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Sunday, July 17, 2016

Because I have this crazy idea...

When people ask me "Why a documentary?", I explain it's because I have this crazy idea that my purpose is bigger than me.

I love helping others reach their goals and if sharing my story can inspire and motivate just one person then this whole project will have been worth it.

Going through this process has been tedious, emotional, and editing video is an extremely daunting task. I love it though. I'm growing and learning more about myself.

We still have one more interview to complete and then we can proceed to final assembly. Once complete, the documentary will be submitted to multiple distributors in hopes of it being picked up by at least one. Who knows where it will actually end up but I have big dreams of it being available to the world on various Video On Demand platforms.

It's been a lot of baby steps to get to where I am at this point in my journey and I am pretty proud of how far I have come in the last five years. Some people think that's conceited. I like to think it's inspiring.

I hope you enjoy the updated preview clips below.

Preview 1

Preview 2

Preview 3

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Lights! Camera! Action!

Back in January, I had an epiphany about what my purpose for being created was, which I feel is to inspire and motivate others. Since then, I've been working on a documentary entitled, "If Only She Were Thinner", which I am producing with assistance from my friends at Scope Creative Agency.

My story is based on more than just my weight loss journey. I had no self-esteem because of the lifelong struggle I have had with my weight and I put myself into some very dark situations because I didn't think I could do any better.

If you've followed my blog for any length of time, the film is essentially my blog in motion, but you'll get to meet the characters and feel the impact of what I've gone through.

It is my hope that by sharing my story of perseverance, determination and the fact that I have fallen in love with who I have become as a person I will inspire others to open the door to escape their dark places, move forward, and achieve their goals as well.

The film is still in production as it is a tedious process but I wanted to give y'all a very (very, very) small little snippet of what to expect.

My story will not end when my documentary is complete. I didn't come this far only to come this far. I still have goals to achieve, and there really is no finish line for me. It will be a continuous journey for the rest of my life, and I will always look for ways to push my limits.

Most people don't understand my love affair with the gym. They don't understand that the gym is my place to escape. My place to heal. My place to not only become physically strong but to become mentally strong as well.

My weight loss adventure has been a long road, but there is no way I would be where I am at without the constant support of those who motivate me.

Who push me.

Who believe in me.

Who generate a spark that sets my veins on fire.

When you find those people, you do not let them go.

Embrace their energy.

Ignore the noise of the negative people in your life.

Stop making excuses.

Never give up.

Let's go!

Friday, May 20, 2016

A New Level of Motivation

I was able to work with the most amazing personal trainer while I was working in California this week. I’ve worked with a few trainers in the past, including a few in my home gym, but Eugene is not just a personal trainer - he is also a Command Fitness Leader for the Navy Seabees.

I’ve worked out with trainers that treat you like a number and just move you from machine to machine and occasionally tell you that you are doing a good job. They don’t take the time to explain what muscle groups you are working on, what the exercise is doing for your body, or how to take the exercise to a different level by adding an additional move. I wanted someone who would challenge me.

I contacted Eugene a month prior to my trip and explained that I was basically looking to get my ass kicked for a week while I was in town and that I wanted to be able to take a new program home that I could work on in between my trips.

From the second we met at the gym, I knew I made the right decision because I had that same magnetic connection with him that I had when I first crossed the threshold to my own gym back in October. I knew I was about to have an epic week.

Eugene asked me what equipment I had in my Anytime Fitness gym because he wanted to make sure I could perform the same exercises when I returned.

As we were walking through the gym, I told him that most of my strength was in my thighs (Pete and Repeat can carry their weight) and that my upper body was pretty weak so we dove right in and started working on my arms, back, shoulders, and chest.

He walked me over to the cables and, to my surprise, I didn’t leave that spot for the entire hour. I was able to do all six exercises on the same cable using different configurations.

My first workout consisted of super setting: Standing Isolated High Row and Standing Isolated Cable Press; Standing Level Cable Row and Isolated Cable Curl & Press; and finally Forward Shoulder Cable Raise and Kneeling Lat Pull Down.

I did three sets of each (15-20 reps for most) and at the end I did one more of each all over again for good luck (and to show him that I remembered how to set each one up by myself).

Because I had told him my upper body was weak, he started me off with a very low weight. He could see that I was easily doing most of the exercises so he kept adding weight…and adding more weight. After our session was over, he told me I lied and that I was a lot stronger than I had admitted.

Apparently, pulling is my thing because I was able to pull 72.5 pounds on my standing level cable row. May not seem like a lot to some of you body builders but he seemed pretty impressed with that number.

We worked on my core on Day 2. I explained that I hadn’t worked on just my core in more than three years and I asked him to go easy on me. He just smiled that grin that people give you when you are in for a surprise.

For a millisecond, I thought about faking a cramp and running when he said the word “plank”.  Just kidding. I was actually looking forward to the challenge.

The only planks I had done in the past were just the good old standard plank on my forearms and toes. Well, Eugene wanted to challenge me so he had me doing suspended planks. As he was getting my feet strapped in, I couldn’t help but make the wisecrack, “our second session and you already have me in straps”. HA!!

Again, I was super setting my exercises. I did TRX planks on my forearms and then hands (push up). Then I did Lay to Sit sit-ups and Ankle Hold Leg Lifts (he stood above my head while I was on my back and I held onto his ankles as I raised my legs to touch his hands). Those were followed up with what we decided to call Fold-ins (basically a combo lay to sit sit-up with a leg lift…very hard to do) and Bosu Ball Sit-ups. The last set was more forearm and push up planking but this time with the Bosu Ball.

Day 3 was the dreaded leg day. I had the videographer out with us to film scenes for my upcoming documentary. Eugene wasn’t sure if the gym would allow the camera in so we utilized the park.

