Monday, December 8, 2014

Why Is It Not Okay to Not Be Okay?

I've pondered this questions many times. Why is it not okay to be okay? So, here it goes. Lets say someone tells me something like "Oh, don't tell anyone that, please." Or, "I don't want anyone to know." Or, "Aren't you embarrassed? What if your family sees?" All of this in regards to mental illness. Sound familiar? Maybe it's yourself saying it in your head. Maybe it's a friend or family member saying that about someone else.

I remember when I was 18 years old, I was working my first "real" job and I had just decided to  take a semester off from college, I just broke up with a boy who was very mentally abusive, and I was in an awful spot in my life mentally. I came home to a family member with tears in my eyes and said "I think I have depression or something." Her response was a cold, "Well, you probably do." And that was all. Maybe if she wanted to help me, I would have been able to get help much sooner in life. Or maybe I wouldn't feel so alone. Does this sound like something that happened to you? I know a few people who finally mustered up the courage to tell a loved one and the same thing happened to them. They were kind of pushed aside and left alone to feel even worse.

I would go on for 10 years before I finally decided that it was the last straw and that I needed to get help. When I went to my first therapy visit I was so worried about someone seeing me or finding out about it. Like it was some awful secret that no one could ever know about. Then I was just so focused on making myself better that I didn't care anymore. I wanted to be happy, I wanted to feel validated; and this was the only way for me to figure out how to uncover everything. My fears, my sadness, my anger, my anxiety, my imperfections, all of it! I wanted to be free! I remember specifically thinking, "what if my therapist thinks I'm a bad person, or tells me it's all my fault?" That type of thinking I'm sure is what happens to a lot of us that have been hurt. So, I just want you to know you're not alone! And I'm here to say that I'm 99% sure that NO therapist would EVER say that. We are all validated in our feelings and we deserve help, we deserve someone to LISTEN to us. But most of all, we deserve self love!

I finally feel like I am able to be me. I am finally able to say "Hey! I'm not okay!" And you know what? That does NOT make me any less of a deserving person, any less of a woman, any less of a wife, or any less of a mother. In fact, I believe this process will only make me stronger. It will only make me better in all of those areas because I can finally really understand myself and understand how my misfortunes have impacted my life, for both good and bad. I can finally heal and finally be at peace with myself.

So, I'm here to say that if you are NOT okay, that IS okay! I want you to not be scared to take that first step and seek help. You deserve to live a life of fulfillment. You are never alone.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Never Give Up


As I'm in the process of recovering from a life full of not so wonderful things, some terrible things, actually; I realize the more I dig and dig and the more I start to understand WHY some things happened to me, WHY I chose some of the paths I chose, and WHY it's okay if I never understand WHY some events that happened to me are out of my control and merely something I need to move on from. I remember failing Algebra my freshman year  of high school. I failed. Like, a big fat F. And I accepted that because I was too embarrassed to ask for help, or didn't know how, or I felt like because I didn't "get it" that I didn't deserve help. So, I failed, and I was SO embarrassed. And I had to go to summer school. I don't go to summer school! Why am I here!? I also remember many, MANY times where I couldn't turn in an assignment on time or I simply forgot and instead of talking to my teachers, I would simply not say anything and accept that I got a ZERO for not handing it in, silly because I was too embarrassed to talk about WHY I didn't hand in the assignment.

Do you see a common theme here? Lack of communication, too much shame, too much pride, and accepting of failure. This seems a lot like my life from as long as I can remember up until a couple of years ago. Of course a lot of these things are learned behaviors, right? So, of course I can not be too hard on myself, because the truth is, I didn't know ANY other way. It was only until I chose to educate myself and learn how to become a better person that I was able to break this cycle in my adulthood. Ridding toxic people, no matter WHO they are, is also a HUGE determinant of your own happiness. I know it's not easy, but it's SO necessary for YOU.

Creating a safety net of people who are going to be there to help you when you're down, be there for you when you need them, bring happiness and love into your life, and be genuinely concerned for you is really important. This could be family, friends, church peeps, neighbors, teachers, coaches, WHOEVER; but it's important to build these nets. You need to be able to confide in someone else besides your own brain. People who understand. People who believe in the sanctity of trust. I promise you there are GOOD people out there who genuinely care about you. But we must first find the courage to seek out how to be better humans and realize that we do deserve wonderful things! We deserve to get A's and make new friends and be happy and to laugh! We deserve to have the freedom to cry if we need to, to express how we really feel. We deserve to let the world know how we have been hurt. We deserve everything GOOD. And there is still GOOD in this world. We just can't give up, no matter what. We must never give up.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Gratitude and Peace

I am not the most important person in this world. I am a small part who by doing good and being open and honest, can potentially change the world. And this will be my message to my child(ren). The more time that passes and the more experience I gain with life, it becomes more evident that life is truly what you make it. You can make it positive or you can made it negative. Certainly situations arise in life that can feel horrific, overwhelming, hard, depressing, awful, and unbearable; but what matters more is our reactions to these situations. People can choose to be mean, abusive, and toxic toward us; does that mean we have to take that and settle with that? Absolutely not. Sure, it makes things much harder when you are hurt by someone, even more-so when that someone is someone who you thought loves you. Maybe that person does in fact love you, but maybe that person is so deeply affected in a negative way that they can't help their actions and reactions. Of course that is NO excuse to be a hurtful human being. 

What I am suggesting is that maybe our reactions to these actions are what cause us most pain and suffering, not so much the action. Every day I am trying to be better than I was the day before. Every day I aim to see that everyone has a story. And that person who cut me off in traffic may be rushing to get to a family emergency, or the person who gives me a dirty look could possibly be going through something horrible in their life. 

My point is, it's not about me. It's not about us. Everything is NOT about us. The more I realize this, the more compassion and peace I acquire. My focus is to raise myself up, in turn raising those around me up. I don't want my son thinking he has to be cold just because it can be a cold world. I want him to live with his chest and heart open up to the sky. I want him to live a life of love. A life where he has the power to inspire others just by being a peaceful person. I'm not saying I want him to be a wimp or to back down, I want him to stand up for himself in a strong way, to be a leader for those who feel burdened, who feel afraid. A life of courage and peace is my only wish. 

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Finally able to breathe


Okay, so the past 2 weeks have been hard. Like, really hard. Like, crying ALMOST every day hard. Why? Because life is just sometimes HARD.

