Warning…Attitude Adjusment in Progress!

It’s a gorgeous day! I’m ready to take on this day and all
it has to offer. Let’s get some things done today!!!

Ugh! I hate my job. My legs feel like lead today. Probably
won’t get a run in.  Why the heck am I
doing any of this? What’s the point?

So….what side of the bed did you wake up on this morning?

Health goes beyond the way we look, our weight, our body
composition, our cardiovascular endurance and our clothing size.  Our mental health is definitely a factor in determining
our success in achieving our goals in all those other markers of health.  Let’s be clear. I’m not an expert in mental
health. You’ll have to go to your health care provider for anything beyond the less
than optimistic attitude.  I’m just here
to remind you that attitude is everything.

I know that the weather, your children’s behavior, work
drama, friend drama, spouse drama (life is full of drama) lack of sleep can all
be overwhelming.  I have been standing
there in your shoes or some version of your shoes.  Let’s face it. If we choose to do so, we can
go spiraling into the depths of despair pretty quickly if we lose our
grip.  How the heck do we hang on tight?

There is something to be said for gratitude.  I’m not saying that everyone has a fantastic
mansion, a perfect child, or a lucrative career for which to give thanks.  Being thankful for the little things in life
can color your day with optimism in a way that a doom and gloom attitude can
ruin it.   It is your choice to focus on what’s going
well versus wallowing (like a pig in slop) in misery.

We have all been there.
It’s the 17th day in a row of miserable weather, everyone in
the house is yelling or crying, there are 2 more pounds showing on the scale, there
is no coffee, the car’s fuel light is on, traffic is at a standstill, late for
an appointment and it is only 8:30 in the morning!  Now is the time. You are faced with a
choice.  Continue on with the attitude
that the day is on track for winning “Craptastic Day of the Century” or adjust.  Time to hang on to what’s important.   Is any of this life threatening or life
changing?  No-check.  Do I have shoes on?  Yes, phew! -check.  Will it always feel like this? No-check.

Don’t mistake my suggestion to choose another, more positive
attitude for putting my head in the sand.
We do need to face the things that make us miserable. We can’t ignore
the cat barf on the carpet.  I will say
that I have been guilty of lying on my bed wondering what I did to have everything
go so wrong. It would have been so easy to just continue lying there letting
the world go on around me.  I had to
choose to be the one to make things happen. I had to choose to make things
different and if I couldn’t make them different, I could choose a different
attitude about it.  I had to choose to
clean up the cat barf in my life.  It’s
not easy to believe you have that much control. It is true.

Did you know that stress makes you fat? Did I get your
attention?  The hormones released in our
ancestors to provide extra energy to out run a hungry animal are released in us
when we are aggravated with our boss. Our bodies don’t know that we are sitting
at our work desk and not running for our lives.
This extra energy that was meant to power our legs toward a safe cave is
instead getting stored as belly fat because we don’t need extra energy to be annoyed
in the office. Unless you are running for your life you are going to get/stay
fat around the middle.  So determine if
it is worth the belly fat to let negative thoughts continue to swirl around in
your head.

Do what you can. Accept the things you can’t control.
Control what you can. It’s not essential that every single day be bursting with
positivity. Who needs that kind of pressure? It is essential that you try to
make the most of every day.  A day viewed
through rose-colored glasses is much prettier than one viewed between blinders
that only see what is not going well.
What are you going to be wearing today?

Until next time…Live well!
– Toni Kuhel


The Pursuit of Running Happy

November 2010 – I am an unhappy runner 😦                        

Soon after the Hot Chocolate 15K in November, the running mojo that carried me across the finish line of the Chicago Marathon 2010 got up and left me. I found it impossible to find motivation to run endlessly on the treadmill or to gear up and face the wintery streets of Naperville.  I could motivate others.  I fully believed my clients could achieve their goals and each and every one of them was making significant strides towards health and wellness.  But here I stood and doubted myself.  It was only in Florida this February where I was supporting my client Jessica in her first Run Disney event that the fog started to lift.  She was going for a personal best in a 5K distance after having to abandon her ½ marathon goal upon advice from her doctor.  It was at the “Happiest Place on Earth” that I found that elusive running mojo.  Until that light bulb moment, I ran only out of frustration. Needless to say that was not the best idea.  My state of mind affected my runs so much that I avoided them most days.   I don’t know if it was finally seeing the sun after months of gloomy winter days, spending uninterrupted time with a good friend and her family, the constant happy music that is part of the Disney experience, or the most awesome race expo ever, but I could feel myself believing I was a runner once more. I realized I hadn’t really set any fitness or running goals. It’s a bit like heading out on a road trip without a destination in mind. How could I plan my route without knowing where I wanted to finish. My goal the previous year was to cover the distances in all my races ending with the Chicago Marathon and to finish injury free.  Check and check!!!  Now what? 

February 2011 – I’m an inspired runner 🙂  

Time to set new goals -Feeling newly inspired I called my husband Alex in a frenzy and told him to sign me up for the Chicago Marathon 2011. I knew that the race would sell out soon and I had really put off the decision for a very long time.  He had witnessed my struggle to get moving with a purpose after the marathon blues took hold.  I think he thought I had lost my mind, but he also knew I was serious.  Knowing that running for the sake of running was not enough motivation, it was clear that filling up a race schedule was the only choice.  Dream Big! Think Big! Do big!

