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July 22, 2017
What makes a true friend?
I have plenty of friends, but very few close ones. I deeply value the closest people to me because genuine friendships are so difficult to find. I want authentic people in my life who, if asked, will tell me if my outfit looks hideous. I want friends who give me real advice, not the advice they think I want to hear. I want friends who will let me know when I have a giant piece of parsley between my teeth. They'll hit me with the hard truth, even if it's uncomfortable for both of us.
It is in the spirit of a true friend that I write this post.
I'm not writing this to cause controversy or to offend, so please keep your defensive comments to yourself. If you're happy with your body weight, I am happy for you, and this post is not for you. I'm all about embracing the body you have, IF you're truly happy and IF you're truly healthy. This post is for people who want to lose weight and regain their health. If that's not you, click on outta here.
I do want to be real, because hearing the difficult truth is often what pushes us toward change. I love this quote by a well-known weight loss doctor:
"No one wants to fat-shame. We all want everyone to be comfortable with our bodies. But this movement to be comfortable with our bodies has made us comfortable with being sick." -Dr. Garth Davis, M.D.
The immensity of this problem is indisputable. Our country has never been so ill. According to the CDC, two thirds of U.S. adults are overweight or obese. Obesity-related conditions include heart disease, stroke, type 2 dibetes, and some types of cancer. Fatigue, depression, and an overall lower quality of life are associated with being overweight.
On average, obese Americans spend $1,429 more per year and nationally the cost is estimated at $147 billion annually. Next time you try telling yourself it's too expensive to eat healthfully, remember that number.
I spent a lot of years overweight. My highest weight was 199 after having my first child.
I've struggled a lot with a terrible addiction to food. After my divorce, I put on fifty-three pounds in less than six months. My weight problem felt hopeless, and no matter how hard I tried, I could not get used to or be happy with my overweight body. Today, I'm 5'7 and 134 pounds. I still have tough cravings, and I still give in to them from time to time. But for the most part, I eat for nutrition, and that has made all the difference.
Looking back on all those years of trying fad diets and making excuses, I see four key problems in the way I was thinking. If I would have swallowed my pride and accepted the following four truth bombs back then, I would have gotten to a healthier place much more quickly. So here they are...and, warning, they're not pretty.
I told you. This isn't going to be pretty. But let's just get right to it, shall we? If I were to write a book about weight loss, it would be very short. In fact, it would be one sentence long:
"STOP EATING CRAP AND GET OFF YOUR ASS."
Just like I tell my children, the "easy" option is rarely the healthiest. It's easy to sit on the couch drinking rosé and binge-watching Game of Thrones all evening. It's easy to drive through Taco Bell and get 3 chalupas for dinner instead of cooking a nutritious meal. It's easy to order pizza or Chinese. It's easy to eat what impulsively sounds good. I get it. It's much more difficult to get off your ass, go to the store, purchase foods that are nutritious, and prepare them.
It's also easy to try the stupid fad diets. It's easy to drink some ketones and hope your belly fat starts melting away while you lick a stick of deep fried butter. It's easy to try a juice cleanse that will inevitably leave you starving and cause you to binge on Krispy Kremes. At the risk of sounding like my father, I'm going to say it: If it seems too good to be true, it is. Even if you lose some weight on these silly diets, it's not healthy, and statistics say you will gain it back, and more.
You've had three kids so it's impossible to lose the weight? I get it. I've had five and thought I would never be able to lose the weight. But the reality is, you can. And more importantly, your kids will be healthier if you're setting the example. They're not benefiting from three (or 7) happy meals every week. Their health is a direct result of your habits. Teach them through example.
You have an illness that keeps you from exercising? I've had MS for 13 years, and for a lot of those years, I used it as a crutch. Now I view this disease as more motivation for me to focus on my health and start eating for the nutrition that will help my body perform its best. Eating healthfully will improve the way you feel. It will more than likely prolong your life and decrease your symptoms. What are you waiting for?
You're fat because of genetics? This is my least favorite of all the excuses, and the one I hear most commonly. Yes, genetics can play a small part. The bigger part of the familial link in obesity has been proven time and time again to be the habits you learned from your parents and the habits they learned from theirs. Break the chain. Be the change. Stop it with this nonsense and get healthy.
You don't have time? STOP. You have time for what you decide you have time for. Which leads me to reason number three...
Dig deep. Take a hard look at yourself. We do what we really want to do. If you wanted to lose the weight, you would lose the weight. I know it's not easy, but it's also not rocket science.
I feel another cliché coming on...When there's a will, there's a way. My god, ok. No more clichés. But seriously. If you want it, you'll do it.
Ask yourself why you remain overweight. Are you afraid of the attention you might receive if you make a drastic change? Are you afraid said change will affect important relationships? Get to the root of your WHY. Write out a pros and cons list of staying overweight, and a pros and cons list of losing it. Don't forget the YEARS you'll most likely add to your life. Take some time (like 20 minutes, not two years) for reflection and figure out the emotional side of your issue. This will play a key role in fixing it.
This was my biggest reason, and it's perhaps the most difficult to swallow (pun intended). Ask yourself the following difficult but pertinent questions from Food Addicts Anonymous:
Do you think you cannot control your intake of food, especially junk food or high sugar foods?
