Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving 2011

And when the night is falling
Down the sky at midnight
Another year is stalling
Far away a good bye, good night
All that I want., all that I want, all that I want
So small a turning
The world grows older every day
An ache, a yearning
Soften when I hear you say
All that I want, all that I want
The Weepies

I certainly have many wonderful things to be thankful for on this fabulous holiday in 2011. I know I am not writing as often as I have in the past, but it's not due to a lack of love for you guys, it is simply that at times I struggle to find the creativity to be funny and the motivation to do what I should. That being said 2011 has just been a fabulous year with travel, wonderful old friends, amazing new friends, my family, and of course those three things that make me tick.... Sand Volleyball, Live Music, and Sports.

I sometimes stumble across old pictures that really make me smile like this one with Santa and others that make me cringe like that two others. Ugh :-/ I have talked about regrets and I try not to have them but I don't really remember being as fat as I am in some of these pictures. Don't get me wrong I have no memories of ever being not fat, and doubt I will ever not be fat or at least feel fat, but my goodness I look like a house and a house with a whole lot of chin. Good news is I don't think I look like that anymore. Unfortunately I don't have those blond locks like I used to either, or the ability to pull off wearing a jumper like that with a turtle neck.
My parents are moving a little further south in Florida and on my recent trip Mom pulled out the old baby books and it certainly made my day. Hauling them back in my suitcase wasn't as much fun. And while the pictures and notes are really cool I got to admit that having some hair from my first ever haircut is a little creepy. Anyway I am really thankful for all my old pictures, they all remind me of where I came from, even if I don't always like where I have been.
My house is really full of females. 18 legs worth of them :) They are always excited when I come home be it after an hour or after a week. And only three of them make me take them out to go to the bathroom. The other one makes me take her out to dinner :) I am really thankful for the love I feel at home. I am away a lot and it always feels good to come back to Madison and feel appreciated.
Jacky and I celebrated our 14th anniversary this year. We went bowling :) She pretty much kicks my ass on the rare occasions we bowl. I owe her a world of thanks as she has lead the really successful move of Sunshine Daydream into a bigger spot. And her, along with our staff, really have made our store the friendliest place to shop in Madison.

My friends just make me smile and laugh. I have so many different groups of friends. Volleyballers, Ridgers, College, High School, Fitness Northers,Facebookers and Madison. I got to mix a whole bunch of them this summer when a whole bunch came to town to party one weekend. I just want to say thank you to them for putting up with me, and for making me feel special. I'm not all that proud that I am in need of constant amusement but having my friends makes it a whole lot easier. So thanks to these friends I got to spend time with this year: Paul, Allison, Brad, Sara, Libby, Jon, Shannon, Alex, Nicole, Tim,
Tanya, Lisa, Jaime, Darlene, Merinda, Bernadine, Karen, Eric, Renee, John, Annaliese, Billy, Paul, Jay, Jeff,Danny and my twinsie Betsey.
Two of my favorite days of the year took place as far apart from each other as you could imagine. One was in the red rocks where I did something I hadn't done before. And the second was on a hike where I saw a waterfall. Each year brings some amazing life affirming visions, and I will look back on these two days with particular joy because even though they were two places a 1.000 miles apart they showed me I could do things I didn't know I could.
I owe a really big thanks to the staff at Fitness North. Leif, Sheryl. Jay and Kelly welcomed me into their family. They pushed me harder than I have ever been pushed. Made me do things I had never done. And built me back up after they broke me down. Plus they got me to see a very beautiful part of the country that I had never seen before. They really have an outstanding program that produces for everyone who attends. It's young and growing and will only get better. I'm happy I got there when they were so small they could take extra pleasure from kicking my ass.
It has been an amazing year for me music wise, I am so thankful that I got to see just an abundance of great shows. Including a trio of icons I had never seen before. I got to see Sara twice. Both times wonderful. And perhaps the sweetest thing I have ever heard out of my friend Allison's mouth came that night when after seeing Sara for the first time she promised to never mock me again for my obsession. I got to see Paul McCartney. My first Beatle ever in concert. And he did not disappoint at all. I also got to see Stevie Nicks and Gordon Lightfoot, who both sounded a little different and came nowhere near delivering the energy of Sir Paul. I also saw 3 dog night, Jimmy Buffett, Ben Folds, Little Feat, and scores of local acts.
But my favorite concert, which also gave me my favorite picture of the year, was the night Jackson Browne came to town. He played a song for me, it doesn't get any cooler than that. Still running on empty for sure.
I did a few races this year. 4 to be exact, including one today, my first activity ever on thanksgiving that didn't involve the use of either a fork or a remote. I still get nervous, I still worry and I still feel slow but I'm doing it. Thanks to my workout partner for making me does this, because without her push I would have watched the Macy's Day Parade in my pajamas.