It wasn’t enough to just run the same distances/races again this year. I set another goal to set official PR’s (personal records) in all distances. This means adding speed work to my training.  Words like farklet,  800’s, 400’s, intervals, hill work, and tempo runs were all going to have to leak into my training vernacular.  This old dog is going to learn a lot of new tricks this year.

I still wanted to complete the racing season injury free so I decided to adopt a run/walk strategy for long distances.  I met Jeff Galloway at the Disney Race Expo and he shared lots of wisdom and motivation regarding distance training. 

Jeff Galloway and Jessica

 He is the father of the run/walk strategy and has trained thousands of runners for all distances.  Jeff Galloway took the time to talk to Jessica and me and sent us off with a can-do attitude.  I also decided that I would never run 2 days in a row.  My body responds best to a break from the pounding of running and it just makes it more enjoyable for me. That leads me to my last goal.

I want to run happy this year. I’m aware that it won’t always be a fun run, but I’m determined to find happiness somewhere in each run I do. My joy might come from the weather being ideal, the kids joining me, going farther, going faster, or it might be as basic as being thankful for just doing a run.  I’m going to soak up all the positive energy of race day. I’m going to enjoy the experience of race day including the pre-race excitement and post-race festivities when possible. I’ll try to shake off the pre-race nervousness or post-race disappointment I might have.

Having set these goals in February, you might be wondering how it’s been since the glow of Disney has worn off.  I have been adding speed work to my training and it has been brutal!!!!  It hasn’t killed me (yet), and I’m getting faster with each session.  I’ve remained injury free and have done a distance of 11 miles using the Galloway run/walk and it’s kept me from being sore.  I’ve been pretty happy for most of my training runs.

My first race for improving my time was a mixed bag of success.  My goal for the Shamrock Shuffle 8K was to just to improve 1 second faster than my 54:30 finish time last year. Last year it was snowing, windy and frigid.  This year it was 80 degrees, humid and sunny.  Bump #1 – I do much better in cooler weather and I hadn’t trained in any kind of heat yet. Bump #2 – I was nervous. I couldn’t help but feel the burden of my first time goal. Bump #3 – I missed my goal and finished in 55:22. CRAP! I fought feverishly to be positive despite that.   I know that you are supposed to slow your pace when temps are above 60 degrees. I know that if this was last year I would’ve finished with a time of about an hour.  These are the thoughts I tried to bring to the front of my mind after seeing the time on my Garmin. I did meet one goal. I had the best post-race experience EVER with my client/friend Renee. We drank our hard earned beers and stayed to enjoy the sun that we cursed during the race. We relaxed and danced like crazy people all day.  We laughed and ate and pretended it was summer.

Renee and I pre-Shuffle sporting striped socks to be a little wacky!


Post race reward


April 2011 – I’m a happy runner 🙂 🙂 🙂

So yet again I will look at this coming year as one full of learning.  While I’m busy living my life with my family, friends and work, I have things to work on.  I will eat right, sleep right, think right, and train right. Most importantly in terms of running… I will run happy.  How will you fill in this blank?

 I will __________ happy!

Until next time…Live Well!

Toni Kuhel

Trotting a year later


What a difference a year makes. Last year, the Naperville Turkey Trot 5K was the first time I ran under a “START” banner. I was nervous and unsure I could run the whole distance. It was the first of many official runs this year which included the Shamrock Shuffle 8K, the Race to Wrigley 5K, the North Shore Half Marathon, peaked at the completion of the Chicago Marathon in October, struggled through the Hot Chocolate 15K with post marathon blues/fatigue and now…. Here I am again at the Naperville Turkey Trot 5K.

I was standing there again for another first. This was the first time my 10 year old daughter Renee and my 13 year old twin boys Evan and Jared were participating in an official race. My boys have been participating in cross country with their middle school so Alex and I divided our duties. Alex and the boys lined up in the 8- 9 minute mile pace area and Renee and I headed near the back of the line of 7,000 runners. Before we parted ways, we agreed on a meeting spot post-race and kissed and hugged each other.
Renee and I struggled to keep warm waiting for the start. We found my client Jessica and her family. This was their first 5K. I was especially proud of Jessica for putting on a brave face and coming out to participate. She was planning on run/walking the 5K but had just gotten the news that running is not something she will be doing any longer. Manifesting the heart of a champion, Jessica adjusted her goal and decided to walk the distance. She wasn’t going to let that news keep her on the sidelines. Yet another lesson taught to me by one of my amazing clients. The student becomes the teacher.


