Each one of us must answer that question for ourselves. For some it is “Stay the course” for others it is “Abandon ship!” and for most it is somewhere in between.
For me, it is all about baby steps.
Making a Plan
Pen by Anna Langova
On January 1st I sat down with my youngest son and had a *brainstorming/planning/goal-setting/dreaming sit down meeting. Ok, maybe it was less formal than that. It was more like a sit in the recliners with our notepads and a couple of pens to chat about what we wanted to accomplish personally and professionally in 2016.
We started with a main theme and then separated it into different categories which then went into more detail as we worked on the first three months of the year. We called these our action steps. What good is a dream if you don’t take action to turn that dream into a reality?
We discussed each step as we went along. The sharing and discussion of our plans was helpful in many ways. Writing it down is one thing, but speaking it out loud and hearing it said gave us a sense of taking action. We were able to offer suggestions and new ideas were formed.
Why am I sharing this with the Health Fitness Beauty Quest readers? When I think of 2015, I think of it as a year of extremes. From cycling across deserts and mountains to months of sitting in hospital rooms while my youngest son battled a brain tumor. My personal health and fitness went from being at the peak adult shape of my life to back where I was in September of 2013 when the Health Fitness Beauty Quest began.
Being back where I started physically is a tough pill to swallow. Yet, while I may be in the shape I was in two years ago, my knowledge base of what it takes to be healthy, fit and beautiful is powerfully strong. I know exactly what it takes to get back to my prime physical shape. And you know what they say, “Knowing is half the battle”. (Thanks G.I. Joe cartoons for that gem.)
So, my theme for 2016 is: Getting Back to Basics
This means back to recording my meals, logging fitness activities and making myself responsible for my success or lack thereof. I know I’m not alone in my goal for a healthier and more fit 2016. There is a wave of energy towards making a positive healthy change at this time of the year. Let’s get together in person or virtually to encourage, challenge and cheer on one another toward reaching our health and fitness goals.
Thank you for joining me for the National Podcast Post Month Version of the Health Fitness Beauty Quest Show. My name is Jennifer Navarrete and on today’s episode, I am going to share the two ways you can keep track of my progress.
I am using two iPhone apps for both fitness and nutrition. The app I have used to track my fitness over the last few years has been MapMyRide. While the ride portion does indeed refer to cycling, it also covers walking, running, gym workouts and everything in between. It really is a robust fitness tracker. It also integrates with other fitness trackers such as FitBit. One of the features I really like is the ability to share my workouts as they happen through their LIVE option. It’s motivating to see friend workout notices pop up on my phone. It certainly makes you want to get out there and get moving.If you want to keep track of my walks, cycling and workouts go to www.mapmyride.com/profile/epodcaster
The app I am using to track my nutrition is called MyFitnessPal. This was doctor recommended and once I began using it in the early stages of the Health Fitness Beauty Quest in 2013, I knew why. It has many existing food and meal nutrition and calorie info. The app also has a cool little bar code scanner which makes keeping track of my meals easy even on the laziest of days.
One of the bonuses to MyFitnessPal is the NOTE section. I use it to keep track of the nutritional supplements and essential oils I use on a daily basis. To follow my progress go to http://www.myfitnesspal.com/epodcaster
So there you have it. The two essential tools I have used successfully in the past and that I will use again to get my health and fitness back on the path to wellness.
Thank you for joining me for the National Podcast Post Month Version of the Health Fitness Beauty Quest Show which for the next 30 days will be more of a daily audio digest.
On today’s episode, I give the background of the Health Fitness Beauty Quest. It all began in September 2013. I was 44 years old at the time. That year, like many before, I was wider and less healthy than the year before. In my family we are long-lived and based on the way I was living things weren’t looking favorable on that front.
I wanted to transform my life into one of a healthy lifestyle, but that was also something I had thought every year. So, I knew I would need accountability. By blogging, podcasting, posting videos and sharing progress on social media I was able to take my size 16 179lbs into a size 8 148lbs in 16 months.
