Thursday, June 26, 2014

the moment?

So many people ask, "What was the moment that changed you?  And your husband?"
"What moment made you lose the weight and keep it off?"

I'd love to define ONE MOMENT that forever changed me.  Or the one moment that changed my husband.  Of course moments stick out in my mind for both of us, 
but I don't think I could choose just one? 
The moment that I stopped feeling sorry for myself.
The moment where I realized it's not about life being unfair but about dealing with what we have, making the best of it and finding our strengths.  
The moment where I stopped living life looking for the temporary fix, 
the easy and quick way to lose weight or 
the moment when I stopped living with the attitude that I'd change "tomorrow or Monday"...

But I can't.

What I do know is that each time I failed was a day that made me stronger.  
For years it felt effortless when I'd give up so it became second nature.   
These days I'd like to think it was preparing me for something greater.  
I was testing myself for the days where my journey can help others. 

I think it was many moments that make me who I am today.  Both good and bad.
The moments where I'd cry myself to sleep and the moments where I cross the finish line to another half marathon!  They all matter and they are all moments on my journey that I celebrate.

This picture was from my 21st birthday.  I've shared it a million times and each time I look at it, I see the same girl...although she was full of life around her family and friends, 
she was dealing with a lot of insecurities. 
A defining moment was after this picture was taken, I received a call from my childhood best friend!  She was getting MARRIED and while this was so exciting, it meant bridesmaid dresses...yipee :(   
Her bridesmaids standing in a line...all thinner than the next and then there was ME.  
She decided to go with navy and a very flattering dress...YES! dark would make me look thinner and the dress wasn't fitted. Amen.  
It was time for measurements...
The lady gave me the pep talk about how dresses run smaller than normal and then she laid it on me..."Ma'am we're going to order up one size to a 22 just to make sure it fits properly"
Ummmm, did she just say 22?  I'm pretty sure it's what I heard but I think I was on the verge of fainting so I asked her again...

But after that moment instead of changing my life it only made me feel sorry for myself and that seemed like an easier option- to blame others...so I did.   
I did the "life isn't fair", "why am I the only one that can't eat that way?", "why can they eat junk and not gain weight and I do?".  "It's because I'm Italian and I love bread and pasta!" "I'm just a bigger girl, meant to be heavy"
YEP, none of the excuses helped me lose the weight or change my life so why use them?
I guess it made me feel better and I could justify the weight, the behavior and the failure?? 

I had to get TIRED of the moments passing me by.  
Tired of the excuses.  Tired of wanting change but never working for it.  Tired of feeling sorry for myself and tired of failing.  
...you know how this story goes and I'm changing more every day!
I will NEVER STOP CHANGING!  I WILL NEVER QUIT!  I'm never finished because when I "finish", I only revert back so this journey will never end, I will always have struggles with food, troubles with my eating habits and exercise but I will keep reaching, exceeding and inspiring others to do the same...just as they inspire me each and every day! 

And if you follow my story you'll know that things didn't get easier after meeting my husband, getting married and starting a family...
I once again reverted back and even these moments are what makes me who I am today.  I was a size 12-14 in that left picture after having my first son, so nowhere near how bad things had become in college, but I was definitely slipping.  We are human.  We live and learn from our mistakes and life's moments.  It's when we choose to learn from those moments that the changing and growing takes place.  I take each moment and learn from it.  My journey that is never ending serves as hope for women that were heavy like me for most of their lives and for the women that gained weight as they grew older, started families, etc.  

The similar ground is that we get TIRED of it, 
we seek change and we run after it...
we don't make excuses or allow our obstacles to hold us back!











Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Holding on...to what?

Again I found myself inspired by Extreme Weight Loss but this time was different...
Bruce's story, have you seen this one?
Wow what a transformation both mentally and physically, wasn't it?
Chris Powell tells him on Day 1 that this will be an emotional transformation more than anything. 
That we can workout HARD but if we still hold on to what's causing the weight gain and unhealthy behavior it's only a matter of time before those thoughts make their way back into our lives and ruin what we've worked so hard to achieve.  

What are we holding onto that keeps us from living our healthiest life?  
What keeps us from losing the weight once and for all?  
What holds us back from accomplishing that goal of running a marathon, wearing that bikini or stepping into that gym for the first time?  
You want to join that workout group but are afraid of what?
You want to lose that stubborn 15 lbs but won't...why?
You need to get healthy because you take 5 medications that all carry side effects of one another but won't take the steps to improve your health the right way...WHY?

