Nov 12, 2014

Guest Post

Happy Wednesday, all!

I am guest posting today for Jess over at Operation Skinny Jeans!  Come by and visit!




Oct 29, 2014

An Open Letter...to Myself...

Dear Courtney (me),

You need a serious pep-talk, sweetie.  You need some serious motivation.  You were doing SO WELL before you started back to work in August.  You were exercising two times per day...losing weight and toning up. Your motivation was unwavering.  You were happy.  You were proud.  Your confidence was creeping up.

So, things lately have not been ideal.  You have been exhausted and have used every excuse in the book to get out of doing what you need to do...doing what you know in your heart you really WANT to do.  Something is holding you back, and the hard part is figuring out what exactly has gotten in the way and why.

Nobody's life is perfect.  You are now sitting at a desk, in an office, at the job of your dreams.  You are making more money.  You are working in a much more cohesive, healthy environment.  While it seemed like when this piece of your life came together, all of your problems would be solved, you were wrong.  More success at work is not going to bring you health and happiness unless you make it a part of the puzzle.  Right now there are a lot of puzzle pieces going on in your life -- career, finances, marriage, children, health, friendships, etc.  The problem is that all of those puzzle pieces are corner pieces or something.  You have not found how to incorporate them all together so that the big picture can be something beautiful that you can be proud of.  I guess the question is, how are you going to pull it all together?

I wish you had the perfect answer to this question.  I do think, however, that once you love yourself more, the picture will start to fill itself in.  You are WORTHY.  You are LOVED.  Just love yourself. Your shortcomings to not define you.  Being overweight is not your identity.  I know you have let it become who you are.  That is so unfair.  You are full of life and a love for life.  You have a kind heart and a loving spirit.  Don't let your self-doubt be the cloud that overshadows your path to success.

You can do this.  You are worth it.

Love,
Me

It's always the small pieces that make the big picture.

Sep 2, 2014

Deja Frickin Vu

I wish I had this awesome reason as to why I have been gone so long.  I don’t have one. The reality is that I have been having a really hard time.   One thing I keep learning over and over again is that I do not handle stress well.  I do not take difficult life events in stride and continue on with my healthy lifestyle.  As a matter of fact, I am sure that you can find several entries in my blog just like this one…entries that summarize excuses for why I am not doing what I am supposed to do…entries that whine on and are pretty much a written pity party.

I am done with that.

Here are the things that threw me off, but shouldn’t have…

           I started a new job.  It is an awesome job.  I love it.  (Not a reason to stress eat!)
      
 My house was robbed.  This was super upsetting.  My laptop was taken, so this is a reason why I could not blog, but not a reason to eat cheese pizza and breadsticks afterwards.
        
I got sick two weeks in a row – stomach bug and nasty sinus infection.  Understandable that I did not put in rigorous workouts while sick.  A reason for me to eat multiple bowls of Fruity Pebbles and eat a spoon of hot fudge out of the jar as I passed through the kitchen? Ummm….not so much.


So, has the past month of laziness and poor eating gotten me anything?  Yes! It did. 

It gave me 10 additional pounds stacked onto my gut and ass. 
It pisses me off.  I have no one to be pissed at but myself.  HOWEVER, I am not going to use the pissedoffiness (that really should be a word, by the way), as a reason to why I need a flippin Nachos Bell Grande.  I am using it to spring me in the right direction.

I don’t have some brilliant newfangled plan that I am using.  I am just going back to what I know works.  Here goes:

þ I am following the 21 Day Fix eating plan.
þ I will follow the T-25 Exercise program a minimum of 6 days per week.
þ I will get in some extra cardio in at the gym a minimum of 3 days per week.
þ I will start checking in via one social media method at least once a day to keep myself           accountable!


So, yeah, none of this is rocket science.  It is just doing what I need to do in order to get the job done.  I know I can do it.  I WAS doing it.  The key is just not stopping every time life throws some curve balls.  A change in routine does not mean that Papa John’s and ice cream are suddenly calorie free.  Although, that would be AWESOME!

Jul 24, 2014

3 Day Refresh Results!

So, for the past 3 days, I have been doing the 3 Day Refresh in order to reset myself physically and mentally for healthier eating across the board.

