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Celebrating two years of daring greatly!

Today I celebrate the two-year anniversary of my personal transformation… and it feels awesome!

Two years ago today, I left the live-in weight loss boot camp a stronger, more courageous and determined person. After learning to push past pain and what I thought were my limits – both physical and emotional – I learned that I am capable of anything.

As a result, I left boot camp knowing in the deepest part of my gut that this time I would succeed at losing my excess weight and becoming a healthier and happier person.

Well, today I can say: Mission accomplished!

What I did not know..

Lori After Transformation - at Como LakeWhile I was certain of the goal and my commitment to it, there is a lot that I didn’t know when I embarked on this journey.

For example, I didn’t know exactly what the path would look like to get to my goal, but I moved forward anyway. I put my outrageously talented team of experts together and then gave up control and trusted them to guide me (let’s take a moment to pause and reflect on how difficult it is for me to give up control!). I set the goal of living every day with Lori in the center of the equation and defined exactly what that meant in terms of non-negotiables. And then I worked the plan. When the going got tough, I went back to my non-negotiable list and my team of experts and found the answer.

I didn’t know that I would go on to lose a total of 211 lbs, nearly 50% of my body fat, and more than 80 inches off my physical self in just 18 months. I didn’t know what that physical transformation would look like or feel like or how it would change me — both in terms of how I viewed the world and how the world  viewed me. I didn’t know that I would come to love climbing the very mountains that had alluded me for so many years or that I would compete in a half marathon. And, I didn’t  know how significant and important the “internal” transformation would become. How truly life changing it would be.

What I did know…

Despite my lack of knowing all of those things, I knew one thing for certain. I had to move forward and I would succeed. Most importantly, I kept the promise to myself that I would “never, ever give up no matter how difficult it got or how much I wanted to.”

This time, I was determined in a way like never before. And so I walked forward one moment, one day, one pound at a time.Lori After Transformation - Fall 2012

You see, losing my excess weight and putting myself first was something that had alluded me my whole life and I knew that to be truly happy I had to do this for me. The difference: I now believed that I could and would do it.

Because I had read just about every self-help book know to mankind, I also knew that I would have to push past my fear to get to the really good stuff. It was fear and a lack of self-love and acceptance that had stopped me in every previous attempt.

Two years of daring greatly = a life unimagined.

Now, two years and -211 pounds later, I realize that indeed what I have been doing every day since the day I embarked on this transformation journey is daring greatly. I love those words “daring greatly.” (Thank you Theodore Roosevelt and Brene Brown! See quote below.)

To me, daring greatly means walking forward toward your big, hairy, audacious goal or dream (the thing you really, really, really want – really!) without the benefit of the light. Taking that leap of faith and grabbing hold despite what feels like unstoppable fear (often disguised in the form of excuses/blame/shame). Pushing past pain, heartache, set backs, people disappointments and all the struggles along the way because you know you can.

It means having the courage to get in the game and go for it even though you know you might fail. Because you might fail. And it means having the the inner strength to allow yourself to be imperfect, to make mistakes, to screw up, to disappoint, and to get right back in there and do it again.

Thanks to Brene Brown, renowned researcher, storyteller, speaker and author of The Gifts of Imperfection and Daring Greatly, I found the language to better understand my internal transformation and articulate it. I will never forget the day that I was on personal retreat in Maine and discovered Brene’s work for the first time via her infamous Ted Talk. I cried as I realized what had happened to me in these past two years – I finally and completely accepted myself exactly as I am. I finally believed/believe that I am enough.

I wrote the blog “One brave thing” on that personal retreat this past June. And I have processed it even more fully now that I have read Brene’s book Daring Greatly. The truth is, for me, daring greatly has opened up a whole new world of health, happiness and possibility that I never dreamed possible when I walked off that resort campus from weight loss boot camp two years ago today. I could not imagine it until I lived it.

What it feels like to dare greatly…

Today, I want others to know what it feels like to know in the deepest part of your gut that you can do absolutely anything you set your mind to. That you can live in the center of the equation of your own life and be better and stronger for both yourself and others. That when you love and except yourself with your whole heart — all of your gifts and imperfections — that is when you are truly happy. You know you will screw up, disappoint, and fail, but it is in those very endeavors that you will learn the most and be changed the most.

My friends, to dare greatly, well…it is the most uplifting, spiritual, life affirming, happy place
imaginable. It is almost indescribable. And when you are there, you will know.
And so will those around you.

The key is to remember that it is a process, not a destination. We never really arrive at the finish line. We continue to learn, grow and dare — sometimes with far more success than others. It is a way of being rather than an end game. It takes daily practice. But the point is, the foundation is there. It is the foundation of happiness. And you can trust it. When you have it, it is solid.

When you are in a place of happiness, your mindset or default mode is to get out there and dare, to try, to live, to be — no matter the consequences. You do this because you know, you are truly enough. You will be okay. In fact, you will be better for it. Even if you fall and your face is “marred by dust and sweat and blood.”