The next stage of my quest was to ride my bicycle across the country starting in San Diego, CA and ending in St. Augustine, FL. A distance of over 3,000 miles. On March 31st 2015 the Health Fitness Beauty Quest Bike Tour began. I was very please to have sponsors and individual donations to support the bike tour. Sponsors like: Team RISE UP! Global, Educating for Success, Tourism Currents, Ivita Botanicals, Ventana Media Group and more.
Many folks know about how the tour was cut short in Deming, NM due to my youngest son ill health. He was part of the Support Team and ,came down will what we thought was, severe altitude sickness. We soon discovered that his headaches and nausea were actually due to a brain tumor. Six months later and I am very happy to report that he is on the mend after receiving treatment.
So, what does all of this have to do with the Health Fitness Beauty Quest? Well from the time we discovered my youngest son’s diagnosis, I have led a life that was the opposite of health and fitness. I went from cycling mountains and traversing deserts to little to no movement at all sitting in the hospital at my son’s bedside. Talk about doing a fitness 180º turn! I also discovered I am what you might call a stress eater. Let me tell you that when life hits you something that life altering, it’s stressful.
I jumped on the scale recently and it turns out I am almost right back where I was in September 2013…..not quite…almost. It is a bit frustrating to see the current state of my health and fitness. Which tells me many things. First of all, I need to get back to what I know works. Cycling, walking, tracking my eating and fitness. I also know I need to share this setback and the state of things in my health and fitness in order to have you hold me accountable.
Which is why NaPodPoMo is a perfect time to restart the Health Fitness Beauty Quest. Tomorrow, I will share some of the strategies I plan on implement which includes allowing you daily access to my nutrition and fitness. What better way to stay on track than to share the good, the bad and the ugly?
They say it takes 30 days to create a new habit or break a bad one. By the time November 30th rolls around, I hope to have done both.
As you have probably surmised by now, the bike tour has been on hold for the last few months. In previous posts, Facebook and Twitter, I shared the story of stopping the tour in Deming, NM to bring my youngest son (Jordan) home to San Antonio. He was suffering from what we believed to be a severe case of altitude sickness. Lower altitude and some wellness visits over two weeks saw an improvement, but a milder form of the headaches and occasional nausea lingered.
Finally on May 7th a CT Scan of his head showed us something very unexpected. There was a mass in his brain which was not allowing the fluid in his brain to drain normally. Which was why he was sensitive to the pressure at high altitudes or the increased barometric pressure when a storm was approaching. We were told to rush him to the ER where bloodwork and more scans were done. He was quickly ushered up to Neuro-ICU and from that day forward the entire focus has been on his recovery.
We later discovered the mass in his brain was a Germ Cell Tumor. His particular diagnosis was Pineal Germinoma. It is not common for germ cell tumors to happen in the brain, but the good news was a treatment plan of chemotherapy and radiation has a 90% cure rate. As far as tumors go this was great news. So, for the months of May, June and July, Jordan received chemotherapy treatments in hospital. Then after a 3 week break he started on out-patient radiation treatments in late August.
The last 6 months have been a time of extremes. The whirlwind of medical terms were overwhelming. Making life decisions based on the little we understood on little sleep and coffee. Once he was stabilized they began chemo treatments. Which in and of itself is physically demanding. Then the hospital infections set in. We faced one crisis after another all for being in the hospital. To say we were frustrated would be one of the biggest understatements yet. Then 30 days after it all began he was all enough to come home. It was great to be out of the hospital, but Jordan was so weak from all the infections he contracted while at the hospital.
The biggest kicker to it all was that none of the infections had anything to do with his brain tumor. You’ve heard the saying, “The longer you stay in the hospital, the more likely it is that you will stay in the hospital” well they aren’t kidding. Overall, it was a nightmare. However, there were bright spots in the long ordeal. We did have some good nurses who were dedicated and compassionate. However, there were also nurses who were “phoning it in”. The rub is that all it takes is one of the “phoning it in” nurses to derail your health. I won’t name names, but I totally should. If you followed my story on Twitter and Facebook, then you already know which hospital facility is the culprit.
