Reduce, Reuse, Recycle – A Virgin Backpacker’s View


Many of you know that I recently went on a backpacking trip in Yosemite National Park with a good friend of mine. This had been on her bucket list for years and I was the lucky girl that was able to join her. A trip of a lifetime! We met up with 5 other women and 2 female guides in Yosemite Valley to prepare for the week of backpacking ahead of us. We laughed at the fear in our eyes of the unknown that was laying in front of us.IMG_3191 As we sat talking, we all noticed the smoke haze that settled into the sky above. It was caused by the numerous forest fires that are currently burning in the park. Some of these fires are purposefully set by the fire department, while others are accidentally set by hikers or lightning. In fact, the park has placed a ban on campfires because of the high risk of fires. We sat as a group discussing our hopes, fears and plans for the week ahead. The park rangers changed our itinerary first because of a current fire at our starting trailhead. Secondly we had to adjust a second campsite because the stream that feeds the area is dry….completely dried up! (see picture – stream bed)IMG_3201The scenery and views throughout the trip were amazing and I can find no words that truly capture the moments. The week was filled with a lot of laughter, some frustrations, strong fears, breathtaking scenery, some body aches and pains…but most importantly the trip was filled with some KICK ASS AMAZING WOMEN! Some of the women were in their 30’s while others in their 60’s. We hiked 33 miles as a group, we supported each other and we gave each other space. These women inspired me then and continue to inspire me today. I will carry the pictures in my mind and the stories in my heart for ever!Top of Half DomeNow that I am home and digesting all of the memories, lessons and events of the trip, a few very important things stay in the forefront of my mind. I wanted to pass on some thoughts…

– California and other areas in the pacific northwest and pacific coast areScreen Shot 2015-10-08 at 12.54.08 PM in a dangerous & severe drought! It is truly hard to imagine when you only hear about it on the news, but rivers, streams and lakes are drying up! The river beds and lakes in Yosemite National Park feed northern California! We were witness to several streams that were bone dry and Cathedral Lakes was more or less down to one lake.

– The amazing waterfalls that everyone thinks of in Yosemite National Park are just small streams over rocks. They should be rushing waters over the rocks edge. You can see the water marks to either side of the waterfall stream where the water used to run and it is gone.

Screen Shot 2015-10-08 at 12.53.31 PM– The lush green meadows filled with flowers and wildlife are becoming a matted floor of brittle weeds and dust. I know that fire is an important park of the ecology and it the restores the forest but the current state of the forest is making it easy for these fires to get out of control.

Screen Shot 2015-10-08 at 12.52.16 PM– We ALL need to do our part to reduce, reuse, recycle! This means our water, our natural resources, our packaged goods…it includes everything. One of the points of backpacking is that you have to carry everything! You have to carry your pack of clothes, sleeping bag and tent, your food, your water, your filter, your personal items and your TRASH! Therefore, you are constantly making smart decisions to reduce, reuse and recycle everything.

We can do our part and we can make a difference, even if it is only in our little community. Every little bit helps!

  • Recycle your plastics, glass and paper goods
  • Don’t let the water run when you are not using it
  • Buy larger bulk items and then use reusable containers to pack snacks and lunches
  • Reuse in a different way, sell or donate items that you no longer need
  • Unplug items in your house or office so that they don’t constantly draw electricity even when you are not using them
  • Make good choices

Reduce  *   Reuse  *  Recycle

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  •  Thank you Yosemite National Park, Call of the Wild, Cori, Sandra, Emilie, Amy, Mark, Deanna, Laura Lee and most importantly – Thank you Laura Hathaway for inviting me and sharing your tent! My life has changed for the better because of all of you!
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My Girlfriend Cup (40th Edition)


Ok ladies…now that I am 40 (which is just a number) I have the ever growing feeling to make sure that my relationships with my girl friends are as strong as ever! All my life I have been surrounded by strong amazing women. My cup has continuously been filled by the love and suppoIMG_0483rt of my girlfriends. I cherish all of the funny group texts, surprise phone calls on a Tuesday afternoon, getaway weekend trips, nights out on the town and most of all the memories we have made. As we get older and busier, we need each other more than ever. Some of us are separated by many miles and others are around the corner, you are always in my thoughts.
You are my rocks and my foundation. 😋👩‍❤️‍👩

Now that all the heart strings have been plucked….let’s put this lovey stuff into action. Each one of us needs to make plans to get together! Not talk about, but make plans! Even if it is for next year….get it on the calendar! Go grab dinner or drinks, fly somewhere amazing or meet in a podunk town somewhere in the middle! It can be just 2 of you or a group of 20! As long as more memories are made. If you can’t get away from where you are, call a friend and see if they can come to you! The important thing is to refill your girlfriend cup! And your girlfriends are the ones who know how!

