Secret lives of moms and military spouses

Recently I’ve become aware of secret lives of my mom friends. They haven’t been actively trying to hide anything, the opportunity or the question simply hasn’t been presented.

We all have skills and talents we don’t get to use as a mom. But, if you dig, our pre-mom lives come unearthed.

These moms, who spend their time devoted to little ones, faithfully wiping bottoms multiple times a day, were all-star athletes who went to prestigious colleges on a full ride. They’ve played in symphonies, hung from trapezes, speak multiple languages, run entire corporations and lived all over the world.

The same is true for military spouses. These amazing ladies spend all day cleaning up messes and raising the next generation, and never think to mention all the skills sitting dormant and underappreciated, or the careers they left behind to follow love and support our country’s freedom.

Every time I find out something new about a friend I thought I knew well, I’m blown away. I’m surrounded by a truly magnificent lot.

When you pass by a mom pushing a stroller, managing a fussy child in a store or being the net for a little daredevil at the playground, remember that being a mom is only one of her many talents. As much as she loves being a parent, she deserves respect for much more than that, and the chance to have the spotlight shown on the full array of talents she possesses.

When a military spouse tells you it’s time to pack up again, even if he/she is off to somewhere amazing, remember she’ll have to hit the reset button yet again; new community, new house, new schools, new friends, new job, new everything.


Take the chance to step back and imagine all these women have to offer that they simply don’t have time to show you. Better yet, offer some wine, sit back, and listen.

Forgiveness is integral to health

I recently heard a sermon on forgiveness, and it got me to thinking about how integral forgiveness is to health.

Forgiveness is a necessary component to overall health. Where the confusion lies for some is who it’s healthy for.

People want forgiveness because they believe it will make them feel better about whatever they did to require forgiveness, but it’s not always the blank slate they are truly hoping for. Forgiveness isn’t a blank slate. It is wrong to commit an act, ask and receive forgiveness, and see that as an opportunity to go do it again. The old adage goes, “fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me. ”

Forgiveness provides the most comfort and health benefits for the forgiver because it lightens his/her load. Resentment is heavy, and anger eats away at you as badly as any sickness. That weight carries over into the rest of your life until it rests on the shoulders of your entire support system.

Revenge only adds to the sickness. You might think it will make you “even,” but it’s not your right to deliver someone else’s karma. Suddenly, you’ve stooped to the level of someone you loathed. Now you have guilt from the harm you caused plus the original hurt to carry. The idea is to lighten your load, not add to it.

Of course, each unique situation varies largely on someone’s intent. Accidents happen, but they happen to some more frequently than others. Some people step on others with the best of intentions because they only consider their own personal outcome.

There are some people in life you need to keep at arms length. Forgive, forget, move on, but learn and adapt from the experience.

If you forgive someone, but there are no consequences or modifications to the situation that enabled the act in the first place, it’s like rolling out a welcome mat for it to happen again. Forgiveness heals (you can’t spell health without “heal”), but the act is a warning to protect and prevent in the future.

Sometimes you also need to forgive yourself. Apologize to others and to yourself for prior acts, but move forward. I see many people who beat themselves up for weight gain. If you are taking steps to lose unhealthy weight, stop the assault. You can only change moving forward; you can’t hit rewind.

Eat right, workout to burn off some of that hurt, forgive, and exercise your right to pursue happiness.



Why Advocare is right for me, and (maybe) for you

As someone who works in the health and fitness industry, I’ve spent years discrediting diets and supplements. My motto has always been that you should stick with things that have a proven record and the least amount of manipulation. Eat things as close to their natural form as possible, and put in the work when it comes to exercise. There is not pill that will make you skinny without any side effects.

My reasoning for not supporting most supplements on the market is because they are not tested or regulated. No one can guarantee what you’re using or tell you exactly how to use it, so you’re swallowing a mystery, and most likely flushing your money down the toilet (literally and figuratively).

I still feel this way, but I support a company that makes supplements. Why?

Most people do not get everything they need from the foods they eat. In an ideal world, we would get everything directly from the source, but the reality is, we all have holes in our diets.

Why Advocare?

The first things that made me turn my head and look at Advocare differently were the people (who use it, who make it, and who are behind it), the testing processes, regulations, nutritional panel, long-standing history and time on the market, and the support provided along with the products.

I played devil’s advocate for a few months. I would email Advocare with questions and get on the phone with people, ready to discredit everything, and I was always pleasantly surprised at the responses. These people make things for olympic athletes, they’re a member of the council for responsible nutrition, they have an alliance with informed-choice,  and they just really know their stuff. Every step and decision for the products and the company has been very intentional.