At last, the crowd started to move closer to the starting line. Renee clutched my hand and looked up at me with nervousness showing on her beautiful face. Renee had run this distance once before during a very dramatic family training run. We all stayed together and completed the training run in about an hour with Renee stating, “This is my marathon!” So here we were again and she was reliving that run in her mind.
We said good-bye to Jessica and started trotting slowly. Renee was wearing my Hot Chocolate 15K hoodie and I started spotting others wearing the same. I suggested that we count all of the iconic hoodies during the race to pass the time. Renee vehemently said “NO!” with a very serious expression on her face. .. the eye of the tiger. We strategized to slow jog and to stay to the right. She was starting to struggle and suggested that we walk as we approached certain signs on the street. I tried to distract her by pointing out silly hats, other kids her age and by telling her that water would be close to the 2 mile marker. After mile 1, Renee became another kind of runner. It seemed as though she was trying to kill her mother. All of a sudden, our slow jog became a full out sprint. No warning. No gradual increase in speed. Her little arms and legs started pumping and she was off! Not in a straight line of course. I had been holding back to stay with her and now I was sprinting to try to keep her in my line of sight. After about 1 minute of dashing through the streets like we were participating in the Running of the Bulls in Pamplona, she slowed to a walk. Thank God! She was beaming with pride knowing she left me in the dust. We walked together until the mood struck and we were off to the races again. She ran effortlessly and ran with joy as only children can. I overheard another runner say enviously, “Wouldn’t you love to run like that little girl?” as he pointed to Renee running ahead of him. I silently agreed proudly. We passed signs that promised water ahead and heard cheering from volunteers. Renee was super excited about the water station. She had watched me grab water from a similar water station during the marathon and was eager to do the same. We talked about pinching the cup so the water wouldn’t end up everywhere as we were walking and drinking. I saw it first. My heart sank as we approached and the water tables were empty. Renee’s face fell as she received a high-five from a volunteer instead of a cup of water. This was bad. Her lower lip jutted out, her eyes and nose crinkled and the tears started to flow. “All I want is water!” she wailed. Her sprints became slower and shorter. She tried to be strong and wipe her eyes dry. I told her that it was just one more mile and we’ll have water. She reminded me that I had said that before. One woman jogged near us and encouraged Renee by saying that it was her first 5k and that if she could do it, so could Renee. Renee was proud to tell her it was her first too. She whined most of the rest of the way resisting any comfort I offered her. As we made the last turn, another woman yelled over that she just had a baby 6 weeks ago and if she could do it so could Renee. As we made the run to the finish, my princess was not looking so happy. I told her we could not cross the finish line with a sad face because we had to run across with our hands up. Finally, it was upon us and I grabbed her hand as we stepped across the finish line and of course, we raised our hands up. We finished! I hugged her and told her I was so proud of her. She was having none of it. She wanted water and that’s it. God help me. They ran out of water at the finish as well. We found the Alex, Evan and Jared and got some much needed hugs. Renee dissolved into tears again asking for water. I was happy to see the boys gather her up in their arms comforting her and telling her how proud they were of their little sister and her first race. They headed to the car to get water and I headed back out onto the course.
It wasn’t too long before I spotted Jessica in her bright pink hoodie walking with her mom. Her dad had found a friend and was chatting with him somewhere. We were walking at a good pace and I walked them almost to the finish line. I wanted to get a picture of her finishing. I know this isn’t how she pictured this Turkey Trot. Despite that, she finished with a gorgeous smile and fantastic attitude.

Fabulous Finish!

The Kuhel family had a fantastic first whole family official race. There are 5 more racing bibs dangling on the refrigerator. Alex went all out and had a PR besting last year by 45 seconds. Evan and Jared stayed together choosing to take it easy finishing in 28 minutes. I would give my eye teeth for that finish time. Renee and I finished in 42 minutes which was a marked improvement over our training run. Jess and her mom finished in a little over an hour. Winners – Every single one of us!

My gorgeous trotters!

I learned something about myself during all my training runs and official races. I met heroes all along the way. I felt like a hero some days. Other days I watched people become heroes. On this day after Thanksgiving I’m ever so grateful. Yesterday was just what I needed to find my running mojo that I was sure had left me after the marathon. I watched my children become runners and heroes to one another. Jessica became a champion in my eyes. It’s been amazing to have this running “thing” come full circle. I now start shifting my goals. I’ve completed a year of being happy to finish races injury free. Now I’ll shoot for personal records for each distance, injury free as well of course. I wonder what will happen in the time between now and the next time I find myself waiting for the beginning of yet another Turkey Trot. I can’t wait to find out.

Until next time…Live Well, Toni Kuhel

The run for chocolate – 2010 Hot Chocolate 15K

 Well I haven’t been advertising that I was doing this run because I haven’t really run much post marathon. I signed up for the 15K option vs the 5K option because in my pre-marathon glow I thought “9.3 miles will feel like nothing after running 26.2.” In my post-marathon funk I failed to continue to run much and thus the idea of 9.3 miles seemed less appealing. I haven’t run more than 3 miles in a row since 10-10-10 (the date to motivate, aka the date that kicked my a$$). This was going to be…interesting.

Today was FREEZING! Despite all my complaining about the cold this morning, I was eternally grateful for a crisp fall day when just a short month ago I was sweating my head off waiting in the corral for the marathon to begin. Team 40/10 was well represented with Marcia joining us for her first official event participating in the 5K. We shivered together in an act of team solidarity waiting with Marcia and wishing her luck. After Marcia took off, Colleen, Julie and I dodged the other 5K’rs and went to find our 10 min/mile pace spot. We hadn’t started the 15K when the first 5K runners started arriving at the finish. I dreamed for a moment about crossing the finish line and hoped I would look as fresh but knowing I would not.

