Veterans Outdoors Adventures ND Women's Retreat

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Last year I attended the Veterans Outdoors Adventures' 2nd Annual Women's Retreat and it was one adventure that I will never forget. This year, I went as part of VOAND’s ambassadors and got to be a part of 5 other women experiencing what I got to last year.

This year, we all met at Izzy and Josh’s ranch the night before the retreat. It was a fun car ride down to Mott, over to Mott, eh…who knows really….directions aren’t my thing, regardless it was a fun ride to Mott. I rode with Kim, someone I knew a bit and had encouraged to apply. The ride there we spoke a lot of the impending storm, concerts, mainly P!nk and Hanson, our inability to tell directions unless pointing forward and going through the Never, Eat, Soggy, Wheat scenario and my inability to drive a 5 speed. But more on Kim later.

We had a bon fire and watched the lightening roll in. Once the storm got close we all moved into the bunks in the basement and had a sleep over, with 7 women ranging in age from 29 to 56, all who have or are serving this country. Over the next few days I got to know everyone pretty well. If we are being honest I could write a page about each woman, but I will sum it up. 

Izzy - the founder of VOA and a powerhouse of a woman who is determined to serve our veterans.  Through her stories and passion you can learn so much from her. The best thing she taught me this trip, how to throw a hatchet. Her desire to improve the lives of those who have served this country pop up in little ways and they always result in fun. I will never be able to thank her for these adventures.

 Susie – she lost to me in the who’s taller competition. Not something that happens often. Overcoming her fear to get on the horse, reminded me a lot of myself getting in the river last year. Sometimes things that may not seem scary or like a big deal can almost paralyze us with fear and watching her on Morgan, made it crystal clear why we do these retreats. Her genuine enthusiasm for each of us and listening to her talk about her husband and emotion as we were saying our goodbyes are just a few of the things that I will remember about her.

 LeAnn - She likes to lick windows and is slightly obsessed with unicorns, which is perfect because there is no other spirit animal for her. Her lumbersnack has turned her into a softy compared to last year but she is one of the strongest women I know and the person I would want backing me in any situation, especially when it involves flying out of a school bus seat.

Diane – She is the type of free spirit I wish I could be. Her stories of travel and a career in education are ones that hook you from the beginning. Her whimsical nature was fun to be around but more so was a nature that provided a sense of feeling safe and calm just being around. And let’s be honest just had the best hair of any of us on the trip.

Crystal - my sure let’s do a shot girl.  Crystal provided a sense of adventure and courage out of the whole trip. She did her best to keep me safe in the bus seat, always willing to throw up her foot to use as a barricade. She is the epitome of a good NCO and someone you are proud to say you know.

 Kat – we bonded quickly over a few of my favorite things. The Team RWB Eagle, our height (or lack thereof), good makeup, and our ability to fall a lot. For the first time on a trip, I wasn’t worried about photos because I knew Kat had that covered. She drove through quite a storm to get to the retreat, one I honestly would have just hit the brakes and said screw this, but we are all glad she was there.

Kim - The big sister of the weekend. (This was Brandi last year…) She took care of everyone, regardless...well of anything.  It was crazy to me that I had to go all the way to SD to get to know someone I see fairly often. The adventure wouldn’t have been the same without her, and I am extremely excited to have her as part of my tribe. Between Moscow Mules, learning how to drive a manual, and throwing hatchets, Kim doesn’t know it yet but we have quite a few more adventures ahead of us!

 

Myself - Now for me. 

 

I go on adventures often. Team RWB, AFSP, and VOAND have blessed me with opportunities I still am in shock over. After last year’s trip I was worried this one wouldn’t live up to that last experience. It did. But in different ways.

I didn’t feel like I had to be brave so much this year as I did last year. There wasn’t water involved and nothing that really caused me fear. So while I wasn’t brave in the true sense, I think myself, just as each of the other women had to, showed quite a bit of bravery in just going for it and being ourselves. I will end this the exact same way I ended my blog about last year’s trip because it rings true today.

 

 This group of women taught me a lot of things:

As women veterans and first responders we just understand each other. We didn't talk about diagnosis or significant events that caused such diagnosis. Or any event in which others may have considered us victims. We are not victims of anything, we are survivors of everything.