I figured I failed at dieting so many times, what would possibly be different THIS time?  Immediately setting myself up for failure before trying.  Ever been there? 
I failed at sports because I was unhealthy.  While many people that I help share opposite struggles as they were fit and healthy growing up and now struggle, I was far from it but we all share similar struggles, insecurities and we are all holding onto something?  Aren't we?
I figured if I failed at being that person that pulled my father away from that life he loves so much-a life without my mom and I and far different than the life I seek for my family, then I'd also fail at changing my life for the better.  We were never strong enough to change him as a man or change him as a father.  He's making the SAME mistakes that he made with me as a child.  It's hard to watch but thankfully I am a different person.  I am strong and will teach my boys to share that same strength.  

NO MATTER WHAT IT IS, WE MUST STOP HOLDING ON. 
It'll tear us down and make us weak every time.   
I ate to cover my weakness, my emotions and in a way I was sheltering myself with my body.  
Seems like Bruce's story was SO similar, yet his far more traumatic, but still EMOTIONS THAT WE HOLD ONTO.  It can be so powerful, take over our lives and cause SO much pain even after the damage has been done.  

I also held onto a moment with my grandfather that I held onto for so long, TOO LONG.  I believe I've shared it a million times so obviously in some way it's still in the back of my mind serving as fuel to keep me going...

We were at Mother's Day brunch with my family.  I was severely overweight but "dieting" at the time.  "Dieting" made me irritable and I felt angry, life wasn't fair and I would let everyone know about it.  I chose very little food, unbalanced because I didn't know any better and sat at that table STARVED.  I watched as my family ate.  We laughed and chatted but all I could think about was the deprivation.  I was WATCHING them eat, my tummy was growling but it was all that I knew...my cycle was start this new, fantastic diet and then slowly spiral out of control until I was sitting in front of the TV devouring a cheeseburger and fries :(  Oh I knew that sabotage SO well.  
My cousin was eating McDonald's at the brunch because she was a picky eater, young and wanted her Happy Meal and as the meal was wrapping up, my grandfather looked over at her and said, "you shouldn't be eating that way.  You want to end up like her?" and pointed directly at me.  And while I believe I am strong, at that time I was weak...oh so weak.  You could see right through me, my insecurities and I was "dieting" remember?  I was hungry and that never leaves me pleasant. I jumped up from the table and ran out in tears...
How could someone that I love say such an ugly thing about me?

When you spoke about my weight, I'd crumble.  It was a HUGE insecurity out there for the world to see and although it hid so much emotion, it also left me as a target.  
I now know that my grandpa loved me.  He wanted what was best but didn't use the right words to express it.  I now know that some people don't understand that words hurt as much as they do, especially for a person carrying around a huge issue with food.  It controlled me and I didn't know how to escape it.  That's a scary thing for a child, teenager...heck, even an adult.  It was scary because unlike alcohol and drugs, it's everywhere.  We have access to it at the grocery store, fast food restaurants and gas stations...it's around us wherever we go and that's tough.  It makes temptation hard to beat but if we educate ourselves and know what our body needs, if we properly train our mind and body then success is only a few steps away.  If we let go of the things that we're holding onto then life only gets better.  It becomes full and nothing can stand in our way.  

Why would we not want that life for each of us?  We must fight TOGETHER.  Fight for your brother, sister, mom, dad, grandpa, grandma...for our KIDS to be healthy.  We must educate them and practice the behaviors that we know are right and not share all of our insecurities, poor eating habits and unhealthy behaviors.  Don't we want what is best for the people that we love?  Then get out there and share the LOVE of fitness, healthy eating and help people change for themselves.  

AND if you didn't catch Bruce's Story on Extreme Weight Loss-find it NOW!  It is worth watching.  It was life-changing, I cried the ENTIRE episode and it helped me see even more how much I want to change the world...not just my community but the WORLD!
The people that we know in our lives that are fighting obesity right now...be their friend.  Stand by their side and help them see how much they are worth fighting for!  We must come together so our kids stay healthy and active, so we can stop teenagers and adults from dying of strokes and heart attacks, so that we can put a stop to childhood diabetes and obesity.  
So that we can live healthy for ourselves and our beautiful families...
WHO IS WITH ME??!  

The poor habits that I created as a child stuck with me as an adult.  They were worse before they became better.  I had to hit rock bottom in order to rise above and it takes work...LOTS OF WORK.  
Many tears, lots of sweat and plenty of dedication but when I stopped holding on and let go...MY LIFE CHANGED FOREVER!!!!  



