Thursday, July 21, 2016

Why I Became a Beachbody Coach

If someone told me years ago I'd one day become an Independent Team Beachbody fitness coach, I wouldn't have believed them. Me, a girl who never worked out a day in her life, cheerleading others to reach their fitness goals?! Yep, believe it.

Last October, I wrote this post a few weeks after I started 21 Day Fix, and I can hear the hesitation in my own voice. I never expected this program to transform my life the way it has, but I'm forever grateful. I'm truly a different person now on the inside and out. I take care of my body the way I should have been doing a long time ago, and I feel better because of it!

When I took the leap to start the 21 Day Fix program last September, I had no desire to workout. My goal was to eat better, thereby influencing the way my family ate. I figured I could do anything for 21 days though, so I vowed to put down the bag of Doritos and commit to the program entirely.

After I completed 21 days, I kept going. I started to see changes in my body I never expected to see. By January 1, 2016, I'd lost 12 pounds and gained a whole new sense of confidence. I started to love exercise because those 30-minutes a day were devoted to ME. I realized how important self-care in the form of working out and eating better was in making me a happier wife and a more patient mom. I also developed some amazing friendships through the free online challenge group I participated in every month. These women lifted me up, supported and encouraged me, and I did the same for them. It felt amazing to surround myself with all that positive energy. 

That's why I decided to sign up as a fitness coach -- to pay forward what I've learned and help my family and friends find the same success in health that I have. I'm ready to see where this adventure takes me!

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Fourth of July 2016

Thoughts of Tory and Aden's "school years" are looming and more than ever, I'm realizing how fortunate I am to be in control of our day-to-day schedule in this phase of life. For this reason, I purposely "un-planned" our summer so Tory, Aden and I would be able to spend as much time at the lake as possible. Summer is, no doubt, the best time of the year here and I want to enjoy it!

Unfortunately, Andi's work schedule is busier than ever so he's been working long days and traveling a lot. He reminds me he's glad the kids and I are able to enjoy the cabin, even if he's not here with us and I try not to feel guilty about it.

Tory, Aden and I drove up to the cabin on Thursday, June 30 for a long Fourth of July weekend. Since we've been at the lake on Thursdays this summer, I've taken the kids to the Country Lane Farmer's Market in Barron, WI to buy fresh fruits and vegetables. This market amazes me every time I visit; it's bustling with produce and craft vendors, food trucks, a playground, and a huge bulk foods market despite being located in the middle of the countryside between cattle farms and corn fields. Tory and Aden love the face-painting station and the homemade ice cream. 

The kids and I spent most of Friday, July 1 on the lake. It felt top-secret to enjoy the lake before the holiday weekend craziness set in. We practically had the place to ourselves.

Andi joined us at the lake Friday evening, and we capped our night with a boat ride around the lake.

Early Saturday morning, Andi and I took Tory and Aden to Crystal Lake Berries for our annual berry-picking adventure. Strawberry picking is one of my favorite summertime traditions. I can't get enough of those delicious berries - there's nothing better!

Aden was surprisingly uninterested in picking berries this year. He picked and ate a few, and then stood by the field and whined the rest of the time. Tory, on the other hand, loved picking strawberries. She took the task of filling her pail very seriously.

We walked away with three pails of fresh strawberries filled to the brim. Lucky for me, Andi was kind enough to wash, cut and package them all in Ziploc bags for freezing.

Saturday night, we attended a Fourth of July BBQ at our cabin friends Joe and Lisa's place on the lake. They always throw a fabulous party with lots of food and live music. We chased the kids around in the yard and chatted with various neighbors on the lake. It was a perfect evening!

The next day, our good friends Nick and Julie joined us at the cabin with their boys Joel and Alex. We've celebrated many Fourth of July's together over the years, so it was great to have them. Sunday was spent lounging by the lake -- jet skiing, fishing off the dock and relaxing in the sun.

For dinner that night, Andi and I hosted several of our cabin friends at our place for a shrimp and sausage bowl. We've done this in the past a few times and it's always so fun and easy. I say easy because Andi is the one who does all the cooking! He boiled shrimp, Cajun sausage, corn on the cob and red potatoes, then we dumped all the food onto the table family-style for everyone to eat. It really is a fun meal for everyone, and different than the usual summer BBQs.

