birthday – they aren’t even a year old!  I will never understand men and their rims/tires.  They all look the same to me, but he assures me these rims are stellar and really make the truck look bad-ass.  So, who am I to disagree.  This, I’m mulling over in my head while we sit in some strangers muddy driveway.  It’s raining so hard we can only see a blur of a house.  I climb into the back of the truck and pull out our beach blanket and hand it to my husband to lay on instead of the mud to inspect the damage.  He spends a minute outside confirming it’s a flat and he’s soaked.  He then asks me where I put the tools.  I look at him wide-eyed and say, “I didn’t do anything with the tools”.  He looks at me – it seems like a short eternity while we both realize the tools to change the tire are in the boat. Now, we need to go knock on the door.  In moments like this you briefly consider your safety, but hope the iron range delivers on a reputation of being friendly.  (can’t say I wasn’t thinking of the netflix series – Making a Murderer)   I notice that Nathan digs in the center console before heading in – I wondered if he was looking for a self-defense weapon, he finds Kleenex and a loom bracelet, alas he walks over, unarmed:)  The nicest older couple answers the door and offers to help once the rain settles a bit.  So, the four of us + pup snuggle into the car to wait for the rain to lighten.  Unbelievable.  The natives start to get restless.

rainy car
shelter from the rain – zoom in for muddy shirt:)

After some convincing, the girls and I wait inside the house while the guys try to figure out what to do.  Because these tires are fancy, and because our special tools are on the boat we are in quite a pickle.  The gentleman who’s helping us, Ralph (a perfectly suited name), offers to bring Nate to town to look for a tire.  At this point we just have to do it.  It’s been over an hour and time is ticking.  So, they head off.  I am busy making calls from the real yellow pages book, but no phone is working, I even try their land line (who knew?  a land line!).  Odd I thought.  Turns out the storm knocked out all the power in the whole town.  For real.  You can’t make this stuff up.  So, everything is closed.  Literally closed.  I have now been at Karen’s house (who is officially not a stranger since we’ve swapped life stories plus animal pictures) for the last two hours.  It’s past dinner time and she kindly offers to make us sloppy joe’s – bless her heart.  I still can’t believe it.  Nathan and I call back and forth for the next two hours working on every possible solution.  Nathan rents a car, I breath a sigh of relief.  Turns out it was in Grand Rapids MI, and Ralph’s drive to the local airport in Grand Rapids, MN in search of baggage claim ends with more laughs.  I’m pretty sure he said “city slickers” more than once:)  He called me to break the bad news about the rental, now the tears were feeling more real.  In the end, my uncle Doug drives 30 minutes to save the day with a special tool and, just four short hours later, we FINALLY get on our way.  It’s too late to go all the way to Lake of the Woods and so, we reluctantly book a nearby hotel.  Back in the day, said hotel, was a nice one, considered a fancy place.  I guess a lot changes in time:)

I send Nathan away to swim with the kids while I ordered a pizza.  Not just any pizza, but Sammy’s pizza.  A hometown favorite – certain to brighten our evening.  I appreciated the quiet time to reflect a bit and think of how funny we must have looked checking into this hotel and hauling in four suitcases, two coolers, and bags and boxes of food for a one night stay.  I wonder what they were thinking.  PLUS there was no elevator, and just for giggles we were on the second floor.  Ideal.  An hour later our pizza arrived – things were looking up.  It’s funny how a swimming pool and pizza can help your kids forget about everything!

We got up early, with plans for a quick breakfast and tire shop spare-tire-inspection.  We were all packed up and just waiting for our breakfast to arrive.  It was nice to just sit and sip on a cup of coffee and joke about the previous day with my family.  The food finally arrived and we were all eager to dig in.  I had a bite of my veggie omelet, and then looked curiously at my husband who was picking at his eggs with his fork.  I said, “what in the world?”  He said, “I think there’s a bug in my eggs.”  I looked in disbelief and prayed to the dear lord that it was just a nut, but alas, a nut doesn’t have legs.  Sure enough. We all lost it.  Full on giggles, there would be no breakfast for any of us – one sight of that bug and we lost our appetite.  We showed the waitress who was also hopeful it was a nut, but upon further inspection saw the bug and yelled (i’m not exaggerating), “Ewe, gross, Oh My God!” and ran away with his plate.  This was the last straw, we all laughed so hard we were crying, literally red faced doubled over laughter.  The tears, at least from me may have spilled for multiple reasons, but it was so funny – a little restaurant scene to round things out.

bug in eggs
buggy breakfast

Well, after the first flat and tow, second flat, power outage, surprise stay, and buggy breakfast, we finally made it up north.  When we did it was too rainy to boat and too windy to be outdoors, so we settled in to tell our story.  Sometimes it’s not the vacation that makes the memories, but the trips along the way.

minnow wonders
Lake of the Woods


…and then my pants ripped.