Could I find any negative reviews or stories of adverse reactions, of course. My take aways were that they were normal, one-off circumstances. Just like skin care products, anything potent enough to produce results could also produce an unwanted result if someone is sensitive to a particular ingredient. When ESPN and people like Dr. Oz,  Mark Cinelli, Dr. Stanley Dudrick and Dr. Leanne Redman put themselves out there in the press and say they’re behind Advocare, I think it’s safe for little old me, with my blog and my fitness company, to put it out there, too!

The thing that sealed the deal for me was my own personal experience.

As someone who already walks the walk when it comes to making healthy choices, I didn’t know I had room to improve that didn’t require a truly drastic, unrealistic change. Besides, there is nothing harder to trim than the last few pounds. Anyone who has watched “The Biggest Loser” knows that the biggest contestants lose big numbers at each weigh-in. Once you get within several pounds of your goal, the weight comes off more slowly.

I didn’t use the products to lose weight, specifically. I was already happy with my body, but we’d been away from home for 3 months, and I felt like I needed to get back on track. Using the products as needed my energy soared, I dropped pounds I wasn’t even trying to drop, and overall have had an easier time maintaining my health and fitness.

When I began my journey as a distributor, it was to round-out my wellness business, and I assumed I would only sell it to clients – I steer away from selling to friends and family. As my journey continues, I can’t imagine not sharing this with everyone. If I can make anyone’s life easier, or make anyone healthier, wouldn’t the people I love be the first people I would want to help?

Advocare is a companion to your health that comes with a coach. Because you can’t buy it off a shelf, you can’t buy the products without someone explaining them to you. You buy a product, and you automatically get an education on how to use it. I know a lot more about nutrition and fitness than your average Joe, and my education and background comes with your product. That’s a bit better than just directions on a label, don’t you think?

Whether you want to lose weight, gain muscle, increase performance, gain energy, sleep better, or even go to the bathroom more easily (potty talk has become pretty normal…ha!), there is something here for you. Tell me how you would like to feel better. If I can help, I will; if I can’t, I’ll be honest. I don’t want to sell anyone anything they don’t want. I don’t like selling enough.

From the business side, there wasn’t any risk or a pyramid structure. There was simply an opportunity to get my products for less, and the potential to pay for my childcare while I train clients. For my family, it’s a win-win. Plus, unlike even the best Black Friday sale, people can choose to buy wholesale rather than retail.

It’s a way of life, and it works well in ours.

You are a body of potential

Every morning you wake up with potential; regardless of what side of the bed you may get up on.

Every morning presents an opportunity to improve. You don’t have to take the opportunity, but know that it’s there every morning, just as real and present as your rumpled covers.

It’s amazing what the simple recognition of your own potential each and every morning can do. Whether yesterday went well or not, today you can…

  • resolve a situation,
  • forgive someone,
  • improve your fitness,
  • learn new information and skills,
  • eat healthier,
  • BE better wherever you choose to use your potential.

If it doesn’t go well today, tomorrow you’ll wake with the opportunity yet again.

Everyone has something they put off until tomorrow, typically because you don’t look forward to it; but, each day you have the chance to put that dreaded task behind you.

It sounds cheesy to acknowledge that we call today the “present,” but it really is one. You don’t have to like your little wrapped bundle of potential energy with the perfectly tied bow on top, but, whether you open it up and use it or not, it’s waiting there for you each morning, right next to your cup of joe. Curse me being Mary Optimism all you want. I’m just stating the truth.

Tomorrow is another day, and Annie is sure to keep singing about it. Today, that’s something you can really work with.




Who would you be if you could be anyone else?

This blog stems from a recent discussion with my dad. He has lots of good stuff going on in that head of his. 

If you could be anyone else in the world, who would you be?

Up until 5 years ago I might have said any number of people, but then I married my husband and became more content being me. Thirteen months ago, I officially decided never to be anyone else.

I’m Aidan’s mommy. People should seriously want to be me. I’m straight up VIP in this house.

For all you parents out there, I’m sure you see where I’m coming from and feel the same (at least most of the time, with the exception of during tantrums or the teenage years).

A lot changes when you decide you wouldn’t rather be someone else. Even though I couldn’t actually trade places with someone else before, the desire kept me from a certain level of contentment.

Now, I fantasize about who I may become, and what all my friends and family will live to see, achieve and accomplish. There’s an entire world out there to experience, and it all requires me being exactly who I want to be. Who I am. Me.

Your best home defense might not be what you think

I’m a scaredy-cat. I’m strong, and I’ve taken self-defense, but I’m still a small, vulnerable person. Add to this that I’m now a momma-bear (other little people to protect), and my husband’s job takes him away frequently, and you can easily see why I want to know my best defense should anything happen.

Although I’m very familiar with guns, I didn’t grow up with them in my house, and even my active-duty husband doesn’t want them in our home. I have many gun-toting friends with differing views, but I firmly believe you are more likely to have a gun accident than to be a hero, and, for us, it’s not worth the risk.

