I remember I why I loved Belle

When I saw Beauty and the Beast a few months ago it was the first time I'd been to the theater in 3 years.  It was totally worth it.  Most movies I'm willing to wait until they come out on Netflix but this was worth the effort to get out.  (With three littles it is an effort.)

Honestly, I wasn't initially planning on going to see Beauty and the Beast, but the response from people was just been so overwhelmingly positive, that I thought perhaps I should give it a shot, and I should check it out. In preparation for it and in excitement for it, I looked for my old Beauty and the Beast CD, and I didn't find it. I found all the other old Disney ones, but I couldn't find Beauty and the Beast. So I bought the new one, which is great because it has all the new songs on it from the new movie.

was getting excited as I was listening to the soundtrack, and a friend of mine and I head to the movies, we stopped for 7-Eleven for snacks, we drove to the movie theater. We got in our seats and we're ready to watch it.   We're both really excited, and then the first scene, or maybe perhaps the second scene, Belle comes on the screen. Then, it was like it came crashing back to me, why I loved Belle so very much.

started thinking back to the other Disney princess, Disney movies. They were all princesses, right? So, Snow White was a princess, Cinderella was not that relatable, even though she wasn't really a princess. I never watched Sleeping Beauty, but I know that she was a princess. I guess Anastasia was sort of a princess. I didn't find Pocahontas to be overly relatable, and Princess Jasmine was a princess. Ariel was a princess, and also a mermaid, doesn't make her overly relatable.

ut, whilst out on the street, in Beauty and the Beast, out walks Belle, and Belle is wearing blue, my favorite color. She has brown hair. I have brown hair. She loves books, and I love books. And I remember that feeling, when I first saw her, and I was 10, looking at Belle and thinking "oh look, that's like me." She's a brunette, and she doesn't dress up, and she loves books. I don't think I expected to have just this emotional reminder, as to how much I loved her. 

ow that I have three boys, I'm not overly concerned about one of them thinking they can grow up to be a princess, although I suppose they could. But I am aware and concerned of the messages that Disney sells them. This is coming from a pretty big fan of Disney. I still feel it is necessary to have all these disclaimers when I read them Sleeping Beauty, like "just so you know, you can't do that.  You're not allowed to kiss a woman she's sleeping."

o, with that being said, I was watching Beauty and the Beast, and I thought this movie requires no disclaimer. This is a young woman, who is dissatisfied with where she lives. She's fiercely loyal to her family. She has this desire to try new things, and invent and imagine, and she does it unapologetically. She's not willing to compromise simply because there's a status quo that everyone would like to maintain. That's before she even meets the vicious beast. You learn all about that, you learn all of that about her.

hen, of course there's the love story.  The first thing that the beast is attracted to in Belle, or one of the things that he likes about her, is that she tells him what she thinks. She uses her mind, and one of the first things that makes Belle even look at the Beast as something other than a Beast, of course, is the fact that he can quote Shakespeare. It's their love of books and the academic and their respect for each other that brings them close together. If he were too tough to quote Shakespeare to her, or if she was too mild mannered to speak back to him, their love story would never happen.

s opposed to many Disney movies where you get the feeling that once they get married, it's sort of over, at the end of Beauty and the Beast, you get the feeling that when they get married, it's really just beginning. That their love for each other will just continue, and they all of these happy, wonderful people around them, and that they will truly appreciate each other.

nd looking at Belle, and looking at a young girl, or a young woman, you might look at Belle and look up to Belle. She is quite a character, and I can't wait to watch the movie again, with my boys, so they can see another example of a fearless, strong-willed, educated, imaginative, inventive woman, who is no less female and no less beautiful.

o, thank you Disney for Beauty and the Beast.

Who is your favorite Disney princess?



21 Reasons to love the 21 Day Fix

  1. A new quote for every workout.

  2. 7 days of no repeating

  3. The hardest move of the entire workout is the first one.  (Get that out of the way!)

  4. A great 10 minute abs

  5. Simple eating plan

  6. Colorful containers

  7. Chocolate chips (allowed in the eating plan)

  8. Cheese (allowed in the eating plan)

  9. Avocado (allowed in the eating plan)

  10. Accessible via DVD or Beachbody on Demand

  11. Cardio/Pilates/Yoga/Weights- I never get bored.

  12. My favorite workout.  (Say hey for Dirty 30)

  13. The small talk- It always makes me laugh.  (Her wedding is still only 6 weeks away.)

  14. PG- No swearing.  Always positive.  No talk about losing weight.  Just talking about muscles.  My kids love Autumn.

  15. Kat, the modifier.  If you watched her you know her and you love her.  

  16. Autumn.  She's not annoying in the videos and if you follow her in Instagram she's endearing.  

  17. Its only 21 Days long.

  18. Each day is a different workout but its the same for each day of the week.  Once I know that Wednesday is legs day I never have to learn it again.  

  19.  I can do it in my living room (usually in my bare feet.)

  20. I've watched person after person learn how to eat healthier using the 21 Day Fix eating plan.

  21. It is the first program I ever used to lead a challenge group and those challengers are still people I'm so close to and we continue to love and inspire each other over 2 years later.

  22. Bonus!  It showed me the power of working a program and an eating plan day in and day out.  It works if you work it!


#Tovah Reads- Outliers

I recently finished the book, Outliers, by Maxwell Gladwell. This book had been recommended to me in one of those "hey, I'm looking for a new book. What should I download?" Posts on Facebook. I'm always interested in personal development. I hadn't read his other books yet, even the more famous Tipping Point.

