How to Keep the Weight Off This Fall Season

Ah! The Fall season is among us. It’s in the air, outside your window pane, on your window pane, and of course! How can you not notice the beautifully colored leaves that float to the ground with every breath a tree takes????

 By now, Halloween has already filled your house with an abundance of sugary treats; temptation lurks everywhere, and I can only imagine that your scurrying around the house trying to hide the devilish little treats before your brain realizes what you are doing. And maybe you’ve even tried to give it away to someone; anyone. I mean, seriously, let someone else buy new pants. Not you…(insert evil laugh here)

 So….Halloween may be over, but that was, of course, just the kick off to the winter blues and the nostalgia that forces us to surrender ourselves every season as we revisit old memories as well as create new ones over and over again with similar aromas, traditions and even the popular flavor of pumpkin (my favorite!) that can still be linked to the Fall season time and time again.

 For some, (or most), however,  it may be a more depressing time; colder weather, less energy, lack of Vitamin D, darkness shields the daylight earlier; faster. And to most, it’s a time many stress and worry about finances; about making it through the holidays debt free and to some it’s about trying to making it through the holidays with a smile on their face, joy in their heart, and light in their soul. It’s also a time to start covering up in multiple layers to outsmart the chill in the air, and psychologically prepare our bodies {and digestive systems} for the overconsumption of treats, food, and bellies that represent an overstuffed turkey on Thanksgiving.  And who doesn’t enjoy pumpkin spiced coffee, pumpkin pie, the sweet aroma of pumpkin, and other yummy sweets and treats? Of course, with Christmas fast approaching, who has time to think about exercising or spending extra money on healthier food choices?  Not to mention, it can be challenging to avoid pumpkin pie, turkey and all the fixings when everyone else has bellies full of joy, comfort, and well, probably lots of gas.

 (Ironically, all of these big meals, comfort foods, goodies, come at a time when people are the most stressed because their wallets are being stretched farther than their paychecks)

 Well, guess what? It’s actually okay to indulge in some goodies and revel in the traditions that surround Thanksgiving and Christmas. And it’s okay to have a piece of candy every now and then too.

Hey. I’m going to enjoy some pumpkin pie.

And no. I’m not going to count the damn calories.

I’m going to sweat, and make my muscles so friggen sore that I won’t be able to move the next 24-72 hours without having to make some minor adjustments, (like have my daughter go upstairs and get me stuff because my legs are too sore to walk up the stairs).  I’m going to laugh about it too. Yep. I’m going to have my cake (pie) and eat it too. I’m going to work for that damn pie. And I’m going to do whatever it takes to get to that slice of pie.

This all probably sounds painful and silly, right?

 But….It’s Fall y’all!

And the holidays are quickly approaching. It’s not an excuse to eat like shit and unravel the tight ball of thread I’ve been carrying around up until this point; this day-this season. But with the aroma and flavor of pumpkin pretty much throwing itself down my throat and into my stomach, how can I resist?

 So how can you enjoy the seasons and the many aromas/flavors that linger and are literally RIGHT IN YOUR FACE???

 Besides Willpower?

 Eat smart. Don’t say, “It’s the holidays, let’s go shove everything down the pie shoot and pray to God that we don’t gain one pound…okay ten pounds”! Or pray to God that we’ll have the strength to burn it all off with some hard work or maybe that you’ll just be able to have the strength to pull one pant leg over one slightly overgrown thigh and hope that your ass cheek will cooperate to let you button it up. But if all else fails, and you really can’t resist binging, eat the pie, keep your ass on the couch, and I don’t care if you don’t even button your pants. Buttons can be a tad overrated anyway. Invest in some leggings. I do. At least leggings stretch and don’t serve as a constant reminder that your waist has expanded a couple inches or so. Besides your ass will look AMAZING in leggings anyway because leggings don’t have obvious seams outlining your every line and curve on your body. Oh! And leggings don’t come in number sizes. That’s pretty friggen’ amazing too.

 Don’t over-indulge. Remember, everything in moderation. And for cripes sakes throw some heart pumping exercise in there somewhere…you know, for balance.

 Also, make sure it’s worth it. If you’re going to indulge, make sure that it’s at least satisfying. And for real, if you work for it, you will feel so good when you’re enjoying all of the flavors of Fall. And without getting all technical on you, if you’re going to enjoy a sugary treat, I say work for it, and I mean it. Following intense exercise, devour your sugary treat without guilt. As long as you worked hard and aren’t overindulging or double dipping all day, every day, that sugary treat will be less likely to get stored as fat and instead will be used for repair and recovery for your body.

