Saturday, June 28, 2014

Challenge Accepted... and COMPLETED!

Sixty days ago I started a challenge. It was a simple invite by a friend to join a challenge group. I really had no idea what I was getting into, but I said yes. I said Yes, because I trusted that she wouldn't steer me wrong. I trusted when she said she had gotten results and she loved the products. I trusted her because I have known her for many years, and she is one of the most sincere and vulnerable people I know. So I said sure! What did I have to lose right? Ok, so I have about 30 lbs to lose, but who's keeping track?

Besides for trusting her, she also happen to catch me at the right time. I was feeling large, sluggish, and downright bleh! We had recently moved into our  new home, and I wasn't taking care of myself. I needed to get back into shape. By the looks of me you would never have guessed that I had completed a half-marathon in Sept 2013. I wanted needed something, someone, that would hold me accountable to daily goals and activities. Never mind the fact that I had watched Shaun T's Focus T25 informercial for the 4th time, and was really contemplating buying it. I already owned Slim in 6, Insanity and P90X- all great BeachBody programs. Many years back when I purchased Slim in 6, it helped me get in shape- but that was YEARS ago. 

Focus T25 really appealed to me for 1 main reason: it was done in 25 minutes. No hour long workouts that seemed to go on forever. Shaun T was promising me that I could be done in the time it takes to watch most sitcoms. So yeah, I purchased T25 in a Challenge Pack which came with this Shakeology shake powder stuff. 

What I never could've have predicted was the change the Challenge Group, T25 and Shakeology would have on my life. 

What's a Challenge Group?
The Challenge Group was a private Facebook group where all the participants could share their concerns and needs during the challenge. Everyday the group leaders would post a different daily activity. These activities would range from examining your daily eating habits to learning the power of positive speak. Everyday you were required to do your BeachBody workout, mine was Focus T25, which I LOVE! You were also required to have Shakeology on HomeDirect, which essentially is having Shakeology delivered monthly. 

I can't tell you how the Challenge Group truly helped me evaluate my fitness and nutrition. I helped me to understand how I focused on comparing MY journey to everyone else's, which ultimately always derailed my success. 

I learned how to appreciate my small victories and turn them into daily affirmations of how to continue along with my journey. 

I learned to eat clean, and drink enough water daily to sink a ship. Ok, so I'm not really sinking a ship, but some days I pee enough that it feels like I could drown a ship. 

I also learned that there are many people like me trying to get fit, struggling with the ups and downs of life, and learning to forgive themselves for slipping. 

That, my friends, is priceless!

Twenty-Five Minutes a Day is So Doable
The most often used excuse for not exercising is TIME. Well BeachBody and Mr. Ripped In Shape Shaun T have created a program that helps you lose the weight and get in shape in about 29 minutes a day. The program is called Focus T25, and the actual workout is 25 minutes long, and then you add about 2.5-3.5 minutes of cool and BAM! YOU ARE DONE! 

Don't get me wrong, the workout is NO JOKE! You will sweat your butt off, and you will feel like you are going to die that first week. Shaun T LOVES him some lunges and squats, which does wonders for the look of your legs and buttocks...but let me tell you, you're gonna be sore as heck! Just stick with it! 

Shaun T breaks it down into two phases, Alpha and Beta. Both phases have a trainer demonstrating modified low-impact versions of his exercises. You never feel like you CAN'T do it because there is ALWAYS a low-impact option. It was great because as I started getting stronger I could modify the modified exercise and do something closer to what Shaun T was doing, if not exactly what he was doing. It gave me something to progress towards, which is always feels good and gives you motivation. 

If you have struggled with motivation and time, Focus T25 is the best thing out there. Just when you think you have nothing left in the tank, you've got like 5 minutes left and let's be honest, you can do anything for 5 minutes. 

Plus it must be said that Shaun T is quite a looker and there are certain workouts where he is shirtless, and that my friends is worth looking at for 25 minutes- even if I'm sweaty, smelly, and huffing n' puffing like I'm climbing Everest. It's all good! 

Shake Up Your Nutrition
Before this challenge I had no clue what Shakeology was about, actually I had never even heard of it. So imagine my surprise when I received this bag of powder and I was supposed to drink it once a day.  Really? An expensive meal replacement shake was doing to do the trick?  Umm as a matter of fact... YES! 

What Shakeology did for me was simple. It helped me cut, actually I would go out on a limb and say eliminate, my carb cravings. Let's face it, I'm Puerto Rican and we like rice and beans, and bread and heavy starchy foods. I haven't had rice in 60 days. I don't crave pasta anymore. I still like my occasional bread, but who doesn't like Italian bread in dippy olive oil? Moderation right?

Shakeology is just amazing! I've seen complaints about the taste and truthfully, I loved it. But I'm a chocoholic so getting a rich thick chocolate shake in the morning suits me just fine. It's easy to blend, doesn't stay clumpy of powdery and they even send you recipe ideas to add different tastes to it. I use water or almond milk, but there are ideas for other blends. They even have the super vegan blend for those looking for no animal products. I can't say enough great things about Shakeology! Find me here if you want more info or just want to hear me rant and rave about Shakeology! 

Results? Nah, let's call them Successes!
This is the part most people care about- it's the determining factor if the products worked, right? Let me start by saying that I'm eating cleaner and healthier than I have since I was on formula, and who knows how good that crap was in the 70s. I've cut out processed foods. I've cut out sodas and simple sugars. I've cut out all white flour and bleached flours. I've been watching sodium and GMO content. I eat veggies and protein like it's my job. I just feel better about my relationship with food. So that is a HUGE SUCCESS!