Why did I need this?  Well, I will illustrate it for you perfectly.  During the week, I was eating awesome! Then on the weekends it would all go to hell in a greasy hand-basket.  I wasn't eating badly for ALL meals, but there would always seem to be one that was really inappropriate for a person saying they are trying to live a healthier lifestyle.  I give you exhibit A:


This is the greasy empty Red Robin plate from last Saturday's meal of a barbecue cheeseburger.  Instead of getting my usual side salad with my sandwich, I got a side of onion rings.  As you can see, all that was left was the grease on the plate, utensils, and the little wooden stick...which I may have eaten too for extra fiber if there had been extra barbecue sauce on it.  Well, not really, but...

I needed to get rid of my constant craving for the "bad stuff."  This was not going to be easy, but it is only 3 days, and it needed to be done.  Sorry, greasy Red Robin plate...

So, for the past 3 days, I have been eating stuff like this instead...

Vanilla Fresh shake with strawberries blended in and a bowl of carrots with hummus

Cucumbers, tomatoes, and hummus with cherries for dessert


Roasted Broccoli with Tomatoes




Spinach Salad with Olive Oil and Vinegar

I also had Shakeology for breakfast and a Fiber Sweep drink during the mid-morning.

I am going to be honest about the drinks.  I usually drink Shakeology made with unsweetened vanilla almond milk and a banana.  Making it with water was certainly an adjustment.  Also, I decided to forego the banana, because I was only allowed to blend half of it into the shake.  I found it more satisfying to drink the shake and have my bowl of cherries with it.  

The fiber drink is...interesting.  It tastes waaaay better than the fiber drink I had to drink with the Advocare Cleanse last summer. It is still,however, grainy.  I did not take a picture of it, because I did not have time.  As SOON as I stirred up that sucker, I chugged it down.  

The Vanilla Fresh shake isn't BAD.  It is just bland.  When you are blending it up, it kind of smells like vanilla cake.  Ummm, well, it does not TASTE like it.  Again, it does not taste bad.  It just isn't incredibly flavorful. I recommend making it with cold water.  You can add in fruit too, but I honestly preferred it without...especially since there is no fruit allowed at dinner time.

Drinking a lot of water was a huge adjustment for me.  I try to drink my water, but all the liquid required for the refresh when you figure in all the shakes and fiber drinks, plus the amount of water (half of your body weight in ounces), I was making very frequent trips to the ladies.  I was worried that the fiber drink would cause other bathroom issues, but it did not at all.  I just constantly had to tinkle. ;o)

So, besides the drinks, frequent bathroom visits, and eating a lot of rabbit food, did I get anything out of it?

The answer is, YES!!


 I lost 6.2 pounds in 3 DAYS!!!  
  

I took my measurements and lost a total of 4 inches.

So, yeah, I am thrilled with the results!  It also did something really important for me, which was put my eating back on track.  I realized after having such a restricted diet for the past few days, that meat is what I really need to feel full and satisfied with a meal.  I used to think it was bread or pasta or rice.  Nope!  I never once found myself craving a bowl of pasta.  I wanted a big hunk of chicken!  I would stare at my salad at night and whimper and think, "This would be PERFECT if I only had some grilled chicken."  That is a big revelation for me.  I don't NEED an over abundance of carbs. 

Also, after working so hard these past few days, there is no WAY I am going back to eating like I was.  I wanna keep that scale going down.  I don't want all of this to be for nothing!

I am a Beachbody coach, but these results and opinions are real.  I purchased this program out of pocket and am under no incentive to give any certain kind of review.  If feel that this is something that you would like to try, however, please let me know and I would be happy to help!

Now, excuse me while I go have some breakfast...which will be a whole roasted chicken.  (Kidding!) Gonna have some Shakeology --- only with my milk and banana though.  :)   Happy Thursday!



Jul 22, 2014

Why does food matter so much?

As I mentioned in Friday's post, I am currently taking on the 3 Day Refresh.  Basically, it is a 3 day cleanse where you have to drink 4 drinks (including Shakeology, Vanilla Fresh  (a vanilla protein drink you drink at lunch and dinner) and Fiber Sweep (a fiber drink).  The regular food that you eat during the day consists of fruit, veggies, and a limited amount of healthy fat.  That's it.  It is quite an adjustment.