 Timing I’ve said it again, and I’ll say it again! While exercise can produce aesthetically pleasing results, the right kind of training for your body as well as proper fuel, will allow you to burn more calories at rest in the long run.  

 See! It doesn’t have to be all work and no play. Especially when it’s fall. Especially when the holidays are approaching. Especially when money is tight.  

 As always there are, however, ways to participate in the Fall Season and be on your BEST behavior (hehe)

 Here are just a few tips I use (Note: If you can’t already tell, I really love pumpkin a lot):

 Green Mountain Pumpkin Spice Coffee (sadly it doesn’t taste like pumpkin spice, it does have a great aroma and makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside) I drink my coffee black.

 As for the canned pumpkin that I rejected earlier today, I do use it to make certain meal options (and that’s not saying a whole lot). Calm down. Don’t get all giddy. I’m not referring to recipes here; I’m just talking about opening up a can of pumpkin puree and adding it to other edible things. After all, pumpkin does have a pretty good nutritional profile; it is a great antioxidant as well as a great source of fiber, and because it doesn’t have much flavor, it can actually be added to pretty much anything without altering the taste. (But as I mentioned earlier, when it comes to something like pumpkin pie, I’m going for the real deal. But first I’m going to work my ass off for it and eat it only AFTER)

 So…go to your local grocery store or health food store and buy organic/regular (whichever fits your budget) 100% canned pumpkin puree and enjoy the health benefits I mentioned earlier by just adding it to sauces, pancakes, oatmeal and anything else you can think of. One way I like to add pumpkin is by adding pumpkin puree to diced tomatoes, low sodium tomato sauce, various spices and then serving it over brown rice, brown rice pasta, or spaghetti squash. (It’s not hardcore or anything, but it’s tasty and does the job).

 Buy a pumpkin candle (you could also purchase other scents reminiscent of the fall season) and place throughout the house.

 Fill your house and/or your work space with fall décor, winter décor.  

 I work hard in the gym and I refuse to be a slave to the kitchen. Some may enjoy baking and coming up with alternatives to food otherwise known as “junk food” but I can’t be that fancy and complicated. Nope. The only thing I can do is make suggestions, don’t expect fancy- schmancy recipes here. To me, chicken is chicken, and a potato is a potato. Mix it together and BAM! There’s my “recipe”! If I have a craving for some damn pumpkin pie, I’m just going to go to the store buy it and eat it. Hey, in my defense, it did have “no sugar added”, ignore the fact that it still had about ten different ingredients or chemicals in it that I had no idea what it even was. Not cool. Not fair. But on that note, I would like to also share with you that I did notice that the canned pumpkin I have at home had a recipe for a healthier version of pumpkin pie; no added sugar, very basic ingredients, but I placed it back and shut the cabinet door. You see, I’m tired. I have other things to do other than bake a pumpkin anything with fewer ingredients. Besides, a lot of alternatives can be just as unhealthy as just eating the actual product itself (For example, a lot of artificial sweeteners cause stomach/digestive issues for me.)  It’s not just a tight budget, it’s also time consuming. I just want to eat. I don’t want to bake for cripes sakes.

 There are times I stumble upon recipes that are on various websites/blogs, and admittedly they look so damn delicious, but for some reason I can’t ever find the “place an order” or shipping/billing information. Sigh. BIG SIGH.  I guess I’ll just stick to leaving my ass on the gym room floor and indulging every now and again. God help me.

 For ways to save money on healthier eating, look for that in an upcoming blog post!

 Have a good day everyone!

Make Goals; Not Excuses

Dedicated to my father, who passed away eight years ago (8-14-2005) as of today…

Lately, I often hear the question, “So when’s your next show” and then I have to go into a long story as to whether or not I am, and if so, when, and if not, the reasons and so on. Small talk? Maybe. But, I can’t help but feel like every time I get asked that question, a piece of me gets shaved off; a piece that gets thicker and thicker each time threatening to unveil the most vulnerable part of me; my core.

 You see, I am not defined by one thing. There are many components of me. I am complex, neurotic, and definitely a nonconformist; I don’t choose to be this way, it’s just who I am. When someone asks that question, to some it may seem like they are expressing interest, but to me, I feel like they are shoving me in a box and stifling my potential for growth. I am not done growing. I don’t have everything all figured out. My entire life, I have tried to run the other direction from being defined as any one particular thing. I believe a lot of the anxiety I feel stems from the fear that I have to be “something” in order to well, just BE.