Another place on the lake did a big fireworks show that evening after dark, so we promised the kids we'd go watch them if they weren't too cranky by then. Fortunately, everyone was in great spirits and we made it to the show for the first time in our five years on the lake. Of course, not before we did our own little fireworks show (with snappers and sparklers) and s'mores by the fire.


We watched the big fireworks show in our friends' Oscar and Deanna's backyard on the lake. It's was in perfect view of the big show. 

Julie, Nick and their boys left the cabin mid-morning on Monday, July 4 so our little family of four enjoyed the rest of the day together. It was peaceful, low-key and exactly what we all needed after such a busy weekend celebrating. 

Tory, Aden and I were lucky enough to stay another week at the lake following Fourth of July while Andi returned to the Twin Cities for work. I'm operating in a constant state of "vacation mode" being here so long: no time tables or schedules to keep, no distractions of television or media. I feel like we're safe and sound in our little bubble here, and it's absolute paradise.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

A Day In The Life - Summer 2016

The day I selected to document is Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Andi and I are both 35 years old (I just typed 25 and boy, does that seem like a lifetime ago?)
Tory is 4 years, 10 months
Aden is 2 years, 7 months

The day after a holiday weekend was an unusual day to pick for a Day In The Life post; it definitely wasn't a "normal" day for us. I selected it though, because the kids and I spent the day at the lake as we're aiming to do for most of the month of July. I thought it'd be fun to document how similar / different our life is at the lake.


4:57am: I wake up to the sound of birds chirping outside our open bedroom window at the cabin. The sun is rising on this beautiful post-holiday day at the lake, and I'm feeling happy and content. I check my Fitbit for the time -- 4:57am -- two minutes before it's alarm is set to go off. Andi stirs in bed, groans and rolls out of bed. Unfortunately, he's heading to work this morning for a on-location photo shoot in Wyoming, Minnesota. Tory, Aden and I luckily get to stay at the lake.

5:01am: I hear the shower turn on in the bathroom and Andi getting ready for work. I get up, too, as is my daily routine. I wake up before the kids in the morning to workout, blog (ha! haven't made time for much of that lately), write my meal plan, eat breakfast by myself, watch the morning news on television -- whatever! It's worth it to beat the sun out of bed in order to carve out a few kid-free minutes to myself.

5:15am: I change into the workout clothes I laid out the night before and quietly tip-toe outside, carrying my hand weights and my laptop computer. This is shaping up to be one of my favorite things about the lake this summer -- exercising outdoors by the lake, with a cool breeze blowing around me and the animals sounding. Paradise! Meanwhile, Andi sneaks out the door for work without saying good-bye; he must be in a rush to get on the road.

It's after 5:30am by the time I push the play. Today's workout is Upper Fix Extreme and my arms are toast by the end. Arms! Are! Shaking! I carry my equipment back inside and put it away as quietly as I can without waking Tory and Aden.

6:20am: I pour myself a cup of coffee, post a photo on Instagram and type a few notes for this post. My brain is scattered as I bounce from activity to activity, anything and everything is a distraction: scrolling through my Instagram feed, Facebook, drafting notes for this post and staring at the clock with panic as I realize how soon Tory and Aden will be awake.

6:45am: Brrr! A sudden gust of wind blows through the open sliding glass doors. I check the weather app on my iPhone (side-tracked - again!), and a chance of rain is in the forecast. It doesn't look like it's going to be very warm today, either -- not for the middle of summer. I pull on a sweatshirt and lounge pants over my workout clothes, then try to re-focus. A shower should happen since I just worked out, but I'll get to that later...

7:00am: I spend some time posting and commenting in my online Facebook fitness challenge group. It's the day after a long holiday weekend and we could all use some extra encouragement as we stumble through the fog. It's fun seeing so many familiar faces pop up with their #sweatyselfies and know we're all working out "together" this morning. Love this positive network of ladies!

7:15am: Okay, focus: maybe breakfast will help. We are desperately low on groceries I see, as I cook up the last remaining vegetable we have in the cabin. A trip into town is definitely needed today. I make myself scrambled eggs and sauteed kale, and enjoy my coffee while I draft a grocery list.