When I started this book, I had just finished a memoir, and I was looking for something new. So, it's about seven or eight hours long on Audible. I though "oh well that's totally doable. It can't be that bad, it's not that long." I have to say, this book was, the best way I can describe it, an absolute delight. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and in fact I could have kept listening to this book for much longer than the book went, simply because it was filled with fascinating story, after fascinating story. 

It was just one continuous discussion of taking how we look at the world, or look at something, and how perhaps we should be looking at it. Perhaps the statistics that we're looking at, should be looked at them from a different angle. Perhaps someone succeeded, not in spite of something, or in spite of a awful experience, but because of it. At first, so much of the book was focused on opportunity, and some people having opportunities that other people hadn't. But in many cases, the opportunities weren't these huge, sweeping things of parents being wealthy, or these certain experiences, but they were subtler opportunities. Someone saying "yes".  Often it came down to the successful person having the stability to get someone else to say "yes".

I don't know that really the whole impact of the book has totally sunk in yet. One definite takeaway, perhaps my main takeaway, is something he said at the very beginning, which is "there really aren't people who just luck-out and make it big without hard work. And vice versa, there aren't people that work really, really hard for years, and years, and years toiling away, that don't have success." All of the opportunities in the world will not do anything, if you're not working really hard.

He talked about the Beatles, he talked about Bill Gates and Bill Joy. None of these people, or groups would have had the success they had without opportunity, and none of them would have the success they had without, without working very, very hard.  The book made me want to work hard, hustle more. It made me want to find my own opportunities, figure out how to make opportunities. It also made me think about the responsibility I have to make opportunities for other people, but when can I say "yes" to other people? When can I help other people? So they can look back and say "well, it was when Tovah said yes, that was a turning point. That was when all my hard work started to pay off."  Now I'm not just looking for my own opportunities but for the opportunity to say YES.

Fascinating book. Totally intriguing, inspiring. Once again, it just makes your brain work in a different way than it's use to working, so I would highly recommend Outliers. 

Have you read any other Malcolm Gladwell's Books?

Do you have a favorite?



Love Warrior you speak to my heart

Audio books have been a fairly new find of mine.  (Okay I've been in love for two years but in the grand scheme of things its new.)  I wasn't so sure about it at first but where I have really fallen in love with the practice of listening to books is when they are read by the author.  I cannot stop listening to memoirs for this reason.

There are times that a book enters your life when you need to hear it and you know that you and this book will be connected forever.  Such is the story of this book and me.  Of course the only problem I have with Audible books is that I can't underline them.  It just means I know I will listen to this book over and over

In many ways I have absolutely no connection or similarities with this character.  I am not an alcoholic.  I have not had an eating disorder.  I don't think I have had a particular addictive personality.  I have however doubted my role in the universe.  I have doubted myself.  I have been worried about how I fit in the world.  About whether I am putting myself on display or sharing my real self.  I have thought about the struggles to be a mom and a wife and a woman.

This book spoke to me and inspired me.  I may have cheered some parts aloud while driving and I definitely teared up.  I'm a huge fan of this book but you need to read it with an open mind and an open heart.  If you do that it will take you on quite a wild ride.  


I don't like transitioning any more than my toddlers...I just can't tantrum

One of the hardest things day in and day out I think in every single parent's life, including mine, are transitions. Getting children out of the door into the car and then out of the car into the school and then out of the school back into the car and then out of the car back into the house and then from the first floor of the house, out of their regular clothing, onto the second floor of the house, possibly into a path, possibly into pajamas, and then out of the bath, from pajamas around the house to pajamas in the bed.

Every single transition is nothing short of a disaster sometimes. Sometimes they go really smooth and sometimes they take 25 minutes and there's absolutely no rhyme or reason as far as I can tell, no amount of warning, no amount of preparation, "Okay, we're going to be leaving in five minutes," nothing that can prepare you for these things. It's enough to drive me crazy.

The other day we were at the park and I told the boys, "Okay guys, this is your ten-minute warning," "Okay guys, this is your five-minute warning," "Okay guys, in two minutes we're going to leave." Then, oddly enough, I ran into a friend from college and I was like, "Okay guys, this is your five-minute warning. You have five more minutes."  When I said that they're like, "Okay, let's go run. Let's go run away." I mean, not really run away but, "Let's go run on the playground." They were hiding. They were excited. They were going to prevent the transition. I knew it. I knew it was going to be me keeping an eye on them while I put the baby in the car and then getting them one at a time.

I was just preparing for this sort of disaster of a transition, one by one. Miraculously enough, it started to thunder, and immediately I said, "It's thundering. We have to go." All the other parents said, "It's thundering. We have to go." We got out of the playground and we were in the car and it was fast, unbelievably fast. I just thought, "That was amazing. I want a thunderstorm to end every time we go to the playground.  No matter how much I prepare them, one of the three of them has trouble transitioning and then I have to be careful I don't say, "Wow, your brother did such a good job listening and you sucked." But that's always what I say in my of course.

