3 Short Stories

If you know anything about me to this point, you realize my ability to tell a truly short story is impossible. My insincerest apologies. You literally signed up for this. Sorry ’bout your bad luck.

First, the story of the 2 young Sailors I met. In Las Colinas, it’s been rare I meet other Naval personnel. Usually I encounter Army and Air Force. We’re all brothers and sisters in one way or another, but meeting fellow Sailors is a good kind of special feeling. In moving to the area, this couple blossomed under my questioning. Not the intrusive questioning. I’m not a monster. Once I shared I, too, am prior military, they became so animated…sharing how it’s been tough to find a small, quiet gym that feels like home. I knew these people were my calling. They needed to hear what makes Anytime Fitness different. By the end of the night, the handshake lingered and the seemingly uncertain couple I had first encountered at the door were all smiles.

Sailor traversing a flight deck

Next, a story of heartache. In the same day as the above, a wonderful woman approached me in the gym. She inquired about personal training, then relayed to me the story of a past incident with a trainer. She quietly shared her utter disappointment and palpable pain from what she’d been told: her working out 3x a week would never be enough to see the results she wanted and to follow this pamphlet of food guidelines though “no one ever does it”. My heart broke. I felt tears welling up. She looked defeated. Apologies flowed from my own lips. I asked would she ever be willing to try again with someone new, someone who would encourage her, make her a priority, share in her triumphs? She didn’t hesitate when she answered yes. You can’t knock down hope and faith. I offered her a few options and made plans to follow up. She left my office with a smile; I could tell a weight had been lifted.

Finally, a brief introduction to Apolo, head coach at Anytime Fitness Las Colinas. I believe his passion is some of the most incredible I will ever witness.

Coach Apolo

Apolo is a Marine Combat veteran which he rarely shares unless a special occasion arises. He holds an Associate’s Degree in Advanced Personal Training from Bryan University. Apolo is CPR certified and is an AF Functional Training Group Coach. But you know what he truly excels at doing? Forming relationships. He is a builder of things personal and tying it into what makes people tick. His clients share their stories of what he’s done for them, but his humbleness prevents me from being anything other than one-sided. He’ll tell you they did all the work; he simply encouraged them and provided the right tools. But really that’s a lot! Not to take away from their progress, but to be fair, Apolo has gone above and beyond in knowing what they need, how to push them, and to do this over and over again. Somehow he finds time to embark on his own fitness journey! Let it be a reminder: he did verbally commit to running the Marine Corps Marathon with me next year.

These connections are what we’re about. Restoring humanity one workout at a time, one conversation a day.

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I ask you –

Are your stories endless or do they glide to a stop?

Tell me a time you encountered someone who’d had a bad experience and how you tried to turn it around for them.

Will you commit to a marathon with me next year?

Halloween Whodunit / Fall!

Hocus Pocus: one of my most beloved movies

The goal in my house is whoever scares Mommy the most wins. Ugh. I hate this game. You see, I’m not really a likes-to-be-scared type of girl. But my Munchkin takes this game very seriously so I play along. Unwillingly.

Mantle decorations

Who can deny cooler weather and boots and leggings and pumpkin spice everything is awesome?! Basic. Get off me. From a fitness perspective, this is the time people start making their winter goals and trying not to let the holidays impact them too much. For me, it means PRs and an extra cup of coffee to warm up!

I love the change in gym dynamic during this time of year. There’s fun colors and a more relaxed feel, but also some heavy hitters in the weight training area. It’s not lost on me most people use the colder months to lift heavier and do a little less cardio. Even I was trained this way. However, if you want to PR your runs in the spring, it’s important not to neglect the cardio portion of your workout. Insert functional training!

I find functional training combines all my favorite activities: strength building + elevated heart rate. It saves time, too, since I’m not doing 2 separate workouts. Mainly, it holds my interest and keeps me engaged. Pounding away on the dreadmill has all the appeal of going head to head with a mountain lion. No thanks, I’ll pass. I don’t run fast enough for that crisis.

Now I realize I’ve digressed from cooler Fall to colder than snowflakes Winter, but somehow, each year, the transition is less than gradual. You wake up one day to the beautiful leaves changing. Next thing you know it’s an ice warning. What the….

Empty candy bowl = small favors

Typically I end up forgoing a training plan after my final fall race, but I know how important it is to keep up the work and maintain a mileage base for the first glimpses of Spring. So I challenge you each to create a goal for the fall/winter and stick with it. But make sure it’s actually challenging! Try something new: hike in the snow, walking lunges indoors with your kids, try a yoga session! Or come by here and see me and we’ll do a group training session together!

Whatever you decide, enjoy yourself and get through the cold(er) months with your sanity and hoodie intact. If you need some ideas, I’m always listening and will be updating you along the way with the new adventures I partake in!