7:30am: My breakfast tastes like vacation on a plate this morning since I used unrefined coconut oil to saute my kale. It has a hint of coconut flavor, and I'm digging it. (This is where Andi would be rolling his eyes as I proclaim my love for kale once again. Seriously, obsessed!)

7:45am: I hear Aden making noises from his room on the lower level of the cabin. He cracks his door open and starts asking for Tory, so I scoot down the stairs to retrieve him before he wakes her. Aden is always such a happy boy in the morning. As I carry him upstairs, he chats in my ear as he seems to remember his surroundings. "Go b-ishing (fishing)? Go Ranger ride? I drive?"

8:00am: Then, he notices the patch-wearing octopus on the shirt of his pajamas as I lay him on the bed to change his diaper. "I a pirate! Arghh!" he says, over and again. I love the way his imagination is kicking into gear the last few weeks. Tory is so literal, so it's a fun change to have a child who dreams up and acts out new characters and mini-adventures.

8:10am: I turn "Super Why" on the television and get Aden a sippy cup of soy milk and an applesauce packet. I hear Tory coming up the stairs and, as per usual, she's rocking awesome bed head. This girl! She goes to the bathroom while I get her a sippy cup of chocolate almond milk and a tube of yogurt. Tory crawls into our bed with Aden, and the two of them wake up together with a cartoon.

8:15am: I get the kids' breakfasts going because I know they'll soon demand food. A busy holiday weekend with lots of treats = they'll be searching for routine this morning, just as much as I am. Aden joins me in the kitchen and helps me make breakfast by digging in the cupboard, saying "I want that ... I want that ... I want that." He hands me a can of peaches and the jar of peanut butter with the request: "Please, I have some!"

While I finish preparing breakfast in the kitchen, Aden slips out the open patio door onto the backyard deck. This kid is my little escape artist! I'm this-close to sewing a bell on his clothes so I'll be able to hear him better. "Aden, you can't go outside without a life jacket!" I scold him. "Why?" he asks, like it's the first time I've told him that. Gah. What am I going to do with him?

8:45am: At the table now eating breakfast, Aden starts singing "muffin man! muffin man!" while he eats his food. This morning, he's having a frozen waffle, half a muffin (hence, the song), a bowl of Cheerios and canned peaches. Not the most balanced breakfast, but we're low on groceries so it's what I cobbled together.

Tory is having a toaster strudel for breakfast with 1/2 banana and the other half of Aden's blueberry muffin. "I wanted donuts!" she protests. Wow, are we coming off a holiday weekend full of indulgences!

9:00am: Aden summons Tory to the living room to jump in the "pillow pit" he's made on the living room floor. "Tory! Come 'mere, I show you!" he begs and she responds, annoyed "Aden, I'm watching and you asked me that, like, 12 times!" Eventually, she joins him in the living room to jump in the pillows leaving her half-eaten breakfast on the table.

Chloe's watching all this unfold, thinking "these kids are crazy!"

I ask Tory and Aden to return to the table to finish their breakfasts, bu they never do. So, I clean up the spilled milk and crumbs strewn over the table, seating bench and the floor.

9:40am: Panic sets in as I realize it's mid-morning already, and we're all still in our pajamas. I want to go to Walmart in Rice Lake, WI this morning to get groceries, diapers, the high-maintenance wet dog food Chloe eats now and a few other things I know aren't available in the local grocery store by the cabin. I toss the dirty breakfast dishes in the sink which bothers me to no end, and work on getting the kids and I dressed for the day.

10:00am: Kids are strapped into their car seats and we're out the door to Rice Lake. I'm starving all of a sudden, so I eat an O Yeah protein bar as I turn on a personal development podcast to listen to in the car. Tory notifies me almost immediately that her iPad is dead and she'd like to play a game on my phone. Nope, sorry kid, I'm using it. "But what will I do nooooow?" she whines.

10:45am: We arrive at Walmart in Rice Lake, and I'm excited as ever to spend my morning here. I'm not; that was a joke. Grocery shopping with my kids in tow is just about my least favorite thing ever. I grab the Beco Gemini carrier and promise treats to Tory and Aden if they're well behaved in the store. "I walk!" Aden screams as I fasten him into the carrier on my hip. He is the real trouble-maker during grocery store outings because he climbs out of the cart and can't be trusted to walk on his own without running away.