What I've been thinking about with transitions is that I don't like transitions either. I don't have trouble with transitions normally, like getting in and out of the car or getting in the house, but at the end of a long day, I do sort of sit in my car for a little bit because I'm tired and I know as soon as I go in the house I'm going to have to carry the bags in and put them down and possibly put something away and change out of my work clothes. There's just so much transition at the end of the day. I don't like it. In the morning, I'm all comfy in my pajamas or my workout clothes and even transitioning from my pajamas to my workout clothes, even if my workout clothes are laid out and I'm following all those nice rules, it takes a minute.

What I've realized is that I don't like transitions. I don't. I don't like transitions at all. I don't like transitions any more than my kids, the difference being that I am 36 and not five or three or one, and so I can't actually have a temper tantrum anytime I transition. I do in my head sometimes, "Oh, I really don't want to be doing this," but I can't actually do it in real life.

I was thinking there's got to be a better way. I actually don't know what that better way is. I have a theory. We use a behavior chart sometimes. The kids seem to really like it. Well, the one kid does. I don't think the middle child even cares about behavior charts, but we're going to give it a go and make a little reward with transitions. "If you transition easily, you're going to get to go up on the behavior chart and there'll be big rewards." Things like that. We're just going to rely on that a little more, because I don't think my basic sense of, "I'm just relying on you to suck it up to our transition and get over it," is totally working out. I think perhaps they are a little too young to get the suck it up factor.

Do you have some transition miracle?  

Or do you struggle like I do?





                                Yeah, that's my idea. I don't know if it's a good one, but it's what I'm going with because something has got to be better than me saying, "Put on your shoes. Put on your shoes. You need to put on your shoes. You need to get dressed. You need to get dressed. Get dressed. Get dressed. You need to get dressed. Now you need to get undressed. Bath time. Bath time. Bath time." There's got to be something better than this, so I have no solution. I'm sharing a problem, but I think the fact that I've recognized that I like transitions as little as my kids like transitions may be the first step in some sort of revolution in our house. I will keep you posted.

Are you willing to fail?

 "If you don't start failing at things you're not living a full life."

Sebastian Junger on The Tim Ferris Podcast

I'll be honest, I'm sort of obsessed with failing these days.  The idea of failing and the need to fail.  I'm going for nos.  I'm pushing for failure.  Failure means I'm getting outside of my comfort zone and I'm getting uncomfortable.  

One of the themes of just about every personal development book I've read is that you need to be wiling to fail.  (Even the anti- PD book, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck)  In fact one of the first books I read was John Maxwell's Failing Forward.  I was knew to the world of personal development when I read this.  I don' t think mentally I was really there yet.  

Failure is hard and scary.  As parents its not really something we want for our kids and we work hard to prevent it.  For ourselves we often try to avoid failure.  Why exactly would you put ourselves in the position to fail.  It just doesn't make sense and goes against our instincts to survive.  

Failure, however is the one thing that will really help us succeed in life.  If you want great big things in life you need to be wiling to fail to get them.  You need to be willing to try something new and try something different.  One area that we all seem pretty okay doing this is with our relationships.  Unless you stay with someone forever, technically isn't every relationship a failure of sorts?  Well, no of course not.  Every relationship, or at least most of them, is a learning experience putting you in a better positioning.  And yet technically these are in fact failures.  

This concept is definitely something that I have struggled with but is so important.  I will not change my life or get anywhere unless I'm wiling to take risks and fail.   Right now I'm trying to teach my kids to fail.  I know that isn't something you hear most parents say but looking back I think I spent a huge chunk of my life afraid of failure.  I think I missed out on a lot by being that way.  I'm hoping, if anything, I can get my kids to get to the point of their lives that they are comfortable with failure.  At least get their sooner.  Sure I want them to be confident but I want them to be confident to fail.  To try things that they don't know if they will excel at them. 

Its certainly scary.  Its certainly an adventure but its one I'm willing to take.




Why I LOVE my BOD!

Haha.  I tricked you.  Okay I didn't trick because I do love my BOD, just a different BOD than you're thinking of.   I thought it was time that I really tell you all about Beachbody On Demand All Access because I keep talking about it and posting about it, but I don't actually tell you what it is. 

Beach Body On Demand is this thing, okay not a good start. It's an app on my phone. It's a website I can go to on my computer. It's an app on my Roku, the little way I make my computer talk to the Internet. That's about as technologically advanced as I know it is. It is an app that I can go to. It's great. Up until recently, it had a quarterly fee. 

I got a bunch of workouts. I got any workouts that I ever bought, like T25 and 21 Day Fix and other ones, P90x. It had all those workouts plus it had some bonus workouts like Rockin' Abs. Shawn T Hip Hop Abs, Rockin' Abs from way back when. It was great. It was a good deal. I didn't have to worry about my kids scratching DVDs anymore. I didn't have to worry about losing DVDs. It was all right there on my TV or on my phone or whatever I needed. Wonderful.

Then they brought us All Access Beachbody On Demand. Let me tell you a little bit about All Access Beachbody On Demand. It is access to every single workout that Beach Body has ever, ever produced. Every, single one. Every, single one. You know when you get those DVDs and they're like, "And for another $35, you can get two bonus workouts," and you're like, "Yeah I'm not spending $35 for two bonus workouts." Well, those bonus workouts are here. P90X3, 21 Day Fix, 21 Day Fix Extreme, T25, Core to Force.

The workout comes out it's included. It's everything. All access. Every, single thing. It would be like getting a gym membership and then signing up for all of the courses. It's even workouts that you don't even know exists.  They did a show called The Twenties and they were picking out a new Beach Body trainer and it was really exciting. I'll admit, I didn't watch the show, but all of the workouts attached to those trainers are there. These great 20 minute workouts. 

