Wednesday, October 14, 2015

In Gratitude

Writing for Fitness Felines has been a great journey for us. We have enjoyed numerous opportunities, and it allowed us to extend our reach in our goal of supporting people to succeed in their fitness goals. However, the time has come for us to explore our individual avenues, and we will no longer be writing the blog together. It is bittersweet, as we've made lasting friendships and connected with amazing people. We hope in the past few years, we have inspired, motivated, and moved you. It has been our pleasure to share with you our personal stories, and we thank you for allowing us to share yours. Our hearts were filled many times by your words of kindness, encouragement, and support. We do have some good news: Both of us will still be writing! Follow Andrea on, and Rebecca at We are excited to begin our new journeys, and hope you join us for more adventures.

In gratitude,
Andrea & Rebecca

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Calamity Jane

Something I haven't talked about here on the blog is my battle with chronic pain. And I feel I should because so many people deal with it and seem to be resigned to living with it. That this is way our bodies are and there is nothing to be done. Mine mostly lives in my low back on the right, in my glutes, hip flexors, IT band, shin, calf, ankle...the whole lower right quadrant pretty much constantly burns like the fires of Mount Doom (you are welcome for that nerdy Lord of the Rings reference). Watching me attempt to get or sit up or roll over are great entertainment. It's akin to a turtle on its back. 

I first injured my back playing volleyball about 15 years ago. One too many hard landings after hitting the ball. The pain was severe, and I 100 percent should have gone to a doctor to get it sorted. I didn't. I just rested until I felt better, then kept doing what I was doing. "Walk it off!" and what have you. This was a terrible mistake. I need to make that extensively clear: If you debilitate yourself to the point of barely being to walk, please go to the doctor. Don't wait. 

So, for 15 years, I have been suffering substantial chronic pain that has been getting consistently worse since having children. Any time I've been injured, I just power through it with the same formula of resting until it stops continously hurting.

Then I hyper-extended my right elbow about a year ago, and more recently, my right shoulder just died on me. "No more pushing, pulling, reaching or lifting," it said. "I'm out."

Injured again. Always an obstacle. How do we not throw in the towel and say, I quit! I frickin' quit, because no matter how hard I try, it doesn't seem to be meant for me.

Now, I have been going to physical therapy since the beginning of the year for my elbow, but things weren't getting better. With the advent of this new shoulder development, my physician recommended I see the head of the practice for acupuncture in addition to continuing the physical therapy, but if we don't see improvements, the orthopedist is the next stop (Read: Surgery). I finally had my first acupuncture appointment last week, and within ten minutes of listening to and looking at me as I lie on the table, the doctor narrowed down the cause of my ails: A misaligned pelvis (caused from the aforementioned bad landing) has forced an entire side of my body to compensate. So for more than a decade, I have been damaging and overdeveloping half my body. He could see how this seemingly simple misalignment could, over time, be the root of all my injuries and pain. Imbalance is the cause and - this is the key here - we can change the effect. (Look for a future post on imbalance soon...)

"In three-to-four weeks, I fully expect you to be feeling much better and closer to pain free."

Pain free. 
Jumping for joy at the prospect
of a pain-free existence.
(Probably shouldn't be jumping, though.)

That elusive phrase, the one I didn't think I had a chance in hell of ever grasping, is now within my reach. There is much I have to do it get there - massage, physical therapy, yoga, acupuncture, pilates - and I had to let go of some goals and stop running, at least for now. And most of the success depends wholly on me. I have to do my stretches and home exercises. I have to show up to appointments. I have to care about myself. 

Since my mother's passing, it has been hard for me to care about much. Grief is tricky that way; you want to wallow and numb your pain. There can be a layer of guilt thrown in for enjoying something, so you figure it's best not to enjoy anything at all. But a life free of pain? A life in which I no longer feel those physical limitations that so quickly translate into mental roadblocks? It's worth caring about. 

I recently noticed that the root of health is heal. (And yes, that is SUPER embarrassing for a self-described etymologist to admit.) As my heart slowly heals from grief and loss, my body is now beginning to heal from 15 years of damage. It is a heart-lightening prospect. It excites me. It is nice to feel excited again.

Cheers to health - may we all continue to work toward our own version of it every day.
Inspire. Motivate. Move.