Honestly, we’re all more likely to die from a car accident than anything else, but I still like to know what my plan is for a worse case scenario. I don’t like the idea of being without a gun, or with a gun. What to do?

It turns out I can still be prepared to defend my household with something most of us already have handy in the kitchen. It’s not a knife, a skillet, or a hot pot of boiling gravy. It’s not even my dog; although he does make a fabulous alarm. It’s a fire extinguisher.

That’s right, pull the pin, aim without worrying about misfiring, missing or having to kill someone, blast away those lovely chemicals, then pop ’em up the side of the head with it.

Everyone needs a plan, and this one might not suit everyone’s taste, but a loaded gun is a deadly loose cannon, and I like my family’s odds better with Big Red.

Do you need to cut out gluten?

With all the buzz about going gluten-free, clients are always asking me if they should cut it out of their diets. I’m not a doctor or an expert on the effects of gluten, but I’ll share my answer in hopes that it can help those of you wondering the same thing.

What is gluten?

Gluten is the protein content in wheat. For a visual, it’s what makes dough gooey and stretchy.

Why do some people need to avoid it?

Celiac disease is the true, diagnosed intolerance to gluten. Anyone with celiac disease has to cut out gluten because it attacks their bodies.

There is a large amount of research suggesting harmful effects of gluten on the body, both mentally and physically; however, just as not everyone is allergic to peanuts, not everyone responds negatively to gluten.

Think of gluten as you think of dairy. There are reasons some people should not have dairy, and the reasons differ in severity. Some people will have a life-threatening allergic reaction, some are lactose intolerant so their stomachs will be upset by it, and some people have problem skin due to dairy. Then, there’s the whole slew of people who can eat all the dairy they want with no ill effects. 

How do I know if I need to cut it out?

Assess how you feel eating your current diet that contains gluten. If you feel well, have energy, don’t experience digestion issues and can concentrate easily, you’re doing fine and should keep up whatever you’re doing. If you can’t tick all those boxes, do a trial removal and see if any of them fall into place.

Things to consider:

Going gluten-free is not a fad diet to get you skinny, and gluten-free foods aren’t magically free of fat and calories; only gluten.

As with anything, too much of a something is not good, but if you don’t experience any ill effects, removal of it entirely isn’t necessary either.

Do your research, but also do a self-check. If you don’t have a negative response to gluten, eat it in moderation, just like everything else.

Baby Steps: True tales from a new mommy

I have a baby!!!

I know what you’re thinking. Considering I was pregnant, this was the most likely outcome; but, as my due date came and went, I was pretty convinced I was just going to be pregnant forever.

The first thing I thought when I met our baby boy was that he was amazingly cute.  Allow me to be honest and say that not all babies are cute-cute, some are just cute because they’re babies. Sure, all mothers are biased, but I still can’t believe how perfectly adorable he is, and that I had made him.

The second thing I thought was, how do I feed him? I was in the hospital room with my husband, it was the middle of the night, and even though I’d been to a breastfeeding class, neither the baby nor I had ever actually tried it, so we were a bit lost.  Thankfully, babies can go almost 24 hours without food when they first come out, because I know he didn’t get much of anything our first few tries.

Our first morning, the lactation consultant helped me latch on one side, and we managed the other side the next morning. Unfortunately, it would be another month of the blind leading the blind before I realized that the nipple trauma I was experiencing wasn’t just a brutal adjustment, it was a shallow latch. There are many lessons learned for me that had to do with not knowing what was “normal.”

Here are a few of the lessons I have learned. I won’t call them advice because every experience is unique, this is my first time out, and I’m certainly not qualified to be “advising” others. I am so grateful for the support I’ve received since you really don’t know what you don’t know, and you also don’t know to ask about it until you’re in the moment throwing your hands up in the air. So, here are the things I kinda-sorta know now.