I strive to be healthy, fit, and perhaps, compete in a show when the time is right—for me. Not just because I need to be defined. Living healthy doesn’t mean, you have to focus on doing a fitness competition; it doesn’t mean that you’re weak if you don’t choose that path. The important thing is to know and remember that you just have to find the purpose in what you’re doing if you want to be successful at it. And if you don’t have a goal, then the outcome will be far more difficult to reach. Not impossible, just more difficult.

When you set a goal, you have to break it down into smaller components. You may have an idea in your mind as to how you’re going to reach that goal, and you may even envision in your mind the sweet reward at the end. Unfortunately, if you don’t break it down into smaller feats and follow the steps that are aligned with your goal, the sweet reward can quickly become sour, or just simply farther to reach.

 How many of you just want to be healthy, active individuals, capable of living a fulfilling life without a lot of limitations? What you don’t realize is the limitations that you place on yourself by not taking the action necessary to complete the goals that can open up new doors. You know, those limitations that are disguised as little excuses that manage to catch you every time you fall???

Excuses tend to keep you right in your comfort zone.

You see, a goal doesn’t have to be as dramatic as a fitness competition; maybe you just want to be able to walk more than a few feet or jog; or maybe you just want to run around and play with your kids a little bit more…

 I get mad at myself when I stray from my usual ‘healthy way of living’.  For example, if I take a break from exercise or the lifestyle/diet, I worry and allow the anxiety to creep in to pollute my mind with the idea that if I take time off from exercise or my ‘diet’, I have somehow lost my passion. Crazy. I know. But sometimes, something that you can be so passionate about can also consume you.

That’s when it’s time for a rest; mentally, physically and emotionally.

There have been times where I have felt like even rest is a sign of weakness, but then, I get upset for being so hard on myself. Sooner or later though, I realize that what’s most important is that you always get back up. After all,  weakness is lying down for good and never reaching for the courage to get back up.

 My father’s health issues gave him a reason to just sit and do nothing. His health issues were a great excuse to let go, but he never did. Never. And he never allowed them to slow him down. When my father was holed up in a hospital room or even a hospital bed in our living room, as soon as he would get better, rather than let it deter him from living his life, he just kept going; just kept living.

 And each time he had a set back, he’d recover and go back at it more determined, powerful, and stronger.

My dad never made me think that a setback means that you’ve surrendered; he never made me feel that it was okay to whip out the party hats and toot the horns once you are able to find a ‘valid’ excuse to throw in the towel. No. He made me realize that each day is a day to propel towards your goal;  that you shouldn’t waste time trying to seek out reasons to justify why you should just give up. It’s important that you always get back up; and if you’re still breathing, then there are no valid excuses.  

He made me realize that no one should have to take their last breath, until they have realized the value of all of their breaths that came before.

His goal was to take each day, treasure it, live it, and love the best to his ability, and he did just that. With every health issue that had arisen, it became a tool rather than a crutch; a tool in his quest to live an extremely fulfilling life. To move forward and yell, well, “Check Mate”

 Decide on a goal. Remember, if you fall during the journey, get up, and plow through, stronger than before. Plow through and yell, “Check Mate” each and every single time.

Anything is possible. Anything.

And to answer the question: I do not know when my next show is, but I do plan on competing in the near future, I just haven’t decided on a show yet.

“A setback is a setup for a comeback” -T.D. Jakes

Don’t let a setback become an excuse, and don’t let an excuse become a setback.

 

Twenty-one. Been There, Done That.

I’ve been struggling with being 35. I’ve been reflecting a lot, and comparing my life experiences now to when I was 21. I can’t help it. Last weekend I slipped on my 6 inch heels, a short skirt and a fitted black top, makeup applied, a touch of bronzer, and I was ready for the night.

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It has been awhile that I have actually got dressed up and gone out with some girl friends, let alone without my husband. However, a couple new spots were opening up and they seemed like there was a perfect opportunity to get dressed up and have some laughs with my sister and another girl; a younger girl. Unfortunately, the girl was 21 and I mean, I don’t blame her for her behavior because I remember at the age, I was pretty similar and had an, “I-don’t-give-a-shit-attitude”, but I was sober.

I don’t drink; by choice, of course. I was just going to go as the designated driver. So yeah, I felt like a mother hen.  I know sounds like so much fun, right? Well, I actually did enjoy myself, but I couldn’t shake the blatant fact that I was older than this carefree girl who was now stumbling and couldn’t hold her liquor.