Another huge success was actually getting smaller! Who knew? Yes I did lose inches and weight. I lost 12 pounds to be exact since I started this journey. It hasn't always been easy, but I did it. I still have a ways to go, and by no means is my journey over.  I will continue with Shakeology and I'm starting a new program called PiYo (Pilates and Yoga combo). I can't finish my T25 due to this ankle injury, but I will attempt the low-impact of PiYo, so I'm excited about that!              
I also completed another 5k run in May, and my first Mud Run last Saturday (which caused the jacked up ankle).  So I would venture to say that I'm more physically fit than I was 60 days ago, no doubt. 

No matter what the combination of the FB support group, the daily activities in the Challenge Group, the physical workouts and the Shakeology all came together in a PERFECT recipe for success. I'm so grateful for that invite from my friend. I'm so inspired by my journey that I want to help other Moms who think they can't do or think they don't have time, that they can make small changes that will yield large results.  I promise! I believe in it so much that I became a BeachBody Coach. I want to help other Moms entering their 40s to understand that fitness is possible at any age, and that we don't have enter our 40s the same way we left our 30s. It can be better... WAAAAY BETTER!

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Friday, June 13, 2014

The Uniqueness of Military Friendships

"Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art...It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things that give value to survival." C.S. Lewis

As a MilSpouse, friendship is necessary to your daily survival in the world of PCS's, deployments and military life. Make no mistake establishing and maintaining friendships is not always an easy task. It can be difficult, scary, and even heartbreaking. Let's not forget rewarding, but most importantly it's essential to our survival through military life. In our world, no friends can equal no sanity. 

Building friendships is made more difficult because we don't have the luxury of permanence. It's not a word that is part of our military vernacular. You don't get to stay in the same neighborhood for years and watch your children grow up with the neighborhood kids. Your children don't have the luxury of staying in the same school system their entire educational career. You don't have the luxury of keeping the same job for more than a few years. Moving, changing, uprooting, new schools, new jobs, new units- that's permanent.  The only real constant is change. 

I've been a military spouse (on and off) for the last 20 years. I was young and naive when I said yes to the military, and I had no idea what to expect from this lifestyle. Hell, I'm not sure I even grasped the idea that it was a "lifestyle", and not just my spouse's career choice. Either way, my first move was from the town I call home (click here to understand) to hubby's duty station. It was at Fort Campbell that I made my first military friends. 

What makes these friendships unique? 

While not all MilSpouses form bonds and friendships in the same manner, I believe there are a few things that seem to be shared across the board. 
  • The need for friends is more urgent.
  • You give of yourself more freely because you understand that time is finite, and everything is short lived.
  • Every duty station presents it's own challenges, which force you to look for friends to fulfill different needs. 
  • Every new move and new duty location is the passage of the last one, and along with it, the change in dynamics of those friendships left behind.
  • Mourning those losses requires the hope of new relationships. 
It's because of this that military friendships are a breed of friendships unto themselves. 

Quick, Fast, and in a Hurry
Let's face it, military families are at a duty station for 3-4 years, 5 or 6 if we're lucky. We need to spend time with someone other than our spouse and kids. 

We need to be able to have a lunch date, or dinner, or drinks, or shopping, or anything seemingly adult- like in nature.

We need to have other moms and dads to vent to about our kids. We need to listen to their horror stories, helping us to realize that our hellions aren't really all that bad. We need to get advice from other moms who have "been there, done that."

We need to feel connected and part of a community. It's the only way to make this new location really feel like home. It's what will make the time meaningful and lasting, for us and for our families.

If we wait too long to make friends, it will be PCS time and we'll be moving again. Or worse, we'll have a deployed spouse and no friends. Trust me- that's not fun. 

So we make friends and fast. As MilSpouses we don't have the luxury of getting to know people over the course of years. It's like speed dating. We let ourselves hang out there in the hopes that we will make connections and friendships that will last, if not last, at least help us cope and survive. 

Open Books
Since time is of the essence in building these friendships, we I tend to be an open book. What you see, is what you get. This MilSpouse doesn't have time to deal with false niceties and pretenses. I want to know if you are someone I can spend time with and be myself. 
I want to know that you share my parenting values, that we have things in common, that you like to drink wine and/or beer. (Wine and beer are important things to find out in the speed friending rounds!)
I want to know if our kids get along. 
I want to know if our husband will 'play nice' together as well. 

For this reason, I'm open and honest, and I wear my heart on my sleeve. I can't afford not to be me, or to see you for you. "Ain't nobody got time for that!" 

I find many MilSpouses are open, honest, and welcoming. They are willing to let you in and form lasting bonds.

Understanding the Demands
We understand that every duty station presents its own demands, and requires adjustments. Because we know this, military friendships are understanding. They are flexible. They are just what the doctor ordered at that particular assignment. 

We are like the old psychic hotlines! We have experienced so much over the course of military lives that we either have the been there done that shirts, or we know a friend who had it happened to them. We know what it's like to have to find new schools for our children. We know what it's like to have a husband deploy for 6 months or 16 months. 

There is an inherent understanding of the way our lives operate that makes it easier to relate and connect with another.

So long, farewell and goodbye 
Goodbyes are inevitable. In our lives, they are as sure as the sun rising. 

It's the three letters that will change the dynamics of military friendships: PCS. You know the moving truck will come, packers will box everything, and you can expect a stay at lodging or a hotel as you transition from one post to the next. 

Along with moving trucks, comes the long string of goodbyes that seemingly takes days to complete. You also know that some of these goodbyes are permanent.

