Friday, December 18, 2009

Successful Trek Up and Down Kili

Just wanted to let you know I made it up to Hans Meyer Cave on Kilimanjaro -- and back down safely. I will leave Africa tonight. It was a successful hike, having raised more than $5,000 for AIDS orphans....

Saturday, December 12, 2009

12/13/09: A Year in the Making

I started to get nervous -- really nervous -- about the challenge ahead of me. Five and a half days up, one and a half days down Mount Kilimanjaro. While there is a greater cause at hand -- Global Alliance for Africa's AIDS orphans programs -- it is still going to be crazy hard.

Then I started to think about how every moment of this year -- all the other 11 Save the World Diet challenges have prepared me for this moment.
-- January: The Midnight Run For UNICEF, which was held on a night with 40-mile-an-hour wind gusts prepared me to brave the elements.
-- February: The Penguin Plunge for Special Olympics Vermont taught me to be a little crazy, and how to survive when cold and wet.
-- March: Walk MS taught me courage as I participated in honor of my friend Marilyn's brave journey back after a massive MS episode.
-- April: The Revolution Run for the National Parks Foundation allowed me to appreciate and honor nature at Valley Forge, Pa.
-- May: The Flying Pig Marathon, which benefited dozens of charity, taught me to put one foot in front of the other no matter what.
-- June: The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's Shenandoah hike, which I hiked in honor of a friend who had Hodgkin's Lymphoma, taught me humility as I took a tumble off the trail, and had to pull myself back up to hike with the group.
-- July: The Mount Trashmore YMCA 5K, taught me that I have a terrific family behind me. My daughter participated in her first Tot Trot.
-- August: The 5K Beach Challenge Austism Speaks taught me that sometimes it is good to get out and relax.
-- September: The American Heart Association's Start Heart Walk reminded me it is never too late to get going in the direction of good health.
-- October: The Tour De Pink showed me the strength of survival as I rode alongside young breast cancer survivors.
-- November: The Goodwill Rescue Mission 5K taught me to share with my neighbors.
And so now, on Dec. 13, I am indeed ready for the challenge ahead of me. It has been a year in the making.

Please make a donation on behalf of my effort at:
Thank you!

12.12.09: Almost there

I started out this year saying I would take on a physical event for charity each month of 2009. I have done 11 challenges so far.

Tomorrow I start #12 -- the Kilimanjaro hike for Global Alliance for Africa's AIDS orphans programs.

In a way, I have already had a successful climb. I have raised funds more than $5,000 to date and awareness for the issue of AIDS orphans. I have shared the needs of these 18 million kids who need fresh water, a chance.

So Twende! (Swahili for "Let's Go!)

Saturday, November 21, 2009

11.21.09: Slowly, Slowly

Weight loss is kind of like hiking up a mountain. It is hard, slow-going but if you keep moving forward eventually you'll get there.

In fact, when I am hiking up Kilimanjaro, Africa's highest peak, to benefit AIDS orphans, the slower, the better.

It is a wedding march pace to the 19,343 foot peak and if you start to break stride, the guides will tell you, "Pole, Pole." Swahili for "Slowly, Slowly." That is because the air is so thin that you have hike slow, to let your body adjust to the altitude.

I have been swallowing a lot of self doubt this week, wishing I had lost more weight this year to prepare for my Kilimanjaro trip. (If only I had cut out those cookies!)

But then I realized, I just have to keep moving forward, and stay focused on the bigger picture. I had a great training hike up Mount Tammany at the Delaware Water Gap with my family. I really do feel stronger with each step.

Slowly, slowly and eventually I will get there.

Please help me support AIDS orphans. My goal is to raise $10K for Global Alliance for Africa's AIDS orphans programs by World AIDS Day:
(We are about 1/3 there -- checks and pledges don't show up on the website)
Thank you!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

11.18.09: Labor Of Love

When I hiked up Kilimanjaro in 2007, a fellow climber had said to me that climbing the mountain is like childbirth. You don't remember how painful it is until you are actually doing the hike a second, or third time.

Two climbers, who had reached the summit during their first climb, didn't make it up the second or the third time.

Then there is the altitude. You could be in terrific shape but succumb to altitude sickness, even it didn't cause a whiff of trouble the first time around.

Unlike my other Save the World Diet challenges, there will be no sweep bus, no sag wagon to pick me up if I can't make it to the top. It is just me and my feet.

So I am pushing hard -- in this labor of love -- training as much as possible to make it up the mountain a second time for kids who need help.

Please help me raise $10K for AIDS orphans by World AIDS Day (Dec. 1)

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

11.10.09: Kenyan Tea Time

Each morning I drink a cup of Kenyan tea.

I fell in love with this tea two years ago on Mount Kilimanjaro. It was the way we started our day, sipping it while still snug in our sleeping bags. It was a way to wake up for the work ahead.

I drink the tea each morning, thinking about the trek to come -- which is now less than two months away. The tea helps me put my mind back on the mountain.

When facing a task so awesome, it is important to have gentle, positive mental reminders that make you think of success. What little things can you add to your routine to help you on the road to achieving great things?

Speaking of great things. Please help me raise $10K for AIDS orphans in Africa by World AIDS Day (Dec. 1) Every donation makes great change:

Sunday, November 8, 2009

11.08.09: How Hiking As a Family Makes You Stronger

I have done some of my training hikes with my family -- such as the awesome Halloween hike at Jockey Hollow and today's two-hour trek at Pyramid Mountain.

I love taking my daughter outdoors -- she loves finding leaves and naming all that she sees: tree, leaves, rock, plane (OK, so this is hiking in New Jersey). Today she got to see a real live bear, and fortunately he was a kind bruin and let us live to tell about it.