What I'd like to know is WHY no one ever talks about how hard moving is emotionally. I can't possible be the only person to feel sad/depressed/anxious/nervous. It took me a while to accept that I was all of those things. And it took me some time to figure out that MOVING was the reason behind my feelings.

See, I wasn't used to this new house. This new neighborhood. How to use these *new* appliances. Worrying about bugs getting into the house (we lived in a condo on the 6th floor for 7 years!). P.S., I finally figured out that my front screen door wasn't properly shutting which was allowing bugs here and there INTO my house. And we live near a forest. And I just wanted to pack up and walk out the f*cking door! I wasn't used to the noises (the chipmunks talking on my porch waking me up like a rooster on a farm) or the acorns which fall off our humongo tree and make knocking noises right above my room. And apparently the person(people) who lived here before us never heard of the word DEEP cleaning, or maybe they just never heard of the word cleaning in general.

THIS STUFF has been hard! And now that we've been here for a month and a week, I can say with honesty, I FINALLY feel like myself again. I made homemade pasta yesterday (like the first REAL meal I've made since we moved in) and I finally took my THIRD shower in the house (I have been showering at our new gym). I finally wake up feeling refreshed and HAPPY. I finally can fall asleep without sleeping with one eye open. Not only this but we had our FIRST annual block party and got the opportunity to meet a lot of our neighbors! We had family over and had some good food and conversation.

Lastly, my son was having a hard time sleeping. He would say there are monsters in his room, or wake up screaming crying for me to change his diaper (which he just wanted to get out of bed), he would 99% of the time cry when it was bed time; and let me tell you, THAT was a God awful feeling. My husband and I decided we needed to set up his big boy bed and complete the decorating in his room. Johnny LOVES Cars and Lightning McQueen, so we got a car bed and bought a lot of decorative accents. Johns friend came over and put the bed together for us and let me tell you, what a world of a difference. LIKE. OH.MY.GOD. LIFE CHANGING! Johnny LOVES his room! He LOVES his bed and LOVES sleeping in it! He happily goes to bed and does not get out (day 4, so knock on wood this keeps up!). He does NOT cry when I put him to bed. He hasn't mentioned a monster since! So, now things are beginning to feel COMPLETE. And normal. And happy.

Life is FINALLY, good.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

My Baby Is Growing Up

Oh lord. 

My son went "pee pee" on the potty tonight. Intentionally. And told me he had to do so. 

"mommy mommy! Pee pee!" 

Me: "wait, you have to go!? Okay! Here. Sit. Stand. Hold your pee pee. Or don't! I don't know!" 

Haha it seems hectic and it was. He's usually so adamant about not going on the potty or tells me he has to go and then says no. So when I realized the gumption he had toward it, I knew it was go time. 

He ended up kneeling on the actual toilet seat, facing the toilet, and peeing right into the bowl, like a boss! I screamed, jumped up and down, was yay-ing, and omg-ing, and just so damn proud. And I told him to flush it on his own and he did. And I made a crazy deal of that too and I could see the pride beaming from inside his big, beautiful heart. And in that moment, that single act took away anything negative that was affecting me. My little 2.5 baby is growing up. 

So not only did he go that one time, but after his bath he told me he had to go again. And he did. The same way. With the same excitement. Oh, my mama heart. I'm so thankful. So blessed. So fortunate in this life. Johnny, I'm so SO proud of every accomplishment of yours, no matter how small. You are my joy, baby. 

Preschool is also right around the corner! I signed him up for 2.5- early 3 year old preschool and I'm so anxious and nervous about it all. He's so attached to me and he's SUCH a good boy that I KNOW this will be nothing but positive for him but I also am a little worried, which I hope is normal. He's so bright and so full of excitement and wonder so I know it's the perfect time for this introduction to school. He can count to 20. Knows his ABC's. Sings many nursery rhymes. Asks a never ending amount of questions. Is always pointing out signage. He is gentle with other kids. Is always saying hello to everyone and ANYONE. He's such a wonderful child. I am so excited to see how this adventure into preschool is going to further his development and his interaction with other children. 

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Getting More Comfortable

We are coming up to our 3 week mark of being in the new house and all I can say is WHEW. Life is finally becoming manageable again. I'm finally able to start going to the gym regularly again, which is HUGE for me because the gym is really like my safe haven; it's my room to breathe, really. It's my sacred time for me to process my thoughts, release some tension and anxiety, and really helps me keep my head on straight. So, without it for the past couple weeks it's been extra challenging.

Getting used to the garbage pick up and putting it out front with our recycling, etc., has been a whole new world too. We used to just toss our garbage down a shoot and voila! Now, we are living like actual humans. And let me tell you I understand this is totally a first world problem and I often have to keep telling myself to just chill, but the whole garbage and flies flying into my house when I open my front door is all taking a lot of getting used to from my city high rise life. However, now that HUGE changes are slowly becoming more like familiarities, life is becoming somewhat normal again.

Getting used to a whole new schedule and how things work in this house (my son is now sleeping til just about 8 am every day now, can I get an AMEN!?), my days are starting later. Breakfast is later, gym is later, and everything is pushed back a little bit. When you've been on a set schedule with your child for the past 2.5 years and now everything is shaken up, it's very scary. But like I said, we are all adjusting quite nicely now!

We have spent a lot of money, no, like, a shit ton of money on furnishing our new place and honestly it's scary. It's scary but when we look back to living in our condo, we didn't buy ANYTHING. So now that we are dropping the big bucks (why is EVERYTHING $1000?!?!) it's been hard to swallow, but the bigger picture is really helping us realize this is all worth it.

Using a leaf blower has been a huge cool new thing for me too! A leaf blower? What a genius idea! Also the excessive amounts of cleaning products I have bought and actually used is a HUGE amazement to me. Home Depot is LITERALLY my new best friend! I haven't decided if I am in love with the idea of that, but it's starting to grow on me (even though I've newly discovered I have a bad OCD problem, EEK!).

So, the bigger picture. The bigger picture is I see our entire future in this neighborhood. I see my son playing little league and getting scrapes and spending endless summer nights running around with his new friends and maybe even my new mom friends and knowing "Joey and Susie" from around the corner and having sleep overs and possibly having another child and joining a new Church community and having this awesome and beautiful life here. I see it all. I see it here. I am so overjoyed that we made the decision to be here and to leave our condo life behind us for the better good of our family and our son. Do I miss it? Sometimes. It sometimes makes me sad thinking about the memories we had there, but the excitement and happiness we gained from moving here far outweighs all of that.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

1 Week POST Move


Why did no one tell me how rough it is to move?

