What You Might Be Missing

DSC_0223With today being close to 9 months since I became fed up with being out of shape, I thought it would be a good time to discuss an often overlooked piece to your fitness goals: determination. Let’s face it, passively pursuing a fitness goal, or any goal for that matter, does nothing but put a hole in your wallet with nothing to show for it.

It’s not enough to merely want to lose weight or tone your muscles. You have to be willing to do everything it takes to reach your goals, not just part of them. You have to enter into a fitness lifestyle with goals set in mind and a “can do attitude” to back them up. You have to be willing to push yourself further than you originally expected and never allow yourself to give up.

Determination must be something that sticks with you throughout the process. The second you lose it, you start to lose confidence in yourself. Even when you miss a workout or eat a box of Oreo’s, your determination should get you back on track. You won’t allow a setback to prevent you from reaching your goals.

Your results will drive your determination and your determination will drive your results. They go hand in hand. If you truly want to see a physical and mental change in your health and fitness, the sky is the limit. Believe you can make those changes and don’t quit till you have reached every last goal you set for yourself.

“A dream doesn’t become reality

through magic; it takes sweat,

determination, and hard work”

TIP: I’m a visual person. Therefore, I have learned that having an end-goal in mind makes the steps to get there less painful. I know it sounds cheesy, but find a picture of someone that exemplifies a visual image of your goals. Either print this picture out or burn it into your memory. Going forward, anytime you lose focus, look back at this picture and remind yourself of your goals and why you can’t quit today’s workout after 5 pushups.

The Father I Never Had

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After writing a post about how amazing my mom is for Mother’s day, I wanted to share how equally amazing my father is and the impact he’s had on my life.

The first time I met Bill, I thought “what a strange guy”. He told the same jokes several times within one weekend and was just all-around goofy. Fast forward 12 years, and you guessed it, he’s still that same, goofy guy that tells his classic one-liners: “A horse walks into a bar and bellies up to the bartender. The bartender says, ‘Hey Bub, what’s with the long face?'”

This guy, along with his entire family, took me in as if I was their own. They treated me like I had been in their family since birth. He pushed me to be better, make good grades, stick with sports, and taught me that for every action there is a reaction. For the first time in my life, I had a father figure.

To this day, he still tells me, “You are where you are in life by the decisions you made 5 and 10 years earlier.” When I made the decision to stay with the Evans’ family, it was one of the hardest choices I have ever made, but because of that choice, I became the woman I am today. They helped raise me into a successful, loving person.

As I let my guard down to my new family, I realized that while no family is perfect, they loved perfectly. They welcomed me in with open arms, and I’ve never looked back. My dad may be a big jokester, but he’s serious when it comes to his family’s safety and wellbeing.

To the man who taught me how to drive a car while nervously gripping the passenger door handle, picked me and my sister up from volleyball practice, drove us on dates (while being extra awkward and corny), helped me move into my college dorm (and every house after that), walked me down the aisle on my wedding day, I thank you. I thank you for stepping up when my biological father didn’t.

I love the relationship you have with my daughter, your granddaughter. She’s just as lucky as I am to have you. I thank you for showing me how a man is supposed to treat a lady by loving my mom, Holly. You guys were my first example, and I looked to your relationship to help me along the way in mine. I think I did alright!

Not just on Father’s Day, but everyday, know you are appreciated. You have taught me many life lessons. You always remind me to not take life too seriously, and you know how to make me smile even when I’d rather not. You are the best, and I can’t thank you enough for being the dad I never had. Love you, Pops!

A Look Into “My Gym”

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As I’ve said before, with my busy lifestyle, the gym isn’t an option, but that wont stop me from reaching my fitness goals. With the help of my trainer, I’ve pieced together my perfect at-home gym. I’ve had several requests for more information on “my gym”, so I am writing today to tell what it consists of. No, I don’t have a fancy weight machine, but that hasn’t stopped me from gaining muscle.