There are friends you positively know you will see again. You will speak often, and even plan to vacation with them in the future. 

There are those friends that you will miss, but you also know that time and distance will change your friendship. You know the friendship was meaningful and lived its life to the fullest, but will no longer be with you. You know that Facebook and other social media will allow you keep in touch with all the people you have met along the way, but you know that few will remain truly close. Its not personal, it's the nature of this life.

It's the nature of military friendship, they are meant to help us through and to allow us to connect, but not all are meant to last.  When we get to the new location, we mourn those losses. We miss our friends. We miss our old life. Mourn it, you're we're allowed to. 

And that's ok. There are new friendships on the horizon of a new state, new location, new assignment, new life. It was beautiful while it lasted, and this too shall be a great adventure. 

The bottom line is I disagree with C.S.Lewis. Friendship is essential to the survival of the military spouse, and military life. I can't think of a single MilSpouse that ever made it through on their own. Our identities are tied to the variety of people who have touched us throughout the tenure of our military lives. Embrace the friendships, they are the key to survival.

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Sunday, June 1, 2014

Color Me Happy: Happiest 5k on the Planet

Running is something that I have always wanted to be good at, be into, and enjoy. Well let's just say what I want and what I get aren't always jiving! 

I started running in earnest about a year and half ago. It started while we were stationed in Germany. Maybe it was because my great friend Jilly motivated me or maybe it was the thought of us doing a triathlon together that got me motivated, who knows. My biggest hurdle with the whole running thing has always been my damned asthma. At any rate, I started running, and enjoying it- for the most part. 

While we never did our triathlon, but I did complete a half-marathon in September 2013. The running sucked and it was exhausting, but that feeling coming across the finish line was exhilarating and unlike anything I had experienced before. It was phenomenal! 

So fast forward 7 months, with a PCS move (Permanent Change of Station for the non military folk on here), sprinkle in the stress of buying a new home and cyber schooling my 13 year old son, add on a couple of 10 pounds to all the wrong places, and what you have is a recipe for disaster. I need something to motivate me and fast!

Savannah is a city of perpetual activities for all walks of life. If you can't find something to do in Savannah you aren't looking hard enough. There is always something going on in this quaint but busy little town, and the weekend of May 17th was this year's Color Run.

They call it The Happiest 5k on the Planet, and it really is the happiest running experience- ever! Here are some reasons it's the happiest 5k, and some tips to keep you happy on race day! 

Bag and headband!
1. Cool Swag is included. Admittedly this is only my second race ever, so I'm drawing on limited experience. However, I know cool swag when I come across cool FREE swag! When we went to pick up our race day packets the day before the race and what I received truly shocked me! We had a Color Run t-shirt, rainbow colored Color Run head bands, a smaller Color Run face tattoo, and a larger HAPPY tattoo. All of this came a pretty cool colorful Color Run bag- heck they even included safety pins to attached the running bib to our shirts! Oh and did I mention that it was all FREE!
2.  Come one, come all. The attitude of the 5k is so un-racelike that you really don't feel like you are in a competition at all. The race is not timed so you never feel likes it's a death match to the end. Quite the contrary, you are truly there for the whole experience of it and the fun day! There were families with younger children walking, many with strollers even. There were people of all shapes and varying degrees of fitness. It was very inviting for everyone, even those looking to time their 5k.

Finish line dash
3. You end the race as colorful as you want to be. Indeed when you go through the color zones you can avoid getting doused with color by simply running through them quickly. There were plenty of people who didn't look the least bit "colored" when they finished the race. The amount of color you get at each zone is really dependent on how long you take going through and how much actual color you want. The first two zones were just ran through fairly quickly and had minimal colors on us. The last zones we stopped and walked through and allowed ourselves to get thoroughly colored. We even stopped, dropped and rolled in it! You have more control than you think when going through the color zones. 

4. There are tons of pictures being taken.  If you want to pose for the camera, fear not, there are plenty of photographers snapping your candids while you run amuck in the colored zones. So smile big for the camera and strike a pose! Oh and the pictures were ready to view within three days post race, which was a great turn around. 

Race day pictures
5. Pre and post race celebrations were a blast! During the pre-race workout up there was plenty of music, cheering, and just general excitement. On their stage they had several Zumba instructors conducting classes. So we joined in and got ourselves stretched and ready for the race. It was a great way to get the blood flowing and the music was jamming! Considering our race started at 8:00am and we got to the park at 6:45, I'm glad they had someone there to help get me warmed up. Now during the post race celebration, there was music and hoopla, and most of all there was color! Tons of it. In little bags they handed you when you came across the finish line. It was really too much fun! 

As with any non-standard race, there are tips and pointers that can help you get through the race and feel better at the end. Here is what I learned:

1. Take a bottle of water with you on the race, if possible. There were times when we just needed to swish with it to get some of the color dust out of our mouth (or teeth) and the water came in handy. Remember you can control the amount of color you get on you, and we were rolling in it. So we did get some in our mouth. 

2. Make sure to control your breathing. As an asthmatic I was nervous about the "dust" particles hindering my breathing and affecting my running. So for the first two color stations I was nervous about it. I used a bandana one of our teammates had to cover my nose and mouth to minimize the amount of color dust I was breathing in. The fact is that it wasn't that bad after you got used to the feeling. However, if you do suffer from any kind of breathing condition I would use caution and take a bandana or something to cover your nose and mouth. While I did make it through the run and the post celebration color-fest, I was a bit tight-chested later that evening and in through the next day. I felt wheezy so I would exercise caution if you are asthmatic. Definitely something I will consider on our next one. 