Friday, June 05, 2015

Chasing Medals

I like shimmery things, what girl, or cat, doesn’t? Whether worn on your finger, ear, or neck, there’s something about a little sparkle, it makes you feel special. This is probably why I love my half marathon medals, each a bright, shiny souvenir of my accomplishments.  I’ve noticed these badges have become more intricate, detailed, and larger. Racers want to know what the award for finishing looks like and some won’t sign up unless they like it. Don’t get me wrong, I know there are those who couldn't care less about it, and I envy them, doing it simply for the love of running. This got me thinking, would we train as hard toward our goal if it came without a ribbon, swag, and fanfare? If we only received a pat on the back and a “Great job!” would it be enough? I had to ask myself, what is the true prize I get from doing races?

This was hard to answer, because let’s be honest, sometimes running sucks. The “runners high” everyone talks about I’ve briefly encountered, mainly since it’s overshadowed by losing toenails. Gross, but this is real talk, people. However, I still lace up, train, sweat, and push myself to finish long distance runs. The return I get is somewhat complex, as it’s a tug and pull, a mixture of challenge and accomplishment. This blend is a motivational cocktail and constantly keeps me thirsty. While the pretty trinkets I get at the finish line are nice, they do not encompass the entire experience. However, they are a visible representation of the long hours, steps, and miles I took to get it.  Maybe I am chasing the medals, but not for their size or bling. I am reaching towards them because they symbolize not only the distance I have run, but how far I have come.

Run on.

Inspire. Motivate. Move

Friday, May 22, 2015

Saying Goodbye

Fifteen days. It has been 15 days since my mother's spirit left her body. I was in Las Vegas for a work conference when I got word she was near the end. I flew back on the first flight I could, managed to get to her side, and she passed just a few hours later surrounded by my dad, my four siblings, two of her grandchildren, and two of my brothers-in-law. It was the saddest and the most grateful I've ever felt. The sorrow seems to know no bounds, but the gratitude is even more profound. Every small thing that needed to work in my favor in order for me to get to my mom before she died, happened. There was room on the flight, a short line to check out from the hotel, no line for a delays, no hiccups. The Universe and I worked in concert to get me there. 

Back in November, shortly after we learned of her terminal diagnosis, we had a meeting with a palliative care team. It was an introductory meeting of sorts, but it was the one and only time I ever saw my mom break down during the past year. She was worried about me. When they asked her why, she held back tears as she said, "She's my baby." 

When I arrived at the nursing facility that afternoon of May 7th, my mom had been unresponsive all day, the morphine relaxing her to a near-coma-like state so that her difficulty breathing would not cause her panic. About an hour after I arrived, she had a small window of awareness. With tears streaming down my face, I did my best to smile at her and let her know it was OK. We'd take care of my dad. We would miss her terribly, but it was OK. I would be OK - no need to worry. She couldn't move, and although she tried to talk, she was physically unable. But I believe understanding passed between our gazes, love and peace. And then she was gone.

Food has always been my greatest comfort at times like these, and this has been no exception. I am, once again, 45 pounds overweight, interminably exhausted, and wanting to give up on my goals. I worked really hard the beginning of this year to create good habits, build up my physical and mental strength, and lose fat. It was great, I felt proud, but my emotional state these past two weeks has proven that the mind is more powerful than anything else. 

This is a health and fitness blog, and it massively important to both Andrea and myself that we continue to talk about the importance of mental and emotional health. Dealing with this monumentally difficult time in my life has presented significant challenges in my quest for physical health. Grief is an intense bedfellow, one who does not lie down easily. He sneaks up on you when you least expect it, having an infinite amount of triggers. The smell of fresh cut grass, the scent of a perfume, a rush of memories and sadness can overtake at any moment. But he is not to be dismissed nor should one be told to just get over him. Each individual is different. There is no timeline for recovery. There is no getting over or moving on. Only moving through. Feeling all the sadness and pain - things I once would have worked hard to escape in the past - is important and vital.

So I start over for the millionth time, because as a good friend reminded me this week, "What defines us is how well we rise after falling." I have a half marathon in less than three months that will require focus and training. I have a life and the only way to do my mother's legacy justice is to live it.

I've included below the words I spoke at my mom's funeral. It's a gentle reminder to me that perspective is everything. 

Inspire. Motivate. Move.

Hello. I am Rebecca. Thank you all for being here today. I am humbled by the multitude of hearts in this room. I pull much strength from you seeing as I am plum out.