I mean, unpacking at your new home takes like a bazillion hours! Putting away dishes took like 3 hours alone!

I have to say, thank God I have such wonderful people in my life that are always willing and able to help me; because otherwise I really think I would be swimming in my own filth with only 5% of everything accomplished. Right now I am about 97% done with everything being unpacked AND having a place in the home.

I guess what made everything a bit more challenging is that we have to buy almost everything brand new because we didn't really have anything! New couches, new tables, new chairs, new bedroom sets, new this, new that; GEEZ! So having that all delivered the week of the move has added an extra annoyance and cluster-f*ck with boxes. I mean, how many boxes can one person have in their house?! It's crazy! And seriously, with the double boxing, the staples that are damn near impossible to get out, and the mountains of tape that comes with a box, it's a miracle I am still somewhat sane.

OH, and with all these new items comes a plethora of DIRECTIONS and STUFF to put together.

I mean, why does EVERYTHING need to be put together?!?! Why can't I just get a box that has everything assembled and place it where it needs to be? Even this new fan that I bought needed to be assembled! It's a fan for Petes sake!!

Last night it rained. A lot. and HARD. And a lot more. Listening to rain and thunder when you're trying to sleep in an actual house is a lot different than when in a high rise condo. You hear just about everything! Also, seeing puddles forming outside from the rain made me so nervous I just started bawling crying. Yes, crying my eyes out because of rain. Really though, it's much more than rain. When all is settled and you're living in a NEW house and neighborhood with a bunch of NEW stuff surrounding you and a lot more space, and a lot more responsibility, and a lot more cleaning to do; you realize that this is really hard. Moving is hard. Change is even harder I guess, for me anyways. I hate change. Even when I KNOW it's the right thing that needs to be done, it's still a struggle for me.

Being sad enough on my own for leaving the condo I lived in for almost 7 years made it that much harder when my 2 and a half year old would say, "No mommy, I don't want new house, I wanna go home!" Home. Where is home? This is our NEW home but the condo has been Johnny's home since he's been born and mine and my husbands home for a very long time. We all had our routines down pat. Everything was NORMAL. We knew our city. We knew the people at our gym, grocery stores, friends at the park, etc. So having to leave all that with a child who pretty much understands what's going on has been THAT much harder.

HOWEVER, now that it's been a week since we started this whole process and about 4 days since we've been actually sleeping here, things have already gotten better. Johnny doesn't ask to "go home" anymore. We have everything pretty much done except for redecorating and a few outdoor cleaning tasks. I cooked on our stove for the first time last night (it's a glass top electric stove) and it was a huge success! I'm slowly getting use to where everything is put away (dishes and stuff). And life is becoming a bit better than it has been this past week.

The positives of our move:
More space!
Doors on our bedrooms!
Lots and lots of storage space!
We don't have to listen to the TV on 4 volume at night anymore!
No city traffic!
We can actually have family and friends over now!
We have an actual kitchen table!
No more waiting for elevators!
Our new gym childcare is OUTSTANDING!
Grocery store parking lots actually have spots available!
We live in a FANTASTIC neighborhood with a great school system!
We are closer to BOTH of our families now!
No trains blaring at night or during nap time!
Less air pollution!
My husbands travel time to work has been cut in HALF! (and he no longer has to take public trans!)
This is our first HOUSE as a family!

Although I am still slightly saddened just by the change and missing our old place, I am that much more excited and happy for the future in our new town!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Operation Picky Toddler

Oh, my sweet Johnny boy, why won't you just TRY the pasta? Ya know, I have been working diligently the past few months trying to get my son to try new foods, even if he doesn't eat any more than that one bite, at least he tried it. Sounds simply enough, right? Well, sometimes. I like to think I'm pretty intuitive and also pretty well versed in communication with my little one and finding ways to be creative with making him excited to try new foods.

For instance, "Wow, Johnny! There's a dinosaur on that meal! Do you think the dinosaur loves to eat that?" Johnny will exclaim, "Yes mommy yes! Dinosaur!" So, he seems excited to try it, right? Wrong! Or, "Hey Johnny, this tree stick (broccoli) looks like the one Old Brown (Peter Rabbit show) likes, I think you will really like this too! Look at mommy eat this yummy tree!" Sounds good, right? Well, he thought so too! Thankfully, he tried a little piece. He thought for a second and then tried it again and decided the texture was "yucky" but the taste was good. Okay, so I'm onto something here. My next goal is to try to boil or steam the broccoli so maybe the texture will be more pleasant.

The typical American kids favorites such as, hot dogs, macaroni and cheese, pasta and meatballs; my son will NOT eat. To say I'm pretty happy about that may be an understatement. However, I'm not at all opposed to my child consuming those foods SOMETIMES. I guess it's just mind boggling to me that he doesn't like them.

So, what does he like? Well, I will make a list:
Pineapples (sometimes)
Watermelon (sometimes)

Broccoli (we are almost there!)
Carrots (same above with texture)
Spinach (I hide it in his protein shakes and pancakes)
Peas (he's not opposed to peas completely, he will actually touch them and squeeze them, he just hasn't tried one, YET!)

American Cheese slices
Almond milk (shakes ONLY, I don't blame him)
Greek yogurt with fruit

Chicken nuggets (I'm going to work more on perfecting a homemade recipe for this)
Whey protein (I have to make shakes for him so he gets more protein as you can see)

Whole wheat bread
Peanut Butter (Marantha Crunchy)
Home made protein pancakes
Home made french toast

So, as you see, he eats SOME really good food which, after writing this I am actually very pleased with. However, most of these items he will not eat as a complete meal or mixed together. For instance, he loves bread and cheese but hates cheese sandwiches! I can sit there for an hour with him and tell him, "Johnny, if you just TRY this, you can play." No go! He will cry and cry, turn his head, stuff his hands in his mouth, etc. So, I see how long I can go with no TV on, no games, no toys, nothing, until he at LEAST licks the spoon. But I think he's just so worked up every single time that no matter what it is, he's going to not like it and gag.

However, maybe he inherited this all from me? I remember up until the age of 21 (no I'm not kidding) that I wouldn't try ANYTHING. All I really ate was peanut butter sandwiches, salami sandwiches (BOTH PLAIN, mind you!), and anything fast food that was simple. I had never even tasted fish until my twenties! I didn't try mayo and mustard until I was 25 (again, serious). But now I will eat just about anything that you put on my plate!