Needless to say we transferred his care to another hospital, University Hospital. This is where Jordan’s care took a huge uptick. We were gun-shy after our last experience. So, when it was time for round two of chemo, we were preparing for everything to go wrong. Guess how many things went wrong? None. Not a single thing. We were amazed. You mean Jordan could go in for chemo for the brain tumor and NOT wind up with every kind of terrible infection under the sun that has nothing to do with what he was getting treated for? Wow. We were thrilled with the care Jordan received form the entire medical team at University Hospital. His third and final round of chemo went off without a hitch as well. The care Jordan has been receiving from University Hospital and CTRC (Cancer Therapies Research Center) has been absolutely wonderful.
What Happened Next?
Then it was time for radiation treatments. The oncology teams at CTRC led by Dr. Andrew Brenner and Dr. Richard Crownover were kind, caring, patient and highly knowledgeable. They answered every question and gave us lots of information on his radiation treatment as well as potential side effects.
We saw improvement in Jordan’s health with each passing treatment. Radiation was less stressful and taxing on his body than chemotherapy. Which after 3 months of chemo was a nice change. Radiation treatments were scheduled for 5 1/2 weeks. But during one of his weekly meetings with Dr. Crownover, who oversaw the radiation treatment, we learned that Jordan has responded so well to chemo that they were shortening his treatment by 1 1/2 weeks. To say were were thrilled by this unexpected news would be putting it mildly. A followup meeting with Dr. Brennar who is Jordan’s Neuro-Oncologist, gave us even better news. For the first time since all of this began we saw the post-chemo MRI. I don’t think I’ll ever forget these words, “The chemo melted the tumor.”
The Wonderful Oncology Team
Then one day in a much quieter and more pleasant fashion than it all started, Jordan’s treatments were over. He received a Radiation Treatment Graduation Certificate and we celebrated. The weight of the world seemed to lift off our shoulders. We felt light, airy and we couldn’t stop smiling all day.
We have been told it will take some time for his body to fully heal and recover from such a traumatic ordeal. Which makes sense. What happened to Jordan didn’t happen overnight. Nor did the chemo and radiation treatments. In the meantime, we are very happy to keep our lives simple and quiet. Allowing him all the time he needs to heal.
So Very Grateful
Through the whirlwind of medical activity, we were blessed to have so many of our friends both in person and online praying and sending Jordan positive vibes. We felt the outpouring of love during many of our most challenging times. Support from the time he first entered the hospital to encouragement during the frustrating weeks of hospital complications to cheering him on when he finally was able to come home.
We are extremely grateful to our immediate family. They prayed, laughed and cried with us during all the highs and lows. Their love and support are the rock from where we have drawn our strength.
Overall, Jordan and I feel humbled by everyone’s care, kind words, cards in the mail, tweets, Facebook posts, texts and calls. Just to know you were thinking about us, even when we have been so withdrawn from the world, warmed our hearts.
A special word of thanks to Penny Muckleroy who is an independent distributor for USANA Health Sciences and Amy Aubry who is an independent distributor for Young Living Essential Oils. The nutritional supplements and essential oils they provided Jordan over the last six months were of great comfort. I wish I could elaborate on this more, but for regulatory reasons can not. I will say that I highly recommend speaking with both of these ladies and not just because I am also associated with both companies.
What Ever Happened to Roger and Susan?
Roger and Susan weren’t too keen on ending their tour early either. So, they decided to restart their tour on September 16th. They flew into Austin, TX which gave Jordan, Jonathan, Ladybird and I a chance to meet with them before they pedaled off to Florida. Follow their journey by subscribing to their blog: http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/Southern
What’s Next for the Health Fitness Beauty Quest Bike Tour?
Let’s backtrack a bit to early May: During the time we were in San Antonio before we found out about the tumor in Jordan’s head, Roger and Susan were pedaling their way through Texas. Since they were in Texas and approaching my neck of the woods, I attempted to rejoin them in Brackettville, TX. However, on the day I met up with them, Roger was admitted into the hospital in Del Rio. He wound up canceling the rest of the tour due to health complications. That left me riding the tour solo fully loaded from Brackettville, TX to Boerne, TX. I rode 4 days for a total of 120 miles. Not too shabby for riding loaded with all my gear for the first time. Look for a detailed post of the ride from Bracketville, TX to Boerne, TX in an upcoming post.