…and then my pants ripped.

I was doing my morning workout with one of my besties, when the topic of “stretch” in jeans came up.  We went on and on about the comfort and the shaping and all the other good things stretch material offers us.  Then, we had to face a bit of the reality…it was VERY forgiving.  As we discussed the coming of summer and the inevitable shorts and swimsuit season, we cursed our damn stretch jeans.  In a moment of real truth, we shared that each of us had only one pair of pants that were stretch free.  Hers a white pair (think Jimmy Fallon and tight pants skit), and mine a pair of crop jeans.  My very favorite in the whole wide world.

Feeling inspired by our workout, I decided to drag out those pants.  Time to face the reality.  It’s safe to say even on a good day these are tight, but fresh out of the dryer, a near catastrophe.  So, I pulled them on, wiggled and wiggled until my bum fell into place.  Then, I called in the heavy artillery – my husband.  Now, I’m not joking here, I was jumping up and down and asked him to give me a hoist (talk about denial).  So, he grabbed my belt-loops and lifted me up not once, but multiple times. Then I heard it, the dreaded riiiiiiiip sound.  Uh Oh.  I closed my eyes…oh no he didn’t!  Upon inspection, I found it was just a belt loop hole, but it was the end of an era.  The rip meant a couple things.  First, I would have to get out the sewing kit (if you know me well, you know this is not a strong suit).  Second, my bum just outgrew my beloved pants.

my pants
my pants

So, I’m left to ponder my situation.  I can either feel fat and have a pity party or consider the idea that my epic butt muscles have grown and that’s the source of the rip.  I choose the latter.  Perhaps it’s me leaning on the advice of my uncle Merle.  Well, it’s more his personal creed than advice, but I’m using it for this situation.  He says, “Take everything as a compliment, even possible insults, as not doing so can be counterproductive.”   Well said, uncle Merle, well said.  So instead of allowing that silly little tear be the insult that ruined my day, I am thanking my lucky stars for more muscle in my bum.

Next time your pants rip, you can choose to feel sorry for yourself or you can face the reality of the situation in a different way.   I’m not saying to ignore the reality – that’s just silly.  I’m just saying see the reality and find a way to make it productive.  Perhaps my bum got bigger from too much whip cream (that is a very serious possibility), or maybe it’s from squatting.  Either way, I’m going keep on squatting:)

I’m sorry

I’m sorry

I started in the fitness industry the moment I graduated from high school.  I’m not sure if it was the Joanie Greggains records I did as a child or maybe my first step class set to the tune of Micheal Jackson’s Beat It, that hooked me, but I was hooked! (duly noted in the ridiculous halloween costume below)  While I did also dream of being a killer hoop star, I just didn’t have the chops or the height to pull it off.  I realized, pretty early on, the thing I was best at, on any team, was being the cheerleader.  I was often the team captain, but it wasn’t because of my skill.  I was passionate about encouraging my teammates to run faster, go further, and drive harder.  I didn’t realize, at the time, but it would eventually be how I made a living.

Richard & Jane

From the athletes I worked with through college to the countless clients since then, I have found one thing in common.  These people were all brave enough to reach out for help.   I think somehow that decision was more accessible to them.  They felt capable of doing more.  Those tend to be the same people that join gyms and hire trainers.  They do, because they believe they can.  What about the rest of us?

Well, I think the fitness industry makes the idea of getting healthy daunting.  We post selfies of our fit bodies on FB and then shame people for not working out, i.e. “I have 2 babies, what’s your excuse”.  We advertise 6 pack abs and buns of steel – two things that are far away, if not impossible, to most.  While we really want to help, it seems our messaging tends to leave people feeling like “less than”.  Perhaps, occasionally, these same people work up the courage to join the gym, and when they do, they sign a one year agreement, and walk out the door never to return, defeated again.  We then collect those dues and have financial success while failing them, and ourselves.

I got into this business, like most fitness professionals, with passion to serve, help and support.  While we reach some, I think we can do better.  What I realize now more than ever, is success lies within an individual’s ability to believe in their own potential.