I want my son to enjoy different foods and eat more protein in his diet (along with veggies) but I also feel like at this point, I'm doing what I can do be successful. All I can do is keep on trying and not give up.

At this point I am EXTREMELY thankful for Earths Best and Plum Tots for their squeeze packets of delicious and healthy food! My son LOVES them, and at least he's getting some fruits/veggies/oats/and quinoa in there!

Do you have any success stories for Operation Picky Toddler? I'd LOVE to hear it!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Life Right Now

Let me preface this by saying that life has been insanely crazy. Life has been very stressful, lately. Life has been CRAZY BEAUTIFUL, lately. Watching my son grow and seriously pick up every single word I throw at him, asking questions, running, playing with toys, playing with kids, using the iPad better than me; everything has been so beautiful! Ever since hearing the news of little Ryan Cruz's death, I've been stressed about Johnny's every move, which I KNOW isn't good, but some days I just can't help myself. But, day by day I am learning to give him space (with a very watchful eye). There have been days lately where Johnny lets me rock him to sleep and he just stares at me while I sing him lullabies. There have been days where he cuddles me, a LOT! There are still days when he says, "mommy, carry you!" (meaning, carry HIM). I soak up these moments for all they are worth because he hasn't always been a very lovey, touchy, feely kind of kid. I think it may have taken some time for him to really LOVE me. And, while he's only 2 and a half, I think that's okay and normal. Because what I know is that boy really, REALLY loves me. And no words could ever suffice to explain the pure love and gratitude I have for my baby. Some day's I want to scream, some days I just want to SLEEP, some days I don't know how much more I can take from a tantrum; but learning how to be HIS mommy, and learning to understand HIS needs has been so worthwhile.

Parenting is excruciatingly difficult. I really don't think I would fully grasp the challenge had I not been granted the opportunity to stay home and raise my son. My goal as a parent is to learn how to be the best parent I can be. It is so easy to say yes and to just let kids do whatever they want. And it is so beyond challenging to say no and really stick to it. To learn to set rules and boundaries. To teach your child proper behavior and manners. To make sure he understands he can not have dessert without eating enough of his food. To make sure he understands that bed time is sacred and necessary. I want my son to be able to come to me if he has a problem, to be able to confide in me, to not be afraid of anything he may have done or do. I want him to make mistakes in life, I want him to fall down and pick himself back up, I want ALL of these things for him. Because these are the things that help you in life. These things propel you forward. These things are what life is about. I want to teach my son patience yet to understand a sense of urgency in regard to work and chores. Most of all, I want him to feel and understand my love.

Now, to my next point. I hate change, but I am wise enough to understand that it is necessary. We bought a new car recently and are moving at the end of the month. It is now two weeks since we got our new car and my son is finally accepting that it is OUR car and not "papa's" car. I think it's adorable and so freaking smart that he calls it "papas car." My father-in-law has a black Ford car and ours is a black Ford SUV, so for him putting two and two together in regards to the logo and the color, is nothing short of awesome. However, me being cursed with oversensitive feelings, it's made me sad when he wouldn't want to ride in the car or would call it "papas car." It made me feel like this whole change thing when we move is going to be very difficult for him. I already know it's going to be hard for all of us, but I know once we get settled that it will truly be the BEST thing for us. So, please keep us in your thoughts and prayers with our move and that he's okay with sleeping in a new house.

So, here's to a new journey in our lives!

Monday, July 7, 2014

A New Year?

So, I was scrolling through my blogs because I wanted to write about a certain topic related to parenting and in the process I realized I never wrote a blog for a recap on my year in 2013 or my goals/predictions for 2014. And it's July of 2014. If that isn't a sign that I'm a parent to a toddler, I don't know what does. Or what does it mean? I'm not sure because the truth is, I really look forward to writing about my year. I enjoy thinking back to the experiences of my years and figuring out ways to enjoy life more, or remember a certain event that makes me feel all warm and fuzzy. While I am trying to weed out certain experiences in 2013, it took me a while to think about everything. We are so deep into 2014 and SO much has happened in my life this year already, like, so so much, that it's quite the challenge to even remember what the hell happened in 2013.

Big events in 2013:
1. The celebration of my son's 1st Birthday (Yo Gabba Gabba!). With his birthday being on Christmas, it makes more sense to celebrate it when everyone calms down from holiday overload.

2. Emergency tooth "surgery" the day after his party. FUN!

3. Celebrating my husbands birthday (Davanti Enoteca)

4. Our first family vacation in Vero Beach, Florida where my dads family has been vacationing since like, ancient times (like that, dad?). It was my very first time back there since I was 17, so I hadn't been there in about 10 years at the time. Almost our entire family was there and it was so memorable and fun! I did a specific post in my earlier blogs.

5. Our first family vacation to DISNEY!!! And my first time staying on the actual grounds (Beach Club Resort). It was AH-MAY-ZING! I loved every single second. I also posted on my blog specifically about this.

6. I enrolled Johnny at my College Alma Mater (UIC) for swimming lessons! He hated it. I hated it. Our instructor was cray cray. But we made some cool friends and it gave us something to do. Would I do it there again? No, sir!

7. My hubby and I went to Nashville for the 4th of July and THAT was super awesome. We stayed at the Grand Ole Opryland!

8. My husband and I celebrated ONE YEAR of marriage in Las Vegas!

9. I faced some fears in dealing with a certain family member of mine. And realized that it was the very END of that relationship for good. HUGE MOMENT and HUGE epiphany for me.

10. I celebrated my sons 2nd birthday! How is he TWO!? Ugh. Anyways, that happened. I love him to death.

Breaking it down helps me remember more about 2013. My husband started a new job in April of 2013 and the whole thing was a very big change for all of us. He needed to work more hours, his commute was MUCH longer, he went from a casual to a corporate environment, he was now taking TWO sources of public transportation, and dinner went from being at 5:30-6 to 7-7:30. My job as a mom was almost like a single mom for a while, but I didn't mind. We need to make sacrifices in our lives for our spouses and this was no exception. Something that we always aim to do is spend time together ALONE. So, we do dinners out or drinks or hit up festivals, take weekend vacations, etc., just to make sure we are giving each other the attention we deserve.

