Wear Teal Day: September 5

I hope you woke up this morning and chose to wear teal, like many Americans will today.

Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month | No Thanks to Cake

September is National Ovarian Cancer Month, and a month dedicated to a cause that’s near and dear to my heart.

A little over 4 years ago, my friend Bev got diagnosed with Ovarian cancer and cancer made its appearance amongst my peers for the first time.  While I lost my grandparents and many family members to the terrible C, I always saw it as a disease that hit the elderly, those who had lived a rich life already.  When Bev was diagnosed, the reality that cancer is everywhere… and that it truly doesn’t discriminate.

Team Bev Jodi's Race for Awareness | No Thanks to Cake

When a friend is diagnosed with cancer, it sucks.  You don’t know what to do.  You don’t know how to help.  And, well… you just want it to go away.  Thankfully, Bev was strong enough for all of us… and all we had to do was be there to support her.  She plowed through chemo with grace and came out on the other side, free from this terrible disease and with a fantastic outlook on the rest of her life.

A group of friends and I found the Colorado Ovarian Cancer Alliance, and immediately looked for ways to get involved.  We signed up to walk/run in their Jodi’s Race for Awareness in 2010, and we’ve been participating as Team Bev ever since!

Team Bev Jodi's Race | No Thanks to Cake

Here is part of our rowdy bunch, but we’re missing quite a few from this pic.  Our first year, we might have had 20 people.  This year, we were well over 50… all for that great lady in the center wearing the teal tiara.  We walk in support of Bev, still cancer-free 4 years later!!

Team Bev Jodi's Race for Awareness | No Thanks to Cake

Now, walking as a team and inviting my friends to participate raises awareness… wearing teal today draws attention to Ovarian cancer month, and donating money helps fund programs for the diagnosed and support research.

To me, I recognize that I have a audience made up predominantly of women, and as such… I’m going to share some information about the symptoms associated with Ovarian Cancer.  After all, there is no life more important than yours.  There is no one who knows your body like you do.  It’s important that you know the symptoms… so that you too can live a rich, full, healthy life like my friend Bev…

Wear Teal Day | No Thanks to Cake

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Ovarian Cancer Symptoms  | No Thanks to Cake

Source: Colorado Ovarian Cancer Alliance

Statistics show that 95% of women diagnosed with ovarian cancer had 1 or more of these 4 common symptoms:

  • Bloating
  • Pelvic or abdominal pain
  • Urinary urgency or frequency
  • Difficulty eating or feeling full quickly

Often known as the “silent killer”, ovarian cancer often goes undetected due to the subtle nature of its symptoms.  If you are experiencing one or more of these symptoms, please seek medical attention.

Why is ovarian cancer so misunderstood?

  • Annual gynecological exam does NOT check for this cancer
  • It’s NOT rare! 20,000 Americans/330 Coloradans diagnosed annually
  • It does NOT happen only to older women – all women and girls at risk
  • There’s NO specific screening tool for ovarian cancer – undefined symptoms are key
  • Majority of women with ovarian cancer had no family history of it
  • The medical community often misses diagnosing this cancer
  • While nicknamed “the silent killer,” the latest research shows OC is NOT silent, with 4 common symptoms

How can women become aware of ovarian cancer?

  • Know the symptoms – listen to your body – Know the 4 common symptoms!
  • Advocate for yourself in your doctor’s office – Missed diagnosis is common
  • DON’T WAIT!  If you’ve had one or more symptoms for more than a few weeks, see a gynecologist, ask about ovarian cancer and request a CA125 blood test, a pelvic/rectal exam and a transvaginal ultrasound

Disclaimer:  I am not a physician, just a woman who loves her friends… and wants us all to live long, healthy lives.  For full detailed information about Ovarian Cancer, please seek information from a medical professional.

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Saturday Adventure Day

Way back in May, Tiffany and I started looking at calendars to pick a date for our planned “Adventure Day.”  With 2014 being the busiest summer ever, the first weekend where we both had a free day open wasn’t until August 2.  That seemed so incredibly far away, but we wanted to make sure we got it on the calendar.

Within a blink of an eye (because that’s how fast this year has been flying by), August 2nd arrived and we jetted off!

First Stop:  A Quick Brain Damage

You’ve probably seen me post on Instagram about the infamous Brain Damage coffee drink at Dazbog Coffee.  Well, during our Adventure Day, I wanted to make sure I introduced Tiffany to its deliciousness.

Dazbog Brain Damage | No Thanks to Cake

What is this amazing drink??  It is pretty much the best frozen coffee drink on the planet… and you can only find it in Northern Colorado.  They use mocha, shots of espresso, and the BEST part… chocolate-covered espresso beans.  All blended to perfection!  I also love that they make it fresh – no mix! – and you can customize it to make it “your way” – for me, that’s sugar-free, non-fat.  Delish!

