Fabulously on the Move: Conquering 60 Miles for a Cause {Guest Post}

I’ve had the pleasure of watching my friend Alyssa from The Double Chin Diary train for the Komen 3-Day throughout the year… and it’s been incredibly inspiring.  So inspiring, that I asked her to share her story with all of you here at NTTC.

Fabulously on the Move Double Chin Diary | No Thanks to Cake

Alyssa’s story is real, the challenge to complete this race is enormous, and her passion for the cause is deeply rooted in a recent family loss.  Read more below about my inspiring friend and how she’s challenging herself for a cause near and dear to her.

Conquering Sixty Miles for a Cause | No Thanks to Cake

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Hello everyone! I’m Alyssa and I’m so happy to be saying No Thanks to Cake today. I met Kelly at Fitbloggin in 2013 and this past year at Fitbloggin, we were roommates and both winners of an Avocado recipe contest. To say that Kelly is just as amazing in person as she is online is an understatement — she’s a delight in every possible way.

Fitbloggin Avocado Contest Double Chin Diary Alyssa | No Thanks to Cake

I’ve never been an exceptionally athletic person. In elementary school, my doctor had to remind me that while reading was great exercise for the mind, it wasn’t doing my pudgy body any favors. I’ve struggled with my weight since adolescence, and it seems like the past 15 years of my life I’ve been perpetually trying to lose weight. However, in the past few years, my priorities have shifted and it’s now less about the number on the scale and more about how I feel.

On Thanksgiving day in 2014, my wonderful mother-in-law told us she had Stage 3 Liver Cancer. On May 14, 2014, a mere six months after her diagnosis, we held her hand as she peacefully passed away. It was at that moment that I realized the horrible devastation cancer has caused to so many families had now affected mine. Cancer was no longer in my backyard, it was in my living room. A week after she was diagnosed, I accepted a job with the Susan G. Komen 3-Day. The 3-Day is a 60 mile walk over the course of three days, and each walker fundraises $2,300 toward groundbreaking breast cancer research and community education. Within weeks of working there, it became clear what my purpose was with this new job.

Not only would I be making a difference in what I did to the millions of women and men affected by breast cancer every day, I would be making a difference to my family.

I signed up for the walk and nervously started fundraising. I asked for donations on my blog, through email, and writing letters, and soon, I had surpassed my goal of $2,300, and have now reached over $2,800. The next big challenge was tackling the physicality of the walk. 20 miles is an awful lot to walk, and for someone who’s not incredibly fit, I wasn’t sure I could do even a quarter of the walk daily, five miles.

Around Thanksgiving last year, I completed a 5k (3.2 miles) where my feet ached the whole last mile. I’ve been a regular exerciser over the years, but always things like bootcamp or swimming, never distance. I started slow. I walked to the post office. I walked to the grocery store. I got bolder and added another mile to a mile. Soon, I was regularly walking 3 miles. I felt my body change. I could walk 3 miles and not feel too sore, so I did 4. Then I did 5. Then, one day, my friend Jason challenged me to do 6. We walked for two hours around a beautiful local lake, and as the sun sank into the horizon, I realized that I had just easily cleared 6.8 miles – more than double the amount I had struggled with just a few months prior.

6.8 turned into 7. 7 turned into 8. 8 turned into 9, and then, finally, 9 turned into 10. This weekend, I tackled my first 10-mile walk. It’s not like strolling through the mall or speed-walking – you need to be conscious of your electrolytes, your dehydration level, using the restroom, wearing the right shoes. On mile 8 of the 10 mile walk, I didn’t think I could keep going. My foot was aching, I was thirsty, and in my mind, I was done. But with the support of my friends and a few well-timed breaks, I kept going. This journey hasn’t always been easy, but it has been worth it.

I’m guilty of sometimes having a fat girl mentality when it comes to exercise. “Oh no,“ I think. “I can’t possibly do that, I’m too big.” Well, try telling yourself you’re too big after you’ve just walked 5 miles. Then try 10. Self-worth, validation, pride – these things come easily when your feet have carried you so far. Size has nothing to do with it.