All those years of destruction, poor lifestyle choices...they were NEVER for nothing.  I learned how to be strong, how to fight back and I found inspiration in myself that I am able to share with the people around me.  I want to serve as that hope.  They can see my struggles, my weaknesses and my successes and they are able to somehow relate and find hope in themselves.  That makes every dark moment WORTH IT!  

LET GO of what's holding you back :)  



Move It Momma Recipe TIME!!! 
This one is delicious so get ready!

Apple Crock Pot Pork tenderloin

1lb pork tenderloin
1/2 purple onion sliced or diced
salt and pepper-just to taste and season the pork loin-this is optional.
3 slices apples and 1 pkg unsweetened applesauce with cinnamon
-the recipe called for a can of apple pie filling and I'm sure that version is AMAZING as well!
Low 6-8 hours and ENJOY :)

I served to the family just like this...
paper plate, of course!
1/2 c long grain brown rice with pork on top...and apples!  Look at those :)
Served with sweet peas and sugar snap peas!  
AMAZING DISH!!!!  


Monday, June 23, 2014

I'M IN


Confirmation was received this morning!  
I registered myself and my Move It Mommas into the lottery for the 
Houston Aramco Half Marathon 
AND WE MADE IT IN!!!!
This will be my third time conquering this race and I couldn't be more excited!

Left: Aramco 2012                                    Right: Aramco 2014

My life has changed so much since that day in 2012.  I thought my journey had ended but in reality I was stuck...happy that I had changed my life from the girl I used to be, not knowing that I had a lot more changing to do.  
I was eating healthy, meaning no late night fast food runs and limited my junk food consumption BUT a lot of 100 calorie packs and cracker munching happening out of boredom which I confused with hunger...and I was workout out A LOT.  Seven days a week-strictly cardiovascular activity, no weights or strength training.  

Fast forward to the same race in 2014 (pictured right), WHAT A CHANGE!
Not only with my foods, weight, exercise routine but with my Move It Mommas.  They have changed my journey.  Taken me down a path I never knew existed.  They have inspired me, motivated me and now we'll be taking on this race, hoping to inspire them with the love of running the way it has captured myself and my husband!  
Some are terrified, some are excited but we will ALL cross that finish line.  
I RESPECT running.  I may not love every moment of it but it's part of me.  
Part of my journey and part of what keeps me going...
a symbol of how far I've come and how much more I am capable of in the future.  

Last year's Aramco race I was famous...Ha!  I made the webpage with this finish line photo!
The face describes it SO well.  
I am shocked each time I take on 13.1 miles.  It is a struggle for me.  It represents so much defeat from years past.  It represents the desire to change but being afraid to try.  It represents being that girl that thought she wasn't good enough.  The girl who quit before beginning. 
NOT ANYMORE. 
I have slowly shed her along the way.  With each mile.  With each workout.


As you can see, I am forever changed.  
When we eliminate fear and doubt, there's a whole world out there for us.  We open the doors on new life, new adventures and feelings.  It's amazing and the best part is...my journey is far from over.  I plan to inspire the world around me to seek their healthiest life!  These ladies that will cross that finish line along with me...they are strong, fearless and determined...and YOU ARE TOO!!!   
One is a CANCER SURVIVOR, some have lost weight, gained strength, found a way to inspire and motivate their families and friends.  I'm telling you THEY ARE INCREDIBLE!!!!  And we are growing in numbers every day!  I have women joining our group to be a part of the inspiration...a part of the magic that takes place among these ladies.  I am only a small part of what makes this group a success.  It takes all of us working together to push down obstacles that stand in our way!  
Can't imagine sharing this race and this moment any other way!  The Move It Mommas are a HUGE part of my life and forever will be so why not tackle a half marathon while we're at it? Three of us did it together in February, along with many of our women completing the 5K so this will be yet another life-changing, incredible moment for us to share and I can't wait!!!!!

Pictures from the race 2014...
Hard to NOT be inspired by THOUSANDS of runners...all ages, shapes, sizes and struggles 


I tell this to myself often while working out or running...
It's SO true.
The courage to START is often the hardest part.  
We'll make excuses and find "better things to do" but the truth is...
It takes courage, strength and determination to START and we get out there every day and do that...and it matters!
We must stop making excuses because they only hold us back.