Yesterday, I felt like I wanted to be this girl:


I was just pissed because I could not eat anything.  It really got to me.  Of course, because of all the liquid I was drinking, I was also running to the restroom what seemed like every 20 minutes and had withdrawal headaches (probably from carbs or sugar).  The odd thing is that I didn't think I ate a lot of either one of those things.

Today, I woke up and while I would still love to sink my teeth into a juicy steak or chicken breast (I love meat.), I feel a lot better.  I have gotten to sit back and think about why I let food dictate my mood for the day.  It is so silly, really.  There are so many other things in my life that are going so awesome right now...better than they have been in a loooog time.  Why do I give food that power?

I wish I knew the answer to that question.  I just know that the next time I find myself feeling that way, I am going to focus on the things in my life that bring me joy and that actually MATTER.  I just hope I can get to the place where food is nourishment and not a reward or a way to make me feel better on a bad day.  

This is a short entry, but I just had to write it down because I know I am not the only one who has this relationship with food.   It is a complicated one, for sure.  This is definitely something that I am going to have to work on in order to get to where I want to be.

Anyway, I am plugging along with the refresh.  I will post my results on Thursday!


Jul 18, 2014

It's Friiiiiday!



First of all, I would like to congratulate the winner of this week's Spartan Race free registration giveaway, Alejandra! I had the pleasure of chatting with her briefly last night and this will not be her first race. She has completed another race and was so impressed by the camaraderie of fellow participants, race workers, and volunteers, that she became hooked.  After talking to her, I think that I may have to raise this up on my fitness bucket list.  Again, congratulations, Alejandra and good luck on your race!


If you didn't win and still want to register for a race, you can still get a 10% discount on any race!  Just enter the code SPARTANBLOGGER at checkout.

In other news...

I start the 3 Day Refresh on Monday!



If you are unaware of what the 3 Day Refresh is, it really is what it says it is.  It is a 3 day cleanse.  It is definitely the answer to breaking through a weight loss plateau and resetting not only your system, but also your mindset.  If you have kind of been in a rut with eating healthy, this really can help you get on back on track.  After seeing the results of some of my friends and Beachbody teammates, I am SO EXCITED to get started with this!  I mean, it is only 3 days!  I will keep you posted on how things are going.  I have done some longer cleanses in the past, and while it helped with my eating habits, I lost no weight or inches.  It was really depressing.  I am hoping that this is what I have been looking for!

Check out these results!  Jess at Operation Skinny Jeans, my friend and coach, had the same luck as me on longer cleanses, and had awesome result with the Refresh.  Check out how she did! (She gave me permission to use her 3 Day Refresh result pics.)

photo courtesy of Operation Skinny Jeans

photo courtesy of Operation Skinny Jeans

photo courtesy of Operation Skinny Jeans


She lost a little over 5 pounds in 3 days and is keeping it off!  I think that is just awesome!  I will be sharing my results as well and really hope they are as great.  If you have questions about the 3 Day Refresh, just let me know!  I would be happy to help!



Jul 17, 2014

Food Challenges

Yesterday, I was catching up on reading some of my favorite blogs, and I came across an entry that really kinda slapped me across the face...in a good way.  Skinny Meg wrote an entry a couple days ago which basically outlined how we ALL have challenges.  We all have limited time, temptations, etc.  The bottom line is that if we want to get healthier, we have to pull up our big girl panties and commit and DO IT.  I just sat there and thought, "She is so right!"  It was just what I needed to see this week.

Then, I started thinking about my biggest challenge -- food.  It used to be exercise, but I have really managed to work it into my routine...whether it is during the school year when I am crazy busy with work or during the summer when I have a lot more spare time.  I have just come to the realization that no progress is going to be made without exercise, so I schedule it into my day as sort of a non-negotiable.  Are there days where I am exhausted and don't feel like it?  Yes! I have gotten to the point where I do it anyway though...because I have realized that I feel much worse when I don't.  Are there days where there are extenuating circumstances and I cannot exercise because I don't get home from work until 9:00?  Yes! But those days are few and far between.  So, I guess what I am taking a lot of words to say, is that I really feel like I have managed the exercise challenge (yay!).  The food part is harder.

Food is complicated.  There are several reasons why it is harder. One of the biggest is the temptations.  You could plan a healthy day, for example, and someone puts enough fresh donuts in the break room to feed a small village.  That is rough.  There are definitely days where I have eaten a donut.  I have just had to train myself to walk away.  I could list reasons that the food part is harder for days.  I wanted to focus on one in particular that I (and I am sure many of you) deal with daily...cooking dinner at home when I have a house full of picky eaters.