Do you find yourself feeling depressed, hopeless, sad or ashamed about your eating or your weight?
Do you find yourself eating when you are upset or reward yourself with food when you do something good?
Have you ever noticed after eating sugar, flour, or other junk foods that you become more irritable?
Do you eat in private so no one will see you?
Do you avoid social interactions because you feel you do not look good enough or do not have the proper fitting clothes to wear?
Are you more interested in what food is served at social gatherings than looking forward to the warmth of being with the people attending?
Six years ago, I would have answered 'yes' to all of these questions. Still today, food is always on my mind. As the saying goes, once an addict, always an addict. But I'm recovering, I'm healthy now, and you can do it too.
I wrote the following in a post about my battle with Binge Eating Disorder. Maybe it will help you find a way to get through the first 30 days of breaking your addiction:
"Those first 30 days were not easy. The urges to binge were overwhelming. Just writing about them makes my heart race. I previously thought the only way to get rid of a craving was to give in to it, but I realized those bastards were indeed temporary and I would NOT let them win.
I learned to separate myself from the urge and observe it with my mind’s eye. An urge was like a giant, powerful wave. From a distance, I watched as it grew more and more powerful. I’d talk to myself like a crazy person. “Look at that wave. It’s huge. I can't believe I used to be a slave to that f**king urge. My god, it is powerful. I can observe it from a distance now and not let it control me. I am in control now. I hate that wave. I will not give it power.”
As the craving reached its highest point, my body shook. My stomach growled, my head pounded, every part of my body ached, and I cried as the voices in my head begged me to give in. With tears streaming down my face, I watched that giant, ugly wave with my mind’s eye. After what seemed like forever, the wave started to go down, down, down until it was finally gone. I felt relieved and proud of myself every time I was able to remove myself from the wave and observe it from a distance. I took a deep breath and moved on.
I had some set-backs of course. There were times I gave in. The temptation when I stumbled was to feel like a giant failure and return to binging in full force. I told myself during those times that it was not about winning every single battle, but about winning the war. I WOULD win this damn war. I could not live like this any longer. Two steps forward and one step back was still progress, and I would keep moving forward no matter what."
We've established the four main reasons why you're still overweight. So, what can you do about your weight problem starting today?
Often, I over-complicate my problems to avoid having to really deal with them. My weight was no exception for a long time. But, the key to weight loss is simple.
Four steps. Are you ready? Let's do this.
I do mean ALL the junk. There are so many "health foods" that claim to be good for you but are just as bad as regular junk food. Wheat Thins? Junk. Protein bars? Most are junk. If it has a long list of ingredients you can't pronounce, THROW IT OUT.
Take charge of what goes into your body. Once you've rid your cupboards of the garbage, avoid restaurants like the plague and fill your kitchen with fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and whole grains. Think about every single bite of food you take. Ask yourself, "Am I truly hungry? Do I need this?" Eat all the fruits and vegetables you can. Don't count calories. Eat. Eat up all the delicious, simple, glorious nutrition your body has been deprived of for years.
Changing your eating habits is the biggest key to weight loss. But exercising helps, and breaking a sweat daily feels great too. I'm not asking you to go join some crazy expensive gym or become the king or queen of Zumba. I'm just saying MOVE.
Again, don't complicate things. Get up thirty minutes earlier and go for a walk. Try an easy yoga video on Youtube. You don't need fancy equipment or a degree in exercise science. Just Move. Your. Ass. Every damn day. It's invigorating. It's great for the mind, body and spirit. Do it.
I promised myself I wouldn't use anymore clichés, but here I go:
Knowledge is power.
It's true. Stop making excuses. Turn off the TV, shut down Facebook, and learn a thing or two about feeding your body for health and healing, rather than for impulsive pleasure that leads to regret, poor health, and misery. The following list is what I'll call the "No more excuses, must read/watch list." And no, I am not paid by anyone to list these. I wish. Please don't skip this. It's so important:
-Read the book Eat to Live. It changed my world. I cannot recommend this book highly enough. It transformed the way I view food and that has made all the difference. Buy it. You can find it used on Amazon for $2.25. Read it. And then read it again. TODAY.
-Read the book The Miracle Morning and do what it says. This book is not about weight loss but it WILL help you lose weight. It will also help you improve every other area of your life, no joke. You can find it on Amazon for $9.99 used. The benefits of reading this book and implementing its teachings are priceless.
-Watch the movie Forks Over Knives. It's on Netflix. This movie changed my life. I've watched it many times and I have my kids watch it at least once a year. Please watch it. And share it with your friends and family.
-And last, but most definitely not least (another cliché): Watch the movie What the Health, also on Netflix. This movie blew my mind. It's fantastic. Please don't wait. Watch it. Have your family watch it.
You can absolutely do all four of these things TODAY and be on your way to looking and (more importantly) feeling fantastic.
You get one life to live, as far as any of us knows. Do not spend your one life unhappy with your body and feeling sluggish, tired and unhealthy. It's never too late to regain your health and happiness.
If you truly desire change, make it happen. Keep it simple. Do not give in to the temptation to try the "quick and easy" fad diets that never work long-term.