I found myself taking on the role of a mother. She kept wandering off, and while I wanted to keep her safe and not get taken advantage of, I wondered where I was supposed to draw the line. I mean, was it when I kept catching her kissing random guys, and then security kept having me chase her down to bait and hook her so that I could reel her back in to have a seat, drink some water and just mellow out. Perhaps if I would’ve drank, maybe I’d be falling all over myself.  I mean I certainly had my fair share of those moments, yea, back in the day. But it’s not exactly a sign of fun times when you have to pry someone else away from another guy’s lips.

To make things clear, it was my older sister’s friend/coworker, and I just couldn’t bring myself to abandon this fragile girl who an hour or two before showed her vulnerable side to me as she discussed all of her “issues”. She suffers from an eating disorder, she is bipolar, oh the list goes on. Overall, she was a nice, sweet girl, but she definitely made me feel my age. I didn’t feel like I was dressed up in my 6 inch heels, mini skirt and a fitted shirt, anymore. Instead, I felt like I was responsible for taking care of this girl; I felt like I was in my pajamas, pacing and waiting for my little girl to come home.  At one point she took my hand, and she felt so frail and tiny. Almost breakable. My sister, on the other hand, was sharing drinks with some new friends that she had met at one of the new bars that opened up the night before and therefore was completely oblivious to what was unfolding.

Still, it remained that I was the designated driver and I was ready to haul ass out of there. Fortunately, they followed me. Sort of. The one girl informed me that she was getting picked up by a friend, showed me the text, and assured me she was fine. So it was just my sister, who passed out in the passenger seat of my car, and me driving home in silence. I didn’t feel the need to turn on the radio because I couldn’t shake the feeling that I felt so different; grown up, matured. I mean, I was no longer a 21 year old. 

Hanging out as a designated driver, surrounding myself around drunken men and women in their early twenties, really opened up my eyes to what’s important to me. I love the gym, lifting weights, and building a physique; that’s my challenge. At 21? My challenge was exactly what the girl I kept a watchful eye on all night long was doing. Nothing. Getting drunk and kissing random guys. Waking up the next morning, feeling remorse, regret, and loneliness. Going to the gym may not be glamorous and may not require 6 inch heels with a short mini skirt, but it’s a new phase in my life. Not to mention, it doesn’t make me have regret, or flood that powerless feeling throughout my veins.

I only wish that all of the things I know now, I knew when I was 21. And I only wish that the girl who drank so much that she could barely walk; the girl with the fragile hands; the girl who seemed so breakable in that particular moment; the girl who went looking for any kind of attention, approval, or validation, could know what I know now at 35. 

Oh by the way, I would never, ever, trade in my six inch heels permanently. They stay right next to my training shoes. I don’t give a shit how old I am. I’ll always be old (or young) enough to wear them. Ha.

 

How to Find Balance and Still be a Bad Ass. Sweat Included.

Being a bad ass is someone who doesn’t necessarily have their shit together, but can find a balance that works for them. What works for me may not work for you. I like a little sweat in my morning coffee, or I should probably say afternoon coffee. I love to go to the gym and “throw some weights around” just because I can. Also, because I’m a girl and I like it when I can walk over to a squat rack and squat the same weight as a man. Shhhh…I probably shouldn’t admit that it’s a teenager in most cases, but hey nonetheless, I’m getting it done. Cardio? I hate it. But I do it because without it; I lack balance.

Sometimes, I even feel invincible in the gym. I feel, well, simply put, like a bad ass. And I’m dripping in sweat. Oh, and I don’t care what in the hell I look like either.

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When you set out to lose weight, it’s either for aesthetic reasons, or you do it because you want to feel better; feel healthier. Most conversations about losing weight have to do with “skinny”. People know they just want to get skinny. I often was told, “I was lucky to be so skinny” there are even websites, hashtags that cater to “skinny” people. In a person’s mind, it’s simple, to be skinny is to be healthy and to carry a bit more weight is to be unhealthy.  That’s not coming from me. That’s coming from what I have read, overheard, and learned over time.

Come on, healthy doesn’t always mean having to be skinny. Being healthy should be more about moderation than appearance. It should mean finding a balance; never overindulging or depriving yourself of what life has to offer.

Once you find a balance, it won’t matter what size you are; you will find comfort that you are giving all of your effort and living life to its fullest.