Got to spend some time in Florida this past month. So thankful my parents are both around and making me smile. Over 80 everyday, hanging out in the pool, walking on the beach. I have to admit I feel somewhat stupid that I live in Wisconsin when I spend time in the Sunshine state.

Thankful for Happy Hour with my Mom. I know she reads this so I hope she knows that I love her very much and feel like every good quality I have comes from her. As your father would always toast.... Here's looking up your address. :)
I am a pretty big fan of turtles... Never saw the dessert variety in Utah, never saw the beach variety before either. And this trip I walked off the beach and onto the boardwalk heading to the parking lot and there she was. She made her way back out to the sand and was paid a visit by a boy turtle who proceeded to bump shells with her... In case you were wondering how I knew she was a girl. So seeing two was really cool and unexpected. Go Terps :)

There really is nothing in my life I am more thankful for than my volleyball teams. Virtually all my current friends can be traced to my volleyball teams. I played on 3 fall teams including playing on two on Wednesday night. The tie-dye team one the Wednesday night regular season and tournament championship. My Monday night team went undefeated in winning both the regular season and tournament championship. And watching my other team improve and become fabulous at sets made my fall. I love all these guys and miss them when we are not playing.

We dressed up for our end of year tournaments including the tie-dyes above and Captain Planet and the planeteers next to this.
My favorite night of dressing for volleyball was Monday night when I joined Eyeore, Piglet, Kanga, Roo, and Christopher Robin. nothing beats a tubby cubby kicking some butt on the sand.
As always so much to be thankful for, and so much to be excited about going forward. I hope everyone has a great end of the year and may your next year be colorful, festive, fruity and frosty... That's all I want. Peace and Love, Jimmy

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Fitness North 2 Wrap-up

Oh my heart is tangled
all around you.
When you've got trouble,
I've got trouble, too.
Liz Longley
It was a little after noon on Thursday when I looked back over the last six hours and realized I had just finished a 6 am 5K walk, an hour long pool class built around deck push-ups and relays, a spin class, a kickboxing class, another spin class, a trx class and a 3rd spin class. But the cool part was even after all that I was going to experience something for the first time ever, that I can remember, and certainly the first time as an adult. Jimbo was headed into a gondola, and headed up the mountain the easy way. Why haven't I been on a gondola that floats through the air? I'm not afraid of heights, I'm not afraid of ski lodges although I never go to them, and I'm not afraid of riding in small compartments. I am afraid of snapping a wire, and then reading about the fat dude that snapped the wire... But I checked on the weight limit (680lbs) and while I have been in that zip code before... I have moved far away. Which doesn't mean I was willing to share my gondola ride with someone else, I'm not tempting fate :)
Trying not to move very much, rock the gondola at all, or actually breathe all that much either, I didn't do a great job of taking pictures but here is a deer that was grazing below me, or possibly by the looks of it a rhino.
So thanks to the fine wires at Lutsen Mountain in really northern Minnesota. I crossed another thing off my bucket list, well one that I didn't know existed until actually seeing the gondola's. But what the heck, I am going to enjoy my new found spirit of adventure.
The 4 alumni of fitness north got to take this little excursion while the newbies got their lecture in. We are way up in this picture and good ways from Lake Superior way in the background. From left to, Lizzie, Zach, and Camille.
Here is the shore and lighthouse on the tip of Grand Marais, Minnesota. Grand Marais is about 30 miles south of the Canadian border. A fishing village with lots of cool shops and a whole lot of places to eat. Not that we got to sample the famous Sven and Ole's pizza but it's nice to know pizza hut hasn't run it out of town.
The aptly named Beaver House for some reason had a giant fish coming out of its storefront. Which got me thinking...maybe a giant hippie coming out of the awning at Sunshine Daydream would be cool? I think I will stick with what we got. And leave the Beaver House alone to tend to their live bait and glass bottle selling. Now that is some niche marketing right there.