My normal leg day consisted of nothing but weights so I was curious what he was going to do. I kept asking him and all he would do was flash that “you’ll find out” grin.

I thought maybe he was secretly plotting to kill me because leg day consisted of: TRX Jump Squats, Bosu Balance Squats, Bosu Foot Transfer Side Squats, Wide Kettle Bell Squats, Single Leg Step Ups, and Hill Sprints.

Yes, folks…not one, not two, not three, but FOUR types of squats annnnd…I had to do all of that while being filmed. WHAT THE FRENCH TOAST WAS I THINKING?

The footage of me on the Bosu ball is hilarious. I’m determined to master that damn thing. I still had a smile on my face when we finished and it wasn’t because the camera was rolling.

We decided to take our final workout on Day 4 outdoors again so we went back to the park. Despite the wind that kept my hair going crazy and tossed dirt in our eyes – it was a beautiful day for battle. And I mean that literally. I did Battle Ropes Doubles, Battle Ropes Alternating Singles, Slam Ball, TRX Pull-Ups, Dumbell Curl & Press and then I got to put on the gloves and throw some Combo Punches. I’m sure he is still laughing at my lack of coordination because I know I am. I am super happy that I didn’t have the camera rolling that day. Hee hee!

Now, I’m sure y’all are wondering why I didn’t do this in my own gym. Well…when you workout in a gym where everyone feels like family, you tend to get too close and reaching out for help gets a little tougher because you don’t want to bother them when you know they are so busy. At least, that is how I have grown to feel. Must be that Superwoman thing again...

I needed some outside motivation from someone who could see the fire in my eyes and push me harder than I believed I could be pushed.

Someone who could see my potential even though I couldn’t see it myself.

Someone who could match a program to my goals.

Someone who would show me, step-by-step, what I need to do and why I need to do it in a certain way to avoid injury.

Someone who wouldn’t look at their phone during a conversation or tell me to hang on while reading/replying to a text.

Someone who would take their time to really listen and then thoroughly explain things in a language that I could understand.

Someone who would train me like an athlete and not a body builder.

Someone who would stand next to me, behind me, or in front of me and tell me to dig deep, push, and keep going.

Someone to tell me, “you got this”.

Someone to give me a whole new level of motivation.

I definitely found that in Eugene and I cannot wait to go back and work with him again. Because when you find that in a trainer, you do not let them go!

I got this!

Saturday, May 7, 2016

THIS is who I am...Defining Myself, Part 2

Three and a half years ago, my most popular post, "Defining Myself", was published. I was at a very different point in my life when I generated that first list. My eyes were wide open to so many possibilities. After just coming out of a violently abusive and controlled marriage, I reclaimed the parts of me that I allowed to be buried for the sake of others and I never looked back. 

Here it is three and a half years later, and despite the heartbreak I recently endured after my second husband told me he wanted a divorce because I gained weight, I am still holding strong to who I am as a person, I still do not defend anything that helps define who I am, and my eyes are still wide open.

It has only been two months since my divorce has been finalized but I think I am ready to open my eyes a little wider to the possibility of dating...and that scares the heck out of me.


Because I know that not everyone can handle my heartfelt truths and some may confuse my expressed emotions with being complicated or dramatic.
  • I'm not perfect. 
  • I over think. 
  • I over analyze.
  • I live in the moment but I question everything.
  • I worry about things I have no control over (I am actually trying to work on this one).
  • I'm part German and part Italian, which means I am stubborn and have a hot temper.
  • I'm also Canadian (dual Can/Am citizen) so the flip side of the above is I am quick to apologize and I will apologize for things I haven't even done wrong.
  • I still have fluffy thighs. I always matter how many squats I do. I refer to them as Pete and Repeat. I apologize for them too.
  • Because I am also American, I yell at (and sometimes flip off) idiot drivers on the road, freeway, or parking lots.
  • I don't always talk like a lady. Especially after leg day!!
  • I do not look cute after a workout and I know my clothes stink but I'll still stop at the grocery store on my way home. I don't care - I've got stuff to do.
  • If I know I'm right about something, I will argue with you until I am blue in the face. However - as much as I don't like it, I will admit when I'm wrong.
  • I am not high maintenance in the physical sense but I greatly appreciate reassurance in the feelings department.
  • I'm loyal, patient, and very forgiving...unless you push me to the point where I no longer care. If I reach that point, all I can say is - when I'm done...I'm done...and you'll definitely know it.
I don't list these things because I think they are wrong or because I want to change them. I list them because they are part of who I am.

Losing weight gave me the confidence to embrace every side of me. Good, bad, and indifferent. After I got sick and gained back some weight, I started to lose sight of everything I had grown to embrace about myself.

Once I got back into the gym and held myself accountable, I felt like I was "home" again.

Some people go their whole lives without embracing their strengths and weaknesses. For me, it took losing 170 pounds and escaping a violent marriage before I embraced mine and I am not afraid to admit where I fall short - which in an odd way is actually a strength because not many people are willing to admit their faults.

I share my feelings and I say what's in my heart without much contemplation. Does that make me complicated? If I look at who I am as a person, I think I'm a fairly simple girl. 
  • If I miss you - I'll let you know
  • If I want to meet up with you - I'll invite you
  • If I feel misunderstood - I'll explain
  • If I have a question - I'll ask
  • If I don't like something - I'll say it (politely)
  • If I like something - I'll proclaim it
  • If I want something - I'll ask for it (or get it myself)
  • If I love you - I'll tell you
It doesn't get much more simpler than that.

To quote myself from my "Superwoman" post...

"For as long as I can remember, I have been a very strong woman.
I am determined.
I am persistent.
I push though and persevere.
If I want something, I’m not afraid to go after it.
I am not afraid to speak up or offer my opinion.
I don't let anyone stand in my way.
I am the girl who, despite wanting to fall down on the ground kicking and screaming, will look you dead in the eye and with a smile on my face will tell you that everything is good."