The verdict:  My Colorado BFF loved this drink as much as I do!  What a great way to caffeinate for a long car-ride!

Next Stop:  The Shambhala Mountain Center

Our travels took us further north… not to Wyoming, but to Red Feather Lakes, CO to the beautiful Shambhala Mountain Center.  It had been about 10 years since I had travelled to this area, so I was excited to get back.  The Shambhala center hosts spiritual retreats, meditation classes, and getaways.  People travel from all over to see this beautiful place… and soon you’ll know why.

It’s tucked away from the main path, and I always think it’s a sign that I’ve left civilization when the roads are no longer paved.

Shambhala Mountain Center | No Thanks to Cake

About 2 1/2 hours from Denver, we arrived at our destination parked our car and started our trek into the property.  On our way to a very sacred spot in the mountains, the 20 minute walk/hike was totally worth it… even in flip flops!

The Great Stupa | No Thanks to Cake

The main attraction here is The Great Stupa of Dharmakaya Which Liberates Upon Seeing.  And, it is a breathtaking site.  

The Great Stupa | No Thanks to Cake

It’s hard to believe this shrine is tucked away in the middle of the mountains.  What stands out most when you see it in person is the brightly colored features and the gold accents.  So unusual to see in this natural backdrop.

As you approach the stupa, you first see an alter of sorts where many have left items behinds.  Offerings, gifts… and the most random of items.  We got close enough to see the items, but you don’t dare touch any of them… they were all placed there with purpose.  Who am I to alter them?

The Great Stupa | No Thanks to Cake

 

The Great Stupa | No Thanks to Cake

As we approached the stupa, I got really excited.  From my previous trip, I remember the energy inside being amazing and I was excited to get inside – - to spend a little time in silence.  But, a few pics before we walked inside…

The Great Stupa | No Thanks to Cake

From the Shambhala Mountain Center Website:  Stupas are said to promote harmony, prosperity, longevity, good health and peace. They bring blessings to the environment in which they are built, to those who build them, and to those who visit and venerate them. In this way, stupas ensure that the living quality of the Buddhist teachings will always be available.

The Great Stupa | No Thanks to Cake

Taking off our shoes and leaving them outside, we entered the stupa to find two others seated inside and a few others exiting.  It was quiet and perfect inside, and keep in mind… this is the first thing you see when you walk in the door.

The Great Stupa | No Thanks to Cake

So majestic, yet so peaceful.

I found a seat and settled in to meditate for a few minutes.  I’m not a master meditator, by any means; however, my yoga practice has taught me how incredibly powerful breath can be… and I love to practice.

The Great Stupa | No Thanks to Cake

After about 10-15 minutes in silence, my eyes opened up, feeling refreshed and just happy.  There is something about this place, I tell ya… the energy is fantastic.  Before leaving the room, I spent some time looking around… noticing all the ornate details… and just soaking in that beautiful energy.

We left shortly after, stopping to watch a video along the way… and then deciding to simply take a selfie instead of sitting through the video.

The Great Stupa | No Thanks to Cake

The Great Stupa | No Thanks to Cake

The walk back was gorgeous… with lots of wildflowers and beauty along the way.

Colorado Wildflowers | No Thanks to Cake

The Great Stupa| No Thanks to Cake

Third Stop:  Refueling in Fort Collins

When we arrived at the car, we were officially STARVING.  We raced back to Ft. Collins to have lunch at Coopersmiths.  Ready to refuel, we each enjoyed the Coopers Pub burger with a side of cucumbers.  I love that you can get a side of veggies and ranch, instead of fatty fries or onion rings.  Genius!

The Great Stupa | No Thanks to Cake

After lunch, we headed over to O’Dells Brewery.  They have a beautiful tasting room, and this was officially my first experience “beer tasting” in Colorado.  I know… I live in a beer state, but I’d never been!

O'Dells | No Thanks to Cake

And… while the tap room was cute and the beer was cold, I think I’ll stick to wine tasting.  Just not a huge fan of beer, but I was glad to have experienced O’Dells just the same!

O'Dells | No Thanks to Cake

After our stop at O’Dells, we made our way back to Denver convinced that we need to schedule another fun adventure day like this again soon!

 

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The Del, A Massage, and Wine

I feel like I have been writing about this trip to California forever, recapping all the fun I’ve had along the way. In its own fabulous way, NTTC is sort of my very own scrapbook.  A great way to recap trips, outings, and recipes for my friends and family!