At the very end of 2013, my husband and I committed to each other to finally lose the "baby weight." And truthfully, it wasn't because I didn't like the number on the scale. But EVERYTHING was tight on me. I felt SO uncomfortable. And I really wasn't happy at the end of 2013 with myself. In 2013 I really think I put myself on the back burner. My husband needed more from me. My son needed a LOT more from me. And the truth is, I don't have a lot of family help to stop by if I need to run to the store or need to get something done. So, I placed a lot of unnecessary stress on myself. Looking back I find that I was just going through the motions of life, stressing, and not being very kind to myself. That's just the honest truth.

As for what is going on in 2014, I posted a LOT about that and will make it a point to post at the end of the year and do my recap. What I CAN say about 2014 is that so far it's the most challenging, most exciting, most brand new, and filled with the most change! And I wouldn't have it ANY other way!

Monday, June 30, 2014

Extra Extra!!

Once upon a time there was a young teenage girl from the South side of Chicago who decided to take an unconventional route for her high school choice. I chose to go to Nazareth Academy in La Grange (which was about 10 miles from my house at the time). I chose that school because I only knew a small select few people from my neighborhood that went there, it was Catholic and Co-ed, and I wanted to get as far away from the people I didn't like in my neighborhood as possible. Funny, but true. The attitude you have when you're 13 and 14 is quite embarrassing when you look back at things. On my way to school everyday I would love the drive down Ogden and sometimes through the side streets of La Grange and La Grange Park. Everything was so clean and cute, there were a bunch of neat places to grab a bite to eat, and everyone had a smile on their face as they went about their daily life. I enjoyed ditching school (once in a GREAT while, shhh) and heading over to the Starbucks in Downtown La Grange to grab a Caramel Frappuccino! During my time at Naz, I met so many wonderful people with great attitudes (although most of the time we were bratty and complaining teenagers), those who loved the dedication of being an athlete, and many families who were the opposite of mine. Nazareth gave me a real chance at a future, other than being a close-minded neighborhood girl with a puss-face on at all times (that was me for a small part of my life, true story). Growing up in my teens with girls from the surrounding areas of the Western Suburbs really gave me confidence to challenge myself to be better, it also let me know that being a part of a flourishing community where you give back and form strong bonds is possible. So ever since then, I have had a goal to live near my Alma Mater.

Fast forward to when I was around 18 years old and I discovered the clubs and bars in Downtown Chicago, and all of that changed. I was only concerned with having as much fun as possible, being as rebellious as possible, and doing whatever the hell I wanted to do. I also met some very successful people who lived in high rises and I KNEW that one day I would live downtown with all the commotion! 

{Fast forward again to today and I have officially lived in the city for 6 years (goal accomplished) and we as a FAMILY are now moving to the La Grange area next month (goal accomplished!).}

In the 7 years my husband and I have been together and the 6 years we have lived together in the city, we have had a baby, got engaged, got married, took so many vacations, remodeled our condo, and experienced all the fruits this beautiful city of Chicago has to offer. We have created a beautiful life together here, so it's sad to say good bye to this place that we call home. But I know the future is incredibly bright for us. 

Of course with any sort of change comes all sorts of emotions. I don't think I've had an actual good nights sleep in about a month. I've been tossing and turning with excitement and nervousness and a touch of anxiety. My main goal is to ensure the happiness of my family. I am so glad to finally give my son a yard! I'm so glad that we will now all have doors on our bedrooms and that I will no longer have to watch the TV on volume 6 when my son goes to sleep. I can't wait to be able to have my family and friends over for a BBQ, or a football game, or whatever. All of those moments that make a house a home, I truly am so excited for. I'm so thankful that I am also still blessed with the opportunity to stay home and take care of my family and hopefully have another baby sometime in the near future. But for now I will stick to buying some brand new furniture and getting to know our new neighborhood. 

I am so excited for this new journey in our lives and can't wait to breathe in all of that fresh air!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Living My Life(style)

So, since my lifestyle change that began in January, a lot of exciting things have been happening. First, I find that when you're happy and are filled with positive energy that you radiate that. Once you radiate that, that's what you're putting into the universe and what you put out you get back. For one, within my family circle we have received many blessings this year and truthfully we have fought tooth and nail for all of it, and finally things are coming full circle. Of course, life has been much busier with my busy bee 2 and a half year old now that the weather is warmer; but trust me , I'm NOT complaining! I've been getting much more creative with dinners and have been spending a lot of time tying up some loose ends on our home front, so I've been consumed with commotion, good commotion. My husband and I are leaving Friday for Vegas and I am so excited! We went in October to celebrate our wedding anniversary and it was fabulous as always. However, at that time I felt like a busted can of biscuits, EXTRA BUTTERY! See, my body is interesting in the fact that I am tall (5'7") but I am muscular from playing competitive sports throughout my adolescence and now with heavy lifting, I carry a decent amount of muscle. Well, even when I gain weight I don't look too much like it because my weight is pretty much evenly distributed. So, sometimes it's hard for people to see the changes, unless I show them before and afters. However, I am going to Vegas 15 pounds lighter than the last time! Good thing because it will be in the 100's weather wise and I am going to be wearing very little clothing to keep cool. And it's not about the weight per se, it's about how comfortable I am. I have put a lot of effort into my current physique and I feel strong and happy. So, with that I am confident, and when you are confident you are able to just have a better time all around and enjoy the people you are with; rather than fiddling with your bathing suit, or trying to cover your muffin top.

Just the other day I was in the gym and dealing with some lower back pain (felt more like nerve pain than anything) and I just wasn't feeling it. I wasn't feeling like myself and to top it off I was bloated and crabby. So, I did what I could and then I stretched the rest of the time. I saw a regular at the gym starting to walk over to me so I took off my headphones. He said, "I have seen your transformation over the past couple of months and I see how hard you workout and I just wanted you to know that you look wonderful. And you have a little one, right? I would never know it. You inspire me." <<<<<Enter heart pounding happiness>>>>>> Wow, I was so overwhelmed I couldn't stop smiling and said thank you probably one too many times. But, truthfully, that's what it's about, it's about showing up even on your worst days and trusting the process. Just when I was feeling like a busted can of old biscuits, I was reminded to not give up. That even though I couldn't throw the heavy weights around that I have control over what I put into my body. That I could keep going despite a small set back.

My goal for the summer is to simply get out as much as I can with my family and enjoy myself. My goal is to keep enjoying my favorite summer fruits (watermelon and cantaloupe). I am going to keep striving to hit PR's in the gym and eat to fuel my body and workouts. I went for my first bike ride with my husband last weekend (I haven't rode a bike for real in probably 15 years) and it was so rejuvenating! I felt so alive and my goal is to do that with him as much as possible.