Take it one day at a time and be patient with yourself if you stumble. You may lose a battle or two, but you WILL win this war if you follow these simple steps.
You got this! Reach out to me if you need some encouragement and I will do my best to give it. You CAN do it!
June 29, 2017
I don't have time to write a long, drawn out blog post about parenting today. I have seven children and one of them is making my life very difficult right now. They take turns, and this will pass. He's a great kid, he's been through a lot, and I love him. But in the difficult moments, those things are not easy to remember...
Those who follow me on social media know I've started the Miracle Morning. It has helped restore my sanity, especially being stuck indoors with seven children in this Phoenix heat all summer.
Affirmations are a big part of the Miracle Morning. These were new to me, and at first I felt really silly about it. But they really have helped me so much with my business as well as staying focussed on healthy eating.
As I struggle with my teen's defiance the past couple of weeks, I find myself wanting an affirmation to refer to when things feel impossible. I searched but couldn't find one that fit, so I created my own. I printed this out and keep it in my back pocket. I'm finding myself reading it several times a day, and as hokey as it sounds, it really helps.
March 20, 2017
I have given birth to five babies. I also have MS. I work hard day in and day out to make healthy choices so my kids will have their mommy around for as long as possible. With a disease like this, every single day is precious and I try not to take the time I have for granted.
For too long, I ached to have my pre-baby body back (say that ten times fast). I thought with enough clean eating and exercise, I would once again look like I did in high school. The funny thing is, before I had babies, I hated my body. I have wasted an embarrassing amount of energy body shaming myself.
I have struggled with body image issues since early childhood, but I have come a long way and I hope these pictures, taken on the same day at the same time will help any mommy who is working hard to, not only embrace her post-baby body, but to take pride in it.
These scars and this stretched out skin on my belly represent 5 of the greatest accomplishments of my life. I am no longer ashamed. This summer, I will put on that bikini and enjoy this body that has brought five lives into the world. I will not hide my body to make others more comfortable, and I certainly will not apologize for it.
December 10, 2016
I play Poker. I love Poker. I’m pretty decent at Poker. I met my husband, the most fantastic soul I've ever known, playing Poker.
The other night at our weekly game, there was a man who made my life hell. Unfortunately, lewd behavior is no stranger to the poker world, but usually the guy stops when I make it clear I’m not ok with it.
Not this guy.
I sat down at the final table of the tournament, the only woman left in the game, and this man immediately commented on my “tits.” I could see how intoxicated he was and asked him to please not talk to me.
After the first few hands, he declared to the table that I was “just the right amount of feminine.” He said if I were any more masculine he wouldn’t be talking to me. Again, I asked him to stop.
Vodka tonic after vodka tonic, he stared at my chest and made comment after degrading comment about it. And I continued asking him to please stop talking to me.
He told me all the things he’d like to do to my body. He told me how much I would like the things he could do to me. I told him to shut up.
He was relentless.
After being shut down repeatedly, he asked me to sneak out with him for 20 minutes to have sex. He begged. “Please? Your husband won’t even notice we’re gone.”
I was livid.
After several hours of playing well, I was leading that poker game. I had a great chance at winning the tournament. But because of a drunken man at the final table who viewed me as nothing but a warm body that could give him pleasure, I saw no other choice than to throw in my cards and walk away.
Before starting a skincare company, I worked for years waiting tables at restaurants. I’ve driven home after many nights of hard work, distraught and defeated after the unthinkable comments and gestures made by men who treated me this way for no other reason than that I am a woman.
One man while looking at the rib options on the menu peered up at my chest and said, “I was going to order a large rack but, lucky me, I’ve got one right here.”
I was asked by a manager if I was a porn star and told that if I wasn’t, I should be because I could make great money.
A co-worker once wrapped his arms around my waist and whispered in my ear, “I could f*ck you so hard. I could f*ck you for days.”
I’ve been groped and grabbed and ogled more times than I can count.
I wish I could say I stood up for myself even once. I wish I could declare with pride that I told every last one of those men to go to hell.
But I didn't.
While I've learned to defend myself at a poker table, I am ashamed to admit that I was not so bold in a work setting. Instead of standing up for myself, I giggled and smiled or playfully pushed them away.
I did not want to lose my job or cause riffs with co-workers. I did not want to get a bad tip or a negative review. I had a family to feed.
So I dealt with it. And I walked away feeling like less than a human being. Like my feelings didn't matter. Like I was nothing more than an object to be used for the amusement of men.
Never again. I'm taking a stand. I am done.
How is this still happening? How is it almost 2017 and women are still dealing with this nonsense?
I am sick of it. I'm so fed up! It is pathetic that this is still a problem, but it is not going to change if we don't collectively take a stand. Not just women but real men too!
I was raised to believe that as a woman, it is my responsibility to dress “modestly” so as to not provoke boys or men to think impure thoughts.
Guys, I have news for you. I could show up to dinner in a damn string bikini, and you and you alone are still responsible for your own thoughts, words and actions.
No, it is not flattering when you stare at my body. No, it is not enjoyable when you make disgusting sexual comments. I will continue to dress however I want. And you do not have permission to rape me with your eyes and your words.