We felt safe and like we had known each other for years after just one night. 

It’s ok to sing very loudly on the bus. It’s ok to also fall of your seat every once in a while.

Age, background, location, marital status, branch of service, years of service can't separate family. 

And this family we ride our short bus proudly, no matter how many times we run out of gas (gas gauge fault, which after 2 times we were able to correct), how many people stare at us because we are in this bus, we'd gladly get on this bus any day.

 

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Owning My Now

This week I have focused on owning my now. Or in non Thea terms…taking responsibility for the things that I can control in my life as well as how I react to the unexpected things that pop up. Which, if we are all being honest seems to happen quite often. I have learned that it is okay to not just hero up and to actually acknowledge disappointment, stress, falling short. It is okay to feel crappy about things and sometimes it may help you get over it faster but by choosing to dwell in misery or going into catastrophizing mode for too long may hide the fact that obstacles are often opportunities disguised.

So how do we own our now?

We need to remain open to the lessons and experiences we are being faced with. Open and honest I should add. This week I was open to all the obstacles that popped up but I was not initially honest with myself and why these “unexpected” things were happening. It took a while and some serious self talk but I have convinced myself that achieving greatness essentially requires one to go through extreme periods of difficulties, maybe a lot of them. I have even considered it may be necessary to go through all of these challenges to reach ones true potential.

I am going to digress a little bit here as I write this in a local establishment with a local singer who starts his set with Wish Upon a Star….

“If your heart is in your dream
No request is too extreme
When you wish upon a star
As dreamers do
Fate is kind”

Made me giggle a little out loud as I was thinking if only it were that easy for us to reach our goals….a wish upon a star. Ha! Anyway -

But on the note of goals and owning our now. One thing I began to really think about is if the main reason for setting goals is to simply achieve them or if the thing about goals is that they help us identify a trajectory for moving through the world. A trajectory that sets us on a path to interact with certain types people and to set up our lives in a certain type of way.

So with this in mind, set a goal but loosen the grip on it. Holding onto it a little less tightly does not make you less likely to achieve it. If you view your goal with a trajectory or path or journey driven approach you’ll find more peace in the process and more perceptibility when things go a little heywire. Not to mention you’ll experience much more life along the way.

“Aim for the sky, but move slowly, enjoying every step along the way. It is all those little steps that make the journey complete.”

Negative Self Talk and Goals

She’s your inner critic. She will ruin your best intentions, give you plenty of excuses and leave you filled with doubt. From the moment you set your goals and throughout your journey, you will be on her radar. She will show her face in the forms of procrastination, drama, distractions, fear of failure and indecision, all of which play to her strengths. If you want to prevail, you will need to keep her in check. She is your negative self talk.

Anyone with true aspirations is her target and unfortunately overly passionate, self conscious people are most vulnerable. By staying focused on the goal and not her, you will have a better shot at staying on course. Build up consistent steps for your journey, develop mental fortitude and practice resiliency and go with confidence, knowing that she can’t defeat you.

How will you develop this mental fortitude? Or practice better resiliency? Will you have to step way out of your comfort zone at some point? Probably. Will you have to overcome some obstacles and not allow them to become excuses? What is it that you want? How can you prepare yourself for the number of ways “she” may show up in your life?

Negative self talk is something I have been working on in therapy. The first and biggest challenge that I had was knowing how my self talk was coming out. This is where the 10 cognitive distortions come into play. I have copied them at the bottom of this blog post so that you can read through them if you wish and maybe take a look at your behaviors and see how these fit into your life.

I struggle most with should statements, and labeling. I have learned how to recognize and really try to work on this. But I am constantly thinking I should do more, be more, etc.

It may surprise you to know that many cognitive theorists have emphasized a strong link between what people say to themselves and their behavior. Studies suggest that this inner dialogue can affect a person’s emotional and behavioral outcomes, bringing on anxiety and negative thoughts during a presentation, completing a project or a performance. Look below and see if any of these cognitive distortions and your way of thinking may be sabotaging your goals.

Patterns of Cognitive Distortions:

These are 10 common cognitive distortions that can contribute to negative emotions.

