My Fitness Journey: What is it and how did it start?

My Fitness Journey: What is it and how did it start?


Past Stories: Phyllis Johnson, Monica Kelly, Jenn Tontini, Colleen Hengesbach, and Team Just One More


I started Nature Coast Running and Fitness with the intent that I have a comprehensive fitness calendar of local running and fitness events in my community. The problem with having such a calendar is getting people to actually look at the calendar. Thus, my blog was created to be a pathway to sharing events and happenings in my community.

I started the My Fitness Journey segment of my blog by first sharing my story in weekly installments.  My story was told over an eleven week period. Then I came up with the idea of having others share their stories. Colleen Hengesbach was the first individual to share her story back in June and it has progressed from there. Over the course of the past few months I have had 12 individuals and 3 groups share their stories. It doesn’t matter the story; it is worth hearing and it will impact someone.




I have gotten really great feedback from so many people about how the stories have helped them realize they are not alone in their fitness struggles. Many of us have had ups and downs with weight. We have tried apps, fitness programs, meal plans, etc. What works for one person doesn’t necessarily work for someone else, but the ultimate goal is to keep trying.

I am so thankful for the brave people who have helped the My Fitness Journey segment get its start. It’s really important to me to keep this going, so I need to hear from others though for it to continue. I have asked many people I know at the gym, in running clubs, friends, and coworkers to hear their stories. I really hope this segment has not run its course, but if it has I am grateful for the lives it touched.


fotosearch_k29075664 It’s time…share your story!

Just Keep Going!

2nd Annual Move to Health 5k Preview

2nd  Annual Move to Health 5k Preview

september-190   Florida Health   september-197


September 24, 2016


For the second year in a row the Hernando County Health Department will put on a free 5k run/walk/jog event. Last years event had a great crowd of runners and walkers and they hope to have more of the same this year.  The event is run much like a regular timed running event with a check in and goodie bag, but runners are not timed in this non-competitive event. This event is all about health and community.

Last year runners/walkers/joggers/amblers ran along the Good Neighbor Trail on an out and back course. A water station was set up at the turn around point. Last year the event was overcast and foggy, but that did not stop the community from coming out and running.

Event Details:


Tom Varn Park / The Quarry
301 Darby Lane
Brooksville, FL 34601

Where’s the Fun: Tom Varn Park/The Quarry
How it Works: At your own pace Walk, Jog, Run, or Amble
Goodies: First 300 people who register receive FREE T-Shirt, and Kids receive a Medallion!
Ready to Go: To Walk/Jog/Run, sign-up at  Active.Com Registration. Please invite family and friends.

Event Starts: 8:00 AM

Event Ends: 10:00 AM

Inaugural Tour of Brooksville

Inaugural Tour of Brooksville




Benefiting Alzheimer’s Family Organization


Saturday, October 22, 2016

Tom Varn Park, Pavilion 2

301 Darby Ln, Brooksville, FL 34601

  • $40 until September 16
  • $45 until day of event


  • 62 miles
  • 35 miles

Please observe some basic road rules to help us keep our event a fun   and safe experience for all participants.

  • Bicycle helmets are required while riding
  • Obey all road and traffic laws
  • Do not overlap wheels when riding in a pace line
  • Use proper verbal and/or hand signals when turning left, right, slowing, stopping or to alert other rides or road obstacles
  • Use of headphones or ear buds is prohibited during the event ride




  • 7 AM – 7:45 AM Day of registration
  • 8:00 AM – 62 mile Riders leave
  • 8:15 AM – 35 mile Riders leave
  • Refreshments available from 12 PM – 2 PM

My Fitness Journey: NPR Running & Brews

My Fitness Journey: NPR Running & Brews

Running: usually thought to be an individual activity doesn’t have to be! How? Let me tell you! Join a group. Running groups are a great way to meet other people with a similar desire to run. You will find people at various paces, so most likely you find someone that can match pace with you.

Our Fitness Journey this week focuses on the group aspect of running, specifically New Port Richey Running & Brews.  Tammy Carr started the group over three years ago in order to provide a free casual all levels running/walking/jogging/biking/swimming club that promotes fitness, socialization, and fun.


How did it start?

NPR Running was established in 2013-2014 by Tammy Carr, the groups’ official leader, deemed “Mayor” by members. The group, its members, social media, web pages, activities, events, are all led by Tammy Carr and Jaana Jala, deemed “Princess” by members, who work together to keep the group motivated and active with the help of Becky Kessel, who is the group’s Chief Logistics Officer.  The members monitor and participate in a variety of fitness related activities currently being held throughout the week.  NPR Running was featured prominently in the Suncoast News in 2015 based upon the success in bringing fitness to the community to a population not typically active.


How does such a group work? How do members get involved?

The club expects nothing from the members except to commit to showing up and staying active. Members support each other and share experiences and successes in an active healthy lifestyle and support the mission for fitness and fun at all levels.  The group reaches out to the community to seek members, sponsors, and gifts to raffle weekly at Tuesday meetings to keep people coming and to keep the group FREE to all members and therefore keeping members active.