Even if a woman does not have the courage to defend herself, when she giggles and smiles because she doesn't know how to take a stand, your behavior is not healthy. No matter how she responds, your degrading words and actions are not appropriate, it is not fair, and it needs to stop.
Sitting at that poker table with 7 other men, I was appalled that not one of them spoke up and told this jerk to stop. Instead, they stayed silent and looked down at their cards while I tried my best to defend myself.
Can I ask a favor of you? Can we commit to standing up for one another? If you see someone being bullied, in any way, please say something. Do something. Help!
Women, it is not your responsibly to dress in a way that encourages men to behave. You dress however you feel comfortable. Be proud of your body! Dress in whatever you feel confident and beautiful in.
If someone treats you inappropriately, have more courage than I did and stand up for yourself! Make it known if you’re uncomfortable with how somebody is touching or talking to you. Send the message loud and clear that it is not ok. If we don't take a stand, things will never change.
I will continue to teach my daughters to respect themselves. That doesn't mean covering their bodies from head to toe. It means making healthy decisions based on healthy motivations. It means standing up for themselves when they're mistreated.
I want my two daughters to know they don’t owe anybody anything. They can dress in what they feel confident and beautiful in and nobody has the right to treat them with anything but respect.
I will continue to teach my boys that their thoughts and actions are their own responsibility. I will continue to tell them how important it is that they respect themselves and that they respect girls and women. My five boys will know they do not have the right to make comments about anyone’s body, no matter what shape or size.
I have a large family. My life is busy. Most of my days are spent in sloppy mom buns and yoga pants. If I want to get dressed up and feel sexy for an evening, I will!
Men, I'm not getting all prettied up for your enjoyment. I don't get some kind of sick thrill out of your tasteless remarks. I am not putting on that sexy dress to get cat calls and disgusting comments from guys who think and act with their genitalia.
I’m dressing up because, after working hard for everyone else all day every day, I enjoy letting loose and feeling sexy and beautiful sometimes.
But guess what! My motivation for dressing however I want is none of your damn business! So keep your comments to yourself.
And keep your eyes up here.
July 10, 2016
My heart continues to ache over the events of the past week. Scrolling through Facebook is heart wrenching. So much hatred and anger. So much sadness.
I want to help so badly. I want to change the world. I feel helpless. After some soul searching, I realized my greatest influence and power for change is right here in my home.
Upon this realization, my husband and I decided to make a video with our little guy, Anthony.
Our children hear our conversations. They see our actions. They feel our attitudes. They learn how to view and navigate this world from us. This responsibility is daunting but exciting. We have the power to re-direct the future!
I want my children to be free-thinking and open-minded. I want them to see through stereotypes and stigmas and love without judgement or condition. We have to stand up and be better than the generations who have gone before, and then pass the torch to the next, hoping they move in the same positive direction.
If you feel the same responsibility as a parent, please share this video and encourage other parents to take Anthony's advice to teach our children carefully.
June 27, 2016
Recent events have caused me to re-visit a very dark and private time in my life...a time I felt hopeless, depressed, and so very alone. Very few people know about this struggle. My secret was ugly and I was prideful. It snuck up on me and robbed me of happiness and whatever self-worth I once had. I didn’t see it coming, and before I could stop it, it had consumed me.
Now from a better place, I can look back at this terrifyingly unhealthy time from a perspective of gratitude for overcoming, and a sincere desire to help others who are experiencing similar things. If this post helps one person, the darkness is absolutely worth re-visiting. It is in this spirit that I recount the events of such a trying time in my life.
July of 2011, with four children ages 2, 3, 5, and 8, I left my marriage of 9 years. It was the most difficult decision I had ever made. Though I finally felt free from the misery of a perpetually unhealthy marriage that we had tried so hard to make work, and though I knew without a doubt it was the right thing to do for me, I felt an extreme amount of sorrow and guilt for putting my children through it.
As a child of a broken family myself, divorce was something I never wanted my children to experience, and here we were. To say I felt guilt for putting them through this is a gross understatement. There are no words to describe the anguish I felt breaking our family apart, and yet, I knew I had to do it.
That July, I moved from our large, beautiful home into a small apartment. The first night was difficult. I held my four babies as they cried. How did we get here? Why did I act so selfishly? How did I mess up so badly?
Eventually, they fell asleep. I took a deep breath and quietly walked into a kitchen full of unpacked boxes. I was alone. The quiet was deafening. The weight of my decision crushed me. For selfishly putting my children through this nightmare, I deserved punishing. I needed to silence the voices telling me I had failed…telling me I had ruined the lives of my children. I needed to numb the pain.
I filled a large blue bowl with Frosted Mini Wheats. I ate it as quickly as I could. I felt a little better. I poured another. I ate it just as quickly. My stomach started to ache. I deserved that pain. I found a bag of chocolate chips. I ate them by the handful. One after another after another, as quickly as I could. I didn’t want it to taste or feel good. I wanted to replace the emotional pain with physical pain and it was working. I continued to eat until I was sick. I couldn’t move. It felt appropriate to be in so much pain. I couldn’t keep my eyes open. I fell asleep, my first night alone.