Sometimes our daughter likes to walk, jumping off little rocks and logs on the trail, crunching her feet down in the leaves. Most of the time, we carry her in a hiking backpack. Hiking with a child on your back makes the going a bit slower -- but there is some added weight resistance in there. You have to work harder for every step. Fortunately, I get to share the load with my husband.

Whenever I gave him the backpack, I would marvel at how much faster I could move, and how much more comfortable I was without 30 extra pounds on my back. Oh yeah, that is exactly the point. The more I exercise, the more weight I will lose, and the better I will feel.

Only eight more weeks until it is time to trek up Kilimanjaro, here is how you can help:

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

11.03.09: Exercise Your Right To Vote

In a few minutes I am heading out on a hill walk to do a little Kilimanjaro training, and will end it with one of the best exercises of all: voting.

Election Day is always a busy (and late) day for a newspaper reporter like me but it is important for me to both get my exercise, and to cast my own vote.

So get out there, get moving and having your say in your community. Vote!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

11.01.09: Tune In For Inspiration

While I was at the gym this morning, I looked up from my treadmill panel to find live coverage of the ING New York Marathon. It was two hours into the race and a pack of women were well on their way to the finish line.

I found myself punching up the speed on my own treadmill, working a little harder. If they can do 26.2 miles, the least I can do is sweat in their honor.

I admit I workout harder after watching the Biggest Loser. My grandest athletic aspirations are set when the Olympics are on. Who can come away from an episode of Ruby and not want to follow her path of good health?

Tune in to inspiration where ever you can find it.

Monday, October 19, 2009

10.19.09: Enjoying Exercise

As I was making my way up Oak Ridge Road, a man doing yard work said to me, "It's a long hill, isn't it?"

"The longer, the better," I said, after walking a few blocks of up. "I am training to go up Kilimanjaro in a few months.

He pointed to another hill just around the corner. "That one over there is terrible."

I looked down what felt like a ski jump and said, "It looks like a good workout."

As I walked away it occurred to me that my perspective has changed dramatically over the last several months. I am not just enduring exercise, I am enjoying it.

Instead of just slogging through a workout, I enjoy the crunch of leaves under my shoe while out on a walk. I actually want the treadmill to go a little faster, because I can go a little faster. Tomorrow I will head out on a hike -- and I can't wait to get out there in the woods.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

10.10.09: Nothing But Stairs

Now that I have the Tour De Pink under my belt, it's time to focus on my final Save the World Diet Challenge: A Kilimanjaro climb to benefit Global Alliance for Africa's AIDS orphans programs.

I have done it before, so I know that the next three months are going to be hard and heavy with trainings. Everything I do from this moment will affect my trek up the mountain. So if it's a choice of an elevator or stairs, I better choose the stairs. My diet is getting more streamlined because every extra pound on my body is a pound I have to carry to 19,343 feet. I've even started to ween myself from coffee.

But it's all worth it. I am doing this for kids in Africa left behind by the AIDS crisis. Who am I to back down when they need fresh water, an education, a chance.

So the coming months will be hard -- juggling my schedule with fundraisers and training, and eventually my trek up the mountain -- but it is so worth it.

Come hike with me:

Fundraising Halloween Hike, 10 a.m. 10/31 Jockey Hollow, (Harding, NJ)

Support my climb:

Sunday, October 4, 2009

10.04.09: Small Favors on a Big Ride

I parked my bicycle next to another one this morning on the train. I wasn't sure if it would stay up on the ride from Metro Park to Trenton, but it was the only way I could figure how to get down to the Tour De Pink, a charity ride for young breast cancer survivors.

Then a guy said, do you have a bungee cord for that? I turned around to see the owner of the other bike, as he pulled a spare cord from his small bag containing many bike things.

I said no, and explained that I was rather new to this bicycle thing, and was feeling ill-prepared and ill-equiped. In fact, until I was on the train that morning I wasn't quite sure I was going. But I told the guy, who later introduced himself as Steve, that I was heading to a charity ride for young breast cancer survivors and that I had to go.

He looked down and said, "My mother had breast cancer." His voice trailed off at the end.

He fastened my bike to his, and told me to keep the cord as he exited in New Brunswick.

These small random acts of kindness kept me going during what was a great day for cycling. Whether it was people on the SAG bus filling up a water bottle for me, or a fellow rider pushing me up a hill. Throughout the day women -- especially those from the Giant For Women team -- gave me tips to keep going en route from Trenton to Bridgewater.

The Tour De Pink was a challenge, but a terrific experience. My heartfelt thanks to all those who helped me along the way for such a great cause.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

09.23.09: The Power Underfoot

The idea behind my Save the World Diet is we have the power to change the world with our own bodies. Our bodies are not just clothing hangers, but vehicles to do our life's work. Every step we take can be an action step.

This weekend I will be taking my own action steps -- as I participate in and speak at the American Heart Association's Start! Heart Walk in Bridgewater, N.J. The Start! walks-- more than 400 nationwide -- are held all over the country are about encouraging people to become up and active.

Walking has the lowest dropout rate of any physical activity and has multiple health benefits. It is also a very Green way to get from point A to point B.

For me, walking has been an empowering activity. It has taken me to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa's highest peak, for AIDS orphans, and to the finish line of my first marathon, which I walked in May on behalf of the American Heart Association and other charities.

So join me 10 a.m. Sunday at Duke Island Park in Bridgewater at the Start! Walk. If you are just starting an exercise routine, or if you are well on the path to great health -- we all have the power to change the world underfoot.

Please Click below to join my team or to support the American Heart Association on behalf of my walk:

Thank you!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

9.22.09: Hard Rides to Make Life Easier for Young Breast Cancer Survivors

As I took a quick 8-mile bicycle ride through a neighboring town, I came to a stop right in front of a crossing guard. He had a bright orange vest, and gave me a "What are you doing on a bicycle look.