In the beginning, I was doing a basic full body workout that I found on Pinterest. The only thing that called for a weight was one exercise, the Oblique Twist, but I just used something heavy around the house. My first purchase for my gym was a set of three kettle bells (5, 10, and 15lbs) and a few dumbbells (5 and 10lbs). As I’ve grown stronger and added new workouts, I’ve bought heavier weights. Target was having a sale at the time of the second weight purchase, so I’m working with mismatched weights. Oh well! Look at this way – my weights add color to my bedroom with the assortment of colors.

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I also got a yoga mat, but to be honest, I don’t use it very often. It doesn’t really seem to make a difference when you’re working out on carpet. My trainer asked me to get bands to add intensity to some of my workouts, which you find just about anywhere. Make sure you get bands that are long enough for your body! Another word of caution: I had to get a second set with grips so I could do kickbacks without popping myself in the head. I would post a video, but I would like to maintain the appearance of a professional.

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Over time, I’ve added new items as my workouts have changed, my strength has increased or out of sheer convenience. For example,  I added a stability ball because the only bench we have is downstairs in our kitchen, and I wanted to be able to do the entire workout upstairs. Little did I know, this added another level of intensity to my workouts. Again, be sure to get the right size. I originally bought a stability ball that was too small.

My gym is very basic, but that doesn’t mean it’s not effective. All of my results have come from using what I have at home and the items mentioned above. Even when I am out of town and get to use a hotel gym, I still use the dumbbells and kettle bells. As you become stronger, you’ll need to add heavier weights, but start little and work your way up. I still use my 5lb weights for a lot of different workouts, so your previous purchases won’t go to waste.

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Just because I can’t go to the gym doesn’t mean I can’t workout. If lack of time has prevented you from a healthier lifestyle, I am here to encourage you to stop sidelining your physical health. Go get these basic items, set goals, and get to it! While you’re at it, subscribe to my blog to get more inspiration and tips delivered right to your inbox.

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

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It’s true what they say – a picture’s worth a thousand words. It freezes a moment in time. It transforms a memory into a tangible object that can be shared with others. It serves as a reminder of the past. It provides a point of reference to show how people have changed. However, there is something far greater than a picture, and that’s living in the moment.

The more time we spend attempting to capture the perfect photo, the more time we take away from absorbing qualities of life that can’t be captured through a lens. While at the beach this past week, I watched Evan and Ella wade into the waves. Ella had the time of her life, and both her and Evan were wearing the biggest smiles. Ella’s laugh filled the beach as the sun glistened on her face. While a picture could have captured their smile, it wouldn’t have captured the overwhelming feeling of their love, the comforting smell of the ocean salt, or how the storms parted a few hours beforehand to present a perfect, sunny day.

Before we came to the beach, I had an extensive list of all of the staged photos we would take, but once we arrived, I put the camera away and enjoyed life. I captured every moment, this time as a memory rather than on a memory card. I soaked in every moment in both my mind and in my heart. I do not have a thousand new photos to upload, but I have a plethora of new memories that I can share with others.

Our grandparents tell great stories without photos to remind them. We then have the opportunity to take those stories and envision what they saw and how they felt. It leaves room for imagination and questions. We live in a society so focused on capturing every memory that we are letting too many pass by. Let’s live more in the moment instead of in the picture.

A picture might be worth a thousand words but the memories made are priceless.

Your Abs are not on Vacation

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My friends call me crazy, but I can’t neglect my fitness and diet while on vacation. Dropping both of those for a week would have a huge impact on my progress, and I must stay focused on my long term goals. Lucky for me, our hotel has a gym. Not so lucky for me, they also serve breakfast. I have to be careful to not over indulge so I can enjoy treats on our beach adventures.

Vacations have a funny way of making you want to eat enough food for a family of 5. While I’m at the beach, I can’t help but want to grab a snack every few minutes. To make sure I stick to my diet, I packed several healthy options so when I feel the need to snack, I won’t ruin my diet.

