My cup…half full

My cup…half full

Darkness has set heavy in the north country.  My lovely Minnesota town is dark when I leave for work and dark when I come home.  It’s a tough time of year, mostly I power through. I busy myself with as much basketball and frigid outdoor adventures as possible with hopes the distractions will keep me feeling upbeat and energized.  Right now, however, I feel tired, and can’t shake this feeling of sad.  While it may be the weather, and I’m sure that’s a part, it’s the loss of a good friend that weighs so heavy.

About four years ago I met a man who joined my training program, he looked so unassuming.  He quietly introduced himself, and I proceeded to ask him a handful of typical fitness questions.  I always find myself pre-guessing the answers with new clients and, with him, I got none of them correct.  His fitness experience was vast, shockingly so.  Geez laweez, I asked if he’d been active and he quickly rattled off a couple dozen of his most recent feats.  He acted like none of them were a big deal.  Dozens of marathons, climbs, bikes, triathlons, paddles, swims, honestly I nodded my head to his answers, but I think my mouth hung wide open.  Later I would see him challenge clients half his age in push ups, plank holds, and wall sits.  Never did he waiver in his strength, and not once would you see him chest puffed and cocky.  He would gently encourage everyone around him, quick to introduce himself to the rookies and eager to throw a little jab at the veterans, just to keep them honest.

I’m not sure I could count his kind acts.  He was eager to share how wonderful other people were, constantly cheerleading and genuinely seeing the best in others.  I had to carefully partner him during push up stacks or partner rows.  He would fall so deeply into conversations that no matter my volume, he was oblivious to my direction.  I would have to walk over to him, and gently pat his shoulder, he would then glance over with a knowing grin and sheepishly say sorry.   I would return a solid side-eye…he wasn’t all that sorry – he loved people.  He was the sort of person who owned the phrase “love the one your with”.  Clients that preferred distraction for their workout gravitated towards him, others had to create distance for fear of getting sucked in.  His presence was always felt and is terribly missed.

Just a year after working with him he sent me a dainty blue Tiffany coffee cup.  Now, I knew he sent that to all his financial clients, but that fact, made it no less special.  I have never had a gift from Tiffany’s and it made me feel extra fancy.  For a girl with callused hands who spends most of her days in sweaty stretch clothes, the cup, despite my mell of a hess appearance, makes me feel more polished and put together.  To this day, I still have the white ribbon-wrapped blue box it came in, it sits proudly on my desk overstuffed with multicolor sharpies, misc promo pens, and blank note cards waiting to be written. He made people feel special.

Tim, or Timmer as I called him, left a legacy any of us would wish for.  He found joy including the odd man out, camping on the ice, or chasing his son through the grocery store.  Each moment was a story waiting to be told.  The more drama, and disfunction the better.  The last story he told me was a serious giggler.  It happened post bladder surgery.  Most would think it’s a story only privately shared, but he hoped it would be published in special urology magazine.  Only he would find excitement at the hint of a leak from his bag in below zero temps.  I’m sure he laughed out loud as he took off his layers standing naked, moments from frost bite, repairing the leak and at the same time putting together the tale would later be told.  I hope my stories are as good some day, I hope I am eternally upbeat, and I hope in the face of a health challenge I can find the courage to be as brave and kind as him until the very end.

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.

Just right.

Just right.

I should start by sharing my biases.  First of all I don’t particularly love gyms.  Odd, I know, since we own a handful of Anytime Fitness Centers.  And I’m a trainer, completely birthed out of the gym environment.  It’s just that I’m a die hard outdoorsman except woman (outdoorswoman should totally be a word).  I love working out in the fresh air, be that 10 below zero or a balmy 80 degrees.  Something about the fresh air and terrain speaks to me.  So I only use a gym when the weather forbids my outdoor connection or I need something that a park bench, tree limb, or stair set can’t provide.  While on vacation, however, I go with the flow and do whatever it is that everyone else is doing.   I think it’s my FOMO that has me following my friends and relatives into their local gyms.  My latest trip I made some pretty profound discoveries about myself and gyms.

Over the past 15 years I’ve visited, trained at, or participated at gyms of all sorts.  From college fitness centers, to corporate fitness centers, to large box gyms, to small mom and pop shops.  I feel like I’ve had a decent amount of experience, but it wasn’t until my spring break adventure that I was able to see something clearly.  It all came together after a trip to Whole Foods.

I love Whole Foods.  It has so much stuff I love, stuff I need, stuff I don’t, stuff I’ve never even heard of.  I wander the isles delighted by 1000’s of choices and always spend more time then I should and more money, way more money.   The deli area looks as if Jesus himself prepared the food.  It’s spectacular.  When I check out though, I wonder what they’re thinking of me.   Like, are they wondering if my cotton shirt is organic, or if my tinted chapstick is GMO free, and also, do they shake their head when I jump into my non-eco friendly jeep?  I’m intimidated by their level of granolaness.  I must admit, I find myself feeling a little self-conscious. I leave there assessing my two bags of groceries, my much slimmer wallet, and my tree hugger envy, feeling deflated.  Adding insult to injury, I can’t find my car (I swear I paid attention when I parked – I blame the organic haze for blotting my memory clear of this detail).

That same feeling returned to me after visiting a particular fitness center on my vacation.  I walked in the doors and everything was spectacular.  It was all so perfectly polished and my choices of what to do were endless.  I could swim, dance, lift, climb, steam, hot tub, or hoop it up.  And the staff, they were all so beautiful and fit – wow, just wow.  First I just had to figure out how to check in my kids, find the locker room, and walk through 10 minutes of stuff to find the stuff I hoped would be just the right stuff for me.  I passed the live DJ spinning hard and heavy and continued to wander around trying to feel less awkward and spectacle-like.  Two hours later I left, it was a lovely time, so much to offer, but I had that same “whole foods” feeling.  Perhaps it’s because of the $400 a month price tag, or the two hours it took to get my 30 minute workout, or all the perfect people, but it just didn’t fit.

When I got back home from my vacation it was back to the grind.   Besides unpacking and recovering from my vacation, my girls were participating in a 3on3 weekend tournament.  To save some time, I went to the nearest grocery store, Aldi.  It’s smaller, and everything is cheaper, and it feels that way.  There is no warmth there, but you’ll find great prices on organic goods and also…blankets?!?  The cashier checked me out like she was racing some other invisible clerk, she threw my stuff into a heap as I mourned the loss of my perfect bananas.  I left there feeling great about the bargains, but had no desire to return.  She bruised my bananas!  It was cold, and non-personal, the kind of shop you leave and think, “you get what you pay for.”  It’s a familiar feeling.  Similar to what I’ve felt visiting two other gyms, prices were great, they had what I needed, but the atmosphere was cold, and empty.  Have you ever got what you needed, but not necessarily what you wanted?

Finally, alas, the following weekend I fell into my typical routine and visited my very favorite grocery store in the whole wide world.  Trader Joe’s.  Oh, how I love thee.  You greet me with colorful flowers, smiling employees, and great value.   I feel like the place was created for me.  Small enough that I park close, I know the isles, heck, I even know the staff.  They chat me up, give me recipes, and let me try things I’m curious about.  It’s warm, it’s personal, it’s exactly what I need.  Some may be annoyed by their relentless cheer, but personally…I love it.  Trader Joe’s is my Anytime Fitness. I know you know I’m biased, but I’ve walked into plenty of Anytime’s to know they have a similar vibe.  When I walk in I feel welcome, there’s a warmth there. It seems like TJ’s and AF got together and figured out a way to provide convenience with the value I need, and all the feels I want.


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.

FullSizeRender (2)

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.