Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Avoiding Hidden Sugars: 12 "Real Food" Solutions

When my friend, Melissa, asked me to take this information (which she easily whipped out in 10 minutes) and throw it into a document in one of my challenge groups, I was like... WAIT!  Hold on a sec!  LOL  

This information is too great to throw in a document that might just get read once or twice.  So I got her permission to add this as a guest blog :)

The original article and pictures that Melissa refers to can be found at:  

Avoiding Hidden Sugars:  12 "Real Food" Solutions

Melissa is a mom of two and is passionate about clean eating and exercise.  A few years ago, she decided to take the plunge and try 100 days of real food... and when she noticed behavior differences in her kiddos and more energy for herself, and her hubs lost some weight from that change alone, they decided to make clean eating part of their family lifestyle.

1.  Drink your WATER!  Avoid excessive quantities of any fruit juice; 100% fruit juice or not.

2.  Choose to bake your own desserts with natural sugars (maple syrup, dates, agave, raw sugar).  Here is a great recipe for chocolate beet cupcakes that is to die for:

3.  Consume plain, whole milk yogurt sweetened with one of the natural sugars (above) and add your own fresh fruit!  Or make this super easy and yummy sauce to stir in:

4.  Tomato soup is one of the easiest things to make from scratch.  All you need are some fresh, ripe tomatoes, and I bet that you have all of the other ingredients in your pantry at home already.  See below for a great recipe that I make almost weekly (my kids LOVE it!)

Note: You can substitute another pound of roma tomatoes for the canned tomatoes in the recipe above, and if you don’t have an immersion blender, you can add the soup to your regular blender in batches, to puree

5.  I would encourage everyone to make their OWN granola.  You only need a few simple ingredients for a pretty large batch, and you will know everything that you have put in it!  I am always looking for new recipes, but here are a few tried and true, that I love:

6.  EAT FRESH FRUIT.  Simple as that.  Fresh fruit is sweet already and does NOT need to be soaked in syrup to make it sweeter.  

If you are in the mood for a fruit salad and are craving the juiciness that comes along with macerating berries in sugar… try fresh orange juice and zest instead.  Just squeeze the juice from one orange into a bowl of fresh berries, along with the zest, and there you go!

7.  DON’T DO IT.  Check out some reasons here: and here, but just pass on it and choose another drink instead.  If you are missing the carbonation, try sparkling water! 

8.  So, sugary cereals… I feel like most of us, as kids, LOVED these.  It is no wonder why our Moms wouldn’t let us have them though.  They are LOADED with sugar!  Check out the links, above, for granola and have your kids try that instead.  My daughter LOVES the granola with milk in the morning before school, and it keeps her full until lunchtime. also has lots of recipes for other breakfast staples like oatmeal, and EVEN some healthy breakfast cookies!

9.  We all love Starbucks, ok?  But, there are better choices to be made besides that Caramel Frappuccino.  I am not sure if any of you follow Food Babe, but she just posted this on her blog not too long ago, and I am planning to try it out!  It looks yummy, is organic, and should satisfy that Frappuccino craving… if you have one J

10.  Like tomato soup, above, tomato sauce is also SUPER-easy to do at home, on your own.  I am including a recipe below, but if you do like the convenience of the store-bought sauce, just READ the labels!  There are many out there with no added sugars and that are organic.  I beg you; choose those instead!  And here is a recipe, if you would like to try making your own:

Note: I do not peel my tomatoes (or seed them) when I make this.  I puree the ENTIRE tomato in a high powered blender and add it to the sauce that way.  Makes it MUCH easier.  J

11.  So, dressing… fat free dressing is gross, first of all. And, have you ever read the ingredient list on some of those bottles, ick!  So, I would encourage you to try making your own.  It really is so simple.  You can make everything from vinaigrette to blue cheese at home, and I promise you, it will taste better!  Here are some links to my favorites:

12.  I have to say, I grew up in the south and I LOVE sweet tea.  There is no reason (in my opinion) that you cannot still have sweet tea, but there is a better way to get it… If you make it on your own, you can control the amount of sugar that goes into it, and I have found that sweetening tea with Organic Raw Agave is actually pretty yummy.  

So, brew your own, and leave the sugar out… that way, everyone can add what they like.  Just my two cents.  ;)

Another great article to read, if you have time:

Monday, April 14, 2014

10 Ways to ROCK Your Next Party GUILT-FREE

Party-time!  Time to follow the plan.
Parties.  They're SOOO much fun, and yet so quick to throw us COMPLETELY off track.  Full of tasty appetizers, yummy drinks (not to mention those high-calorie alcoholic ones that are often available), and great conversation in which we tend to get lost while munching away.

From the moment we walk into a party, our paths are lined with temptation and yes... even... DIET-SABATOGERS.  You know... those people who actually encourage you to let it all go and to just have fun.  OH MY!