Our lives can overwhelmingly be filled with events for the kids, family or work. We do not make it a priority to fill some of our time with get togethers, phone calls, etc…with our girls. Even though you may see each other often, down time together is what we crave. Laughter, story telling & catching up on old times….whatever it is, GO make a plan!

For some of your friendships….just reconnect and catch up!
For others…go make more memories this year.
No matter if you hung out last week or in 2002😱…you are important to each other and those friendships are vital to each one of you❤️. I look forward to hearing about the memories!Image

Go Fill Your Cup!

Share your reconnection stories with everyone here…

Posted in Girlfriends, Health, Health & Wellness, livestrong, Mental health, Mom, mommy and daddy, motivation, new moms, relationships, Resolutions, Stress, women | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Ice Cream, You Scream…Belly Issues!


I know a lot of women and men who complain about recurring belly issues. Cramping, gas, bloating, diarrhea, etc… Unfortunately, I am also one of the victims. Since this issue hits so close to home, I thought I would see what information was out there to help all of those suffering.

A few years ago I was a victim of Salmonella poisoning. I was never able to figure out where I got it, but it did send me into a tailspin of major gastrointestinal problems. Once I recovered from the sickness, my stomach was not the same. I tried what seemed like every suggested solution, until I finally found myself walking into a colonoscopy at age 35! I have a bad family history of colon issues, so we thought it was the best idea to check it all out. Come to find out that I have a colon of a 25 year old! Oh yeah! Healthy and happy colon…so what gives? What is wrong with me?

When we are first born our bodies produce enough lactase (the enzyme necessary to break down lactose in dairy products) to drink milk from their mother or from other mammals like cows or goats. As we age, we decrease the consumption of milk as well as the production of the lactase enzyme. This can lead a lot of people to think they are lactose-intolerant. My father is one of these people. He avoids cheese like it is poison and if he thinks there may be dairy in anything he pops a Lactaid pill.

As I continued to suffer, I thought more and more about my diet history, my family history and came to the conclusion…I have a low threshold for dairy. I don’t think I am intolerant, but just cannot eat very much. I enjoy a slice of pizza every once in a while and I am fine, but if I joined the family in a bowl of queso at the mexican restaurant there is going to be a BIG problem!

Belly issueThere has been a lot of research on stomach issues in adults and they seem to occur more often in women. This leads me to ask why? Why are women more often suffering from GI issues? Why as we age do we find ourselves have more GI problems?

There is plenty of information out there to support that women suffer from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) more often than men. This may be because women are more likely to go see a doctor than men. This also may be because women have more hormones playing a role in the gastrointestinal tract than men. This also may be because of some reason we don’t know yet. Nevertheless, we may have more control over it than we think.

I know that when I began to break my diet down to the basics, I thought diary may be a culprit. I decided to cut it out completely and see how I felt two weeks later. I felt better, but not symptom free. I then decided to cut soy out of my diet as well. I felt much better, MUCH BETTER! This study of n=1 is not a scientific study, but it works for me! THAT IS MOST IMPORTANT! Each person is different, each person has a different threshold or sensitivity. For one person its diary, for another person it is wheat or gluten, for another person its specific vegetables. A person may have a sensitivity to excessive amounts of gluten and not have to go gluten free, but just reduce their intake. Everyone is different!

Conclusion – Do you suffer from Gastrointestinal issues?

1. Get checked by a doctor to make sure there are no serious issues or allergies. Allergies can occur later in life and colon cancer or other issues can occur earlier!

2. Make a food journal for 2 weeks and see what is in your daily diet and when you eat. Do you eat too much of one thing? Do you eat too much at one time?

3. Try a food elimination – one at a time – for 1-2 weeks. Don’t remove several things from your diet because then you do not know what may have caused the problems.