Friday marked the last day of full exercise for the week. Again out into the brisk morning air for a 6 am walk. I was 4 for 4 on shorts in the am and I wasn't changing now. The car said 23 degrees as we headed to the start line, the wind coming of the lake made me a little cold, but I'm not giving in. I sort of shuffled/limped/waddled through the morning hike and was happy to warm up in the pool. My plan to defeat winter and wear shorts much longer is sadly a huge underdog to Mother Nature's plan to remind me she makes the rules. We had a 3 hour mixed body circuit/ab/ relay class in the morning that I thought was the toughest one yet.
The last hike of the week was at Split Rock State Park... Home of the Split Rock Lighthouse. I had been there before, but the waters kept me off the island before. I was ready this time with old shoes, and a determination that if I needed to get wet I didn't care. If I can ride in a gondola, damn it, I can get to the island. It was a school holiday and there were kids everywhere in the park. They were going to watch me get my way to that island. And they did. Of course, they were just walking next to me as the low tide made the walk out their dry, easy, and short. Still a victory in my book :)

You weigh out Saturday and it is certainly the way we like to measure the success of these programs. 10 people got on the scales that morning, 10 different body types, 10 different levels of fitness, and 10 different amounts of weight they wanted to lose.... And 10 people got off the scales happy. I had never seen that happen before on weigh-in day. Everyone had great losses with the smallest being 6 lbs which had to be in the 4% range for that person and 22lbs on top which was in the 6% range for that person. All told the 9 people lost a staggering total of 106 lbs in their week. They pushed themselves further and harder than they could imagine. They got the support and knowledge of the staff. They got friendship, inspiration, and understanding from each other in a small environment best suited for their needs. It was a successful week. It was hard but it was worth it. And I am certain all 9 of those other campers would agree. Peace, Love, and I love you mother nice, Jim

Friday, October 21, 2011

keep on keeping on

There may come a time, a time in everyone's life
where nothin seems to go your way
where nothing seems to turn out right
there may come a time, you just cant seem to find your way
for every door you walk on to, seems like they get slammed in your face
that's when you need someone, someone that you can call.
and when all your faith is gone
feels like you cant go on
let it be me
let it be me
if its a friend that you need
let it be me
let it be me
Ray Lamontagne

So I certainly expected to be completely wrecked for at least two days, following my torturous Monday. But much like everyday here I was up again before dawn and heading down the road to the delightful sounds of my ipod. This picture is the Tettegouche Cove which is one of my favorite spots in all of Minnesota. The waves come breaking in from Lake Superior and meet the Baptism River flowing in to form a cove that is one of the most serene places on earth.

The less than happy news is you walk down a ridiculous amount of steps to see it, but I know this will shock you I'd do it again in a heartbeat. I don't think I climbed more steps on this trip but still a lot and I will let you in on a little secret.... It's getting easier and easier and my knee hurts less.