Flash forward to today. With so much uncertainty over the last six months, I wasn’t sure when I could seriously look at continuing the tour. I knew there would be a point when I would be back on the road. My current estimate is an April 2016 Health Fitness Beauty Quest Bike Tour Part II restart. There are a couple of options: Begin where I first left the tour and make up the miles from Deming, NM to Brackettville, TX. The idea would be to find a group riding the Southern Tier and join them in Deming. Another option is to pick up the tour from my last ride point of Boerne, TX and then make up the missing Deming to Bracketville miles in Florida by cycling down to the Florida Keys. I’m sure you can guess which option sounds more appealing. I will share details as tour plans come together.
So, that is the last 6 months in a single post nutshell. Thank you for continuing to follow the journey and supporting us during such an unexpected detour. There is still so much more to come. Cheers!
Here is an update post on the off chance you’ve been wondering what’s been happening during the bike tour intermission. The first priority was to do everything possible to get Jordan back to full health. We took him to see Dr. Q. at Pinnacle Wellness for several chiropractic visits with neck and shoulder muscle therapy treatments as well as an infrared sauna session. With each visit his health improved. This was combined with rest, hydration and specific nutritional supplements from our Health Coach, Penny Muckleroy of Your Wellness Plan.
In the meantime, I was coming to the realization that I would need to transition the tour from supported to self-supported. I had always known that Jonathan would only be with us through April. It had always been the plan for the tour continue with Jordan, Ladybird and myself. However, with the severe sickness Jordan experienced we decided that it would be best for him to stay home and for me to continue the tour solo.
Roger and Susan continued riding the Southern Tier when we left them in Deming, NM. Each day they rode was another day they were getting closer to me in San Antonio, TX. While I was chomping at the bit to get back on the road, the priority was Jordan. I knew that once Jordan was back to good health I would rejoin the tour.
Riding self-supported meant that I would need to figure out how to take all of the clothes, cosmetics, bike repair supplies/tools, emergency food and a sleeping bag on my bike. At first I thought about stuffing it all into a backpack. I had researched ultra-light bike touring a few months ago and knew it was possible. We had even run into two young German bicycle tourists in Alpine, CA who were riding the Southern Tier with backpacks. However, when I tried fitting everything into my backpack, I discovered this would not work for me at all.
The next logical step was to find a rear bike rack which would fit on my Trek 1.2 road bike. I was thrilled when my local BikeWorld had one in stock that fit my bike perfectly. My plan was to bungee the waterproof bag that contained my clothes with my sleeping back onto the top of the bike rack. The salesman at BikeWorld told me I really needed to look into bags for the rear rack. Roger also expressed concern about me being able to bring everything I would need for a self-supported tour unless I had bags. Luckily, I remembered Henry Parrilla from Bike Seven had mentioned his bike touring adventures when we took his bike mechanics class before the start of the tour. I contacted Henry and he did indeed have some bags I could borrow for the trip. My road bike now looks more like a proper touring bike.
At this point with Jordan now back to his happy-go-lucky healthy self, it is time to get the show back on the road. Roger and Susan will be in Del Rio, TX in a couple of days. I have my bike packed, prepped and ready. I weighed the load that will be on the rear rack of my bike and am happy to report that I am coming in at just under 20lbs. This is really great news for me because that means I am not having to pedal too much additional weight and my aluminum road bike can still deliver a relatively nimble ride.
When I left the tour on April 18th, I wasn’t sure how long the intermission would last. Originally, I thought a couple of days at the most. I had no idea I would be gone for 10 days. I have missed riding 117 miles of map 2 and all of map 3 (496.5 miles). Roger and Susan’s actual map 3 mileage is less than the 522 miles of the Adventure Cycling Association’s Southern Tier Official Route. We stopped following ACA maps whenever it took us to scenic mountain routes. I think the terror filled ride from Superior, AZ to Miami, AZ cured us of any need to ever ride narrow mountain roads. I think Roger said it best, “If we really want to see the mountain views we can always rent a car and drive through them.” Susan and I whole-heartedly agreed and happily went off-route on flatter roads with wide shoulders.