They also fuel catastrophic thinking patterns that are particularly disabling. Read these and see if you can identify ones that are familiar to you.

1. All-or-Nothing Thinking: You see things in black-or-white categories. If a situation falls short of perfect, you see it as a total failure. When a young woman on a diet ate a spoonful of ice cream, she told herself, “I’ve blown my diet completely.” This thought upset her so much that she gobbled down an entire quart of ice cream!

2. Over generalization: You see a single negative event, such as a romantic rejection or a career reversal, as a never-ending pattern of defeat by using words such as “always” or “never” when you think about it. A depressed salesman became terribly upset when he noticed bird dung on the windshield of his car. He told himself, “Just my luck! Birds are always crapping on my car!”

3. Mental Filter: You pick out a single negative detail and dwell on it exclusively, so that your vision of all reality becomes darkened, like the drop of ink that discolors a beaker of water. Example: You receive many positive comments about your presentation to a group of associates at work, but one of them says something mildly critical. You obsess about his reaction for days and ignore all the positive feedback.

4. Discounting the Positive: You reject positive experiences by insisting they "don't count." If you do a good job, you may tell yourself that it wasn’t good enough or that anyone could have done as well. Discounting the positive takes the joy out of life and makes you feel inadequate and unrewarded.

5. Jumping to Conclusions: You interpret things negatively when there are no facts to support your conclusion. Mind Reading: Without checking it out, you arbitrarily conclude that someone is reacting negatively to you. Fortune-telling: You predict that things will turn out badly. Before a test you may tell yourself, “I’m really going to blow it. What if I flunk?” If you’re depressed you may tell yourself, “I’ll never get better.”

6. Magnification: You exaggerate the importance of your problems and shortcomings, or you minimize the importance of your desirable qualities. This is also called the “binocular trick.”

7. Emotional Reasoning: You assume that your negative emotions necessarily reflect the way things really are: “I feel terrified about going on airplanes. It must be very dangerous to fly.” Or “I feel guilty. I must be a rotten person.” Or “I feel angry. This proves I’m being treated unfairly.” Or “I feel so inferior. This means I’m a second-rate person.” Or “I feel hopeless. I must really be hopeless.

8. “Should statements”: You tell yourself that things should be the way you hoped or expected them to be. After playing a difficult piece on the piano, a gifted pianist told herself, “I shouldn’t have made so many mistakes.” This made her feel so disgusted that she quit practicing for several days. “Musts,” “oughts” and “have tos” are similar offenders.“Should statements” that are directed against yourself lead to guilt and frustration. Should statements that are directed against other people or the world in general lead to anger and frustration: “He shouldn’t be so stubborn and argumentative.” Many people try to motivate themselves with should and shouldn’ts, as if they were delinquents who had to be punished before they could be expected to do anything. “I shouldn’t eat that doughnut.” This usually doesn’t work because all these should and musts make you feel rebellious and you get the urge to do just the opposite.

9. Labeling: Labeling is an extreme form of all-or-nothing thinking. Instead of saying “I made a mistake,” you attach a negative label to yourself: “I’m a loser.” You might also label yourself “a fool” or “a failure” or “a jerk.” Labeling is quite irrational because you are not the same as what you do. Human beings exist, but “fools,” “losers,” and “jerks” do not. These labels are just useless abstractions that lead to anger, anxiety, frustration, and low self-esteem. You may also label others. When someone does something that rubs you the wrong way, you may tell yourself: “He’s an S.O.B.” Then you feel that the problem is with that person’s “character” or “essence” instead of with their thinking or behavior. You see them as totally bad. This makes you feel hostile and hopeless about improving things and leaves little room for constructive communication.

10. Personalization and blame: Personalization occurs when you hold yourself personally responsible for an event that isn’t entirely under your control. When a woman received a note that her child was having difficulties at school, she told herself, “This shows what a bad mother I am,” instead of trying to pinpoint the cause of the problem so that she could be helpful to her child. When another woman’s husband beat her, she told herself, “If only I were better in bed, he wouldn’t beat me.” Personalization leads to guilt, shame, and feelings of inadequacy. Some people do the opposite. They blame other people or their circumstances for their problems, and they overlook ways that they might be contributing to the problem: “The reason my marriage is so lousy is because my spouse is totally unreasonable.” Blame usually doesn’t work very well because other people will resent being scapegoated and they will just toss the blame right back in your lap. It’s like the game of hot potato – no one wants to get stuck with it.