So what do you do?  Just how DO you avoid these diet-sabotaging traps which cause you to fall completely off the wagon and yet still allow yourself to really have a little fun?  (Cuz, C'mon!  What's life without having some fun!  And yes... even allowing ourselves some treats?)

You avoid falling COMPLETELY off the wagon by making a party plan, of course!

Here are 10 ways to ROCK your next party... GUILT-FREE!

1.  Eat a good healthy meal or snack before the party so you're not going into the party with a lot of temptation on an empty stomach

2.  Choose your 10's.  By that, I simply mean, rate the available appetizers from 1 to 10.  With ONE being the least appetizing, and TEN being something you simply can NOT resist.  Then only allow yourself to eat your 10's (In moderation... of course!).

3.  Set a number for how many plates of food or appetizers that you will allow yourself.  If the plates are small, you might decide to go back a second time... just stop and think about it before you do.

4.  Set a number for how many alcoholic drinks you will allow yourself.  (Remember... those calories add up fast.)

5.  Ask your date, spouse or friend to help you to stay on track.  Let them know your plan and seek intervention if necessary.  (Come up with a code word that means INTERVENTION!  So if they hear you shout STRAWBERRY - if that's your word - they'll recognize the code and come running to remove the chips from your hands ASAP!  LOL)

6.  If it's a party with a lot of alcohol, make sure to drink a full glass of water between each alcoholic drink.  Better yet, offer to be the designated driver.  This will not only help with the number of calories you consume, but it will also help you to maintain sobriety :)

7.  Bring a healthy appetizer or two so you know you have a healthy go-to snack.  A good suggestion here would be to bring one salty and one sweet, like veggies & hummus and fruit & yogurt dip.

8.  When someone offers you something that is NOT in your plan, graciously decline, and if you feel like it, share your why.  You never know... it might change their life.  If you do this, though, make sure to being extra healthy food to share with all the lives that will be changing ;)

9.  Bring a healthy drink alternative such as Vinyasa (lime, seltzer & agave) so you have something other than water to fill those social cravings.

10.  Beware of diet-sabotagers and make a point to hang with people who will support you on your healthy journey.

If the above tips still won't help, you can always try these ;)
DISCLAIMER:  These are a JOKE.  Don't really do this! 

1.  Wear really tight pants.  If you squeeze into tight pants, you won't have room for a ton of extra snacks and drinks.

2.  Self-induced major allergic reaction.  Suggestion... sniff some dust or a cat, so your nose is stuffy and you can't smell.  (Thank you Trent Hillaert!)

3.  Scald your tongue before you go.  A cup of REALLY hot coffee oughta do it!

4.  Sneeze on the diet-sabotaging treats and then no one can have any, so you won't feel alone.

5.  Schedule a root canal the morning of the party, so you can't chew or drink anyway.

6.  Bring an enforcer who will smack your hand every time you try to touch a diet-sabotaging treat.

7.  Use super glue in place of lipgloss.  (Thank you Mary Chenery for this addition!)

8.  Have mittens duct-tapped to your hands before you go in to the party.  (Thanks Eric Triplett for this one!)

9.  Fall off a horse, break your jaw and have it wired shut before the party.  (This actually happened to my friend's sister... thank you Christine Ortiz for this awesome piece of advice!  LOL)

10.  Wear one of those dog cones around your neck.  (Thanks, cousin Tom Weber.  Is that what Julie does to you when you go to parties?  LOL)

11.  Wear a straight jacket and tell everyone you thought it was a costume party.  (Trent Hillaert... how do you know about straight jackets?  LOL  Thanks for the contribution! ;)

12.  Tell everyone that at the last party, you hurt yourself masticating, so you are staying away from the food table from now on.  (Good one!  Thanks Kimmie Scott!)

13.  If all else fails... you can always put duct tape over your MOUTH.  My personal go-to fav ;)  (Thank you Mark Clay... you must have had experience with this one!)

Monday, March 10, 2014

A Letter to the FDA Requesting Warning Labels on all Girl Scout Cookie Boxes

Suggested Warning Label
ATTN:  FDA  (Food and Drug Administration)

To Whom it May Concern,

A serious problem has overtaken our nation, and I URGENTLY request that you help take control of this situation as soon as is humanly possible before complete and utter desperation overtakes our nation's population of diet-breakers.

I beg you to SERIOUSLY look into WHY Girl Scout cookies do NOT come with a warning label? I mean... COME ON!  They are HIGHLY addictive and should be labeled as such.

Here is my suggested warning:
SURGEON GENERAL'S WARNING:  Girl Scout cookies are highly addictive.  May cause immediate irrational spending, euphoric out of body experience, erratic behavior, sugar rushes, bloating, weight gain and serious regret.   
Keep out of reach of chronic diet-breakers.
I ask you, Sir/Madam... are there really no regulations on these types of things?  Think about it.  They're practically IMPOSSIBLE to pass up.

Shouldn't there be a law in place to protect all of us innocent diet-breakers who are simply TRYING to eat CLEAN?