Truth be told, map 3 was the section of the map that I was looking forward to riding the most in Texas. I love the Ft. Davis, Marfa, Alpine area. It’s one of my favorite getaway locations in Texas and I make trips as often as possible. The idea or riding up to the McDonald Observatory and down to historic Ft. Davis really appealed to me. Another section on map 3 that would have been a highlight was the huge bridge that crosses the Pecos River. The view is stunning and I was excited about the challenge of riding up that steep bridge. When it became apparent that I would not be able to meet Susan and Roger until they made it into Del Rio, TX I knew that I would have to make up that section of the map another time.
There was a part of me that considered going back to Deming, NM to complete the tour riding solo. That was quickly put out of consideration after mentally reviewing my tour experience riding thus far. I know that traveling with a group even a small group is much safer. There is more of a chance that drivers will see you if there are more of you to see. With the summer heat fast approaching, it looks like a ride from San Antonio, TX to Del Rio, TX and up to Deming, NM will be in order sometime during the fall months. It’s my plan to go back to the Crazy Guy on a Bike site to join a group traveling west along the Southern Tier to complete my journey.
So, there you have it. The summary of what’s been going on since the bike tour intermission began. The riding fun is about to start up again. You have no idea how much I’ve missed riding. I have been living vicariously through Roger and Susan’s daily posts on their journal. Now it’s time for me to start experiencing the open road as I pedal the rest of the 1,682.5 miles of the ACA Southern Tier.
As many of you know we are on a short bike tour intermission due to my youngest son’s severe altitude sickness. His health is vastly improved since coming home to San Antonio. Thanks to the care of Dr. Q from Pinnacle Wellness as well as our Health Coach, Penny Muckleroy he is now back to his normal happy-go-lucky self.
In the meantime, we had time to download all of the recorded footage of the journey from California to New Mexico. We have been looking forward to sharing some of our adventures with you. So, with a little help from iMovie we were able to create this fun movie trailer.
The tour will restart when I rejoin Roger and Susan in Del Rio, TX. With four more states of filming still to come, your support is needed to complete the documentary. Consider donating to see this project completed by clicking on the big blue “Support the Documentary button.
We left on Saturday morning and, two days of car travel later, we are in San Diego. The travel by car was loooong. Day one was the toughest. It felt like we would never get out of Texas. We made it to Las Cruces in New Mexico, ate a fast food dinner and were asleep once our bodies hit the beds.
Day two began with us re-figuring out how to pack the car. It took us an hour, but when all was said and done we think we actually found a better way to pack. More room for us, Ladybird and our stuff. We figure we will get faster at packing the car….or at least that’s the hope.
For some reason day two traveling felt faster. Not sure if hitting Arizona so quickly after getting started gave us a sense of faster movement. Did we mention getting out of Texas took a really long time? One of the cool things about this leg of the trip was the drastic changes in terrain. From desert to lush farmlands to sand dunes to mountains to ocean. It really was a feast for the eyes.
Driving I-10 is not an exact duplicate of the route I will rise during the tour. However, it does give me a sense of the terrain I will encounter. I have never paid more attention to road shoulders as I did over the last two days. Some roads had fabulous wide shoulders relatively free from debris. Others were rough, gravelly situations full of debris. I am curious how my skinny tires will handle those particular roads.
When we got to the mountains in California before we hit San Diego, I finally got a chance to feel what those elevations have up until now only been lines on a map. Oh boy, what a way to start a tour. I’m not sure if I’m more wary of the going up or going down the mountains. Going down there were times when we would hit 75-80mph without me hitting the gas. I know the weight of the fully loaded car is drastically different than the weight of my and my bike, but it certainly gives me pause.
Today is rest day. And by rest, I mean we will not be sitting in the car. In reality, I have much to do in order to be ready for Tuesday mornings official start of the bike tour. Bonus today was finally meeting Roger and Susan who are also riding the Southern Tier. We have been corresponding online over the last few months after connecting via the Crazy Guy On A Bike site.
