Participation in the sport of cross-country skiing has increased for high school girls in the last several years. Of the 178 students registered with the Rochester Nordic Ski Team (RNST), 110 are female.  

Paul Ehling, district representative of RNST, says most girls on the team pursue lettering with their high school athletics department, a symbol of commitment and hard work for students. Cross-country skiing is one of the sports a high school girl may letter in after meeting requirements, which include attending practices and competitions, participating in community service and demonstrating proficiency in ski techniques.  


With RNST, students from Rochester area schools in grades 7-12 learn a form of cross-country skiing known as skate skiing. Along the trail they often develop a love for the sport that can be enjoyed for a lifetime.

RNST was founded in 2001 by Henry Walker, Darald Bothum and Michael O’Connor.  It was originally a community education offering, but because interest in the sport grew, the team is now hosted by Rochester Active Sports Club.



Sparkles from Ruthie: One Woman's Journey Through Depression

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Written by Terri Allred Photography by Fagan Studios

The concept is so simple, even a child can do it. Every time you see a sparkly object, take a moment to do a self-assessment. Ask yourself, “How am I feeling today?” Ruth Braun Tibesar hopes that this daily prompt and reflection will become a regular practice for all of us.


Ruth is a survivor of depression and is a mental health wellness speaker who shares her story in the hope that she can make a difference for someone else. Ruth’s journey began about seven years ago when she was making weekly trips to Mankato to take care of her ill mother. Despite having a loving husband and supportive coworkers and family, she shouldered much of the burden of managing her mother’s care. She was working full time as a laboratory technologist at Mayo Clinic during the week and acting as her mother’s full-time caregiver on the weekends.



Tessa Leen's Weight Loss Journey: 40,000 Instagram Followers and 6,500 Facebook Fans

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Written by Emily Watkins Photography by Mike Hardwick Photography

According to the CDC, over 70 percent of American adults are considered overweight or obese. These conditions correspond with a higher risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, musculoskeletal disorders, especially osteoarthritis, as well as some cancers. Taking the steps to lose weight is not as easy as we wish.

Tessa Leen lost weight in a smart and safe way. Exercise and healthy eating led her to lose 185 pounds in 4 years. 


Tessa says that she was always the “chubby kid.” She was teased, and that led to unhealthy methods of losing weight in high school and college. After getting married, she and her husband had two children in quick succession. Throughout both pregnancies, Tessa gained weight, getting to her heaviest known weight of 331 pounds in the summer of 2012.  



Walking School Bus: Healthy, Safe and Social

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Written by Gina Dewink

Only 16 percent of our nation’s children walk or bike to school, down from 42 percent a generation ago. Other countries, such as Australia and England, have been coordinating groups of children to walk to school together for a decade or more. these days, Rochester is receiving state recognition for its very own Walking School Bus.

Simplicity of Walking

A Walking School Bus is a group of neighborhood children walking together to school. The group is supervised by volunteer parents, referred to as “drivers.” JoAnne Judge-Dietz works for the Statewide Health Improvement Program (SHIP), which strives to help Minnesotans lead longer, healthier lives. Judge-Dietz says a Walking School Bus is “a simple concept, but one we have lost over time. We forget how simple and smart it is to walk.”



Traci Natoli Looks and Feels Better in Less Than a Year

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Written by Jorrie Johnson Photography by Mike Hardwick Photography

Wouldn’t it be great if losing weight was as easy as spending money or doing things we enjoy? Unfortunately, it’s not that easy. Getting motivated to lose weight is the first step toward a happier, and healthier you.

Medifast to the Rescue

“I did not like to see myself in photos, and I had very little energy,” explains Traci Natoli. Feeling dissatisfied with how she looked and felt prompted Traci to do something about her weight. “My biggest motivation was my family. I want to be here for my husband, children and grandchild and to be able to have the energy to enjoy life.”

After struggling with her weight for many years and trying a couple of weight-loss programs on her own without success, Traci turned to Medifast. She decided to try Medifast because of the great things she had heard and seen about the program. In October 2015, Traci finally found the courage to visit the Medifast location in northwest Rochester and inquire
the program. 



Improving Health and Wellness: Alternative Healing Modalities Grow in Popularity

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Written by Cindy Mennenga Photography by Dawn Sanborn Photography

There are numerous alternative healing modalities to help heal, reduce stress and anxiety, recharge mind and body and find balance in life. Most people who explore alternative healing have a specific issue they want to address in a natural and holistic manner, while others are seekers, always eager to experience new ways to learn more about themselves and grow.