3. Your choice of clothing is important! All the color WILL NOT come out of your clothes! Since they provided a T-shirt, I wore the one I got with my swag bag. I did put on a tank top underneath- mostly because I sweat quite a bit and I didn't want the color sticking to my body. It was great because it provided a barrier between my sweat and the color, making it so much easier when it was time to bathe. The areas where sweat pooled the most, got colored the most- like the backs of my knees, crooks of my arms and the back of my neck. The crooks of my arms were a weird purple and blue! Hah! In addition to having on an undershirt or tank top, make sure you wear that rainbow headband they give you. It's hot here in Savannah, but thankfully it wasn't terrible on the race day. Despite the cooler temps, I still was sweating like a pig! The headband really helps to keep the sweat out of your eyes, which in turn keeps the color at bay. Always a plus!

4. Ears, hands and feet will stay colored for days. Despite many attempts to remove all the color from these areas, it was just impossible to do. My hands and ears had blue color on/in them for many days later. My daughter's feet were blue and my son couldn't manage to get the blue color off his neck. While most of the color will fade and disappear, just be prepared if you have the huge meeting with the big boss that following week that you don't walk in looking like you loved on a smurf. 

5. Protect your belongings. There will be places you don't want this color to get into, so make sure you protect your belongings. For starters, put your cell phone or camera in a zip loc bag or be prepared to have a colored dusted phone. My phone case is pink and by the end of the run it was dirty and looked awful. When we were done with the run we walked around and went to lunch, giving us plenty of time to "lose" quite a bit of color- remember it's a corn starch dust so it will brush off and shake out if you try. That being said remember that you will have to get back into your car eventually and this is where a sheet or towel come in handy. We didn't change clothes but that could be an option to- but you could get other clothes colored. 

6. Wash with like colors.  With 4 Color Run participants it was easy to wash all of our colored clothing together. They provided a Shout color sheet in our swag bag and I used it to help collect the loose color in the wash. Almost everything came out clean, except my tank top which still has remnants of the colors. To be safe, just make sure you don't put other laundry in with your Color Run clothes.  

It was a great family experience. The kids loved it and so did we! We had fun and would recommend it to anyone looking for a little fitness and fun rolled into one. It is a truly Happy experience, and one I know we will do again!
Family fun

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The Choice of Motherhood

Sometimes I write, and it seems more like a confessional than a blog. I'm always honest, but never hurtful. I wrote this on Mother's Day, but waited to post this because I didn't want to offend anyone or upset any Moms out there. So here it is now, my original Mother's Day post.


Every year on the second Sunday in May we honor Mothers all across the country. We buy cards, flowers, and gifts of love showing our support and undying love and devotion to our mothers, grandmothers, aunt, and women who have influenced us as only a mother would or could do.

Going through any card aisle you can read a million cards with all sorts of sentiments that range from very mush and sappy to simple and nondescript.

There are flowers and bouquets of all colors and price ranges.

There are brunches you can attend, and gifts of chocolate strawberries that can be delivered to Mom. There is no end to the possibilities to say "I Love You, Mom!" through a gift or bouquet.

Despite everything we attempt to say on Mother's Day, for me the little things we don't say speak volumes louder. What we don't talk about on Mother's Day is the choice to be a mother. I can't think of a choice in life that defines or redefines- depending on your age- the rest of your life more than the choice to be a mother.

I think we overlook the fact that choice isn't just about whether or not to have the child, but it's about how you will raise that child. The sacrifices you are going to be willing to make for that child; the changes you will make to your life to accommodate every need of that human being.

It's no secret if you know me or have read this blog before, I started motherhood young. I was pregnant at 19 and the Princess was born when I was 20. I was married and so the "choice" to keep the baby was never really discussed as it was always a resounding "Of course we are having the baby!" We were truly ecstatic!

However, the conscious choice I did make was to make sure that NO MATTER what I would always be a good mother. That was a choice I made.

I made sacrifices, changed plans, and revised career tracks to accommodate this beautiful being I brought into this world. I made certain she was always first in my world and nothing else mattered. The same was true for when my son was born. His early education was a challenge and I learned more about mothering than I thought possible, but I made the choice to be a good parent. I have poured my heart and soul into my children, and the pay off has been immeasurable.

I have a great relationship with both my son and daughter. They are warm, kind, smart, witty, responsible, head-strong, courageous, compassionate, and everything else a mother could hope for in her children. I truly believe they are a direct reflection of the choices I've made during the journey of motherhood. My good choices have resulted in great children!

I don't say this as a pat on my back or to champion myself as an awesome testament to motherhood.

I say this because not every mother-child relationship is quite as blessed. Not every mother made the choice to be a good mother, and I get tired of people dismissing poor parenting with the banal excuse of "they did the best they could".

Did they? Did they really make the selfless sacrifice of being a good parent? Did they really make decisions that would help their child grow in a loving family? Or did their selfish choices hinder their child's growth? Were they a good role model for their children? Did they do everything possible to be the best version of themselves they could be in order to be the best parent possible?

Few people have the courage to ask themselves these questions. Fewer people ever want to find out the answers.

So tonight before I close my eyes on Mother's Day 2014, I ask myself "am I making a choice to be a good parent?"

The answer is a resounding YES!

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Friday, May 2, 2014

Keeping my days straight

It's Day 5 and it's been a great week! I can't say it's been easy, it rarely is when making such changes, but I feel accomplished going into the last "strict" day. Actually I have been challenged this week by those closest to me. From the grandmother wanting Dairy Queen Grill, to having to stop and get her Wendy's before her flight home, this week has been a challenge and test of willpower. 