All he came out with was, "Looks like that's hard on your back."
"It's hard on a lot of things," I said, trying to get my balance after pushing off the curb. "But it is good for you in the long run."

And good for lots of people. I am training for day three of the Hershey's Tour de Pink, a ride to benefit the Young Survival Coalition. This organization helps young women affected by breast cancer.

I have to admit, it has taken me some time to get out on the road. I love indoor cycling classes, and while those who ride on the road say being on a bicycle is easier, it was difficult for me to get out there because of fear.

Being on a bicycle feels very exposed. I hike in the woods. I walk on the sidewalk. On a bicycle you hope those driving motor vehicles decide to share the road with you.

Being visible isn't my issue. When I ordered my bicycle shorts, I thought they should have read "Wide Load" with yellow striping on the back.

With each ride I gain a little more confidence and comfort on the bicycle. So, even if it is a little hard on me, hopefully it will make the lives of young women affected by breast cancer a little easier.

Here is the link to my YSC fundraising page:

I want to give a special thank you to Rick at Verve in Somerville, host of a terrific fund raiser for Young Survival Coalition. We had great food and pink drinks -- and a great time.

Upcoming Events:
Join me at the Start! Heart Walk 10 a.m. Sept. 27 at Duke Island Park, Bridgewater. Click to sign up for my Action Steps Team.

World Obesity Congress, Speaker, Oct. 1

Sunday, September 6, 2009

9.06.09: Walk With Me!

I wanted to invite you to join my Action Steps team at the Start! Heart Walk 10 Sept. 27 at Duke Island Park in Bridgewater, N.J. I am a team captain for the event which benefits the American Heart Association and I would love to have your support, either as a fellow walker or as a sponsor.

Here's the link to sign up for or make a donation to the Save the World Diet's Action Steps team:

Sunday, August 16, 2009

8.16.09: Running/Walking on the Ocean for Autism

My August Challenge was a day at the Beach, the 5K Beach Challenge for Autism Speaks, which was held Aug. 15 in Ocean City, N.J.

This was an extremely personal cause for me. I spent three years as a nanny for a boy named Joe with Autism. Joe was a mystery -- able to do math that would make my head spin, a genius when it came to Star Trek trivia but had trouble with some of the most simple social interactions like when to shake someone's hand. Attending festivals, which were too loud and overstimulating, or shopping at a mall were enough for a meltdown. At the core, he is sweet and good even if he is often misunderstood.

Autism Speaks ( is committed to raising public awareness about autism and its effects on individuals, families, and society, and to giving hope to all who deal with the hardships. The organization hopes to raise $30 million for autism research and programs this year, a spokeswoman at the event said.

It is a growing issue. One in 150 children are diagnosed with Autism nation wide. In my home state, New Jersey, the Autism rate is especially high: 1 in 94.

Katie Kohler plans the beach run/walk event around low tide, which leaves a sturdy hard-packed sand for the runners. The added bonus is the ocean's gallery of seashells, crabs and other sea-things left behind by the waves.

Kohler's sister is a special education teacher. Her friend has an Autistic child. Mostly, Kohler -- a marathoner -- plans the event each year to give back to the community. This was the third event, and attendance has more than tripled to 360 participants since she started it.

I went alone, but ended up walking with a woman named Carolyn, who also struggles with her weight. She has a grandson with Autism. She walked for him. I walked for Joe.

Monday, July 27, 2009

What is the Weight of the Nation?

What is the Weight of the Nation?

With the average American carrying 23 extra pounds, collectively that is 4.6 billion extra pounds, according to Thomas Frieden, the CDC's director who has been on the job for about six weeks.

Frieden has been at the helm of the Weight of the Nation conference, which has drawn about 1,000 leaders in the health and wellness community to talk about the issue of obesity.

Monday's Keynote speaker was former President Bill Clinton. The CDC honored Clinton with a Pioneering Innovation Award for his work with Alliance for a Healthier Generation. Clinton said, for him, childhood obesity is an obsession.

"This is a social issue, we are trying to turn the Titanic before it hits the iceberg. It is very much worth the effort," Clinton said.

When it comes to policy arguments, Clinton said most people get caught up in the how are you going to do something and much is this going to cost questions. The most important question, he said, is, "How do you propose to turn good intentions into positive changes?"

The CDC also honored Sen. Tom Harkin, who has been instrumental in initiatives such as the FDA's fresh fruits and vegetables program. Harkin talked about the importance for us to recreate society as a genuine wellness community.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Presidential Surprise At Weight of the Nation

I popped open the agenda to the CDC's Weight of the Nation Conference and got a great surprise. Tomorrow's Keynote Speaker: President Bill Clinton.

I have long wanted to meet President Clinton. I feel my Save the World Diet initiative, encouraging people to take on physical events (from 5Ks to mountain climbs) for charity as fitness and weight loss goals, is in line with his work. Of course, President Clinton's healthy lifestyle changes made news after his heart episode. Plus he penned a terrific book, "Giving" about how we can all make a difference.

I should mention that President Clinton has been at this venue, the Omni Shoreham Hotel, before. There is a placard in the hotel's lobby with a photo of him delighting guests at his 2003 Inaugural Ball here when he broke out the saxophone for an impromptu performance.

So, saxophone or not, I hope to have the opportunity to at least shake his hand. In fact, at the conference, which actually continues until Wednesday, I look forward to meeting so many people committed to the cause of curbing the obesity epidemic.

I'm just here Monday and hope to have a chance to meet you! By way of introducing myself, I thought I would include this little write-up about me from a recent news story...