That night was the beginning of a problem I didn't see coming. Though I could not recognize it at the time, bingeing became a powerful drug to me. Around other people, I fantasized about when and what my next fix would be. As soon as I was alone, I binged as quickly as I could.
The experience of a binge was almost exactly the same every time. The first few bites produced an intense feeling of euphoria. Waves of pleasure spread down my arms and legs and covered me entirely. Everything felt wonderful for a few moments. The next phase was numbness. The stress and anguish and guilt were silenced. I continued to eat until it hurt. I wanted to feel sick enough that I felt properly punished. When I was finished, I felt disgusted with myself and often tried to vomit. I used toothbrushes, chopsticks, and my hand but nothing worked. This frustrated me. I’d lay there, aching and hating myself for doing it again.
“Why did I do that? This is awful. You are so stupid. NEVER do that again.”
It was easy to see the stupidity of my actions after I had given in to the urge, but it was impossible to think clearly in the midst of the temptation.
Night time was the worst. After a night of waking up and binging multiple times, I would get out of bed and look in the mirror. Some mornings, my face was so swollen with edema I almost didn’t recognize myself. My feet and hands swelled. I was horrified. I'd decide not to eat that day. If I could just go one or two days without food, I’d start losing the weight and get back on track. By afternoon, I was starving and the urge to binge was overwhelming.
The cycle continued.
I was ashamed. I was embarrassed. I did not tell a soul about my secret struggle. I was determined to fix it and move on, but every day proved to be another failure.
I became obsessed with my weight. I joined a gym and started exercising more than I ever had. I weighed myself when I woke up, after every meal, after working out, every time I used the restroom, and before I went to bed. The extreme workouts only increased my hunger and that damn scale continued to reinforce the voices telling me what a failure I was. I’d step on that scale, feel hopeless and discouraged and say “f**k it,” and binge once again.
I gained 54 pounds in 7 months. I was out of control and I didn’t know what to do. It felt bigger than me. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn't figure out how to escape.
By that time, my now ex-husband had moved from Utah to Texas and I was planning to move so the kids could be closer to him. I had had enough of this nightmare. I decided that Texas was going to be a new beginning for me. I would NOT binge in Texas. The drive out there was a long one. I ate all the food I wanted because I knew once I got to my new home, a healthier version of me would reside.
This was my chance, my new beginning. I was not going to mess it up. I had punished myself long enough. It was time to love myself again, no matter how unworthy I felt.
When I arrived in Texas, I had an empty pantry and fridge to fill and decided it would only be with wholesome foods. I went to the store, bought a lot of healthy food and a big green poster board. I avoided any “health foods,” that had a long list of ingredients I couldn’t pronounce and instead focussed on whole foods like fruits, vegetables, whole-grain pasta, brown rice, quinoa, nuts and beans.
That big ugly green poster helped me immensely. With it, I made a giant 30 day calendar. Each day contained 4 small squares to check off: 1 square for each meal and 1 square that said 9:00. It was so important that I did not skip a meal. I had figured out that hunger was my enemy. Each meal I ate, I crossed off a square. If I felt hungry between meals, I ate fruit or vegetables or a handful of almonds. I set an alarm for 8:45 pm every evening to remind me to have a snack before my cut off time of 9:00. I crossed off each day with a sharpie and kept it on the fridge where I could see it when I needed it most. Two days each week, I wrote something extra on the calendar like a treat I'd been craving or a free meal or a Starbucks drink. I looked forward to those things and when I wanted to eat unhealthy food I reminded myself I could wait to have the things on the calendar. Crossing off those boxes was powerful for me and seeing that giant X through each day gave me the strength to not look back and keep moving forward.
Those first 30 days were not easy. The urges to binge were overwhelming. Just writing about them makes my heart race. I previously thought the only way to get rid of an urge was to give in to it, but I realized those bastards were indeed temporary and I would NOT let them win.
I learned to separate myself from the urge and observe it with my mind’s eye. An urge was like a giant, powerful wave. From a distance, I watched as it grew more and more powerful. I’d talk to myself like a crazy person. “Look at that wave. It’s huge. I can't believe I used to be a slave to that f**king urge. My god, it is powerful. I can observe it from a distance now and not let it control me. I am in control now. I hate that wave. I will not give it power.”
As the urge reached it’s highest point, my body shook. My stomach growled, my head pounded, every part of my body ached, and I cried as the voices in my head begged me to give in. With tears streaming down my face, I watched that giant, ugly wave with my mind’s eye. After what seemed like forever, the wave started to go down, down, down until it was finally gone. I felt relieved and proud of myself every time I was able to remove myself from the wave and observe it from a distance. I took a deep breath and moved on.
I had some set-backs of course. There were times I gave in. The temptation when I stumbled was to feel like a giant failure and return to binging in full force. I told myself during those times that it was not about winning every single battle, but about winning the war. I WOULD win this damn war. I could not live like this any longer. Two steps forward and one step back was still progress, and I would keep moving forward no matter what.
I made a promise not to weigh myself for those first 30 days. The scale was not my friend. I went on regular walks no matter how much I didn't want to, and I immediately made a fruit smoothie when I got home to curb my urge to binge after burning calories.