Get out there and TRY something new.  Find a group that lifts you up and makes you feel strong and healthy.  When we have other people supporting us and cheering us along the way, it makes the journey unforgettable.  We NEVER QUIT and I hope you're right there with me :)

Thursday, June 19, 2014

the little stuff...

can be just as important as the big stuff when it comes to losing weight, gaining strength 
or finding a healthier way of life.

the little stuff in between counts for something and you should give it some credit.
The journey is TOUGH.  I saw it through myself and I see it through the women that I am helping.  We find ourselves busy, stressed and we have nine million things that we NEED to do and exercise and eating healthy sometimes take a back seat.  That's okay BUT we must remember to never push it aside completely.  Do something, MOVE, make healthy choices while on the go and focus on how you feel throughout the day.  

Even today I have times that are easy and times where I feel like I'm falling apart...
the difference these days?  My life begins to spiral and I grab hold...
I remind myself of what it looks like to drop down to rock bottom.
I think about having to start the race from the beginning all over again and I don't want that.
Not now and not ever.

I say it a lot but it's true.  The weight loss or creating new, healthy habits is easy.  
The day to day maintenance and part of life where we think we're "finished" is what's hard.
It is what crushed me every time.
On a roll, feeling good and then the "little stuff" comes into our lives.  Small at first.
Then those responsibilities, fears, efforts, time, stress...it all grabs hold and becomes the BIG stuff and before we know it, healthy living has once again taken a back seat in our lives :(

It happens SO quickly, doesn't it? 
How quickly we forget how GOOD IT FEELS TO BE HEALTHY.
I had caught a glimpse many times in my past but let it go as soon as I barely reached the surface.  I saw what it felt like but didn't truly absorb it and allow it become a part of my life.

Today, don't allow the little stuff to take over your life!!
Be happy and healthy TODAY!

Snapshot EATS this week:
Oats with fresh blueberries and ground cinnamon.  
Perfect way to start the day and give me some pre-workout fuel
You will have more energy and the oats are dense and will make you feel fuller, longer.  

High fiber cereal served with Original, unsweetened Almond Milk.  YUM!
This is Trader Joes High Fiber Cereal mixed with their Raisin Bran-which has much less sugar than other brands and contains protein where others do not.  I sprinkled with a little Linwoods Flax and Chia seed for some added YUM!


An average calorie burn!  Gotta MOVE if we want our bodies to function as they should :)  
Remember it's all about BALANCE!
Exercise AND our eats must go hand in hand in order for the magic and success to take place!


Post workout snacks are usually a rice cake with PB, cottage cheese and one serving of fruit, handful of almonds and a serving of fruit...but this day it was different because obviously I needed a trip to the grocery store so I borrowed my kiddos goodies and had grapes, some pretzel Goldfish and a Laughing Cow cheese wedge.  I don' eat this daily but it was a nice change!

Dinner is always something balanced and EASY!
Most evenings we opt out of having a starch and stick to protein and veggies but we were in the mood for change.  I made my ground turkey and bean burritos in the oven and they were delicious!
Ground turkey, a little cumin and chili powder while sauteed meat, little black beans.  Roll up and pop in the oven at 400 for 20 minutes or until crispy.  My kids eat these as well :)  
I served on a bed of romaine, avocado and plain Greek yogurt.  Balanced and delicious!

Friday, June 13, 2014

the bungee?

Of all people, I was speaking healthy living with my dentist yesterday!
Yes I had an appointment and he and I always talk running, physical fitness and health.  
He noticed that I've changed significantly since last year around this time :)

I was telling him about my Move It Mommas and how I feel that I want to help EVERY person that comes to me.  I want them to see change in themselves, discover a new strength and have long lasting health benefits...and it's hard when you have that strong of a passion and dream especially when you feel that some aren't "ready to change"

He spoke to me about a book he once read, after telling me about a dear friend that has yo-yo'd with his weight and health for years and also a sister that has struggled with her weight and health.  He said he tried to help both, many times and while they'd lose weight and catch on to the latest diet craze with great results, months later they'd fall short and allow that weight and old, unhealthy lifestyle to come creeping back in.  BAM!  EXACTLY how I felt for many years.
He said this book explained things to him in a different light about why some people change for good-they see a better life, better opportunity and never look back while others slowly fall back into old habits.  
The book called the change similar to a bungee cord?
Yes.  But it really stuck with me.

When people want to "be skinny" or fit into a pair of jeans they have temporary motivation.  Maybe it's a 10 year class reunion or a family trip?  It's that motivation they need to get up and make change but that trip, that reunion or fitting into those jeans aren't that far away so it seems possible.  They aren't "changing their lives" but simply setting a goal and reaching it, right?

