Monday, August 25, 2014

I am a dreamer...

My BFF and one of my biggest cheerleaders (which is fitting, because we met in cheerleading) has said to me multiple times in multiple ways how she admires my drive to go after my dreams.  I have been reflecting on what drives me.  Everything, goes back to a daydream.  And, I can honestly say that I have lost count of how many times I have been busted zoned out in my own little ginormous world.  I remember in my teenage years people convinced that I was thinking about boys.  They were wrong.  Most of the time, I was thinking about a distant goal. 

 
One of my first big dreams that I could remember having is going to Paris.  Or maybe it was living in Paris...  Anyway, I knew that if I wanted to stand a chance in Paris that I would need to learn the language.  So, I took summer school classes in French in middle school (maybe even sooner).  Then, I took French in high school for credit.   I had a role model in my life who went to France as part of French Club in high school, so I knew about the opportunity when I stepped foot in the French room on my first day of high school.  I had my site on it, since I knew the opportunity existed.  I joined French Club, I saved up money, I got a job, I sold candy bars (probably ate some too), oh and I can't forget the before school donut stand.  I signed up for the 1997 trip the first chance I got.  I worked hard to make sure I could go.  And guess what!?!?  I spent two glorious weeks en France!

About the time the Paris dream came to be, I also learned that there were people who designed clothes.  I lived in a small town that had a few ma and pa shops and soon to come a KMart.  Learning about fashion designers was absolutely fascinating.  In my mind all the greats came from Paris, so it was the perfect marriage of goals - become a Parisian fashion designer.  In high school, I looked at magazines and colleges that would support my vision.  I tore out the magazine pages that I loved.  I researched colleges.  FIT seemed like it would be great, but I wasn't fond of the idea of going to New York.  I was actually afraid that I would get stuck there and never to Paris again...One of my teachers in high school recommended that I look into going to UW-Stout.  I looked into the school, toured it, and applied. I had to take out loans, and apply for scholarships and grants.  I worked three jobs a couple of years in college.  BUT, I did graduate with a B.S. in Apparel Design and Manufacturing from STOUT!  Am I fashion designer today?  No.  Do I want to be one?  No, but not because I fell short of my goal.  I have actually had a couple of design jobs in my career.  They, just were not for me.  I love being a technical designer.  I love engineering the products I work on and solving any issues that may come up. 


Growing up, I didn't have the best cards in my hand to play.  But, I made every effort to not let the bad cards hold me back.  So, what if I grew up in a single parent household!?  So, what if my mom didn't have the money to outfit me in name brand clothing!?  So, what if she worked two jobs while I took care of my brother (let's face it, I least excited about this card)!?  Do you know what I did have?  An amazing support system!!!  My family helped my mom out however they could.  I had amazing people take care of me while my mom was at work or if she needed a night out.  I spend so much time with my grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins.  Because, of that I was able to take my shitty hand and turn it into a four of a kind with an ace.  Now, I am working on the Royal Flush.

I really believe that you can achieve anything you dream.  You just can't leave that dream up in the clouds of your head.  You need to take the steps to pursue them.   I know it can be scary sometimes, but you need to put on your big girl/boy undies, get over yourself, and put some elbow grease into achieving your dreams.  Set small goals for yourself.  These help motivate you along.  Celebrate the small victories.  Today, didn't go as planned for me, but I celebrated that I didn't eat the random food that is left in the conference room I was working in today.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

The Quest for Happiness

This post is inspired by my cousin Shelly who asked me if I had been following Shawn Achor, because a lot of my Facebook posts remind her of his advice on reprogramming your brain for happiness.  I had not heard of him prior to her asking. Since she asked, I thought I would share my thoughts on happiness with the interwebs.

Looking back on my childhood, I think I was a fairly happy child.  I was raised by a single mother.  At one point she married and later divorced.  From that marriage I got a brother.   I remember tough times, but I don't have feelings of negativity towards those tough times.  There is a span of one or two years (when I was about 14) that I thought were terrible, but otherwise life felt pretty good.  Part of why I felt happy as a child is because of the awesome support system my mom had.  I had good people take care of me while she was working.  After her divorce, I spent my evenings taking care of my brother while she worked two jobs.  Yes, it did stink, but I have a great relationship with my brother who is about ten years younger than me.