You are extremely capable of pushing your body to its maximum and even beyond; you just need to gain control of your mind. However, it’s important for you to find what your balance is, and set out to achieve that.

No other person can define your balance.

You will find people out there who are extremely motivated, or you may be sitting here reading this and finding the compulsion to raise your hand slightly and shout eagerly, “That’s me! that’s me!” but it can be unhealthy for anyone to push as far as their mind would allow them to go. That is, if you are not ready.  Be honest with yourself here;  I am. Have you ever seen someone with your height and body frame, and found yourself trying to pinch yourself in an effort to wake up from that horrible “suit” that you feel that you are “wearing”? You tell yourself that you want to look like that? And you will. You can. Just know that it takes time, patience, and besides, I’m a firm believer in the whole “don’t judge a book by it’s cover” and yes,  even if it is tanned, looks good with the lights on, and sets your heart racing. You just really don’t know the fight they had to go through, to get to that point, simply because we don’t always get to see the battle wounds.

It’s pretty unrealistic to push yourself too far, too fast,  just to squeeze yourself into someone else’s ideal “picture frame.” You’re unique. After all, you’re you. Hey, I was told that 2 days ago by a very special friend of mine. She said, “Megan, you’re unique, you are one of a kind, and you have to know that there’s a special place for you in this world.” And I believed her. But if you’re not ready, if you don’t allow yourself to warm up, too fast, too soon, turns a burning flame into well, smoke. As the body needs to warm up before you engage in exercise, the mind also has to go through a warm up. It’s not a life or death situation to “be skinny” it is, however, a life or death situation to “be healthy”.

Don’t throw yourself onto a bed of hot coals just because the fire went out.  Start out with the goal to engage in something that encourages healthy behavior and build from that. Don’t go from eating 2500 per day calories to eating 1000 calories per day. That is just going from one extreme to another. That is just your mind challenging you, mocking you, and antagonizing you. Don’t let it. Find a balance to gain control over your own mind.

I strive to find balance every single day. Literally…

Because I suffer from panic and anxiety, in order to control that aspect of my life, I have latched onto the desire to achieve a particular level of being fit and lean. Ripped. Shredded. I strive to be that. I go through periods where I eat a lot to gain muscle and then I burn the fat. It’s a process and it takes time. I also have a lot of control when it comes to my diet simply because it provides me with a balance. As I feel out of control because of the anxiety and panic, I make up for it by sticking to a healthy diet and exercise. It makes me happy. It makes me feel bad ass. But more importantly, above all, it provides me with a sense of balance. Me. No one else. Just me.

I don’t care if my chicken is cold. I don’t have a breakfast, lunch or dinner. I have meals. When someone asks me, what are you eating for dinner. I look at them with a blank stare. Dinner? That seems so long ago. Ancient. Like the term dinner has lost it’s meaning. Yes. Among all of the frozen prepackaged foods in every grocery store across the world.

No I eat. I eat ALL DAY LONG. It’s not ideal for everyone. It works for me. Right now anyway. Does that mean if Suzy doesn’t follow the same schedule, that if she is the one who is asking me about dinner, that she won’t see results? Not at all. Not at all.

I eat cold chicken for breakfast, and I find it amusing when I break out my little sandwich bag of chicken at a wedding, a birthday party, or over dinner with a friend. I find it weird that I crave cottage cheese and oatmeal with a touch of almond butter. I often feel like a drug addict who is trying to hide their addiction, but need a fix and they will make it happen. Yeah. So for me though.  If it’s time to eat; I’m going to make it happen.

Besides, we were born this way anyway. We ate every 2-3 hours when we were babies. Even if you have kids, you know. You know that when a baby is hungry, you better feed that baby. I don’t care if it’s less than 2-3 hours, if the baby is hungry, baby eats; they need that food to grow. So don’t piss the baby off. So yes, I’m like a baby in a way, and I may even cry a little too.
Just being honest.

I do have to check myself every once in awhile and remind myself, that it’s not that serious; I’m not going to break if I eat out with my family. I’m going to be okay if I don’t go to the gym one day. If I skip a workout, my muscles that I’ve worked hard to build aren’t going to disappear over night, or if I log onto Facebook and there’s a set of steel abs across my newsfeed, I didn’t just lose the ultimate opportunity to get a set of those abs because I skipped a workout. I don’t and won’t look like that in one day, regardless if I go to the gym or not. It’s still going to take time. I often get joked with about how many photos I take, oh it’s so funny, but let me tell you, despite what you heard in the past about how the camera makes you look ten pounds heavier, the camera lens is like a trained and skilled eye; it can see a whole hell of a lot more than the naked eye can or is willing to see. So I measure my progress through the photo lens of my Iphone. Nothing special. No top notch photo lens. Lighting makes a difference too. It gives new meaning to “shed some light on the situation” Seriously.