Again - these things define who I am. I will always wake up and choose to be happy. Even when I'm having a bad day and tears freely fall from my eyes, I will always manage a smile because I know that the moment will pass and I will keep fighting.

I was scrolling through Facebook last weekend and I came across this awesome story that I absolutely love and adore about Collin Clarke - a bodybuilder who just happens to have Down Syndrome. 

While the story doesn't define who I am, what Collin says at the end of the video defines how I am built.

In Collins words: "Never give up. When a challenge comes to you, you gotta overcome all the odds. Yeah, it might get hard. It might hurt. But you gotta keep fighting. You gotta keep pushing with everything you got."

I am a lover. I am a fighter. I am persistent, determined and loyal. I push the limits of everything I do with everything I've got.

THIS is who I am.

A very good friend recently told me that I am truly an amazingly wonderful woman and any man on earth would be lucky to have me on his side.

I know his words are true. And, whoever I date will appreciate me...just as I am.

I got this...

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Limits are meant to be pushed!

Yoda wisdom is something I wish I had instilled in me. 
I am starting this post off with an apology to my readers. Between work and life, I've been going Mach II with my hair on fire since my last post nearly two months ago.

It started in March with a trip to Vegas to celebrate my son's birthday (and my divorce) and I didn't slow down until a week ago after I returned from an eight-day road trip to Phoenix. Outside of work, the only thing I had time to squeeze in was my gym time, even while on the road. Y'all know that the gym is my happy place and it's what held me together when all I wanted to do was run and hide.

These past several months, Yoda has been whispering his various quotes in my ear. Even if you are not a fan of Star Wars, you should appreciate that fictional little green guru's wisdom.

When it comes to working out, I am a firm "do or do not, there is no try" believer. There comes a time when you have to stop planning, stop thinking, stop contemplating, and just start doing. I've been rockin' the cardio since October and combined with the right diet, I have lost nearly 60 pounds in the last six months. I have reached the point in my fitness journey that I need to step it up a notch so this week I added weight training to my routine.

Now, if you've been following me for a while you know I don't do anything lightly. I'm more of a "go big or don't go at all" kind of girl. I don't like to half-ass anything, even mistakes. LOL.

I am starting my weight training with a three-day upper/lower body split. As I get stronger, I will increase to a four-day split working my way to a five. What is a three-day split? Basically, I rotate through three weight training workouts each week where each muscle group is trained once every 4th or 5th day. I'm a newbie at weights so until I gain a little strength and skill, I am only doing three sets of 8-12 reps of six different exercises in each group. For instance, this past week my schedule was as follows:
  • Monday - Back and Biceps
    • Lat pull-down with wide grip
    • Seated row
    • Bent over row
    • Reverse peck deck flyes
    • Standing bicep curls with a curl bar
    • Supinating bicep curls, alternating
  • Wednesday - Chest, Shoulders, and Triceps
    • Dumbbell press
    • Incline dumbbell flyes
    • Peck deck flyes
    • Military dumbbell press
    • Tricep extension
    • Tricep kickbacks
  • Friday - Legs
    • Squats
    • Bulgarian split lunges
    • Romanian deadlift
    • Leg extensions
    • Leg curls
    • Calf raises (leg press / calf machine superset)
Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday are still dedicated to the StairMaster and my beloved rowing machine. Sundays are my rest days.

One of my friends at the gym put the above plan together for me because I know nothing about weight lifting and had NO clue where to start. One of the trainers at the gym graciously worked out with me on each of my "first" days to make sure I knew how to perform each exercise and had proper form to avoid injury.

Monday and Wednesday were challenging (because of the whole breathing and counting thing - more on this later) but nothing I couldn't handle. By Thursday, my arms and shoulders were so sore I could barely get them over my head. However - in my true style, I mostly just giggled through the pain. Okay...I might have dropped a few F-bombs.

Now...I am not going to lie to y'all. Today is Saturday. Which means that yesterday was leg day. Do you remember when I first started the StairMaster and I thought I was going to die because my thighs felt like they were on fire? Yeah...that has NOTHIN' on leg day. This morning's workout was brutal because my legs were still shaking. I was only able to get through 60 of my usual 90-minute session. Even right now, at this very moment, 24-hours after I finished leg thighs could still very well spontaneously combust. Yet - I am still giggling (and dropping F-bombs) through the pain.

I can honestly say that there is more to weight lifting than just lifting a weight. You have to stand, sit, or lay in a certain way and you have to breathe properly. When I do my cardio, I just have to keep going at whatever exercise I'm doing. When lifting weights, you do a lot of counting. Not just counting your reps but you have to count how fast you lift the weight, hold the weight, and lower the weight. Who knew there was so much math involved?

The weight lifting lingo is also foreign - tempo and tension, eccentric and concentric, isolated and compound movements, the list goes on. And then there is the whole breathing thing. Exhale when you are using the muscle, except when you are doing squats, then it's the opposite. Aaaahhhh - so much to remember but Yoda's wisdom once again got me through - "You must unlearn what you have learned." Learning is a HUGE part of fitness. We learn what works and what doesn't. But mostly, we learn where our efforts really pay off because nothing worthwhile doesn't come without effort.

Limits are meant to be pushed and I am the queen at pushing them (just ask anyone who has ever met me...LOL).

Why? Because that is how progress is made.

You will never know your limits until you push yourself to them. And then you push a little harder.

I've still got this!

Friday, March 4, 2016

Excuses & Results Don't Mix

I often get caught up in conversations with people (friends, family, gym members, complete strangers) about dieting, weight loss, and exercise.

