Just Heather

This is my cousin, Lori. Growing up next door, we spent most of our summers together — outside in one of our yards, playing sports, or swimming in our grandparents’ pool. We got on the bus together every morning. We played together every afternoon. We played outside on Saturdays. We had dinner together at our grandparents on Sundays. We frequently spent the night together.

And now, we fight cancer together.

Over the years, Lori and I have stayed in touch through text messaging, Facebook, and Instagram while she lived in Florida. It was hard to have someone that was such a part of my daily life living days away. Sure, we had our own families and lives, and I wouldn’t have seen her often even if she’d stayed in our hometown, but there’s just something about knowing your family is home that settles your heart.

She and her family had just decided to come home again when Lori was diagnosed with breast cancer. She was alone at the doctor’s office, finalizing the movie and waiting to join her husband in Indiana, when she learned of her diagnoses. Four days later, she was loaded up and on the road to Indiana.

I can’t imagine her going through this anywhere but home.

Her mom and dad are right there to help take care of her. Her brother can drive an hour to be with her during chemo. My mom can watch her kids during her treatments. Friends and family can bring meals or just give her a hug. Because she’s home — where her family can be a part of the fight.

Where people know her. Where things like #TeamLori become a community endeavor.

A few months ago, the family ordered pink Team Lori bracelets and began a campaign for those near and far to show their support for Lori. You guys, they gave me a prop and a hashtag. It’s like everything I’ve ever done was leading to this very moment. I might not be right there in our hometown to help, but I can make her smile with ridiculous pictures all over town.

#TeamLori at graduation. #TeamLori with blue hair. #TeamLori in the treetops. #TeamLori at the ball diamond. #TeamLori on tour has been my summer mission.

And then her son’s team blew every one of my pics out of the water. After winning the championship game, the boys all changed into pink #TeamLori t-shirts to surprise her. It brought us all to tears. I am so very grateful she has that kind of support in our hometown.

I hope she draws strength from every offer to help, even when she doesn’t accept it. I hope she sees each silly photo as a hug, even when I’m not around to give it. And, I hope she knows I would do anything to help her through this.

Lori is approaching the end of her chemotherapy, and things are looking really good so far. She looks amazing. Her doctors seem pleased. And, it seemed like the perfect time to participate in a fund-raising campaign in her honor.

I joined the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pink Sweater so I could share our story and raise money to truly help fight breast cancer. The recipient of the funds raised through the pink sweater project is Pink Ribbon Connection, a local organization that whose mission is to provide emotional support, local resources, and education to those touched by breast cancer across Indiana.

I couldn’t think of a more fitting organization. Support and resources right here at home? It’s exactly why I’m so glad Lori packed her own suitcase and moved to Indiana. I would love if you would join me in the sisterhood by making a donation to the Pink Ribbon Connection — in honor of my cousin or someone you love who is also fighting breast cancer.

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pink Sweater project will continue through September 15th, and the fundraising results will be tallied. Please follow the pink sweater as its journey continues — my friend Katy from Indy With Kids has taken possession of the lovely vintage suitcase and will be blogging her own story soon.

A few months ago, there was a big hullabaloo when some magazine used a cancer survivor’s race photo to make fun of “women thinking tutus make them run faster.” I no longer even remember the magazine nor do I care enough to look it up. But, I did find the whole thing completely ridiculous, even beyond the outrage over it all.

Tutus are not about being faster. Silly race socks are not about speed. A running skirt won’t make me fly. But dressing up for a race makes it a lot more fun. In a costume, I can be someone completely different. I can be a runner — who would have thought?

Today, I visited the 500 Festival Mini-Marathon Expo to pickup my race packet and walked through the vendor booths. I collected a little swag, stopped by to thank McDonald’s for their support of my efforts, and checked out a few shops, not at all intending to buy anything.

And then I saw them. Wonder Woman race socks. Complete with a cape. You guys! I have been wanting these for ages, but I have never found them anywhere and have yet to justify ordering them. But there they were — and I had birthday money in my pocket!

I’m kinda regretting that I didn’t buy the matching tutu, but I am now the proud owner of Wonder Woman socks . And you know what? They will make me run faster. Because this time, I was content to walk this 5K. I’ve been such a slacker about training, but I’m going to give running my best shot anyway.

Because I want to see those capes fly. (Someone take a picture; I can’t actually see behind me.) Whatever it takes, right?

Disclosure: Mcdonald’s of Central Indiana has provided benefits, including free Finish Line 500 Festival 5K registration, an ArchCard, a t-shirt, and giveaway products in exchange for my participation in this campaign.

I was doing pretty well with my kinda, sorta moderation and my barely there, slacker fitness. I had lost 5 pounds in two weeks. And then it was Easter.

Easter candy is my greatest weakness — Cadbury Caramel eggs, Peeps, chocolate bunnies, and the greatest candy ever created, Reese’s eggs. I was doing well with one (okay, two) pieces each day, with a little exercise on the side. But suddenly, it was all just there. Easter baskets full, clearance shelves well-stocked, and my cart suddenly full.

