Tuesday, January 10, 2017

The Base of My Confidence

I’ve been thinking a lot the last few months about our previous lake season.
There are days/nights that I am ashamed of.

I ask myself, “Why?”

One of the reasons that always comes up is because I see how happy Matt is when I am quote-on-quote happy and let loose.
But what if I’m not happy.

Choosing a bikini and being sociable (introvert probs), He sees “confidence.”
I see the opposite.

I want to have a nice physique for Matt, yes.
But only for Matt (and me).

I want my confidence to be in Christ.
To be modest.
And pure.

I want my confidence to be in being a wife.
Who looks and feels good for her husband to enhance our PRIVATE time together.
Who respects other wives and their marriages/husbands.

I want my confidence to be in being a mom.
Who is setting a good example for her child.
Who is playing, enjoying, and making memories in these oh so precious formative years.

I want my confidence to be in being a health and fitness coach.
Who is consistently modeling a healthy lifestyle through my God-given physical strength and my persistence in overcoming my struggles with food.

So why did I drink an entire summer and make poor decision after poor decision…
It was much more than the in-the-moment goal to have a good time.

It was to feel a sense of confidence.
But I lacked the clarity (and/or flat out ignored the signs) of my hearts desires and true confidence I seek as listed above. 

Here’s to a year of knowing better!
The beginning of a lifetime
of being true to myself.

**These comments are based solely on the author's personal struggles.**

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Larson claims horseshoe title

printed in the Echo Press

The new Minnesota Junior Girls State Horseshoe champion started pitching in the backyard of her Evansville home when she was eight.

"I just started throwing with my dad and grandpa for the fun of it," recalls Kayla Larson, whose father, mother and grandfather all participate in the sport.  "I'd throw from about 20 feet, and slowly built up."

Larson's first tournament appearance came in 1998 at an event in Donnelly.  She averaged a humble five percent ringer average, but knew she was hooked on throwing horseshoes.

"It's a really relaxing sport," she noted, "but, I'm a pretty competitive person, so it can be as competitive as I want to make it.  That's what I like."

At the recent state tournament held in Forest Lake, Larson, who also competes in volleyball, basketball and softball, was a perfect 5-0 in head-to-head competition, with a ringer average of 39.52 percent.

Her highest ringer average thus far has been 50 percent.

Since getting serious about the sport, Larson has competed in three state tournaments, two state doubles tournaments and two world championships, the most recent one held earlier this summer in Hibbing, MN.

She was named Minnesota Rookie of the Year in 1999, and last year was the recipient of a $200 scholarship from the National Horseshoe Pitchers Association for achievements both in the classroom and in the sport.

Although Minnesota has the largest roster of junior pitchers in the nation with 72, Larson understands that many of her peers know little about the sport in which she's found so much success.

"Most of the kids in my school know I pitch horseshoes, but it's not a really popular sport right now.

"There are more kids pitching, but there still aren't a lot," said Larson, who last year conducted a horseshoe clinic for kids in grades 4-6 to encourage more young pitchers.  "It's a great sport with a lot of great people."

According to Larson, one of the presenters at the state tournament explained horseshoes best when he called it a gift that's passed on from one enthusiast to the next.

"It really helps if you have friends or family that play," said Larson.  "I let people know if they're interested, that I'll teach them, because that's how it works.  That's how I got started, watching my family."

Of her most recent – and most prestigious to date – crowning moment, Larson said it was almost unreal.

"I was pitching with the same people I usually pitch with," she recalled.  "When I won, it was just like any other win, until I thought about it.  I was the top girl pitcher in the state!

"That was pretty good," she added.  "Definitely pretty good!"

The Game of My Life

written by Kayla Larson

The pressure was on as soon as I walked into the Forest Lake hockey arena.  The atmosphere in the arena was not a typical hockey arena.  Inside the Plexiglas walls, there were 24 horseshoe courts sectioned off with blue tarp barriers into three pitching areas consisting of 8 courts each.  Each court has a scoreboard and a scorekeeper's chair placed at the center, just out of the pitcher's way.  The arena is filled with laughter, visiting, and constant clanging of horseshoes hitting the stakes.  This is my home every Labor Day weekend.  In 2001, I became the MN Junior Girls State Champion.  Now, in 2002, could I defend my title?

I had to compete against 3 other girls, approximately my same age and same ringer percent.  Since the numbers were down in our class, we used a double round robin format.  We played 6 games to 40 points.  After a couple hours of friendly competition, we awaited the results.  The leader board showed a tie between Colette and I.

Off the court, Colette and I have become good friends throughout the years, but when it comes time to compete, it's all or nothing.  We've competed against each other in local tournaments, past State Tournaments, and two World Tournaments.  For us, the only game that matters is when we match up against each other.  Every time we play each other we hope for our best game, but never as much as we wanted it during this championship deciding game.

After a short break, it was time to start our playoff game.  By this time, everyone else who had been competing on the other courts had finished up their games.  Now, all the spectators had made their way to the bleachers where Colette and I were about to start our game.  The laughter, the visiting, and the clanging of horseshoes hitting the stakes were gone.  An uncomfortable hush filled the arena.