Monday, May 19, 2014

How I Changed My Lifestyle

Me on left in 2005, right before I decided to change my life. Me now on the right. 

Often times I am asked to outline a meal plan for someone because they are looking for help. I get it. I was there before. I actually can't even count how many times I reached out to people who I thought had all the answers. When I was replied to, I was usually given the standard "cookie cutter" plan. 

For example:
Breakfast- Oats, Eggs whites, Grapefruit.
Snack- Almonds
Lunch- Chicken with a spinach salad and a sweet potato
Snack- Protein shake
Dinner- Tilapia with broccoli and sweet potato

Okay, while I KNOW deep within my heart and brain that this is no way to LIVE and learn how to eat for the rest of my life, I couldn't help but think, "well, it worked for her, so it must work for me." 

Well, here's the thing; some people are born with killer genetics, some people have eating disorders, some people are living in pure misery, some people are f*cking liars, and some people don't even know that this road is leading the to a world full of problems. Problems that are so severe that many people need therapy and must work with dietitians to get their body's back to normal. These people have suffered severe hair loss, loss of menstruation, rapid weight gain, and so much more. 

Okay, so what do you do? To be honest, there are many ways to go about a lifestyle change and not one of them is the ONLY way to do things. However, since I have been doing this whole thing since I was 18, have my personal training and nutrition certifications, and hold my Bachelors of Applied Science in Kinesiology, I can offer a decade worth of experience and education. BUT if you are looking for a more scientific evidence approach please take a look at Layne Norton and Bret Contreras's sites. They both offer a lot of peer reviewed articles and both offer a lot of free information out there for my fellow science geeks. What I am going to offer you is an idea of how I have changed my own lifestyle. 

1. I am a stay at home mom, or as my husband calls me, the Chief Operations Officer (COO). Being a stay at home mom, one of my most beloved duties is cooking for my family, but more specifically, dinner. And coming from a background where Italian, Irish, and Mexican food was VERY abundant, you can imagine the meals that come along with that. So, when I was feeling really Martha Stewart-y, I would throw down in the kitchen. For example; tacos (sadly most of the time with pre-packaged seasonings) with homemade spanish rice, refried beans, chips, salsa, guacamole, the works! Being able to deliver a wonderful home cooked meal for those I love brings me so much pleasure in life but NOT so much pleasure to our waist lines. So, what did I do? I altered it! Use ground chicken (I don't really care for ground turkey) or a lean ground beef like bison. Instead of sour cream, use plain greek yogurt for more protein (even mix in a little of your favorite hot sauce!). Use the spices in your cabinet and create your own taco seasoning. This way you will have WAY less sodium and other "stuff" added in to your mix. I usually just use a blend of the following: chili powder, cumin, paprika, salt, pepper, oregano, red pepper flakes, and garlic. Yep, simple as that! If you really have a taste for beans, have a little side of black beans. I prefer to use Mission tortillas; but sometimes I would rather made a taco salad and load up on my meat and veggies. The main idea here is that I have altered so many of my favorite meals, that it never seems like I'm eating "clean" or "healthy."

2. Drink more water. I know it sounds repetitive and you read it just about everywhere, but seriously, drink more water. Not only does it fill you up but it also aids in weight loss! 

3. You know the saying, "breakfast is the most important meal of the day?" Well, it's true. I used to never eat breakfast due to lack of time management skills and my forgetfulness which I can most likely attribute to my poor diet back in high school. Once I started incorporating a REAL breakfast into my diet (not just a bagel and cream cheese on the go) I started to see serious changes. Instead of falling asleep on my morning "L" train commute, I was vibrant and actually appreciative to take in my surroundings without feeling like a walking zombie. My typical breakfast is a simple protein shake: 1-2 scoops of Optimum Nutrition Whey chocolate protein, 1 cup of unsweetened almond milk,  1/2 of a banana, 1 TBSP peanut butter, and a handful of spinach. Yep, that's it! Simple and freaking delicious! It also happens to be my sons favorite, but he thinks its a "Chocolate Milkshake." If I'm not having that then my breakfast is usually 2 eggs over medium, 3 slices of real bacon, and a side of fruit. Simple, easy, nutritious and really set my energy into high gear for the rest of the day. Oh and how can I forget my Starbucks House Blend Keurig Coffee with 2 Tablespoons of regular cream and 1 teaspoon of pure sugar!

4. Aside from protein which is the hardest for the majority of people to get in their diet, don't forget about fat. Fat actually AIDS in weightloss! It wasn't until I started tracking my macros that I realized I was barely getting in any fat on a daily basis. Of course, if I had a half bag of Doritos I would have NO trouble getting in two days worth of fat, but I'm talking the good stuff. Fats such as olive oil, coconut oil, canola oil, peanut butter, avocado, nuts, cheeses, and fatty fish (salmon)! Oh the yumminess. Make sure you're getting those babies in. I actually like to use avocado on my sandwiches instead of mayo, or throw some oil and avocado in a steak salad. And truth be told, other than Whey Protein, a fish oil pill is probably the only other supplement I would use. Life and your brain is so much better with healthy fats.

5. Don't make drastic changes. I know it seems hard, especially when you're all gung-ho about finally losing those 10 pounds you gained 10 years ago! Monday rolls around and you're like, "Okay, no cookies, no sugar in my coffee, I am only going to have plain chicken and fish with veggies for dinner, I HATE tuna but I'm going to make myself eat it, I am going to have these two shakes a day with some almonds, I'm going to go on a juice cleanse, I'm never eating chips again, I can't go to Johnny's party because there will be food and alcohol there, I'm not drinking alcohol anymore, instead of drinking my usual 5 cans of pop a day I'm not drinking any, and I will go to the gym twice a day and do an hour of cardio each time." Dear lord, how much more NEGATIVE can it get, right? No wonder Monday never comes, you are setting yourself up for failure. Stop treating yourself so poorly. THIS should actually be number one because I preach this one the most. DON'T STOP EVERYTHING AT ONCE. Repeat after me! You drink 5 cans of pop a day, okay, cut out 2 of them to start. You don't like tuna? Don't eat it! You get an extra large coffee with extra cream and sugar? Order a large next time. You are only doing cardio? Add in some weight training! So you have like 10 beers and like 6 shots when you go out? Have half! You want chips? Eat them, just not the whole bag. This is the concept where we need to understand that moderation is key. THIS concept is what got me to lose my initial 35 pounds back in 2006. 