Let me give you the rundown of what I am dealing with (perhaps you will be able to relate):

Tim (the husband) - He is a picky eater.  As a matter of fact, he pretty much turns his nose up and the vast majority of fresh fruits and vegetables.  The only fresh fruits he will eat are bananas and watermelon.  The only fresh vegetables he will eat are corn, potatoes (both starches), and the occasional tomato.

Aidan (9 year old) - He has had food issues since being a toddler, but has gotten much better.  He has a mild form of autism (PDD-NOS), so he is really sensitive to things like smells and textures.  He also depends heavily on routine.  So, in order to make weekday eating less stressful, we pretty much have set menu. Then, he knows what to expect and eats better.  It is just one of those things...  If there are days where the menu may change, he has to have fair warning or meltdown mode begins.

Darcy (4 year old)-  She is the least picky of the group and will typically try most foods.  The only foods I cannot get her to eat are spaghetti and pizza (The funny thing is that when I was pregnant with her, I had an extreme aversion to these foods).

Because of the picky nature of the majority of the household, it is hard for me to eat the way I want because it is a huge pain to cook two separate meals.  I have, however, found a way to make things more manageable.

Here are some examples of how I make it work:

Monday night is taco night.  This one is simple.  I make the taco meat with extra lean ground beef.  Instead of using lots of toppings and shells, I make a taco salad with lots of lettuce and pico de gallo.  I just use a sprinkle of cheese and pass on things like sour cream.  I crumble up one taco shell  for some crunch.  On occasion (if I feel like I have the calories), I will add a small amount of refried beans to the salad.



Tuesday is chicken nugget and macaroni and cheese night.  I do not do either one of those, so I am making a separate meal.  It is EASY though.  While I am cooking the other foods, I prep some green giant broccoli with cheese sauce (very low calorie) and a bag of Steamfresh brown rice.  I have actually gotten my four year old to start eating the brown rice (yes!) instead of the macaroni.  I am still working on the broccoli. ANYWAY, I layer a serving of the brown rice with a serving of the broccoli and cheese.  Then, I open a can of chunk light tuna and add some of that to the top and season with pepper. It makes a kind of "tuna casserole."  It takes only about 10 minutes to prep and I can easily make it in the microwave while I am cooking for the rest of the family. 



Wednesday is spaghetti night!  I have decided to stay away from pasta (trigger food), so I have found an easy way around it.  I start out by making a meat sauce for the entire family.  I typically use extra lean ground beef and an organic jarred sauce.  I honestly like the Meijer Organics selections.  They are affordable and very good.  While the meat sauce is simmering, I julienne a zucchini in order to make "noodles."  I take the pile of little zucchini noodles and toss it with about a cup of the meat sauce and put it in a tiny casserole dish.  (I have a couple awesome individual serving size dishes.)  I then top with some mozzerella cheese and put it in a oven preheated to 350.  While the zucchini baked spaghetti is baking, I put water on to boil for the regular pasta that everyone else is going to eat.  By the time their pasta is finished cooking and plated up, mine is all ready to come out of the oven.  It is so good too!

I was a little heavy on the cheese for this one...but what can I say? PMS got the best of me.


Thursday night is pizza night.  I have found that during the work week, Thursday is the toughest night.  So, we typically eat out.  I have learned that I need to avoid pizza and breadsticks at all cost.  I simply cannot control myself.  So, I schedule my Thursday workout to take place while the rest of the family is chowing down on pizza.  Once the kids are in bed, I treat myself to a salad from Panera or Chipotle.  I have to say, it is nice to eat one meal a week where I can do so without any interruptions.  

Friday nights are a toss up (and Aidan knows this).  We will usually eat leftovers from the week or do something simple like grilling burgers or chicken.  

Saturdays usually mean dinner out.  I just know where we are going ahead of time and plan accordingly.  I usually tell my husband what I am going to order, so if I decide to try and change my mind to something less healthy, he knows.  He would never call me out on it, but I KNOW HE KNOWS.  

Sundays I make a bigger dinner, but it always includes meat and a vegetable side.  This one is easy for me to manage, because I have a lot more time to prep the meal.  I usually go for a crockpot option.