After hitting mile 1, Colleen was long gone as usual. Surprising myself, I stuck with Julie’s 10 min/mile pace for 3 miles. It was at this moment that my body said “Whoa there lady! This is all you’ve trained for in a while”. Needless to say I had to bid Julie a farewell. I shook off the disappointment of being the last of our bunch and hunkered down. I chided myself for a time for not being more prepared and then I saw the turn- around shortly after mile 4. This is when the terrain really started to piss me off. They thought it would be cute to make us run across grass and then turn onto a path. This path was an obstacle course impersonating a gravel path. First, it was narrow. Second, it was full of HUGE (well not exactly boulders, but really big) rocks. Third, it had its share of potholes. To boot…it was uphill! This went on for longer than I was hoping, but heck I was hoping for a flat easy run. Eventually mile 6 was upon me and again my body yelled “I gave you 3 more miles! Now what do you want?” As if these 3 mile reminders weren’t aggravating enough, I had a little more aggravation. Some big headed racer comes barreling down this narrow path announcing to all within earshot “RUNNER COMING THROUGH!!!” I was putting my eyes back in my head from them bugging out in shock so I didn’t get a chance to tell her that we were all runners… that and I was really tired. Whatever . I could hear the announcer screaming something so I knew the finish line was near. I tried valiantly to look enthusiastic as I raised my hands for a Moto Photo photographer at mile 9. I will always say that my children and the finish line of any race are the most beautiful things on earth. This finish line was no different, but I swear it kept moving farther down the street. I again tried to look like an accomplished race finisher for the photographers with my hands in the air, of course.

This course was different. No spectators for most of the course. It was peaceful for the most part. Chicago was looking like a jewel with its sparkling buildings, shimmering lakefront, and colorful trees. I’m still in awe when I look ahead seeing thousands of heads bobbing up and down almost in unison. I’m most happy when I meet up with friends at the end. Yes, they are usually all waiting for me to finish as the caboose of our little group. I’m thankful that someone is always waiting. Unfortunately I didn’t get to meet up with everyone I planned on seeing because it was too damn cold for early finishers to wait around, but I heard all had success . Today I got the pleasure of not only meeting my Team 40/10 members and their families, but also some of my fantastic clients. My running girls Becky, Renee and Kelli all rocked their respective races and made me so proud. They all looked beautiful post race and were already planning their next races. *Sigh* I love my job and my girls. Team 40/10 was chatty and laughing like we always are after an event. The chocolate fondue at the end was delish, but post race hugs were really the sweetest end to today’s race. I know it’s sappy but I’m pretty blessed to get to do this with some really fantastic people.

Until next time…Live Well, Toni Kuhel

My Running Girls!

Team 40/10 finishes the 2010 Chicago Marathon!!!

Mission accomplished!!!!  After almost a full year of preparing for the marathon, 10-10-10 arrived and Team 40/10 completed our goal.  Ever since Team captain Julie emailed her suggestion that we should complete the Chicago Marathon to mark our 40th birthdays, we’ve been dreading… I mean looking forward to this day.  I’ve been neglecting my blogging duties for a number of reasons, the best one being that I’ve been distracted by training for this event.  So this is the post I’ve been waiting to write since announcing the goal last year.

I’ll spare you all the details of pre-race prep.  Suffice it to say that we were all a bundle of nerves. As we stood in the open corral with 45,000 of our closest comrades I was astounded by how warm I already was just waiting.  A 65 degree morning in October means it’s only going to get hotter. I did my best to take in the whole experience, but it was tough.  I was in awe by the sea of humanity all around me.  I started reading all the shirts and had to stop as I began tearing up reading all the tributes to family and friends.  Facial expressions ranged from super happy, prayerful, scared, deer in the headlights and everything in between.  My expression was a combination of all these things.  Julie, Colleen and I made small talk waiting for the crowd to start creeping toward the starting line.  We hugged one another and wished each other luck. I had a sudden slight panic attack as I thought of family and friends tracking me via text, but calmed myself and focused on just finishing.  It was a bit of déjà vu when we stepped under the starting banner because we had done this same thing at the Shamrock Shuffle in March, but this was clearly a much bigger deal. 

As predicted, Colleen took flight soon after the first block despite battling varying ailments for a full week prior all the way up until last night.  A true warrior, she is.  Julie stuck by me for a mile and then she too was off to the races.  I resisted the urge to try to keep her pace because I knew I would feel like poop later in the race and there was a whole lotta pavement ahead.  So I was alone but surrounded by positive energy all the same.  The choice to wear my running tank with my name emblazoned on the front was one genius decision.  I’ve never heard my name yelled so many times, by so many people in one day! I felt like I had millions of supporters lining the streets.  Many friends had told me where they were going to be and what side of the street.  I tried so hard to remember, but “one foot in front of the other” was what I was focusing on at times.  Remarkably I saw my family at mile 12.5 and they were a sight for sore eyes.   All of a sudden I saw more friends just  a ½ block further and still more friends in the few miles ahead.  I had a couple of friends hop on to the course to run a block or so to check on me, hold my hand, and encourage me.  The first 13.1 miles was great. I walked only through the aid stations to drink or have a GU packet.  Soon after that, stopping to hug and greet my family and friends started cramps in my legs and feet.  Laurie (my nutrition angel) said less water more Gatorade.  I listened to her and it saved me I’m sure. 

My beautiful cheer squad!

The next 10 miles were full of more of the same. Great signs “run like Pheobe”, “toenails are overrated”, “run, people are watching”, “I’m missing da Bears game for this”, “You are all crazy”, “Run happy”, “Poop if you have to”, “Mommy, enjoy your ‘me’ time” “smile, smiling is your favorite”.  There were so many more and each one funnier and more inspiring than the last.  There was great music and dancing in some of the neighborhoods. I even heard my name yelled over the loudspeaker in a couple of spots.  Totally felt like a rock star. A bedraggled rock star, but a rock star all the same.  I took the opportunity to run through every hose I could.  The red alert flags were up and I wasn’t about to ignore that.  I had Gatorade and dumped water on my head at every station. 

