"Ladies Night Out"
This pic was for Connor (my new God-son) I love you buddy!
Crazy idea I had...haha...oh so fun! (Ali and I)
WISCONSIN + CHEESE = CHEESEHEADS!!!
Valerie "my little ray of sunshine" and I
My roomie for the weekend, an amazingly strong woman - Ali!
It's been awhile since I was able to share with you all as the past month has been incredibly busy and chaotic to say the least. In the meantime, I just returned from an incredibly memorable retreat with a group of ladies formerly known as "The Sisterhood of the Shrinking Pants."
In July, a group of 6 ladies and I formed a weight loss support group after crossing each other's paths via Kristin Steede's blog and facebook page (Season 7 of The Biggest Loser) We created a private group on facebook to submit daily challenges M-F, record our weekly weigh-in results and document our milestone dates. It feels as though the group was birthed overnight and it turned into an indescribable power house of encouragement.
With over 600 pounds lost as a group, the atmosphere that we had created was tight-knit and motivating. Travelling from Georgia, Indiana, Hawaii, Missouri, Kansas and Wisconsin - we all met for the first time in person for our "Sisterhood Retreat," in Wisconsin Dells, WI. We stayed in the beautiful "bear claw" lodge at Spring Brook Vacation Home Rental development for 4 days and 3 nights.
- Thursday night I had the privilege of meeting BOTH Kristin Steede and Cathy Skell from Season 7 of NBC's hit TV show The Biggest Loser. If you've followed my blog for any time at all, you already know that the "fire" under my saddle that initially got me off the couch was watching Kristin through tears on my best friends couch as she overcame obstacles that seemed impossible. Needless to say, dinner at Chili's that night with them was the PERFECT way to start off my vacation. The two of these woman are not only inspiring, beautiful and strong...but they are the most down-to-earth women! Conversation wasn't hard for a moment with them as we laughed, shared and listened for 3 solid hours. They have compassionate hearts that are undeniable. If you ever have the opportunity to meet someone who has encouraged you in any area of your life - you'll understand that you cherish that moment!
- Friday we arrived at the lodge and after settling in our rooms, we exchanged gifts that no one had "pre-planned," with each other but apparently we all had the same idea. It was great seeing how each of these ladies who I've grown to love so much all had the same thought in mind to get something "special" for each sister. Each gift was incredibly heart-felt and well thought out. The gift I made for each of them was a framed and matted collage including each of our pictures including Kristin's (being as we all found each other through her) and also included a picture of "Inspiration Point," which is at a tree that you often see on The Biggest Loser on the hilltop. Under each girls frame I hand-wrote a quote (using a calligraphy pen) that they either personally said themselves that I found profound and encouraging or a quote that I know they use as motivation on their own weight loss journey. When I made those gifts, I never expected the reaction I received once they all flipped over their personalized frames and read their own words written for themselves to always reflect on - everyone was quiet and then I looked at the faces of each of these 5 women who I've grown to love so dearly over the past few months and tears were flowing from their eyes (ay! now I wanna cry). WOW! These girls have went from merely "facebook friends" and blog followers to ladies I am so thankful to have in my life.
- Friday night was our pre-scheduled "Ladies Night Out." After sharing our gifts, tears, laughs and what seemed like a MILLION beautiful pictures, we all washed up and changed to go out for dinner at Marley's. The way we all connected in person, a stranger would have thought we'd all known each other for YEARS! Never would you have guessed we had all met each other for the first time in person less than 8 hours prior. Not once did I feel an awkward moment of silence or uneasiness not knowing what to say or how to act. Friday Night at dinner TWO of my lovely sisters surprised me with the BEST and most memorable NON-Birthday, BIRTHDAY celebration ever! OMGOODNESS!!! Words cannot describe the highlight of this night other than my shocked response of speechlessness and best ab workout ever as a result of LAUGHTER! The employees came out with a HUGE sundae (this wasn't sugar free, low calorie ice cream friends), put a CHICKEN hat on my head and sang a song that quite frankly I didn't even hear because I was still in shock trying to piece together exactly what was happening to me!!! I have to laugh at Val saying, "Is it Mesha's birthday? I feel horrible, I didn't know it was her birthday!?!" Oh boy, "Ed," was our chicken's name and the laughs that came from that night I don't believe will ever end!
- Saturday morning five of us ventured to the fitness center in the club house and had our group work-out. One of the things I was looking forward to more than ANYTHING on this trip was the opportunity to work out side-by-side with these strong, successful women who have pushed themselves every day on their own and NOW we were getting the opportunity to push ourselves as a group. For me, working out with these girls was like playing a power mix on you iPod while pushing through an extra mile - I was determined to challenge myself! Lexi and I did interval training on the treadmill and for the first time ever I RAN (not jogged) but RAN at a 8.0! WOW! (I think they secretly wanted to KILL me over the weekend). I am so thankful for that memory of working out with the girls!
Sunday morning Mouse (Courtney) and I had a one-on-one water aerobics workout at the club house pool! Our workout lasted around an hour and I appreciated that quality time getting to talk, laugh and joke together. I am thankful we got this opportunity to break away for awhile and I'm not gonna lie - my workout routine kicked MY butt! Ms. Courtney somehow had bruises after all was said and done. haha...I told her she should have let me know she was allergic to water in advance (j/k).
Sunday afternoon we did some tourist shopping and returned to the lodge. Four of us ventured out on our own little leisurely walk and "photo shoot" along the trail. I had so much fun with these girls on our walk and so many funny jokes will always remain. Numerous moments were captured by camera and the photos speak a story of themselves. That "get-away" was one of the most carefree, relaxed moments of my vacation. I wish ALL of these girls lived closer because I could do walks like that EVERY day with them and never get bored.
NEW FOOD EXPERIENCES
Everything that was prepared for lunches and dinner this weekend I LOVED (Thanks Valerie, Ali & Alexis).
- Quinoa Salad (delicious) w/ FRESH pineapple from Hawaii (OH so good)
- Vegetable Lasagne (I had a second helping AND brought left overs home...AY! YUM!)
- Tofu Peanut Vegetable Stir Fry (MOUTH WATERING!!! Tofu is not bad at all!)
- White Chili topped with fat free sour cream and 2% shredded cheese (I want some NOW)
When the weekend at The Dells was done and over, goodbyes were hard to receive! No one wanted the fun we had shared to end and no one wanted to give that final hug saying "goodbye" as we saw one another off! As it is, we created memories that will last a life-time, but the vacation had to end...
...which brings us back to the "goodbye hugs." I now see that they were more than just a "see you next time," but rather the foreshadowing of a great group that had served it's purpose disbanding and leaving with some important life lessons learned. Due to a series of events, "The Sisterhood of the Shrinking Pants" is no more...but I feel strongly that some, if not all, of the friendships formed will stand!
Verse of the Day:
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.