Oh did I mention I passed with flying colors? I did!!!!

I have worked out every day, and the one day I couldn't Wednesday, I double stacked my workouts on Thursday. I feel great! My only problem has been the absence of caffeine. I don't drink black coffee, so I went two days without coffee, realized I needed it, and then broke down and had a Skinny Caffe Mocha. The bright side is that it is only 110 calories. 

My body is sore as shit. I ache everywhere and yet, I can't wait to see how my transformation takes place. And if you are wondering how hard the exercise has been- it's been grueling! The food/meal plan has been great though! 

In an effort to help me monitor my activity level, steps and caloric burn, I went out and bought a Fitbit Flex. Love it! It helps monitor my steps, it estimates my caloric burn (I'm not sure how accurate this is, but oh well), it monitors my sleep patterns, and over activity minutes. The best thing that I like is that it has an app that works with my iPhone and the FitBit syncs with my other awesome app, My Fitness Pal. My Fitness Pal (MFP) helps to track your meals and calories over the day. So the two of them talking and syncing is great! The only draw back from FitBit is that it doesn't track your heart rate so there is no real way to know how you burn during a workout. So to fix this I went out and purchased WahooFitness Heart Rate Monitor which syncs with my iPhone and it syncs with my running app and MFP. Hopefully with all these new gadgets I can monitor my progress and really see what's changing and how to make improvements. I really think that will be a huge motivator!

 Overall I'm doing great and going strong! I feel good and I think this next week will be a kick in the ass with the workouts but I can do it. Hell the workouts are only 25 minutes. I can do anything for 25 minutes, right?

Here is to Day 5, and a great weekend!

For the record, I have not been paid or received ANY compensation for my commentary on FitBit, MyFitnessPal and WahooFitness monitor. I'm just relaying my experiences with these health gadgets. :)

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Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Starting from 1

All journeys start at the same point: Day 1. Yesterday was the first day in the journey to changing my eating habits and changing my life. 

It really wasn't as bad as I thought it would be! I had 5 meals during the course of the day, and really never felt that hungry. The only time I felt a bit hungry was in the latter part of the evening after dinner. I kinda felt like dinner wasn't enough and was munchy. I really can't tell you if I was still hungry or just needed something to munch on, so I drank more water to try to fill up my stomach. 
Believe it or not... it worked! :) Overall the food wasn't bad and I was pleasantly surprised with the combinations of foods. The only thing I missed was coffee! I didn't have any coffee and I felt it by way of a headache. Hopefully that will subside over time, considering I can't have coffee the way I like it. My options are black coffee or no coffee. I'm obviously choosing no coffee, that could change in the very near future. 

As for the exercise, that was an asskicker. T25's day one was a cardio kick in the rear. I could barely keep up with the exercises, so about 90% of the workout was completed following the modifications chick! Yea, that was the best I could do, but it was a start for Day 1. 

Overall, it was a good day! I would give it a 5 out 5 stars! Onward and upward to Day 2.

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Sunday, April 27, 2014

Tomorrow it starts!!

Monday, April 28th will be the first day of the next part of my life. I'm making a lifestyle change. I am giving myself 60 days to make it a habit and make it part of my routine. I am giving myself the summer to make sure this is a permanent fixture of my life. 

I can't give up and I won't let myself fail this time. I don't have it in me to fail, and I don't have it in me to continue to be this unhealthy and this bleh! Truthfully I feel fat as hell and I can't handle that anymore. So... it's time. 

I will be taking my pictures tonight and my measurements tomorrow morning. From there I will not obsess over the scale. I will allow the inches lost to be the measurement of my success. I will not obsess about falling off the wagon if I do. I will get back on track on the next meal. I will exercise once a day, and if time permits, I will walk in the evenings. I will post on my support pages and get help when I need it. 

I will succeed. 

I will not fail. 

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Friday, April 25, 2014

Hey It's Ok Tuesday, Wednesday, and any day I want it to be!

Hey everyone! So my fellow blogger Amber does a Tuesday piece called "Hey It's Ok." She got the idea from Glamour magazine and it lists things to be okay about. I occasionally join in, but I am always a day late and a dollar short. So here is my latest installment of "Hey It's Ok"

It's Ok...

...that I don't write on my blog as much as I want to. I have tons of ideas but never the quiet time to write. 

... to feel good that my Grandma likes being with me. She has stayed with us for about 2 months now and she is heading back to Florida this week. I will miss her. :(

... to be grateful Gma is alive and healthy. She is going to be 86 this summer!!!

... to be somewhat sad that I don't have many any friends here yet. 

... to be excited that my house is almost completely unpacked, about 95%. Best part was opening up boxes containing old photos. 

... to be frustrated that my garage is about 95% a mess. 

... to be missing Europe, traveling, and European food and drink, and all things living overseas. 

... to be over the moon my Dad is coming to visit. 

... to feel old that my daughter is 19 years old and finishing her first year of college! WoW!

... to be excited that my perennials are looking lovely! 

... to love getting my hands dirty in everything from gardening to crafting. There is such a sense of pride of watching something grow that you planted, or looking at a craft you made adorn your front door. (I just completed both of those!)

... to be starting my weight loss journey for the tenth billionth time and to be pissed that I am 10-15 lbs heavier than I was when we left Germany. 

... to be excited for the Color Run I signed up for on May 17th! WOOHOO!