I hit my wall at mile 23. The last 3.2 miles felt longer than the first 23.  It was at this point that I started seeing runners collapsed along the route, ambulances screaming by, lots of people dropping out at the aid stations.  My pace went from slow jogging with a little walking to walking with a little (very little) very slow jogging.  I kept visualizing my little 3 mile runs in the neighborhood, but I couldn’t fool my body into running again. Then I saw the “1 mile to go” sign and willed myself to run.  It is absolutely mean that there is that hill at the end and I remember this finish from the Shamrock Shuffle as well.  I was determined to run the rest of the way in.  I felt myself choking up a little as I rounded the last corner and caught my first glimpse of the finish line.  It was the most beautiful sight!  I threw my hands up and stepped across.  Done, finished, caput! Despite feeling like I had run pretty well, my 6:01 finish was less than ideal.  I had predicted a 5:45 with dreams of maybe a 5:30 but it wasn’t meant to be. 

As I sit here with legs that yell at me with the slightest movement, I don’t know that I’ll try this again.  Today is not the day to ask that question.  I will say that I will have to do some speed work because I have to get faster.  Never again do I want to do something like that for that long! I did it and I’m proud to say I am a marathoner.  Having never run more than 2 miles in a row just over a yeear ago, I just ran 26.2 and lived to blog about it.

Thank you to Julie and Colleen for being my concience throughout this process. It is because of you that I logged all those miles.  It is because of you that I could do this.  Thanks for helping me realize a dream I didn’t know I had.

Team 40/10  – official 2010 Chicago Marathon Finishers!!!

Team Captain – Julie  5:09:04
Team Watermark – Colleen  5:11:01
Team Rookie -Toni  6:01:37

Until next time…Live well! – Toni Kuhel

Getting through a summer of indulgences

It was bound to happen.  A missed workout…or 3 – a few too many food festivals – a couple more beers than I should’ve had.  One of these lapses in judgment is expected once in a while, but all together? I do believe I have really started slipping a bit. Don’t call the health and wellness police! We’ve all hit a hump, bump or a lump in the road to a healthier lifestyle. Now what???

Let’s get real.  We are people and by definition we are NOT perfect so let’s not beat ourselves up for being human.  I didn’t set out to miss my workouts. I had a series of girls’ weekends that just happened to end up in a clump due to my work schedule. I didn’t PLAN on going to all the festivals, but our friends asked us to go and I love my friends.  I didn’t expect to have too much to drink, but it was hot and the beer was cold. Does any of this sound familiar to anyone?  It is true that having lots of moments of weakness is surely a bad idea.  The goal of course is to try to get strong again- in a hurry!  Get over it and get going!! I had a very good time during my moments of weakness and I didn’t feel one bit guilty.  It would sure be hard to have fun while feeling guilty the whole time.  I do not need that kind of conflict in my life.

In a past life, and maybe this sounds like your life now, I would’ve just tormented myself over my decisions.  Guess what – It doesn’t do me any good to spend time feeling bad.  Now it’s just about getting back to making better choices.  I’ll take it one choice at a time.

  • Time to schedule workouts/activity,
  • Make vegetables and fruits the bulk of my meals or snacks
  • Drink water every chance I get. 

Fortunately for me I made the best, bad choices I could make. WHAT? I can hear you asking.  I was a bit surprised at how I could have fun while not wreaking total havoc on my health and wellness. Here’s how I did it and how you are going to do it too.



  • I bought or brought water everywhere I went. 
  • Ate breakfast as early as I could every day. Don’t skip it.
  • I kept healthful snacks in my purse (bring a big purse or get comfortable with carrying a man bag).
  • I made sure not to go more than 2 or 3 hours without eating. Waiting ‘til you’re starving is a very bad idea- it leads to terrible choices.
  • I walked everywhere I could.  I chose some “active” activities.
  • I THOROUGHLY enjoyed my indulgences. Don’t indulge if you aren’t going to love it. It’s sooo not worth it.



  • I brought lots of water.
  • I ate before I went. It kept me from eating too much because I was starving.
  • I got what I craved – a pulled pork sandwich. It kept me from eating a salad, chicken, vegetable tempura, and buttered corn, pretending like I wasn’t going to have my pulled pork sandwich which I was most definitely going to have anyway.
  • I had a bite of my kids’ deserts. I really only wanted a taste so why eat the whole thing.
  • I ate healthfully before and after the festival.  I enjoyed myself because the way I eat at the festivals is an exception and not the rule.


Drinks with friends

  • I order water with every drink and drink it first.
  • I drink light beer or red wine.
  • If I have a mixed drink or a “girly” drink, I try to keep it to just one.

I really enjoy my life and sometimes it can get the better of me. Choose to enjoy your life the best way possible.  Have a great time.  Forgive less than stellar choices by noticing how much better you feel when you get back to your healthier choices.  Realize that fun and healthy are words that can work together. It’s all about living well.

‘Til next time…live well!

Toni Kuhel




Is this a trip or a vacation part 2

Okay, Okay, I realize part 2 of this series is incredibly late in coming, but hopefully not EVERYONE has gone on their summer vacation already.  This is also a really long post because I just don’t want to risk posting part 3 in October.  Stick with me.  Lots of good stuff if you just read to the end.  Might want to grab a handful of almonds and a cup of tea before you get started….