Most people have a specific goal they are trying to lose weight for. An upcoming wedding, a beach vacation, or a class reunion. And then there are those of us that got tired of being overweight and wanted to make a life altering change for the better. Regardless of the reason - we all have the incredible ability to make excuses.

All too often, I hear excuse after excuse for why people aren't losing weight or reaching their goals. I am not pointing my fingers at anyone without pointing three back at myself because I am just as guilty for using some of the excuses listed. It would be way to easy for me to tell you to "suck it up, buttercup" and get over it but I'll try and walk you through each excuse below:
  • It's SOO hard - Yes, it is. Plain and simple. Anything worth achieving doesn't come easy. Over time, you will notice that things get easier but in reality, you are just getting stronger. What keeps me going on the "hard" days? The smile on my face when I know I can say, "I did it...and I didn't die!"
  • I don't have time - I call bull$hit on this one. If you have time to scroll through social media playing games, watch funny cat videos, or watch more than two episodes of anything on Netflix, you have time to workout. For me, it is easiest if I go to the gym right after work. For others, it's before work. I have access to my gym 24 hours a day and I've been there at midnight so "not having time" is not an excuse I can use. MAKE THE TIME. Put it on your calendar. Schedule a meeting with yourself. If you can't go for a full hour at a time, go 30 minutes in the morning and go 30 minutes in the evening. 
  • I'm too tired - Trust me...I'm tired too. However - that passes after the first 20 minutes of a workout and I feel 10x better and more mentally energized than when I first walked in.
  • I'm too old - I workout with people in their 80's so I'm not buying this one at all.
  • I don't want to exercise by myself - I get the whole, "I need a workout buddy" thing because I liked to have someone with me in the beginning too. I have friends that I go to the gym with but when I'm there, I am there for ME. It is my time to work on myself, not socialize. Use the time to clear your mind.
  • I'm not seeing any results - Do not use the number on the scale to measure your results. Use your jeans. AND for the love of all things...stop predicting failure. Read my patience, persistence, and accountability post. It takes time people. Four weeks for you to notice, eight for your friends, and twelve for everyone else. 
  • I have a headache - Unless it's a Migraine, take an aspirin, ibuprofen, or acetaminophen and suck it up. What I find ironic about this one is I had a headache as I started my workout last night. I managed to climb 243 flights of stairs and row 4,000 meters before it turned into a Migraine, which was when I decided that I needed to go home. However, I still got an hour in WITH a headache.
  • I'm in a bad mood - There is no better place to take your frustrations out than in the gym. Beat the crap out of a punching bag. Put anger into your workout and you will be in a MUCH better mood when you are done.
  • Eating healthy is expensive - In my best Maury Povich voice, "THAT, is a lie!". I used to use this excuse all the time. Once you have started eating healthy and your body has detoxed from  refined sugars, you won't have cravings for junk food and you won't have to eat as much to feel full. In the end, you are buying less. Yes, you may have to shop more often because you are buying fresher foods that may spoil faster than foods that don't come out of a box but your body is worth the extra trip to the store. Do what I do...hit the grocery store on your way home from a workout. You are more than likely to make healthier choices when you are drenched in your own sweat.
  • I have a family to cook for - So either make your family eat healthy too or do what I did and make a separate meal for yourself. I meal prepped for myself every Sunday so I had no excuse for not having my own meals ready to go during the week.
  • I don't like to sweat - Sweat is your fat crying as it leaves your body. Wear black when you workout and pretend you are at a funeral for your fat. And if you still look cute at the end of your didn't work hard enough. I am a hot mess after a workout as I do not sweat pretty but ask me if I care (I don't).
  • I feel like people are judging me at the gym - Most people at the gym are working toward their own goals and have likely been in your shoes before. A few days ago, I was talking to a guy at the gym about how the gym is my happy place and it's where I do most of my thinking (and my worst overthinking) and he was surprised by that. When I asked why, he said "I don't think about anything when I workout. I'm just there, doing my thing." (I wish I had that trait.) You'll be surprised how many people there will motivate and encourage you to keep coming back. 
  • Gym memberships are expensive - What value would you put on your life? Mine is far greater than the $35 a month I spend on my membership.
  • I can't lift weights - So don't. Start off with Cardio. As your body gets stronger, you will be able to lift weights. Biceps don't grow on trees so if you want them, you will eventually have to.
  • I can't run - So walk. Or climb stairs. Or row. Or ride the stationary bike. When you are able to like you stole something.
  • I can't...- YOU CAN! 
You want it?

Then, go get it!

Because excuses and results don't mix!

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Can't Stop, Won't Stop

In early January, one of my best guy friends and I were chatting about my weight loss progress. He texted me afterward and said, "You seem much happier when you are fit. Yet, things get in the way, and you get comfy and resort to things that take you away from happiness. Try and remind yourself that this is a way of life. You always go back to working out and eating right to find happiness. So don't stop. Make it a priority. Always. It's healthier for your brain and body."

I love him for being so honest with me. He has always told me like it is even if the truth hurts my feelings. This time was no different. He didn't hurt my feelings though because he is 100% correct. He has seen me at my best, my worst, and everything in between. He is the one who taught me how to spend time with myself to get to know who I really am as a person.

Essentially, he was responsible for how I defined myself nearly four years ago. Back then, I was spending at least four days a week in the gym, was eating a clean diet, and I was happy.

And then...I fell into a relationship with my soon-to-be-ex and I got "comfy". I stopped going to the gym and I stopped following my diet. I was in "relationship mode" with someone who wasn't on the same health and fitness page I was.

The first mistake I made was thinking I could stray from working out and be OK. The second mistake I made was thinking I could stray from my diet and be OK. Diet and exercise go hand-in-hand.

Granted, I couldn't exercise after I got sick in February 2015 until my doctors cleared me 7 months later, but I could have certainly been eating properly.

