2015 In Review: Fitness

2015 year in review: Fitness | Kale and Ale

This is the second in a series featuring highlights from 2015. Today I take a look at activities and trips I’ve enjoyed this year. Monday we discussed food and Friday looks at drinks I’ve had and made this year. Share your highlights of each topic in the comments below!


This spring I bought a used bike when my old bike (and I mean old–its the only bike I’ve had since middle school) was damaged beyond repair. This hybrid bike serves my needs and then some, taking me on nice summer bike rides and getting me to and from beer events nearby. I love living near bike paths and having another alternative to a car.


This year I took up hiking, in preparation for my summer trip to the Grand Canyon and Zion national parks! I have wanted to visit Zion for a while and go somewhere new, so when Aaron and I were looking for a trip we could fly direct from the Twin Cities and do something different, we decided to go to Vegas and visit the parks, making a big loop.

But first, we had to break in our hiking shoes, so this summer we went to state parks around the Twin Cities, hiking in the morning and stopping at a brewery or winery after. I hope to do more of this in the spring/summer of 2016, as it’s a great day trip and way to explore Minnesota. See write-ups of various day trips.

Back to Zion and Grand Canyon: the trip was amazing. There are no words, so I’ll leave a slideshow right here.

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I only ran one race this year-something I need to change in 2016. The race was fun and unique: a trail run using nature as its obstacle course. It coincided with Oktoberfest, so at the end runners were rewarded with, as you can guess, a beer! Read more about my adventure running the Timber Trek.

Timber Trek end | KaleAndAle.com

A muddy, wet and hay filled mess. It was fun.

As I said, I hope to partake in more races next year. I don’t have the group who runs events here like I do in South Florida, but I want to push myself at a fun event. I think I’m going to run a Spartan Race [note: affiliate link] in 2016, specifically probably the short event in Minnesota next June. Who’s with me!?!? Seriously! To prep, I plan to do some weight training this winter.

If you want to run with me in June or another race in 2016, Spartan Race is giving away a free event to one reader of Kale and Ale! And even if you don’t win the giveaway below, there are deals going on now.


Giveaway: Now closed

Spartan Race is giving one reader of Kale and Ale entry to a 2016 Spartan Race in the continental U.S., valued between $75 and $225, depending on the style and length of the race. The giveaway is good for open heats only, which is a non-confirmed start time.

You must be 18 or older to enter. The contest starts at midnight Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2015, and runs until the end of Monday, Dec. 14, 2015, Central U.S. time. Winner will be picked at random via Rafflecopter. Learn more about Spartan Races [affiliate link] including styles, location and what to expect.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Joining My Tribe: Twin Cities Bloggers

Joining My Tribe Twin Cities Bloggers | KaleAndAle

Community is important for any blogger

When I moved to the Twin Cities I knew just enough people to stay busy in my comfort zone. Having moved to South Florida when I was 25 and staying for 7.5 years, I forgot what it’s like to be in a new place. However, I moved in with a good friend from high school and got settled into my new life. I was busy with work, my blog, exploring my new home, visiting family and finding a house of my own.

As things settled down, I wanted more. To meet new people. To be a part of this community I was making my home. As an introvert communicator, I naturally take to social media. I had started to build a group of others in the Twin Cities who enjoy social media, many with blogs as well. I started following more bloggers, learning about events and the Twin Cities blogging scene. It reminded me of the South Florida social media and tech community, something I enjoyed being on the outskirts of and was a thriving place to be with other like-minded enthusiasts.

Joining My Tribe Twin Cities Bloggers MnBlogCon | KaleAndAle

From a Minnesota Blogger Conference session, Nov. 14, 2015.

As I went to one event, I learned of others. I would follow a few bloggers and hear about the groups they are involved in, resources they know, other bloggers they follow. Twin Cities bloggers pride themselves on being part of a shared community, and it shows through networking events, conferences and resources. This fall, I feel like I’m starting to grow my tribe of others in the community who blog and use social media for brand management.

Blogging is a hobby for me. For some, its their livelihood. It’s great to hang out with like-minded people (mostly ladies) with eclectic interests showcased on a blog, share war stories or bounce ideas while having a drink and exchanging business cards. To have a blog, even as a hobby, is time consuming. It’s not just throwing a few hundred words online. It’s planning, taking photos, formatting and marketing for each post. It’s connecting with readers, sharing expertise. I do it because I love writing my passions and connecting to others with the same interests of a healthy, balanced and active lifestyle. Sharing and communicating information is my hobby and my career. I really enjoy all aspects of blogging and love finding my tribe of ladies that feel the same for everyone to succeed and thrive. Being part of the community helps me stay creative, energized and motivated.