What does a typical Tuesday look like for the club?

The members monitor and participate in a variety of fitness related activities currently being held throughout the week.  The main weekly event, is the Raffle Run Tuesday, where members meet to run, run/walk, or walk a route at a sponsor location. After running, there is always some socializing, fun, and raffles. Typically, 40-70 people, strollers, children, dogs will show up to run-walk-jog a pre-determined loop route and then socialize afterwards while they award prizes, raffle gifts, and announce their latest achievements and upcoming events.   They raffle prizes, and members gain raffle tickets for every mile they completed and for showing up.  These prizes are a fun and important part of motivating members to attend.


What about the rest of the week?

There is continual participation with weekly events, such as bike rides every Monday, Running every Tuesday and most Saturdays, and frequent group participation in races.  In the “MY MILES” program, NPR Running members are encouraged to keep track of and share miles travelled to help each other to stay active, strong, and healthy with support and encouragement.  NPR Running members covered thousands of miles across Pasco, Hernando, Hillsborough, and Pinellas counties in 2015. The group was successful in logging over 26,000 miles as a team! The key is that members are rewarded for participation with raffles, socialization, and fun with the motto “KEEP MOVING” #keepmoving and #nprrunningproud.


How does NPR give back to the community?

The group is active in supporting local charity and fitness events by participating, managing and/or even volunteering such as Coteeman, Bartoberfest, Bayou Poker Paddle, Dragon Boat Racing, Gulfview Square Mall Runs, Pet Bowl-aThon, Paddlepalooza, Veterans Affair Volleyball Tournament, NPR Trunk or Treat, Pet charities, and many NPR and Port Richey, and Trinity city events.

How do you join? How does the group communicate?

We communicate with our members in a variety of ways to include emails, Facebook, Meetup and activities participation.

-Web Page is

Meetup Group

– Facebook is our main communication link: Information on the NPR Running Club can be found .

– Group Managers:


Running and getting active and fit do not have to be individual activities. It can be a group effort that is fun, building amazing relationships along the way!

Just Keep Moving! #keepmoving

Just Keep Going!

Work in Progress

Work in Progress

We have all heard the phrase, “work in progress.” What does it actually mean? It means that you aren’t finished yet. You are not a finished product. You are not a finished you! Change is always possible, but you have to want to put in the work and you have to want to make progress. What are you doing today to make progress?


Just Keep Going!

15th Annual Run to Remember Review


15th Annual Run to Remember Review



Verb: to recall to the mind by an act or effort of memory; think of again, to retain in the memory; keep in mind; remain aware of

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15 years ago was a day that most will not forget where they were when the terrorist attacks happened. For those younger than 15 it becomes a history lesson that we are trying to get them to understand. It is part of the world that we currently live, but we do not want to forget. We want to remember and we want to honor those who gave all to save others.

The Hernando County YMCA held its Annual Run to Remember this morning. 15 years have passed and this event remains as a time to reflect and honor those lost and support first responders who still serve. The event started at 7:30 AM with opening remarks, presentation of the colors by the Springstead Color Guard, and the singing of the National Anthem. A devotional and prayer time was conducted by Pastor Jacob Gibbs from Go Church. The ceremonial part of the run continued with remarks by Executive Director at YMCA of the Suncoast Amber Slusser, Sheriff Al Nienhuis, Fire Chief Scott Hechler, and Florida House of Representative Blaise Ingoglia. Race Director Mark Barry then gave the course description and instructions. The most important instruction was that the flag leads the way.

This non-competitive run was about remembering and making sure that the flag was at the forefront. It was not about ego or personal best times. This run was simply about running and sharing with the community. Runners ran. Walkers walked. Some fire fighters donned their gear and ran in that.

The course crossed Mariner Blvd. from the YMCA and ran into the Seven Hills neighborhood. The course was well marked with signs, supporters, and volunteers. After winding through the neighborhood, the run ends on a downhill about a block from Mariner. Refreshments were served in the YMCA parking lot with a church service provided by Go Church and Pastor Jacob Gibbs following the event at 9:30.

Thank you Hernando County YMCA for supporting this community and helping us to remember.



My Fitness Journey: Erika Reiser

My Fitness Journey: Erika Reiser

I met Erika through the Y! She is a Body Combat regular, yet until I asked her about her story, I never knew about her struggles! Another AMAZING read!


Erika Reiser in her own words…

As a child, I was always active! I was a tomboy. I played outside, climbed trees, hunted and fished with my Dad, shot archery, played sand lot football/baseball, skated; you name it. As a teen, I ran track and did a lot of swimming. We lived on the river, and I spent nearly every day swimming, spear fishing, boating, etc. There was rarely a dull moment. I was always fit, but never really had a great body image. I developed late, but once I did, I was “blessed” with more than enough for me and a few friends. I was teased by both boys and girls. I tried to hide my body with big shirts for a long time. I finally decided that I had to toughen up and not worry about the teasing.