Alyssa Double Chin Diary | No Thanks to Cake

Training for this walk won’t bring my mother in law back. Completing this walk won’t bring her back. But what it will do is create more chances of survival for a person who’s just had their world turned upside down by cancer.

A few months before my mother-in-law passed, I told her I would be completing the walk in her honor. She pushed down her glasses slightly, a move she always did when she was trying not to cry. She was honored, and I knew in that moment that the blisters, the aching, and the tears will be nothing compared to what she and so many others have endured. In November, I’ll carry her name with me every step of the way. Besides being an amazing role model of love and courage, my mother-in-law gave me a gift. Her struggle with cancer and departure from this Earth reminded me as I trained for this walk that while my size may describe me, it does not define me. There are limits we place on ourselves that can be easily overcome if we give ourselves the grace to believe that we can. 

Alyssa will be walking the Komen 3-Day in San Diego, CA this weekend.  Let’s send her some NTTC love as she takes on this amazing feat!  So proud of you, my dear!

Want to follow Alyssa and her Double Chin Diary adventures?  Heres’s a few ways that you can keep up with Alyssa:  Double Chin Diary Blog, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest

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Fabulously on the Move: Yoga for Beginners {Guest Post}

It’s been a LONG TIME since I hosted a guest post here on NTTC.  After going through the blogtastic survey process a few weeks ago, I realized how many of you wanted to hear more about exercise.  With this new knowledge (thanks again!!), I thought it would be a great opportunity to introduce you to some of my favorite bloggers who are amazing, many of whom I’ve met in person, and most of all… folks who inspire me!!

Fabulously on the Move Racing to Zen Jess | No Thanks to Cake

First up is the lovely Jess.  I met Jess this year at Fitbloggin, and we were quick friends!  Her warm personality, her bouncy curls, and that welcoming smile… I’m so glad to have met her, and I love her story!  A super busy mom, she just took a professional leap… leaving her traditional job, in favor of following her dream.  I love it when that happens!!

Today on NTTC, she shares her suggestions on getting started with yoga.  With a few simple poses that she demonstrates below, you too could be on your way to be practicing yoga regularly.  Thanks, Jess, for sharing your passion with us!

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I’m Jess from Racing to Zen and am thrilled to be guest blogging for Kelly! I recently completed my yoga teacher training and am excited to share with you what has become the foundation of my yoga practice – the classical sun salutation.

Many people are unsure of how to begin a home yoga practice, but when your budget is tight or you’re just looking for a simple way to unwind at home each night, sun salutations are a wonderful way to bring yoga to your living room. Sun salutations have a wealth of health benefits – improved circulation, regulation of your digestive system and calming your central nervous system. Adding yoga to your existing exercise routine is also a great way to improve your overall endurance. Learning and mastering a sequence can be a great confidence booster too – sun salutations can travel with you anywhere. And, let’s be honest here, who doesn’t love an exercise routine that ends with laying on the ground in corpse pose?

Yoga for Beginners Racing to Zen | No Thanks to Cake

You can follow along in the two photo collages. I’ll give you the English & Sanskrit words for each pose.

Yoga for Beginners from Racing to Zen | No Thanks to Cake

  • Begin in mountain (tadasana) or prayer pose – Feet hips width distance apart, knees unlocked, shoulders back and down, spine long. Take a moment to close your eyes and breathe in and out through your nose, centering yourself before you begin.
  • Upward raise (hasta utthanasana) – lift the hands skyward, getting length from your toes to finger tips. Turn the gaze up and slightly backward if you like.
  • Forward fold (utthanasana) – fold forward from the hips, bringing the head towards the ground and chest towards the knees. Let the head be heavy and put a deep bend in the knees to bring the chest closer to the legs.
  • Lunge (anjaneyasana) – from forward fold, lift your left foot and send it to the back of your mat, drop your knee and lift your chest to come in to a forward lunge.