If I am being honest...

Today was hard. Actually it sucked. I put on my uniform, that I am usually extremely proud to put on, and I wanted to cry. It doesn’t fit like it should anymore. I could blame my thyroid, yes it makes things more challenging but not impossible. I could blame my depression, my insane schedule, not managing my grief, or a number of other factors but if I am being honest…I got lazy. No that’s not even true. Lazy is not a word I would use to describe myself. Working out became too hard. My lungs begged for air every time I walked up my stairs so why the heck would I try to run or row or do anything that involved…well breathing.

Working out is hard when you are nearly 50 pounds heavier than you should be. What’s even harder is realizing that you may lose something that is extremely important to you. And because it can get even worse you realize that you essentially stopped taking care of yourself for the past….well…..I don’t even know how long. It makes me sick to look at that number. 50. How is that even possible? 50. Its easy to go down the pity path. To be frustrated and angry. To view myself as “that” trainer. The one who doesn’t practice what she preaches. To be the overweight soldier. While those both hold truth in their descriptions, I have been working so hard to not be those, to be better.

What I realized tonight was that while I was trying to be better so that I wouldn’t be the overweight soldier or “that” trainer….I wasn’t working out for the right reasons. I wasn’t trying to be better or healthier for me.

Tonight I am allowing myself a pity party. I feel like absolute crap both physically and emotionally. Tomorrow, regardless how I feel I am getting up early and going to the studio so that I can run or throw a kettlebell for me. I will focus on me, being healthy, for me.

Failing Forward

As I was getting close to mile 4 in the race I accidentally entered as part of Team Red, White and Blue’s Trail Running Camp I remembered an article I had read the night before. In it Andrew Hutchinson, former Director of Camps and Special Programs, stated that “at Team RWB, we like to say, fail fast, but fail forward.” However, as I was trying to get through this race that had me up in thebeautiful Cougar Mountains going up and down up an down these huge hills, I laughed and thought to myself “well if I fall, at least I will fall forward.”

I didn’t know it then but that saying would become a mantra I live by. Combine that with what I had learned the year before at Team RWB’s Yoga Camp from JJ Pinter “inaction is not an option,” and they created a change maker. I can look back now and say the majority of my success (in every aspect of my life) has come from those two statements.

Inaction is not an option.

Fail fast, but fail forward.

I have started to live by those.

Today, I received a phone call that I honestly wasn’t expecting to get. A call that finally put an end to my constant checking of the email. A call that said “This call is for Thea Jorgensen, this is Sean with Governor Burgum’s office. I just wanted to let you know that the Governor has selected you for the Veterans’ Task Force.” I literally jumped out of my seat in Barnes and Noble and wanted to tell someone so badly but realized the jump of excitement was probably enough to startle everyone around me.

The past few years and the people I have met through my work with Team RWB have taught me that if we want to be change makers we have to be in the arena. That inaction and not an option and that if you want to have an impact you have to risk failure.

There’s that old saying “what would you do if you knew you would not fail?” Think about it. How many things have you missed out on because you were scared you were going to fail. In my 33 years I have finally learned that we shouldn’t fear failure. If we fail forward, we will always make progress. If I could share any bits of wisdom with anyone it would be to go for it. Always go for it.

Three years ago I could barely stand in front of a group of 5 and introduce myself. Now, now I have people who request that I come present for them and not only do I not freak out but I look forward to it. I have been selected for a competitive fellowship, started a business, won 4 national awards, got to be on the Kidd Kraddick Morning Show, expanded my business, sit on a number of amazing boards, and now, now I have been selected for a Governor appointed task force and will be able to make real change for Veterans in ND.

I don’t say the above to pat myself on the back. I say it to thank every single person who has helped me grow into the person I am today. The tribe of people who have helped push me past every single comfort zone I have ever had. The fellowship that started it all. The organization (Team RWB) that has saved my life and given me more than I can ever give back. The love and support of my husband and family. To show thanks for every single high five, every heart thrown, every mile (I didn’t want to) run. To show others what can be accomplished if you are able to remember the following:

Inaction is not an option.