Talk about a seemingly HARMLESS organization taking EXREME advantage of a full-fledged minority... or... actually... in this case... a better word would probably be... majority.

It should simply be illegal for these tiny snipers in the 'guise' of cute little girls to ambush our good intentions.  Because even if we didn't break our diets by buying the cookies at the store, and even if we RESISTED driving across town to the nearest Girl Scout cookie stand, we are STILL subjected to being tempted and attacked on our own private territory.

Still don't understand my urgency?

Well... imagine this...

One afternoon, right around the time you're just DYING for a treat, you hear a knock.  You open the front door, expecting the UPS man, but... instead of a burly guy in brown shorts and a button up, there... standing cute as can be... is a little girl dressed in brown.   She looks up with her cute pixie face, holding an irresistible box of Thin Mints.  SABOTAGE!

Now, you KNOW you don't have any immediate cash lying around, but in all honesty... how could you POSSIBLY say no to this little angel?  And on top of it... how could you even THINK of making that poor lonely ole box of cookies feel alone and unwanted?

NOT. EVEN. An option.

So... you ask her to wait for a minute as you rush back inside and begin ransacking the junk drawers, the night stands, the bathroom counters, the laundry room... HECK... you EVEN search through all the pockets of the dirty pants in all the hampers around the house.

At one point, you've got yourself down to your elbows digging past the cushions, into the seemingly bottomless pit of the couch, searching amongst the cookie crumbs and lost pencils for that loose change that MUST have fallen in amongst the debris.

In one final DESPERATE attempt, you rush out the back door to the park across the street and shamelessly snatch the remaining dollar out of the public fountain.

PROUD of yourself for returning victoriously from your rabid hunt, you pay the child with your mixed pile of coins, grab the box of Thin Mints, give her a soft pat on the head and immediately retreat back into the house.

Now that you're ALONE with the Thin Mints, your tummy is rumbling like never before, and your favorite show is all queued up on Netflix, ready for you to just push play.

You snuggle into your couch, open the box, take a GOOD whiff of the irresistable chocolate mintyness, make a plan to eat only three or four of the cookies, push play and take your first glorious bite.

One hour later, the show is over, and the box is empty.  WAIT!  THE BOX IS EMPTY???

WOAH!  How did THAT happen?  Who came in and ate ALL those cookies while you were lost in the show?  You're in shock, and terrified all at once.  KNOWING an intruder MUST be in your house, your trigger finger is set and ready to dial 9-1-1.

But suddenly, you feel it.  A full stomach.  An INTENSE sugar rush.  And then you know what REALLY happened... the mindless zombie-like you took over and ate the ENTIRE box while you were lost in the movie.  ENTER the regret.  *sigh*

So, on behalf of all diet-breakers everywhere.  I fervently beg you to seriously consider requiring large warning labels on all boxes of Girl Scout Cookies.

It's not fair.  It's not just.  It's clearly a COMPLETE violation of our basic human rights!

I fully intend to follow this email with a request to the Supreme Court asking the court to consider creating a law against little girls who sabotage our community and to charge anyone in violation with this misdemeanor... "Aiding and abetting to the delinquency of a diet-breaker."

It would behoove you to act swiftly, so you can be the first government entity to address this nation's epidemic problem.

Thank you for your consideration.  I anxiously await your reply.

Respectfully yours,

Michelle Hillaert
The Diet-Breaker Queen

P.S.  While I was writing this letter, I, myself, was sabotaged and there is now an empty box of Thin Mints by my computer.  PLEASE put an immediate END to this INSANE MADNESS.

DISCLAIMER:  I do NOT have any real issues with Girl Scout cookies.  I have a ton of Troop Leader Mom friends and they ROCK!  And so do their little girls :)   Just don't be temptin' me with those boxes of irresistable yumminess :)

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

10 Things I Love and Hate About Myself

New Year’s biggest goal?  LETTING GO OF FEAR! (You’ve heard that before, right?)  That being said... I’ve been thinking (scary, huh?) a lot lately about just WHO my audience is here.  And then, with my actual business... I’m asking myself WHO am I marketing to?

In marketing, they say that in order to really provide value, you need to create an ideal “avatar” of the “person” to whom you would like to reach... a target market, so to speak.

This process has been SO hard for me. Because first of all, I have such a vast list of interests and groups that I’m involved with, and choosing one main area of interest is REALLY hard... but also... in this business... you’re supposed to market to people you understand... people with whom you can connect.

THAT’S where it gets hard. All my life I’ve REALLY wanted to be popular. You know... that hot looking chick who's always perfectly put together and seems to know just what to say, has tons of friends and can fling her hair to get out of just about anything? <insert really big laugh here> 

If you know me... have known me... or knew me... you know just how funny that concept really is.

So... what FEAR am I letting go of today? Well... (and this is big) it’s the fear of letting people know who I REALLY am!!! (GASP!!!)