So far in 2009, Kara Richardson Whitely has run in Central Park at midnight for UNICEF, jumped in icy Lake Champlain , Vt. for Special Olympics, walked amid monkeys and alligators for the MS Society, walked/jogged where Washington slept for National Parks and walked the Flying Pig Marathon course to benefit the American Heart Association.

She is taking on a physical event for charity each month of the year -- an initiative she calls the Save the World Diet.

This Save the World Diet movement -- of taking action steps toward better health and a better world -- was inspired by her 2007 trek up Mount Kilimanjaro . The journey to Africa's highest peak was not only a celebration of her 120-pound weight loss, it was a fundraiser for Global Alliance for Africa 's AIDS orphans programs. She couldn't justify not getting out of bed to train when a child needed fresh water, an education, a chance.

After the birth of her daughter a year later, she was left with about 50 pounds of baby weight to lose all over again. She remembered how motivating it was to be working for a cause as well as a fitness goal. She signed up for an event each month of 2009, knowing that it would allow her to go from feeling helpless about her weight and the problems in the world to feeling empowered and strong.

So far this year, she's down several pounds, feeling great and has raised thousands of dollars for charities.

By the year's end her treks up mountains and down the scale will help AIDS orphans and those with Leukemia & Lymphoma. She will also run on the beach for Autism research, dance for food at a Cancan for Hunger, and bicycle 220 miles from Hershey, Pa. (away from all of that chocolate) to New York City for young Breast Cancer survivors. The year will end with another Kilimanjaro climb for AIDS orphans.

Kara is the founder of, a website to inform and inspire others on their weight loss journey, and a contributor on She is an American Heart Association spokeswoman, sharing her story to inspire others make healthy life changes, and a finalist in the American Heart Association's Go Red for Women Casting Call competition.

That's all for now, tomorrow starts with morning exercise at 6:30 a.m.!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Fat Woman Goes to Washington

There is a giant disconnect in the obesity epidemic conversation. Often when I attend conferences and seminars about obesity, I am surrounded by skinny people. It seems folks who struggle with obesity don't come into the conversation until it's about about weight loss or dieting.

We as a nation are spending billions on weight loss products, programs and supplements, and yet we're getting fatter and fatter. My mission in life is to help bridge the gap between intention and action on this issue.

So I am heading to the CDC's Inaugural Conference on Obesity Prevention and Control next week. The event, called Weight of the Nation, is designed to highlight policy and environmental strategies in communities, medical care, schools, and workplaces.

While I am not a speaker at the event itself, I hope to be able to share my story with those heavily involved in the obesity epidemic. I want to talk about my Save the World Diet mission, and 120-pound weight loss journey so that somehow we can help get the country moving in the right direction when it comes to weight.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

July's Save the World Diet Challenge: Running the Family

The July Save The World Diet Challenge was all about family so my husband and I packed up the car and headed to the beach -- Virginia Beach.

We were heading to the Mount Trashmore YMCA's July 4 event to support their We Build People Campaign. Each one of us got to participate somehow. I was signed up to jog/walk the 5K. My husband took a run during the one-mile event. My daughter -- now 17 months old -- was going to do the Tot Trot.

YMCAs are collectively the nation’s largest providers of health and well-being programs, according to If you didn't already know, the YMCA serves people, regardless of their ability to pay.

I selected the Mount Trashmore YMCA event in Virginia Beach because my friend Bridget works there. In fact, she works non-stop for this awesome organization that does so much for its surrounding community.

I am a YMCA member in my hometown. To me, the place is a godsend. It's an affordable facility with free childcare while I workout. Having a break to be healthy makes me a better parent.
They have family events, and swim time. This summer our YMCA is helping me step up my weight loss routine with an outdoor boot camp and other benefits such as personal training and nutritional counseling. These are just a part of the YMCA's mission, and work.

But back to the race -- I had a great run/walk in the hot Virginia sun (even at 8 a.m.!). I didn't finish last, which was a big victory. Chris had a good run. Then we all went to the starting line of the Tot Trot for our daughter's first race. There were a few stumbles, and a few times when she had to be redirected toward the finish line. But she finished, and clapped as we all yelled, "Yeah!"

(She finished last, but with no other kids under two years old, I suppose she won her age division.)

Like all the other runners, she received a Tot Trot ribbon, a red fabric badge that she watched flap in the breeze, as she proudly held onto its string. She seemed to know that ribbon meant achieving something great.

For me, this event was so special because it symbolized our committment to staying active as a family. We know doing so is fun, and it builds community and character. I'm so happy that the the nation's 2,686 YMCAs are there for so many other individuals and families.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

07.05.09: Catch Up With Ruby

Since Ruby's docu-series first aired last year on The Style Network, thousands of people have contacted her, telling her her journey has given them the courage to get started on a path to better health.

So, to celebrate her second season (which debuts 8 pm. tonight -- Sunday, July 5-- on The Style Network) she hosted walks in cities across the country including New York, Philadelphia and Savannah. (The Los Angeles event is July 11).

I caught up with Ruby during the New York Walk With Ruby on June 26.

As the walk began, it was clear Ruby has stepped up her workouts from her first few days huffing and puffing on the treadmill. One of her trainers, Drew Edmonds, led a cardio workout mid-way through the walk. And then, Ruby, who began her television series at about 500 pounds, was off to lead the pack again.

It was clear what an impact she had made as she walked and talked with her followers in the not-quite-a-mile circle around the South Street Seaport piers in lower Manhattan.

Thomas DaCunha and Yoandi Interian of Wethersfield, Conn., left their homes at 3 a.m. that day to make sure they first in line to get the dozens of hugs and kisses Ruby gave her fans.

"She is just so amazing," DaCunha said. The two gave her a "R" they had decorated themselves to cheer Ruby on her journey, and to thank her for the inspiration she gave them.