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Don’t worry; even when a gym isn’t available, you can still squeeze a workout in. No, I don’t recommend bringing weights on your trip – that would be a little extreme. Besides, you have a hard enough time getting your husband to hold your purse while you shop; do you think he’s going to tote around weights for you? Running is usually an option when the weather permits, but if you are anything like my trainer, you’re not a big fan of cardio. Before heading off to your next vacation, develop a bodyweight exercise that can be done from your hotel room. Take time to get your body familiar with the new workouts before you leave for your trip. There are a ton of ab workouts that require no weight, and if you’re anything like me, you love a good ab workout.

To make sure you maximize your time on vacation, plan to wake up 30 minutes earlier than the rest of your friends/family. That way, you don’t take time away from the other people you are on vacation with. Instead of coming back from vacation dreading stepping on a scale, continuing your routine while on vacation will ensure that your progress stays on track and you’re closer to the beach bod you’ve been working so hard to obtain.

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To the Man in Blue

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When I saw the flashing lights in my rear view mirror, my heart sank as I’m sure everyone’s does when they’re getting pulled over. “Oh great. Just what I needed today” I thought. My emotions were on a roller coaster this week with the school year coming to an end. I didn’t think it would hit me this hard, but the thought of leaving my current preschool sunk in as I cleaned out my classroom earlier that day.

The officer came to my window and was very polite, but I couldn’t help but get upset. Partly because I knew I would be getting a ticket, but also because I’d hit a point of too many emotions at once. I don’t want to say goodbye to my friends, school, and most importantly, my students.

Officer Singleton asked me if I was okay, which made it worse. I wanted him to think I was okay, I just couldn’t do it convincingly. He took my license and registration and told me he’d be right back. A million thoughts raced through my mind during the few short minutes he was sitting in his patrol car, which felt like hours. When he returned, he told me I would be receiving a warning which led to me bursting into tears.

Why did he give me a warning? I didn’t deserve it anymore than the next person, but he gave me one anyways. He told me I shouldn’t be upset because after all, the Lord woke me up this morning. Wow! He was right. He added that tomorrow is either going to be better than today or worse, but I at least had a 50/50 shot.

He might have pulled me over to slow me down on the road, but God was telling me to slow down on life. I started out my week by worrying about my to do list. I was in such a rush that I was forgetting to slow down and enjoy my last week at the preschool.

Thank you, Officer Singleton. You didn’t have to say what you did or let me off with a warning, but you decided to make a positive difference in someone’s life. You may never know the impact you had on me, but you changed my perspective, allowing me to make the most of this week of goodbyes.

As an officer, I don’t think you get enough credit for all of the behind the scenes work you do. Not only do you wake up every day and put your life on the line to protect others, but you’re passionate about your job and the people you come in contact with. When you asked if I was okay, it was evident that you truly cared. I wont forget the kindness you showed and the wisdom you provided. To the Man in Blue, I thank you.

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This Isn’t Me

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After a phone call with my mom, I decided to share a struggle that many teens, as well as adults, face on a daily basis. When I was in high school, I never thought I was pretty, tall, skinny, or smart enough. I was never enough for anyone. My mom asked me today if I was eating enough because of a photo I posted. She said I looked too thin. At first, I was upset that she would even ask, but then I remembered who I used to be.

I believed all of my failed relationships were because of the way I looked. All of my friends were thin and gorgeous, and I felt like I could never compare. High school was a rough time for me, and in this time of figuring out who I was, I developed an eating disorder.

It started with my goal to lose weight. This quickly spiraled out of control. While I was losing weight, I was also losing who I was. I changed completely. I started to fish for the next complement, and after a while, losing a few pounds wasn’t enough. I began making a trip to the bathroom after every meal to purge the food I had eaten. Depriving my body of food gave me the sensation of control over my appearance.

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My sister quickly caught on and knew I wasn’t being myself. She tried talking to me about it, but I made excuses and wanted nothing to do with her advice. Then, our mother got involved. When a lady from Long Island tells you to do something, she means business. She provided me with a reality check that was long overdue.

