My Fitness Journey

I have been thinking about health, fitness and overall wellness and the journey my life has taken in regard.  Also, on my radar is the terrible state of mind in our society among girls and, really, women of all ages - this struggle, goal, obsession to look a certain way - "skinny" - so heavily influenced by images in the media and now, social media.  I have two teenage girls, and this bothers me.

Admittedly, I have been influenced by what I've seen as well and have suffered in various ways in the past.  In college, I was obsessively exercising every day and would literally complete my morning run at the door of the School of Human Sciences at Auburn before my 8:00 am class each day.  Yeah, gross, huh? This exercise combined with a restricted diet lead to my having so little body fat that I experience "amenorrhea" (no menstrual period) for a year and a half.  It took several months with my gynecologist to get it back with hormone therapy.  Thankfully, I heeded my Dr.'s advice about my body NEEDING a certain level of fat in order to fully function in a healthy way.  Also, when he said that I might have trouble becoming pregnant in the future, I got my mind right and toned down my workouts and adjusted my diet accordingly and successfully got back on track.
Clearly, 3 children later, I moved beyond this issue.  Thankfully.  Thankfully

So, in this bombardment of images from Hollywood, magazines, the internet be REALISTIC and know that many of those women suffer and sacrifice health and happiness to look "skinny."  It's not worth the price you pay in ANY WAY with the toll it takes on your physical, mental and emotional health.

I have been an athlete all my life.  I have been "working out" since I was 12 for cheerleading, basketball and ultimately, tennis.  In high school, I cheered and played tennis for Athens High School, participated weekly in a rigorous tennis program in Huntsville, taught aerobics in 1984 at the Exercise Studio in Athens (no leg warmers did I wear ;), played summer tennis tournaments 4 summers.  At Auburn, I walked on to the varsity women's tennis team (Division 1) my sophomore year and helped teach tennis camps with Auburn's men's tennis coach in 1987.  HOT, HOT, HOT summer!  Since college, I have played on city tennis teams thru USTA in Huntsville and St. Paul where I lived.  I even tore my right ACL in 1993 preparing for the state tournament as our Huntsville team had won the regional tourney.  That was a full year setback, but I had a successful surgery to rebuild and rehab my torn ligament into full health and function and am not limited in my activity at all today!  Grateful!  The past two years I have done the Insanity workout (HARD!!!!) and still do a variation.  Sometimes, I follow Lisa Marie with Bodyrock online.  In all of my life's journey, I can't emphasize enough the value of exercise and a healthy diet to live a full life!  Now, at 46, I feel blessed to have been guided by my mother (a nutritionist/dietician), various coaches, Dr.'s and teachers to know how to work out and how to eat well.  We all have to remember these things:

Living a healthy lifestyle is a CHOICE.  We either make it, or we don't.  It's ok to not exercise or have a treat to eat as long as you don't sabotage your routine.  Make the healthy choice the norm and don't obsess over having that brownie or that glass of wine every so often.

It's a JOURNEY! ... all your own!  Follow different workouts, teachers, etc., but don't succumb to comparing your body to anyone else's.  I'm an identical twin, so this is something I've REALLY had to learn as people have found differences in us physically over the years.  You may be INSPIRED, but if you get upset that your body is not shaping up the same way as someone else's then you've lost perspective.  LOVE your body!

In order to LOSE weight, you must, must, MUST burn more calories than you consume.  That's just the hard fact!  There are no pills that will do this for you.  Don't be swayed by the next diet, the next pill that claims to do this for you.  It WON'T.

MODERATION IS EVERYTHING!  I mean, EVERYTHING.  Even something that is "good" can be overdone.  This was my Mom's mantra, and she was RIGHT ON!


My fitness journey in pictures
 Note my knee scars above!

Insanity workout February 2012

Orr, MN July 2013

 Workout on October 2013


It Was One of Mine!