This has turned out to be a REALLY LONG blog entry.  I am sorry about that.  I just wanted to give some meal prep ideas for those of you who have limited time and a family who isn't exactly on your food plan.  I am gradually trying to work these foods into my kids' diet.  It just takes time.  I do know for sure, however, that seeing me eat this way is something they are noticing.  I mean, I consider it a victory that one of my daughter's favorite foods is salad.  

What about you?  How do you manage healthy eating with picky eaters at home?







Jul 15, 2014

Be a Spartan!

As I have mentioned before, I have only ran walked one 5K ever.  I just didn't train as hard as I should have.

These past few months, I have really started to up my fitness game.  Things have firmed up.  I am starting to see actual muscles in my arms.  I am getting stronger.  I feel SO strong, that I got cocky a couple weeks ago and agreed to complete a half with my aunt in May 2015.  I was starting to wonder if I was truly crazy, but I realized that being a little afraid is sometimes a good thing.  Being afraid of something like this simply means that you have presented yourself with a challenge.  In the fitness world, I have learned that if you are not challenged, you go nowhere.

Sooo, I have decided to stop with this fear nonsense and take challenges head on.  I mean, even if I am not the definition of success with my endeavor, I can still say that I was there and that I tried.  I mean, saying "I ran and walked a half marathon."  sounds a lot better than "Yeah, I decided not to even try the marathon, because I know there is no way in hell I could run that far."

Just as I was having this dialogue running through my head, I received an e-mail from Dan - a representative from the Spartan Race.




The Spartan Race is the very definition of a challenge!  The cool part though is that there are different levels of the race --  sprint, super, and beast.  Less experienced competitors can participate in the sprint race, while those who are more hardcore in their training could tackle the beast race.  This run is no joke!  I mean, did you see the competitors running through FIRE??!!  Wow!

For those of you who are locals, there is an Ohio race this fall on October 4th!  If you live in Ohio, definitely checkout the website so that you can register you and your team.  Unfortunately, I have a prior engagement that weekend (a certain little cutie's 5th birthday party), but this would be such a cool opportunity and a very cool thing to complete with a team of friends.

Now, Dan is being very generous!  He gave me a coupon code for 10% off your race registration!  How awesome!  So, if you and your team decide to register, just enter SPARTANBLOGGER at checkout and you are all set!  This code works with ANY open heat race -- not just the Ohio one.

In addition to that, Dan is giving away one FREE registration to any race!!  Enter the giveaway below for your chance to win a free registration to any Spartan Race of your choice!  The winner will be announced on Thursday of this week.

This race really defines challenging to me.  That's why I know that sometime in the future I will be competing. I know I have to, because trudging through mud and fire is DEFINITELY out of my comfort zone.  Comfort zones are nice, but isn't cool when you can break out for a little while?




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Jul 14, 2014

Thank You Letter to My Coach

Sometimes certain people in life deserve a "thank you."  Today, I would like to write an open letter to my coach, Jess.

Dear Jess,

Today, I would like to say "thank you."  Even those words do not seem adequate enough for what you have given me...

I started reading your blog a couple years ago.  As a blogger, your successes inspired me.  I would log on to my computer each day and eagerly read your words for the day.  I never dreamed that you would one day mean so much more to me than a writer at the other end of a daily blog post.

You have written and talked to me a lot about through your coaching wanting to change lives...wanting to help others.  I don't know how many of those you coach have given you feedback, but you have changed mine.  How, you may wonder?  Well, I will tell you.

I have been fortunate enough to have support in my life.  Throughout my lifetime struggle with weight loss, people have TRIED to be supportive, but they just did not get it.  You get it.   Through your one on one talks with me and posts online, you have given me one of the greatest gifts a person can receive -- confidence.  Confidence is something I have lacked (almost completely) for the duration of my 35 years here on Earth.  Growing up so uncomfortable in your own skin can do that to a person, I guess.

Thanks to you, I now see that there is a beautiful person here -- inside and out.  Thanks to you, I am buying clothes that I would have never bought before.  Clothes used to be something I would buy to hide underneath.  Now, I buy things that are pretty and stylish because I DESERVE to do that.  I should not be ashamed and hide.  I can be overweight and still be sexy.  Thanks to you, I felt hot in my swim suit during my beach vacation.   Thanks to you, I am wearing shorts and short sleeved t-shirts this summer.  Thanks to you, I know that there are beautiful things about me and that feeling ashamed is not an option.