I think most of my life, I have generally been happy and kept a positive attitude.  I know there have been circumstances in the past few years that may have derailed me a bit, but I didn't let them keep me down.  Life is too short to be miserable and feel weighed down.  We all have stuff that can and (will if you let it) hold you back from happiness.  It is all in how you choose to handle the situation.  I realize that being unhappy got me nowhere fast.  It was a sinkhole of negativity.  When I came to grips with this, I started retraining my brain for positivity.  Things started to change.  Yes, it was only my outlook at first, but soon it was the things around me as well. 

I did have to consciously rid myself of the negativity and anything that was holding me back.  It was a slow but worthwhile process.  And with each step, I attracted more positivity around me.  Do I think my life is perfect now?  It is far from it, but I am choosing to be happy with what I have.  Happiness has gotten me farther in life than being unhappy.  It is when I am happy that I am able to drive successfully towards my goals.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Continuing to Inspire in New Ways :)!



Did you see this announcement?


For awhile, I have been mulling over my journey to take control of my lifestyle.  Weight Watchers worked really well for me.  The format of the "At-Work" meetings did not.  I didn't feel I had the opportunity to connect with the leader or to continue to develop the way I feel I need to as a member.  When I switched from the regular meetings to the at-work meetings I was at my goal weight.  My leader and I were talking about me becoming a leader, because I had inspired and motivated so many Weight Watcher members and non-members.

I wanted to find a way to continue to inspire those who were/are looking for the push into a healthier lifestyle.  I looked at becoming a life coach, but as a single mother that dream seemed a little out of reach at this time.  Then, I the friend who inspired me to live a better lifestyle presented me with the opportunity to become a Beachbody Independent Coach.  I think she understood my apprehension, because stood by me and encouraged me to take this leap of faith.  Thanks Maria!

The first program I am doing with Beachbody is Piyo.  I am on day 5, and it is wonderful.  As a single mom, I find it convenient to work out in my living room.  This program is great if you have neighbors under you, too as it is fairly low impact.  Last night, I did the Sweat work out, and was dripping sweat...BIG DROPS of sweat.  Also, the work outs range from 20-40 minutes.  With school-aged kiddos who are in activities, it is much easier to fit in a 20 minute work out at home than trying to get to the gym when the daycare is open to work out.  Also, no one is going to inhibit your kids from joining in.  My girls love doing yoga, so they were excited to see the Piyo program.

If you would like me to support you in anyway to reach your goals, let me know.  I would love to cheer you on, on an individual basis.  Or if you are interested in joining BeachBody as a coach, let me know, also.  I am looking for amazing people to join my team!


In fitness and health,
April


Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Something New

Periodically through out my life, I was plagued with stomach issues.  Nothing too severe, but annoying enough to let me know that something is not right.  Last week, I had an upset stomach that lasted 3 days.  It wasn't something that made me bed ridden.  Rather, it was 3 days of me trying to eat food, and then get scolded by my stomach.  It made me realize that something is not agreeing with me, and I need to fix the situation.

A couple of co-workers have done elimination type diets.  One suffers from Celiac's disease and the other has food sensitivities as well.  The first friend just finished Whole30.  The other did something similar for longer.  They both felt better during and after their experience.  I have other friends who have done Whole30 as well with positive feedback.  I did my own research and asked my co-workers for advice and support before I committed to doing the Whole30 program.

What is Whole30?  Basically, it is a way of eating for 30 days.  You avoid processed foods, sugar, dairy :(, legumes, alcohol :(, and grains.  Yes, it seems really restrictive if you focus on what you can't have.  What you can have is fruits and veggies, lean protein, nuts, and healthy fats.  I just successfully completed day 2.  28 more to go!