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There were still challenges to doing things due to the size of my “obstacles,” so I did what I could do until I was an adult and then I had them reduced. This decision was one of the best decisions I ever made. I still don’t have a great body image, but I’m working on it. It just seems like there’s always some reason as to why I don’t feel like I have the shape that I’m after. Maybe it’s because my goals are always a work in progress. I always have more to do.
In 2005-2006 I had reach a weight of 177 lbs. on my 5′ 3″ frame. Throughout my teen years, I had always weighed between 115-125 pounds and that was actually pretty good for my frame. At 177 pounds, I was miserable. Something was going on with my body and I didn’t know what. I had been married to my husband since 1996 and had wanted to have children, but it just wasn’t working. Something was wrong and I didn’t know what. I just kept gaining weight and tried all kinds of weight loss programs. I would lose a little weight here and there, but nothing that lasted. Always a yo-yo!


Finally, I decided to do some research on my own as to what could be causing so many of the issues that I had (weight gain, oily skin/acne, infertility, menstrual irregularity, fatigue, hirsutism, mood swings, etc.). I finally surmised that it could possibly be PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome). I asked my doctor to run a series of tests to be sure. As suspected, the test results concluded that I did, in fact, have PCOS. I was sent to a reproductive endocrinologist for additional help. She gave me a list of things to do/eat to help with my symptoms.

At that point, I started following what the doctor had set for me to do. I changed the things that I ate first and recorded everything. I maintained a caloric intake of 1000-1200 calories per day and I reduced or eliminated the simple carbs that I was consuming. I ate several times per day (4-6), and the carbs that I did consume were things that are low on the glycemic index. Because PCOS affects your endocrine system, you need to try to avoid blood sugar spikes or major drops, similar to diabetes.


After changing my diet, I began to see improvement and weight loss. After I had lost about 16-20 pounds, I began to try running again. I started slow with short distances and would combine it with walking. I gradually progressed to longer distances and increased my speed. By 2009, I had lost the weight that I had been trying to lose. I was down to 117-120 pounds. I was excited about the fact that I had actually been able reach my goal and I was even more excited about the fact that my body was beginning to function as it should.


At the beginning of 2010, I found out that I was pregnant. I was 39 years old and was totally blown away! I had been told for so many years that I would probably never be able conceive. Low and behold, after giving up all hope, my prayers had been answered! I delivered a healthy baby boy, two months shy of my 40th birthday. I only gained 25 pounds with my pregnancy, and I felt that should be easy enough to take off. It wasn’t too bad at first. It was coming off slowly. I was back to 130 pounds, but all of a sudden, it began to come back again. I hadn’t really changed how I was eating, but I hadn’t been running like I did before I had my son.

I had climbed back up to 144 pounds. It was driving me nuts! I joined the YMCA and started shedding some of the weight, but not enough. In December of 2015, I was back to 131 pounds, but I still wanted to shed the remaining 10. Unfortunately, that did not happen. I actually gained weight, again. I went back up to 135 pounds. I have gained muscle, but there is still that layer of fat that I am continuing to work on.

Although not all victories are measured by a number on the scale, they are still victories. As mentioned, I have gained muscle and better yet, I have significantly improved the numbers on my blood work. For the last year, I have been using the My Fitness Pal app to monitor/record my diet and exercise, have been wearing a Fitbit to help monitor my exercise/steps and heart rate, working out 4-5 days/week for at least an hour per day. I am always busy doing something. I rarely sit to do anything. With a 5-year-old boy, I am always on the go!


Favorite Workouts

I love all kinds of things and like to switch my workouts up from time to time. I generally do Body Pump and Body Combat regularly and add in Spin, Bootcamp, Horizontal Conditioning, and Kettle Bell, and Body Flow. I also run a few miles on the treadmill here and there.


A major success for me had been the fact that I changed my body enough to restore normal female bodily function and to have become pregnant with my son. Other successes are: improved lab results (cholesterol, triglycerides, etc.) and increased muscle.

Obstacles and/or Failures

I would say that the failures would be gaining back some of the weight that I had worked so hard to lose. Now, I’m working to lose it again as well as continuing to improve my strength and muscle definition.

I know you have so much more to do! Wow have you come a long way! Another amazing story about another amazing woman!

Just Keep Going!

Run to Remember: Running Preview

Run to Remember: Running Preview

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The Hernando County YMCA will be hosting its annual Run to Remember on Sunday, September 11, 2016. The YMCA of the Suncoast starts the morning off with speeches and ceremony from community members. A time of prayer and silence to remember those that were lost on 9-11-2001 will follow.  After the ceremony part of the morning, a non-competitive run will commence. The flag leads the way with the lead runner always taking the flag and making sure it stays out front. The course runs across Mariner Blvd. into the Seven Hills neighborhood. After the run, runners and walkers can partake of some beverages and food.

Participants can register for this FREE EVENT at the Y or online at

If a participant would like a commemorative run t-shirt (dri-fit this year), one can be purchased at the Y.


Details from the Event Facebook Page

Come out and participate in a morning of remembrance, honor and dedication with the 15th Anniversary Run to Remember 5k Run/1-mile Walk.

FREE event and open to the community.

Run/Walk will be followed by continental breakfast, block party and remembrance service.

T-Shirts are available for $10.