So we tie ourselves on both ends with a bungee cord, one pulling us forward and one back.
As we move toward our goal the bungee loosens in the direction we're heading 
but the slack gets tighter behind us.  
Causing tension...making it tough to stay focused and move forward with so many things holding us back...
Following me?
It was like a light bulb moment for me...
Although I have changed SO much on this never ending journey, I stay stumped on the fact that I can't help every one.  That people come to me seeking change but fall short because they loose steam and focus.  THIS MADE SENSE.

Change is hard. We all know that.
But as we begin to change, that cord doesn't want to let go of our former habits and way of life.  The tension builds and that temporary goal all of a sudden becomes harder than it was in the beginning so we let go a bit and are immediately slammed back into our old reality.  Whew it's easier isn't it?  Now there's no tension...it's all "easy" as it was for me for years.  

If we release ourselves from the cord all together...moving over to a different way of thinking, then the magic is able to take place.  We are no longer focused on a temporary goal of a reunion or pair of jeans, instead we are focused on change.  We are focused on LIFE GETTING BETTER.  We celebrate being healthy and making the path of life different than where it was headed yesterday.  

I am hoping on my journey that I have released that "bungee" that held onto me for so long.  Many years of fighting that tension, my old ways pulling me down and causing me to fail time and time again.  I let go in hopes of finding a better way for myself and to help cut the bungee for every person that I know.  

We need to stop and ask ourselves why that bungee wants to pull us back?  

What is holding us back from change?  
Fear?  Afraid of failing? Fear of our family treating us differently?  

Things only get harder if we allow it.  

Our mind is powerful and...
if we set temporary goals then we get temporary results, right?  RIGHT. 

I love this quote...



For the journey to change us we must become stronger than we imagined.
We fight back HARD every day.  
The day we stop fighting is the day that bungee slings us back into that former reality.  

Even the temporary change felt good, didn't it?
I can recall fitting into smaller jeans and my mom taking me shopping...she was so proud.
Heck I was proud.
It was hard work and I did it.  But was I finished?  Well yes that's what I told myself which is exactly why that temporary goal and satisfaction disappeared.  The binge eating and sedentary lifestyle was back in my life and I hated it.  SO why if we hate being overweight, hate feeling weak and like a failure, do we continually put ourselves back into those situations?  


Think about the kind of change you seek?  Is it temporary?  If so then you are obviously not ready to cut loose of that cord...you need time to figure out your journey and the path it will take.  When you're ready, you'll know it.  You'll feel free and ready for anything that comes your way.  You'll take it on with a no fear attitude and a strength that you find within that you never knew you had!  It's amazing and if you trust the process and believe that you deserve a better way of life then it will come with hard work and dedication EVERY day.  

When you figure out the "why" that cord will set you free!
And until I am able to change EVERY woman I will continue to share my story-struggles too, 
in hopes that they will see a strength in themselves 
that will help them conquer every fear that held them back just as it did for me.  
NEVER QUIT.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

to break the cycle...

I have EVERY intention of helping women develop the tools to keep their families healthy but while I have a strong passion for helping women get healthy, I have a deep passion for helping children get healthy as well.

For me growing up I was always bigger.  I never remember being "small"...always larger than my family and friends and I HATED IT.  
I recall many moments in my childhood where I felt uncomfortable and awkward in my own skin.  It seemed like I was always the girl you wanted to be around because I was fun and funny but never because I was beautiful...ever. 

I turned to food at an early age for many reasons.

I think a lot of it had to do with my Dad leaving...being "busy" and often away from the house even prior to the divorce.  The food would be there when he wasn't.  It became a crutch for me to lean on.  I guess I never felt important enough for him to stay.  There was always something bigger and and better for him to get to instead of spending quality time with me and to solve these problems, I'd eat.  And it worked. Almost like drinking, I'd just eat until I felt nothing.  My mom had enough going on trying to raise me on her own while working full time so my weight took the back seat, understandably.  Plus when she would bring up losing weight or eating less to me...well that was more the reason to eat even more.  Not sure why that is but as soon as someone brought up my weight, I'd get defensive, angry and eat twice as much :(  a sad way to live especially as a child.  
I loved McDonald's and it makes me sick to hear family and friends talk about how I had to have it almost every day or I'd cry.  Who does that?  It wasn't even good food...it's awful.  
And this continued through college.  I remember driving through McDonald's or Taco Bell, ordering enough to feed a family of four, driving off and finishing it before arriving at my destination.  Ughhh almost like those bad habits I developed over the years had taken over my life and there was no way out.  I had no clue how to get out of the dark place I had created for myself.  