Day One Recap
Breakfast: 3 egg Omelet with broccoli, onion, and tomato
Lunch: Spring mix salad with strawberries, blueberries, raw mixed nuts, homemade strawberry vinaigrette
Snacks: Strawberries, cucumbers, raw almonds
Dinner: 2 eggs scrambled with onion and an apple with almond butter (not a lot, because I am not a fan of almond butter).
Comments: I forgot my coffee at home.  Every coffee shop I walked passed made me crave a coffee.  I was strong and resisted the urge to duck in for a latte.  That is a HUGE win in my book.  I love me a latte.  Being that Whole 30 does not include dairy products (sorry to any farmer I may put out of business during the challenge) it is going to be challenging to skip milk in my coffee, cheese on my e

ggs, and cheese curds (fresh and deep fried). 
I was really tired at the end of the day, so I will chalk that up to the toxins leaving my body and being uber productive at work.  I had no energy to cook; hence the scrambled eggs for dinner.  I slept fairly soundly through the night.  I woke up tired.

Day 2
Breakfast: 2 eggs scrambled with onion
Lunch: Cubed/steamed sweet potato with ghee and cinnamon, salmon, and grapes
Snacks: Coconut Cream Larabar, grapes
Dinner: Chicken, pineapple, sauteed zucchini
Comments: My energy levels feel more consistent throughout the day than they usually do.  I didn’t have the 3 or 4 o’clock crash that I had been experiencing.
I had to go to Dairy Queen to pick up my oldest daughters Girl Scout cookie incentives.  I sat and watched all of the other moms and girls eat ice cream.  I was not even tempted to get my own treat.  

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Naturally...

Yesterday in the shower, I was reflecting on some changes I have made in my life.  I had one of those (OK several) of those, "How did I not know about this sooner!?" revelations.  The parent revelation led to me ranting on Facebook. 
1. Recently, I started using baking soda to wash my scalp and apple cider vinegar to condition my hair.  My uber fine hair is easier to style and feels softer.  Before, it just felt slippery.  My scalp is less itchy (product of this lovely winter we have been experiencing).  Thinking about how did I not discover the baking soda/apple cider vinegar thing sooner; I thought about all the other more natural things I have incorporated into my life in the past two years...

2. Exercise - natural anti-depressant/high.  Why don't more sources prescribe exercise when people are feeling down?  Today, I took my dog for a run (I am training for a 5K).  I don't particularly enjoy running (OK, I dislike it), but I do love the way I feel afterwards.  I feel lighter, energized, and happy, albeit worn out.

3. Laundry detergent - I originally started out with a recipe that was borax, washing soda, and Dawn dish soap that I found on Pinterest.  I was looking for a way to improve my family's budget and laundry detergent is expensive.  I know from taking18 credit hours of Textile Sciences in college and in my career, that Tide is one of the best detergents/most popular.  I know from having babies that Dreft is best for baby's skin.  I also know that Americans use entirely too much detergent in the wash.  Hmmmmm.....  My recent recipe for liquid laundry detergent is: 3 TBSP of Borax and 3 TBSP of Washing Soda, poured into a gallon container.  Add 4 cups of HOT water.  Put a cover on the container.  Shake the container until the powders are disolved.  Add 3 TBSPs of your favorite Dr. Bronner's Castile Soap (liquid) scent (mine is lavender).  Top off the container with water.  I use 1/2 - 1 cup per load.  I started using Borax and Washing Soda for cleaning products about 2 years ago.  Each box cost me a couple of bucks. I still have plenty to last me awhile...

4. Multipurpose cleaner - White distilled vinegar and water in a spray bottle.  I add a couple drops of essential oil to make it smell pretty (you guessed it, I use lavender essential oil).

5. Heavy duty cleaner - Baking soda and white vinegar...sit back and watch it bubble and fizz.  Wipe with a damp sponge.

6. Carpet cleaner - Vinegar, dish soap, and water.

7. Body scrubs (this is my favorite) - for those of you who do not eat sugar, this is a great way to use of any sugar supply you have...Equal parts brown and white sugar mixed well.  Add Vitamin E Oil, Coconut Oil, or Extra Virgin Olive Oil in any combination you want until the sugars look moist.  Add a few drops of your favorite scent (lavender) essential oil.  Slather on your wet hands and/or feet and rinse after a minute or so...The last commercial body scrub I bought was $15 for a small container.  I used it very sparingly and only when I wanted to treat myself...