For a solid week, I basically gorged on Easter candy. The good news is, it’s nearly gone, so I can start over again. The bad news is I gained 2 pounds. In a week. Once I realized it, my eating went back to “normal” with candy in moderation.

That’s the key with all of it — moderation. While I once drank soda all day, every day, I now allow myself one every day or so. And while I used to eat candy whenever I wanted, I now try to stick with one treat per day. I don’t have a lot of indulgences, really.

Most of the day, it’s all about the rest of my family. I work to pay the bills. I drive kids all over town. I keep track of the family calendar. I make sure the team uniforms are cleaned in time for every game. Sweets are the one, small thing I keep just for me. A Sunkist to get me going each day and a treat to end each night.

It keeps me sane. It gives me something to look forward to. It gives me a few seconds of bliss in a chaotic day of appointments and kid activities. I just have to make sure it stays that small. So far, so good. I’ve maintained my weight for the last week, even though I still have a few Peeps left in my stash.

The workouts and running that I have to begin again will have that weight back off (hopefully) quickly. And I have another year before the Easter candy becomes a problem again. We’ll deal with Halloween candy when we come to it.

Disclosure: Mcdonald’s of Central Indiana has provided benefits, including free Finish Line 500 Festival 5K registration, an ArchCard, a t-shirt, and giveaway products in exchange for my participation in this campaign.

I go through phases with my fitness goals. I’ll be pushing hard for awhile, and then nothing. The key, really, is getting up again and starting over. And over. And over. It doesn’t matter how many times I fall or how many Reese’s eggs I eat. What really matters is that I get up and start moving again. Eventually.

The hubby wrote about the same thing for his first post — just get back to it, every time. So that’s what I have done all month. I started over again when I decided to run the 500 Festival 5K. I started over again after I was sick for 2 weeks. And, I’ll keep starting all over again no matter how many times it takes.

I don’t consider it yo-yoing at all. I think it’s more about being realistic. There will always be things that get in the way. I will always have times when I just don’t want to. And that’s totally okay. If I beat myself up over it and start to feel like a failure, I’ll fail.

Instead, I just start again when I’m ready.

And again when that one doesn’t stick. I’m going to keep coming back — not because I still have more weight to lose (I do) or because other people think I should (they probably do). I’m going to keep coming back because fitness is like an old, childhood friend.

It’s always there for me when I need it. It always makes me smile when we reconnect. And it never judges the fact that I haven’t called in awhile. It’s comfortable and comforting and all sorts of adjectives that keep us connected despite the time between our last visits.

But next time? Let’s try not to stay away so long.

Disclosure: Mcdonald’s of Central Indiana has provided benefits, including free Finish Line 500 Festival 5K registration, an ArchCard, a t-shirt, and giveaway products in exchange for my participation in this campaign.

Four weeks ago, I was supposed to start a campaign with McDonald’s of Central Indiana as I began training for a 5K they’re sponsoring this weekend. I weighed in (yuck), started tracking my nutrition and fitness, and titled my first post. Slacker Fitness.

And then I proceeded to do almost nothing for 4 weeks. Do I rock at slacking, or what?

That wasn’t exactly the intention, of course. I didn’t mean to get derailed and literally do nothing. But, that’s a story for another day. My original point was about making real progress with minimal effort. I didn’t start a rigorous fitness program. I didn’t suddenly start training for a marathon. I didn’t obsess over calories or eliminate everything I loved from my diet.

I simply started doing something. Anything. Just a little. I downloaded Quick Fit to my phone and began a daily, 7-minute exercise program. I started running just a little. A mile here, a mostly walked 5K there. And I was paying attention to what I ate again — even if that did mean logging every single Reese’s egg into My Fitness Pal.

And I lost weight immediately. Every day, the scale dropped just a little bit. It was encouraging, and I even through in a 2nd, 4-minute workout now and then. Okay, once. (Slacker, remember?) It all went really well for the first week, but before I could finish writing about it, I was down for the count with the worst sinus infection I’ve had in awhile.

Three weeks later, I’m back in the game. Totally unprepared for a 5K in 4 days, but completely ready to do it anyway. This week, I’ll be chronicling my panic as the race draws closer, finishing with a race recap on Saturday afternoon. After my nap. (Did you know the 500 Festival race started at 6:45 in the morning?)

Disclosure: Mcdonald’s of Central Indiana has provided benefits, including free Finish Line 500 Festival 5K registration, an ArchCard, a t-shirt, and giveaway products in exchange for my participation in this campaign.

On Monday night, my grandmother passed away. Her husband of 63 years held her hand, and she was surrounded by her children and several grandchildren. The room was full of sadness as we said goodbye, but it was also full of love and prayer, exactly the way she would have wanted.

Nana leaves behind 6 children and their spouses, 16 grandchildren and our spouses, and 24 great-grandchildren. 24.5, really. I know the upcoming birth of my cousin’s baby will be bittersweet when Nana isn’t there to hold her.

20130926-092953.jpgShe was a champion baby snuggler, an amazing cook, and a mother or grandmother to anybody who needed one. That’s the legacy she leaves behind — family, by blood or by love, is second only to God.

Nana bought me my first Bible, taught me how to make noodles, and showed me that traditions make memories.