It was like food was always there.  And if you gave me 15 healthy options and 2 bad ones, you can take a guess at which I'd choose time and time again.  
I NEVER made healthy choices and when I did, I ate so much of it that it was no longer good for me because I was overeating.  The chips and queso always sounded better, the bread with butter would ALWAYS win.  But not only one slice of bread-but three, four or possibly five.  It was like it was never enough.  Mindless eating would leave me wanting more and more...knowing it would leave me feeling blah! I kept doing it over and over.  Like I was purposely self-destructing.  
Ugh it makes me sick to think I lived that way for SO MANY YEARS.  
And because of my weight I had little to no self-esteem my entire life...it is still hard for me to accept a compliment because the only one I'd hear as a child was, "your face is so pretty".  


So becoming a PE teacher meant so much more to me than simply teaching a child how to jump rope or play basketball.  I wanted to be that role model for children.  
I want them to see that healthy living is FUN.  
Exercise, being active and eating healthy food IS important and necessary every day 
especially if they weren't getting it at home, 
I had to show them WHY it was so important to take care of their health.  



My most important goal is TO BREAK THE CYCLE...
For my boys, my husband, my family, friends AND children everywhere.  So while I thoroughly enjoy helping the Mom's, I truly want their choices to trickle down to their families and make an impact...and trust me IT WILL.  



We discuss healthy eating often with our boys.  Every day.  They ask questions and we are honest in telling them about our childhood and how healthy eating is something EVERY person should focus on, but sadly many do not.  We teach them not to judge others for their food choices and we stress the importance of portions and balance with our meals.  They know that a treat is in fact, a treat.  Eating out is okay but we don't do it every day and while my children eat french fries and hamburgers, it is NOT often at all and they know why.  
I am a firm believer in practicing what we preach.  If they SEE us leading a good, healthy example with our workouts and food choices, they will follow...hopefully.  While nothing is guaranteed, I want them to know and understand their bodies, their heart and why we must take care of ourselves.  They know that we were unhealthy children and that we do NOT want the same for them...

And when I started making lunch today and the boys asked to help, I was thrilled!  They washed their hands and jumped right in.  We cleaned fresh fruit, sliced apples and created a delicious sandwich while I opted for my sprouted bread but filled mine with egg whites! 


My son was so proud!  He kept saying, "this is healthy, take my picture Mom!"
That's two wheat rolls filled with Boars Head low sodium turkey and lettuce, apple slices with a 1tbs PB, some strawberries and grapes.  
And this healthy choice was made AFTER he attended Move It Mommas boot camp and he and the other kids ran the track right along with us!  SO PROUD! 

Moments like these help me understand that I AM BREAKING THE CYCLE with my boys.  

If we grew up struggling and were always self-conscious about our weight, 
why on Earth would we want the same struggles for our children?
  
I wake up every day being so thankful that I was able to learn how to take care of my body, appreciating every step of the process and knowing how grateful I am for changing my life...
every day!  

HOW ABOUT FAMILY PIZZA NIGHT!
Get those kiddos in the kitchen with you and help their taste buds go on an adventure!
I buy these Trader Joes whole wheat pizza dough's and freeze them!  They are $1.99 and so easy!  You can top them with SO many varieties.  Last night was topped with Tuscano low fat sauce from TJ's, turkey pepperoni's, Italian veggie medley and a little Mozzarella cheese!  My husband and I like our's crispy and the boys prefer soft, so we cook these at different temperatures and we're all happy!  The smaller two are whole wheat NAAN pizzas that I make at the same time to enjoy all week for my husband at work.  We serve with salad and grilled chicken on top...or whatever you'd like!  

My lunch today was a slice of sprouted bread topped with 1 whole egg, 2 egg whites pan-cooked in coconut oil spray, some berries, grapes and apple slices!  So filling and delicious.  

The most freeing feeling in the world is putting myself in charge of my life.  NOT the food.  
It led my life down a destructive path for so many years so being able to find a happy place for food and giving it only the credit it deserves...after all, it is ONLY FOOD was one of the best moments on this journey.  It is still an every day struggle.  A battle within myself that I must consciously think about and overcome EVERY day.  I celebrate each day that I stay in control.  I am proud of how much my life has changed.  I am proud of the victories that the women I am helping are reaching.  They should be celebrated and rewarded for simply showing up.  For taking that first step out of the car and admitting that they seek their healthiest life.  They should be proud knowing that their children are watching as they put their healthy as a priority.  When they put on their workout clothes, grab their weights and mat...their children are watching!  Always watching.  Keep that in mind with everything that you do.  Whether you struggled as a child or not, it is our JOB to show our children how to live healthy.  How to embrace their bodies, how to feed them and get the blood pumping.  We must show them that exercise is a necessity and taking care of our bodies IS important no matter what age.  