Because we are a tribe, I share some of my favorite resources below. Please share yours in the comments; I would love to check them out!

Blogger Resources and Communities

Minnesota Blogger Conference: One-day conference in St. Paul, it has speaker presentations online
WordCamp: Worldwide conferences focusing on WordPress, the platform this blog is on. I haven’t been to one but hope to go to the next one near me.
Twin Cities Blogger Collective: Hosts events and opportunities for bloggers in the Twin Cities to have resources and network with one another
Minnesota Blogger Bash: Bloggers connect with one another and brands at events every few months
Midwest Bloggers: I don’t know much, but said to be a place for bloggers throughout the Midwest to learn and connect

This is where I am now

FrontFlowersSpring | KaleAndAle.com

Flowers in bloom in my front yard. I love the color and look of them.

When I started this blog, I had two goals in mind: Write more and learn WordPress. Once the blog took shape, a third goal came into play: Help people who want to lead a healthy lifestyle in a simple way.

Health is important to me, food is medicine, fitness keeps us young. It is easy to incorporate these things into ones life if they are a priority, and I wanted to help show people it could be done, and how to achieve it.

Since I started the blog, many things have changed in my life. The voids this blog filled were no longer there, or looked different. I have had a lot of life changes that have pushed a blog as a hobby to the side.

This is where I am now.

This isn’t my good-bye post, this is my welcome back post. It has been more than six months since my last post. I have many reasons for getting away from this blog. I would think about it but put it aside, find other things to do, make excuses for not tending to it. The longer I was away the harder it was to get back. I didn’t know where to start. There are many updates I want to make to the site before moving forward with posts. Excuses and lost time were keeping me away from something I enjoy doing. I can’t change that now. I have to make the best of it. This is where I am now.

Yoga is something I really enjoy. I have always been flexible and found relaxation and relief in meditative states. I had one yoga teacher this winter who would repeat the phrase “this is where I am now” during class. That phrase really spoke to me for both my yoga practice and my life.

My life has not gone how I planned or think it should go. I don’t understand why I have been down the path I have, even when I have tried to do everything that is best for me. But, in life and in my blog, I can’t look back at what might have been or wonder why things went the way they did. What’s done is done, I can only make the best of the present and the future. And for the blog, that hopefully means more posts that reflect me and my lifestyle.

I can’t tell you where this blog is heading, but this is where I am now.

Summer reflections

As another summer begins, I’m reminded of my youth.

Growing up in Iowa, the summer meant longer days and being able to be outside anytime the mood struck, unlike the cold winter with its short days. Back then, I didn’t have a care in the world, and possibilities were endless.

Jason and Valerie in Chicago, circa 1990

My brother, Jason, and I in Chicago around 1990.

My days were filled with almost-daily trips to the swimming pool, tennis and golf lessons, riding my bike around my neighborhood to meet up with friends (sometimes biking “too far from home,” which my parents always found out about), picnics and running lemonade stands.

When I was in high school and college, the biking turned to driving, sports lessons turned to summer classes and the lemonade stands turned to a grocery store job.

Despite the responsibilities of a teenager, I still loved summer. Yes, school and work took up some of my time, but most of my time was left for me. I loved waking up and not knowing what to expect from the day. My friends and I would gather somewhere and plan our day or night. Many free days were filled at the Coralville Lake camping or hanging out at the beach. Nights often were for hanging out at a friends house, the bowling alley or an event, if any were going on.

I loved going to downtown Iowa City. The electic mix of shops and restaurant and (when I got older) bars seemed a little different every time I went. Downtown Iowa City is an open pedestrian mall where people can walk around and, in the summer, something is always happening. My friends and I would go there and always run into people we knew. The breeze was always perfect, the possibilities endless and the street food warm and filling after a long day of shopping or night at the bar.

In college, I would take advantage of my time off and go on trips. I still love to travel, but even then knew to take advantage of having more time.

Making way for ducklings and Val in Boston Garden, summer 2002.

It’s a little different now that I live in a place that only has two seasons: hot and hotter. In Florida, summer means uncomfortable heat and humidity and hurricane season, but I try and make the most of it.

This is the last summer of my 20s, and a milestone birthday is near, so I’ve been reflecting on my youth. The first six months I was 29 I spent in denial and fighting my 30s. At the six-month mark, I let go and accepted it. The closer it gets to my birthday, the more I realize that, although I loved my youth and adult life to this point, I honestly am happy where I am. All those summers made me who I am and got me to this summer. I plan to close out my 20s with a great summer I will always remember.