Eventually, I was able to look at food as my friend and not my enemy. Eating, I had learned, was my key to overcoming binging. Oh the irony! It was all about feeding and nourishing my body with healthy food instead of punishing it with junk. I had to believe I deserved better. I was learning to love myself again. After three months, I had lost 20 pounds, but so much more importantly was that both my body and spirit were healing. I was beginning to regain the sense of self worth I had lost so long ago.
I look back on that dark time in my life with an overwhelming sense of gratitude for having overcome it. My children are all doing well and I am in a healthy and loving relationship. Learning to love my body has been an ongoing process, but I get better every day.
What is your relationship with food like? Are you feeding your body to nourish or harm it?
If you are struggling with a similar issue, I want you to know that there is a bright future for you on the other side. There is hope. It is absolutely possible to overcome. Don't be prideful like I was. Seek help. If I had reached out and allowed those that love me to be a support, the struggle would have been easier to conquer.
You are loved. You are worthy of happiness. You deserve to be healthy. This is not stronger or more powerful than you are, and you are NOT alone. Buy yourself a big ugly green poster! Each new day is a clean slate, and this day could be your new beginning.
May 29, 2016
After an emotional week, it's time for a light-hearted post about something I've been excited to share for a while now.
I am almost thirty-three years old. I started using Belpeau Nourishing Exfoliant a year ago. No exaggeration here, I have received more compliments on my skin in the past year than I have in my entire previous life combined.
People ask me all the time what my secret is. While Belpeau is my number one tool in aging gracefully and having clear, polished, glowing skin, this trick has taken my skin to the next level!
I discovered this little gem on my favorite fashion blog, With Love from Kimberly and I had to try it.
I was shocked. It works.
I'm calling it the Glacial Facial. It's such a simple trick, and I have seen so many benefits from it!
After washing your face in the morning, rub an ice cube all around your face for about a minute. Be careful not to linger with the ice in the same place for more than a second or two. Then blot your face dry with a towel and voila!
This little trick reduces puffiness around the eyes, increases blood circulation, tightens skin, eases redness, reduces the size of pores, and keeps your skin looking fresh and clean.
Try it and see for yourself! I have better results from my Glacial Facial than I get from an expensive spa facial!
May 26, 2016
I will never forget that day in April so many years ago. Nineteen weeks pregnant and positive it was a girl, we couldn’t wait to see our first baby on the ultrasound. We’d been dreaming about this day and it was finally here.
May 05, 2016
Cup of coffee in hand, children off to school, it’s 8:30 in the morning and I’m feeling great.
I sit down to write this post and the phone rings. It’s my seventh grader saying he forgot his socks and needs me to bring him some.
Roll my eyes and deliver socks. Switch laundry. Change god-awful diaper. Re-heat coffee. Deep breath.
Sit back down to write this post and the phone rings. It’s the school nurse telling me my third grader is having chest pain. Rush to the school, fearing the worst. It was a minor case of indigestion that a giant belch cleared up.
Return home. Fold laundry. Throw dinner in the crock pot. Kids come home and after-school chaos commences. I still haven't showered.
Finish Homework and kids run out to play. Once again, I re-heat my now stale coffee. Deep breath.
In walks my ten year old. He’s holding a severely injured and dying dove wrapped in a plastic bag. Tears streaming down his face, he mutters, “We have to bury him mom.”
My heart sinks. “Ok buddy.”
We venture out to find a proper burial spot and say a tearful goodbye to the now deceased little bird.
It’s dinner time. Clean up time. Bath time. Story time. Bedtime.
The coffee still sits, cold on the end table. I replace it with a glass of Pinot. Deep breath.
This is motherhood.
The details differ from day to day and family to family, but the chaos isn’t going anywhere.
I’m told we’ll miss it. I’m told the silence of an empty nest is haunting. But for now, all I want is twenty minutes of silence. Hell, I’d take three.
Take it from me, a mother of seven. I get it. To say this job is a difficult one feels like a preposterous understatement. But three little nuggets I’ve acquired over the past 13 years have literally saved my sanity. If put to proper use, I have no doubt they’ll change your world too.
“I had it first!” “It’s my turn with the remote!” “I get to sit in front this time!” “I want to choose the show!” “I’m telling Mom!!!”
Put an end to all of it overnight. I promise, your kids will hate it at first. I can also promise that if you eliminate yourself from playing referee, your kids will figure it out. You’ll be a happier mother and they’ll be much more capable humans.
Here’s how it works: Whether it’s a game, toy, or virtually any other situation in which two or more kids disagree, calmly instruct them to move away from it and think of a solution.
The most difficult but important rule here is that you as the parent have to force yourself not to get involved or make suggestions. This will be tougher than you might think, but it will get easier over time.
Trust your children's ability to figure it out and watch as they sharpen their problem solving skills while relieving you of the headache of playing Mommy Referee.
*Hint: If a child is figuring out a solution in a negative or unkind way, that child loses the privilege.
"What the heck mom! Pizza without cheese is NOT pizza! That's disgusting!"
"I'm going to need you to show some gratitude."
"Gross. This is so dumb. It's not a fun pizza and movie night if the pizza is disgusting. I'm not eating it!"