And who is that??? Well... wait for it... WAIT FOR IT... I’M NOT COOOOOOOOL! Or popular... or put together... or a really hot chick.  :P

What hit me this morning is that I’ve been reaching out to people that I WANT to be like... instead of reaching out to those that I AM like.  Mostly because of my fear of being disliked or considered...

Well... before I finish THAT sentence I’ll tell you a few things that have left me confused on this whole 'target market' thing.

Here are the 10 things that I love and hate about myself.  Some I love.  Some I hate.  Either way... I’m learning to EMBRACE them.  After all... they are 100% ME. 

1. I am WEIRD.

Until I was about 13, I grew up in the family section of a religious community (or as some would put... Commune). By community, I mean a place called “Prayer Town” that was run by a group of nuns, with several families inhabiting a separate section of the property.

Because of this, I grew up not really knowing how to connect with kids my own age. I was pretty socially behind and FELT really weird... especially when we moved to a small neighboring town. We didn’t do mainstream things like watch football, basketball or listen to regular music, so I didn’t know any of the popular culture like who the main sports teams or bands like the Beatles were.

That being said... BECAUSE of this, I had the opportunity to grow up in the country. To know what it’s like to gallop wildly across the plains bareback on a horse. To know how freezing cold it is on a winter morning when you have to break the ice for the animals and give them fresh water. To understand the value of hard work. To use my imagination, because I wasn’t constantly in front of a television.

When we DID watch television, it was usually an old musical, or one of my fav actors... Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, Cary Grant, Doris Day, etc... Now, I still enjoy these old movies and musicals. I will watch them over and over again. I will sing with them and relate to them.

And yes... that was me on a cold winter morning, not too long ago, belting out a song from Seven Brides for Seven Brothers while shoveling the snowy driveway. “Ooo-ooo-ooo-oh, ooo-ooo-ooo-ooo-ooo-ooo-ooo-ooo-ooo-ooo-ooo-ooo-oooh... can’t make no vows to a herd of cows.” 

Um yeah... WEEEEIRD! LOL


Yup! Homeschooled through the 7th grade... public school in 8th, because we moved and mom needed a break... then back to school in the 10th grade when mom thought we were ready to face the peer pressure and become young adults.

Going to public school after homeschool was TOUGH. There weren’t homeschool coalitions back then. There weren’t any extracurricular activities in which we could participate. We were on our own. No real friends or people we could connect with. 

 When I went to public school, I remember not knowing what basic terminology like “gay” and “on the rag” meant. I was REALLY embarrassed to find out their real meaning while in mixed groups of students that found it funny how sheltered I had been.

When I went to high school, I felt like a dork. Didn’t know how to dress... didn’t know how to connect with kids my own age. The popular kids in school weren’t necessarily mean... but we lived in a small town... so it was very obvious when I was excluded from events that I knew the other more “normal” kids were invited to.  To be honest... looking back... I can't really blame them either.  We were kids, and I was... well... weird :P

So... I threw myself into my studies. Maybe I couldn’t be popular or fully accepted. BUT, I did go to State twice in competitions. I got best actress senior year for the high school play, and... I graduated Valedictorian of my high school class.

In the end... the couple of teachers that understood me, my one really good friend... Jackie, and my small list of accomplishments helped me to get over all those other ’not so great' high school memories.

When I eventually went off to college, I swore I was leaving that girl behind... FOREVER (she says dramatically...).   And trust me... I worked hard at it for years. 

3. I am a GEEK.

Okay... I have to admit... this part I really LOVE about myself.  Fresh out of college I got a job doing Linux technical support for a web hosting company that hosted web hosting companies.

Just THINKING about this job, gets me all excited and starts my blood boiling. It was my all-time FAVORITE job. My brain just naturally speaks computer. Working full time, I learned fast and was quickly moving up the levels of support.

I remember getting completely and utterly LOST in a Linux terminal. Hopping from server to server. Fixing problems. On a good day with some really challenging support requests, I would get so lost in this world that the time would fly. Supposed to be leaving at 5, I’d get a phone call at 6:30 from the hubs asking where I was... and I wouldn’t even realize how late it was.

It’s no accident that my favorite hockey team is the Pittsburgh Penguins (Linux avatar is a Penguin). Beyond that, I’ve designed websites and done some basic script programming. To put it simply... I just LOVE geek-talk... Yeah... total and complete GEEK. 

4. Girl from the BIG FAMILY

I have NINE sisters. No brothers. (GO ahead and say it... everybody does... “YOU’RE POOR FATHER!!!”)  I share the middle with my older sister, and grew up often feeling misunderstood, lost in the crowd and unimportant.  I was constantly comparing myself to my older sisters.  Did I measure up?  Did I sing as well?   Were my grades as good?

Yes, we fought, and life wasn’t always roses.   BUT... On the flip side... we had some of the MOST fun coming up with games and imaginary worlds, and best of all... SINGING.