Yoga for Beginners from Racing to Zen | No Thanks to Cake

  • Downward Facing Dog (adho mukha svanasana) – from lunge, curl your back toes under and lift and send the front foot to the back. Spread the fingers wide and imagine pushing your chest back towards your legs.
  • 8 Pointed Star (ashtanga namaskar) – from downward dog, drop your knees, shift your weight forward and drop your chest between your hands. The sit bones stay up and the “8 stars” on the ground are your two hands, your chin, your chest, your two knees and your two feet.
  • Cobra (bhujangasana) – slither forward like a snake, keeping the neck long and allowing the belly to drop to the floor. Remember that snakes don’t have butts, so don’t squeeze your glutes! Lift from your lower back only.
  • Downward Facing Dog – from cobra, push down into the ground with your hands and lift your sit bones back to the sky for one more downward dog.
  • Forward Fold – step the feet one at a time to meet the hands and fold forward.
  • From forward fold, you can roll back up to standing and start the same practice again, sending the right foot back in to lunge instead. Completing one round includes lunging with both legs.

After your sun salutations, enjoy savasana or corpse pose. If you have any worries about falling asleep, just set a timer on your phone, giving yourself 5-10 minutes of quiet, restorative time.

Thanks again to Kelly for giving me a chance to share with all of you! Enjoy your home yoga practice and Namaste to you all!

Heres’s a few ways that you can follow Jess:  Racing to Zen Blog, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest.

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Yoga on the Rocks {and a Breakthrough}

July was quite a month for me.  I was movin’ and shakin’ all month long.  Non-stop.  Every day, there was something.  Every weekend, I over programmed myself.

While it was a wonderful month, I came back from San Diego…. EXHAUSTED.

Throughout the month of July, I was a little more open to dining out… to having a cupcake… and to skipping the gym, en lieu of working at night.  Seriously, I don’t even know how I wrote content for NTTC there was so much going on.  Thanks for hanging in there with me, folks…

And, when the end of July arrived, I felt as though I had been changed…. in many ways, for the better, but in other ways, I had slipped back into an uncomfortable place.

Uncomfortable in an eerily familiar way… uncomfortable in that way where I didn’t know if I could get myself back on track.  Truthfully, I was worried.  Very worried.   Not only had my eating habits slipped significantly, but I also hadn’t been to the gym regularly since… well… Fitbloggin.

For the past month in regard to healthy living, I’ve felt like I was on the edge of an avalanche… where the ground feels unsteady, as though it’s about to crumble.

I knew I had agreed to go to Yoga on the Rocks bright and early on Saturday morning.  My friends over at Core Power Yoga offered me free tickets to attend, and I even roped my friend Erin into joining me… but, did I really want to practice yoga?  Most definitely, no.  I was out of practice and had felt lethargic for the past week.

What I wanted to do was sleep… but I’d committed to going, so I set my alarm for what I like to call “the butt-crack of dawn” on Saturday morning.  I’ll let you in on a secret amongst us friends… I am so not a morning person. Not even close…

Saturday morning came quickly, and I dressed and headed to Red Rocks Amphiteater for the event.  I’ve talked about Red Rocks here before both for a concert and for Film on the Rocks, but I realize that not everyone is familiar with my amazing state… so I’ll give you a peek at its amazingness.

Film on the Rocks | No Thanks to Cake

It is one of the best venues in the country for live music.  Surrounded by gorgeous red rocks, the acoustics are phenomenal… and then, there’s that view too.  I’m guessing that not every state has this little gem.

Yoga on the Rocks | No Thanks to Cake

When we arrived, Erin and I checked in… grabbed our free Core Power mats and orange sunglasses and went to find a spot to practice.  I knew I was in for a treat when I saw my favorite concert venue filled with brightly colored mats and yogis practicing their favorite headstand poses throughout the amphitheater.