Plan your meals. Alex is an amazing trip planner so I tapped his expertise.  He planned our travel route and our meal stops.  Some stretches of highway have absolutely no place to eat. Now I’m not saying you can’t be spontaneous and just go where the wind blows, but make sure you have supplies or your pickings may be slim. If you are heading to the airport, try to eat before you get there.  Your options are a bit hairy once you hit that corridor lined with “food” stalls.  If you get there and you are ravenous, dig into your snack bag and have some nuts and a gulp or two of water and wait a few minutes.  Once your head stops spinning and your belly stops grumbling you can make a healthy choice.  You know what to stay away from.  Look for stuff you recognize as fresh food. Try to get a meal that balances your plate with mostly vegetables, a bit of lean protein and a good carb.  Avoid fried, creamed, glazed things.  You are about to board a plane. You’ll run the risk surprising your body with bad food after you’ve been good to your body for a while.  Who wants that kind of a surprise on an airplane? This is also a good reason not to make bad food choices on a road trip where the sign almost always reads “next rest stop in 56 miles” when you need it NOW.

When choosing a place to eat, resist the urge to turn into any parking lot that holds a sign that flashes “all you can eat!”  It should actually read “all you should NOT eat!”  I don’t trust a sneeze guard.  Having worked with young children for 10 years and having raised 3 kids ages 10 and 13  (the 13 year olds are twins –don’t worry, I can count to 3), nothing can contain a little person’s sneeze.  I’ve tried to dodge them and it’s just futile so I have little faith in the 3 ft wide Plexiglas’ ability to “guard” any size sneezes.   Also those steaming trays have been sitting for how long?  Does much of it look like “real food”? We Americans are very big fans for getting our money’s worth at the cost of our health.  Just because you paid $x for your buffet privileges does not mean you have to try to put the place out of business.  I understand that cruises have incredible buffets 24/7 and that the cruises are lots of $$$. You’ll DIE trying to eat your money’s worth.  If you honestly, honestly (if you say it twice you really mean it) have no choice but to belly up to the buffet, then minimize the damage. Put salad and veggies on your plate first.  Watch your cheese, nuts, and dressing (reasonable amounts) or use vinegar and oil. Look for lean protein. So that means pass up the chicken fingers and fried chicken and go for the grilled, skinless chicken breast.  You can do this.  Make the choice. Encourage your family as well.  If your kids are new to the concept of buffet dining then it’s your job to teach them how to do this.  Take them to veggies first and put the protein and carb on the plate last.  You must allow the kids to get one dessert!  Get some fresh fruit to sit alongside the cakey, flakey, gooey thing.  Stress that a little bit of a sweet treat, once in a while, is just fine.  Decadent dessert is an exception and not the rule!


  • MOVE!  When we road trip, we go prepared.  If you want to see a grown woman with her face pressed against the window mouthing “save me!” just cram us all into a car for 5 hours straight.  We plan to stop somewhere- anywhere, every 2 hours or so.  By that time someone- has to “do” something,  is on someone’s side of the car, or is touching someone. We pack a jump rope, a blow up beach ball (deflated or it isn’t going to fit), a baseball and couple of mitts, and bubbles.   These things can be used any place we stop and everyone in the family can use them.  Wait…Alex can’t jump rope, but he does try.  In fairness I can’t throw a baseball well so I guess we’re even.  Thank goodness for bubbles.  If you can, plan your trip to have lots of walking opportunities.  You’ll see the sites at a slower pace and see things you would have surely missed while riding on the trolley, bus, boat thing.  Plan activities that are actually active. Make sure you bring your snacks and water.  You do not want to see the Kuhel family walking anywhere when we’re hungry or thirsty.  It’s quite the spectacle and we rarely find ourselves in that position, but hang on to your ears when it does happen. It’s why I don’t glare at families when their children are having a melt-down. Those of us with children have all been THAT family.  When you are at an airport, be a good little soldier and stay off the people movers.  Okay, you can ride one, but that’s it!  You’ll fall off the end anyway because you’ll be looking for your gate when the yellow warning strip comes.  Save yourself the embarrassment and get your heart pumping for a different reason. Drag that overstuffed carry-on luggage all the way to the gate and you’ll get a mini workout in.  Being stuck on a plane for hours on end can be miserable.  Try and stretch every so often.  Make nice with your seat mate if they are on the aisle.  He or she is the gate keeper to your salvation when you need to stretch your legs.  Drink lots of water.  You’ll need it and it’ll be understandable when you have to ask to step over your airplane buddy yet again. 


  • Enjoy yourself.  A lot of the tips I mentioned above will help minimize your stress level.  You know your family and yourself.  If you need to stop the car every single hour or someone is going to die…you better stop.  If you only have one day at a destination then go ahead and ride the thingy so you can see it all.  If you over indulge at one meal make sure it stops at one meal.  Forgive yourself and then treat yourself well by making good choices going forward.  There always seems to be that moment on the trip when all the stresses come to a head and you say something your parents yelled to you when you were the one in the backseat.  My dad had a few original ones, but most of them were pretty universal.  Pretty good for an immigrant from the Philippines.  Two frequent favorites were “Don’t make me come back there” and “We are going home right now!” To avoid saying things you swore you’d never say when you became a parent, make sure to close your eyes and breathe.  Take some time to observe your family enjoying the trip.  Don’t over plan so you’re rushing, but don’t under plan so you’re bored. Find the balance.  Play music.  Turn off the music. 


We all deserve a break from time to time.  When we leave the safety of our home to go on an adventure, we should take our healthy lifestyle with us.  Maybe sometime in the future the world will make it easy for us.  Until then we need to make living well easy for ourselves.  Be prepared and the fear of bad choice making will leave you.  Go out and get a few more bumper stickers, bad t-shirts, useless magnets, and miniature spoons (never understood those) to add to those growing collections.  You deserve it!  Just make sure you pass up that cart serving overloaded waffle cones on the walk up the hill to the shop.  You are supposed to be collecting junk not pounds.