There are three prenatal and one postnatal workout. There's just a ton of stuff. The new Shift Shop?  Its there.  The new workout coming in the fall?  It will be there.  Now you can get All Access Beachbody on Demand for ONE WHOLE YEAR plus Shakeology for a month for $160.  What, the what??  Yes, I'm serious.

I know that sounds like a ton. Totally sounds like a ton to me, except that it's a full year.  All the new workouts coming out this year you get access to, plus a big old bag or 24 little bags, of Shakeology. It's yours. Done. Yours. That's normally on its own, with shipping and everything, it's about $146. Just the bag of Shakeology, no workouts, is $146. The bag of Shakeology with all of the workouts, like I said, every, single workout you get for $160.

That's why it's a big deal. We have an ongoing online accountability group ready to help you when you're ready to be helped.  So I say get it now and pick out your workout. You literally can pick out any and every workout.  There are also workouts made exclusively just for BOD. Workouts that you've never seen before. You can do a whole program. You get the nutrition guides. You get the guide that says, "Do this workout on this day. Do this workout on this day," or you could literally just do whatever you want. What's nice is, halfway through the year you're like, "You know. This martial arts was great but now I want to do T25." Great. You have it. Or, "Oh I love that new workout that's coming out." Great. You have it.

No more spending money for the rest of the year, unless you want more Shakeology.  (Which you probably will.) Then last but not least.  The big bonus is I am cleaning out my closet and I have a ton of DVDs and Fixate cookbooks.  Anyone who signs up with the Beach Body On Demand All Access with Shakeology can get either a bonus workout DVD or the Fixate cookbook. Your Choice. 

It is like an absurd bang for your buck. That's all for now!  

Who is READY to JOIN me?



I Call BS on Better than Yesterday

(This was written a long time ago and for whatever reason just sat on the side.  I did not go to a funeral yesterday but the sentiment is still very much the same.)

I want to talk a little bit about this concept of being better than yesterday. This kind of hit me when I was listening to the book Love Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton. It's got me to go back and look at her blog from years ago, which I used to follow, but I don't remember. Anyway, she talked a little bit about this concept of better than yesterday and being better than yesterday and this sort of push, this push to be like your best and always be better than you've been before, and do your best, and all of this stuff. It got me thinking. I've decided to make an official call on BS (my mom's watching so that's why I'm not going to swear) on better than yesterday. Because here's the thing, yesterday for me, for example, I was in a dress, I had tights on, I had some sort of tight thing happening to hold it all together, I had a really pretty necklace, I had makeup on. I was put together, right?

Today, I'm wearing a baseball cap and I don't have big plans for showering. Although, I hope to do that, but if it doesn't happen, cool. I'm not really going to be better than yesterday, at least in this regard, right? There are some days that I'm totally on point. I'm firing at all cylinders. I'm like 5:30 in the morning I wake up, and then I do my meditation, and I drink my water with a little lemon slice, maybe it's even warm and I get my workout in, and then my kids get up, and then I go to work, and I'm like, "Pshew," and I do everything I'm supposed to do at work. It's just awesome and I'm checking things off my list. Maybe I have a call with one of my friends, so it's like all sorts of connection. My husband and I find our favorite show and we watch our show, and I look back and I'm like, "Yes, that was the perfect day. That was awesome. Tomorrow I will do the exact same thing, except it will be better. It'll be better than yesterday."

Then, I wake up and ... Sorry, it's so windy I thought somebody was creeping around my house. Then, I wake up and my alarm went off, but there's a three year old laying next to me, and if I get up, he's going to wake up, so I can't get up. Even though yesterday was great, I sort of forgot to pack the lunches. Now I have to pack the lunches, so I haven't worked out yet, I didn't get a meditation in, the kids finally get up, I get up, we're running late to work. Then, I realize that I needed to pick up my rental car the night before and I totally forgot to do that, and so now I'm late. I'm running around all day and I'm spending the day 10 to 15 minutes late the whole day, and when I get home I realize I don't actually have time to go for the three mile run that I wanted to do, and maybe I can get a mile in, or maybe two. I forgot I had to lift weights, so when I put the kids to bed, I'm in my sweaty gross workout clothes and I don't get to sit down and relax, and then I workout, and then I realize it's 9:00 before I ate dinner.

What I realize, is that was probably the best I could do that day. That's the best I could do. I just want to sort of give everyone permission to not be better than yesterday, right? I'm all about setting goals and setting to-do lists and really trying to be bettering yourself, but at the same time I think we have to realize that we're all pretty okay, right? There's things that we want to do better, sure, and sometimes it's going to happen, but we need to rate ourselves on a curve somehow, or just not rate ourselves at all, even better, and just be okay doing the best we can on any given day. Some days, the best we can do is going to be awesome, because the thing I don't mention is that yesterday when I was looking all fancy and I had the pretty hair going, and the makeup, it was just up because I was going to a funeral. Today, I'm not. I have a baseball cap on to drop the kids off, there's a stain on my shirt, I have workout pants on, I probably will wear this all day to get my workout in. At some point I will squeeze it in between work. I will probably run errands in it.