My parents have been members of this parish for about half a century. All of their children attended the school, myself from Kindergarten through 8th grade – Go, Spirits!  As a result, I have faced a lot of fears in this church. When I was six – and then again at eight – I marched down that aisle petrified as the flower girl in my sisters’ weddings.  I sat face-to-face with Monsignor Barry for my first confession in that room back there, which, as anyone who knew the man can attest, should be listed as a feat of strength.  I read psalms and readings from this podium where I stand now. And I sang my first solo at that podium over there. Each of these things were panic-inducing, but none of them compare to the sheer terror I am feeling right now.

For how do I properly summarize the woman whose life we are here to celebrate? How do I stand here in front of all of you whose lives she touched and do her justice? How do I say goodbye to my mom?

As you may know, I am the youngest child of our little family. There are 10 years, seven months, and 30 days between me and Cheryl, which often leads a lot of people to jokingly comment on how I was the “mistake”. My friends, Joanna & Amy, and I referred to ourselves in high school as “The Three Mistakeers”, so I have a sense of humor about it.

But my mom never referred to me as a mistake. Even though I’m certain my arrival was completely unplanned and unexpected, she never once called me an “oops baby”. She said I was a surprise.

And that, for me, defines who my mom was. She was barely in her 40s and having a baby when it was not the norm as it is today, and she made a choice: Not to resent me, but to love me.

I was the youngest of five and for all intents and purposes, she was starting over. The other children were 10 and older, primarily self-sufficient, so my mom could have just phoned this one in. But she was there for me. She coached soccer teams (even though she had NO previous knowledge of the game); she drove carpool and went to every single soccer, volleyball, basketball game and swim meet; there were always fresh baked goods in the kitchen and home-cooked meals on the table; she made my lunch every day, volunteered in classrooms, at sporting events, and carnivals; she made me and my dolls clothes, and she fostered my love of reading and language. My mom nurtured my talents, let me make mistakes and find my own path. And now, looking back, the most amazing part of all of this, is that she did it without pretense or want for gratitude. She just did it because she was my mom, and she loved me.

When my mom decided I was a surprise, she changed the course of how my life played out. She raised me to be confident, kind, responsible, polite, quick-witted, self-effacing and a little goofy.  She raised me to be like her. And aside from the gift of life, it is that for which I am most grateful.

Thank you, Mom, for truly loving unconditionally. Thank you for this beautiful family you created. Thank you for being my mom. 

I will spend the rest of my days striving to be the person who still surprises you.

Friday, May 01, 2015

9Health Fair Yoga Open

Last weekend we checked out the 9Health Fair Yoga Open. In addition to the usual health screenings, a variety of free yoga classes were offered by a local studios. We decided to check out QiFlow, a class which combines yoga, dance, vinyasa, and even martial arts. The class was 30 minutes, and we were given a brief introduction of what we could expect should we decide to visit for a full version. The instructor, Dawnelle Arthur, did a great job of guiding us through it given the loud music from another vendor and it being hard to hear with the acoustics of the open space. We liked how she focused on resetting the spine and the stretches she did were unlike a traditional yoga class. Afterward we felt lengthened, energized, and intrigued to try a class at her studio. For more information about QiFlow, click here.

Wrapped around the open spaces for yoga were numerous tables filled with various health organizations offering important and insightful information.We stopped by to talk to a few. Check out their links, and more, below.

Colorado Ovarian Cancer Alliance
They had great information, such as frequent signs and symptoms of Ovarian Cancer, and explained how we can be proactive. Ovarian Cancer is the 5th overall cancer death in women. To learn more, click on the link above.

Colorado Crisis Services
This is Colorado's first statewide resource for mental health, substance use, or emotional crisis help, information and referrals. The call center is available 24/7/365 and will connect you with a mental health professional. There are also several walk-in centers all over the state. Click the link to find out more about the important work they are doing.

Two Moms in the Raw
We were introduced to these raw, on-the-go products created by Colorado moms. They were delicious and pack a nutritious punch. To learn more about them and where you can buy them near you, click above.

Overall, we had a great time checking out a new class and all of the health information available. We even had a impromptu photo shoot with a well known blue bear. Check out some of the fun....

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Accepting All of You

It’s happening again, friends.

Exactly one year and one day ago, I published this post in concert with Momastery. It is my confession. My release. My absolution of myself. It is the real deal, Holyfield. It is my truth. My messy beautiful.