Thanks to you, I am pushing my body to places that I never thought it could go.  I am working out on a daily basis.  I am doing workouts that I would previously watch on infomercials and long to do....but a person my size and fitness would never be able to get 5 minutes into without having to stop.  WRONG.  You gave me the confidence to understand that I can do this.  Thanks to you I am now stronger and more athletic than I have ever been in my entire life.  I am also learning how to forgive myself and push forward after a bad day. I have learned that quitting is never an option.

You took me on as a coach on your team...something I feel privileged to be a part of...mostly because I want to do for others what you have done for me.  I honestly don't care about the monetary side of things.  I want to help people.  Even though I have not exactly been successful yet -- in that I don't exactly have a long list of clients or a high ranking, you continue to be supportive and cheer me on.  That means the world.  I just hope to inspire others the way you have inspired me.

You live in Colorado.  I live in Ohio.  We aren't exactly able to go get coffee on a regular basis.  But, when we meet up in Nashville next summer, the coffee (or, hell, a whole dinner) is on me. Then, we can workout together to burn it off...haha.  

I consider you a dear friend as well as a role model.

Thank you for giving me the pieces to the puzzle that have been missing for a long time.

Sincerely,

Courtney


Jul 2, 2014

Then and Now

Yesterday, I posted this picture on my Finding Courtney site as well as on Instagram.


The picture was for Transformation Tuesday.  I have never posted anything for that before.  You see, I have started and restarted my journey towards being healthier so many times, I felt like I didn't HAVE a worthy Transformation Tuesday picture yet.  Then, I was flipping through a photo album and I found the first picture. I was in shock.  WHOA!  Was this really me?  This is a picture of me when Aidan was just a few months born back in 2005.  It was taken at his christening.  I saw more and more pictures from that day and realized that I HAVE actually come far.  I mean, I have stopped and restarted so many times I have lost count.  I do think, however, that each time, I have learned something new.

There is something that has been missing though and I think that was confidence.  I was going through the motions of whatever diet and exercise plan I was doing at the time, but somewhere in the back of my mind, I knew I wasn't going to finish or I just felt like I wasn't strong enough or something.  While I still lack confidence in areas, my confidence levels have increased exponentially.  I think it is because of the additional support I have now that I did not have then and the 100 other times.

While I still have a long way to go, I am really pleased with the person I see looking back at me in that 2nd picture.  Sure...there are like 10 years between the first and second picture, but progress was made, and I am proud of that.







Just wanted to put in a plug for a 5 Day Clean Eating group that I am putting together.  If you have ever been curious about clean eating or not sure where to get started, this is an excellent place to start.  A stigma with clean eating is that it is too expensive to do.  That isn't true!  There are ways to do it, that can actually SAVE you money at the store.  If you haven't already begun clean eating, I know you will find that you will feel like a new person!

The 5 Day plan will begin on July 14th and last until July 18th.  This is what you will get from me:

  • A 5 Day Clean Meal eating plan
  • A comprehensive grocery list.
  • Free coaching, support and accountability.
  • A week’s supply of superfood nutrition shake Shakeology.
  • A jumpstart into a healthier lifestyle.
The only cost is the $20 that it costs to purchase the Shakeology sampler pack.  

Why Shakeology, you may ask?  Well, the answer is simple.  Shakeology is filled FULL of nutrients that you would normally never get in your daily diet.  I cannot even describe to you how much better I feel since I have started drinking it.  I have more energy and my weight loss has started to take off again.

If you are interested in joining this 5 Day Challenge, please e-mail me or leave me a comment here.  I will then send you the invite on Facebook and make sure you get purchasing information!

I hope you will join me!

Jun 30, 2014

Recipe: Summer Tuna Pasta Salad

I spend the summers at home with my children.  I LOVE that I get to do this.  During the summer, lunches are always tricky for me when trying so hard to eat healthy.  It is so tempting to just eat a bowl of mac 'n cheese or a hot dog with the kids.  It is also tricky not to snack, so the lunch that I choose HAS to keep me full for the afternoon.