  • Even though you always hear, “never wake a sleeping baby,” you do need to wake them up to eat every 2-3 hours for the first month because their little bodies will let them sleep through opportunities to gain weight and get crucial nutrition.
  • Rocking and lullabies do very little to comfort a newborn. Swaddling, shushing and controlled shaking (refer to the 5 S’s from Happiest Baby on the Block) work much more effectively.
  • There is more to successful breastfeeding than latching. After a month, I was dreading feeding my baby rather than enjoying it. Lucky for me, I got sick, and decided to mention my feeding issues while at the doctor. Now, I look forward to it and am so proud to be able to do it.
  • Sometimes you have to remind yourself that the baby isn’t crying because he/she is mad at you.
  • Your baby won’t be mad at you when he/she wakes from a nap that came from learning to self-soothe/cry it out.
  • If you are breastfeeding and your baby isn’t gaining as much weight as the doctors want him to, you will beat yourself up; however, the pride you feel with each ounce he gains will end up trumping any frustration.
  • Although breastfed babies don’t really get constipated, they may need pooping “encouragement” after they finish with the initial meconium poops. We had to use a q-tip to get things started. This is one of those things I would never have known about if I hadn’t had to do it.
  • As much as it’s nice to feel needed and bond with your baby, breastfeeding can also feel like a burden, and it’s easy to feel frustrated when you can’t ever pass off the work. A friend suggested I view it as a tool that only I could use to soothe and satisfy my baby, and that perspective made a big difference in how much I enjoy it.
  • If you think you’re going to get a nap, but you don’t, you will feel drastically more exhausted than if you plan not to get a nap, and you do.
  • How tired you feel when you wake up to the sound of a crying baby all depends on what the clock says. Honestly, if someone were to move the time forward before you looked, you’d feel more refreshed.

I really thought I’d be much more bothered by lack of sleep and a plethora of diapers (we average 15 a day… homeboy hates to be wet… seriously, hates it) than I am. It really is different when it’s your own.  I’d swim through poop on no sleep for this little dude. I seriously hope I don’t have to do that, but if he needed me to, I’d bust out that swan dive in an instant.

Back to basics

A few years ago, and in some communities still today, it was cool to drive a big, gas-guzzling SUV, own a giant home, grab on to all the latest conveniences, and hit up megastores. Big, flashy and convenient were the hottest trends.

What’s cool today looks quite different. I believe it use to be referred to by the not-so-endearing term, “granola.”

When I hear words like green, bicycle, farm-to-table, carpooling, public transit, hybrid, solar energy, down-sizing and farmers’ market, I get all gooey inside.

Awareness, along with the economy, has brought about a new appreciation for properly caring for and utilizing the environment and our natural resources.

When we were suddenly unable to afford basic necessities – gas, utilities, milk – we wanted to point fingers and rage about unreasonable cost inflation, but a lot of the finger-pointing needed to be done in front of a mirror. We wanted everything we had, until we had to suffer the true cost. I hate a recession as much as the next gal, but I’m grateful for the wake up call, and I like where we’re trying to go now.

People are proud to serve fresh fruit, vegetables and herbs from their own gardens. We know what a carbon-footprint is. We are gradually taking steps to reduce, reuse and recycle.

Before we make purchases, we think about where they came from, and we scan the labels for unnatural preservatives and chemicals. We recognize that an extremely long shelf-life is a sign that something might be off.

We approach cleaning, and illness, with a more holistic approach because we are learning that natural options and cures exist, and are less likely to lead to negative consequences. If your child accidentally drinks your lemon-vinegar concoction, he’s going to fare much better than if he drank a chemical cleaner, and natural cures are less likely to kill good bacteria in addition to bad bacteria.

We own more fashionable reusable bags than we do purses. I’ve always known green was my color.

I can’t think of many things cooler than knowing your local farmers by first name and knowing what chicken should actually taste like.

We still have so much to learn, and no one expects perfection, but every time you take pause to think about our future, Mother Nature gets the warm fuzzies.

When it comes to eating our words, at least granola tastes good.


Don’t hit the wall, get over it

I was born with a fear of heights (acrophobia). I’ve worked very hard to conquer my fear; however, even rationale and hard work don’t make me want to scale things without a net or a harness.

Several years ago, I came face-to-face with my fear during an adventure race. I was one of a three-person team as we ran, rafted and mountain-biked through the Blue Ridge mountains of Georgia. Part of the race involved mystery events, one of which was a tall, wooden wall with ropes hanging down the front. The object was to get the entire team to the top of the wall using only each other and the ropes.

As we raced toward the wall, I was aware of two things: 1) I was terrified. 2) I needed to conquer my fear for my team to continue. Rather than hesitating and giving my fear time to take over, I ran right up to the wall with my team and went to work.

The feeling I had at the top of the wall was so much stronger than the initial fear I felt at the bottom. I can’t even fathom how much regret and disappointment I would have felt had I let my fear beat me, and us.

We all hit walls sometimes. We reach a moment or a point in an endeavor where we’re faced with fear, lack of confidence, or simply the fact that we don’t know what to expect on the other side.

It’s so easy to let the wall win and stay within your comfort zone, but do you really want to be the person standing at the bottom of the wall while others continue on with the race? I doubt it.

The next time you find yourself up against a wall, make the decision to test yourself. Tell your body and your mind that you want to feel the pride and the rush that come with finding out what’s on the other side of that wall. Once you get over that first wall, the rest will fall like dominoes and you’ll find yourself in a position for winning the race against all the obstacles that have been holding you back.

The next time you’re faced with uncharted territory, climb the wall.