4. Reevaluate you pain and discomfort. Is is better, worse, no change, improved?

5. Keep trying until you find the diet that works for you!

Food is fuel for our bodies, it should be something that does not cause inflammation and discomfort. We all have things that we love to eat…maybe we need to adjust our diets.

Maybe we need to reduce the amounts of certain foods and then we can enjoy food more!

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I’m Here To Pump (clap) You Up!


I speak to women all day everyday…at work, school events, friends, family, etc. One thing that has stuck in my brain is that women are SCARED to lift weights. Now before you start yelling at me from your end of the computer or smartphone, I know this does not apply to Woman walkingall women. I am generalizing here!

Many women will walk all the way to the grave and never touch a weight. We as a gender are over focused on CARDIO, CARDIO & more CARDIO! In fact, I am guessing that if any of you had only 30 minutes today to get a workout in, 99% of you would do some sort of cardio workout and not a strength workout.

Something to think about – Have you ever seen a man in a commercial for any osteoporosis medications? We tyBone Muscle Workpically think of the frail older female with weak bones. She may walk everyday, but her muscles are weak, weak, weak! Think of your bones and muscles like a tree and its roots. As the wind blows, the tree sways; this tells the tree to make the roots more dense and grow deeper. Muscles are attached to bones in order to move them. If we never tell our muscles to pull on that bone (like in a strength exercise), the bone does not need to become any more dense or stronger.

Like they say – Use It or Lose it!

If women just incorporated 1-2 days of moderate strength training to their fitness routine, they would see drastic improvements. If they are runners, they will see improvements in their time/distance; if they play a sport like tennis, they will see improvement in their game.

Strength training is the perfect partner for cardiovascular fitness!

 

Here are a few reasons to hit the gym & GO STRAIGHT TO THE WEIGHT ROOM!

1. You will lose more weight! If you add more lean muscle mass to your body, you will burn more fat! Simple enough!

2. You will increase your metabolism and eat better! Studies show over and over again that muscles need more energy to work, therefore you burn more energy when you workout! More muscle = higher metabolism. Also, women who have committed to their total body fitness workouts are more likely to stay on track with nutrition than those who are not committed.

3. Your clothes will fit better! It is always nice to see the scale move down, but sometimes we still don’t feel awesome. When you have added more lean muscle mass to your body, body parts go back to where they were meant to be…you don’t have to squish them into your clothes. Also, don’t worry about bulking up! Unless you have added some steroids to your breakfast smoothie, you don’t have the testosterone to bulk like men. Some women may notice that they have stronger legs than other women…if it is muscle, embrace your strength! Big strong legs are much sexier than big flabby legs!

4. Your bones will be stronger! Bone density increases when strength training is a part of your workout routine. Science supports me here!

5. You will be healthier, happier, more productive and live longer! I am not sure science can actually prove this statement ….but I believe in my heart that it is true!

See you in the weight room!

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Katie Scharf – StrengthinMoms.com – Katie@StrengthinMoms.com

Posted in Exercise, Fitness, Free Weights, Health, Health & Wellness, Lifting, motivation, Strength Training, Uncategorized, weight loss, Weights, women | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

New Year, New Goals…Same Result??


It’s that time of year again!  Time when the gyms get overcrowded, classes are full, there is a wait for a cardio machine and gym regulars get frustrated.  Don’t worry, they’ll be gone by Super Bowl!  We all know this time of year – The Time of New Years Resolutions!  “I’m going to loose weight!”, “I’m going to quit smoking!”, “I’m going to run everyday!”, “I’m going to go to the gym more!”  Each of these resolutions begins with great intentions, but most of us are setting ourselves up for failure.  People look at the new year as a time to start over, clean their slate, get rid of old bad habits and begin again.  Instead we need to look at the new year as a trip to an amazing place of health and wellness!  The road is long, winding and has bumps…but if you set your GPS just right, you have a greater chance to get there.

New Years Resolutions (aka Goals)

  1. Be clear and concise with a goal, a time frame and measurable achievements
  2. Have checkpoints along to way to evaluate and readjust
  3. Be accountable to either yourself or someone else
  4. Look at is as a lifestyle change not a short term achievement
  5. Surround yourself with positive energy and supportive people

I hear people all of the time tell me their New Years Resolutions and some are great and some are a road to failure.  For example – “I’m going to go to the gym more!”  This person has great intentions.  She is paying for a gym membership and not utilizing it.  The problem is that she lacks the plan to go with the goal.  “More” is not measurable and therefore she can’t check her progress.  A better goal – “I am going to go to the gym 3 days a week during my lunch hour on M/W/F.”  The road to the goal is laid out and can be measured & adjusted.  Adjustment is important because LIFE HAPPENS!