Ruby has had her own setbacks, even 100 pounds into her journey, as viewers will see in tonight's season premiere. Her father dies unexpectedly. Meanwhile, her exboyfriend Denny returns to the picture, trying to woo Ruby ad her friends with Rascal Flatts tickets. (Ruby is friends with Rascal Flatts band member Jay DeMarcus).

You can catch up with Ruby too. The second season of Ruby debuts 8 p.m. tonight (Sunday) on The Style Network.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Donate To A Great Cause, Get A Chance to Win Inpiring Items from Biggest Loser Trainer & Weight Loss Star Ruby

I had the most amazing day Saturday. I spent the morning walking and talking with Weight Loss Reality Star Ruby at the South Street Seaport in NYC and then drove down to Atlantic City to meet Biggest Loser Trainer Bob Harper.

I came away from the day totally inspired. The great news for you is I also came away with some terrific things from Bob and Ruby to raffle off in this final week of fundraising for my Leukemia & Lymphoma Society Shenandoah Hike! See below for details!

For a donation of $50 to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society at, you will be entered to win an autographed copy of Bob Harper's "Are You Ready?" Bob sends his good wishes to you with a message, "To your health... XO, Bob Harper."

For a $25 donation at, you will be entered to win an inspirational hand-written note from Weight Loss Reality Star Ruby, plus a Style pedometer. Put this amazing message on your refridgerator, on your mirror, or wherever it will give you a boost in your own weight loss journey. Ruby has lost more than 100 pounds and the second season of her show on Style begins again on July 5.

Each month of 2009, I am taking on a physical event for charity. I call it the Save the World Diet.The Leukemia & Lymphoma Socety's Shenandoah Hike was my June Challenge, and I hiked in honor of my friend who was diagnosed last year with Hodgkin's Lymphoma.
You can make a difference right now, and have a chance to win some awesome, inspiring prizes, by making a donation at:
Donations are tax deductible. The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society Team in Training fundraising pages are secure websites.
The rules of the contest are:
-- Those who make $25 donations are entered in the contest to win the Ruby note and pedometer.
-- Those who make $50 donations are entered in the contest to win for signed Bob Harper book.
-- You may make multiple donations to increase your chance of winning.
-- Donations must be made online at: and must be done so by midnight Friday, July 3.

-- The names of the winners will be picked at random from the list of online donors.
-- The winners will be posted on the LL&S Fundraising Website and on this Blog July 5. Winners will also be contacted that day
Good luck and thanks, as always, for your support!

Monday, June 8, 2009

06.08.09: Giving Blood Cancers the Boot for My Birthday


Every time my birthday comes around, I find some time to hike. It's a tradition I started when turned 31, after I lost about 100 pounds and returned to and conquered Camel's Hump, a Vermont mountain that had left me winded and ashamed years before. Hiking is my way of celebrating life.

This year as I was about to turn 35, I took on a very special outdoors challenge: The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's Shenandoah Hike. I chose this event in honor of my friend Jen's battle with Hodgkin's Lymphoma.

An estimated 138,530 people in the United States were diagnosed with leukemia, lymphoma or myeloma in 2008. Jen, who has a son just about the same age as my daughter (16 months old now!), learned she was sick when she felt a lump in her neck on Halloween 2008.

Jen's body is doing the healing. I did the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's fund raising Shenandoah hike. You can make a difference right now in the battle against blood cancers by making a donation the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society:

A $500 donation could provide treatment to a patient. A $100 donation could mean transportation to treatments for someone without a ride. A $75 donation could provide bone marrow testing. A $50 donation could give provide resources and information to someon who just got a devastating diagnosis. Every dollar of your tax-deductible donation makes a difference.

So please help me celebrate life and give Blood Cancer the boot by making a donation on behalf of my effort. The easiest way to do so is online at,

Thank you, as always, for your support. I wish you good health and happiness in the year ahead.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

5.21.09: Vigil for Laura Ling & Euna Lee

You can be active while you are still.

This year has been about doing physical challenges for charity -- a movement for movement -- but today, I attended a vigil praying for the safe return of two female journalists being held captive in North Korea. They are Laura Ling and Euna Lee.

As a fellow journalist, I can't help but be touched by their story. My biggest risk on the job is getting heckled at a Borough Council meeting. These women were facing greater risk than I have ever known near the border of North Korea, were captured and have been detained for 10 weeks. 10 weeks. I can't even imagine what that must be for them, for their families.

So with the NBC studios behind us, we stood and hoped. We talked to each other about how we were connected to the cause, as five other groups did in vigils across the country for Laura and Euna. Laura's cousin Angie read a letter from Laura, received May 15. Tourists bustled around us, snapping photos of where the Today Show broadcasts, but our group of 20 or so was still and hoped. I stood and felt the wind rustling my skirt, the wax from my candle dripping on my finger, and glad to take a moment to hope for their safe return.

You can be active and be still.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

05.20.09: Glowing With Inspiration & Information -- Go Red!

(Me, Joetta Clark Diggs and Mary Tricario at the Garden State Go Red for Women Luncheon.
Photo Courtesy of the Courier News)

I am still glowing with information and inspiration from Monday's Garden State Go Red for Women Luncheon. If you've never been to one of these events, which serve as a fundraiser for the American Heart Association's campaign to empower women about their own health, go -- and bring every woman you know.

I was there as a speaker, to talk about the lifestyle changes I have made and how they led me to the peak of Mount Kilimanjaro and across the finish line of my first marathon, which I did to benefit the American Heart Association. I had the honor of introducing Olympian Joetta Clark Diggs, a true inspiration who is actively inspiring women across the globe through her Joetta Clark Diggs foundation. NBC Chief Medical Editor Nancy Snyderman was a knock-your-socks-off-incredible keynote during the luncheon at The Palace in the Somerset section of Franklin.