Do you know what is ten times scarier than a yelling mother? I’ll tell you. It’s a mother who, in the heat of a child’s misbehavior, leans in real close, looks that child square in the eye, smiles, and whispers.
"You will eat the cheeseless pizza, or you will have no dinner at all. You choose. And if you use that tone one more time, I can promise you there will be no movie."
The eye contact. The calm control. The graveness in your voice. The smile. That child will not know what hit him. The quieter you are, the harder he’ll have to work to hear what you’re saying. He’ll grasp your instruction and you won’t lose your voice trying to convey your message. You can thank me later.
This one is near and dear to my heart. I have had some of my most intimate and meaningful moments with my children in what I call The Bubble.
What is it you ask?
The Bubble is a figurative place your child can go if given permission. It’s a place they feel safe to communicate whatever they want, however they want, without consequence.
If they want to scream the f-word until they’re blue in the face, they’re allowed with no consequence. If they want to tell me they hate me or someone else, it’s allowed without consequence.
But these things rarely happen. What does happen is that kids feel safe to express feelings they otherwise might not. They tell you things they otherwise would keep inside.
In The Bubble, the child feels respected. The child feels heard. And when that child knows you’re present and listening and not ready to discipline, she wants to behave, and more importantly, she feels loved and fulfilled.
I hope these three sanity savers help you as much as they’ve helped me. Not only have they made this crazy, chaotic life a little easier for everyone in our home, they have improved my relationships with my children and helped them become happier, healthier, more capable humans, and that's my ultimate goal.
April 12, 2016
As we bid farewell to winter and say hello to sunshine, swimsuits and margaritas, you may have noticed how the cold winter has left your skin rough, dry and dull. Don't fret! Belpeau Nourishing Exfoliant quickly brings new life to your skin by ridding it of all those dead, dry skin cells and allowing fresh, new skin to grow! But Belpeau is more than just an exfoliant. Belpeau detoxifies, polishes, and deeply nourishes your skin, leaving it healthy, polished, and ready for you to put on that bikini! Here are the top 5 reasons why YOU should Belpeau.
Who wants to wear thick layers of foundation and powder in the heat? Drastically improve the tone and texture of your skin so you can go natural! Belpeau's anti-inflammatory and healing properties tame inflammation, restore proper moisture, and rid your skin of dead skin cells that cause uneven tone and texture so you can embrace your natural radiance!
As we age, our skin’s natural ability to shed dead skin cells slows. These dead or dull skin cells make fine lines and wrinkles significantly more visible. Belpeau Nourishing Exfoliant rids you of those dead cells, safely and naturally increases blood flow and speeds up the skin renewal process, allowing smoother, healthier skin cells to take their place.
The activated charcoal in Belpeau Nourishing Exfoliant absorbs hundreds of times its mass in toxins and draws bacteria, dirt, and other micro-particles to the surface of your skin. Antimicrobial Jojoba oil and antiseptic lavender oil clears your pores and kills bacteria, leaving your skin powerfully detoxified and your skin clean and clear!
Bid adieu to the expensive moisturizers that contain cheap fillers and harmful preservatives. While other exfoliants leave your skin feeling stripped and dry, Belpeau feeds your skin everything it’s been craving! Rich in trace minerals, vitamins A, B1, B6, and E, to name a few, Belpeau restores pH balance, ridding your skin of both dry patches and oily spots!
Belpeau Nourishing Exfoliant is more than a scrub. It is a powerful 3-in1 skin treatment that can transform your skin! Hypoallergenic, cruelty free, paraben free, gluten free, and vegan, Belpeau contains every ingredient your skin craves and not one ingredient it doesn’t! We are so sure you’ll see drastic improvements to your skin, you can return it at any time for a full refund, no questions asked. Try it. You have healthy, polished, clean and clear skin to gain and absolutely nothing to lose!
March 25, 2016
I am a mother to seven children. No, that is not a typo. I gave birth to five of them. My middle name should be legally changed to Kegel.
Some days I feel like I'm on top of it all. Mostly, I spend my days trying to stay sane amidst absolute chaos. By the end of most days, I feel like I survived some insane war battle. A glass of red wine and an episode (or five) of House of Cards feels like a legitimate vacation.
I love my kids dearly. I would do anything for them. I work from home. I'm there to change the diapers and make their meals. I read them stories and help with their homework. I’m there to kiss the boo-boos and tuck them into bed at night. I try hard to make our home a safe and happy place to grow up.
But, I am more than a mother. And it took me 10 years to realize it.
I was 19 years old when I married and I had 4 kids by age 25. Eventually, I found myself overwhelmed, overweight and depressed. I divorced my first husband after 9 years of marriage.
I had lost myself.
It took me a while to heal from the failure of my first marriage. I put on more weight as I struggled to find myself again as a single mother of four.
Eventually, I met the man of my dreams. He is my soulmate in every sense of the word. I know, I know. It sounds disgustingly cliché. But it’s true. AJ understands me to my core. He loves and supports me unconditionally. We had our seventh child together (AJ has 2 children from a previous marriage), an incredible little boy who has his daddy's beautiful heart.
After our son was born, I worked hard to lose the baby weight I had been carrying for over a decade. I ate healthy and worked out and in one year I lost 35 pounds. I went from a size 12 to a size 6.