Yoga on the Rocks | No Thanks to Cake

As we set up our area, I was still hesitant about how I my personal practice would go.  Knowing that I’d be practicing on unforgiving cement, I layered the giveaway mat underneath my Affirmats mat for extra support… as if those the words staring back at me weren’t enough support.  I love this mat… and I love that these words stared back at me for the next 60 minutes.  I needed them, and I repeated them throughout the class.

Yoga on the Rocks | No Thanks to Cake

Can we again pause at the magnitude of this venue??

Yoga on the Rocks | No Thanks to Cake

As the class began, Amelia Earhart kicked the event off… what an incredible and beautiful story she has.  If you’re not familiar, she recently just flew around the world!

Yoga on the Rocks | No Thanks to Cake

She also reported that she is a huge fan of yoga… and spoke about her practice.  The instructor, Inanna Jessop, took over shortly after and we got to work.

Inanna described the purpose of the class was to “ground down in order to rise up.”  How beautiful is that?  And, truthfully, I feel like that is exactly what happened to me during the next 60 minutes.

Yoga on the Rocks | No Thanks to Cake

Yoga on the Rocks | No Thanks to Cake

Yoga on the Rocks | No Thanks to Cake

Yoga on the Rocks | No Thanks to Cake

We warmed up, and then completed the most beautiful sun salutations and balance poses.  We spent some time working the core (they don’t call it “Core Power Yoga” for nothing!), and as we were working our way into savasana, I had that moment… the “I’m practicing my beloved yoga at freakin’ Red Rocks” moment… and it was then that I realized things had begun to shift.

When our time in savasana ended and Sam Smith stopped singing (love him!), I wanted more time.  When we sealed our practice with a collective namaste, I almost didn’t want to say that beautiful word… because it meant it was over.

Erin and I packed up our stuff to leave, and it took me forever to roll up my mats.  In that moment, I thought I was just too relaxed and not focusing… but in reality, I didn’t want to leave.

Yoga on the Rocks | No Thanks to Cake

Something else happened that was incredibly significant… I realized that my body and my mind was craving yoga.  My cells hadn’t forgotten how this practice serves them.  It remembered, even when I took a month off… it remembered.  And, it responded.

I was energized, poised, and for the first time in weeks… empowered and inspired.  I knew that I COULD again… and with that, I knew that I WOULD.  

And what would I or could I do?  Ever since, I’ve felt the possibilities to be limitless.

Yoga on the Rocks | No Thanks to Cake

Since then, I’ve had a laser focus on being grounded, fueling my body with healthy foods, and setting intention of what will come in upcoming days, weeks, months…

This journey that I’m on has lots of ebbs and flows.  I’m not going to pretend that it doesn’t… but the recent pause scared me.  After that beautiful practice on Saturday morning, I don’t fear a thing.  I’ve got too much that I want in my life to worry about fears… and it appears that when I get lost, all I have to do is get back on my mat.

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Thank you to Core Power Yoga for providing Erin and I with complimentary passes to participate in Yoga on the Rocks.  I can’t wait to join you guys again next year!

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Fitbloggin 14: The People

Fitbloggin is 150% about the people you meet at this jam-packed three days of fitness and wellness event.  As a result, I think it’s only appropriate to include a post about the fabulous people I’ve met!

Fitbloggin People | No Thanks to Cake

Now, I couldn’t possibly share with you guys every single person that I met while in Savannah.  There’s just not enough room in the blogosphere for me to gush that much.  Instead, I’m sharing a brief list of people with you that I’d recommend you check out.  People that inspire me, people that bring amazing energy into my space, and people who radiate joy.  Yep, those are my people.  Without further ado… here’s a few of them.

Ashley – Fierce Forward

I met this amazing woman last year at Fitsocial and through the magic of the internet, we’ve become friends.  Her Facebook community and blog is called Fierce Forward, and it’s all about moving FIERCELY in the direction of your dreams…

Fierce Forward | No Thanks to Cake

I absolutely loved having a chance to visit with Ashley, to get to know her better, and to observe the impact she had upon others she met.   She’s one of my soul sisters… follow her here.