Wildlife is really abundant here in the North Shore. And much like my brother the black bear I am happy to dip my paw in the cove and grab a little snack. You may laugh but if I had run across this tasty gift from the lake yesterday about three hours into the hike I would have surely eaten it.

This little guy was just happily staring at the fish I was holding and admiring my talents. Truthfully, he or she, I wasn't checking which, blends so well into the scenery that I barely could see it. I'm not exactly what species of flying animals this was. I am guessing either eagle, hawk, or flying monkey. Although my humming of tunes from the Wizard of Oz did not elicit much response so I'm guessing one of the first two.
Here is the craziest of wildlife... A shocking and rare photo of a human encounter with a golden retriever. Not often seen in the wild, and rarely off their leashes in state parks, Izzy was a friendly sort who gave me a big kiss and shared some water from my water bottle. I think he was happy with the salty taste of my face. After all, I had spent the morning doing the pre-dawn 5K, and a pool class, had a bowl of Kashi cereal with fruit and then did a 3 hour class with a 1.5 hour leg circuit, a 30 minute ab's session, relay races that included sprints with kettle bells, and then a step class. It was a legit morning for sure. Followed by a fabulous and scenic hike. I was exhausted, sweaty, tired, and pretty damn happy with my first couple days. And I sure knew that there wasn't anything they could throw at me that would kill me.... at least I hoped so. :)

Speaking of rare pictures. Here is something you haven't seen in months and months... Jimbo in pants. I know winter is coming, it makes me sad but I am ready and I swear this year will be different. I have a workout partner lined up and I'm ready to go. We have ten fabulous, fun campers this week. And one, who decided to come after reading the blog, and who has made it through a few days without yet threatening to kill me. So I am happy for that. On we go through more walks, more classes, and more adventures and knowing whats coming is making it much easier, that and the amazing inspiring group of people doing all this with me. Peace, Love and Happiness, Jim

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Hike Me

The long and winding road
That leads to your door
Will never disappear
I've seen that road before.
It always leads me here,
Leads me to your door
The Beatles

So, as I mentioned before, Monday was a very strange day for me. I felt really good all morning, even pushing the kettle bell while bear crawling across the floor. I was happy with my 5K and felt like I really pushed as hard as I could. I was in a good place and felt ready for the afternoon hike. I knew going in it was hard, I knew going in it was 5.5 miles. I didn't know the terrain was going to be extreme, I didn't know the ups and downs would get to me. I didn't know wobbly bridges would await me and I sure didn't ever suspect that I would be finishing in the dark.

I have done some decent sized walks in the past and been ok. I'm slow no doubt about it. I figured I would finish last of the campers who completed it. No big deal. What I have never done in the past is head out on a hike in the afternoon, after doing a 5 K in the morning and 3 .5 more hours of exercise on top of it. I remember seeing this sign and thinking that can't be right I had to have been hiking for at least two miles, no way can it be 4.6 miles back. I think I should learn to trust signs more than the faulty odometer in m mind. I was already starting to fatigue.

I saw a lot of stuff that looked like this. Steps going up, steps going down, and some that seemed to do both. I have never stepped over and around more tree roots, tree limbs, and tree branches... heck even whole trees.

I am not sure what is up with the wild life in upper Minnesota but it sure doesn't seem ver afraid of humans... This guy mocked me by literally posing about 10 inches from my foot.

Here's what the hoopla is all about. The famous split rock, that gives the river, the state park and the lighthouse its name. I know what you are thinking.... big damn deal its two rocks, I'm thinking the same thing

The running question through most of the first half of the hike was do you see a bridge yet? The bridge was identified as the halfway point. Although my wonderful guide Kelly assured me it was past half way, I think she was just trying to be nice. If you look close you can pretty much see the twofold terror in my eyes. First off the bridge I'm standing on is not exactly steel girders and cement and seemed to make a strange noise with each step and secondly I realized I was a little over two hours into this hike. And starting to feel all that exercise, and lack of food.