I kept thinking I had all the answers, but I don’t.  You know what’s best for you, what you can do, your budget, your experience, you understand your successes and failures, yet I write the programs, open the gyms and teach the classes.  I’m sorry that, in some cases, I’ve collected your dues while failing to help you reach your goals.

I’d like to change that.  I’d like to meet you where you’re at.  I will keep doing what I do for the crazy fitness addicts out there (I know who you are, I love you, I’m one of you), but I want to do something different too.  I would like you to take the wheel. For years I’ve pressed people to give up their morning cereal, workout four times a week and drink oodles of water.  While it is good advice, it wasn’t centered on what was best for the person, it was centered on what I thought was best.  Lectures, advice, and eye-brow raising judgment don’t work, at least it doesn’t long term.  Health is personal.  We know what to do, and the vast majority of us even know how to do it.  My good friend, Carol, has always said it best, “We are creative, resourceful, and whole.”

So, if we can do it, why aren’t we?  I think we all just need someone in our corner, someone who’s got our back.   Next time you have the courage to take back your health, please consider talking to us.  Not to tell you what to do, but to help you build self belief and set your potential free.  Because, what you are searching for is already in you.  Try trumi health coaching today.  One Week Free




I am the youngest of four.  I know, some of you may immediately think I must have been a spoiled little brat.  While my siblings may agree with you, I assure you, I was not.  Sure, I did my share of tattle-tailing, whining, and poking, but for the most part, I just wanted to be liked.  My older sisters were super cool in my mind.  They had great hair, great clothes, and great friends.  While they didn’t think that of themselves, I was dead sure of it.  I hoped to be like them some day.

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My brother, however, was the person I wished I was in every way.  He was athletic, creative, and dangerous – a real MacGyver.  While I could have done without his near-forest-fire experiments, I loved the adventure of being with him.  We built a fort that was basically a piece of plywood with 1,000 nails pounded through it loosely hung between two trees.  Our strategy was a simple one, if a bear or wild animal attacked we would just jump up and down until the board with a thousand daggers fell on top of it killing it swiftly.  Surely a smart plan considering how often we played right below it while our friends sat above.  Didn’t seem to matter what we did together, I was a tom boy through and through.  I certainly fit the part too with my camo pants and Dorothy Hamill haircut. I cherish the memories of every back yard baseball game, basketball shoot out, or race to the corn stalks and back.  I love my brother.


It wasn’t until later in high school and college that I got to know my sisters better.  I found out they were just as cool as my brother but in different ways.  They could chat incessantly about little to nothing – something my brother and I rarely did.  They could listen to my happy and sad stories and relate and give me comfort and support.  They could make me laugh so hard that tears ran down my legs.  Now, I consider them my very best friends.  I know, at the drop of a hat, they would be by my side when needed.

In life sometimes your family members are your best friends and sometimes your best friends become like  family.  It doesn’t really matter as long as you have someone.  Relationships are key to a happy, healthy, long life.   According to work by British epidemiologist John Cacioppo and his colleagues, loneliness drives up the cortisol and blood pressure levels that damage the internal organs, causing serious problems to our health.  A shocking 23% of Americans say they talk to no one.  Strong relationships (face-to-face) and social support reduce your risk of dying more so than quitting smoking, giving up heavy drinking, exercising, and treating hypertension to list a few.  Shocking right!

An important distinction…social relationships online don’t count.  You actually need to engage with a real live person, in person.  So, next time you are about to spend 15 minutes “facebooking” choose to call a friend, schedule a coffee date, or if you are feeling adventurous – talk to a stranger (shutter).  Just today there were no spots to sit at the coffee shop so I asked to join a stranger.  I found out she had a couple kids that went to UMD, my alma matter, I’m guessing I was just one more degree of separation from finding out our Iron Range connection (I can’t help but bring my home-town chatter  into stranger conversations).  It was delightful.  Give it a try, who knows, you could be the only person they talk to that day, and because of that, you are helping them live longer!  For more on the importance of relationships read, The Village Effect by Susan Pinker.  Need to put some more intention behind your relationships?  Talk to a trumi pro and they can help add some life to your years.

Self Administered Sleep Study

Self Administered Sleep Study

Have you ever wondered how much sleep you really need?  I’ve heard people say I’m a solid 9 hour girl, or 5 hours is all I need.  How in the heck do they know?  Seriously!  Every study shows how extremely important sleep is.  Even more important then what you eat or how much you exercise…what???  Tis true.  Well, then, I think it’s time to find a less generic way to figure out what your body needs so you don’t fall into the trap of sleep deprivation.  You may have just asked yourself, why does it really matter.   Glad you asked.