Instead, I wasn't holding myself accountable and I allowed myself to use my relationship and my health as an excuse to go rogue and it took me away from my happiness.

Working out has become my number one priority. I have said it time and time again, and I'll continue saying it...the gym is my happy place. It has become a place of solitude for me. I do my best thinking and sometimes my worst overthinking there but I know I can always count on feeling on top of the world when I walk out after a good workout.

Eating according to my goals is priority number two. A good workout does nothing for me if I am fueling my body with crap. For the most part, I eat fairly clean. I allow myself indulgences when I know I am going to burn it off in the gym the same day.

After I received that message from my friend, I realized that in order to maintain my weight loss once I have reached my goal, I had to make sure that I have a plan in place that is sustainable and that includes making sure the people in my life are supportive of my eating habits and fitness goals.

Being healthy is a way of life for me and I will not give that up again.

Can't stop. Won't stop. For anyone!

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Patience, Persistence, and Accountability

I returned home from my business trip to California last Friday and I was a hot mess. I cried the entire three-hour plane ride home and I cried all the way home from the airport. I just wanted to get home so I could change my clothes and get to the gym.

The woes of life on the road can be tough when trying to eat healthy. Not gonna lie...The first night I was in California, one of my best girlfriends had a Mardi Gras party and that was centered around a ton of Cajun food (I am also still wondering how I, the Canadian, was put in charge of frying up the Boudin Balls) and a lot of alcohol was served (I only had 4 shots of Patron, 3 shots of Fireball, and three Jell-O shots...I promise I will never drink like that again...ugh).

Over the course of the week, I ate at Red Robin twice (clucks and onion rings), ate at my favorite steakhouse twice (salad, nachos, ribeye, green beans, and one night...skillet apple pie with the most delicious butter bourbon sauce...GASP!, and I ate at my favorite hole in the wall Mexican joint because they have the best carne asada quesadillas on earth. Now, I can't eat much in one sitting but's safe to say, I indulged at least once a day.

I did have my favorite protein shake at least twice a day at snack time, I had oatmeal for breakfast, and I worked out four of the six nights I was there.

As soon as I got home, I changed my clothes, fed my animals, and made my way to the gym (aka, my happy place).

The next morning, after my morning workout, I stepped on the scale to see if I had done any damage to the number while in California. Even after indulging in my favorite restaurants, I was shocked to see I had lost FIVE pounds.

As I mentioned in my previous post, I needed a break from work so I took this week off to focus on myself, my mind, and to make peace in my heart.

The only time I checked my work email or thought about work was to simply delete the junk mail.

OK, I lied. I had to shoot a video Monday morning and I may have replied to a few quick questions from my Inbox BUT I did not read or do anything that required me to put much effort into thinking about work.

I spent my days going to the gym, shopping (groceries for the most part), writing, taking long hot baths, and listening to music versus plopping down on the couch and watching television.

I've been doing two-a-days at the gym all week. Each day, by the end of my second workout, I rowed 26,000 meters (today, I only did 25,000...slacker) and climbed between 300-400 flights of stairs.

These two-a-days have been paying off because I have lost another five pounds since Monday.

That is a total of 10 pounds in two weeks and a grand total of 45 pounds since October.

Every morning, at the same time, I weigh in to check my progress. In case you are wondering, I do not get frustrated with myself (or my scale for that matter) if the number is the same as it was the day before, or even the day before that. I know I am putting in the effort. If it stays the same for more than two weeks, then I look at my diet and workout regimen and adjust accordingly.

Because of my success, I get approached several times a week at the gym by various members telling me how inspiring and motivating I am to them and then they proceed to ask questions. Of which I am both humbled and honored.

Usually, the first question is...How do you do it?

After joking that it is "one bloody step at a time on the darn StairMaster", my response is always, patience, persistence, and accountability.

You HAVE to call bullshit on yourself and hold yourself accountable for what you eat and the persistence you put into your workouts. You can't expect a great loss if you don't put in a great effort.

You also have to be patient. If you are trying to lose the 50 pounds you gained over a will not come off overnight. It takes four weeks for you to see a difference in your own body, eight weeks for your friends, and twelve weeks for everyone else. It takes time people. I know most people are searching for that instant gratification and you want the validation from others. It is going to take at least THREE months before they will notice.

Have patience, hold yourself accountable, and be persistent. That's the key to success.

The second question I usually get asked is...Do you eat? (not, "What do you eat?", but "DO YOU EAT??)

Ummm...helllloooo...I freakin' LOVE food. Yes, I eat. I just follow a strict diet when I am at home. I don't eat out often when I am not traveling because I like to know what I am putting in my body.

Examples of what I eat are:

I always start my morning with a protein shake that has no less than 50 grams of protein (my new favorite protein is ProtiZyme by Metabolic) and for whatever reason I also eat a spoonful of fresh ground, all natural peanut butter. Then I choose one of the following:
  • Steel Cut Oatmeal with a little milk, brown sugar, and cinnamon. I usually eat 3/4 cup to 1 cup.
  • Two eggs (scrambled) or egg beaters with a little bit of shredded cheese.
  • Hard boiled egg.
  • 1 cup plain greek yogurt (my favorite is Fage) with a tablespoon of honey or agave.
  • Shredded chicken with a little shredded cheese (heated until warm and gooey) with a tablespoon of sour cream and a tablespoon or two of Pico de Gallo or a good chucky salsa.
  • Grilled chicken breast (spiced) with a spring mix salad (light on the dressing). I love to change up the flavor of my chicken with different spices (Fajita, Spicy Aloha, Greek, Garlic & Peppercorn, etc.).
  • Spaghetti sauce with ground beef (hold the pasta for the most part)
  • Grilled salmon (my FAV) with smoked basmati rice
  • Grilled beef and veggie skewers with Chimichurri
  • Grilled skirt steak over a bed of spring mix
  • Grilled jumbo shrimp
 Note: I love to grill. No oils, great flavor, and it doesn't heat up the house during the summer.
I eat snacks twice a day (two hours after breakfast and two hours after lunch) and it's usually always one of the following:
  • Protein shake (no less than 50 grams of protein)
  • Mini Babybel Light cheese
  • Orange
  • Apple
  • Banana
  • Quest Protein Bar (my Fav is Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough)
I eat pretty clean and don't eat a lot of carbs during the day. I try to eat most of them in the morning. Everyone is different, this is just works for me.

