Mary Jo Dircks recently posted a bundled-up selfie on social media.
“Can you tell how much weight I’ve lost?! Lol,” she captioned the image of herself nearly hidden away in a hat and parka. “Never mind, come spring, there will be a big reveal … just like Mother Nature.”
It’s been quite a winter for Minnesota — and for the Minnesotans we are following as they attempt to keep their New Year’s resolutions.
Here’s an update:
Mary Jo Dircks: To continue losing weight
It’s been 421 days now that Dircks has been on a quest to lose about 150 pounds. While there have been ups and downs along the way, she’s still trending downward so far in 2019 — and, when it comes to her goal, that’s a good thing.
“It’s coming off slower this year,” says Dircks, 56, of Apple Valley. “But I am still doing what I am supposed to be doing as far as WW (formerly known as Weight Watchers) goes.”
No winter weight gain for Dircks — she’s down another 11 pounds so far for 2019, putting her on track to reach her goal this year. What’s helping: Despite the polar vortex in January and the excessive snow of February, Dircks has found a way to stay active.
“I am getting my exercise in daily on my stationary bike,” Dircks says.
The results show, even when she’s bundled up.
“You look like a new woman,” a friend commented on Dirck’s selfie. “And you are!”
Katharine Barr: To be healthier, more active and lighter
During this long winter, Barr of Lakeville depends on her FitBit and her treadmill to get to 10,000 steps a day during the workweek.
Just 22 days into 2019, though, one of those tools let her down.
“The treadmill broke when I was on it,” says Barr. “It stopped — it just froze.”
While Barr has been waiting — and waiting — on the old treadmill’s replacement, she has been trying to make this intermission productive in other ways.
“Because I don’t really want to go out and walk in this ice and snow, I’m trying to watch my food intake and use this time to catch up on my other projects,” Barr says. “I’m going through boxes in my craft room — sorting, cleaning and pitching. It’s a slow process but I’m working on it a little at a time when I can.”
Meanwhile, Barr — who wants to build her endurance, lose some weight and be healthy in 2019 — is looking forward to walking outside this spring with the newest member of the family.
“Her name is Charlie,” Barr says. “She’s a rescue dog that we adopted.”
Currently, Charlie is also stuck indoors: She is healing from a paw injury suffered while racing around in the snow.
“This winter has been tough on everybody,” Barr says. “I’m looking forward to spring.”
Stephanie Schempp: To buy 12 houseplants
Stephanie Schempp is really appreciating her indoor New Year’s resolution: to buy one new houseplant every month in 2019.
“I think the weather has made me so glad I picked this resolution,” says Schempp of West St. Paul. “Having more plants in the house has helped with the winter blues a little bit. I am so sick of looking at all the white outside my window, so a little bit of green in the house has been good.”
So far, that little bit of green includes an aloe plant that was given to Schempp as a gift in December, a Warneckii she purchased in January and a cactus she bought for her son in February. As for March’s houseplant, it’s helping get her out of the house.
“This weekend,” Schempp says, “my husband and I have a date night planned, and we’re going to go to the Bachman’s in Richfield and look at the plants and eat in the little cafe they have in the greenhouse. We plan to buy March’s plant that day. All the snow is making me crave some plant life!”
Missy Montgomery: To create a scrapbook of her grandmothers’ recipes
Missy Montgomery’s resolution — to bring family recipes together into one scrapbook — is temporarily packed away for now, yet another casualty of this epic winter.
Due to the extreme cold, there was a failure in the septic system and drain field of the family’s rental home in rural Anoka County, as well as some major plumbing challenges.
“Both problems cannot be addressed until the ground fully thaws,” Montgomery says, “so we found another farm — available immediately and only 12 minutes away in Forest Lake — major miracle. So we’re moving this weekend. Hope to get back to work on it by mid-April.”
She will have plenty of material to work with at that time: Both her aunt and her mother have passed along more family recipes.
K. Jason Bryan: To learn conversational, modern Hebrew
One way that Minnesotans survive winter is by escaping it.
For Bryan of St. Paul, each Hebrew lesson he takes is a reminder that he will soon escape to Israel to visit family and enjoy a vacation.
“I think spring will be arriving around the time that we do,” Bryan says.
Bryan’s decision to spend Tuesdays and Thursdays taking conversational Hebrew lessons at the St. Paul JCC is based on his immersion into a Jewish family: Like his partner, David, and their two grown daughters (one of whom is currently living in Israel), he wants to be able to read, speak and write the language he has come to know.
While the Hebrew class has recently been focusing on singular versus plural possessive, there’s an upcoming topic that Bryan thinks he’ll put to plenty of use on vacation at the end of March:
“Food,” he says, “is the next chapter.”
Brittany Hall: To make her professional bodybuilding debut
Neither winter nor doughnuts can stop Hall from preparing for her professional bodybuilding debut in May — the culmination of a journey that she didn’t know she was beginning when she signed up for a 10-week challenge at a gym a few years ago.
For now, there’s a lot of gym and no doughnuts for this 35-year-old St. Paul athlete.
“As far as my commute to the gym, there is nothing that will prevent me from getting there,” says Hall, who gets through the snow with the help of her determination and her all-wheel drive.
The mental challenge is a tougher road.
“Prep is all mentally driven for me, and it revolves around the will power I’ve built up as an athlete of bodybuilding,” Hall says. “There are no cheat meals, there is no alcohol, no doughnuts. My emotions are at the forefront of prep for me. You can easily take a single-second glance at me some days and know I’m tired. I’m not gonna lie, I’ve shed tears while doing cardio because there are truly moments I feel I cannot carry on. While I’m exhausted, often completely drained of energy, and irritable on the low/no carb days, I try to push out the energy I wish to receive back.
“It’s worth it to me because I can look back and say, ‘Hell yeah, I did that.’ It’s worth it because the goals I’ve set for myself are being accomplished and there are few things sweeter than that. It’s worth it because it makes me happy and it affirms that I’m a strong, empowered, independent woman.”
Mary Jo Dircks recently posted a bundled-up selfie on social media.