I had never experienced anything like this before.  I was shaking on the inside and probably on the outside, too.  My heart was working overtime as it pounded and pounded inside my chest.  It amazed me that I could even throw the horseshoes my first few throws.  However, everything eventually started to feel normal again.  The crowd slowly faded out of my sight and the only thing I saw was the stake.  I was effortlessly throwing ringer after ringer.  Everything felt so easy and natural.

Finally, I could see my win in sight.  The Girls State Champion was about to be crowned.  I only needed 1 point to win.  I threw two ringers on for 6 points.  The only way I could lose was if Colette covered both of my horseshoes.  She threw her first shoe–missed.  She threw her second shoe–missed!  The crowd exploded with cheers and applause.  I earned my second consecutive State Championship.

Defending my title was very important to me.  The pressure was hard to overcome, but I managed.  You'd have to experience playing in a playoff game to understand how I felt.  It was amazing.  I pitched at the top of my game to defeat Colette and defend my title.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

FITNESS: New Workout Playlist

I've been taking advantage of the feature allowing me to do my workout with "no music" and supplying my own playlist.  Up until yesterday I had just used iHeart Radio and put it on a station titled "Caffeinated Country," but after putting my iTunes on shuffle the other day while working around the kitchen, I was reminded of how many upbeat Christian songs I have in my library that make me want to MOVE.  I decided to put together a playlist "Christian Jams" to use during my workouts.  Tested it out last night for my INSANITY: Max Recovery workout, and LOVED it!  I feel like Christian music almost doubles as personal development for me, which I also happen to LOVE!

Here's a look at the playlist if you're interested in changing things up and finding a new groove for your workout time!

Beautiful Ending by BarlowGirl
Boomin' by TobyMac
Bring 'Em Out by Hawk Nelson
Catchafire (Whoopsi-Daisy) by TobyMac
Dear X (You Don't Own Me) by Disciple
Diverse City by TobyMac
Forgiven by Skillet
I Am Yours (feat. Ben Donnelly) by Brinson
I'm Not Alright by Sanctus Real
It's On by Superchick
Joyful Noise by Flame
Let Us Love by Need to Breathe
Live Life Loud by Hawk Nelson
Lose It All by Rush of Fools
Me Against The World by Superchick
NY2LA by Press Play
Second Chances by Stellar Kart
Something To Believe In by FM Static
Something To Say by Matthew West
Stronger by Mandisa
Temporary Fills by Mandisa
The Slam by TobyMac
Where I Belong by Building 429
Who I Am Hates Who I've Been by Relient K

Throw out some of your favorite workout tunes. All genres welcome!

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

A Champion Player

written by Kayla Larson

Ever since I can remember, my grandpa has played horseshoe.  He loved the sport so much that he put a court in his backyard so he could practice whenever he wanted.  Then, as I got older, my dad eventually started throwing with him.  My dad played as a boy, but took a break until just recently.  I later found out that two of my uncles also played horseshoe in a league in Brooklyn Park.  All of this exposure to horseshoe sparked my interest and got me to where I am today.

I was about 7 or 8 when I threw my first horseshoe.  Juniors are supposed to throw from 30 feet, but my grandpa and dad let me stand about 20 feet away since I didn't quite have the strength to throw it 30 feet yet.  I was so excited that I got to throw horseshoes just like my dad and grandpa.  Just getting in the clay area was an accomplishment at that point.  As I got older and stronger, I started moving back.

In 1998, I played in my first horseshoe tournament.  The tournament was in Donnelly, MN.  I played against my sister and two boys from Ortonville.  I'm not sure what place I got, but I do know that I had a great time and beat my sister 37-6.  The Donnelly Tournament was the only one I pitched in during 1998, but in 1999 I played in 8 tournaments including my first State Tournament.  I entered the State Tournament in Junior Class D with a 12.15 ringer percent and finished in 3rd place.  I also received the 1999 Minnesota Gopher State Horseshoe Pitchers' Association Rookie of the Year award at the Awards Banquet, which was held the same weekend.

This is one of my all-time favorite pictures!
(L-R) My dad, Al Larson, my sister, Kelsey, me, and my grandpa, Don Larson
It was taken after my sister and I pitched in our first tournament at the Donnelly Threshing Bee.
In 2000, I added 10 more tournaments to my name.  This was my first summer playing on a league.  To make a long story short, the duo of my mom and I managed to come from the bottom and capture the Alexandria Horseshoe League Championship.  This was a very big accomplishment in my book.  At the time, it was probably the most momentous event of my life.  Another first for this year was playing in the World Horseshoe Tournament in Bismarck, ND.  I didn't play that well.  I finished 11 of 16.  It was a really great experience, nevertheless.  I played in the State Tournament again this year, too.  I managed to almost double my ringer percent over the year and entered the 2000 MN State Tournament in Junior Girls Class A with a 24.12 ringer percent and finished in 4th place with a 30.93 ringer percent.