The event raised more than $200,000 for the cause, but more importantly left hundreds of women on the path to great heart health.

So my heartfelt thanks to the American Heart Association, especially to Courtney and June, for putting on such an amazing event. Can't wait for next year -- hope to see you all there in Red too!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

05.18.09: Going Red For Women!

Today (5/18), I will introduce Joetta Clark Diggs at the Go Red for Women Luncheon! I am so honored to be part of such an amazing event, to be surrounded by such amazing women.

In addition to Joetta, NBC News Chief Medical Editor Dr. Nancy L. Snyderman will be there to give the keynote address. It's all about taking care of ourselves, as women. Afterall, heart disease is the number one killer of women.

I'll take lots of photos and will post more later. In the meantime, remember to Love Your Heart!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

05.05.09: Finishing With Heart

I walked the Flying Pig Marathon in about 8 hours (after 2.5 hours sleep) Sunday... my results don't show up on the website because they officially close the course in 7 hours, but I was beyond grateful that they kept the Finish Swine open for me, the last participant on the course. It was such an awesome moment to have a guy there waiting for me with a medal!

I walked the event, which happens to be a giant fundraiser itself for dozens of charities, on behalf of the American Heart Association. The American Heart Association encourages people to love their heart. I have to tell you, I absolutely love my heart for keeping up with me on the course. I didn't give it the heart-pounding workout that some of the participants of the race had, but it kept me moving, even when I felt I couldn't move any more!

I get a few days to relax, but I have to finish training for my June challenge, Shanandoah Hike for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, and more to come this year.

To contribute to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society on behalf of my upcoming hike (and please do), go to: I am hiking on behalf of my friend's brave battle against Hodgkin's Lymphoma.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

04.30.09: Coming in Last

When it comes to the Flying Pig Marathon, my May Save the World Diet challenge, I hope to come in last.

My husband is running the race, which is Sunday, May 3. He hopes to finish in four hours. My aim is to finish walking the 26.2-mile course in the seven hours that it will be open. Sure, you can finish later than that, sticking to the sidewalks with a map at your side, but I want to cross the finish when there are still spectators to cheer me on in those last few steps of the race. I want someone there to drape a pig medal around my neck the moment I cross the finish line.

To finish a marathon in 7 hours means keeping up a 16-minute-mile pace, which is quite a clip. Actually, I trained at a 15-mile pace, but we'll see how fast I'm going at mile 20 or so. To train while being a full-time journalist, a full-time mom and running a blog, meant getting in workouts here and there. I often broke them up into two-hour stints, but the miles added up. The most I did in one day was 20 miles. I'm hoping toting a nearly 30-pound baby all around counted as training too.

I'm walking this event on behalf of the American Heart Association, a way to recognize the strongest muscle in my body -- my heart. The aim on race day is to finish, to just keep going and going, no matter how tired I get and push myself to the finish line, no matter how far back in line I am.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

03.12.09: Crumbs on the Floor Mean So Much More.

I used to lament about how many times, as a new mom, I would have to sweep my floor. Cheerios seem to multiply. And after just about every meal, it feels like there is another one on the floor in crumbs!

I realized just last week that I should be grateful and feel blessed that we have so much, especially in these tough economic times. There isn't an urgency to dive after the food on the tile. I thought about the poverty I've seen around the world in places like India, Brazil and Thailand, and thought how the amount that gets tossed could probably sustain another life.

There was a terrific show on Oprah a week or so back about Simplicity -- and how we can strive to live better with less. A moment that struck a chord with me was a woman who was tossing pounds and pounds of food from her fridge each week. I have been known to Costco overload myself, which is not good for me -- or my budget.

While we try not to waste (which is difficult when your 13-month-old plays the "Uh-oh" game, flinging whatever is in her hand and looking down at it with dismay and a cute little, "Uh-oh"), the crumbs on the floor mean we have enough, we are blessed and we make good use of the broom.

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Sunday, March 8, 2009

3.08.09: Getting the Word Out

This weekend, readers of the Tampa Tribune got a glimpse of what I'm up to these days. The newspaper featured my story to preview walkMS, an event I'm doing in honor of my friend and colleague, Marilyn Dillon. The walk falls on the two year anniversary of a massive MS episode that had us worried that we would lose her. She has had a courageous and inspiring journey back to her feet.

Earlier in the week, I was featured on Marguerite Dunne's radio show on WTBQ, a radio station serving the Hudson Valley. Marguerite heard my story heard about my Save the World Diet initiative at a MediaBistro workshop and wanted to share it with her Urban Herbalist listeners.

So, I'm getting the word out about the Save the World Diet, and I'm hoping to pass on some inspiration along the way. Stay tuned!

By the way, if you're interested in joining me on my next trek up Kilimanjaro to benefit AIDS orphans, I am going again in late December. I'll have an information session about it at 1 p.m. Sunday, April 5 at the Summit Friends (Quaker) Meeting House, 158 Southern Blvd., Chatham. Global Alliance for Africa's executive director, Tom Derdak, will be there to talk about his organization's AIDS orphans programs. I will talk about my Save the World Diet initiative. Kenyan tea and snacks will be served. The event is free, through please RSVP by sending an email to

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Thursday, February 19, 2009

02.19.09: The World At My Feet

The World At My Feet.
As I train to run/walk the Flying Pig Marathon – my May challenge for the American Heart Association – I have to cover a lot of ground.

So far I’m up to 11 miles on my long run day, and that means going beyond my neighborhood and into neighboring towns. It is neat discovering new side streets and occasionally getting lost. (I typically carry a little map with me to I know how to get back home).