8. Foot soak - I just found this one somewhere on the interwebs.  It is the best soak I have found.  I may have modified it a bit based on my experiences...1/8 cup of epsom salt, 1/4 baking soda, 1 tbsp lemon juice, and a couple drops of essential oil (guess what I used...lavender) and fill whatever you are soaking your feet in with warm water.  Soak for at least 10 minutes.  Use a foot file or pumice stone to scrub off all the dry skin. 

9. Spa water - Slice up some fruit, cucumbers, and or mint. Add them to your glass of water.  I am enjoying strawberries and lemon right now.

10. Facial cleanser - Crap, I can't remember the recipe.  I better find it, as I am almost out....1/4 Cup Chamomile Tea (brewed), 1/4 Cup Olive Oil, Vitamin E Oil, Essential Oil (your favorite scent), couple drops of Dr. Bronner's.  Keep it in an airtight container.  I keep mine in the shower.

Bonus: I had another "How did I not know this sooner!?" moment with organic not sweetened shredded coconut.  It tastes so much better than the non-organic sweetened one that is most easily found at the grocery store.  Added bonus, is that it is cheaper and I don't have to use as much :)

I am sure there are more that I use.  And you, are probably wondering is there any more natural product I have tried to make and use with out success....why yes, dishwasher detergent was an epic failure.  At first I liked it, but towards the end of the batch my dishes felt dry and dull.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Staples

Weight Watchers has had Simple Start to their arsenal of tools to help new and existing members take steps towards a healthier lifestyle. I reviewed the new plan, and thought that it is exactly what I need to reinvigorate my desire to be healthier than I was yesterday. The plan is very simple. You can either chose from a given recipe for your meal or snack or design your own by picking a food from each group of suggested foods (Protein, Carb, fruit, veggie, healthy fat/oil categories). Plus you get 7 points plus value points to use on what every you want (wine, cheese, chocolate for me ;))

Yesterday, I did my grocery shopping for the week. First, I reviewed the recommended shopping list on the back of the Simple Start booklet I received in my meeting. It got me to thinking about what staples are necessary to have on hand to make healthy cooking easy.


  1. Herbs and spices – These are essential for flavoring the food you are preparing. You can find these in the produce section or the spice section of wherever you buy food. Once, I found some in the frozen section of Costco (http://mydorot.com/). The frozen cubes of minced herbs are convenient for crockpot cooking, soups, or sauteing. I also love Gourmet Garden herbs and spices in a tube (http://na.gourmetgarden.com/us).
  2. Extracts – Another nice way to add flavor to foods. I added a teaspoon of peppermint extract to my brownie mix with out adding PPV. I saw that my local Super Target has about 5 or 6 different extracts to choose from (I remember seeing vanilla, maple, coffee, and some sort of mint).
  3. Produce – Stock up on what you love and keep it at eye level. Keeping fresh produce at eye level ensures you see it and will grab for it first. I also stock up on frozen produce for roasting. I also roast fresh produce when it starts to look no so fresh.
  4. Whole grain pastas, couscous, and quinoa – You can make a recipe on the fly with this staples. Combine with cooked veggies and a lean meat and voila you have a quick meal.
  5. Fat-free and reduced sodium broth or stock – I like to have on hand to add flavor to the foods I am cooking or to make a soup quickly. For soups I will put broth, chicken breasts, fresh/frozen and/or roasted veggies, and pasta, couscous, or quinoa into my crock pot with some herbs in the morning and will enjoy when I get home from work.
  6. Lean proteins – Fish, seafood, lean cuts of beef, chicken, turkey, and lean ground meat. The key here is to keep an eye on your portion size. A serving of meat is 2-3 oz. Many restaurants serve 8+ oz in a meal. I know that I lose more when my diet is higher in protien, but a 16 oz steak is way too much for me!
  7. Eggs – Hard boiled eggs can make an easy go-to breakfast or snack if you like them and are not allergic. Eggs are my favorite source of protein in the morning.