Life Happens!
I think one of the reasons these resolutions don’t stick is because Life Happens.  The plan to go to gym 3 days a week is great for a couple weeks.  We stick with it and we feel great.  Then one week we only get to the gym once because there was a musical at school, you were planning your son’s birthday party, and your husband went out of town for work.  Then the next week, you are out of your schedule again, again & again. It’s all very familiar, but it is also fixable!  You need an emergency backup!  Invest in a great workout DVD or check out an OnDemand workout.  If you know that you will not be able to get to the spin class you have been taking for a couple of weeks, then go to the emergency backup.  Now you can feel good about your choices and not guilty.  We have to prepare!

Add More!
We can be successful in our choices to change something about our lives.  Most of us try to quit doing something (smoking) or try to lose something (weight).  This year be different and add something into your life!

  • Add Fitness
  • Add Whole Grains
  • Add More Fruits and Vegetables (leave a bowl of fruit on the counter and cut up veggies in the fridge)
  • Add Walks at Night with the Kids or the Hubby
  • Add Strength Training (just 1 or 2 days a week for 30 min)
  • Add something GOOD into your life and you will reap the rewards for years to come (Volunteer).
Posted in Exercise, Fitness, Health, Health & Wellness, motivation, New Year, Resolutions, Strength Training, weight loss | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Workout Friend or Workout Snob


I see it all of the time…friends running together. I love the support system it provides to people. In fact, I suggest it often to clients for a sense of accountability. The other day I started thinking about my workouts…. EVERY ONE of them is solo! Unless I am taking a group fitness class, I workout alone. It got me wondering the reasons why people do what they do

Bootcamp has become as common as Starbucks in America…you can see them in every church parking lot at 6:00am. Spin classes have become about competitions and “torqueboards”, high intensity training workouts are now posted on boards or big screen TVs for the entire gym to see.

Is this about community & support or more about competition & self obsession?

Do people need the accolades of others in order to feel good about themselves?Workout headphones Does their opinion matter? Have you even been working out with a friend and they are having an ‘off’ day. If they bail or go at a lower intensity, you are more likely to join them. On the opposite side, if you are having the ‘off’ day,  a friend may be able to pull you out of it and workout harder than you would have done on your own. As I get older, the less I focus on finishing first or being the best. I love being with my friends at events, but usually do not stay with them during the run or race. Also, my schedule is ever-changing and trying to fit another person into that schedule is tough. Personally I like to workout on my own because I like to put my headphones in my ears and lose myself for an hour at the gym or on a run. At least that is what I tell myself. Could it be because I don’t want my “workout partner” to be better then me? Is it because I don’t want to feel defeated or need to stop? Is it because I am avoiding competition?

Why do you workout the way you do?

Are you a Workout Friend or Workout Snob?

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Have a Happy & Healthy Thanksgiving


A few things to remember over the Thanksgiving break…Turkey Day

* Don’t over indulge in liquid calories, enjoy your vacation & family, but remember those are empty calories.

* Be careful around the apps/snacks out at parties and before he meal is served. Grab a plate and try the foods, but don’t stand next to the cheese dip and chat with a long lost cousin. You may finish the whole bowl without realizing it.

* Volunteer to bring a healthy side dish. At least you know the dish you brought is good for you and won’t ruin your diet.

* Eat breakfast & lunch before Thanksgiving dinner. If you skip these meals, I can almost guarantee you will overeat at the big family meal!

* Taste it all, but watch your portions.

* Wait 10 minutes before you go in for seconds. Let your brain catch up to your stomach in order to know when you are full.

* Eat dessert if you like it, if it’s not worth it, don’t eat it. Keep the portion small and enjoy every bite!

* Earn your treat foods – Exercise! Exercise! Exercise! Don’t obsess about it…run, jog, walk, go to the gym, etc…just move! Look on Active.com to see if there is a Turkey Trot Run where you will be spending the holidays!!

* Have a HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

Posted in Diet, Exercise, Fitness, Health, Health & Wellness, Holidays, Thanksgiving | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment