My friend, the 24-Hour Bicycle Challenge champion!

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Becky Fjelland Brooks. Photo by Jackson Forderer, Mankato Free Pres. 

Do you want to be inspired? Read on! Otherwise, just skip this.

I’ve known Becky Fjelland (Davis) Brooks for I don’t know…13, 14 years? She’s that type of friend who you don’t even remember first meeting…you just feel like you’ve been friends from birth. I DO know that I started biking with her in 2007 and in that year, she invited me to join her writing group, which had already been meeting for about three years.

This is a woman a generation older than me (she technically could be my mom, though she would have been a very young mom, lol!). However, she could always kick my butt on the bike! Which from Day 1 earned my respect and admiration. Even though she could kick my butt, she didn’t act like it. Becky is a woman that wants ALL women to bike and be active and is the hugest supporter of women and fitness — ZERO competition! I can’t tell you how many times she’s ridden with me WAY more slowly than she could have — but she just wanted to be supportive and have social time!

On Sunday, June 17, this woman won her age group at the National 24-Hour Challenge bike race in Caledonia, Michigan! Did I mention that her age group is 60-64?! Becky rode her bike for 24 hours, only stopping briefly for bathroom breaks and snacks. She completed 349.5 miles during that time to set the age-group record.

Less than three years ago, Becky suffered a brain aneurysm as she was preparing to go out for a December ride. This 24-hour challenge was her goal as she recovered.

“My son and I were kind of joking, ‘In two years, we’ll go back to the 24-hour race.’ It was a joke — but also a carrot,” she told the Mankato Free Press in the June 15 edition.

The one and only time I could keep up with Becky was when I went out with her on her first rides after her aneurysm, in the summer of 2016. I told her, “The only time I can keep up with you is when you’re recovering from a brain explosion!” LOL!

Becky is the ultimate role model. This is precisely what I love about her:

“People write things off when they get to 50, 60 years old and think they’re not going to get back,” she said. “But we can. We can do more than we give ourselves credit for. I made training a priority. I made getting in shape a priority. And it worked.”

I’m training for a fall marathon and Becky is a major inspiration. If she can get on her bike for 24 hours at the age of 61, surely I can run for 5 hours at the age of 43. If she trained hard during a harsh Minnesota winter, I can get out there for training runs during a Minnesota summer.

No excuses. We all have the power to change our lives, to change our level of fitness.

Let Becky lead the way!

Becky is also a super impressive middle-grade/young-adult/essay writer. Read more of her writing here.

 

Let the sweat drip

Let the sweat drip

I’m a few minutes into a Bikram-style hot yoga class. I can feel the sweat start to bead on my forehead. We come into mountain pose and I reflexively reach my hand to my forehead and wipe away the sweat.

Almost immediately, Mary, the instructor, says, “Let the sweat drip.”

She went on: “Don’t wipe your forehead. Don’t adjust your clothes. Just be in the moment. If you want to wipe away sweat, ask yourself if that’s a want or a need.”

In a yoga class I’m continually adjusting my clothes and my body — pulling down a tank top that’s ridden up, moving back into place a strap that fell down my shoulder, sweeping hair off my forehead. If I feel warm, my instinct is to get the sweat off my face. Mary made me think about why I’m doing that. Am I concerned with how I look? Am I uncomfortable? Is it really necessary to be comfortable in a yoga class? In life?

It was hard for me to let the sweat drip. I’m not used to that. It’s not part of my routine. It’s a new way of thinking.

But as class went on, I saw it as a way to relinquish control. Here’s something that was happening in my body that was entirely natural. Sure, it feels a little uncomfortable, both physically and mentally. In our society, a perfectly polished, made-up face is valued more than a sweaty face.

But by the end of class, what had happened? I saw how the sweat was necessary for my body. In God’s glorious wisdom, he gave our bodies ways to regulate our temperature and keep us safe. And when I looked in the mirror and saw the sheen on my face, I felt radiant. I felt healthy and confident, more so than I had for several weeks.

“Let the sweat drip.” How applicable to many parts of my life, inside and outside of the yoga studio.

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Immense gratitude and a heart full of thanks to Mary Margaret Anderson Fay who led the hot class during a yoga teacher training weekend at Sun Moon Yoga Studios. Mary owns Yoga Studio in Plymouth, Minnesota.

Early 40s, and my body freaked out

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Flickr photo by https://www.flickr.com/photos/b10lm/

In early 2017, I went to the doctor because I had gained approximately 10 pounds in two months.

This had never happened to me before. I’ve always been able to maintain a steady weight with nothing more than a 2-3 pound fluctuation here and there. I was still running — not a ton, not in training for anything — but physically active nonetheless. I didn’t think I had changed my eating habits radically, though I had become a little more sloppy about portion sizes and not carefully watching my added-sugar intake. But still, that didn’t seem to explain 10 pounds in two months.

I requested a thyroid test and while my doctor thought certainly that could be a cause, she thought my age was more than likely the culprit. I was 42. She told me that bodies change, metabolism changes, and it’s all part of getting older.

I was supposed to accept that? It’s just part of getting older? She made it seem like I didn’t have any control over the situation. I wonder how many other women are told this? Could this explain in part our obesity problem in the U.S.? If your doctor tells you “that’s just how it is,” how many people are accepting that?

It’s been a little over a year and I’ve been on a journey to regain my fitness and get my body back to a place where I feel comfortable in it. I know my body and I know what it’s capable of, and that’s what I’m striving for.

It’s been a learning process. I have no doubt that my age has shifted my body and its processes. I used to be able to eat almost anything I wanted to and not gain any weight. In the past year, I’ve learned I have to really pay attention to portion sizes and added sugar.

Last summer was a struggle for me as I realized this was not going to be easy. In the past if I had gained 4-5 pounds over time, I could change my eating habits and get back to my ideal weight pretty quickly. That was not happening at all through the summer, and summer is my time to hit the physical activity hard with running, cycling, and swimming. I was exercising A LOT and paying attention to what I ate. I managed to lose about 8 pounds between February and September 2017 but I was still a few pounds away from my ideal weight.

Now a little more than a year has passed and I’ve lost 13 pounds. I’m still 4-5 pounds above what I consider my ideal “fighting” weight. This is the weight where I feel the best. Note that I said “feel,” not “look.” At an ideal weight I run better, I cycle better, I swim better, I do yoga better, etc.

I will be blogging occasionally about this journey and what I’ve done to turn things around. In short, I’ve put a lot of time into it and have had to change the way I eat. While I don’t feel I’m depriving myself of my favorite things, it is hard to change from being able to eat anything to having to carefully watch what I eat.

Also in short: If you are struggling with this very thing, know that you are in control. Don’t let anyone tell you “that’s just how it is.” If you are ready to make a commitment to feel better, you can do it.