We all sing. We would sing while cleaning the kitchen. We would sing while driving in the car. Gosh darn it! We would even fight over who got to sing which harmony!  LOL

Living in a big family, had a LOT of perks.  I learned how to put others first.  How to know when someone needs comfort or if they need tough love.  How to know when it’s best to remain silent instead of giving unwarranted advice. 

With that many people around, you learn how to be generous and how to share. You learn that things are really not that important... it’s the people and relationships that matter.

5. Girl who SINGS TOO MUCH

And no... not the cool rock star type of singing (although... I HAVE been in a rock band...)

Nope!  I’m the girl... that one you saw on campus freshman year... walking around singing “Any Man of Mine” by Shania Twain, without a care in the world as if I was living my own musical.

YES! I sing... a LOT. If it’s raining, you bet I’ll be out there in the rain, dancing around a light pole and bellowing “I’m SI-I-I-I-I-NGING in the RAAAAAAIN!” 

If we’re having a conversation and you say something like... “I can’t say no to....” Before you have a second to finish your sentence, I’ll be chasing squirrels singing... “I’m just a girl who can’t say no...” from the musical Oklahoma.

Heck... for my Beachbody challenges, I’ll be cleaning the house and all of the sudden be hit with new words to a popular or well-known song.  I’ll stop what I”m doing... chase that squirrel... write down the words... record it... and upload it to my YouTUBE channel. 

Yeah... sings too much. :P 


Yes... in my life there have been a few times where I have literally been through hell. Times that were so dark, that as I was driving down the road, I would imagine turning the wheel, driving off the road and hitting a tree. 

Times where I hated myself and checked everything I knew at the door. Times where there was real suffering.

When I think about that person. I have had to work hard at not hating her.   I’ve wanted to use an eraser and completely wipe her out of my life. A real do-over would be nice... right? 

Although there is a lot to “hate” about that part of my life... there is a lot to love too. 

Because of those times, I have become a more compassionate person. I have learned to leave judgement at the door.  That there is a story behind everyone... a viable reason why people act the way they do.

I’ve learned how hard life can be, and the importance of helping others.  We often get so caught up in our own lives that we just can’t see the suffering of those around us.  Through my suffering, I learned the need to step out of my own little world to reach out and to be there for others, and to GIVE where I can.


You heard me right! With five kiddos and a job, I just can’t keep the house in order and everything organized to save my LIFE. The laundry is always overflowing. Dinner is always last minute and late. I’m constantly playing catchup. I see these moms who do everything so PERFECTLY, and I desperately want to be them. 

Essentially... I’d love to be like Mrs. Cleaver from Leave it to Beaver. Always a smile on my face. Never yelling at my kiddos. Clean house. Yummy dinner each night.   RIGHT? Bahahahaha! Right! 

I used to be on top of things... once upon a time.  But I’ve come to realize that with a big family and a ton on my plate, it is just IMPOSSIBLE to be that perfect housewife. There are more important things in life then a clean house and perfect order (At least that's what I keep telling myself)

Thankfully I have a hubby who helps and kiddos who do a pretty good job when it comes down to it, so all things considered... I figure we’re pretty blessed :)


Yes. I have to admit... I’ve been afraid to talk about my love of God at times... specifically due to fear of offending others.   I’ll be the first to admit.  I’m not perfect.   I’m not the best Christian.  I screw up like pretty much everyone else.  BUT... I really do TRY to be someone who lives a Christian lifestyle.

I pray every day that God grants me the grace to be a better person. I LOVE my Catholic faith. I LOVE the traditions of our church, and the Mass.   I feel at home and SAFE in front of the Eucharist in a Catholic church, and absolutely LOVE a good praise and worship session.

Do I think being Catholic is the only way to heaven? Absolutely NOT. But I DO believe that it’s the way for me. I LOVE it, and I am constantly trying to improve on the many imperfections that I see in my own life.

9. The FOOD ADDICT Fitness Coach

Now THAT’S an oxymoron if you ever heard one. LOL

SO... I REALLY love good food.  Heck! If I didn’t, what would I name this blog?  I’d be lying if I said that I wanted to sit around and eat celery and carrots all day and only drink water.  Oh BOY!   How FUN would THAT be??? (She says sarcastically.) 

I have to admit... there have been plenty of times that I have WISHED I could be that person... a vegan... or a perfectly clean eater... but the fact is... I’m NOT.

So here I am... now a full-blown Team Beachbody fitness coach... and I think I STILL have to try just as hard as my challengers to stay on track.  For me... considering my background in eating... it will most likely never be something easy. I WILL say however... that when I put my mind to it, I CAN eat clean, and I AM really liking it more over time.

Now, retraining my brain that a good salad trumps cheesecake and wine, well... that’s taking a bit more time then I’d like. Ahhh... Baby steps :)

10. The Ultimate Country Girl

I was raised in a trailer house in the country on the plains of Texas. Yeah... you heard that right. A trailer house. 

I had a girl throw that at me once as an insult... calling me "trailer-trash"... but to be honest... there was really nothing to be insulted over. I’m PROUD of my humble upbringing. My parents worked hard to take care of us and to make a difference. Nothing to be ashamed of there.