Shopping in Walmart is about as fun as you'd imagine. Aden tries to throw himself backwards out of the carrier attached to me and whines for me to let him walk the entire time we're there. Tory is very well behaved though, so I let her pick out a treat and she chooses powdered donuts. We're in and out of the store with $200 worth of groceries in an hour's time.

12:00pm: I load the groceries into the back of my SUV and realize it's lunchtime. The typically prepared Heather would've packed lunches for everyone to eat on the drive back to the lake cabin, but I wasn't that person today. "Can we have lunch at a restaurant?" Tory asks. "Yeah! Chicken nuggets!" Aden shouts in agreement. Okay, fine. I decide to swing through the McDonalds drive-thru on our way out of town because a) it's lunchtime, and b) I don't feel like listening to the kids cry over hunger during our 30-minute drive back to the lake.

12:15pm: Tory requests a cheeseburger Happy Meal and pouts when I won't let her order it herself through her open car window. "But why can't I just say it?" she asks. Aden gets a chicken nugget Happy Meal. Both kids are over the moon about the little stuffed toy dogs that come with their meals. No fast food lunch for me -- I'm hungry, but I'll wait to eat my planned lunch back at the cabin.

12:30pm: For the next 30 minutes, all is quiet. Tory and Aden happily eat their lunches in the backseat and I listen to the remainder of my podcast episode. I sometimes wonder what it'd be like to live at our northwestern Wisconsin lake cabin full-time, but this morning I'm reminded of the reality of "country living." A trip to the nearest big box store in the area has taken us three hours this morning, all said and done.    

1:00pm: Since everyone's content in the car, I decide to stop at the strawberry patch near the lake on our way back to the cabin. I can't get enough of their fresh berries and there's only a day or two left before the season is over. Andi, the kids and I just picked 3 pails of strawberries here on Saturday but those were cut up and frozen. Today, I buy a quart of fresh strawberries to eat over the next day or two.

1:30pm: Back at the cabin, I unload groceries from the car and put them away while Aden runs around the living room chasing Chloe.

1:45pm: I change Aden's diaper, wash his hands and face and carry him downstairs to his bedroom. Together, we read The Little Engine That Could and Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site before nap time.

2:00pm: Lunch! I am so hungry by this point as it's two hours past my normal lunchtime. I make some tuna salad with yellow bell pepper, and eat it with berries and sliced cucumber. Meanwhile, Tory is quietly playing with her Doc McStuffins magnet dolls in the living room. Goodness, I'm thankful for that girl and her newfound ability to find something to do independently.

2:30pm: I clean up my lunch mess and the breakfast dishes from this morning. Tory asks if she can help me, so I tell her to start by unloading the dishwasher. She can't reach many of the cabinets, of course, and ends up piling most of the dishes on the counter for me to put away ... but she's offering to help, and that's all that matters.

"I'm bored of this," she eventually says (yes, chores aren't typically the most exciting activity) and makes her way to the dining room table to draw a picture. After a while, she comes back to the kitchen to show me her artwork. It's Anna, Elsa and Olaf, she tells me. I see the snow, Elsa's winter cape and her name perfectly printed on the bottom of the page -- I love it. Great work, girl!

3:00pm: I want to assemble the pineapple salsa I'm having for dinner so it has time to marinade in the refrigerator, so I ask Tory if she'd like to help me make it. "Sure, I'll just cut the fruit because I don't like that green stuff," she tells me of the cilantro laying on the counter. Once she's into the preparation though, she does help me by pulling the cilantro leaves off the stems. "This green stuff is making me choke!" she says. There's something about the color green and this girl -- she won't eat a green vegetable to save her life, and apparently the mere smell of green herbs are out of the question, too.

3:30pm: I go downstairs and open Aden's door to slowly wake him from his afternoon nap. If he sleeps too long, he won't go to bed tonight and that's definitely not something I want to happen on a solo-parenting night. Aden is still sleeping soundly, so I raise the window shade a bit to let in some light and snap a quick photograph of my sleeping baby boy. So sweet and innocent (at the moment - ha!).

4:00pm: Aden is awake now, so I put on a cartoon in our bedroom so he can wake up a bit. I retrieve him a cup of soy milk and an applesauce to eat for a snack. Tory joins Aden in the bedroom to watch a show, and I finish making my pineapple salsa in the kitchen.