I might be in this outfit until I get in my pajamas, but you know what? I'm not going to be going to a funeral today, so I'm okay with this being less than better than yesterday. I just want to encourage everyone, take it as it comes, do your best, set goals, sure. We're all about setting goals. We're all about having to-do lists. You know me, I'm very goal driven. I'm all about breaking down my big goals.  Putting them into little to-do lists, and then having eight to-do lists I can check things off of. One of my phone, and one on my planner, and I love it, I love it all. Sometimes we just have to give ourselves a pass and say, you know what? This is the best I could do. Just like we probably tell our kids to do our best, I think that it's okay if we tell ourselves the same thing. Just do your best. Some days your best looks cooler than others. Some days your best means that you did eventually put pants on, and some days your best means that you got fancy, and some days your best means that the kids ate cereal for dinner, and all of that is okay. That is my little, I don't know, Monday muse. Is there a hashtag about that? Anyway, I hope you all have a really great day and yeah, happy Monday. 




Non-Candy Valentine's Day School Treats

It is that time of year again.  Chocolate time.  I mean Valentine's Day.  Yes, I'm the not cool mom that sends non-candy snacks to school for Valentine's Day treats.  I found a few fun options and I figured I'd share them all here in case you need ideas.  Enjoy!  

(and let me know if  you have other ideas.)

Top 50 non-candy Valentines on iheartnaptime.com -so many cute ideas!:
non candy valentines day gift idea
Funky Polkadot Giraffe: Preschool Valentines: You're My Main SQUEEZE!:
Raisin Valentine Healthy

Menu Plan- Saturday, January 14th to Sunday, January 29th

Yes, I missed last week so this menu is slightly retroactive.  It just has some of my favorite food in it.  Many of the recipes are not Whole 30 so I had to make some tweaks here and there but its still good.  There is also a lot more food on this list than we will eat.  I foresee some leftover days in front of us.

Saturday: Spicy Turkey Meatloaf with Roasted Butternut Squash  (delicious for breakfast this morning)
Sunday:  Beef and Guinness Stew
Monday: Roasted Chicken in the Slow Cooker  with baked sweet potatoes and roasted broccoli
Tuesday: Chicken Tacos with cauliflower rice (unsure of a recipe but it will be using leftover chicken)
Wednesday:  Leftovers
Thursday:  Grilled Pork Chops with sweet potato fries
Friday: Leftovers
Saturday:  Chili in the slow cooker (Against All Grain recipe)
Sunday:  Baby Shower

Menu- January 2nd- January 8th

This is my menu plan for the first week of the Whole 30.  I have a calendar for the whole month ready to go but I figured I would give it to you a little at a time.  I followed some basic guidelines when making the menu plan so it would be really easy.  One meal a week is pasta (the family loves it, they don't feel like they are missing out while I'm doing Whole 30 and it is great for the boys lunches).  One meal will be tacos.  Because tacos.  One meal will be soup because its January and I love soup and I especially love leftovers.  At least one meal will be leftovers.  Thursday night I have set aside for fish and baked potatoes.  This is a place holder for more leftovers but if there aren't enough I have fish in my freezer and potatoes in the cabinet.  At least one meal per week will be made in the crock pot.

For non dinner meals I eat a lot of leftovers, nuts, fruit, sliced turkey wrapped around guacomole with a sliced apple (for example), sweet potato hash, and of course lots of soup.

Without further ado, this weeks menu:

Monday: Roasted Butternut Squash Soup with Sausage (from Against All Grain)
Tuesday:  Beef Tacos (Inspired by these but without the corn.  I do allow for some legumes.  I will make three meals of the beef and freeze two of them.  I will also shred and add carrots to the meat.)
Wednesday:  Spaghetti and Meatballs (Family will have pasta and I will have spaghetti squash.  The sauce and meatballs are homemade.)
Thursday:  Roasted Salmon with Baked Potatoes and Broccoli (if necessary)
Friday: Leftovers
Saturday:  Roasted Turkey with green beans and mashed sweet potatoes (Ukrainian Christmas)
Sunday:  Mexican Turkey Soup (Adapted from Against All Grain)

Word of the Year

I admit I have been spending months thinking about my word of the year.  Every time I thought of the word, engage, I thought, this is such a great word, the best word.  How will I ever think of a better word?  And yet I have come across a word that I feel is to be a fantastic word for me this year.  This word has many meanings.  They don't all apply but it works for me.  It is going to keep me FOCUSED.  It is going to keep me DEDICATED.  It is going to keep me BRAVE.

I have incredibly big goals this year.  Scary big.  The good kind of scary big.  I feel as though this is a turning point year and I'm ready to make a huge leap.  It means I am going to be saying YES to a lot of things that are really important to me and it is going to mean I have to say NO so many things too.

I will admit this past year, specifically the past few months, threw me for a loop.  It made me wonder if I was on the right path.  If my goals for myself and my family aligned best with what I thought of as my civic responsibility.  Was I doing enough?  Was I working for the greater good?  It made me throw myself into so many ventures that only now am I going through all of my commitments and actually figuring out what I can do.  Which leads me to my word of the year.

to bind or obligate, as by pledge or assurance; pledge.

to entrust, especially for safekeeping; commend.

When I set out for a goal I am going to COMMIT to that goal.  I will finish everything that I start this year.  If I don't think I can or if I don't want to finish it I won't start it.  Like I said, I might be saying NO more but it means that my YES will be stronger.  My YES will mean I am there 100 percent.  