... to NOT be excited about the military ball I have to attend tonight. I don't know anyone, and I'm expected to have fun. Thankfully, I have fun with my hubby! :)

... to have SOOOO many things to be Ok about, because I don't write this post on a regular basis. LOL

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Thursday, April 24, 2014

60 Day Challenge

So of course, you know I am obsessed with losing weight. Ok so obsession is a bit harsh, but it does seem like an obsession because I can't let go of the idea that I'm not the best me that I can be. Anyways, I have posted quite a few time that I'm starting over and trying again. Usually it's January and it's some stupid resolution. Blah blah blah. I also start and never finish. We seem to have a pattern here, huh?

Well now I am starting again, in April, right before summer break, and I am hoping that this will work. After arriving here stateside, I have effectively gained 15 lbs. Ouch! I know, I know. Totally self-inflicted. I get it!

I was recently asked by an old friend to join this 60-day weight loss, life-style altering challenge. She claimed the program she was using actually worked for her. Now mind you, she is slender and really probably could have lost 5 lbs calibrating her scale, I mean that is how small she is, but oh well. As it was, I was already looking into purchasing the Shaun-T T25 program, which is part of the Beachbody line, so it seemed like a win win for me! I joined the challenge, purchased the DVDs and joined the FB page.
This week starts the prep week of the 60-day challenge.  The group and coaches are getting everyone in the mindset, helping us in understanding the programs, and offering helpful hints to keep everyone on track. It really seems like it will be a supportive group. I created my first YouTube video in order to introduce myself and well I'm not working, have time, and have minimal excuses. It's now or never folks. 
At any rate, I plan on posting my daily food, exercise journal here. Let's see how that goes. I'm trying to stay accountable to the group and myself. I even have my best friend in PA joining in on the exercise with me! It should be exactly what I need! 
I'll keep you posted! Here is to post #1 on the road to the Challenge.

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New Digs!

Everyone's life is hectic. Mine is no exception. Last time I checked in I was anxiously awaiting the closing on our NEW home.
Our NEW home!

It happened! On March 14th we became the proud owners of our brand new home, never lived in by anyone but us! I think that is cool as crap!  Don't get me wrong, we aren't first time homeowners. This is actually the 3rd home we've owned. However it is our first new, NEW- still smells like NEW CAR smell- home. That is fracking exciting!

You can imagine that in the last month I have been crazily unpacking boxes. Our first shipment of things arrived the same day we closed on the house. No like seriously on the same day we closed. We'd barely were done with closing (actually we really weren't 100% finished) and the movers were at the house unloading the truck in the driveway because we hadn't been given the keys. It was 100 shades of crazy!

If you're new to the concept of PCSing, lemme 'es-plain' the procedures for you.  The military packs and moves everything for you- not bad huh? However, when you are coming from overseas you may or may not have had all your things with you overseas. We didn't. We had left many things in long-term storage in an effort to accommodate what we were told were going to be substantially smaller German homes. Not entirely true. German homes can be big, they just don't have closets which makes storing a bunch of extraneous crap difficult. But I digress.....the movers.

So the movers unpacked the 13 crates, yes I said 13 crates, of household goods that had arrived from Germany, via the slow boat from hell.  Thriteen crates, some 12,000 lbs, and 6 hrs later, and VOILA! We were in our new home! Can you say box heaven? More like box haven. It seemed our house was a sanctuary to every wayward box in Georgia. Thankfully hubby had taken a week of leave to get us settled.
Boxes, boxes and more boxes.

Talk about a rough week. It was up at 6:30. Unpack, unpack, unpack, eat, unpack, unpack. Fall into bed around 11:00pm, which still wasn't on the frame. Only to start again the next day. Wash. Lather. Rinse. Repeat. It went on this way for the entire week. Splatter in a new furniture delivery, and a smaller hold baggage shipment which contained about 10 more boxes. The house was in shambles, and  that was the first week in the new house. By the end of that first week, we had more empty boxes awaiting disposable than we had boxes to empty. We were machines!

Fast forward a bit, and another delivery comes. This one of the long-term storage items. Oh yeah, another 4,000+ lbs of things. Did I mention this was 4,000 lbs of stuff we hadn't laid eyes on in almost 3 years? Yea that. This unpacking was more akin to Christmas morning. Every box we opened was like getting reacquainted with items and things we had forgotten we even owned. It was great! (Not in the Disney World sense of the word great, but in the "it's great that this root canal is over and my tooth doesn't hurt anymore" kind of great. Get my drift?)

The house is almost put together. There are a few boxes that need emptying, but for the most part the house is at about 90% solution. Mind you that's the house.

The garage is a hot mess of garage sh*t, which includes boxes, that needs shelving and a permanent home, i.e.. my Christmas decor. We are slowly working on that. Did I mention the 18 boxes of professional items I have? We call it professional gear, but if you are a teacher, have ever lived with a teacher or have ever seen a veteran teacher's classroom- you know what I mean by professional gear. It's the years of accumulated books, handouts, papers, exemplars, folders, projects and just things that you just might need in the remote chance that some day in the next 100 years you might actually teach that obscure course you've never taught before. In which case it would take you 10 years to locate the materials you so judiciously stored, which by the way is now housed on 7 different teacher blogs and websites. Now you're tracking! So my mission for the summer is to go through those boxes and scan those papers, handouts, and oddities, and put them on an external drive which I can very easily tote around for the next 100 years or more like 2 before external hard drives become obsolete, if they aren't already. Are they?

On to the yard work.....

The yard-scaping was done almost immediately after getting there and it looks great if I do say so myself. Thank you very much! I have all sorts of beautiful perennials, shrubs, and flowers. It smells good and looks good! DIY websites have helped me get great ideas and implement them in my planting and landscaping.