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I ask you –

Favorite holiday?

Is Halloween your thing or no? Definitely not mine, but as a parent, things change.

Something new you’d like to try when it’s cold out?

Friday Favorites

A life of dreams

According to my post schedule, it’s not Friday. But Friday is usually a happy day for people, so allow me to pretend. Just let me have this one thing.

Recently I received some reader questions about my favorite things. Since the questions weren’t specific and I could go many ways with this, I chose to do a whole post on faves! I’m preparing my Christmas list as we speak…errr…write. I even included price points so you all can rest assured I’m a cheap date.

Buy myself all of my favorite things…

On my face/body:

Smashbox Full Exposure Mascara $25

Softlips Lip Balm in Vanilla (pack of 2) $3

ULTA complete eye palette $12

Love Beauty and Planet Coconut Water and Mimosa Flower Body Lotion $11

Same as above in Body Wash $7

Acqua di Gioia Perfume $75

Wearables:

Saucony Endorphin 2″ Split Short $40

Brooks Greenlight Essential Tight $60

Fitbit Ionic $250

Brooks Adrenaline GTS 18 $118

Sports Bra: anything in the Champion line from Target (whoohoo small-chested girls!) price varies

All the running gear!

Perhaps I was wrong. This list is extensive and, combined, quite pricey. Now I definitely didn’t accumulate all this in one swoop so I should get brownie points for that. Or at least brownies. Did I mention I’ve been on a no-shopping sabbatical since April? Technically, it’s not “no shopping”, but it is no purchasing. I’ve not bought one new article of clothing in 5 months. And I’m using all the cosmetic products I own before buying any more. No impulse buying! My bank account and closet are enjoying the reprieve.

Always the question – what does this have to do with fitness, Kel? So happy you asked!

I imagine I’ve saved at least $200, most likely more, since April because I haven’t bought any new clothing. Also, I don’t wear relatively expensive items anyway. So there’s further cost savings. With this money, I can afford a gym membership or at least use the money to focus on my health: food, vitamins, etc. The list of favorites doesn’t have to cost a lot to be worth more than face value. Are certain items costly? Yes. But they also last a long time and are worth the money (to me). You may have other ideas and that’s fine, too!

There was a short radio clip the other day on the drive that mentioned downsizing Maria-what’s-her-face style as a key element to focusing on what really makes you happy. Cleaning out the clutter makes me happy! I took it to mean that by shedding excess weight, literally and figuratively, I can find peace in less material things. Working out makes me happy and keeps my mind and body strong.

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I ask you –

What items do you spend the most on? Personal items?

Is my Christmas list unreasonable?!

Have you ever been on a no-shopping spree?

Joy and the Rose’s of the World

Such sweet words

Maybe it’s strange to admit, but I feel awkward when others thank me. Especially for just doing my job. That being said, the card above overwhelmed me with joy.

First, it’s a card. A CARD! Someone took time out of their busy day to write and deliver a card. Many of you know I’m a card advocate. I may be single-handedly keeping the US Postal Service alive with the amount of cards I send. I was taught at a very young age cards should be sent regularly, most importantly after receiving a gift on any occasion. I have a drawer filled with blank cards for any moment when a card is necessary. Truth be told, my favorite time to send a card is when it’s least expected. Those bring about the best feelings to find a card just because in your mail box. Who doesn’t love receiving mail?! Hold the bills, please.

Second, what she wrote is so beautiful to me. Ms. Rose is a sweet soul with an easy smile and a kind word for those she meets. Often we don’t see or feel the impact we make on another’s life until much later (if at all). When we find ourselves struggling with life, work, a mood – these small gestures can mean so very much to our needy hearts.

Perhaps you feel you’re at a point in your life where you can’t make a difference or you feel there’s no difference to be made. I implore you to look around. An opportunity exists if only you open your eyes to the possibility. Open them wide! Ms. Rose may not have had any goals other than to get out of her house each day. But, in doing so, she arrived at my house. Not literally, though I can only imagine my face if she’d shown up on my doorstep. She diligently came inside each day with her mind made up: she wanted to be stronger. I won’t see her again for a few months, but I have no doubt her presence made me stronger.

At the end of the day, I will believe the difference I made was in knowing her.

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I ask you –

When was the last time you sent a card in the mail? Have you ever?

Do you struggle with accepting the words “thank you”?

Tell me about someone in your life that has made you feel stronger.

Did. Not. Finish. (COMPLETE)

Actual IG Post several days post-run

DNF might be the toughest words for any runner to bear. When you pour your heart and soul into a training cycle: modify nutrition, beg your family to understand why you must run 10 miles on the weekend, and then get up at the ass crack of dawn for the event, it can be a huge letdown when the race doesn’t go as planned.

Heat exhaustion is defined as “…a condition whose symptoms may include heavy sweating and a rapid pulse, a result of your body overheating. It’s one of three heat-related syndromes, with heat cramps being the mildest and heatstroke being the most severe.” Complications of heat exhaustion include nausea, vomiting, dehydration, and muscle weakness. Or you could just pass the f*** out. I’ll take option E for $500, Alex! Better yet, I’d like to double my money and add the first 4 to it, as well!

Allow me to paint a pretty picture for you. There I was, valiantly running along when all of a sudden I was struck with muscle cramps, passed out, and came to in a medical tent. Not exactly. The warning signs had been with me since mile 1 of the 13.1 mile race. Running in the humid environment of Virginia Beach, VA on Labor Day weekend already had its challenges but I had trained for the heat and humidity. Really. I had! Alas, it wasn’t my day.

Mile 1 included “side stitches” aka muscle cramps. Honestly, probably every runner has experienced these during training so it wasn’t a big deal to me. When I had to walk at Mile 2, I knew something was off but I told myself it was just nerves. I had run this event at VA Beach the year prior so I knew the course, but I get nervous about nothing sometimes. I continued to drink Gatorade and water at each water stop (approx every 1.5 miles). The cramps weren’t dissipating but I would run until it became unbearable then walk until the cramps subsided. Mile 3 began an incredible headache. Literally. My head felt like it was exploding with every step. I remembered at this time that my dad had experienced a heatstroke many years ago and he kept mentioning how his head hurt so bad. So what did I do? Shrug it off and keep going.

Miles 4-8 are a blur. I can’t recall much of them except stopping to get a drink and soaking wet towels to wrap around my neck. It felt incredible – the cold water dripping down my back. My clothes were a wet mess, but I realized I wasn’t sweating at all. Hello, dangerous! I was vaguely aware at this moment that something was very wrong but I told myself once I reached the finish line I would seek medical attention. But the finish line never arrived. There’s a photo of me walking extremely slowly between Mile 11 and Mile 12. It’s an overhead shot where runners are about to enter the VA Beach Boardwalk. I have no recollection of this part of the race. At approximately Mile 12, I remember sitting down on the boardwalk and a woman approaching me to ask if I needed help. I suppose I said yes, maybe I didn’t answer at all, but I came to with a nice medical support officer leaning over me and asking if I could stand. I realized I was laying on the bricks of the boardwalk, confused and shivering. The paramedics picked me up, laid me on the gurney, and put me in an ambulance.

I’d never ridden in an ambulance before. Quite possibly I’d never even seen inside an ambulance. You could say I’m fortunate. During the ride to the medical pavilion, the paramedic asked me a bunch of questions I don’t remember answering and he attempted, unsuccessfully, to start an IV. I recall apologizing profusely for shaking so badly I was trying to grasp his leg in an effort to hold my arm still for the IV insertion. The joke is I’d be a terrible drug user, but maybe it won’t be received well – so I’m sorry. Some hours later, after being pumped full of fluids, both via IV and drinking 2 huge bottles of Gatorade, the decision was made to release me with instructions to follow up with my own doctor ASAP.

In all this, I have beaten myself up for allowing the heat to get the best of me, both emotionally and physically. Statistically, those who have suffered from heat exhaustion and heatstroke are at a much higher risk of experiencing these events again. With my own history of health issues, it’s agreed I no longer run in the heat. Over 80 degrees outside? No thank you, I’ll pass. Obviously humidity plays a large role in the real feel temperature so that’s accounted for when making a decision to train outdoors. I lost about 8 lbs of fluid that day; insane, right? Recovery was an uphill battle.

Even crazier, I had scheduled VA Beach as the first half marathon in my line of 3 subsequent halfs: Sep – VA Beach; Oct – Crawlin’ Crab; and Nov – Norfolk Harbor Half. I knew I had only a few weeks between VA Beach and the next race. Emotionally, the race in October was a test. I was figuratively running scared; afraid the heat (still hot but had cooled down some) would force me to cancel or not finish the race. I hadn’t trained much since VA Beach because I needed to focus on re-gaining the weight I had lost and maintain hydration. Crawlin’ Crab went well and in November I hit the PR I had been working so hard to attain. Did it all end well? Yes. But it was certainly a rocky road getting there!

Moral of the story: keep pushing unless it’s a battle of your health and your ability to finish an event. Know the signs of heat exhaustion and get help early. Please don’t wait until it’s too late…and you never know when late is too late. I knew all the markers, but kept pushing and stubbornness is not always a virtue. I’m thankful to the lady whom I’ve never met who recognized my silent distress, as well as the medical personnel for their efforts. We pay a lot of money to run races – some of it goes to the emergency warriors who help those of us in need. In my opinion, they deserve more because you just don’t know when you’ll be in need of their expertise.

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I ask you –

Have you had a scary experience during a race?

Tips on staying hydrated?

What was the last event you completed?

Connection of Compassion

Compassion can be found anywhere

Recently, I had a powerful conversation with a very important woman in my life. The discussion centered on self-compassion and finding forgiveness. We also touched upon the saying “no one sin is worse than another”. Not to worry, I won’t be delving into religion on this blog, because religion starts wars and I’m not much for confrontation.

As life is not black and white, I’m truly a master of shockery here, aren’t I?, it is more than fitting we find the connection between our emotional selves and our physical selves. There will be times when your world is turned upside down and finding time for yourself is a puzzle of a million pieces. Lately it’s been like this for me, too. At one point I realized I couldn’t remember the last meal I’d eaten, but I knew for sure it was more than 24 hours ago. You see, it’s too easy for me to fall into a pattern of forgetting to take care of myself. One more task leads to another…another…and here we start a cycle of behavior. Will you catch me saying no I can’t take on another task? Of course not; and that’s my downfall.

I want to work out today. I’ve had this great leg workout planned for days and bouncing between two clubs, both Las Colinas and Roanoke, has been hard mentally. My mind drifts to all the things I need to be doing: paperwork, update something, call people, etc. Juggling tasks comes easy. Adding myself in there does not. So here I am, tea and almonds beside me, snacking to alleviate the hunger issue and typing to enjoy me time. Writing is obviously me time. And I get paid to do it. Win!

one of THOSE weeks

Compassion is finding forgiveness and understanding not only in others but also in yourself. Bad days happen. Here is where it gets a little gray. How do we forgive ourselves for not completing the proverbial self to-do list? I really don’t have that answer. Pardon me for letting you down. Truthfully, I’m still finding it out on my own. Today’s fantastically planned leg workout may not happen. I have to accept that and make plans for tomorrow or the next day or even Monday. Practice compassion, Kel. The woman I mentioned above said it will come easier the more I practice forgiving myself. Today…I may have to accept not getting it all done. That workout will still be waiting for me tomorrow. Anytime Fitness is 24/7 for me. There’s a constant in this life we can always count on: change.

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I ask you –

Do you struggle making time for yourself?

What often gets pushed off your own to-do list?

Advice for those of us struggling to make time for ourselves?

Running Man + Tattoos + Do You Have Brand Loyalty?

Anytime Fitness CEO Chuck Runyon uses the phrase ROEI (return on emotional investment). Similar to ROE (return on investment), ROEI is the backbone of a company, except it includes an immeasurable aspect: emotion. How can it be a company staple if you can’t quantify it, you ask? Because health is more than a number.

All about the numbers.

Medical professionals will state your health in terms of blood pressure, a pain level on a scale of 1-10, or what your lab results indicate in numeric form.

A personal trainer or H2i will ask you how you feel and fully expect you to state an adjective, like happy, tired, sick, or amazing. Pretty sure those aren’t all adjectives; work with me here. This is the difference between charting numbers and evaluating emotions.

“How do you feel?”

ROEI is the idea that people continue coming back to Anytime Fitness for more than the measurable results; they do it for themselves. Do you remember when you graduated or got married or stood on a stage before thousands of other people and then they CLAPPED for you? Funny story: Munchkin once crossed the finish line at a race, received her well-deserved clapping, grabbed a banana, then repeated the finish line routine 4 more times just so the spectators would clap again and again…and again…and again…you get the idea. The feeling you get from other people cheering you on is incredible! Recognizing a sense of accomplishment is the great part about human nature. Cheer for others! Encourage them! Clap!

At Anytime Fitness, we support you. If you’ve had a bad day because you received a phone call with hard news or you walked into work and received a pay raise, we want to hear about it all. This is the return on your emotional investment. I’m invested in not only your health, but also your life. I want to share in your accomplishments and your downfalls. My members are just as much a part of my family as my own biological family.

So where do tattoos fit into this?

Chuck Runyon (& Son Charlie), Anytime Fitness CEO

People get tattoos for a variety of reasons. Brand loyalty can be one of those reasons. Logo tattoos, like the Running Man, isn’t necessarily about the brand – it can be about what the company represents to the tattoo holder. Or maybe they just like the color purple!

Keep reading for the MOST IMPORTANT PART OF THIS BLOG POST!

I’m sad to say I don’t know anyone personally who has the Running Man tattoo on his/her body. I did briefly meet one woman who has the tattoo, but I can’t say I know much about her (I met her at a Vitals event). I do have it on good authority July 17th is National Tattoo Day. If this blog post receives 13 comments, I will personally go get my very own Running Man tattoo during the month of August.

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I ask you –

What brands are you loyal to?

Do you have any tattoos?

Leave a comment and if I receive at least 13 I will get my very own Running Man tattoo!