This means I am going to be dedicated to my work and my business.  I am dedicated to watching it grow. I am dedicated to my customers and challengers.  I have serious goals and intentions for my business and I intend to see these goals reached.  I am committed to them.

Our family is complete.  This is the first year in a long time that I am sure of the next step.  There are 5 of us.  We are whole.  We are ready to move forward into the future as a family.  No more waiting for one more.  I am committed to both my role as a mother and committed to my role as a wife.

By choosing this word I am not just planning on thinking of this word each morning but also thinking of questions that I will ask throughout the year.  Can I commit to this?  By committing to this am I helping my pursuit to be my best self?  The best mother I can be.  The best wife I can be.  The best coach I can be.  

I am really excited to what can happen this year.  Thank you so much for sharing your word of the year.  I see big things for all of us this year!

Lets get to it!

Your Holiday Survival Guide

The next two weeks are filled with fun, stress, fun, food, and perhaps a little more stress.  The best chance we have, I think, of getting out of it happy and joyful are to follow a few tiny tips.  Here are my top ten healthy holiday eating tips to help get you through the holidays:
  1. Set goals.  First things first – think about what you want to achieve. Where you want to be. How you want to feel.  Do you want to look back and think, “I never met a Christmas cookie I didn’t like”? Or do you want to think, “I had a season of moderation.”  There is no wrong answer.  Just set those goals, and figure out how to achieve them.  If you do have aspirational goals you want to accomplish over the next few weeks, WRITE THEM DOWN and put them somewhere that you will see them every day, like on your bathroom mirror or refrigerator door.  Even better, write them down and TELL SOMEONE. 
  2. Drink water.  Water is an amazing, filling, and calorie-free drink.  Drink 1 glass of water when you wake up each day, 1 glass of water before you go to sleep each night, and 2 glasses of water before you feast.  It will help curb your appetite and keep you hydrated, which is great for keeping your body running on strange food and less sleep, which brings me to my next tip . . . 
  3. Sleep.  Very few people get enough sleep in the best of times, but come the holiday season, we all cut into our sleep to gain extra time (she says while typing this way past her bedtime).  However, it’s sleep that will keep you feeling fresh and stress-free when you are in line at a store with hungry kids at the end of the day.
  4. Make a plan for the party.  There are so many ideas about how to approach a party, but the key is to have a plan.  A good start is to never go to a party hungry.  (Perhaps a nutrient dense shake would help curb your appetite.)  Fill at least half of your plate with foods from the veggie tray to keep away from the bacon-wrapped cheese.  Grab a smaller plate and fill that baby up – since it’s smaller, you’re already ahead of the game.  Take a healthy dish to potluck parties so you know at least one thing is good for you.  
  5. Don’t drink your calories.  But you love eggnog?  But you love champagne?  Great!  Drink it up.  Just don’t drink it all the time, every day.  Oh and those yummy, delicious, sugar-filled lattes?  Treat yourself to one.  Or two.  Just not one or two every single day.  
  6. Enjoy your food.  Wait, what?!  You just said to eat less on teeny, tiny plates and only drink water. Well, not really, but the fact is this lovely holiday season only comes around once a year.  Enjoy it!  Make a list of your favorite treats and let yourself enjoy each one once or twice rather than every day.  Eat only what you think you can’t – or don’t want to – live without.  Your Aunt’s favorite dessert that she only makes once a year? Definitely. A roll? Not unless it’s the best holiday roll ever and you only get it once a year.  It’s all about balance.  And speaking of balance . . . 
  7. Eat normally.  That’s right; when you’re not at a party, eat normally. If that means you eat healthy, then please do eat healthy.  Even better, make healthy substitutions when you’re cooking whenever possible. Don’t skip meals.  Just eat your food, fuel your body, and keep moving.
  8. Keep moving.  Stick to your exercise schedule.  If you’re taking a break from training, then keep moving every day in some way or another.  Plan to get in an early morning walk or workout before the day gets busy, or plan an after-dinner evening walk.  No excuses.  If you can’t get a 3-mile run in, get in a 10-mile walk.  If you can’t get your 60-minute body beast session in, do a mini at-home workout.  Heck, if you’re really desperate, park far away from the entrance from the mall when you’re shopping.  
  9. Take time.  Whether it is 5 minutes for a daily practice like reading, meditating, or stretching, or just a few stolen moments of quiet time to yourself, take it!  If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times.  You can’t pour from an empty cup.  Make sure you have something left to give by taking time for yourself. 
  10. Enjoy yourself.  Do not stress yourself out.  One piece of cake does not a huge weight gain make.  Moderation is the key in December, just as it’s the key every day of the year.  Keep your accomplishments in mind, as well as your goals.  Don’t waste your time weighing yourself – just keep an eye on making sure your clothes still feel comfortable.  If you’re tempted to go over what you planned, reach out to a buddy or a friend who knows your goals and will help you achieve them. That’s what friends are for: both sharing an appetizer and walking away from one. 

Your Guide to Holiday Prep Without the Hassle

Are you ready for Christmas?

I absolutely love the time of year between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve. From getting to spend time with my family and kids to going through our different holiday traditions, it’s one of my favorite times of year. 

But it can also be pretty stressful. 

I used to spend a lot of that time running around like a crazy person. Between Christmas shopping and trying to spend time with my family from all over, it was really insane. I loved it, but it was stressful! I mean, there were several years when I was still in a mall shopping on Christmas Eve, which isn’t exactly ideal for fostering the Christmas spirit. And that was even before I had kids!