Sleep deprivation can lower our ability to manage stress, this can lead to more adrenaline rushes, which leads to weight gain.  Darn it.  It can also lower our sex drive, cloud our thinking, and bankrupt our memory.  Drunk driving…well, you are just as guilty of that when you drive sleep deprived.  Over 1500 deaths and more than 70,000 injuries are attributed to drowsy driving.  This is something worth paying attention to.  If I didn’t have you at weight gain, I hope I have you interest peaked at an increased risk of death.  Yowsa.

So, let’s get right down to it.  This simple test should reveal how much sleep you need.  I say simple lightly because it does require the same bedtime 4 days in a row and wake up whenever with no alarm.  We all know you need to be a magician in most cases to make that happen.  That being said, get ready to wave your wand and give this a try.

You need 4 nights and 4 mornings in a row to figure out what your body needs for sleep.

Every day go to sleep at the exact same time.  Turn off your alarm clock and wait for you body to wake up.  If you are sleep deprived the first couple nights may make for some serious pillow time – your body is hoarding that amazing elixir, sleep, and will take as much as it needs.  By the forth morning, Viola! What ever time you wake up (without an alarm) can be used to calculate the amount of sleep you actually need.  With this tool in your arsenal you can start planning for ways to get the sleep you need.  Having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep – talk to one of our expert coaches to help you formulate a plan to get better sleep and find greater health in other areas of your life as well.

Lump in my Throat

Lump in my Throat

“Vulnerability hangover.”

That’s what my husband said as he collapsed on the bed.  We had just spent the afternoon at a piano recital.  My girls and husband started piano lessons about a year ago and last weekend they had a recital.  Leading up to the recital we found ourselves in a handful of debacles.  The three of them do lessons before school starts.  While this is super convenient for us, it is a nightmare for keeping track of their piano music.  After lessons, they neatly and carefully place their folded piece of music into their bags for safe keeping.  Oh how I wish that were true.  Instead, they shove it into an overpacked and massively unorganized back pack.  Which, week by week changes shapes and forms, and more often then not, that music gets lost.  While that is a disaster in itself, it lends to less practice and more drama surrounding the piano experience.

So, leading up to this recital I could feel the tension rising.  Missing music and practicing just one page of a three page piece was certainly not ideal, and the day of the recital was a rough one.  Everyone was on edge, emotions were high, and mama was running out of patience.  I found my voice raising a bit adding to the already high tension levels.  In the final moments before leaving the house I was dealing with a handful of last minute items: the dress wasn’t right, the shoes didn’t fit, the sweater was too short!  Oh dear Lord help me…so many naughty words running through my head.

We get to the church.  About 70 people gathered to both perform and applaud these hard working students.  I had a pit in my stomach, sweaty hands, and armpits to match.  If this is how I felt on the side-lines how did my family feel?  First up, my oldest.  She walked boldly to the piano and assertively introduced herself and her piece, A Whole New World.  Gulp.  I held my breath.  She played the first page flawlessly, the grip on my pant leg let up a bit, I exhaled.  Then it happened.  She played one wrong note.  I could see it on her face.  Panic.  Silence.  I started praying like only a mama can.  Silence still.  I am sending her well wishes, love, kindness, warmth, I’m wishing I would have been more compassionate earlier at home, regret.  More silence.  I can see her eyes starting to well up, it has been at least 10 seconds of dead silence and you can cut the tension in the room with a knife.  I want to yell, “It’s ok, honey. Don’t worry”, I want to run and sweep her into my safe arms and save her from this toxic silence.  The lump in my throat grows with each passing second.  She is staring at her fingers…willing them to do something, anything.  More silence.  Eventually, she skips a slew of measures, and instead just plays the last note, the note that ends the song, but certainly not her agony.  I know she’s just a kid and this too will pass, but I am without words, and my lump is growing.

My eldest and the sweater that was too short.

The other two follow suit.  Each making mistakes and stumbling through their pieces.  My husband struggled too, but not because of lack of practice, just the pressure of performing as an adult among a trove of young kids.

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My youngest and the alternate pair of shoes.