She will be there every time I serve a home cooked meal to a crowd, every holiday when I choose the same menu year after year, and every Sunday when I go to church, though I have a Bible app these days instead.

Things will continue to grow and change, but she will live on in our hearts. She will live on in our kindness. She will live on in our willingness to set an extra plate. She will live on in our service.

My grandma dutifully served God, the church, her husband, and her family — with a smile on her face and love in her heart. And I want to be just like her when I grow up.


Barbara J. Smith

March 2, 1930-September 23, 2013

Friday night started like any typical evening out with my best friend. I was working a blog event, she was running late, and when we missed our show, we stopped at a bar before the next one. That all sounds like us, right? The bar was particularly crowded, but given that it was both GenCon weekend and IndyFringe week, it wasn’t unexpected.

When it was time to leave, we made our way through the crowd and Julie — in typical Julie fashion — stopped to tell a man in a kilt he had a “pretty skirt.” Utterly mortified (as usual), I turned my back to the crowd as I squeezed by. And that’s when my rear met said kilt. I whirled around to apologize and DIED.

My butt had just bumped full on Wil Wheaton’s, um, kilt. Wil Wheaton, you guys! After severely bruising my idiot friend with the pounding as I said, “Do you even know who you just insulted?” she turned right back around, apologized to Wil Wheaton, and introduced him to me.

So, here I am in a bar, DYING and what do I say to Wil Wheaton? “Please tell me you’re doing W00tstock again. I love Paul and Storm! Oh, and you too. Obviously.” You guys, seriously. That’s what I said. Because I am a dork. But not a Trekkie, sorry. I love Wil Wheaton for his own, personal nerdom.

W00tstock with Paul and Storm was my first real introduction to Wil Wheaton. And then there is Wil Wheaton Collating Papers, which is sheer genius and reason #58934 Wil Wheaton is awesome. So, I geeked out all over him.

Then I asked for a picture, turned my phone for a quick photo, and got the greatest selfie EVER.

And that is the story of how my butt met Wil Wheaton. He was gracious and kind and hinted that Wil Wheaton vs Paul and Storm could come as close as Chicago. I thought for sure they were sticking to the coasts, but I will be there if they add a midwest stop!

You know, to see my new friend Wil. And this is a much more fun story than when I originally crossed off #31 — meet a celebrity. Well, there was the part about how Harry Connick Jr. reached out to shake my hand and accidentally grazed my boob. There was also the time I asked Gavin DeGraw for a picture and he posed with his hand on my butt.

My body parts meet more celebrities than I do. Did I ever tell you about how my boobs met Reggie Wayne?

Wow. It was a crazy, whirlwind week, culminating in this chaotic day. This is the first time I’ve had to sit down all day — except for the 2-hour interview session for our adoption home study. That was exhausting and emotional and the reason for our crazy week.

It wasn’t all bad, though — all the running around to get our house prepped really upped my step count. I finally managed to get to 10K a few times. As we cleaned and painted all day Saturday, I had my highest step count yet.

It helped to have an outlet for all the stress and worry of the week, too. I ran. I worked out. I threw in some cardio. Sweating out my stress is working for me.

Plus, it gets my heart rate up and burns calories. The Omron Fitness HR-500U lets me monitor my heart rate during a workout. I’m learning a lot of fun activities that really get my heart rate going.

Just Dance 4′s Sweat Mode keeps me in cardio mode but is a ton of fun. I played for 30 minutes on Saturday morning, watching my heart rate hit the yellow cardio zone and stayed there until cool down. And, the video game workout was worth 3000 steps!

This is the last week of the Omron Fitness challenge, and it’s working!. In just a few weeks, I’m down 3 pounds and several inches. There are visible changes in my body already — which is why I love to take before and after photos.

You can see the final results — and have the chance to win some Omron products of your own — at the Omron Fitness Challenge Twitter Party on February 20th, 8-10pm. My fellow Omron Fitness Ambassadors and I will talk about our success, share tips on losing weight in less time, and give away the same awesome equipment I’ve used for the last few weeks.

I’ll continue using my goodies and stick with a similar workout routine even after the Mamvation program has ended. It’s the perfect combination of fat-burning, muscle building, and flexibility for my schedule. Our next cardio day is a 45 minute workout. Lucky for me, Just Dance 4 has a 45-minute option. I think I’ll go with the cardio-boxing style this week, though 80′s-style was a ton of fun!

I just like to mix it up a bit. How do you keep workouts fun and fresh?

Starting Weigh-In: 195 pounds
This Week’s Weigh-In: 192 pounds
This Week’s Weight Loss: .6 pounds
Total Omron Fitness Weight Loss: 3 pounds
BMI: 27.7

Updated Measurements:
Bust: 38″ (no change)
Waist: 31″ (no change)
Hips: 40″ (-1″)
Thighs: 26.5″ (-1.5″ total)
Arms: 12″ (no change)
Total Inches Lost: 8.5″

This post is sponsored Omron Fitness as a collaboration withBookieboo Blogging Network and Mamavation — a community dedicated to weight loss for women and obesity prevention for families.  I was provided with product and compensation for my time and honest opinions.