At some point, I realized there had to be a better way. So I came up with several strategies for getting organized for the holiday season and they totally tamed the chaos. I’ll be going into more detail in the weeks to come, but here’s an overview of how to get started prepping for the holidays.

  • Prep early! I like to do a lot of my holiday prep in November, when my calendar isn’t nearly as jam packed. That way, when the holiday season is in full swing, I am free to enjoy my favorite parts of it – like going to see Christmas lights with my kids and reading Christmas books – without worrying about all the work I still have to do. And, if you’ve knocked off most of your to-do-list ahead of time, you can be more spur-of-the-moment when the opportunity arises, like watching that Christmas movie you stumbled upon on the Hallmark Channel, or even taking a short Christmas vacation.

  • Keep (and review) a holiday journal. Collect and organize your holiday ideas year-round. You can use a notebook, a Google Doc, a Pinterest board, or whatever works for you. I love using my Pinterest board and making categories for various holiday-related things I like to do, like cookie swaps and Thanksgiving food. But your idea log is only useful if you remember to review it at the very beginning of the holiday season, lest those aspirations wither in cyberspace. So when you’re ready to get started on your holiday planning, go through all your saved ideas and make a new list (or Pinterest board) of the ones you want to actually do this year.

  • Think through your planned activities. When I’m sitting down and scheduling things, I always force myself to really think about whether it will be a good experience for my family and me. For example, I’ve learned that wrapping Christmas presents with my kids is pretty stressful, so I set aside a couple of evenings after their bedtime to pour a glass of wine and get wrapping on my own. But everyone has a blast decorating the Christmas tree together, so I plan that as a Saturday afternoon family affair. 

  • Consider where you want to be spending your time. There are only so many days in the holiday season, so we have to pick and choose what to do with our precious time. I always save a little “me time” during this period. Having a pedicure is my little reward for getting all the prep work done, and I truly enjoy reading certain books during the holidays, like Pride and Prejudice and Little Women. Also think about the organizations you’re involved in and whether you want to participate in any of their holiday events, like a cookie swap or cocktail party. And if you’re in a relationship, you might want to plan some quality time with your special person.

  • Set a budget and plan to save. Regardless of the size of your budget, it’s always smart to make conscious decisions about how much you want to spend on gifts, food, travel, decorations, etc., and, if necessary, make a plan for saving that money ahead of time. Thinking through where you want to spend your dollars usually leads to more thoughtful gift-giving and less buyer’s remorse when post-holiday reality sets in.

  • Don’t forget about your health. It’s easy to neglect your health during this time of year, but that just leaves you starting off the New Year with more work to do. So take some time to think about how you can keep yourself feeling good. For me, it’s about not eating too much sugar, but I do love to bake, so I share the treats with others. I also never miss workouts during the holidays. The exact steps will vary from person to person, but the important thing is to make a plan that you can actually stick with. Modest and doable is better than aspirational and unrealistic.

  • Talk about traditions. Holiday traditions are great, but sometimes we just do things because we’ve always done them. Sit down with your family/spouse/friends and talk about what you actually want to do. One decision-making trick is to have everyone list the top three things they’d be disappointed if they didn’t do, and then only do those. If any of the things on the list are really stressful, like cutting down your own tree, brainstorm a good substitute, like taking a family trip to pick out the tree and stopping for hot apple cider on the way home.  

I always find that planning ahead really lets you make the most of the holiday season. It’s a time investment up front that gives you the freedom to spend your time doing whatever you want once the season is upon us. Do you have tips and tricks for making the holidays less stressful? Share them in the comments below!

Where you lead Subbers, I will follow: A very long race recap that spans decades.

My "I eat hills for breakfast" face.
To truly tell the story of this past race I need to go back a little bit, about 25 years to be exact.  Okay, maybe that's a slight exaggeration but not too much.  You see about 25 years ago, I met my best friend Annie.    That's a good story but not the point of this post.  The point is that about 23 years after that she invited me to be a Beachbody coach.  Also not the point of this post but I'm getting there.  My goal as coach is to help as many people as possible which means that I need to know as many people as possible.  So unlike before I was a coach where I would show very little interest in those "suggested groups" along the side of Facebook now I started joining those groups.  One such group was this little running group (my first running group) called the Sub-30 Club.  I didn't really know its purpose or much about it.  I actually didn't really know what an online running group could add to my life.  I joined anyway.  It was one of the best decisions I have ever made.

I know so many people view social media so negatively and perhaps I should.  Instead though I view social media through the rose colored glasses of a Sub-30 member.  I know the power of an amazing online community.  Let me explain.  So I joined this group.  I would chat with some folks.  Read stories.  Learn some things. Find inspiration.  On one such tour of the group I saw that they all go together to run at the Runner's World Fest.  Interesting I thought...I of course can't run with a group.  I'm too slow.  Its too hilly.  No way.  On another post someone asked about yoga suggestions and cross training suggestions.  I said, PiYo is pretty awesome.  So we started chatting.  Then we became "friends".  Then she tried PiYo and Shakeology and became a coach like me.  Then 18 months later, yesterday, we ran a race together.  And now finally I'm at my race recap...no wait.  A little more background.