So take it day by day, step by step. Don’t rush into it. Accept the challenge, embrace the journey. It takes time and patience.

Oh and a whole lot of fight with willpower when it comes down to it. You can read about my post as regards to the fight with willpower here: http://wp.me/p3cYS3-1nA  But, before you go, realize  that if you want it; go get it. But only if it’s healthy and done with balance.

And take lots of pictures along the way to document your BAD ASS.

What Will Happen if you Didn’t Live Life In the Moment?

Can you think of anything? I can…

You can make healthier choices so that you can continue to enjoy all the things that you love, and all of the moments that lie ahead of you..

You can find a balance so that you can wake up and not feel that any time has been wasted; like you’re spending everyday recovering from the night before with a really BAD hangover. You know when you wish that you can forget what happened, or just wish that you already did…You know kinda like that bruise on your leg that you don’t remember how it got there because you had one too many drinks, or the soreness that you feel in your legs from dancing all night long? And then, suddenly, you slowly put the pieces together, and it finally all makes sense. Temporarily. And then just like that, you get zapped back into reality. It hurts. You hurt. You know you had a damn good time, but you are feeling like shit now. You probably should just lie down. Oh wait, here comes your responsibilities. Oh and….LIFE. 

Life is one big hangover. Metaphorically speaking, of course. (Hey, I’ve been there, done that. This one time, I was at a pig roast…oh wait that’s not for this blog..sorry hehe)

Seriously though, that’s how you’re going to feel as you get older.  You’ll be at the bar with a tear in your beer because you’re lonely for your dear (Hank Williams-just changed it up a bit). You’ll have one drink and have to call it a night. And not just because you’ve aged; no it’ll be because you won’t have the mobility, balance, or strength to get down low, or hop up there and shake ‘it’ one more time. Metaphorically. The Point? If you learn how to balance, you could still have a damn good time.

And no. Dancing and drinking isn’t considered cardio. Trust me on this one.

But seriously, you know all of those moments where you sit and reflect on the times that you were able to pull an all-nighter? I’ve had those conversations before. Oh God, I used to be able to stay up all night long, and still go to work the next day. And function too. Remember that? (Or are you there now?)

Whether it was partying, studying, or just talking, whatever it was, you were still able to manage work, school and anything else without batting an eyelid. Today, you feel so tired, so plugged in and overcharged; overused, that the energy just seems to keep going in and out of you, and if you lose even just an hour of sleep, you can’t seem to keep your eyelids open with even the good ole’ clothespin.  Oh… getting older sucks. But staking claim in my pride by striving to continue to learn how to balance family, educate myself, study to become a personal trainer, teach my kids about respect in this crazy technologically advanced, hypersensitive world that we live in, improve or maintain my strength and all means to maintain functionality as I get older, makes me feel ageless. Sure, I’ve pulled the “I feel old” card, but that’s because I’m a parent (and that’s also another story).  Ain’t nobody got time for that!

So….I’m often asked, why do I eat like this all of the time. Why do I carry a cooler to a place where there is food readily available?  What the hell am I doing??? People want to know why I’m doing this. Seriously!! People are concerned that may not be living my life to its fullest. (Okay, I admit, I might also be projecting here.)  No. no, I’m pretty sure I’m not! I have had to overcome that along the way, and I still get stares and sneers, but it’s been a journey that has not let me down. At least not yet anyway.

I really, honestly, truly, sincerely think that exercising and selecting healthy choices is underestimated. Sure you got that run on the treadmill where you’re clinging to the rails for dear life, heaving and pouring sweat..you’re bod’s just crying and you hover down lower and lower until you don’t feel anything, and that’s only because the machine has taken over now, but then you go in your fancy little workout wear and go to get some Mickey D’s. Oh yea. I saw you there. I know it. You went there.  Or maybe it’s not Mickey D’s, it’s those leftovers from that tasty little diner down the street from you. Hell, it could even be from that extremely expensive, four-star restaurant. I don’t care. It’s got sodium, calories, all sort of sneak shit up in there. Trying to say, oh it’s only less than 500 calories…oh please..don’t even get me started with that.