Monday, June 9, 2014

make change happen!

I did a lot of wishing for change...

Sadly, I never improved my health until I made the change happen for myself!
Nobody is going to do the work for you.  
No magic pill or rubbing of the belly...trust me, I tried it :) 

If you've followed my journey you will know that this before picture is where I stayed for a long time...a size 12.  (Although the beginning of my journey I was far worse-a size 22, unhealthy and unsure of where my life would take me. more on my weight loss story HERE)  

In the picture on the left I stuck to cardio-lots of cardio.  Running, spinning, elliptical workouts, etc.  No strength training and ate fairly "healthy".  
By "healthy" I mean 100 calorie packs of cookies instead of the entire box, lean cuisines and Baked chips.  Anyone relate?
It was healthIER than my former options when I was extremely overweight so I thought it was where I was meant to be?


On the right:  My life has changed significantly.  
I realized that when the road ends, we find a new road, a new challenge...and we keep going. 

In my past, I'd do great for a while and find myself wanting to revert back constantly.  It was comfortable for me to lean on foods for much more than nutritional needs.    
I'd rely on food to set my moods, my attitude and of course my self-destruction. 

These days to keep myself motivated I rely on ME.  
Nobody is going to do the work for me.  Nobody is forcing me to be healthy.  
I have to WANT it badly enough and fight for it hard enough to keep it.  
I had to make the change happen...
And when I did, everything changed.  
Today I focus on balance, increasing my protein and fiber while limiting my processed foods.  Of course I indulge but it is done in moderation and I must make the decision EVERY day to be healthy.  


My foods have changed more than anything else-
If Mexican food and Italian food are a weakness to my husband and I, we limit how often we eat it. Instead of putting ourselves in those atmospheres constantly setting up for failure and temptation, we limit it to special occasions and that's okay.  I have also found MANY healthy options for these foods so that we don't feel as though we are missing out.  We LOVE food and that's okay too!  I am Italian...what Italian doesn't love food?!  Ha!  
  
While camping with my family over the weekend I found my options limited until we went shopping so I opted for grapes, a little Neuftchael cheese and Boars Head low sodium turkey breast.  Not the healthiest option but it was far better than what I would've chosen years ago.  
The difference?  I make healthy eating a PRIORITY.  If it's not somewhat balanced, I find an option that is.  Simple as that.  
For years, I'd live off of processed, "healthy" foods because they were a better option however they were not the BEST option.  These days I try very hard to make the best option possible in most situations.  

I am now in charge of motivating and inspiring women in my area 
along with many of you (hopefully!).  I couldn't have asked for a better job and task.  
To have gone through all of the challenges of gaining, losing, gaining and losing weight a million times...it's all worth it when I look into their eyes.  
I am their leader, their "Head Momma" that is proof that it CAN be done.  
I am PROOF to these ladies that the hard work pays off.  The work is worth it!  They see hope and change and they trust the process.  We all have obstacles and bumpy roads but I wouldn't wish living life from the sidelines on ANYONE.  We were born to LIVE, to go on adventures with our families, making memories, conquering fears and accepting challenges that come our way.  
It is what makes us STRONG, BEAUTIFUL and AMAZING WOMEN right?!  RIGHT!   

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

National Running Day reflections!

Did you celebrate?



My ladies and I celebrated by pushing ourselves through an intense workout with lots of...
RUNNING!
Running honestly changed my life...
It created a new path for my journey and for that I am forever grateful.  
I feared running for most of my life.
It challenged me, defeated me and made me feel weak.
I would see that finish line as nothing more than an obstacle that got the best of me time and time again.  

It wasn't until my mind changed that my heart followed and allowed running to take a special place on my journey.  

While running defeated me even after I had grown to appreciate it, I have learned after each half marathon that

those miles between the START and FINISH line are what matter most.  
They are the reflection.  
They symbolize all of those years that I quit on me. 

The "START LINE" was simple...
Just as the beginning of a goal is simple.  When we first set out to accomplish weight loss, getting healthy or gaining muscular and heart strength.  It's easy, isn't it?  
The "FINISH LINE" symbolizes something I reached often on my journey.  For years I'd lose 30lbs, be proud, fit into smaller clothes and BOOM! the weight would come creeping back on because I was "finished", wasn't I?