NOTE: Complex carbs are the delivery vehicle for protein so don't skip out on them.

Other Notes

I was eating WAY too much fruit and had to cut that down. Natural or not, there is so much sugar in fruit.

I also drink TONS of water. At a minimum you should be drinking half your body weight in ounces, every day (if you are working out or working in the heat, you need to add at least 16 more ounces to that).

My daily protein intake is 1 gram of protein per pound of my target weight.

Do I eat junk food? Occasionally. I LOVE popcorn and I LOVE hot chocolate. I am a sucker for both. If you ever need to apologize to me for anything, bring hot chocolate or popcorn and I'll instantly forgive you.

The third most popular question asked can you row for so long? HA! I row for at least an hour a day. Lately, it's been one hour and five minutes. This week it was that times two since I have been doing two-a-days.

I cannot explain how I can row for so long but I will tell you that it took me a few weeks to build up my endurance. I just put on some good music and get into a zone. The first and last 2,000 meters are always the longest.

Again, I had to have patience with myself and my body to get to where I am at today.

I cannot wait to see where I am at six months from now.

I got this!

P.S. - I have said this before and I'll keep saying it until the end of time but I absolutely LOVE my Anytime Fitness gym. The members are so welcoming and awesome. Each and every day is the same as the first for me. I am magnetically drawn in through the doors and I leave so much happier.

Tonight, I was caught on camera rowing again.

Dawn Wagner (aka "The Row Master") putting a session in with Kanda Sanders. Awesome job ladies - you rock!!!
Posted by Anytime Fitness - Katy, TX on Thursday, February 18, 2016

Saturday, February 13, 2016

The Problem with Being Superwoman

Despite having Superwoman powers, I am human and can only take so much pressure.

My inner motivational speaker is trying to tell me to “suck it up bitch” but I have reached the point where even as I type this, I have crocodile tears rolling down my cheeks. And, I am currently in flight…with a stranger sitting beside me who is probably wondering how the heck he ended up sitting next to the crazy lady on the plane. Poor guy.

Lately, I have been extremely overwhelmed with various emotions.




Life in general.

All of the above are weighing heavy on my mind right now.

I have no doubt that I was created to inspire and motivate others and I will continue to figure out what I am supposed to do with my “purpose”.

I have been waiting for a “Captain Obvious” sign but I haven’t seen it yet.

I am not a patient person. I am learning though. I am learning to let things happen as they are supposed to and not force them.

That has been a hard lesson to learn in my weight loss journey. To be patient.

When people start a new diet or plan to get fit, they expect instant results.

We didn’t gain our weight overnight so we cannot expect it to come off overnight.

Patience is the key to weight loss success.

That and holding yourself accountable.

Yes, I can workout 1.5 hours a day. Climb 200 flights of stairs. Row 20,000 meters.

But none of that matters if I go home and down a bag of chips or consume handfuls of chocolate chips.

My inner motivational speaker screamed, “CUT THE SHIT, DAWN”.

When I started back at the gym four months ago, I had to stop lying to myself about my eating habits.

I started holding myself accountable.

Patience and accountability is what has helped me lose 39 pounds over the past four months.

I have to use this same way of thinking about all of the emotions I have been bottling up. I know I didn’t bottle all of them up at once and even though I may be able to pour them all out at the same time, I still have to clean up the mess.

For as long as I can remember, I have been a very strong woman.

I am determined.

I am persistent.

I push though and persevere.

If I want something, I’m not afraid to go after it.

I am not afraid to speak up or offer my opinion.

I don't let anyone stand in my way.

I am the girl who, despite wanting to fall down on the ground kicking and screaming, will look you dead in the eye and with a smile on my face will tell you that everything is good.

Once upon a time, someone called me selfish. I think I am the least selfish person I know.

I am the girl who is there for everyone when no one else is.

I am the girl who will answer the phone at 2:43 in the morning when a friend needs to talk. Or needs a ride. Or just needs someone to listen.

I am the girl who holds people together when they are falling apart.

I am Superwoman.

Cook, bake, fix something, build something, put a bandaid on it, you name it…I’m there for everyone.

The problem I face by being this strong, independent woman is I don’t have anyone who can hold me together when I am the one falling apart.

Not because I don’t have friends or family that care because I have many.

I just don’t like to bother people with my issues.

I would rather push my own problems aside and help others with theirs.

Even though I wear my heart on my sleeve, I don’t want others to see that I have a weak side.

All I know is right now, I feel like I am falling apart.

I am not depressed.

I do not need counseling.

I wake up every day and I choose to be happy. Because, I believe that it IS a choice.

I just need a break.

I need to refocus my energy.

Starting the moment I land, I am officially on vacation. I am taking one of the six weeks of vacation I have stockpiled and I am going to focus on ME.

I will hang up my Superwoman cape for a few days.

I will go to the gym twice a day to burn off excess emotions (and let me tell you…a good workout is one of THE best ways to lift your spirits and kill whatever negative energy you may have flowing through your bloodstream).

I will NOT feel sorry for myself BUT I will allow myself to cry if the tears start to flow.

I will work on my book.