It started to dawn on me that this was going to take me 4+ hours. I wasn't sure I had it in me. I started to worry, started to think of alternatives. There were none. I was slowing down and we were on a loop hike and I was in the middle. Most everyone else had finished. Another guide and camper backed back out to check on me. I was pretty much a wreck both physically and mentally. I was in perpetual search for somewhere to sit my weary ass, back and legs. I found one but it was not happy when I sat on it cracking, sliding and dumping me to the ground.

I just kept walking as far as I could, assuming my bent over position and dropping F-bombs. we reached the top at late dusk and I asked how much farther. I was told about a football field. It was darkening by the second and after I walked my first football field. I didn't seem much closer. Never ask a non sports fan for an analogy. My guide was using the tiny flashlight on her walkie talkie and I was slowly walking down the mountain as it got back outside. I walked 4-5 football fields easy. I was happy to see the ride although felt bad that some other campers had to wait for their ride back. I came home, crawled up the stairs and climbed into bed. I wrapped myself and shook. Got lots of visitors to check on me, and congratulate me, although I felt more like the conqueree than the conquerer. I just knew I had to be wrecked for days, and was already thinking of an excuse to take tuesday off. I got up the next day and went on my 6am hike. Peace, Love and and a new foe, Jim

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


I apologize for not being able to complete the previous post... I am really having computer issues. But i did want to at least add that upon returning I had convinced myself that it was impossible for this place to dish out anything harder than they had on my previous trip. I was mistaken. My monday afternoon hike took me 5 hours to complete, was the longest hike I have ever done over never ending steps and tree roots, bridges and planks, and ended with me coming down the mountain after sundown with a flashlight. But I finished and I will give you all the details tomorrow. Peace, Love, and pure imagination, Jim

Back up North

If you want to view paradise
Simply look around and view it
Anything you want to, do it
Want to change the world, there's nothing to it

There is no life I know
To compare with pure imagination
Living there, you'll be free
If you truly wish to be
Willy Wonka

First off, I am having huge problems uploading pictures for some reason so you are only getting words today and hopefully pictures tomorrow. I arrived up here on Sunday, weighed in and assumed my room in the Ski Lodge... Of course sharing the lodge with 5 women. I'll give them credit it was atleast 18 minutes before I heard the word period :) I did get the best room in the lodge as a consolation prize... Amazing view, personal jacuzzi, fireplace and a king size bed.

5:15 am comes so quickly here and it was still very dark as we undertook our first work of the day. 5K walk/run through the paths, streets, and parks of downtown Two Harbors. I felt good, actually really good, and traversed the path in my quickest time. So that made me happy. We followed that with an hour in the pool. I miss my noodle and some of the floating around in my old pools, because this is serious pool workouts. Deck Jumps where you are doing pushups on the deck, flutter kicks, relays, and laps. I love it and wish we spent more time there.

Next comes my favorite part of the day that doesn't involve water or eating. We head to a main room where there were 16 stations set up. The 10 campers each start at a different exercise and we spend a 45 seconds to a minute at each station and move on. We did the full cycle three times. Of course we get to run stairs, we get to do all sorts of arm work and we get to sweat unmercifully. We follow up that with relay races, some pusing kettle bells on the floor, doing bear claws, some running and some hauling 20 lb dumbells around.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Fall In Wisconsin