As for the team, Jonathan, Jordan and Ladybird have been a wonderful support. Jonathan taught me more about RPM’s and manually shifting my car than I have known my entire life. If it wasn’t for his thorough and detailed instruction I do not think our entire load would have made it up and down and up and down from sea level to 4,100 feet. I was able to experience his patient and thorough teaching and educational style first hand. Now I know why he was a customer and client favorite in his career. `
At the end of the day, Jonathan took me to Mission Bay Park to give my Trek 1.2 bike around for a final test ride. It felt great to get back in the saddle even if it was just for 10-15 minutes. As I looked out across the water, I finally felt like I was in California. I could feel this was truly the beginning of an epic adventure.
As the departure date gets ever closer there are a few things that need to be done. Over the past week, we have taken a bike mechanics class, had our tour mascot given the thumbs up for travel and I had my eyes examined. You know we captured it all on film as part of the documentary. So, here it all is for your viewing pleasure:
Henry L. Parrilla from Bike Seven showed Jordan and I how to replace a bike chain, repair a broken spoke and how to install a new derailer. While we hope we never have to use these repair skills during the bike tour, we sure are glad we know how to make repairs should the need arise. Thank you, Henry for sharing your bike repair knowledge as well as words of wisdom when it comes to long distance bike touring.
I went to visit the eye doctor at the insistence of my mother, Nelda Cooling, owner of Koolaches Bakery (and a sponsor of the tour). As many of you know, I have been using over-the-counter reading glasses for a couple of years now. I’ve been in denial about really needing glasses, but I knew it was time to make it official. What I didn’t know was exactly how much I really needed them. I had an “Oh dear!” moment upon hearing that bifocals were in my future. I am now getting the hang of contacts. Putting things in and out of my eyeballs just seems so opposite of what I should be doing. What I will say is that being able to look at my phone without reaching for glasses is a very nice thing. Thanks Mom!
The last thing we did this week was to take our Ladybird, who is the Official Bike Tour Mascot, for her annual checkup. At 14 years of age, we wanted to make sure she was fit and ready for two months of travel and adventure. Something we found especially interesting was that she would need travel papers in order for her to legally cross state lines. Turns out that taking a pet outside of state lines without travel papers can be a costly endeavor which can get your pet impounded. Happy to say she is squared away with a rabies shot as well as flea and heart meds.
As you can see in her video, she is less than amused. Being poked and prodded does not make for a happy puppy. This will not be the last time you see Ladybird on video. We will also be sharing “Ladybird Approved” dog-friendly locations as part of our bike tour discoveries.
When it comes to embarking on a cross-country tour, cycling day in and day out for over 2 months is only part of the story.
The real power behind the tour is my support team. My sons, Jonathan and Jordan, will be with me along the entire 8 state ride.
I am thankful they’ll be providing cycling support but what is even better is that they will be recording the entire journey for a documentary film.
Having them with me on this trek to to film the ride experience and capture interviews of the people we meet adds so much value to the tour and makes it even more meaningful.
As part of the team for the bike tour, Jonathan is in charge of filming the documentary. Keeping sponsors, supports, friends and family updated through social media of Jennifer’s progress. Jonathan will also be one of the drivers of the support vehicle across the 8 states from California to Florida.
Jordan his thoughts on the bike tour. As a member of the documentary team filming, Jordan will also drive and help Jennifer maintain her fitness through stretching exercise and workouts.
The 7 maps that make up the Adventure Cycling Association’s Southern Tier
There are so many pieces that all must come together for the bike tour. Even though I have been planning this for months, sometimes it feels like there is so much to do with so little time. Then something happens that makes me realize that everything is coming together exactly the way is should. I opened my mailbox and inside a non-descript postal package were the 7 maps from the Adventure Cycling Association. These maps are the guide for 3065 miles of cycling through mountains, deserts, swamp and coastland.
Seeing these maps really brings home the fact that in about 3 weeks I will be dipping my bike tire into the Pacific Ocean and starting on my journey. It’s coming soon and even though a part of me wishes I had more time to prep, most of me knows that it will be exactly as it should be and that will be just fine.