I CAN hold my own in elegant and sophisticated company, but REALLY???   When it comes down to it... it's TOTALLY not me.  YES, I can play that part... but... seriously... I will always have that little bit of Texas redneck in me.  In fact... on a hot summer day after hard work and sweat, you BET I’ll be reaching for the beer!  And who knows... I just might shock you now and then with words that escape my lips before my brain has a chance to catch up.

I’ve lived in Naples, Florida, and I honestly don’t think any sunset (not even on the beach) can really compare to a painted sky over the wheat and corn fields in the Northwest Texas desert... add a stormy sky in the East, reflecting the sunset from the west... and you feel as if you been transported to heaven. The entire skyline (like the ocean) is splashed with an array of colored radiance!

And music? Yes... as I mentioned earlier... I’ve been in a rock band.  But darn it if this girl isn’t country all the way. I enjoy listening to most kinds of music, but give me some good country, and I FEEL it.  Not mainstream... I get that... but get into my car, and chances are, if it’s not the Christian hits playing on the radio... it will definitely be country music... and... YUP! The super-singer in me will be bellowing out a harmony right along with my fav country girl, Miranda Lambert.

Now back to that sentence at the beginning of this article: 

"What hit me this morning is that I’ve been reaching out to people that I WANT to be like... instead of reaching out to those I AM like. Mostly because of my fear of being disliked or considered... “ 

To finish the sentence... considered geeky... dorky... weird.  

But I get it now.   And I LOVE that I’ve had to go through this process, because, besides the fact that you need to figure all this out for 'branding and marketing,' I think a good look at WHO we are... and accepting that... is imperative to our overall outlook on life, and essentially... to our overall happiness.

That being said... I've FINALLY come to the point where I really don't care if someone knows I was weird... homeschooled... not perfect... because I'm FINALLY at a place where I can accept it.
I embrace my past, and I embrace who I am now.  It's formed me.  It IS Me.  So... take it or leave it... but I ain't changing' ;)  (In my best Texas drawl.)
So back to the the REAL question..  Just WHO is my Avatar? 

Hmmm... I’m thinking that it has to be something like... 

A terrible housewife who lives in a trailer house in the country with lots of kiddos, has an insane life, has gone through hell, loves to sing, and is a weird geek.   LOL 

So... if you know anybody like this out there, please let me know, because I’m really starting to wonder if my target market is so targeted that the arrow points in only one direction. :)

Monday, December 2, 2013

Evicting Mr. Fear

I've been surprised by how many people have told me how amazed they are by everything that I do and the different hats that I wear... as if I'm some sort of super woman with super powers... or something.  In all reality... I DO do a lot...  I'm a mom of five.  I'm on a soccer board.  I'm a soccer coach.  I'm a singer in a band.  I'm on the PTO board for the kiddos school.  I'm a doula.  I'm a Diamond Beachbody Coach and team leader, and the list goes on.

Well... I'm about to give you some REALLY breaking news.  Wait for it... wait for it...  I'M NOT A SUPER HERO!!!!!!  LOL  Okay... so, most of you probably already know that part.  It actually just looks like a lot more than it really is.  To be honest... I don't do those things because I'm something you're not.  I just up and decide to do something, and then I actually do it.

Something very few people know about me is something I battle virtually EVERY day.   I often live with this huge ball of anxious energy that fills my chest... and sometimes even overflows into what you could call an adult TANTRUM (yes... I did just say that I've been known to throw a tantrum... OH NO!!!).  And the name of this crazy ball of energy???  You guessed it... FEAR!  Fear of change... fear of sacrifice... fear of loss... and the biggest one???  Yeah... you know it.  My biggest deepest darkest most extreme fear?  The fear of failure.

Sometimes it's an underlying fear of failure... and sometimes it's a more ominous fear of failure.  It doesn't matter if I'm cleaning my kitchen, sewing a blanket for my kiddos or creating a new training system for my Beachbody coaches.  The underlying theme is that of perfectionism... which is fueled by fear... the fear of failure.

If you follow my Facebook page or have heard any of my recent "rants," you'll know that my new life theme is this... "Let go of the fear!  LIVE FEARLESSLY!!!"  This isn't a random theme that I just came up with out of the blue.  No... no... it goes MUCH deeper than that.

Imagine this... I'm outside for a run... someone completely dressed in black... looking more like a shadow then a man... is not far behind me...  I turn to see who's there, and realize that I'm being chased.  This... my friend... is Mr. Fear.  I can feel his shadow already... and I'm getting tired... but knowing what Mr. Fear has to offer... and sensing it already... I push on.  I could quit and just give in, but I can clearly see the finish line.  It's pretty far out there... but it's there, and I KNOW what I want.  I know WHY I WILL NOT give in.  So I just run harder.  REFUSING to let Mr. Fear stop me.  It is sheer willpower that keeps me going.