These are some of the things I have in my kitchen at all times. I do have things that are for the kids only. They are things I don't really care for, so it is easy for me to not eat them.  What are your staples?

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Tips and Tricks volume 1

People I have been meeting recently have a hard time believing that I used to weigh 205+ pounds.  I get asked all the time for my tips and tricks.  So, I decided that I will periodically share some of the things that have worked for me.  Feel free to share in the comments your tips for others as well.  My goal is that people come here to be inspired to lead a healthier life.  Disclaimer: this is what has worked for me.  Nothing is a quick fix - if it is, it is not going to last.

1. Find an anchor.  This is something that is going to remind you of your goals.  It could be a picture, an article of clothing, a trip, an affirmation or mantra,  a person, etc.  Mine has changed over my journey.  First, it was my children.  Then it was an affirmation of "nothing tastes as good as healthy feels".  As the compliments came pouring it, I regained my motivation.  Next, I used the tokens I received when I hit milestones through Weight Watchers.  My most recent anchors are my progression picture and my size 8 pants.
2. Classify foods as "all the time foods" and "sometimes foods".  I have a sweet tooth and and various times in my life I was treating myself more often than I should.  Sometimes multiple times in one day.  I found that swearing off cupcakes made me think of them more.  The more I thought of them, the more I wanted one or six.  Then, I couldn't control myself.  Now, if I want a cupcake I eat enough of a cupcake to satisfy the craving.

3. Move more than you did yesterday.  Find some physical activity you like.  Do it for 5 minutes today.  Build it up until you are getting at least 30 minutes in a day.  Feel free to switch it up daily too.  Boredom is one of the top reasons people don't stay active.

4. Enlist a buddy.  Tell your friend your goal, exercise with your friend, and/or have the friend keep you accountable.  I didn't have this for when I went balls to the wall with WW, but I have it this time.  It makes a lot of difference.  When I want a doughnut.  She tells me to have a doughnut, but not from downstairs...make sure it is really good and worth every point ;)

5. Reward yourself (and follow through with the rewards).   Just make sure they are not food rewards (you are not a dog).  Even my dog is satisfied with a pat on the head and, "you're a good girl".  Seriously, I created a reward plan for myself that keeps my budget in mind.  Work out 5 days out of 7 - give self mani and pedi.  Reach goal weight - 60 minute massage.  Pants too big - buy new pair throw out old (I LOVE buying pants that are a size smaller - it is a high for me).  Make the rewards exciting to you.

6. Listen to your mom: "Eat your veggies".  There are a lot of good nutrients in them that fuel your body. If you like them swimming in sauces and dressings, gradually cut back.  My favorite way to have veggies is roasted with seasonings like garlic, basil, and other herbs.

7. If you fail to plan you plan to fail.  I never planned out my meals per day and time.  I planned my meals for the week. When I make my grocery list it is: 7 breakfasts, 7 lunches, 7 dinner, 14 snacks, and ad hoc stuff for the kids.  I make sure there is a variety of grab-n-go for the nights that get choatic and things that need more time to cook for when I have the time.  If something comes up Tuesday, I am not freaking out that I was going to make chicken and rice and have no back up.  It is more like, oh well, we will have chicken and rice on Wednesday and fresh fruits, veggies, and sandwiches tonight. Also, schedule exercise like you would anything else. Write it in your calendar.

8. Be kind to yourself.  There will be times you feel like a failure.  DO NOT beat yourself up over it.  Stand up, brush yourself off, and move on.  What can you do better now?  What can you learn from the set back or obstacle?  Dinner party where you had too much wine (this is what I am most guilty of) -  get back on track in the morning.

9. Acknowledge that it isn't easy.  It is a challenge.  One I believe you can overtake.

10. Be brave.  Try new things.  Start crossing stuff off your bucket list.  Live your life!