Hark, now hear the sailors cry
Smell the sea and feel the sky
Let your soul
and spirit fly into the mystic
Van Morrison
It's officially fall in Wisconsin and that, of course, means the temperatures have been in the 80's all week. After playing Volleyball a few nights in 30 degree temps last month it has been just ridiculously nice here all week. Outdoor volleyball is winding down with just a couple weeks left, one of which I will miss getting my butt kicked up north. But thankfully my fall teams have had really good seasons going undefeated on Mondays and only dropping one match on Wednesdays, which happened to coincide with my last trip north :) We held our annual once a year Badger tailgate party this past Saturday to welcome Nebraska to the Big Ten. The Badgers are awfully good this year. And although Nebraska came to town some 40,000 strong they left with a butt-kicking. And thankfully left behind some Nebraska money at the store as well.
If there is one thing I have hated my entire life it is clothes shopping. Nothing ever seems to fit right, nothing in my size ever looks good and nothing makes me look decent. Well I finally broke down and bought some new clothes. Mostly because I was concerned my khaki shorts were going to fall off but also because winter is coming and I know I will need some warmer clothes. But I couldn't pass, up these shorts. You know why.... Because they fit right, they looked good, and I thought they made me look decent :) In fact I spent more money on clothes in this past week then in a very long time.

I have had a really good run this past summer :) Fun, productive, and rewarding. New friends, lots of volleyball, great music, and some interesting travel. It sort of turned when I got back from out of town in April, signed up for Weight Watchers and then again when I joined the Fitness North family in August. I don't follow the Weight Watcher's plan, but I do get on that scale each week and I need that accountability. That was my star from the weigh-in the day before the tailgate. Now I haven't been able to get back to the -49 this week after a full day of tailgating, but I will. And I don't mind because I think finding balance in your life is really the most important way you can be happy. You absolutely have to spend sometime working hard, sacrificing a bit, and being accountable, but you also need fun times, good friends and the enjoyment of great nourishment. I haven't quite figured it all out but I'm getting closer.
This time next week I will be back in Minnesota for my second week at Fitness North. This place was so hard the first time but also so worth it. I have never worked harder. I am about 99% excited to get back up there and of course about 1% scared they are going to kick my butt even worse. But that's why I signed up and they certainly proved I can work harder than I thought and I can learn about nutrition and come home and implement what I learned. I'm also excited because I learned there will be a pretty full group this time so a few more people get to share in the adventure. They told me they have one room left for Oct. 16th through the 22nd. so feel free to grab it up and join in the fun. I can not even imagine how amazing the place will look in full fall colors. It will be peak leaf changing and if the hikes weren't spectacular enough now they are going to be unbelievably beautiful. I really feel like a part of the family here and have been so impressed with their follow up after I came home. Can't wait to see them again. They asked me to pass onto you guys a really cool opportunity if you want to undertake a big change to start your year. They are offering a special 8 week session, with daily personal training, weekly life coaching, full personalized nutritional planning and an amazing start to your 2012. This is the info on the program from them:
The program runs from 01-01-2011 to 2-25-2011. The guest will stay in the Executive Lodge in a Master suite along with a FN Staff person. Your meal and exercise plan is totally customized for you. One-on-one personal training sessions/classes Eight health and wellness coaching sessions with Kelly. Through your coaching sessions, you'll get to know you and learn about both your goals and frustrations, while we create a realistic meal plan to help you lose the weight as well as set you up for success once you leave our program. We will talk to you about specific foods and how to incorporate them into your newly found lifestyle. You are no longer on a diet – you are changing your whole life! You will be taught and get hands-on experience making healthy, gourmet meals. You'll also go to the grocery store to learn how to shop for health and weight loss. You'll spend a lot of time in the produce section as well as discussing packaged products and how to read labels.
The cost is $2,500 per week. The cost covers everything related to the program, including the following: initial assessments, luxury accommodations; healthy meals, snacks, consultations with nutrition and fitness experts weekly health and wellness coaching sessions, ongoing evaluations; and indoor and outdoor exercise programs.

Fitness North is committed to helping you transform your body safely and quickly while learning habits that will promote Health fitness over the course of your lifetime. Your final weight loss journey begins here.
I hope everyone has an amazing week. I have something really special planned for Tuesday... I get to see my girl Sara Bareilles in concert. And I get to take 3 people to their first Sara show. Fun times before packing to head north... Peace, Love and changing leaves and lives, Jim