We all head home, heads hung low. It’s as if we’d just witnessed a tragedy.  When we get home, everyone retreats to a quiet place.  I am still feeling the pain of that moment, but there is something else I feel that I can’t describe.  It’s warm and authentic and deep…I feel proud.  How in the world could I be feeling pride, when as a family, we performed the worst (and I’m not just saying that).  I  took a moment to just sit and think, and when I did, the lump spilled over.  I was so deep down proud of my family.  Through my tears I realized how hard it was to put themselves out there.  How hard it is especially knowing you won’t be the best.  How hard it is, to even try,when success is so far away on the horizon.  So, there I sat on the bed, rubbing my husband’s back, as he dealt with his vulnerability hangover ,and I sorted through my unexpected feeling of pride.  Being vulnerable is hard.  It’s embarrassing.  It’s humiliating at times, but, boy, is it inspiring.

Sure, the girls learned valuable lessons about being prepared, but I hope that’s not all they learned. I hope they watched their dad carefully, and felt the same pride I did.   He was showing them, in the best way possible, how to be vulnerable.  He used no words, made no mention of life lessons, he just did, and, so did they.   So, next recital, you might see me standing on my chair yelling a big whoop whoop no matter the outcome, because once you understand, and appreciate the magnitude of being vulnerable, it deserves a standing ovation.

My husband. Be still my heart.

Swimsuit not optional…

Last week I visited the lovely city of Cancun in Mexico.  We were ready to enjoy all the many benefits of sunshine, sand, and surf.  It is always so refreshing.  Nathan and I go there once a year.  Always 4 days, 3 nights – a long weekend and then it’s right back at it.  Usually the weather is nothing but dreamy, but there is an occasional sun shower.  If we come across a day like that, we make a plan to do the spa.  In preparation for such inclement weather we decided to tour the spa just in case.  It was an upscale spa with a separated men and women area.  I saw this before in Vegas too – very classy.  They do this so that each sex has the ultimate in privacy and so that you can experience all the water/steam/sauna amenities without having to wear a suit.  At the thought…my heckles instantly went up.  I would have to be by myself sans suit.  Uffda.  Why was I so intimidated by being naked?  It really wasn’t that big of a deal, or was it?

As the day progressed and we looked at the upcoming day’s weather forecast, rain was looming.  It was ok, I was ready, face freckled, lips chapped and sun drenched, I could use some time indoors.  I woke up the next morning to the sound of rain and knew spa time had come.  I started my internal pep talk…I can be naked…I think I can, I think I can, I think I can.  I kept telling myself, “no one knows you, who cares”, but I kept feeling that churning in my stomach.  Finally I came to that moment…the Towanda moment (watch Fried Green Tomatoes if you don’t get that reference).  We walked to the spa and I had my mind made up…I would be naked and proud.

So, I walked in.  There were 3 other women in the spa area, all with their swimsuits on.  I smirked with my new found confidence, Americans, so afraid of being nude.  I promptly unloaded my stuff at the locker, dropped my suit and walked my naked little bum cheeks into the hot tub.  I laid there, eyes clothes, pretending to be so cool with my nakedness.  Inside my heart was pounding and I felt a bit nauseous. I sat there practicing my deep breathing until the pressure of watching eyes was too much.  I got up and headed for the sauna.  Alas, at least there I would be alone.  Another 10 minutes passed, I was starting to feel kinda clever.  I walked out, ready to take the cold plunge, patting myself on the back with each step, when my plan got quickly interrupted.   A staff member was high-speed walking my way.  She looked at me with disgust and scolding eyes, arms waving across her chest and says, “Swimsuit por favor!”  Oh. My. Goodness.  I try desperately to think of a French phrase to let myself off the hook, but instead I stare like a deer in headlights.  I am in shock.  I am breaking the rules, being nude is not an option.  I want to run and hide.  Curse that one time I go for it and no one is around to help me!  I nod, walk away, head held high, put my swimsuit back on and sulk in the steam room.  I can. not. believe. what I just did.  What was I thinking??

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Morale of the story?  Wish I had one.  I guess I’m sorta proud that I took a chance and tried to be brave and confident with my body.  Did anyone look at my nakedness and feel inspired to shed their own suit?  Did they wonder at the freedom I felt?  Did they whisper quietly to each other wondering who the crazy American was?  In the end I had a really good laugh with my husband, a really good one.  It was worth the risk, the nausea, the embarrassment, because now I have a story to share and a memory I won’t likely forget.  So, when in doubt, go for it.  Go big and own it. If you get it wrong, at the very least, you can say you tried and then later find some space to laugh at’s refreshing.

Red Faced and Giggly,

Sara J (founder of trumi)