I know people who think, “you only live once” I mean come on, they even coined a catchy abbreviation (yolo anyone?) that’s been tossed into song lyrics, tshirts, and out of the mouths of many. (Oh Yea. I did that. I just threw a little modern day slang in there for ya.) Anyhoo, I often hear people say things like, “I could never eat like that”,  “I could never look like that” or “I could never do what you do” Oh stop it. (Blushing) Seriously though, you’d be so damned surprised at what the body is capable of doing once the mind catches up. And that’s the part that’s all up to you. Sure, you don’t have to have a flat stomach, and you can have some jiggle when you wiggle, but making healthier choices isn’t all about aesthetics. Diet and exercise, is the key to give you strength for the moments when you need to get things done, in a shorter period of time, but can’t pull off an all-nighter. It is the answer that will allow you to continue being able to do what you’re doing at this very moment.

It’s no secret that we have no choice but to age. Sure, as it has been proven, we can pay money to achieve a younger, more youthful appearance, but regardless of how much money you throw into looking younger, it’s not going to assist you in getting in and out of car, walking up a flight of stairs, playing with your kids/grandkids, you know, as you get older? It is funny, because as we get older, the rest of the world doesn’t adapt, it becomes newer, more modern and often sleek, and we are pushed into having to adapt to all of it; as quickly as possible too. We allow our food choices to fall by the wayside; to accommodate a much more leisurely and sedentary lifestyle; one that relies on technology, driving our kids to and from sports all while riding in a car, sitting and watching them play. Face it. We are sold on cheap food and it has to be fast.

However, I am a fan of the microwave. Just thought I’d throw that out there.

So….yes. There is so much more to do; to learn, in such a shorter period of time, but it requires very little energy. We don’t need to exercise because we’re not really moving. Face it. We’re not really doing anything that requires good cardiovascular conditioning, you know, things that get our blood pumping, hearts climbing, and we’re more than likely not lifting anything heavy, well beyond a baby. At least not NOW. And yes, I am extremely proud of your attempt and effort to get a little exercise, even if it was just draping over the machine. You still did it. You still had the thought.

Unfortunately, it’s really not the thought that counts. Not this time.

 So as you’re reflecting and realizing that you can’t stay up like you used to, or you feel some aches and pains, or you can’t hold or play with your kids/grandkids like you used to, can’t seem to open that damn jar of pickles without needing someone else to “loosen it up” for you…it’s time to start exercising. Truth is; we overindulge ourselves with food, good times, work, and there is absolutely NO balance. You eat the high calorie, high sodium, high fat diets, and are only compensated with diseases, illness, that eventually make you unhappy and possibly depressed about your appearance. But, still, you go to work, drive your kids to and from their afterschool activities, sometimes even on the weekends, and then,

Have lunch with an old friend,

Have dinner with an old friend

Go out to eat with someone you just met

Eat to support a good cause

Eat to raise money for a good cause

Buy and eat candy for a good cause

And it goes on and on and on….(okay so I just got a little Avett Brothers tune in my head)

The wheels of the car are still moving, but you are at a standstill.

And you may not even realize it.

All that partying and drinking; the cheap; quick and easy food, the social engagements you have to tend to, is not going to help you in the long haul. Your health isn’t going to keep up with you, if you don’t encourage it to. And if you say that you can’t eat like that, look like that, well then just picture what your going to look like in a nursing home when you can’t walk, or even feed yourself. While we all may live once, you also have the option to choose how your going to age; if you don’t start making better choices, you better at least start choosing which nursing home you’re going to.  Make it a good one too. And sure, even if you make better choices as regards to your health, you probably still won’t be able to pull an all-nighter. But you know what? Sleep is part of the equation as well.  That wasn’t always the best plan of action either.

I agree that you work your ass off, and deserve to have a kick ass time; a little “me” time. Hope you have a pension plan in place for when you retire to pay for that  nursing home.  How much are you spending on medications and doctor visits now? A vacation’s worth? Geez. I’m beginning to sound like a health insurance company or something. Or maybe, you’ll have to pay for some staff members to come to your house when you’re unable accomplish even the simplest task? Your kids aren’t going to mow that lawn for you. Doubtful. I mean, I would, but I’m not your kid. Don’t be mad.

I don’t know about you, but I plan to still be able to soak up the sunscreen on a beautiful blue beach with my husband and cooler packed with plenty of healthy food right next to us, and the only thing I’m going to be fighting are the waves rolling in the ocean, but at least I’ll have the leg and calf muscles to walk through all of that sand.