She reminded me that God made me a beautiful, young woman and that searching for temporary praise from others wasn’t a fix for my underlying issues. She helped me address my past so that I could overcome my desire to become someone I wasn’t and accept who I already was. She reminded me that I was only 17 and had my whole life ahead of me.

In my attempts to lose weight, I was exercising too much and not eating nearly enough. I was constantly sick and at an all-time low. I can say without a doubt I will never go back to my old ways. It was never worth it, and it was only a temporary fix. After having Ella, the appearance of my stomach started to bother me. However, this time it was different. I wanted to make a change, but a positive one. I wanted to go about losing weight the right way, the healthy way.

I have since started a flex diet, and I have started working out again. I’ve lost inches in my waist and weight. (See results here.) I’ve honestly never felt this good, even when I was at my skinniest in high school. I have energy and have started to gain muscle.

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Reflecting on my past, I understand my mom’s concern because she was with me in my darkest days. While she knows I am not that same person, it’s her nature to worry about me. I can’t blame her. She was slowly watching me take my life until she put her foot down and wouldn’t allow it to progress any further. She saved me, and she doesn’t want to see me go down that road again.

Over the years, I’ve learned to love myself and the skin I’m in. I can have control over my appearance but in a positive way. My disorder was simply a cover for much deeper issues from my past. I was seeking help in all of the wrong ways. I have since dealt with those issues and its helped shape who I am today. I have confronted my past and allowed my future to be brighter than ever.

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In the United States alone, 20 million woman will develop an eating disorder at some point in their lives. If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, there is help. If talking isn’t working, get other loved ones involved. Talk to them about getting the help of a professional and encourage healthy alternative methods of weight loss. Most importantly, remind them that they are beautiful even when they can’t see it.

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What’s Your Golden Calf?

May we be consumed with the creator of all things

rather than with things created 

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While reading through Exodus, God began tugging on my heart. It was Exodus 32 to be exact. Here, we learn about the golden calf that the Israelites asked Aaron to build.

“When the people saw that Moses was so long in coming down from the mountain, they gathered around Aaron and said, ‘Come, make us gods who will go before us. As for this fellow Moses who brought us up out of Egypt, we don’t know what has happened to him.’” Exodus 32:1

God called Moses to climb the mountain to receive instructions for the way the Israelites were to live. God had already performed numerous miracles that helped lead the Israelites out of Egypt, but they became impatient. They quickly lost their faith in God and began to worship worldly idles, in the form of a golden calf.

It’s easy to read these words and wonder how they could defy God, even after everything he did for them. I would have never done that! But is that a fair statement? How often have I grown impatient with God’s plan? I have questioned him far too many times.

The Bible goes on to say that God was so enraged with the Israelites that he was ready to destroy them all, but Moses reminded God of the promises he made to their ancestors. However, the Israelites did not go unpunished. When we try to sculpt God’s plan for our lives instead of letting his plan be fulfilled, there is a price to pay; this often leads to a more difficult path than he anticipated. In fact, we prolong God’s original plan. We can avoid wasted time by keeping our focus on God and remembering he is in control. We tend to forget that everything is made perfect in God’s timing, not our own.

While waiting for God’s plan to unfold, I find myself looking to other things of this world. I try to fix my problems on my own instead of giving them to God. I intervene when all I need is to have faith in God’s word. Does that mean waiting years? Possibly! God doesn’t give us a time frame. He simply asks us to trust his word and know in our hearts that he is our savior.

It’s easy to become impatient, but we must not lose focus for God’s plan is greater than anything we could ever craft. When we see ourselves slipping away, we must pray that God draws us closer to him and allows us to be strong in the face of temptation. Waiting is one of the hardest things to do, and frankly, I am the worst at it. But the reward of God’s perfect plan is worth it. I have to constantly remind myself of this to keep my mind focused on God.

So, no. Maybe I haven’t built a golden calf, but I have let things of this world take my eyes off of God’s plan. What is the golden calf in your life? Will you continue to allow it in or will you stand against society and break down these false idols?