Till next time…live well! Toni Kuhel

One Giant Step Closer to the Marathon


Well it’s day 2, post ½ marathon and my quads have yet to forgive me. Walking up and down the stairs has been quite the endeavor and particularly hysterical for anyone watching. It’s time to put into words the toughest ,non-child birthing experience to date for myself.

Sunday, June 13th was a day that snuck up on me like a cat on a clueless bird. I had run my longest run of 10 miles over a week before and a few really short runs and then BAM, it was 5:00 a.m. race day. I had received lots and lots of Face Book posts encouraging me and now it was time to make good on my statement that I was going to participate in my first ½ marathon. The entire week before the run, I sat with tears in my eyes as I saw the forecast for Sunday. It was going to be 90 degrees or monsoon like. Miraculously the weather maker smiled down on us once again and we had absolutely perfect running weather. It was cool, foggy and slightly drizzly. I said a quick prayer of thanks for the weather and said a reeeally long prayer for an injury free run. I met my fellow Team 40/10 members Julie , Colleen and Marcia at a bench not too far from the starting line. Marcia and Jim volunteered to be our official sherpas and photogs by schlepping our crap and snapping pics of us throughout the event.

Julie’s husband Tom made his way toward the front of the corral while the rest of us were more than happy to start behind the other eager beavers. Julie, Colleen and I stepped under the starting line banner together and jockeyed for position for about 2 miles. Mile 3 came and Colleen was off to the races. Julie and I stayed together til mile 4. Up to this point we were feeling pretty good, but I kept telling Jules we were about 1 minute ahead of our usual pace. Julie and I commented as we passed the 5K marker that not too long ago we were sweating about completing that distance. We came upon our first water/Gatorade station. Julie had a GUpacket which I have deemed as gross as the name sounds, and I had some Cliff Shot blocks. Jules dropped her second GU packet in the frenzy to get the first one out. I think that saved her from having to ingest another gross GU packet, but I know she really wanted it for later in the race.

It was soon after that when Julie began to leave me in the dust. That pace was just not working for me anymore. Most of the run is a blurry combination of my heart rate popping really high as I encountered slight hill after slight hill, a myriad of gorgeous houses with a “for sale” sign in front of every other one, and mile after mile after mile that seemed to go on and on forever. I survived the killer hill at mile 7 by walking up it like every person around me. I had visions of being the sole walker up the hill, but we were all hurting as we dragged ourselves upward. I was a bit hopeful when I caught a glimpse of Tom coming back after he hit a turn- around point only to be devastated by the realization that the turn- around was miles and miles ahead. I couldn’t believe that I was approaching the 10 mile marker 4 minutes ahead of when I had previously covered that distance. I was really hurting but I was bursting with pride. I couldn’t believe I could still push on. I was with it enough to notice a number of shirts like “13.1 is half of nothing”, “embrace the cheese”, “team ____” and a few shirts from previous races. I was particularly irritated with Mr. “13.1 is half of nothing” until I saw him stretching out what looked to be a wicked leg cramp at mile 12. Apparently ½ of nothing was a whole lot of something he couldn’t handle. Now I’m being petty so I’ll stop . Along the way I high fived some adorable kids, waved at Jim and Marcia, and tried to look like I wasn’t dying as I passed about 17 official race photographers.

Finally I heard cries that promised that the finish line was “just around the corner/over the hill/almost there”. Amazingly I finally saw the finish line and I could hear the rest of Team 40/10 screaming for me as I approached. They had all finished well ahead of me, but I was ecstatic all the same to see them. The finish times were as follows….Colleen 2:18:52 (10:36 pace),Julie 2:24:46 (11:03 pace),Toni 2:35:12 (11:51 pace), and of course Tom, who smoked us all: Tom 2:04:47 (9:32 pace). I’m glad to report we all finished injury free and thankful for another exhilarating experience together. I totally can’t imagine tacking on another 13.1 miles to that 13.1 miles, but it wasn’t long ago that I couldn’t imagine running more than a mile for any other reason than running from a large animal.

Me, Julie, and Colleen - Team 40/10 pre-race

Until next time…Live Well, Toni Kuhel (1/2 marathon finisher!!!)

Team 40/10 - post race/ posing in front of the ambulance, not getting into it!Official finisher!

Official finisher!

Is This a Trip or a Vacation?


My gosh! How did it get to be the end of the school year already???  This seems like the perfect time to address traveling with your posse. The idea of days on end with kids suddenly without the structure of a school day makes one feel like leaving home.  Learning to live well is tough enough when you can control your environment.  When you’re at home you control what is in your cupboards, refrigerator, and freezer.  If you’ve made the commitment (if you’re not there you are on your way) then you have “real food” everywhere.  If you are normal then you also have a couple (just a couple) of items that you should have only once in a great while. Confession time…  my 2 things are fresh buffalo mozzarella and butter.  Activity-wise, you also have a routine.  You’ve scheduled your work-outs, found your three 10 minute “chunks”, and have your favorite walking routes around the neighborhood.  But what happens when you are NOT in control of your environment?  Now there are plenty of times when I feel I have no control of my environment, but that mostly pertains to my 3 little angels and 1 big one.  The actuality is that you can always control your choices and thusly it doesn’t matter what environment you are entering.  You don’t ever have to take a vacation from the healthy lifestyle you’ve created, even when you are on vacation.  Stop rolling your eyes long enough to see how painless it can be.