While I'm washing dishes, I notice three deer (a mama and two baby fawns) in the neighbor's garden. Quick! I rush to the bedroom to grab Aden and Tory, and plop them both on the kitchen counter to watch the deer. Our woodland friends seem to be enjoying the neighbor's beautiful garden, just standing there amongst the flowers. This is exactly what makes cabin life so magical; I love it here.

4:30pm: I tell Aden and Tory to get their swimming suits on, so we can go outside to play in the lake. We slip into them quickly, and Tory asks if they can each have a Popsicle. Sure, why not? It's summer! The weather is strange today; it's super cloudy, and sticky-humid outdoors. I can tell it's going to rain soon.

While the kids enjoy their Bomb Pops, I cut apart a pool noodle I bought at the store today and fashion it around a cheap cutting board. First-world problem, I know, but I wanted some sort of "floating tray" to get snacks and drinks to/from our floating dock in the water. Last week, Tory and I balanced bowls of yogurt with berries and bottles of water on the paddle board while we swam it out to the platform. Hoping my floating tray idea will be the solution to our big lake-life problem.

Hey, it works!

5:00pm: I take the kids for a jet ski ride around the lake, then we fish from the dock until it starts to rain. Aden is the only one to catch a fish tonight, and he proudly holds it up for us to see. The kids like to keep the fish they catch in a bucket on the dock so they can watch them swim around before we dump them back into the water.

6:00pm: It's starting to rain harder now, so I shuffle the kids up to the cabin and collect all the beach toys and hammocks hanging from the trees. Andi calls the cabin phone to check on us, and says it's really storming in the Twin Cities. He asks if I'd like him to drive to the lake in case the weather turns bad here tonight, but I assure him we're fine. I saw the neighbor out on his dock earlier, so worse case -- I know someone nearby if I need anything.

Meanwhile, Aden is running around the patio singing, "It's raining! It's pouring!" Tory is standing in the doorway crying because she's wet and cold. This couldn't be more telling of their personalities.

6:30pm: Inside the cabin, I dry all of us off and change the kids into their pajamas. Tory wants to help, and tells me not to look -- she's got a surprise waiting for me at the table. "Will you open this yogurt for me," she asks as I making dinner for everyone. I slice up some avocado and add it to my pineapple salsa -- the final touch for this perfect summer side dish.

7:00pm: The three of us sit down at the table for dinner. Aden and I are having leftover grilled chicken and pineapple avocado salsa for dinner, and I'm eating a side salad too; Tory is having an English muffin "pizza" and raspberries. Tory reveals her dinner "surprise" to me when I finally sit down to eat, and presents my water bottle and a Fage yogurt hiding beneath a kitchen towel. "I didn't realize you were eating chicken for dinner," Tory says half-annoyed, so I reassure her I'll eat the yogurt for my bedtime snack tonight.

7:45pm: I let the kids watch 15 more minutes of Strawberry Shortcake on TV while I clean up dinner. It's raining harder now, and the lights are flickering. Sure hope we don't lose power tonight!

8:00pm: I walk into the master bedroom to tell Tory it's time for bed and find her fast asleep. Oh, sweet girl! I let her rest while I carry Aden to his bedroom for books. "So dark! Moon come out, fun day ends?" he says, which is a line from one of our much-loved Little People: Let's Go to the Zoo board books.

8:20pm: Once Aden's in bed, I set out my workout clothes for the morning and turn off all the lights in the living room. I'm exhausted after the long holiday weekend, so I'm looking forward to curling up in bed with my computer. I would turn on something to watch on TV, but Tory's still asleep in my bed.

9:00pm: I respond to emails from my 21 Day Fix fitness group challengers, correspond with a gal interested in joining my July group and do a few other Beachbody Coach tasks. I pull photos from the day off my camera -- all 198 of them! -- and edit them for this Day In The Life blog post. I also eat that Greek yogurt Tory "made" me for dinner earlier.

10:30pm: So much more I'd like to do in my "free" time tonight, but I'm so tired I can barely keep my eyes open. I turn out the light and snuggle up to Tory asleep soundly beside me.

"The sun goes down, a fun day ends" ... at the lake.