Life on my feet allows me to connect to the world around me. I get to see the tracks of other animals that have traveled the path before me.

Sure, sometimes it can be a bit unnerving sharing the street with vehicles not used to seeing someone trotting along the side of the road. But it keeps me on my feet, alert and aware of everything around me.

To read more about my Save the World Diet, and about my story go to:

Sunday, February 8, 2009

2.08.09: In and Out of the Cold

The greatest thing about the Penguin Plunge? Running out of the water and getting a towel from one of the Special Olympics athletes.

Sure it was cold (bone-chilling doesn't begin to describe it) but it was so much fun. The staging area, the tent where you wait for your number to be called, was filled with people pumped and ready to take the plunge. The Vermont Rugby Team -- the largest contingent there -- had bagpipes playing to usher them in the water in formation.

My plunge wasn't so organized, I made it to about my armpits, when a rush of my fellow plungers started heading back in to dry land. So I turned around and got out, got a towel as a jogged back to the changing tent.

A few moments of my time, a bit of discomfort, and a lot of fun for a great cause, Special Olympics Vermont. Many, many thanks to my supporters, who allowed me to take a long walk off a short pier and reminded me that sometimes you just have to jump in.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

02.07.09: Plunge Day

It's the morning of the Penguin Plunge, a dip in the icy waters of Burlington, Vt., to benefit Special Olympics Vermont. It's kind of a tradition around here -- and everyone seems to know someone who is going under for a good cause.

Most people who aren't doing it just commend you saying you're brave, courageous (read: Crazy). Last night, I went to workout at a local gym and membership coordinator told me that he had to cross a cold river once when he was out hiking. He couldn't breathe until he made it to dry land. Even now, he has trouble going in pools that are too cold. Yikes.

I'm trying to think of it as an invigorating experience -- one of those things that if you let the fear build up, you'll never do it. But once you do it, it will be done before you know it.

I've handed in my donations -- about $200 in total, have a "3" on my hand to indicate that I'm in one of the first "waves" going in the water, and I'm ready to take the plunge.

Like all of my Save the World Diet challenges, this one has a theme for me. It's all about jumping in and having fun. I'm glad to be supporting an organization that allows so many special athletes to do just that.

Friday, January 30, 2009

1.30.09: Make Up Classes

It's been a hectic week. Work is nutty. My husband is away on business. Snow and ice have closed my daughter's morning child care twice this week. All the while, I needed to stay on schedule with my workouts -- I have a lot to do this year!

On Tuesday, I wasn't able to attend my usual get-your-rear-in-gear morning Spinning class. So in the early evening, when things quieted down, I took my daughter to the gym childcare (a very important part of my membership at Can Do in Short Hills) and headed to the Spinning room with my iPod Shuffle. I had downloaded a mix (called Diana's Famous Remix Ride) that one of my favorite instructors, Diana Cirillo, had made. I closed my eyes and and pretended to be in class in the empty room. I tightened the resistance to make hills, and sped up to race along with the music. It was a great ride, even though it was a solo one.

On Thursday, again, I was swamped and missed my morning yoga class. Yoga is what holds me together in this crazy life. In the afternoon, as my daughter played, I popped in my Yoga Conditioning for Athletes video, and unrolled my yoga mat amid my daughters plastic shapes that were strewn across the floor. Sure I had to do a few downward facing dogs over her, to corral her, and make sure she didn't stick her hand in the VCR, but I got through some bends and stretches and felt better for having done something for myself.

I wanted to remind you about some upcoming events...

10 a.m. TOMORROW (Sat. Jan. 31) Save the World Diet Workshop

Meta Center, 214 W. 29th St. (Btwn 7 & 8), NYC. The cost is $29, a portion of the proceeds go to my Save the World Diet effort. No need to preregister just come on down.

8 p.m. Thursday (Feb. 5) Icebreaker Fundraiser for Special Olympics Vermont86 St. Paul St., Burlington, Vt. Cost: A $20 suggested donation to Special Olympics Vermont. There will be drink specials including a Penguin's Plunge Martini, complete with a gummy penguin garnish. Draft beer $3.The DJ starts at 9:30 p.m.

11 a.m. Saturday Feb. 7 The Penguin Plunge. Come on down to the Burlington Waterfront to see me and about 1,000 other lunatics dip into Lake Champlain for Special Olympics Vermont.

2 p.m. Feb. 7 Save the World Diet Workshop

Burlington Courtyard Marriott, 25 Cherry St., Burlington, Vt. Cost $29, a portion of the proceeds go to my Save the World Diet effort.

Hope to see you at one or all of the events!


Saturday, January 24, 2009

01.24.09: Taking The Plunge

Taking the Plunge: My next Save the World Diet challenge is the Penguin Plunge -- a dip Feb. 7 in Lake Champlain to benefit Special Olympics. This challenge may not be as grueling as the Flying Pig Marathon (which is my May challenge for the American Heart Association) but it may just be the craziest. But it's all about jumping in -- and participating, which is what Special Olympics Vermont allows so many wonderful athletes to do.

No matter what it's going to be great fun -- and I hope you'll support Special Olympics by donating ( or coming to my fundraising party 8 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 5 at the Green Room, 86 St. Paul St., Burlington, Vt. A $20 suggested donation to Special Olympics gets you in the door for the party, which will have a raffle. The kind folks at the Green Room are making a special martini, the Penguin's Plunge, in honor of my effort. The Penguin's Plunge (which comes with a gummy penguin garnish) will be just $6 and draft beers will be $3 at the event.

I've been spending the last few weeks trying to figure out what to wear for this jump in the water. I'm not ready to wear a bathing suit in front of the throngs of onlookers and more than 1,000 fellow plungers. Wearing long pants and a t-shirt won't matter much because they're going to get wet and stuck to my body anyway. No, sadly, wet suits arent's allowed. Let's face it, no matter what I'm going to be cold.