When you lose strength in the body, you also lose strength in the mind. No joke.

All you need is love…love…love

“There’s nothing you can know that isn’t known.
Nothing you can see that isn’t shown.
Nowhere you can be that isn’t where you’re meant to be.
It’s easy….” ~The Beatles Lennon/McCartney

I have been out of work for four long years. It didn’t start out that way, however. I was supposed to graduate with my Bachelor’s degree, find an amazing career and quit my job as a student loan customer call center representative; a job that I had managed to hold down for 11 years since I started at the ripe age of twenty.

Well….I got the degree.

It actually makes me anxious and uncomfortable when someone asks what I do for a living; I stutter and close my eyes and force the words out, “stay at home mom”.  Okay, so I don’t necessarily close my eyes, but I sure wish I could and not have to answer that question. For the longest time I said I was a student, but then that got old, and I knew I had to let go of that crutch and move on.

To be honest, my children are 10 and 16, and because they attend school, I’ve never really considered myself to be a “stay at home mom” and some may agree with me. In fact, I remember just last week, I was asked, “…And what do you with your life” Yes. Just like that. And I got flustered. I got butterflies. I stumbled over the words; why do people have to be defined based on what they are doing in life? Okay, so I know that it’s usually just a piece to a conversation puzzle, but I just find it irrelevant.

“I’m a stay at home mom”. Ugh. Even when the words stumbled off my tongue, I wanted them to roll into the ice water I was holding and freeze.  But it happened. It was too late. I said it. However, I wasn’t prepared for what she was going to say next, “..And how old are your kids?” Okay, so it could be a reasonable follow up question to get me to open up and share; engage in a conversation, but her eyes weren’t very warm or inviting. No. They were judgmental, and took on a life of their own. I felt like she wanted to know how old my kids are so she could secretly determine if I met the conditions to be a stay at home mom. Sure enough, after I provided the ages to my children, she pierced her words with judgment a little harder, and said, “oh well, I guess they are hard to manage at that age…” Alrighty then. I had to laugh. I later made a mental note to just tell people that I am…oh never mind….

I know that not everyone has the luxury of staying at home, raising their children and taking care of the house, but when I am home, seeing the love my my kids have for me is validation enough. Also, I am thankful that I have been given the chance to be able to stay home with my kids for the past few years, simply because it has provided me with an insight to my children’s lives like I’ve never had before.

Currently, I’m slowly emerging into a new journey, a new path; trying to spread my wings and help people lose weight, get in shape and eat healthy.  I can’t help but sense the absence that my kids, especially my ten year old son, feel when I cannot just watch television on the couch, or listen to every single one of his funny stories, or latest creation; ALL OF THE TIME.  I also miss the quiet, long conversations my daughter and I used to have out of the blue, (you know when we’re not yelling at each other). It saddens me at times, but I always go to bed and remind myself that I need to grab it back somehow, make time for them, and never let go of quality moments, no matter how old they get, or how busy life gets.  I know I’m not far away, but all of the undivided attention that I was once able to provide to my children is slowly shifting.  However, with all that is going on, I am also beginning to appreciate my role as a ‘stay at home mom’ a lot more, and am also starting to realize that, that role, whether the kids are in school or not, should not be devalued at any cost.

When my son and I finally got a chance to sit down and watch Celebrity Apprentice (he loves that show), he proudly says,

“Mommy, you inspire me”

It’s moments like that. Words like that. They fill my heart with solace; taking any doubt, harsh words, or judgments that anyone may have cast upon me, away.

My response? “Well, you inspire me too!” and he says, “No, really mom, you inspire me,” and proceeded with some of the reasons why, making me realize how much he has been paying attention to me; how much time we have been spending together, and how much of an impact I’ve had on his life by being at home these past four years.

I did leave him speechless and confused a bit when I responded, “Well, you inspire me to inspire you.”  He didn’t know how to handle that one!

While my daughter may not be so vocal, I know she is supportive and understands, simply because of her actions. Not all the time, but she’s a teenager! And believe me; she sure does act every bit the part!

My family is like an old house; filled with memories, open to new ones, shakes and rattles here and there, but can usually weather just about anything. I always try to remind myself that that clouds are always temporary, a broken window can always be fixed, and a door can always be opened or closed. Once the foundation is solid, nothing can tear it down.

With them, I am provided with experiences, moments, the courage to persevere, the desire to live with passion, and most of all unconditional love.