6. Surround yourself with like-minded individuals. Do the people in your life place value on their own health? Are they trying to make positive changes? If the answer is no, I urge you to re-think those relationships and to go out there and make new friends. This doesn't mean completely cutting off those important relationships to you, unless they are drowning you. Unless they are the chains that bind you. Let them go and set yourself free. 

These are all certainly beginning steps but these are the ones I feel are most important in building your foundation of a real lifestyle change. 

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

The Transformation Continues

Tomorrow I have my 20 week check-in, WHOA! I am excited because I have been lifting my ass off, for real. My main focus has always been to make sure I'm doing something right before I try to make it more challenging. With that being said, my deadlifting really needed some work. So, reluctantly, I scaled back a bit on the weight and worked on my form. Day in and day out, form form form! And now, I'm back up to about 175lbs for 3 reps in my deadlifts.

Anyhow, I have noticed a lot of changes that can't really be seen by an untrained eye, so I decided they were important to talk about. First, I will never ever forget this old lady coming up to me in the gym sometime early last year and saying this to me, "you know, you could be a fitness model, seriously, but your posture is terrible, put your damn shoulders back!" I almost died. But, she was right. Not about the modeling part, even though I was extremely flattered, but about my pathetic posture. The truth is, I NEEDED to improve my posture. So, how do you do that? Through weight training! For the very first time yesterday, I was looking at myself in the window reflection and noticed how nice my posture looked without even trying. My old lady friend would be so proud! But not only that, along with my stronger back has come something even better!

 In 2005-ish I dealt with a strained piriformis and if you've ever had it, you know just how painful it is. I could not walk for nearly 3 weeks. I rested my body and eventually the pain completely disappeared. Well, when I was a senior in college I was finishing up with my athletic training class and realized that my left leg turned outward and was also raised forward when performing squatting exercises. My professor did an examination and we found that my glutes were weak. Weak?!?! HOW?! I workout ALL the time. Okay great, but I wasn't doing things as good as they could have been. As of January 1st I have been doing weighted bridges and hip thrusting like it's my job, that along with some heavy ass deadlifting I believe has struck a cord with my body. I just realized that for the first time I haven't had ANY pain in my left knee. I have in essence been pain free for about 3 months (except for my nasty fall last month, which is an unrelated incident). I have noticed greater stride length when I walk and actual booty contraction when I walk as well! My entire posterior chain has improved dramatically and it's really all thanks to me hiring my coach, Sohee, who has taught me a LOT in the past few months. And I couldn't be more grateful. I've been able to keep my 14 pounds OFF and I am living my life how I always dreamed I could.

The most important LESSON I have learned throughout this process is consistency. It's easy to fall off one day after being "on point" for 5 days and then deciding, "ya know what, I'll just start again next Monday." Or, "I can always just start next month." NO NO NO! This process is not about perfection. It's understanding you are human and come with major flaws and that's okay because when you fall off you have a CHOICE. You have a choice to be better NEXT TIME. You have a choice to CHOOSE to make your next meal have more protein, or to lift heavier, or sprint faster! Whatever the case, consistency is what has gotten me so far. Consistency comes from understanding that the time is going to pass anyways; there are no deadlines.

These changes along with overall major strength increases, more energy, lack of binging, and my fat loss have made this journey rewarding. Understanding that you don't have to take extreme measures to get your life on the track you desire has been the most rewarding part of this all. I can't wait to continue to improve my body on all levels (knowledge, strength, biomechanics, health) for the rest of my life. And I am armed with the tools to do just that.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Zucchini Fiesta

Lately as I've been trying to figure out how to "cure" my carb addiction, I've been making zoodles. Like, a LOT of zoodles. And I love them. No really, I do! 

First, I bought my spiralizer off of Amazon. Best 28 dollars I've ever spent. Well, I think anyways. 

1 pound bison (you can use any ground meat you like)
1 TBSP canola oil
1/2 medium onion, chopped
1 jar of chunky salsa (I like spicy!)
1 TBSP minced garlic
1 TSP Cumin
Salt and pepper to taste
1-2 cup of water
2-3 zucchinis (unpeeled) 

Heat oil in pan. 
Sautée onions and when clear, add meat. Cook and add in garlic, spices, and salsa. Mix well and add in water. Bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat. Let mixture reduce for about 10-15 minutes depending on your desired level. Lastly, add in spiralized zucchini, mix well, cover and cook for another 5 minutes or until zoodles are softer. 

Bon appetit!

Mothers Day

Today is a day where all moms are celebrated and we are noticed for how well we care for our children, despite everyday challenges. In my house though, I truly feel that I am appreciated every single day. My husband is a man that many women yearn for in the fact that he "gets" me and he "gets" IT. He has never Made me feel inferior or criticized me for my mothering or for my job as a mother. My husband knows that it's important for me to get "me" time and while that may almost always be short-lived, he gets it. My husband has never come home from work and asked my why something wasn't done. He has never claimed his job outside of the home is harder or more important or what provides the life we live. In fact, he can't say enough how hard being a mom is or how proud he is of me or, my personal favorite, "I don't know how you do it." And while I understand that today it's almost impossible for it to be a choice to stay home with your children, sometimes it's a necessity. A necessity because it is expensive to simply just LIVE today, let alone raise a child. I think it's urgent that we take a look around and appreciate all of the hard work that ALL mothers do to take care of their families. That we stop pointing fingers and just accept that we all are just doing the best we can with what we have. 

While many days are excruciatingly hard, others are smooth sailing, and some days I find myself just going with the motions. This is my third year as a mom and I have to say, each year gets more beautifully challenging than the next. More importantly, my fear is most high than anything. Fear that I'm not doing a good enough job, fear of not hitting milestones, fear of my son not appreciating me, and lastly, fear of the real world and the real dangers and unpredictability that comes with just being on earth. Of course I can't let my fear consume me. I can only do my best to live and love life everyday. 

With that, I'd like to take a moment and ask you to keep a woman, a mother, a wife with love so deeply wrapped around her family, Jacqui Saldana in your thoughts and prayers. Jacqui is the mother of Ryan Cruz Saldana, the 3 year old boy who was killed last week after being struck by a car. Ryan was the apple of her eye. He consumed her. He was her air. Her whole world was Ryan. With Ryan now gone and Mother's Day here, I can only pray for some sort of comfort and solice for Jacqui. I want her to know she will ALWAYS be HIS mother. She will always be Ryans mother. So please, just pray for her. 