The Plunge is at 11 a.m. Feb. 7 -- which will be followed by my 2 p.m. Feb. 7 workshop, at the Courtyard Marriot Hotel, 25 Cherry St., Burlington. I will talk about my Save the World Diet and how we can all get healthy and make the world a better place. To register for the program, which costs $29, go to:

There is also a workshop 10 a.m. Jan. 31, at the Meta Center, 214 W. 29th St. (between 7 &8 Aves) in NYC. The cost is also $29. To register, go to:

Monday, January 12, 2009

01.12.09: The No-No Drawer

The No-No Drawer: I should never be left alone with chocolate. I know better than that.

But I decided to put some Hershey’s Kisses in little baggies for my daughter’s caregivers’ holiday gifts (Yes, I know it is mid-January). I started to put some in my mouth. It started with just three, and soon the wad of the Kisses tinfoil wrappers was getting bigger and bigger. Those little paper flags that shoot out of the top of the candies were all over my desk.

It takes nine Kisses to equal a serving. That’s 200 calories a pop. When I was approaching the 400-calorie mark, I needed to cut myself off, something that wasn’t going to happen with the bag in front of me, so I put it in the No-No Drawer.

My No-No Drawer is my husband’s top dresser drawer, where he keeps his personal stash of treats. (There’s a candy cane in there from Christmas ’08). Anywhere else in the house is fair game for me, but that’s his private place.

I made the mistake of venturing in it – to swipe mini Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups that I had bought him. I actually tried to replace them and got busted. It was a huge breach of trust and an indicator that I was truly off track. I’ll never do that again, the drawer is strictly off limits.

So the Kisses are safe in the No-No Drawer for my husband’s consumption.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

1.10.09: In the Snow, In My Shorts

Today is the kind of day most people head to the store, buy a bunch of bread and milk and hurry home to seek shelter from the approaching winter storm.

Today, I looked through my summer clothes, put on a short-sleeved shirt, a pair of capri pants and my winter boots. I showed my husband my outfit. He looked me up and down and said, "Don't you have any shorter shorts?"

I rolled the denim material up over my knees and headed out for a mix of "training" and fundraising for my upcoming Penguin Plunge for Special Olympics. I went door-to-door on a street where I used to live, telling people about my mission and handing out information about how to support my plunge, a dunk in Lake Champlain in Vermont on February 7, to raise money for Special Olympics.

A lot of people were interested, and asked me to tell them more as I shivered on their door step. I got $20 from a nice teen named Julian, who took a break from his piano practice, to support my cause.

Cars, and the city's fleet of snow plows slowed as they passed. About a dozen houses later, when I had to keep dusting the snow off my sponsorship sheet, I decided I was heading into frostbite danger and the possibility of someone calling the police to report someone under the influence.

One my way down the road, a SUV pulled up, "Can we give you a ride?"

This lovely couple, the McCarthys, had seen me in my summer gear and worried about me so they turned around and offered to take me home. I explained my mission and told them that I wasn't far - and not to worry. I wasn't crazy.

With all the people who need help in this world, it's crazy not to help others.

To support my Penguin Plunge, go to:

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Thursday, January 8, 2009

1.08.09: The Art of the Start

I began 2009 in motion at the Emerald Nuts Midnight Run, a 4-mile loop in Central Park -- moving toward better health and a better world.This was the first event in my Save the World Diet, a quest to get healthy and make the world a better place.

As the race began, despite my months of training, I felt a bit like a stone stuck in the sand of a beach as the other runners raced out like the tide around me. My pace was slow -- 1 hour and 9 minutes slow -- but at least I was moving. It was a start.

I am using the event as a barometer of where I need to go in the coming year. I raised some money for UNICEF and I finished.

I've been watching Oprah talk about falling off the wagon. I, too, felt like 2008 was a year of feeling in the dumps about myself. The baby weight -- more than 50 pounds of it -- made me act and feel fat again. I was lost in my own body as I tried to balance my life as a new mom, my job and my old adventurer self (who didn't get much further than the local CVS on most days). I really think I spent a good portion in the year depressed.

So this new year is a new start, of moving on the path to wellness, about feeling good about my body, treating it with the gratitude it deserves. This year is in motion, to make good choices for my health, and the world around me.

It's a big mission, but this is just the beginning.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

1.01.09: The Save the World Diet Challenge for '09

What do you want to do in 2009?
The Save the World Diet is all about picking a physical challenge for charity as a fitness goal. Of course you should first check with your doctor, and assess your own capabilities, but find something that care about and you would like to work toward in the coming year -- a charity walk, a fundraising bike race, and so on. There are really so many fun things out there, and many charities in need of your support.
A physical challenge for charity doesn't have to be an organized event, it can be feeling strong and energetic enough to shovel your elderly neighbor's driveway.
Think about what you want to do, not what you want to lose. Think about how best to fuel your body to get there. (For example, each time you eat today ask yourself if what you're about to put in your mouth will help you tackle your life's work and your exercise goals.)
I'm feeling fantastic after my first physical challenge of the year (I'm doing one a month in 2009). I did the Emerald Nuts Midnight Run in Central Park on behalf of UNICEF. ( was crazy cold out there but not so bad once we started running the four-mile course, which happened to have a non-alcoholic champagne stop at the half-way point! My next event will be the Penguin Plunge for Special Olympics Feb. 7 in Burlington, Vt. (

I started a discussion group on The Save the World Diet Group page so you can share inspiration and ideas about events in the coming year. You can also check out my website,

So what will you do in 2009? The world is waiting for you.
All the best for a wonderful New Year, Kara