Fail fast but fail forward.

Character Strengths

What is character? Watch the video below for a bit of information about Character Strengths and how focusing on what is going right can help us develop our character.

What are our 24 character strengths?

If you are interested in learning more about your character strengths, click here to take the survey. In the comments if you wish share with us your top 2 or 3 or which one surprised you the most! It is really interesting to find out a bit about yourself. I will share mine in the comments below as well. If you do share and want more information on how to work on certain strengths, or how to base goals off of our strengths etc I would be more than happy to answer those as well!

Obstacle, Barrier, or Excuse?

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In your health  journey and as with any journey it can present its share of obstacles and barriers. Obstacles and barriers will always be a part of our experiences, in life, in fitness, in health.

It’s how we relate to our obstacles and barriers that will determine the outcome.

When faced with an obstacle, make a powerful choice to keep moving!

One of the most unfortunate mistakes we can make in this life is to mistake an obstacle for a barrier.

 Yet, I struggle with it often and I see it everyday.

The goal of this post will be to clarify the subtle but sometimes significant difference between our obstacles and our barriers.

Let’s start by defining the two words in question:

Obstacle:

—noun

something that impedes progress or achievement

Barrier:

—noun

something material that blocks or is intended to block passage

 How similar? Yet so very different in regards to mindset.

 Often when we encounter difficult circumstances, they may produce an emotional reaction that causes us to interpret these situations as barriers, but most of the time it’s just an obstacle

Here’s a simple way to distinguish the difference:

What ever slows down your progress is an obstacle.

What ever impedes or stops your ability to progress, is a barrier.

For example, lack of motivation is an obstacle.

Sometimes we lose that inner compass of patience and drive. I will say it again, lack of motivation is an obstacle. There can be so many factors in this obstacle, sometimes multiple factors for one person alone. So how do we overcome this obstacle?

Three key components can help you develop and maintain motivation:

  1. Know your why. (Why have you set this goal for yourself?)

  2. Actualize your why. (How can I make this happen?)

  3. Practice discipline.

Create a list on paper. Ask yourself, 'Why is this truly important to me?' Write down all the reasons your goals are important to you. Yes, even the superficial reasons such as, 'I want to fit in my skinny jeans,' and then, dig deeper.

As long as you have options to overcome, your difficult circumstance is an obstacle; regardless of whether you use the options or not.

Choosing to stop and not find your why is your choice, it is not a barrier.

An example of a barrier, is injury or illness. (I will tell a story below how I allowed an injury (a barrier) to become an “injury” (obstacle I chose to settle for.)

Some injuries require rest, rehabilitation and remaining off said injury. This can range from a finger to a neck to your entire body. That being said there are sometimes circumstances that put up a temporary wall between us and our goals. The time that wall remains up, is up to us.

So how did I let a posterior tibialis and posterior tibialis tendon issue go from a legit barrier to an obstacle? And if I am being really honest, from an obstacle to an excuse.

Excuse:

—noun

a reason or explanation put forward to defend or justify a fault or offense

My injury came after months of training for my first race, a 50k. It triggered feelings of despair, and caused a mild depression, sadness and even anger.

This should have been a sign that while it was temporarily a barrier, it was slowly becoming just an obstacle.

I did not shift my mindset rather let myself feel powerless. I could have accepted the situation and empowered myself with a new plan of action. I know it is crucial to maintain a positive attitude during this time. I could have even reminded myself to stay positive daily, or even hourly.

But because I wallowed in self pity - things became hard. I couldn’t do what I used to be able to and I let my injury become an excuse. “I can’t run, I am injured” I would think to myself.

Was, was is the key word there. It is easy to confuse the three words, to misunderstand what is actually keeping you from accomplishing your goals, what is making it more of a struggle to accomplish your goals and what is actually you keeping yourself from accomplishing those goals.

So here’s the point I am trying to make.

It's important to surround yourself with positive influences during any vulnerable time. Focus on short-term accomplishments.

You may feel as if you have a lack of choices, but this isn't necessarily true. This is when mental influence can truly be a savior.  "Thoughts are things," says Stephen Covey, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.