Being able to pull yourself into a state of mindfulness or meditation brings you to that oh-so-quiet and sacred space to commune with your higher self and allow true healing to happen. Many different options are available in Rochester.

Bodysound Chair 

LuAnn Buechler, transformational trainer and life coach, offers the BodySound chair to her clients to help them achieve a profound state of relaxation and stress reduction. The BodySound chair pipes in layered music with synchronized sounds. There are also vibrations and electromagnetic fields which elicit physical, emotional and
spiritual responses. 



Let's Talk About Sex: Open Communication Builds Trust

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Written by Caitlin Anderson

"Human sexuality, unlike calculus, is something you actually need to know about for the rest of your life," said political satirist and comedian John Oliver on his HBO television show, “Last Week Tonight.”

That’s just one perspective into the current standard of sex education in America. Society has changed a lot over the past several decades. We've seen our culture grow and adapt to technology, and we've evolved into a society that's becoming more accepting of individual differences. Women are more empowered to embrace themselves and their sexuality, and men are quickly following suit. We are living in a new age of acceptance and tolerance. 

Controversy surrounding sex and sexuality has come forefront time and time again. It's a popular subject in politics, religion and activism, leading to disputes about what is right and wrong. Changing the way we view sex and sexuality opens the door for us to learn and become educated, thus having more positive experiences. Leading the way for sex education is Planned Parenthood, a nonprofit that's recently been in the line of fire in the media. They believe that educating everyone about sexuality, instead of looking at it just as an act of sex, helps us to have conversations that we aren't typically comfortable having. 



Healing Waters: Finding Calm Amidst Chaos

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Written by Jennifer Gangloff Photography by Mike Hardwick Photography

Michelle Brandenburger is one of those people who had managed to avoid the hospital most of her life. She got regular checkups and mammograms and admits to having a low pain tolerance. "My sister calls me a wimp," Brandenburger jokes.

So it was an especially harsh blow last October when Brandenburger, now 49, was diagnosed with invasive ductal carcinoma, the most common type of breast cancer, and hospitals and pain became her new normal. She underwent a bilateral mastectomy and several months of chemotherapy. "The surgery was bad, but the chemo was even worse," she says. "The fatigue, the nausea, the neuropathy—it's been pretty bad."



Silences Women Keep: Urinary Incontinence

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Written by Laurie Simon

Picture this: Happy hour with your closest group of girlfriends. The drinks are delivered, and the mood is cheery. A number of topics occupy the conversation as you catch up on the recent events of each other’s lives, from promotions to parenting, romance, exercise routines, vacations and…urinary incontinence? Hold the margaritas. Who’s talking about bladder problems? Don’t these issues only affect women of a certain age? 

In a word, no. Urinary incontinence (UI) is a common problem that affects women of all ages, from collegiate athletes to new moms to women transitioning into menopause. According to the National Association for Continence, one in four women over age 18 experience episodes of leaking urine involuntarily—altogether, a total of approximately 18 million in the United States. Do the math, and it’s very likely the face of UI is sitting across the table enjoying a half-priced drink and contemplating an order of bruschetta. 

Identifying the Causes of UI 

UI isn’t a disease; it’s a symptom. According to experts at Mayo Clinic, there are several types, and identifying each correctly is important in order to address the potential causes.


Living with a terminal illness can be an isolating experience especially when you have young children. According to the Highmark Caring Foundation, one in every 20 children age 15 or younger will suffer the loss of one or both parents. Children of ailing parents may feel isolated or have trouble expressing their emotions, while parents may fear their legacy will be lost.

Inheritance of Hope is a 501(c)3 nonprofit charity helping young families cope with the loss of a parent. This organization was established by the Milligan family. Kristen Milligan and her husband, Deric, had three young children when Kristen was diagnosed with terminal liver cancer. Kristen’s goal was to leave a legacy for her children while helping other families in the same situation.

Leaving a Legacy

Inheritance of Hope believes in making memories. Betsy Ogren, Legacy Retreat coordinator says, “We host retreats for families with life-threatening illnesses and children under the age of 18. These all-expenses paid retreats are held throughout the year in popular destinations like Orlando and New York City."


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