Progress Report

In November, I began a pursuit of fitness, which was rather rocky at the beginning. I missed workouts and struggled with my diet. I wanted to give up, but my body begged for results. After getting the hang of counting macros and exercising, I began seeing results. Although, the results were difficult to see since I was examining my body in the mirror on a daily basis. But a side by side by side photo opened my eyes. My body was undergoing drastic changes, and I was super excited!

I am now coming to the end of the “lean” phase of my diet as I now have 13.7% body fat. Now for the scary part – reverse dieting. Ah, it just sounds like a bad idea! However, after several encouraging conversations with my personal trainer, I am ready for the next step in this process. The best part is, I get to enjoy more carbs!

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When I started this transformation, my goal was to have abs. I didn’t care how I got them, I just knew it was my goal. Fast forward several months – I now want more than just abs. I want to continue to stay healthy and feel good about myself. I’ve always worried about my arms getting too big. I have since moved past this fear, and I am beginning the process of muscle development.

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Enough of me talking about my progress. Here are my measurements from the day I started compared to now. Results speak for themselves, and all my of hard work is finally paying off!

Nov 10th

May 14th

Waist

28”

23.5”

Hips:

34”

33.5”

Arms:

9.5”

8 3/4”

Thigh:

17 3/4”

16”

Weight:

124 lbs

115 lbs

Body Fat:

20%

13.7%

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I’ve lost all of this weight and never set foot in a gym? That’s right! You don’t need a gym membership or fancy equipment at home to see great results. Read more about when the gym isn’t an option on a previous post. To me, this proves the saying “losing weight is 80% diet and 20% working out”. Anyone can workout. It takes real dedication to stick to a diet.

If you’re looking to start or have started a life style change, my advice is to document everything. Start from day one. On the days you lack motivation, you can take a look at your progress and keep moving forward. Not everyone is going to get the same results I have at the same pace. It may not happen as quickly as you want, but don’t give up! Keep fighting for those changes you want to see. Anyone can get on track to a happy, healthier lifestyle if you’re willing to put the time and effort into it. I hope you’ll continue to follow along as I dive in to this next stage.

Healthy Creates Happy

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I’ve been slacking when it comes to my fitness blogging, but don’t worry, I have something up my sleeve for the future. I’ve been working hard and can’t wait to share my results with you guys. However, this isn’t that blog. Today, I want to share with you how becoming healthy has become my happy.

We all have a hobby we love. Over the years, mine has changed several times. I’ll usually start something and then drop it within a few weeks. With the demand of my jobs, it’s hard to set aside time for myself. Juggling every day life and then adding in extra activities starts to become a job in and of itself.

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I’m writing today to encourage you to not let go of the things you love. Make time. Otherwise, you’re going to find yourself becoming bitter. Life only gets busier, so don’t put off the hobbies and activities you enjoy. If it makes you happy, it’s worth finding the time in your schedule. Don’t feel guilty either. You’re allowed to do something for yourself.

For me, I have grown to love exercising and improving my health. It’s become my passion, and my body is thanking me constantly. The better I am with my workouts and diet, the more energy I have. Overall, I feel better; my body feels better. This fitness journey has rekindled my interest in running, a favorite pastime of mine. I am now challenging myself and constantly attempting to beat old records.

I look forward to my workouts. I usually wait until Ella goes to bed and Evan practices his golf swing in the garage. It’s just enough time for us to enjoy our hobbies while not taking away from family time. I don’t have to worry about people judging me. That’s the beauty of turning your bedroom into a gym. I get to enjoy peace and quiet and a great workout all at the same time. I also feel like I’ve accomplished something for the day, so there is no real loss here.

Now, I’m not saying everyone should enjoy exercising. Let’s face it – some people will never find happiness in bench presses and squats. My point is this: make time for yourself. Do the things you love. It doesn’t have to be everyday, but if you can squeeze in a few hours for hobbies each week, I can assure that you’ll be a happier person.

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What is your happy? If you don’t know, explore and see what sticks. Mine may be working out, but the possibilities are endless!

Happy National Women’s Health Week! I hope you’re working extra hard this week ladies!