I will focus on my goals.

I will focus on being patient.

I will continue to hold myself accountable.

Life’s kryptonite has temporarily weakened my powers but I have no doubt that after this week is over, I will be back stronger than ever before and my cape will have new colors.

I got this.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

What Little Changes Can Do

When I was in my 20's, I subconsciously thrived on stress and drama. I was attracted to it. I got caught up in various television Soap Opera's. Was glued to the news channels for hours during a disaster story. I always had to know the latest drama going on at work or in other people's lives. 

For whatever reason, I needed to feel like I was a part of it all and because "like attracts like", I surrounded myself with people who were full of drama and stress. And, what goes hand in hand with that? Negativity! Also known as, life's biggest energy sucker.

Even though I thrived on stress, I was always a positive person. I was the one that would tell you that the glass was half full.

It wasn't until I started associated myself with positive people and situations that I realized how much control I had over my own happiness and opportunities that surround me.

I have since grown into the person that will drink the glass of water while others continue to argue over how full it is because life is too short to argue over one's personal perception. But, challenge me when I know I am right, and it's totally "game on". HA!

Don't get me wrong. As optimistic as I am, I have found myself in plenty of stressful and negative situations but how I choose to respond is of my own doing. I just try really hard to not allow anyone to dictate my emotions. I allow myself to be sad, mad, angry, or happy. And, it's OK to feel sad (for a moment). It's OK to be mad. More importantly, it's OK to be happy.

There is nothing naive about being happy or positive. Most negative people perceive positive people as being naive because we aren't focused on what could go wrong.

While I am aware of the risks I take, I choose to focus on what can go right. Where is the wrong in that?

And, I do not dare let anyone tell me that I can't do something for myself. Tell me I can't achieve something and I'll show you I can.

I use my inner motivational speaker to push myself to succeed in everything I do. Whether it's a tough project at work or my effort level in the gym, I can talk myself into finishing whatever I start.

Last Sunday, I decided to push myself a little harder at the gym because a bigger effort = bigger results. So, I added an extra 10 minutes to the StairMaster at a slightly faster speed for a total of 30 minutes. I also increased my time on the rowing machine from 60 minutes to 65.

Yes, that is a mere 15-minute addition. 

Nothing to call the news stations about but at the end of the week, that 15 minutes per day (x7 days) added up to an additional 1 hour and 45 minutes of kicking ass in the gym. 

That extra effort has made a difference on the scale because when I weighed myself this morning, I was excited (more like shocked) to see that I had lost FOUR pounds this week, bringing my total weight loss to 35 pounds since October.

Other than changing the brand of protein shake I drink, I didn't eat anything differently. I am still consuming 1 gram of protein a day per pound of my target body weight. I am still drinking the same amount of water each day (which is half my body weight in ounces).

I can only attribute those four pounds to the additional 15 minutes of time.

When I started back in the gym just three months ago, I knew that my body would lose the first few pounds fairly quick because I hadn't worked out for more than two years. I was right because the first ten pounds practically fell off.

It took a month to build enough stamina to maintain an hour on the rowing machine and 20 minutes on the Stairmaster. My body became stronger and my muscles more leaner. Kind of goes along with that saying of, "Life isn't getting easier, I'm just getting stronger."

However, after two months of the same routine, my body became accustomed to same daily level of physical stress and my weight loss slowed down. It needed a little more stress to trigger muscle stimulation so last Sunday I granted it's wish.

I didn't add new moves or workouts to my routine. 

I didn't add some latest fitness craze piece of machinery, equipment, or pill to swallow. 

I simply pushed myself a little harder than I did the week before. 

15 minutes harder.

Did I die? No. 

Was I still breathing in the end? Yes.

It was just a little change that made a four pound difference.

I said goodbye to my days of thiving on stress years ago and I cannot stand drama. The only stress I like to feel these days is the stress of my muscles working.

Say goodbye to old habits, negative people, and nay-sayers. 

Chase your dreams. 

Achieve your goals. 

Add another 15 minutes to whatever is important to you.

Do not settle for anything less than what you want to achieve. In relationships, work, or just life in general. 

If you are brave enough to say goodbye, life will reward you with a new hello. 

I got this! You got this!

Saturday, January 23, 2016

It's not over, until I win!

I watched this video several days ago it struck a chord deep within me. The powerfully evocative words invaded every thought I had for the past week.

Various, and sometimes random, thoughts were running through my head a million miles an hour.

I began questioning myself and what my true purpose in life is.

I started a list of my accomplishments in my head and because I'm a woman, I over analyzed it. Over thought it. Lost sleep over it.

I am a STRONG woman and it was aggravating me that I was suddenly feeling so weak. Not broken. Just weak. And I have no room in my life for weakness.

On any given day, I'm the type of person that will rise up every morning despite the pain. I rise up unafraid of what the day may bring because I know that I will always outshine the darkness. If I fall seven times, I will always stand up eight. Always!

  • I have raised an amazing son who grew into the most honorable and respectable man.
  • I have a successful career with an amazing company.
But, I don't just want to raise a family, work, and then die! I feel like my life has a bigger purpose.

Since high school, I have been a firm believer that everything happens for a reason. Everything!

We are placed where we are supposed to be and people are positioned in our lives for a purpose. Whether it's temporarily or for a lifetime.

No matter the situation I was placed, or the people involved, every move that has been made throughout the course of my life has helped guide me to where I am supposed to be. However - I have come to realize that I have yet to fully become the person I was created to be.

I began to explore what it is that makes me truly happy.

I am already an accomplished graphic artist, photographer, cook, baker, crafter, and writer.

Does that mean I am supposed to open a restaurant where I write, design, and hand make my own menu that features photographs I have taken of the dishes I created?

HA! As much as I love doing all of those things for others...none of them are the reason I was born (although, some may think otherwise).