In 2001, my mom and I once again paired up as a team in the Alexandria Horseshoe League and once again captured the Alexandria Horseshoe League Championship.  I pitched in 10 more tournaments throughout the state in 2001, too.  I had 2 highlights in 2001.  I got the opportunity to experience another World Horseshoe Tournament.  This year, the tournament was held in Hibbing, MN.  I wasn't able to pull of any magic on the court once again this year, finishing 11 of 16.  However, I did meet my boyfriend of 2 years now at this tournament.  You never know what prize you might get at a horseshoe tournament!  The State Horseshoe Tournament is the site of my favorite highlight though.  I managed to stay in Junior Girls Class A entering with a 28.88 ringer percent.  I went 5-0 to be crowned the 2001 MN Junior Girls State Champion.  When I was 7 or 8 in the backyard, I never would've dreamt of such a prestigious title.

The last two years, 2002 and 2003, have been pretty quiet with the exception of a couple of things.  Once I got my license and started working, it's been harder to find time for horseshoe tournaments on the weekends.  Both years I continued to play on the Alexandria Horseshoe League, but was teamed up with my boyfriend due to Grandpa's stroke, leaving my dad without a partner.  My mom decided to team up with my dad.  My boyfriend and I finished very near the bottom both years, but enjoyed the socializing every Wednesday night.  In 2002, I only made it to 5 different tournaments.  Of course, I had to go to the State Tournament to try to defend my title.  I managed to go 6-1 finishing with a 49.66 ringer percent to repeat as the Junior Girls State Champion.  I even managed to 3-peat in 2003 at the State Tournament finishing with a 49.64 ringer percent.  Unfortunately, there will not be a 4-peat because this was my last year as a junior and will now have to move up to the Women's Division.  At the 2003 Awards Banquet, I was inducted into the Minnesota Gopher State Horseshoe Pitchers Association Junior Honor Roll Hall of Fame, to out with a bang.

The MGSHPA had a fantastic Junior Director and got the information to my parents and I about a scholarship opportunity available to junior horseshoe pitchers who participate in a sanctioned league.  It is on my bucket list to fill a position that will enable me to motivate and encourage youth to participate in the sport of horseshoes competitively on the national level. 

PHOTO CAPTION: Kayla Larson of Evansville recently was given an award from the National Horseshoe Pitchers Association of America.  She was named a Sanctioned Club Scholar Pitcher for 1999-2000.  The award reads: "Having shown proficiency in the sport of Horseshoe Pitching while still maintaining the highest standard of scholastic ability.  This Award is Presented with Proud Recognition by the NHPA to this Junior Member for achievements in our sport and the classroom."

I am looking forward to many more accomplishments and awards in the Women's Division.  After such a successful junior career, it will be hard to match my previous accomplishments, but I'm up for the challenge!  Who knew that a backyard game could be so fun, yet competitive?

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Horseshoes can bring families together

By Jerry LaBrosse
Published in the January-February 2002 edition of the MGSHPA Ringer Digest

As we start out the 2002 horseshoe season, we should reflect on the events of 2001.  Life has changed in America, and people have been drawn closer together in many ways.  Things that are important have come into focus, things like family and friends and people in need.

Your involvement in horseshoes can be a great way to build those things in your life.  I look at families in our organization like the Larsons, Froehlichs, Sandquists, Meads, Albrechts and the list goes on.

These families enjoy horseshoe, traveling to tournaments together and supporting each other.  Horseshoe is the glue that holds some of these families together, and it's really nice to see that.  Ask yourself how many friends you have that came from the horseshoe world.  I know I have many friends that I would have never met had it not been for the game.

Jerry LaBrosse and me in 2004 at my high school awards night.
He was the MGSHPA President at the time.

Jerry and me in 2016 at the State Horseshoe Banquet in Pierz, MN.
Always fun to return home to all the familiar faces of my MN horseshoe family!
Each year you see these friends and also make new ones, and that's what it's all about.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016


I'm excited to be hosting a challenge group to give you – my friends and family – a chance to earn a share of the $1-$3 million pot from Beachbody just for sharing your workouts 3x a week and drinking Shakeology 5x a week!

This is a really cool chance to be rewarded for your consistency. And consistency over time is when you feel the best and get results.

"What you do EVERY DAY
matters more than what you do
EVERY ONCE in awhile."

See official rules: http://bit.ly/2b6JSGU

Here's how:

1) Chat with me about your goals for this fall...weight loss? 5k? Gain strength? Find a way to love fitness for yourself?

2) Participate in my fitness online studio with a program that meets your goals, be coached by myself and my team, and be held accountable to others like yourself to workouts and clean eating 5 days a week for 5 weeks minimum. (Sept 5-Oct. 2)
**You'll want to allow 5-7 days for your Shakeology to ship after ordering, and you'll need it starting September 5th to qualify!**

3) Log your workouts and Shakeology in the My Challenge Tracker app.

4) Complete steps 1-3 and WIN your share of the pot with others who do the same.

I'm looking forward to seeing who's willing to take this bet and sweat with me in September!

What do you have to lose?!?