Guest Post - Oatmeal After Spinning!

I mentioned awhile back that I wanted to do a couple new fun things with the blog - and one of those is to bring some outside perspectives (every once in awhile) on what others believe to be the essentials for a happy healthy life.  Afterall, that's the goal of this blog!!  I am soooooo excited to bring this first post in the series to you, from my blogger friend Lauren.  I haven't been in this "blogosphere" very long, but from the first moment I "met" Lauren, she was such an encouraging friend.  This weekend at the upcoming BLEND Retreat, we'll be hanging out for reals, taking bootcamp classes together, eating fabulous meals (and photographing them of course!) and just relaxing over a cold pint of beer :)  So, without further ado...

Meet Lauren:

Hey everyone! My name is Lauren and I have a blog called Oatmeal after Spinning. I was lucky enough to stumble upon Kelly’s blog a couple of months ago and have been in love with it ever since! I’m so excited to finally be meeting Kelly at Blend this weekend- but I honestly feel like we’ve known each other for years already!

Kelly asked me to do a guest post for her, and I am honored to share a little bit about me with all of you. She suggested that I share three things that I consider necessary for a happy, healthy life- and I have to say- I love that idea (and I immediately asked her to do a guest post on my blog as well!). None of my ideas of happiness are especially unique or original, but everyone has their own interpretation of what they mean, so here’s mine:

#1) Love:

It comes in all forms. I get it from my husband, my family, my friends and even my dogs. Having people (and animals) that are there for you and accept you for who you are without judgment is a very powerful thing. My husband, Greg, has seen me at my absolute best and worst, and loves me unconditionally (and some days I give him A LOT of credit for that).

He doesn’t care that I’m not perfect, and shows me (and tells me) that he loves me often. We have our issues, good days and bad days, just like everyone else. But, we are always able to get back to the root of our relationship and focus on why we fell in love in the first place.

Right now, the other great loves in my life are my dogs, Jackson and Lance.  (Kelly here- seriously they are soooo cute!!!)

If you are a reader of my blog, you will see them on an almost-daily basis. Greg and I adopted them in January 2010 when they were just 8-weeks old, and can’t believe they’re almost 2 ½ now. (Where does the time go?) It’s been a lot of work raising these two rambunctious boys, but I’ve enjoyed (mostly) every minute of it. I’ve always been a dog lover, but these two are my first dogs that I’ve owned as an adult, and they are truly my babies. No matter how horrible my day is and not matter what else is going on in the world, my problems seem to melt away when I see these two faces greeting me when I come in the door.

#2) Good Food:

I'll proudly admit it: I love food and love to eat!


But, my definition of "good" food has certainly changed over the years. As a child I remember not liking quite a few distinct foods: all red meat, most cooked vegetables (I would eat them raw) and pretty much anything that was "exotic." Chinese take-out was about as exotic as it got for my family. There were a lot of microwave meals, canned foods, and dinners that could be delivered in 30 minutes or less. In high school, stopping at McDonald's was just a way of life. It wasn't until six or seven years ago that I really started thinking about what I was putting into my body and how it was affecting me. And then I read the book Master Your Metabolism by Jillian Michaels, which completely changed my view of what I was eating. I had bought into the gimmicky diet foods (sugar-free, fat-free, full of chemicals) and had lost a bunch of weight, but just didn't feel great. I quit artificial sweeteners cold turkey (goodbye Splenda and Diet Coke- my two addictions!) and started buying real food- mostly organic, unprocessed, and local if possible. I discovered some great local farmers markets and would load up on what's in season. And honestly- if I had to choose a favorite food group? Hands down, it would be vegetables.  (see why I love this girl?!?!)

One thing I love about food is how it brings people together. I love to cook for others and have friends over and talk about and enjoy good food. I love discovering and creating new recipes and feeling like the possibilities are limitless. I've converted my husband into a foodie and we are both extremely adventurous eaters (and will try anything at least once)! He isn't nearly as obsessed with food as I am, but he's coming around. :)

It is also really awesome to be part of a great healthy-living blogging community of women who just get it when it comes to food.

#3) Exercise:

I'm being 100% honest when I say "I love to exercise." I really, really do- it plays a huge role in my life. And if you had told me even ten years ago that I would EVER utter those words, I would have looked at you like you were crazy. I didn't "get the bug" until I joined a gym with a friend that I met at work back in 2003. We would go work out together at lunch, and I always liked how it gave me energy for the rest of the day. Shortly after, I started taking group exercise classes and running outside- eventually running 5k, 8k, 10k and half marathon races.

In 2008, I became a certified Spinning instructor and started getting PAID to exercise (you can't beat that!). And just recently, I became a certified Bodypump instructor. Bodypump instructor training was one of the hardest things I've ever gone through both mentally and physically, but it made me stronger, more confident and solidified that teaching group exercise is my true passion. I've been a full-time high school art teacher for seven years, and also teach 6 group exercise classes a week. It's a pretty full schedule, but I can't complain. I can't really explain the feeling I get from leading a group of people through and intense exercise session while encouraging them to give it their all and see the determination in their faces... and how great they feel afterwards.

Exercise has increased my confidence and makes me feel strong and powerful. I may not be perfect (and far from it, actually) but when I'm teaching exercise classes, I feel like I can do anything in the world.

Besides teaching exercise, I just love being active. My husband got me really interested in doing things outdoors like hiking, mountain-biking and kayaking- and we spend nearly every weekend doing just that. (It's also really great to be out for a few hours with no distractions!) We even spent our honeymoon exploring the great outdoors in the Pacific Northwest for two weeks last summer!

So there you have it- three things that are essential for happiness in my life. Thanks for stopping by and finding out a little bit about me!


  • What are a few of your “essentials” for a happy healthy life?