This past year, I've invested both time and money in myself after deciding that I wasn't living up to my full potential. It has been transformational. I feel like I'm closer to the best version of me.
Though some of the below strategies and tools will evolve and change, I want to keep up the main themes: support, moving my body, eating good food, keeping track f my progress and finding new ways to challenge myself.
Over time, I'll write a bit more on each of the strategies I've used. I'll start with giving some insight into the six month health coaching program I've completed.
Prairie Health Companion
Testimonial written for the Prairie Health Companion newsletter
Six months ago, I was living with constant back pain and frequent migraines that resulted in many sick days and frustrations. The way I felt in my own body took a toll on my mental health. I started avoiding or dreading social engagements and retreated to our basement with fists full of snacks to dull the pain.
Just as I was beginning to accept this was how it was going to be, I went on a Prairie Health Companion grocery store tour with a friend. Mary was full of enthusiasm and knowledge about living a healthy lifestyle. I immediately knew her style would be a good fit for me and I signed up for the six month program.
Mary's holistic health coaching has been life changing for me. Unlike many traditional weight loss programs focused on calories in/calories out, Mary's curriculum acknowledges that healthful living is more than the food we put in our mouths. I now take into account all aspects of life that give me nourishment - relationships, career, finances, etc.
The pace makes the prospect of making significant changes less daunting. The program has an emphasis on setting SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, time-bound) goals backed by biweekly action steps which helped structure small changes which accumulated over time.
To say I've had a return on my investment is an understatement. In the tangible, measurable categories of weight, waist measurement, percent body fat, and blood pressure, I've had significant results.
More importantly, I've enjoyed many improvements in my day-to-day life. A friend recently took a photo of me and I look how I feel: healthy, happy, confident, and full of zest for life. The program’s positive impact extended to my family. My husband attended the grocery store tour and a cooking class and now we both look forward to shopping at our local co-op and preparing the recipes we’ve learned from Mary.
I'm so thrilled with the results that I'm jumping up for joy (which I can now do thanks to the elimination of back pain). I am now in a six-month maintenance program and am taking on new challenges with Mary. I am confident that with her support, I will get through the dark, cold Minnesota winter. I'm even planning on enjoying it!
September was action packed and it's taken me awhile to recover and post the recap! The beginning of the month we were in Maine on vacation. You can read more about that in a series of blog posts: Days 1-2, Days 3-4, and Days 5-8. When we returned, my zen approach to life was challenged by a variety of stressors. Things got pretty busy at work; I busted my iPhone like a pro a week before the new iPhone 6 was released; and a few family issues surfaced. Because of all of the work I've been doing on healthy habits, I was able focus on the positive and the beauty surrounding me. September is definitely one of my favorite months of the year.
We celebrated the marriage of Scott's sister, Lisa and her now husband, Mitch. They had a lot of family and friends over to their home for a party and it was great to catch up with so many of Scott's relatives whom I don't see often.
We also spent time with my parents and carried on our tradition of touring the gorgeous homes on the Homes by Architects Tour. I think we discovered a new tradition with my parents during the home tour weekend - a trip to an apple orchard. This year we went to Sweetland Orchard where we got an intimate tour of the cidery, had a guided tasting of the ciders and ate cider donuts.
September recap of my health goals
I'm proud of the fact that not only did I maintain my health goals during vacation, I now know that these changes haven't changed my enjoyment of special occasions. Eating healthy and enjoying foods and beverages that may be richer or with sugar/alcohol in moderation made the vacation even better than if I had used vacation as an excuse to eat lots of chips, candy/ice cream, etc.
I didn't get the gym enough to qualify for the insurance reimbursement towards my membership. This is not a trend I want to continue even though I've been getting a lot of outdoor exercise. Something to work on in October. Added to my exercise regimen is a group strength training class at the U of M for employees. Four of us do a circuit of weight machines and cardio stations led by an instructor. We meet on Mondays and Wednesdays at noon and I'm already seeing the benefits of having an exercise commitment in the middle of the day. I'm able to get away from my computer, blow off some steam, and refocus. Another habit I plan on maintaining.
September by the numbers...
4 gym visits
456,971 steps (15,232 steps averaged a day)
892 active minutes (29 minutes a day on average)
Sawatdee (with Allie)
Sea Salt Eatery (with Amy)
George & the Dragon (with Julie and Cali Haberman and Chris)
Bread & Pickle
Peace Coffee Shop
Punch Neapolitan Pizza (with co-worker friend Sara)
The Pizza Farm (Stockholm, WI)
Taqueria El Ranchito (neighbor night!)
Prima (with my mom and dad)
Mill Valley Kitchen (with my mom and dad)
Pizzeria Lola (with my mom and dad)
Tiny Diner (with my mom and dad)
Heyday (ran into my cousin Bryce and his girlfriend Sarah)
Fat Nat's Eggs (work outing)
Elevation Burger (Portland, ME)
Mine Oyster Restaurant & Raw Bar (Boothbay Harbor, ME)
Mt. Desert Island Ice Cream (Bar Harbor, ME)
Bar Harbor Beerworks (Bar Harbor, ME)
The Jordan Pond House Restaurant (Acadia National Park, ME)
Three Tides (Belfast, ME)
Rock City Cafe (Rockland, ME)
Fresh Restaurant & Bakery (Camden, ME)
Haraseeket Lunch & Lobster Company (South Freeport, ME)
Lots of Caribou Coffee stops
Sweetland Orchard (Webster, MN)
Republic (with the web team)
Campus Club (with co-worker friend David)
Maine Craft Distilling (Portland, ME)
Bissell Brothers Brewing (Portland, ME)
Foundation Brewing Company (Portland, ME)
Allagash Brewing Company (Portland, ME)
Oxbow Brewing Company (Newcastle, ME)
Boothbay Craft Brewery (Boothbay, ME)
Bar Harbor Beerworks (Bar Harbor, ME)
Rock Harbor Pub & Brewery (Rockland, ME)
Zoot Coffee (Camden, ME)
Tandem Coffee Roasters (Portland, ME)
Watching & Reading
Six Feet Under
Lucky Us by Amy Bloom
The Land of Dreams by Vidar Sundstøl
Day 5: Acadia National Park
Wednesday, September 3, 2014
I started my day with coffee by the ocean and capturing the sunrise. I'm shocked that I had the beach to myself but took full advantage of the alone time by meditating and taking lots of photos. Later that morning, Scott and I had coconut french toast on the patio and enjoyed the bright, warm sun to get us energized for our road trip and hiking adventure.
We drove north on US Hwy 1 and stopped after 40 minutes so we could take a look at The Penobscot Narrows Bridge Observatory. We didn't go inside the observatory because we wanted to spend as much time as possible in Acadia.
We arrived at Acadia National Park and after paying for our pass, we headed to Jordan Pond House. Lisa Telander Lukis suggested the restaurant for our lunch and the view of The Bubbles. As soon as we were sat at our table, the wind picked up and so it wasn't as relaxing as I had imagined but it definitely was beautiful.
After hiking up the North Ridge Trail to the summit of Cadillac Mountain, we hiked down the South Ridge Trail. The hike took most of the afternoon and we barely made it to Thunder Hole before the sun started setting.
We went to the town of Bar Harbor so we could have dinner before driving back to Lincolnville. It was dark and we were tired and hungry so we just picked the first place that didn't have a wait - Bar Harbor Beerworks. I think I was too tired to really care about anything at that point on the trip. I rallied for ice cream at Mt. Desert Ice Cream though!
Day 6: Local brews
Thursday, September 4, 2014
The early bird gets the worm and boy do mornings like this one make me appreciate my ability to get up early (or inability to sleep). The sunrise was spectacular and once again I had the entire beach to myself.
Despite all of my advanced planning for the trip, I still managed to not pack enough underthings. So, we decided to do laundry in Camden and in between loads we checked out the Camden Public Library and Zoot Coffee. The Camden Public Library is incredible. It recently had a major renovation and it is stunning inside and out. If I lived anywhere near Camden, I'd go to the library just for the view of the harbor.
We drove about 45 minutes south Newcastle, ME so we could check out Oxbow Brewing Company. It was a beautiful drive and a charming part of Maine. I wish we would have spent more time driving around the area. Oxbow had great beers and an even better ambiance. There tagline of "loud beer from a quiet place" rings true.
We continued on to Boothbay and had lunch at Mine Oyster Restaurant and Raw Bar. We walked around Boothbay a little bit and then headed to Boothbay Craft Brewery. It turns out we could have had lunch there and I kind of wished we had judging by the smells wafting out of the kitchen.
When we arrived back in Camden, we decided to go to the top of Mount Battie at the Camden Hills State Park. Normally we would have wanted to walk the trails but we had limited time before the park closed.
Before heading back to the Inn at Ocean's Edge, we had dinner at Cappy's Chowder House which kind of seems like a requirement when you're in the area. We had lobster artichoke pizza and lobster tacos. No chowder.
Day 7: Portland light house, beer and art
Friday, September 5, 2014
We returned to Portland on Friday morning and went to the Portland Head Light, the one and only lighthouse we visited in the land of light houses.
After lunch at Elevation Burger, we went on a self-guided brewery/distillery tour. We started at Allagash Brewing Company on the edge of Portland in an industrial park. We split a flight so we could pace ourselves for the afternoon.
Across the street from Allagash are three more breweries, two of which were open for tastings. We went to Foundation Brewing Company followed by Bissell Brothers.
We took a short break from beer so we could try some distilled spirits at Maine Craft Distilling. The bartender poured small samples while giving us the low down about Blueshine, Ration, Fifty Stone, and Chesuncook.
Next door to Maine Craft Distilling is Rising Tide Brewing Company, co-owned by husband and wife team Nathan and Heather Sanborn.
We lucked out and it was First Friday Art Walk in downtown Portland. We walked along Congress Street and went into Maine College of Art (MECA). We watched several street performances - break dancing, Maine Marimba Ensemble, and a kilted juggler to name a few.
We wanted to check out Portland food trucks so we went to Flea Bites at the Portland Flea-for-All. After browsing through three levels of the Flea-For-All, we were spent and it was time to call it a night. By this point I was done traveling and ready for the comforts of home.
Day 8: Homeward bound
Saturday, September 6, 2014
Our flight wasn't until 1:30 PM but we had already filled up our rental car and we were both just ready to be home so we didn't do any sightseeing before heading to the airport. Before we left, we had breakfast in our room thanks to a stop at the Whole Foods the night before. I picked up some local blueberries and boy were they delicious.
We had a long layover in New York (LaGuardia) and their air conditioning was broken during heatwave so it was not pleasant. I was so ready to be home. During our flight from New York to Minneapolis, we saw a beautiful sunset.
We arrived home to find Stewie and he was so excited to see us. He was well cared for by our neighbors which helped us relax while we were away. It was a fantastic vacation and I'm thrilled we had the opportunity to spend a week in beautiful Maine. That said, it was great to be home and my heart still belongs to Minneapolis, Minnesota.
The Nivens Family