So, I’ve got one more day to share about this awesome week.  And, then, I will get back to my normal blogging schedule… whatever normal is… :)

The day after the concert, I woke up and had to get my things packed to head out.  Notice, I didn’t say HOME, I said out.  Whenever I get a chance to travel to California, I usually try to extend my trip a little to visit friends that I don’t get to see nearly enough!

Now, when I visited my friend Crystal in early June, we agreed that if I had a chance to travel to Rockstar again… that I should come back to visit her family!  You don’t have to ask me twice… the plan came together so nicely!

Hotel Del Coronado | No Thanks to Cake

Before I met up with her, I decided to spend a little time unwinding on Coronado Island.  And, my favorite way to unwind… I scheduled a massage at a nearby hotel.  Not just any hotel, however… I scheduled it at the Hotel Del Coronado.

Hotel Del Coronado | No Thanks to Cake

My goodness… what a beautiful place.

Hotel Del Coronado | No Thanks to Cake

The hotel is an institution on the island…. and so incredibly gorgeous.  I can’t even believe I got to spend the day here.  I checked my luggage at the bell stand and headed off to the spa.  To get there, I had the option of walking through the hotel or walking outdoors on the property… I choose the outside path and had a chance to experience the beauty that is the Del.

Hotel Del Coronado | No Thanks to Cake

From the white buildings with red roofs to the lovely outdoor cafes to the exquisite view of the Pacific… the Del is perfection.  The guy at the bell stand told me to walk until I saw the herb garden and the spa would be on the right.  I absolutely love that the property has such a delightful herb garden.  Just made it all that more perfect… 

Herb Garden Hotel Del Coronado | No Thanks to Cake

Spa at the Del | No Thanks to Cake

Inside the Spa at the Del, I quickly got changed into a robe and slippers and waited for my massage.  I had scheduled myself a Hot Shell Massage and was so excited to see how this would work.  I’d had hot STONE massages before, but never hot SHELL!  How perfect for this trip!

Spa at the Del | No Thanks to Cake

Spa at the Del | No Thanks to Cake

When I got called back into the spa for my service, I found that the shells weren’t REAL shells, but instead ceramic shells created specifically for this purpose.

Hot Shell Massage Spa at the Del | No Thanks to Cake

The massage was WONDERFUL.  Relaxing.  Perfect.  After all the excitement of Rockstar, my feet were incredibly sore… so my masseuse spent some extra time on my toes.  HEAVEN!

After the service was completed, I ordered some lunch and found a spot at the spa pool to relax.  I had intended upon reading a book, but it felt better to just relax and soak in the atmosphere.  There was beautiful people watching to be had… families vacationing, couples walking by hand in hand, and that gorgeous ocean in the distance.  I soaked it all in… and a little sun.

Lunch at the Hotel Del Coronado | No Thanks to Cake

The Spa at the Del | No Thanks to Cake

Spa at the Del | No Thanks to Cake

At the end of the day, my friend Crystal picked me up to whisk me away to Temecula.  One of my favorite people, I am so thankful that I had a chance to visit with her again this trip!

We spent our time catching up, cooking, and tasting local wines… you can only imagine how much I loved that!  We also spent some of her favorite wineries.  First stop:  Miramonte… Such a beautiful patio for tasting the most delicious wines!

Miramonte | No Thanks to Cake

I’ve always thought of Napa or Sonoma when I’ve thought of California wine country; however, I have to say… Temecula should be listed right there in that list.  I’ve loved so many of the wines I’ve tasted here… and the tasting rooms are so lovely.  Highly recommend touring this area if you are ever close.

Miramonte Winery | No Thanks to Cake

The next day, after a lovely lazy morning, we headed out to Robert Renzoni for the most amazing round of wine tasting!  His Concerto was my favorite… and I was able to get a signed bottle to take home!

Robert Renzoni | No Thanks to Cake

 

Robert Renzoni | No Thanks to Cake

After our first stop, we set off for some lunch (and more wine!) at Ponte Family Estates.  SUCH a beautiful place!

Ponte | No Thanks to Cake

Ponte Grapes | No Thanks to Cake

The magic happened at lunch…. Crystal and I ordered a Watermelon Tomato Caprese that just knocked our socks off.  Expect to see a version of this on NTTC soon.  It was that good!  Doesn’t it look gorgeous??

Watermelon Tomato Caprese Ponte | No Thanks to Cake

While the massage, the wine, and the food were amazing, the best part of the weekend was getting to spend it with this girl…

Ponte | No Thanks to Cake

We’re in the early stages of planning another adventure early next year… I absolutely can’t wait!  Thanks, Crystal and Adam, for a wonderful end to a wonderful trip!

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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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