Yeah, I was super tempted to name this blog “The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly”, but that’s not the ZooFit mentality.

My slogan (motto? mantra?) is “Eat clean, live green, train positive”. I could have easily said “Train Mean”, which is what many fitness programs promote. It’s a cutesy way to tell people you will be a bad-ass if you train with them, AND it rhymes. But animal trainers don’t think that way. We train positive.

Training sessions are fun for the animal. It’s more of a game where the animals always win. Fitness should feel that way, too. So, I don’t train mean, I train positive.

And this year wasn’t bad or ugly, as I can find the silver lining in most situations. Even our failures and less than successful endeavors have fantastic lessons attached.

So, here were my top ten moments and events from 2018

10. Whidbey Island Triathlon

I teamed up with OK Go again for the third year in a row. Our team is incredibly specialized. I am a good swimmer, Phil is a blur on two wheels, and Sam is a fantastic runner. This year we got our due credit by having the fastest time on the course, just barely over 90 minutes. We were the third person to cross the finish line, which is really an achievement. Being in a relay means we go in the third, and final heat. So we beat everyone in relays, and most everyone even 10-12 minutes ahead of us. It was the greatest way to end the summer, for me.

9. The Wonderful Weekend of Wizardry in Tacoma

The real reason this makes it on my greatest moments list is because it inspired me in a phenomenal way. I have always enjoyed the Harry Potter fandom, and I keep wanting to write my memoirs about my involvement, but this weekend inspired something greater. With the popularity of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, I am in a unique position to inspire thousands of fans to learn more about our own fantastic beasts. And not just learn about them, but care enough to protect and conserve. I do have a pressing project I need to complete by the end of the year, but 2019 is going to be all about Fantastic Beasts and How to Save Them. 

8. Rainforest Retreat

In the beginning of this year, I had the rare opportunity to join a four day Writers Retreat in Lake Quinault. My best friend came up for the weekend, and we got to spend some great quality time together. I was inspired in two ways. One, it was a great way to get a LOT of writing done, and I got a LOT of writing done. I did bounce from project to project, without a lot of structure, but I did a lot of writing. The internet was sketchy, so I didn’t have a lot of opportunities for distractions in the way of Facebook, Netflix, or internet games. The second way I was inspired never really came to pass, but it’s not too late to try. With the creation of North Sound Writers, I wanted to use the community to host our own retreat at the beautiful Captain Whidbey Inn. With several places for writing and classes, I still feel like this is something we could pull off, but it’s not exactly a priority for me right now.

 

7. Family Visits

We were unfortunate this year to not travel anywhere special, but very lucky to have many family members visit us instead. My parents came out the last week in May, and we explored Lake Crescent together. Chris and I experienced paddleboarding, and Chris discovered exactly how cold a glacier-fed lake really is, while we were paddleboarding. Chris’ dad drove out from Kentucky to visit with us. The three of us had some great conversations and reconnected. Then in the last hint of summer, Chris’ mom came out for a visit. We kept things close for her visit, staying home and playing games often. Staying connected to family is important, even when we live far away, so I’m really grateful to have family who made such an effort to visit us while we were tied down.

6. Sloth Army Published in South Whidbey Record

I host a small “running” group for the community which I affectionately call the Sloth Army. “We run” is our motto, including the air quotes. Most of the time, we explore different trails on Whidbey Island, each at our own pace. When the local newspaper caught wind of the Sloth Army, they wanted to do a quick little community feel good story about it. Only, the day she came to interview us, it was raining. So we didn’t run a trail, which probably worked in her favor, but it also worked in mine. The reporter was able to watch my style of teaching a workout and talk to the participants. And we sorta went on a tangent about my philosophy of exercise in general, rather than just my stance on running. The end result was a full page article on me and ZooFit. It put me in the spotlight for about a week, which I really needed.