The Kuhel family travels each year and when the kids come (just about always) it is then a trip and not a vacation due to the amount of work that inherently comes with taking the whole circus on the road.  To be quite honest, making our lifestyle changes at home came a lot easier than making those same changes in other situations.  I really had to sit and brainstorm about how we could possibly do these things out in the real world.  Let’s face it.  The real world is loaded with choices that can lead us down an ugly path.  That’s why our nation is in the shape (round is a shape) it is in.  Here are a few ways we navigate our way through the dangerous sea called the vacation/trip.

  • Plan ahead:  Chances are you are not walking to your destination.  At least not the whole way, I hope.  That means you are either driving, flying or boating.  If you are traveling another way (rocket ship, hot air balloon etc.) planning ahead will serve you well too.  Most of these modes of transportation don’t lend themselves to having healthy snacks as part of the deal.  You are going to have to bring some “real food” or pay an unreasonable amount of money for a few acceptable choices.  The Kuhel family’s money tree in the front yard died so we watch our dollars as much as we can.  If your money tree is thriving, then go ahead and take your chances but sometimes it doesn’t matter how much money you have.  That gas station in the middle of nowhere isn’t going to give you fresh blueberries for a fistful of dollars.  You are going to get a questionable mystery meat sandwich, a 2 year old Twinkie, and purple liquid in a dusty odd shaped bottle. Mmmm mmmm good. 


Pack your snacks. If you are traveling a fair distance by car, be smart about it.  For long trips I suggest packing 2 coolers and a snack bag.  One larger cooler in the trunk or in the back of the minivan you said you’d never get.  Use one smaller cooler for the front of the car.  The larger cooler should be your replenishment cooler.  This one should have lots of bottled water, 100% fruit juice boxes, string cheese, re-sealable bags filled with single servings of grapes, carrots, sugar snap peas, small dark chocolate bars (gotta have treats) and anything else your family likes cold.  The smaller cooler should have smaller quantities of the same thing.  No one wants to travel with a giant cooler inside the car and there is no way a little cooler is going to get you past the state line. The snack bag should be contain re-sealable bags filled with single servings of walnuts, almonds, whole grain cereal, home-made trail mix, whole grain crackers,  pbj sandwiches, apples, bananas and containers of applesauce (don’t forget spoons). On our recent road trip, Renee was “snack manager” and she handed out snacks when anyone asked and monitored our inventory so we knew when we had to get supplies from the large cooler.  She is a control freak so this was a sweet deal for her. Also, no one else wanted the job. Traveling by air has restrictions on liquids so you are just going to have to buy water after the security check.  Your snack bag is obviously going to be smaller, but be sure to bring it.  Somehow I can’t justify $7 + (or something like that) for a box with $2 (or something like that) worth of marginal snacks.

That’s about all for part 1.  Part 2 to follow soon.

          Till next time…live well! Toni Kuhel

Early lessons

Clearly I’ve been lagging in my blogging duties.  I’m hoping to get back at it on a regular basis  so here goes nothin’…

As a novice runner, I’ve learned a few things in this early part of training for the marathon (this is part of the reason I’ve been short on blogs). 

Patience is priceless.  A few of us Team 40/10 members are learning to be patient with our  40-ish year old bodies as we push ourselves toward our goal.  Although all of us want to feel like we could run the 26.2 miles effortlessly today, it’s obvious that this deal is going to take some time.  We are all learning to get used to listening to our bodies.  When we don’t listen, our bodies revolt by yelling louder in the form of increasing pain and weaker runs.

Perseverance is going to get me through this. Just put one foot in front of the other. I know that I’ve learned to love the time it takes to do a long run.  I’m spending the majority of my life trying to get things done quickly.  The long run is…long.  I have no goal for my long runs except to get the miles on my shoes.  Sure it would be nice to finish a sub 4 hour marathon, but I’m just looking to finish and learn some things about myself along the way.  Sometimes I run listening to my music. Sometimes I listen to the wind, traffic, dogs, birds, and my own deep breathing.  Every time I run it’s a chance to think about everything and nothing all at once.  If I didn’t put in the time and effort to get in my run, I would miss out on that precious time. Who knew I would get so much out of lacing up my shoes and heading out the door. 

I’m confident I can do something that I didn’t know I could do.  I’ve never, ever been a distance runner.  I’m built like a sprinter with short, thick legs that are loaded with quick twitch muscle fibers.  Now that I’m pushing myself to do more ,I feel a bit more like a distance runner each week.  It’s a curious thing that Team 40/10 is trying to accomplish.  We are all learning that we can do what we do what we didn’t know we could do.  At first I thought I was running away from the fact I am turning 40 this year.  It seems as though I’m now running headlong into my 40’s with a goal to set more fantastic goals. 

I have such gratitude for my health that allows me to train for such a big event.  I’m thankful for a supportive husband, family and circle of friends that all make it possible to believe that I can do this.  I’m so incredibly grateful for Team 40/10 for the opportunity to train, laugh, cry, complain and celebrate together all the steps along the way.

I’ve learned a lot about patience, perseverance, confidence and gratitude in these early months of base building.  Imagine what I’ll learn once official training begins.  Now what will you learn from reaching for your health and wellness goal? Did you set a goal yet? Well, get on with it then!!!

Until next time…Live Well! – Toni Kuhel