In the midst of all this soul searching, I was contacted by a local writer who was authoring an article on how people stay motivated in keeping their new year's resolution of getting fit/healthy. She had phoned my gym and the owner gave her my name and number because he felt my story would be fitting [insert look of shock on my face here].

I agreed to meet her the following day and during my short 30-minute interview with her, she asked me some very pointed questions that started with my back story. I gave her the Cliff Notes version of my weight loss journey and challenges.

She asked what kept me motivated. If my social life had suffered or if I had lost friendships/relationships because of my dedication. I answered each question with ease. She asked me what advice I would give to "a person of size" who had made a new year's resolution to get fit and wanted to stay motivated. Her eyes lit up as I spoke.

At the end of the interview, she said my story will make a great addition to her piece and she asked me to email her a photograph of myself so she could include it with the article.

After my interview concluded (which took place at the gym of all places), I jumped into my daily workout.

As I rowed, I was reviewing her questions and my responses in my head. I think I was about 7,000 meters into my daily 12,000-meter row when I had an epiphany. My eyes were wide open, my heart became full, and a smile came across my face.

I was born to inspire others. That is my purpose. That is what I was created and designed for.

Then the questions began in my head. Do I finish my book? Draft a screenplay based on my story? Start a support group for the motivationally challenged? Open a gym? Become a public speaker (which would require me to get over my fear of speaking in public)?

I haven't quite determined just exactly what I am supposed to do with my purpose yet but I do know one thing - all roads have led me to Texas for a reason.

Whether it's to simply learn that lesson or to take action and begin a new life with a new dream, I am energized.

My blood is pumping with motivation and my mind is determined to put a plan in motion so I can carry out my purpose - and I will not quit, until I win!

I got this!

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Do it for the, "OMG, you look amazing!"

Since my last post, I have been asked several times if I started back at the gym to lose weight for my husband or if I started back for myself. I know I was asked because my friends and family want to make sure I am losing it for the right reasons.

The honest truth is, and I can't believe I am putting this out into the atmosphere, my motivation began the morning I discovered my underwear had become too tight. I had a breakdown right there in my closet. As soon as I received clearance from all of my doctors to begin working out again, I leapt at the chance to join a gym.

I have had a home gym since moving to Texas, which included an elliptical, Total Gym, and an upright stationary bike. As much as I'd like to say I was dedicated to using it, I can't.

I knew I needed to get out of my house if I wanted to make a difference. It becomes to easy to make excuses when you workout at home, including the old, "I'll just sit down for five minutes and then workout" excuse. That five minutes turns into an hour and by that time all motivation has been lost and you tell yourself, "I'll do it tomorrow."

That was no longer going to be me.

I looked into several gyms that were located between my office and house. There are at least 10 and nearly all are well-known names. The only criteria I knew I wanted was the location and hours of operation. It had to be close to home and because I can have a hectic travel schedule it had to be open pretty much any time I wanted to go.

There was nothing special that drew my attention to Anytime Fitness when I picked up the phone to inquire on their membership fees. It met my criteria because the facility is just four miles from my house and all members have 24/7 access. At the time, it was just another gym.

It wasn't until I walked through the front doors for a tour of the facility that I knew it was where I belonged. Words cannot explain how magnetically I was pulled in but I immediately felt at home. In a very strange way, it was calming. It didn't take any convincing on the owners' part to make me commit. The fact that they have a Concept 2 rowing machine was just an added bonus.

I signed up on Wednesday, October 7 and I was in the gym for my first workout on Thursday, October 8.

Since that first day in October, I have never felt like I was in competition with anyone while working out at the gym. I feel like I fit in. Everyone there is working toward a goal of their own and no one is there to simply bounce their half-naked body around. You know the type.

Another reason I love this gym is the owner genuinely cares about the experience his members have in his gym. You can tell by witnessing the interaction he has with everyone. From high school students to senior citizens, everyone is treated with the same respect.

I've been a member of other big name gyms, but whenever I walked through their doors all they saw were dollar signs. They could care less what I actually wanted to achieve and they just wanted my monthly membership fee. The fact that the owner of my gym actually takes the time to listen to what the members wish to achieve with their fitness goals and then takes action to help set them up for success really sets his gym apart from any other.

Raving about gyms or fitness centers hasn't ever been high on my list but I had to take a few minutes to brag about mine. Why? Because I love them!! Annnd because they have taken their own time to brag about me.

We think our member, Dawn Wagner, is even more awesome than today! We sure appreciate her incredible creativity in making this super cool graphic of our cardio area!!
Posted by Anytime Fitness - Katy, TX on Thursday, January 7, 2016

ALL of our members at AF Katy are incredible. And one of them is this lady. Her name is Dawn. You've heard about people...
Posted by Anytime Fitness - Katy, TX on Friday, December 18, 2015

My home gym has since been dismantled. Being in the gym has become one of only a handful of my happy places. I look forward to working out every day. I am there when I'm sick. I'm there when I'm tired. I'm there when I travel. I was even there on New Year's Eve where I rowed 20,018 meters into the new year at midnight.

I may be using the words my husband spoke to me as fuel to my fire to reach my goal, but I am doing this for myself. The size of my ass just happened to be the initial source of motivation.

Since I've been on this new journey, I have been enjoying the results. So far, I have lost enough weight that others are starting to take notice.

And...who doesn't love an, "OMG, you look amazing" compliment?

Do it for the compliments. Do it for smaller underwear. Do it for yourself.

I got this! You got this!

p.s. - If you are looking for an amazing gym to join, check out Anytime Fitness. They are everywhere. As a member, you get 24/7 access to all of their gyms. This makes it easy for me when I travel. Their monthly membership fee is by far the most affordable for what I receive in return.

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