So, what do I do???  I tell myself every day... "Let go of the fear!"  And I tell my challengers... "Let go of the fear!"  And I tell my children... "Let go of the fear!"  Why????  Because it's the FEAR that stops us from living our dreams.  It's the fear that tells us we are not good enough.  It's the fear that whispers in our ears... "I can't do it."

Every day when I work out and I'm tired and I just want to stop, I hear that voice over and over saying... "I can't do it."  And I just shut that thought right up and push on.  Every time I go to try something new, again, I hear... "I can't do it."  And yes... I want to quit.  I REALLY want to quit, because if I don't start, I can't fail... right???  But I don't give in.  I just tell that voice to be QUIET!

Fear is a driving factor in who we allow ourselves to become and what we allow ourselves to do.  Will we allow Mr. Fear to decide who we are going to be?  What we will accomplish?  Will we let him determine our endgame?  I say NO.  Absolutely NOT.

You might let me know you're there, Mr. Fear.  You might even put a little terror in my heart from time to time.  BUT... I WILL continue to evict you.  I will NOT let YOU decide who I am or who I will become.  I am DONE giving in to the fear.  I am DONE allowing the fear to live my life for me.  

I am not far from being at the often dreaded "half-way point" in life.  And I REFUSE to let Mr. Fear decide what I will accomplish or who I will become.  I will put him in his place and tell him that he has absolutely NO hold over me.    

And the real beauty of it all?  It's that we CAN decide.  It's not easy.  It's pretty darn scary at times.  But letting go of fear does NOT mean that we never feel fear.  It means we will NOT allow fear to enter and settle in and make a home in our heart... in our life.  We will continue EVERY day to tell Mr. Fear to GET OUT.

What are YOUR biggest fears?  What's stopping YOU from living YOUR dream?  Instead of just watching your life happen before you like a pre-written script...  Stop.  Write down a list of your fears.  Face them.  And then make that decision to LET. THEM. GO.

You MUST DECIDE to evict Mr. Fear.  It might be a decision that you make ten times a day.  But go ahead and make it.  Don't let Mr. Fear decide for you.  He is nothing but a shadow.

It's time for you to shine.  So go write your list.  Send Mr. Fear on his way.  Be like Nike and JUST DO IT!  ;)

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Diet-Keeping RECIPE: FANTASTIC refreshing drink alternative to high-calorie Soda & Alcoholic drinks!!!

So you're headed to a party with AMAZING intentions of making the BEST food and drink choices.  You get there, everyone's having a fun time... drink in hand (usually some form of super-yum drink mix, or soda, or beer or wine...) and suddenly, those best laid plans you had fall to the wayside as someone hands you one of your fav drinks, and without a second thought, you readily pull it to your lips.

Oh yeah.  You KNOW I know it.  I can't tell you how many times I've been in that exact same position.  Because of this, I came up with a fun, yummy and refreshing alternative to soda, diet soda, alcohol and whatever other high-calorie drinks become your biggest temptation.

The next time you find yourself at a party where you're trying to make better caloric choices... bring a few ingredients with you and try this recipe!  You might be surprised when some of your friends ask you to make for them too!  It has happened to me on more than one occasion!  

I call it the Vinyasa.

Refreshing, easy to make lime drink. 

1 8oz glass
1/2 - 1 lime  (depending on how sour you like it to taste)
1 T organic agave nectar (to taste... don't use too much or it adds too many calories)
Seltzer water

Squeeze the lime into the glass.  Add agave nectar and stir.  Pour cold seltzer water into the glass.  For extra flavor, add some crushed mint leaves.

So grab those limes, the agave & seltzer... throw it all into a bag... take it to the party, and show 'em how it's done.


Monday, November 18, 2013

Confessions of a VERY naughty birthday!

I CONFESS!!!!  Yes!  I AVOIDED posting in my challenge groups this weekend. And I'm so VERY VERY sorry.  I was way too busy being naughty so I refused to stop for a second and think about the consequences.  ***sigh***

I honestly can't remember the last time I was this naughty... now... is that good or bad?  LOL  I don't know.  you tell me!!!!

As this was an INSANE weekend with all sorts of debaucheries, I'm FIRST going to tell you the 'punishment', THEN I'll tell you the crime.


4 days of Insanity workouts
3 days of modified Shakeology Cleanse
2 days of extra yard work
1 Public apology for completely avoiding my challengers while committing this debauchery.

True confessions time...

It all began one cold and dreary Friday afternoon... sounds like a great beginning... right??

1st Offense:

Place:  Local Winery
Crime:  Glass of wine (in itself is NO big deal... really)
My Win:  Kept it to one glass
Scenario:  Taking advantage of wine club membership and having a free glass of wine with the Pres of the soccer association as we discuss fundraising.  It WAS an official meeting... of course.

*** insert big sigh here ***

Oh how many "sins" start with... it's just one?  Well... I DID stick to just one glass... at the winery that is.  But it was the start of what catapulted me into an insane weekend of birthday celebration and festivities that included a lot... and let me tell ya... I mean a LOT of diet-breaking catastrophes!