 

Most of the difficult situations and circumstances we are presented in life are difficult because they present us with a difficult choice.

In the future, begin noticing where you get stopped in your life and start taking the time to distinguish whether you’re confronted by an obstacle, a barrier or creating an excuse.

If it’s an obstacle, make a powerful choice (insert spin move or side step) and keep moving.

If it’s a barrier, identify what’s on the other side and address your barrier with a stubborn resolve to reach your goal.

If it is an excuse, go back to your why. Figure out what is causing the excuse and why you want to overcome it.

Really focusing on the slight differences with these words can be crucial to living your best life.


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How sitting all day is harming you?


How sitting all day is harming you?

May 21, 2015

Simply put - sitting is killing you. Numerous studies have pointed to the health risks of sitting all day, so here I will discuss some ways you can get up and move throughout the workout day. Please note that all photos I use throughout this blog are photos/pdfs I have found through the internet or pinterest. I do not take credit for these at all.

 

The human body simply isn't built to sit all day at a desk or for hours in front of the couch. Many of us spend more time sitting than sleeping. To avoid some of the health risks, not only should you get the recommended 30 days of daily activity but to get up and move at every possible moment.

 

No I am not saying go out and buy a standing desk. Simple things like placing important items (phone, copier) away from the desk so that in order to use them you must get up and move! Even if it is just a few feet! Let's start with some statistics. Keep in mind things such as daily activity and diet also play a part in how sitting will affect you. The information provided below is that of a fairly healthy individual who does not smoke, is not overweight nor do they drink in access.

 

The Facts:

*We are on average sitting down 9.3 hours a day compared to our average of 7.7 hours of sleep.

*Between 1980 and 2000, exercise rates have stayed the same, sitting time has increased by 8% and obesity rates have doubled.

*Walking burns 3-5 times the amount of calories as sitting.

*You have an Increased Risk of Heart Disease. New studies have shown that exercise once a day, even for an hour, isn't enough to make up for sitting all day at work. Those who work out and sit all day are just as likely to develop heart disease as those who don't work out and sit all day.

*You are at an increased risk for injuries. Sitting puts a lot of pressure on your hips and spine, and can lead to some injuries in them over an extended period of time. One such injury may be a herniated disk. Continued pressure on your spine may cause a disk to come out of place, creating a painful condition that can require medication, physical therapy or even surgery.

*Increased risk of depression.

*Slowed metabolism.

*Risk of Diabetes.

*Raised cholesterol.

*Decreased life span. Those who sit more than six hours a day are at an increased risk of early death from all causes, higher by an average 35% for women and 18% for men, for those who exercise. Those who don't exercise and sit all day are at a 94% higher risk of premature death for women, and a 48% higher risk for men. This is no joke for those who spend their days at a desk.

 

Ok so it’s obvious we need to get moving throughout the day! Fortunately for me I have an entire private personal training studio at my fingertips so not only can I get up and move, but I have the tools to do so. Realistically, this is not something that everyone has access too! So what can you do? Below I will list some tricks on how to make sure you get up and move throughout the day as well as some exercises you can do in an office!

 

Tips & Tricks:

*Take the stairs. Every chance possible. Climbing stairs for two minutes, five days a week provides the same calorie burn as a 36-minute walk. Consider setting yourself a quota of say, 80 stairs per day (a typical staircase has 10 steps, so that’s eight flights).

*Add 10 minutes of walking to your lunch menu. At work or at home, we often allot 30 to 60 minutes to eat but how long does it actually take you to eat? Often no more than 15 minutes. Walking 10 minutes a day promotes a healthy heart, improved brain function, and an ease in depression. All while burning calories!

*Make it a goal to never talk on the phone seated. Every time you answer the phone stand up! Pace if the phone allows. But just tell yourself. I will stand every time I take a call.

*Most offices have multiple rest rooms. Why always take the closest one? Take one on the next floor? Or the one further down the hall. Move as much as you can!

*Put items such as your phone or printer away from your desk, so that to use them you must get up.

  

Exercise options for the workplace:

Below here I will just post photos I have found to give you some ideas. I do not have the programs, or the creativity to make these on my own! But you will see where I found them on the photos themselves.

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