Life and the house are coming along. It's a tedious road, but the payoffs are tremendous and I'm enjoying the process. I have already completed TWO major craft projects in the last few weeks. I will most definitely post about those. They are swweeeett!!

Anyways.... I hope to start posting more again as I get my myself back in a routine. I'm going to try to make more time for me, and this of course includes another attempt at shedding this fat suit I have been wearing for some time now. I swear it's not mine, but I'm clutching to it like an old lady clutches her purse at the bus stop.

Onwards and upwards. Read the post about the 60 day challenge. It will all make sense.

Until next time..... don't forget to click that brown Top Mommy Blog Banner. Not sure what it does, but I'm hoping someone gets shocked each time you do, so try it out. :)

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Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Hey It's NOT always Ok, Sometimes It's Ugh

Hey Hey everyone! So my fellow blogger Amber does a Tuesday piece called "Hey It's Ok." She got the idea from Glamour magazine and it lists things to be okay about. I occasionally join in, but I am always a day late and a dollar short. So here is my latest installment of "Hey It's Ok" on Wednesday.

I need to preface this Ok piece with the fact that I have been under an incredible amount of stress lately. So this might seem ugly or harsh or maybe even angry.... be warned! 


It's Ok...

... to get so frustrated and angry with my 13 year old son that I call him a "dick" or an "asshole." Probably not the best parenting, but it sure does beat spanking him. 

.... to have purchased so much new furniture for the house that I am afraid that when they deliver it, I won't have enough room. 

... to be so pissed at the realtors for not being considerate enough to call me to cancel an appointment this afternoon. 

.... to be grateful my husband had the presence of mind to call and confirm the realtor walk-through appointment this afternoon. Yea, that's how we found out they wouldn't have the house ready for the final walk-through. 

Photo by the OwnerBuilder Network
.... to be REALLY excited about our new house despite how long it seems to be taking to close on this damn thing! 

.... to be REALLY REALLY excited about planning my outdoor projects: flower beds, mulching, butterfly bushes, upright garden and that's just my spring projects! 

.... to have my Pinterest rehab project in mind: rehabbing an old window frame. Can't wait!

.... to be ready to have my own things around me. It's weird how material objects help you feel more connected to yourself and make you feel "at home".

.... to be ready to start running again. I have found at least 1 race a month that I plan on joining. I need the motivation. My first one: The Big Nasty Mud Run on April 5th!

.... to NOT be impressed at all with hubby's newest show "addiction"- Storage Wars. Ugh that show is  just unit after unit of shit left behind by Californians. 

.... to be BE impressed with this year's American Idol. Sadly, it's the only one I have ever watched passed the auditions. Hah!

.... to be bored with The Walking Dead. I totally get character development, and I honestly have been very impressed with the writing and acting. However, I'm waiting for the group to reconvene and I'm getting impatient. Actually I'm friggin' worried that it will be the season finale and then they will regroup and I'll have to wait until next season. Shit!

.... to be angry that every damn PCS has its challenges and I'm ready for this move to over with, pronto. Oddly enough, as a military spouse you would think I was more open to change- well guess what, change sucks! 

.... to be ready for the weekend.... since Monday.  

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Friday, February 28, 2014

Turning Pages

There are milestones in our lives that define us, that allows us to close one chapter and begin another. Some milestones allow more than closure of chapter, but a closure of a volume of chapters and the beginning of a new story.

As a military family, it seems we often close volumes, containing stories and chapters of this or that duty station, of this deployment or that reintegration process. There are stories about family vacations, and traveling Europe, and moving, and packing up this house, and buying that house. All of these stories containing the smiles, tears and joys of living and breathing the life of a military family. 

This week my other half, and by proxy the rest of my family, closed an important volume this week. After almost 20 years of blood (not hers), sweat and tears, we closed the volume on the former spouse (FS). This week he signed what should be the LAST court order, the LAST suit, the LAST shake down for more "entitlement" payouts. And I have to say- I couldn't be happier!!!!! Well maybe I could be if we won the lottery right now! *wink*

I won't divulge too many details, as they are not mine to share, but I will share MY experiences. Since I started dating my Hubby it has been an assortment of threats, modifications, suits, contempt orders, shake downs for money, missed visitations, claims of adoption, denial of parental rights, harassment of employers, outright lies, a parade of attorneys, nasty emails, ill wishes, and sense of impending doom that comes with all of this. It seemed like just when things were settling down to a sense of normalcy, she was at it again. Her demands and threats as inconsistent as the winter in the south. Her only consistency was the underlying motivation, which I believe was to stay relevant in our (Hubby's) life. 

This week, it all ended. Hubby signed that last piece of paperwork that liberated our family from the chains of bondage to that woman. (And I use those words lightly.)

So we should be ecstatic right!? Celebrations. Parades. Drinks and "Round is on me!" Clapping. Confetti.  Not so much. 

No war is won without casualties. No battle is fought that doesn't have some collateral damage. 

The latest victim: the Father-Son Relationship.

I'm not sure how they will repair this rift or if it has a fix. Sometimes flat tires can't be patched, you just need to buy a new tire. I'm not suggesting he "buy" a new son, but it may be that this relationship has no repair and that instead they will need to build a new one. Start from scratch. Build from the ground up. 

I don't have the answers, but what I do know is that I can hear the hurt in what hubby doesn't say. I see the pain of losing his son masked behind the joy of closing the volumes of chapters that include the former spouse. 

I can only hope that Son2 can understand the pain he caused, and own his part in this. I can only hope that Son2 can see the choices he made led to this final destruction. I can only hope Son2 will learn that children of divorced parents need to stick up for their separate relationships with each parent.  I can only hope that Son2 never experiences the pain and heartache of divorce and the struggles that can accompany the process if the bitterness remains. 