2nd Offense:,

Place: Kristie's party (same day)
Crime:  2 Beers
My Win:  Left it at 2 beers and left to go home

Scenario:  Friend's birthday party (we have the same b-day so we wanted to hang at her party to celebrate).
If that was the end of it, it would have been totally fine.  BUT... my problem is when that curl in the middle of my forehead gets the best of me... and moderation (which is usually my friend), just DARTS!  Some kind of friend she is!

The next couple of diet-breaker crimes I'm COMPLETELY blaming on Mr. Enabler himself!

3rd Offense:

Place: Zinga Frozen Yogurt (same day AGAIN!!!)
Crime:  1 amazingly yummy container of ice cream!!!
My Win:  Um.... Having a hard time finding on here.  LOL

Scenario:  Yes... ugh... that's right.  It took just one small suggestion from Trent that we go enjoy some ice cream alone... and without a thought, I dove right in.  Literally.  I'm still trying to get that yogurt out of my hair!

You know... I DID get the small bowl... (which is really more like a medium).  I dove into the strawberries and nuts (I can count that as a win... right???  LOL).  Dove into the heath bar crumbled mix (definitely NOT a win).  Piled on the hot fudge (eega!!!), and topped it off with a good dose of whipped topping!  (OUCH!!!!!)  

I could have actually taken a pic to post here... but I wolfed that thing down so fast, that there was no real evidence of THAT big cheat!  You just get to see the empty bowl and know that the person who ate it was VERY satisfied indeed.

4th offense:

Place:  Saturday morning, birthday breakfast in bed!!!  Happy birthday ME!  (Totally not my fault... right?)
Crime:  French bread, olive oil, tomato and eggs.
My Win:  Ate in moderation :)

Senario:  Woke up at 5:30am to a beautiful breakfast made by my sweetheart.  It was one of my old favs... toasted french bread, freshly blended tomatoes, olive oil, and then soft boiled eggs.  I actually DID have a win here!!!  (So excited about this... right???  :)  Instead of scarfing down ALL the bread, I had three pieces of toasted french bread with the olive oil and tomato on top, and two soft-boiled eggs.  I think saying no to the rest can be considered a win.  YAY!

5th Offense: 

Place:  Home Birthday CELEBRATION!!!
Crime:  Oh so many... you have to read to see WHAT!
My Win:  Ummm... dance party?  LOL

Scenario:  I was good most of the day... drank my Shakeology and ran a Beachbody booth with a fellow coach at a bizzare.  As SOON as I got home... well... it all fell apart, starting with a glass of wine and some caprese (fresh mozzarella cheese with basil and balsamic).  

Thank God for a family dance party that helped get my heart rate up there, because I don't even want to KNOW how many calories came after.

Trent makes the most AWESOME steak and mashed potatoes!  My personal birthday dinner request!  Follow that with green beans & bacon and a beer.... and it took yum to a whole new level!

The final touch was this AMAZING lemon layer cake hubby made from scratch for my birthday.  And not to be cliche... but it WAS the icing on the cake of a very naughty, but yummy, day :)

By the time dinner was over, we were all quite full and nothing sounded better than a good family snuggle on the couch!

6th Offense:

Place:  Home and Away!
Crime: Again... too many to count... read away!
My Win:  When I got home, I decided to end it there.

Scenario:   Up bright and early to my REAL breakfast in bed.  Yummy omelet and hash browns!

Got back from church and the first thing I did was dive into the left-over cake.  Breakfast of champions... right?  Ahhh... I have such amazing resolve!  Bahahaha!  NOT!

As far as the rest of this crazy weekend is concerned, I'm blaming the rest on that darn winery membership!  Yeah... it's a heck of a lot easier than taking responsibility... right???  Sunday afternoon, we went to a wine club soup dinner that was spectacular!  Three courses of soup, served with three different wines.  Dessert served with dessert wine.  And a couple tastings after... yes... a high calorie day!  EEEGA!!!

7th Offense:

Place:  Spelunkers Drive-Thru (on the way home)
Crime: Bacon cavern burger, fries and (whispering here... a coke!)
My Win:  Um... none.  I ate every last bite.


When I got home, I decided to end it there.

THANK the good Lord... that's where it all ended.  Don't honestly think I could have crammed much more into that...  I got home and loaded up on water and made some new week resolutions!

At this point, I'm so grateful for my fellow challengers.  This may be a painful confession... BUT I'm getting right back on that wagon today, and I'm focusing on the wins I had this weekend... otherwise, I'd be too busy worrying about a complete diet-breaking disaster of a weekend that I'm recovering from!!!

When all is said and done... I had an AMAZING birthday and am SO ready to get my butt in gear!!!  Insanity whooped my tail again this morning, but I shall not be disparaged.  Bahahahaha!

As Shaun T would say... have an AMAZEBALLS week, my friends!!!