Lastly, I would like to recognize two women who are near and dear to my heart; my sister, Heather and my mother in law, Pat. They have both been crucial in my evolution as a mother. I'll never forget when my MIL found out we were pregnant. She called me crying with happiness. It was then that I really knew everything was going to be okay. My sister who is a single mom and is a ROCKSTAR each and every day is my best friend. Heather is always there when I need her. She is always there to talk to and have fun with. And without the bond that we both have together, I don't know if we could have made it this far. My MIL and sister love my son to the ends of the earth and it always shows. Johnny has a relationship with the both of them that blows my mind and I know will be unbreakable. My MIL has never criticized me, only encouraged. She raised two outstanding men and I see how much work it took and I appreciate that to the fullest. I can talk to her about anything and she never judges. My sister is one of those people who was just born to be a mom. She has a certain calmness about her whenever she is surrounded by kids. She amazes me every single day and I'm so glad I get to raise my son with her as his God Mother and my niece as his best friend. There isn't a day that goes by where Johnny doesn't ask to see the both of them. The love is pure and I am so lucky to have you both. Thank you.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Red Balloons for Ryan

The Instagram community has lost one of it's most beautifully captured souls, Ryan Cruz Saldana, the 3 year old son of Jacqui, known as @babyboybakery. Certainly this was a tragic accident and I could never imagine the pain that sweet Jacqui is going through right now. I simply can't wrap my head around the fact that such great sorrow needs to be dealt with by anyone, let alone a mother losing a child. I first began to follow Jacqui because her life seemed very paralleled to mine. She is a mom who oozed with love for her husband and son. She took Ryan everywhere and they were always having fun. Those gorgeous red locks of his could stop you dead in your tracks and I know for certain that he will not be forgotten. The overwhelming outpour of support from the IG community alone shows just how strong we are together. Below I will share a link where you can donate to the family and a link where you can also purchase a shirt where all proceeds go to the family as well.

Although I do not know this family personally, the ability that we have to be so graciously let into other people lives through social media allows us to form a deep bond; especially because we all have something in common, motherhood.

God bless the family.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Week 18 Check In!

Left is January. Right is today. 

It's been 18 weeks since I've been following IIFYM and working with my coach.

I feel liberated. I feel like a real person. I feel like I'm living how I SHOULD be. Not only because I've lost weight; it's actually many things. But, I have lost the weight I've made excuses for. I've lost the emotional weight of meaningless relationships, the physical weight that I've made excuses for because I am a mom and my body changed, the mindless food indulgence when I am stressed or anxious. I have lost so many things and in the process gained some wonderful things as well.

The first 16 weeks were pretty much smooth sailing. Not COMPLETELY, but it was during these 16 weeks that my self control and my brain were tested. I went through a few personal trials, suffered an injury due to a fall, and attended quite a few family functions where normally I would drown myself in sweets and not just drown myself, but completely smother myself in an insane way. I didn't though. I found that inner strength and dedication to find my inner voice and listen to it, rather than stuff it away (or down my throat). If something bad happened, I would find myself searching the cabinets for minutes! It was almost an out of body experience. I could see myself and say, "Jessica, just stop!" But I would just keep searching and searching. So, I stepped away and took a few deep breaths. I let myself feel the pain or anxiety of whatever was going on in the moment and had a conversation with myself on how to figure out how to get passed it. I know I am not the only one who struggles with binging and I know a lot of people don't talk about it or want to talk about it. But, it's real. Food is everywhere! You need it to survive, so it's always there. Which makes it that much harder to overcome. But believe me, you have the strength to do this. And if you feel like you ever are in a bind so bad that you can't help yourself right now, I urge you to reach out to a professional. There are many WONDERFUL people out there who really do want to help you and will give you the tools to channel your energy elsewhere. And if you ever want to talk to me specifically about it, please do! Email me, Facebook me, Instagram me! I will offer you advice the best I can. I know what it feels like to be trapped. To want to be perfect. To feel helpless. But I can promise you, there is so much more to life than being your own prisoner.

These last 4 weeks have been the most challenging for me. Dealing with the loss of my aunt who was like a mother to my siblings and I for a few years was very challenging and extremely sad. Watching her on hospice and not being able to help herself really affirmed to all of us that we needed to rally around her and be there. My sister was a true angel and was with her almost everyday. I guess I didn't want to believe that my sweet auntie Gloria could really be nearing the end of her life. Until, she just wasn't getting better. The first day I walked into the house to go sit with her, she was lying there motionless with her eyes closed. We woke her to tell her I was there. She opened her eyes instantly, looked at me, and smiled. I will never forget that moment. I said there and held her hand for a few hours and really just couldn't grasp the whole thing. I guess I was in denial. Nonetheless, she died about a week after that with all of us surrounding her. I will always appreciate her for the things she did for my family and myself. After that, we went on our annual family vacation which was nice for all of us to spend time together and just get away. I didn't track a thing or workout the whole time (my choice) and it felt nice. When we got home we were still slightly in vacation mode and well, having to celebrate Easter the following day with an Italian family didn't help my self control, ha ha! But it was wonderful! Easter was fantastic and just such a blessing. My knee was still hurting me so bad from my fall two weeks prior so my workouts will still lagging, but I was pushing myself to get back into the swing of things. It's been about 2 weeks since we've been back and I'm finally finding my groove again. Right now I am dealing with some legal issues (I will blog about this more once everything is settled) and some small health issues so I am ready to push ahead and bring in some better numbers for my week 22 check in! I'm still in my fat loss stage and I am aiming to lean up a bit more before Vegas (June!). The wonderful thing that came out of these trying 4 weeks was that I didn't gain anything! My body is finally starting to love itself back!

So, ladies and gents, when you are trying to lose fat, PLEASE do not starve yourself. You are meant to eat. You are just not meant to eat a pound of pasta everyday by yourself. If you need help or are interested in learning more about how to get your life on track without starving, binging, or feeling completely lost, please email me:

Lastly, what I know is my body is not perfect. I know I can be leaner. I know I could be 15 pounds lighter (maybe!). I know this. But the thing is, right now I am happy. I have fought tooth and nail to be healthy and most of all happy and comfortable just the way I am. This is the first time in my whole life where I can look in the mirror and not criticize myself. It's the first time in my life that I am not ashamed to eat in front of people. And most importantly, the first time in my life that I am not ashamed to share my story with the world! Because if I could help just one of you, that means more to me than anything.