It's those miles between-the bumps ON the journey or IN that race that seem to challenge us most.  For me, they were HARD...they will always be hard.  
Mile 2, 3...10, 11-those are tough.  
They symbolize SO much for me.  The years I gave up.  
I thought-this is too hard, why keep fighting for something that seems so far out of reach?  My journey knows no finish line but as I complete these races, I am better.  I am stronger.  I am NO longer defeated.  I know my own strength, I am passionate about healthy living and I am in control. I control what my body does, what food goes in and how much I am willing to dedicate to this healthy life.  
If it was easy on those miles in between, we'd all be doing it.  If it was easy, I wouldn't have failed a million times before.  If it was easy I wouldn't dedicate my life to helping women fight for those miles, those moments in between that tend to send us back to where we started.  
Mile 12 is SO hard.  It's a mind game when your body feels weak and you feel like you have nothing left to give.  You find strength somewhere buried deep within and it pushes you further, further until you reach mile marker 13.  I can imagine it feels the same on any long distance run, however 13 has been my limit thus far :) This mile can often symbolize those stubborn, last 15lbs that won't seem to go away or our "love handles", big booty or pudgy tummy...if we keep at it, we will see results, Mile 13 will be in clear sight.  

Do I love running?
Not sure, but I appreciate and respect it.  It is a way for me to test my strength, my endurance and it tests my NEVER QUIT attitude with each mile.  
It's TOUGH and it challenges every muscle in our body. 
BUT if we keep pushing forward the reward and feeling is much greater than NEVER TRYING.  


How will YOU celebrate today?  
What does running mean to YOU?


...and Trader Joes has done it again!  Pulled off an amazing breakfast option that I'll no longer be living without :)
THESE are amazing!
I toasted it this morning with a tbs of PB melted in the center!  Ohhhhh my!!


Don't make it complicated.  Keep things simple and tasty!  I still LOVE food so I want things to taste good while being good for me and that can be a challenge but I'm up for it.  Thankfully I have found MANY healthy options that seem to work great for my family and I on this journey...it is never ending and if we all push forward together, share struggles, secrets and triumphs then this journey will forever change us...heck, it'll change the world!!!  I am hopeful :)  and I hope you are too!

Monday, June 2, 2014

shopping.

It was always a nightmare for me.

I remember as a teenager going to the mall with friends and trying on NOTHING for fear of embarrassment over size, it not fitting or looking awful so I'd watch and help them choose the perfect outfit :( and that didn't change as I grew older.  Shopping was always a dreaded activity.  I didn't look forward to heading to the beach with friends because that meant a bathing suit-eeek! and I sure didn't like weekends out because I'd wear the same thing over and over because it was comfort to me and "hid" my insecurities and my weight.  Even as a child I remember being uncomfortable in most of the things I would wear.  Sometimes they'd be too tight and I'd squeeze them on...it all brings back bad memories 
and as an emotional person, I hold onto things like that as added fuel for my fight back! 

As women we should feel beautiful and confident but I was far the opposite.
In the past years it was easier to find clothes that fit, looked okay and I felt pretty good but it wasn't until this weekend that I truly realized how far I've come...

The hard work DOES pay off.  The process WORKS.  It is effective and it makes all the hard days worth it.  There are no days off, no days that come easy and I am a constant reminder to myself that I must keep at it no matter what life throws my way.  I must help in being the example that the only sure way to change and find success is to NEVER QUIT!

I went shopping with my Mom and while I still do not enjoy shopping, I decided to explore some new stores and try a few things on.  To my surprise I was fitting into smaller shorts and tops...WOW.  The best part?  They looked good, they fit and I wasn't wearing the XL I had come to love for years...
Shopping is an itty bitty victory but I'll take it!
Sounds petty to many, but the mall would give me anxiety.  I hated knowing I had somewhere "nice" to be because it meant shopping, trying on clothes and ripping myself apart mentally and physically.  This past weekend was the FIRST time in my life where I felt GOOD about it.  It's days and experiences like this that matter so much to me.  All of the "life's not fair" moments are null and void when you can feel confident as a woman, right?  AND please understand that our size does not define us or make us confident, but in my personal journey, this is a HUGE deal for me.  A girl with MANY insecurities able to find beauty within herself and know that the journey and sacrifices were worth it and always will be :)

That moment was key for me...
and just another notch on my journey to my healthiest self!

What about YOU?
What things push you forward and make you confident on this journey??!




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