This week I woke up to see an email from my former student Kirsten who is now visiting Cortona, Italy with her family this week.  See the rest of what she wrote me:

Hi Claire,

Guess what is hanging in the WC at the villa we are renting!  I was coveting this painting and took a closer look, and now I know why :-). I am really missing my painting class now!  We just arrived in Cortona yesterday and will head into town today with the kids.  It's Jack's birthday and we'll load up with food for a feast and art supplies for everyone.  Also, could you please tell me what the music is on your Tuscany web page?   Want to get it!  Thanks much.  Xox Kirsten

I painted this little window painting after being in Cortona with the University of Georgia's Studies Abroad in Art.  These windows were on the old convent where part of our group stayed.  We hand washed our clothes that summer, and these were "intimates" of the gal's room hanging from the window to dry.  Made for a great painting that was later purchased by a lady in St. Paul who happens to own the villa where Kirsten is staying.  This email and pics MADE MY DAY!
This gave me energy and inspiration to get started painting for my upcoming show in October!  You may find more paintings and info on my site!
Thanks, Kirsten!


Check out my latest shoot with gorgeous Caroline!

Had the chance to work with my niece Caroline this weekend for images in this photoshoot! She will be living and working in Chicago this summer, and we are so excited! We wanted to do something that was "fashiony" and represented her, and I think we accomplished that. We weathered the wind coming off Lake Michigan for the beach shots at Glencoe Beach and thawed out later. It was worth it! Enjoy the images in this gorgeous Pass gallery by Showit!



New Website! Check it out!

I just renovated my site since we have relocated to Chicago my photography and painting business!  I added more photography and a cleaner, fresher look and made it even simpler to navigate.  Whatcha think????

Just click the image to take a look!
(Get ready to tap and snap.. ;)


This Letter Made Me Cry

As you can see, this letter was dated July of 2012.  This was a busy time for our family as we were moving to Chicago and had our house on the market for sale.  For showings, oftentimes the mail got shoved into a drawer to tidy up.  Soon, we moved, and that batch of mail got moved as well.  It wasn't until we moved into our new home that I came across this pile of mail from July (from the other house) that included perhaps the kindest, most touching letter from one of my long-time, beloved students Judy Johnson.  I opened it, and read it and was so incredibly touched to tears.  Also, I felt so bad not knowing about it until 3 months after she had written it and thinking that SHE must have thought that I had just blown it off!  So, I called her a day or so afterwards and thanked her for such a sweet letter so thoughtfully written from the heart.  It is truly one I will keep forever and refer to when I might not be feeling my best.  It's uplifting, to say the least, and I love and miss Judy who painted with me for 7 years in St. Paul and is a long-time teacher at the school my children attended, Saint Paul Academy.  

I love and miss you, Judy!  We will paint together again!




My twin sister, Carole Foret and I, have just announced our 2012 Tuscan Painting Journey!
  See all the details and links here!

Check out our 2011 slideshow!



Laugh, even if it starts off as fake!

A great article in the Pioneer Press this morning lauded laughing as great medicine!  It lowers blood pressure, boosts immunity among other things.  It sited that laughing babies and funny animal videos are among the most popular on YOUTUBE.COM!  Well, I'm a firm believer!  I find it easy to be silly, and I'm glad to know that it's good for my health!

I just dug up this video shot by my 7-yr.-old daughter of her God mother, Diane, my twin sister Carole and me faking it up then guffawing for REAL!  See if it makes YOU laugh, and hey, maybe it will save you a trip to the Dr.!


Senior Shoots!

Here are just a few of the gorgeous seniors I've had the pleasure of shooting this fall!  If you have a senior who needs pics for yearbook or for just to commemorate his/her senior year in a beautiful way, then let me know!  Will shoot all year!  Rain, snow or shine!

Email: ckayser@mac.com


Rockin' COLOR CAFE today!Lori's value study!
Jill's landscape
Amy's portrait


Steely Dan at MN State Fair

no cameras allowed, so this is the best i could get...

donald fagan

walter becker

careen and me

watching one of my fav bands with some fav peeps in the rain.... so pleasantly surreal!