If we are in the arena and not on the sidelines, and we are attempting valiantly, then we are indeed daring greatly. Win or lose, we win. That is the secret. That is what matters. And that’s what Theodore Roosevelt and now Brene Brown have helped me see.

So far more than a weight (fat) loss journey, this has been a two-year journey of true transformation. And the process continues. Only this time in addition to changing my life, I hope to inspire others to dare and grow and transform too.

A grateful heart

And so it is with a very grateful heart that I mark this two-year anniversary and put out into the world what it feels like to live in a world where you know you will dare greatly every day. Of course, in my view no one does this alone. I certainly didn’t.

While I mustered all of the bravery and determination to embark on this journey, and only I could make that decision, I had help seeing the light and a little nudge of inspiration and hope. That came in the form of O’Neal Hampton. And for O’Neal and that incredible gift, I will be forever grateful. Forever changed.

The fat loss program itself for me was critical, and my physical transformation master chief was the one and only Leif Anderson. Leif is one of the most beautiful souls on the planet and he offered me a life-changing gift. He was indeed God’s gift to me at just the right time and in just the right way. Leif was my program director, my nutritionist and fitness master, and my light when I needed it. There are no words to express my gratitude. Only love.

My amazing personal trainers Julie Gronquist and Sandra Swami from Balance for Life Fitness Center were there in the trenches with me every day guiding me in how to move my body and shed the pounds, while helping build my confidence along the way. I continue to work with the incredibly talented Sandra to this day and am amazed by her skill, her personal strength and intuition, and my life is enriched by the gift of her friendship.

Then, there are those amazing colleagues and friends with whom I shared the boot camp experience: Shari, Sue, Carrie, Phil, Leslie and Jim, and all the rest. My incredibly talented therapist Denise who has guided the internal transformation and helped me make sense of it all. My business coach, friend and mentor Anne who was there for me on both the business and the personal side of the equation. I admire her success and groundedness and feel blessed to have her in my life.

To my family, the Marketing that Matters team and my unbelievable close circle of friends — all of you know who you are and to name each of you would only ensure I neglect someone whose presence I truly valued – I love you from the bottom of my heart. I hope that each of you knows how important your love, support and encouragement was along the way. And I trust that I have expressed to each of you in some way my deepest gratitude for all you did to raise me up so I could climb on mountains. There is no greater act of love.

To my extended Fitness North Family and those new friends that I have had the distinct pleasure of meeting and coaching along the way – again each of you knows who you are – you have blessed me with one of the greatest gifts in sharing your hopes and fears, your dreams and your transformation journeys with me. Each of you is daring greatly and finding your way. I can’t wait to celebrate your success. Know that I adore you. I celebrate you. I cheer you.

And finally, to those of you who I do not know personally but who are struggling with your weight, or with putting yourself in the equation of your own life, or achieving that big dream or goal that has alluded you, I thank you for reading this, for coming along on this journey. For you, I have one message: YOU CAN DO THIS! You can and will succeed. I know you can because I did…and I am just like you.

Thank you all from the bottom of my very grateful heart for inspiring me, encouraging me, guiding me, loving me , supporting me and celebrating me. Each of you in your own way has raised me up so I can stand on mountains. And for each and every one of you, I wish you a life of daring greatly. Living from a place where you can learn to embrace ambiguity and uncertainty, risk emotional exposure, and put yourself in the game/in the arena where it really counts.

With the holidays approaching, I feel even more blessed to go into a new year living, loving and leading with my whole heart. I can’t wait to see what happens next!

Love you all,


“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly … who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least failes while daring greatly.”

-Theodore Roosevelt

Lori Before & After

Lori’s Celebration Weekend

One Brave Thing

Lori’s Fitness North Blogs from 2010

Lori’s In the Equation Journey in Photos


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9 Comments Post a comment

    Great writing Lori! Now when are you writing a book about how to do this?!

    December 16, 2012
    • Lori Schaefer #

      Thanks Kathy. Book is on the docket. Just have to find the white space to do it!

      December 16, 2012
  2. Denise #

    What a magnificent post! Much to celebrate in 2 years. And just think of all that is to come with the healthy active life you have embraced with both arms!

    December 16, 2012
    • Lori Schaefer #

      Thank you Denise. Thank you for everything! Your comments mean more than you know.

      December 16, 2012
  3. Jodi #

    Proud of you each and every day. Hope you’re celebrating greatly, too! 🙂

    December 16, 2012
    • Lori Schaefer #

      Jods, you are amazing. I couldn’t have done this without you and I am so grateful for your amazing work, your friendship and support. You rock!

      December 17, 2012
  4. Thanks Lori for yet another poignant and soulful sharing of your journey. It is inspiring and touches me deeply! Happy Holidays Lori!

    December 16, 2012
    • Lori Schaefer #

      Thank you Beth. Wishing you a very fun, happy and healthy holiday! Catch you on the flip side. 🙂

      December 17, 2012

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