Last year, 5 months pregnant I drug my mom and two kids to cheer on my friends from my phone as they ran a 5k and 10k.  Kara, a real life friend was there (yes, I added her to the crazy group) and she ran the half marathon the next day.  After seeing this group.  Seeing the love.  The support.  After showing my sons that finishing a race at all is just as important as winning race I signed up to run the half marathon, 1 year later.  I figured heck, I'll have a baby but I know I won't be in the Back of the Pack alone.  I have people.  I have a tribe.

Before every race I insist on being
interviewed by Runner's World, don't you?
So we finally come to yesterday.  7 months after having a baby.  More nervous than I thought I would be.  In the last week I remembered that my last half wasn't exactly awesome.  I lost my phone.  I had tummy troubles.  I was suddenly so nervous.  The only thing I knew.  I mean really knew in my heart was that I could finish anything I started.  I am tough.  I've run marathons.  I've had 3 babies without drugs.  I'm a boy mom.  13.1 miles has nothing on me.  Plus, you know, I trained.  A lot.  Yet I was sooooo nervous.  I started to go to bed early this week.  Made sure I healthy carb loaded (harder to do on Whole 30 than I would have thought).  Then the morning was here.  After waking up 2 minutes before my alarm because of a stressful dream where I actually missed the race, got the boys out and in the car, got my husband up and we headed to Bethlehem.  I nursed the baby, helped dress the boys and headed out to find a bathroom.  My husband took the boys to feed them and show them our college and I was on my own....sort of.  After the bathroom (runners understand how important this is) I found the race and was almost immediately interviewed by Runner's World.  (You know, like I start all my races.)

Amber and I finally meet in real life!
And do you know who was waiting for me as soon as the interview was over?  That woman who I suggested try out PiYo.  Well, her and about 100 of my phone friends.  So after months of training we started running.  2 minutes running, 1 minute walking for 13.1 miles.  We did just about whatever Mr. Garmin told us to do with only a few revolts when we wanted to run more downhill and walk more uphill.  We picked up a few awesome friends and told them about our most amazing running group.   We had amazing subbers running us up hills.  They fed us candy.  They cheered us on.  We passed people.  We were passed.  We got some "free high fives".  We were cheered by folks.  We cheered our water hander-outers.  We thanked police officers.  We saw Jesus.  Pretty much just another half marathon.  

Here we come!  Our merry band of runners!
Our little group of 3 became 4, then 5 then we merged with another group to be 8 and somehow added one more and finished as 9.  9 plus the subbers who came down the end of the course to run us home.  And you would think, or I would have told you that a 14 min 30 second pace would leave you alone at the end of the race.  We were not only not alone we cheered so loudly.  So very, very loud.  We were not alone.  It felt like they were all just waiting for us to come.  So of course we gave them all high fives.  

When I saw all my people cheering us. 
High five for everyone!  Amber's first half and she's looking awesome!
 Then as quickly as it started the race was over.  I waved to my oldest son as I ran by him and he came looking for a hug as I crossed the finish line.  That moment.  His hug.  His smile.  While I didn't win the race, he was pretty excited that I got a medal.  I found my family or rather they found me and we sat down.  (Because pretty much the last thing that I should have done as soon as I finished the half was sit down, but you know, the baby had to be nursed.  Priorities, people.)  And with that we headed home.  The race was over.  I had no goal with the race but to finish and have fun.  Mission accomplished.

Now just one more note.  If you know me, and many of you do.  You know I don't ever or rarely post pictures of myself below my shoulders.  My body is a work in progress and I suppose it always will be.  This is not the most flattering of pictures and yet I would share this photo with anyone.  The woman in the picture, had a baby 7 months ago, nursed a baby, ran 13.1 miles, then nursed a baby again.  And I pretty sure she did it smiling.  I could not be prouder of this body.  It's amazing what your body can do when your mind knows it won't take no for an answer.

So that's my race recap that spanned about 25 years.  Perhaps a slightly long recap.  The post recap is this:  I was already looking for my next race with my tribe last night.  Where you lead subbers, I will follow.  Winter, Spring, Summer, or Fall.  All you have to do is call.  I'm proud, honored and really lucky to live in a world where no subber is left behind.

No subber ever left behind.  

Designing our summer

Summer is a state of mind. 

The other day I was listening to the Happier Podcast which is a total favorite of mine.  Gretchen and her sister Elizabeth were talking about designing their own personal summer.  Whether it meant weekly outdoor lunches or designating extra time to read.  It made me think about our families summer.  Somehow it comes and goes so quickly and come the end of August there are so many things I wish we did.  This year we're not taking a vacation so day to day treats, road trips and adventures are really going to be what our summer is all about.  And because we all know I LOVE a good to do list that's how I'm organizing our summer design.  Each day I've been asking the boys what they want to do this summer and so far our list is pretty short.

1.  Beach
2.  Fair
3.  Rita's
4.  Ice Cream Truck
5.  Liberty Science Center
6.  Play in a creek and cool watermelon in the creek.  Then eat the watermelon!
7.  Camp out in the back yard
8.  Ice cream sundae night
9.  Spend a morning at the board walk
10.  Watch local minor league baseball

Now the beach is really one with many sub parts because its go to the beach with a lot of people.  Either way we're looking for little moments to make big memories.  One of my favorite days ever was a one day trip to Block Island.  It was in September on a beautiful day with my husband (then boyfriend) and it wasn't perfect but the memory has this wonderful glow to it.  It really doesn't take big week long trips to make memories. We're going to make them one moment at a time.

Do you and your family have a favorite summertime activity?  The simpler the better!