Fierce Forward | No Thanks to Cake

Oh, and PS… she’s the creator of those fabulous intention bracelets I’m always wearing.  GORGEOUS products.  Check them out here.

Fierce Forward Bracelets | No Thanks to Cake

Alyssa – Double Chin Diary

Alyssa and I met last year at Fitbloggin during a session where I totally burst into ugly tears… and we’ve been bonded since!

Double Chin Diary | No Thanks to Cake

She also was the grand prize winner of the California Avocado Commission’s Recipe contest at Fitbloggin and the other half of what we called “The Avocado Room!”  After spending the three nights as roomies, I totally adore her even more!  Follow her story at the Double Chin Diary.

Monica – Run Bang Run

And, then… there’s Monica.  Oh, how I love this lady.

Run Bang Run | No Thanks to CakePhoto Credit: Carrie D. Photography

Monica and I refer to each other as “life twins” because, seriously, we have a ridiculously similar and parallel journey.  We’ve both lost about the same amount of weight and have been working to navigate the “after” life.

Run Bang Run | No Thanks to Cake

While it wasn’t NEARLY enough time, it was SO great to have a chance to spend time with her “in real life” and to get photobombed by so many of our Fitbloggin friends… smooches, y’all!

Run Bang Run | No Thanks to Cake

Dawn – Fit Dawn

And, then… there’s Dawn.

Her journey to lose weight is one that inspires me incredibly, because it’s so much more complicated than mine.  Dawn has two gorgeous baby girls that are constantly craving momma time… and she still makes time for workouts and to take care of herself.  If Dawn can do it, I totally can.

Fit Dawn | No Thanks to Cake

True story:  Dawn lives two blocks from my brother in Virginia.  So, I know I’ll be seeing her pretty face again in December…

Jessica – Racing to Zen

Jessica came up to me at the badge making session to say hello and introduce herself.  And, to talk about my yellow dress… she had seen me post it on Instagram the week before.  One of the first people at met at Fitbloggin, it reminded me of how connected we all are before we even walk in the door… the power of social media. :)

Racing to Zen | No Thanks to Cake

I seriously can’t say enough awesome things about this lady.  We had an opportunity to have dinner twice during Fitbloggin, and she’s from Ohio not too far from where my family lives… so, lots in common.   She writes her story over at Racing to Zen.  Check her out, folks!!  Love this one….

 Lynne – The First Pancake

And then there’s Lynne.  I met Lynne through Dawn… another Virginia lady that I hope to see over the holidays.

Lynne | No Thanks to Cake

Lynne is a new yoga instructor working on gaining her first job as an instructor.  I cannot WAIT to hear all about her journey to inspire others through my favorite practice.  We talked our way through the Fitbloggin 5K on Sunday!  So glad to have had a chance to get to know her!

Lynne… I wasn’t kidding, I’m totally taking one of your classes over the holidays… xoxo

Alan – Sweating it Off

I finally had a chance to get a selfie with Alan this year… three years later!  Alan has been mentioned as the “Justin Beiber” of Fitbloggin in another recap I read this week, but I’m not sure that’s a solid nickname for this powerhouse.  He’s incredibly inspiring, driven, and he’s a freakin’ triathlete.  Beibs couldn’t handle all that… So great to see you, Alan!

Sweating it Off | No Thanks to Cake

Lauren – Breathe Deeply and Smile

Lauren and I also got to spend quite a bit of time together during evenings at Fitbloggin, including our ghost tour! Her story and passion for fitness is incredibly moving.  I am so glad we had a chance to meet, lady!!

Breathe Deeply and Smile | No Thanks to Cake

There really were SO MANY OTHERS…  Here’s a collage of many other lovely people I got to meet.  And, I am so sad that I didn’t get more pics of the rest of you guys!

Fitbloggin People | No Thanks to Cake

Legitimately, Fitbloggin is a lifechanger… and as mentioned above all about the people.  Thanks to each and every one for taking the time to chat it up with NTTC this weekend…

Thank you for making this experience so incredible, folks!!! xoxo

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