Our wedding day was one of the happiest days of my life. AJ and I and our seven children were there. No one else. It was our special day, simple and intimate, and it could not have been more perfect. I was genuinely happy for the first time in a very long time.
But I hated my naked body.
After 5 pregnancies, I could no longer jump or sneeze without peeing myself. My boobs, having been used as a milk dispensary for 5 hungry little monsters, became droopy and flat; my thighs and butt were covered in stretch marks and my stomach could best be described in the words of my six year old--- “like the face of an old granny--” wrinkled, stretched and full of excess skin.
After working hard to lose the baby weight, I longed to feel sexy and confident in a swimsuit and...ahem...in the bedroom.
I had my breasts augmented. I still wasn’t happy.
I decided the answer to my problem was a tummy tuck. If I could just fix my wrinkly, stretched out stomach, I knew I would finally be happy with my body.
AJ insisted that I did not need the boob job, and I certainly did not need more surgery. He tried to help me see the beauty he sees. In spite of how he felt, he was supportive. He started putting away every extra penny he could for my “mommy makeover.” I felt guilty for wanting something so vain, but he knew how much it meant to me and insisted on helping me get there.
Finally, the time came to meet with the surgeon. This guy was the best of the best in Scottsdale, Arizona for tummy tucks. He told me that during my surgery, he could take the excess fat from my love handles and put it in my butt. Perfect tummy and a killer ass? YES PLEASE!
Then something happened to me in a bathroom stall.
Let me explain.
I don’t know what triggered it. It was an ordinary day. I brought the kids to see AJ at work. When we arrived, he was visiting with an older man, one of his regular customers. The man saw me walk in with our children, ages 11, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, and 2. He was blown away that AJ had such a large family. AJ chuckled at his reaction and said something about how lucky he was to have found his soulmate. He told the man that our life is crazy but wonderful, and that though it is nearly constant chaos, he has never been happier. Just a simple conversation, but in that moment, I looked into my husband's smiling eyes and was flooded with deep frustration.
What the hell is wrong with me? Why am I robbing myself of happiness over something so unimportant? I have a wonderful life. I have an amazing job, an incredible husband, and 7 healthy and happy children. Why can I not I be satisfied? Why can't I let it go? Why oh why can I not be happy with and thankful for the body I have?
I was getting emotional so I quickly excused myself to the restroom. I sat in that stall and cried. I thought about how lucky I am to be in a healthy relationship with a man who loves and respects and supports me. Though life is stressful, we are so very fortunate. We have seven fantastic children. I am healthier and happier than I have ever been.
It was a moment of clarity and closure for me---a life-changing, almost spiritual moment. Sitting in that bathroom stall, I came to the conclusion that it was time to love and accept and enjoy my post-baby body. It was time to put on that damn bikini.
I made the decision right then and there that those marks were not going anywhere. I don't need a perfect stomach to feel beautiful! These lines and wrinkles represent the making of our family--the sacrifice I made to bring five kids into this world. They remind me of each birthing experience and the overwhelming joy I experienced looking into the eyes of each one of my children for the first time. I am proud of this stomach!
I walked out of that bathroom a new and empowered woman. I wanted to thank AJ for supporting me in this journey toward embracing my body. I wanted to find a special way to break the news to him that I no longer wanted the tummy tuck he had sacrificed so much to save for. I decided to have some professional “sexy” pictures taken for him. I went home, took a deep breath and booked the shoot.
I was nervous to say the least, but the photographer was so sweet and she put me right at ease. It was a life-changing experience—liberating in a way I never expected. I asked her to take a picture with my stomach in it—no photoshopping, no editing…my stomach….just as my husband sees it.
When the pictures arrived, I set up our balcony with candles, pillows and champagne. My heart was pounding. He had no idea what was going on.
I showed him the pictures. He wept. It was one of the most precious experiences we have ever had together. We held each other and cried and expressed our love and gratitude for each other. And then we had incredible sex.
TMI? Too bad.
Moms, let’s quit trying to reach a ridiculous level of perfection. Our bodies are a patchwork of our lives, and those marks represent a journey. Those marks are beautiful. Embrace them! Enjoy your naked body! Have fun with sex! After a long day with kids, Lord knows you deserve a killer orgasm!
Let's make our health and happiness a top priority. Happy mommies raise happy kids!
Every. Single. Day is precious. Put on that damn bikini! Let’s dance! Let’s play! And let’s start making our sexual pleasure as much a priority as our partner’s. Wouldn’t we want the same for our daughters and our daughters' daughters?
Screw thigh gaps! I want my girls to know they can do anything and be anything they set their minds to. I want them to understand that they deserve to be an equal in their relationships, and they can have fun and feel beautiful and have great sex, even after motherhood! I want them to know their bodies are sacred and beautiful and meant to be enjoyed. I want them to love and respect their bodies and I want them to find a partner who does the same.
And if my daughters decide to have children of their own, I want them to be proud of the marks that appear on their tummies. Those are marks of bravery. Of courage. Of love. Of sacrifice. And I will never go back to being anything but proud of them.
Creator of Belpeau Nourishing Exfoliant