For my husband, I hope his pain and anger subside to a level that is manageable. I hope his rage against the situation doesn't consume him from the inside out. Most importantly I hope he learns to forgive her and Son2. There is no healing without forgiveness, and there is no peace without healing. 

As for my family as a whole, we'll be ok. We'll be ok because we are closing this chapter. We are finishing this storyline. We will be ok, because today is the start of a new chapter. Today we turn the page, and all we see is a clean sheet. Today we start a new story- one that doesn't include....who again? *wink*

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Wednesday, February 26, 2014

My new job: Learning Coach

Yup. That's me. Learning Coach extraordinaire.

Mom by morning. Learning Coach by day. Exhausted by night.

Lather. Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

What's a learning coach you ask? It's any adult (usually mom) who facilitates learning via virtual lessons and school, while still doing more or less what a homeschool teacher/mom does.

Let's start at the beginning......

First, a recap of my anal retentive tendencies...I'm a researcher. Not only do I love to do it, it soothes my angst and worry, especially during a pending PCS (Permanent Change of Station- military speak for "fuck me! we are moving again!"). I researched my ass off about schools, the local housing and job markets, and as much as I could about the area.

What I found was disturbing. Schools were not the best in the immediate county of the new Army post, with state tests being the barometer for success. Hey I don't decide this, your our lovely government officials seem to think success is directly linked to some stupid test the kids are prepped all year to take. Never mind the fact that teachers teach to the test, but I digress.

So, blah blah... scores were shitty in the area that we really wanted to live in. Odd occurrence given the fact that 3 major companies are located within spitting distance of the area: Gulfstream, Mitsubishi and JCB. Oh wait, and the housing market has houses in this area that command upwards of $350, 000 homes. Ludicrous! The neighboring counties had better schools, but in one of them the housing market was even higher, if you can believe that. In some instances rent increased by $400-600. Yeah.  In the other county, it seemed rural and from what I could see the drive hubby would have to endure would be difficult.

Lotsa research. No assuaging of fears. Minimal options. And the PCS is right in the middle of the school year which doesn't allow for a huge margin of error. So I keep looking.

In this research I find Georgia Cyber Academy. Hear the choir of angels? Well it was a life saver. It was a virtual public school system open for any student living in Georgia. Hmmm.... keep talking.
The sample lessons online and the information they provided was a huge plus for me, because it allowed me to see exactly what we were getting into. I thought it was a great idea! Online schools, interactive lessons, point and click assessments, and even Blackboard collaborative classrooms where the kids received direct instruction from an actual certified teacher! Winning!!!!!!

What more could you want? School in your underwear or jammies. Wait isn't that always the bad dream? Either way, it was a win win. So I thought.  Now if you know my child, you know he is a computer/gaming geek. He is a techie. I'm thinking attending a public school that's virtual, with no building that he had to wake up and to go, and no real set schedule- well I thought that was right up his alley.

Yea. No.

Week one could have been Navy Seals Buds Training for all the torture it was. He whined and moped and literally cried about the amount of work he was doing. Mind you, it was from 8:45am until about 3:00 or so and no homework! The lessons were no longer than a 55-65 minute class session, and the activities were incorporated right into the assignment/learning.

By Friday I was ready to kill him. On Saturday we went out and got him all he needed so that he could attend the regular local middle school. Let's see how that works for ya big guy!

It didn't. He went there for 1 day. I left the school crying when I left him (fodder for another post- How Shitty My Experience Was at West Chatham Middle), and he walked out at 2:45pm damn near in tears. Between unruly students in Math and the teacher continuing to teach through the disruptions, to a fight in science class, and eventually kids upending chairs in a classroom. I think he got his first real taste of how the other half lives- you know the half that attend crappy public schools. This speaks nothing of the crappy attitudes I had dealt with that morning in Guidance department.  We withdrew him and took back his school uniforms. Thankfully Wal-Mart was friendlier in their return policy than the school staff had been to us on our first day.

Score one in the winner's column for GCA. He promised he would make it work until the next school year.

And that is how I became the Learning Coach.

We are about a month into this adventure, and some days I want to bash my head, or his, against the table. Some akin to the scene in True Lies with Arnold Schwarzenegger, where he is riding in the car with the used car sales man, and he head slams the salesman's head into the steering wheel. Go watch it and you'll understand. *wink*  I haven't caused him harm, yet, and by the looks of it we should make it until May 23rd, which is the official last day of school.

I do have to say, it's a nice change of learning/teaching modality. It really syncs up nicely with our current generation's need for tech-y things all the time and the "right now" mode at which they process everything. They still have books and many of the supplemental activities take place offline, which allows me to interact with Bear while he is doing some active learning. I hate to admit this, but I think I like it more than the traditional brick and mortar- it's what we call the old fashioned building. *snort*  On top of all of that GCA, does a great job at trying to incorporate "field trips" or outside learning opportunities. We will be attending a Science event in our area next month and it takes us out to the coastal areas to learn about the local environment. Oh did I mention that it counts as "classroom" time? Too cool!

All in all, I'm happy we had an alternative for schooling- many people don't and are stuck sending their kids to sub standard schools, wondering what's next for their child. I'm truly blessed that right now our lives permit me the time and space to make this work. I can't imagine trying to do this 10 year ago.

Georgia Cyber Academy and I'm giving you a 2 thumbs up!

Oh and GCA, I'm also giving you my résumé and filling out an application for the 2014-2015 school year. How about a job next year?

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