5. Las Vegas Writers’ Conference

Sometimes you have to fall a little in order to see the path to success. That’s my interpretation of my experience at my first writers conference. I met some amazing people, fantastic writers, and attended great talks, but the overall feedback I got from agents and editors was less than ideal. “It’s a fantastic concept, and I would love to read it, but you don’t have a huge following, so we wouldn’t have a lot of confidence in your ability to compete with famous, established authors”. It’s not what you want to hear from a book you have poured your heart and soul into. I’m not famous enough. So, I left the conference without any leads, butI had a mind to work harder at getting, well, famous. Easier said than done, but I’m working on it.

4. AAZK Conference in Denver

Step one in getting more famous is to get out there and introduce people to the concept of ZooFit. After a busy busy summer, I introduced the zoo community to ZooFit as a vendor and as a presenter. My talk was very well received, and people seemed somewhat interested in learning more about ZooFit. It wasn’t a sell-out success, but I did get asked to come out to Dallas for a regional AAZK symposium, and I am a sponsor for the 2019 ABMA conference as well. So, it was a good introduction, and I’m sure it will only get better with time and practice.

3. Summer Job

One of the reasons I was so darn busy all summer was I got a job as a park aide at the two main state parks on Whidbey Island. I had to make myself a strict schedule in order to fit in swim practice for the triathlon, working 40 hours a week, and still writing daily, fixing meals, and teaching CrossFit. By the end of summer, I had listened to dozens of books, battled huge unruly weeds, and learned some great new skills I will probably never use again. Oh, and I lost about 15 pounds in 2 months. It was a great experience, so it was a little disappointing to tell my job I wouldn’t be able to stay for the whole season, even if it was for the most valid and awesome of reasons.

2. Publishing My Books

Wait, this isn’t number one? No, I’m selfish, but even I recognize there are better things than getting your books out into the universe. You’ll understand in a minute.
I want to be a published author more than anything in the universe. I feel my stories are relevant, and that I have something important to say. That being said, it’s difficult to take advice from someone you’ve never heard of. Or at least I’m told. I mean, I check out books on writing and fitness all the time from people I’ve never heard of, but maybe that’s just me.
So, I’m building my platform with a couple of self-published books. In ZooFit Exercise Guide, I created functional exercises with animal names, and even created workouts to celebrate conservation. With Reuse, Recycle, Reduce Your Waist, I showed how you can eliminate some household trash by turning them into exercise equipment. Making your own equipment helps you stay engaged in your fitness, because it’s something you invested in, even if it doesn’t cost you a lot of money. I’ve received a lot of great feedback from the book, and I’m really quite proud of it.

1. Chris’ Kidney Transplant

The best thing to happen this entire year wasn’t getting a fun summer job, or even publishing my books. Last year, Chris and I received life-altering news when he was diagnosed with chronic kidney disease. He needed a new kidney, or he risked needing dialysis.
If ever I need a reason to get in shape, or argue the holistic benefits of fitness, it was this past year with Chris and our dealing with this illness. A small part of us wanted to complain, loudly, HOW DID THIS HAPPEN? We are HEALTHY! We workout! And eat right! But another small voice rose up and reminded us- this isn’t nearly as bad as it could be BECAUSE we are healthy, eat right, and workout.
Many people diagnosed with kidney disease can’t get on the donor list because they aren’t healthy enough to receive one. Some need to lose weight, or change their diet drastically. For us, we were “lucky” because Chris passed all his medical tests, showing his team that this was an otherwise healthy guy, and if we received a kidney, it would probably take, and not get rejected.
We were incredibly blessed to also have several friends offer to donate a kidney, and even luckier that the first candidate they tested for Chris was a match. So, within 9 months of Chris’ diagnosis, we were in a hospital, checking him in for a kidney transplant.
To make this event even more special and moving, Chris has nearly completely recovered. His strength isn’t quite 100%, but we are back to working out regularly, and he is already kicking my ass more times than I care to admit. Next year, we are looking to improve both our fitness levels, and showing the world how beneficial staying in shape really is.