Much has happened in the last 366 days – some great, some awful. And this week, I find myself grasping onto that roller coaster so hard, as it feels like it’s going to jump the rails and careen into a bottomless ravine, just falling, falling into the ether.

There has been a lot of melancholy in my life, a lot of loss and struggle, but also a lot of joy, so there isn’t one single thing I can point to as to why I’m feeling this way right now. As I slip deeper into the dark places, it becomes more difficult to claw my way out. The sadness is all-encompassing, engulfing me in a wave of rolling storm clouds. I imagine it looks like The Nothing in The NeverEnding Story. But I have been doing a lot of thinking about it which brought me to scroll through some pictures on my phone. I came across these two.
Left: Saturday date night;
Right: Sunday morning pre-run

These are both pictures of me from last weekend, taken roughly 18 hours apart. In my own opinion, they look like two completely different people. (This may also adequately explain why people don't remember me. I look different every time they see me, and they don't realize I'm the same person.) The woman on the left looks youthful, confident, striking. The woman on the right looks tired, older, plain. Average. Forgettable.

How do I love and accept both of these people when one makes me feel worthless and the other doesn't feel real? Just a painted on fa├žade with decent lighting.

Even after all the time and energy I have invested into loving and accepting myself, those old insecurities are always still there. Those facets of me still exist: The petrified child afraid to do or say the wrong thing for fear of punishment. The bullied tween called an ugly dog. The teenager rejected by her boyfriend who decided he could “do better” than her. The heartbroken college girl discovering her boyfriend cheated on her. The frightened woman crouching under a bathroom sink after being assaulted. The scared and vilified female sitting in a clinic debating a decision she wouldn't wish on her worst enemy.

Those people haven’t been around for more than ten years, yet I see all of them every time I look in the mirror. A choice is made every day as to which version of myself to present to the world. And lately, these terrified, hurt, broken versions have been winning. I want to disappear and leave these heavy feelings to someone else to bear.

So much of my journey to health has been mental and emotional. The physical changes and challenges are important, but I find my mind and mood can override anything my body wants, and until I get right with my head and heart, it’s not going to stick. I am unable to make lasting changes because I continue to hold myself back. Worried I am not worth it. Never feeling I am enough. Anxious of who I will be when I reach my goals.

I write this today not for want of sympathy, reassuring words, or compliments. I write this to show that as human beings, the past affects us no matter how much we try to put it behind us. Repressing it does not work for me. Pretending it didn't happen is insulting to the versions of me who had to live it. The ones who survived it. They are the foundation of me. I thrive because of them. We are one.

I am flawed and haunted. But I am strong and smart. I am brave and honest. I am both the woman on the left and on the right. And I will get through this. One messy, beautiful moment at a time.

Inspire. Motivate. Move.

Friday, March 06, 2015

Motivation Station

Let’s face it, it’s hard to get motivated, sometimes we’d rather hit snooze instead of the gym. Fear not, we have some tips to get (and keep) you going.

  •   Set a goal. 
No goal? Now is the time to make one. Sign up for your first race, or challenge a friend to see who can walk the most steps in a week. Whatever you decide, it’ll keep you striving until you meet it.
  • Adjust your ‘tude. 
If you continually view working out as a chore that’s exactly what it’ll always feel like, so try changing your perspective. Associate it with positives, such as it being a life lengthener, stress reducer, and fat burner.
  •  Change your tunes.
Music can be a huge up lifter, and I’ve found creating a new playlist, or asking a *friend to make one, is an instant spark to get me going.
*This friend has made you one, check it out below!

  • Buddy up.
Enlisting a friend to be a workout buddy, or making a pal in a class, is a win-win. It helps keep you accountable and inspired.

  •  Switch up your routine.
Boredom plays a huge factor in motivation, and perhaps all you need is a change of pace or scenery. Try a new class, run a new route, or add on to your current routine. Variety is the spice of life, and your body will appreciate it.
  •  Make it part of your daily schedule.
By treating a workout as an appointment, you’re less likely to skip it. Make it a scheduled part of your day to keep consistent.

  • Treat Yo Self.
Buy yourself a new pair of workout pants, and I guarantee you will want to exercise immediately. Or buy yourself a gym membership, a new water bottle, yoga mat, or fitness DVD. Invest in yourself.

What are you waiting for, get going!

Happy Sweating!