This recipe is one of my favorite go to lunches when I am at home during the summer.  It is good for packing too, but I like this recipe a lot better when the pasta is hot and fresh from the stove.  This recipe is adapted from a recipe that I found on the Skinny Taste website.  I liked the idea of the recipe, but was not a fan of some of the ingredients, so I adapted it slightly to appeal more to my personal taste.


Ingredients Needed:

Fresh Baby Spinach (I use a handful or two.)
Fresh Grape Tomatoes, sliced in half (I don't measure...usually a small handful.)
1 can of chunk light tuna in water (albacore is yummy too)
1 serving of whole wheat penne pasta
1 T olive oil
1/2 T red wine vinegar (balsamic would be good too)
1 teaspoon of grated parmesan
pepper

Instructions
  1. Cook your pasta according to package instructions.
  2. While pasta is cooking, layer your plate with spinach and tomatoes.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk oil, vinegar, and parmesan cheese together.  Pour dressing over spinach and tomatoes.
  4. When pasta is finished, drain and pour hot pasta over the spinach.  I like doing it this way because it wilts the spinach down a little.
  5. Layer the tuna on top of the pasta.
  6. Sprinkle with some pepper.
  7. Enjoy!!
I typically eat this and then have a bowl of fresh fruit for dessert.  If I am also drinking my water the way I should, I am satisfied until dinner time!

Jun 24, 2014

Summer Clothes I Love

I love summer.  I love the warm sun.  I love the fun activities.  I love the food.  I love that I HAVE SUMMERS OFF!  The only part of summer that I do not particularly care for is fashion.  Growing up a chubby chick, I have always dreaded the time of year where I have no choice but to shed the hooded sweatshirts and jeans in place of clothing that is more revealing.  This has always been a struggle for me.

This summer, I have tried to branch out a bit and try to enjoy clothes.  It occurred to me that there is no reason why I am not allowed to wear shorts, skirts and cute things just because there is a little more jiggle in my step.  ;o)  I should not be stuck sweating it out and miserable in clothing that covers me up!

Luckily, this summer I have found some looks that I feel cute in.  They are looks that are still flattering, but definitely summer appropriate.  Of course, it also helps that I do not have to dress up for work during the summer.  I usually have until August to figure out what I am going to do about that!

So without further ado, here are my favs for the season...

(By the way, I decided to use Polyvore for this because as I have previously stated, I SUCK at mirror selfies.  SUCK, I tells ya!  And my husband looks at me like I have a third nostril every time I ask him to take pics of me for what he sees as no apparent reason.  It is the same look he gives me when I take pictures of what I am eating.  <sigh>

ANYHOO...


This first one is probably the look I go for most.  I love cropped jeans with the rolled leg.  I honestly just use an old pair of jeans that I roll up myself.  I also LOVE Old Navy graphic tees.  I especially love them now that I have moved out of wearing exclusively women's plus tees.  Now that I can wear the XXL in regular women's, there are tons of cute options.  I never understood that though.  A t-shirt is a t-shirt!  Throw in some extra fabric and let the plus sized ladies have the same choices, dang it!  But, I digress...   I also love the classic black converse.  So cute.  I love the way they look.  I finish off most of my outfits with a Vera Bradley cross body purse.  The cross body bag is perfect when you need your hands free to wrangle children at the park.  I also love the fun patterns.  I have been really lucky though because I have gotten all my Vera bags at the outlet sale for low prices.  If anyone knows ANYTHING about me it is that I am a bargain/clearance shopper!


The next look I love is the maxi skirt with a basic t-shirt and flip flops.  I had wanted a maxi skirt forever, but was too cheap to pay $30+ for one.  My day was made one night when I was shopping alone at Target (a rare, yet beautiful occurrence), and I found one in MY SIZE on the clearance rack for a whopping $7.99!! JACKPOT!!  Again, most of my t-shirts are Old Navy or Gap.  I don't ever pay more than $10 for a t-shirt, by the way --- cause it is a t-shirt.  There is no way I am paying more than that unless it has magic belly fat melting powers.  I don't have this EXACT bag, but I have one that is very similar that I got off the ideeli website for $20 (Originally a $100 bag --- CHA CHING!)  Anyway, I love this look because I feel well put together and pretty in it.  It is also so comfortable it isn't even funny.



I have also grown very fond of sun dresses.  The one pictured is very close to one that I recently purchased at the Gap Oulet store.  It cost me a mere $12.  I was super pumped because not only was I comfortably fitting into a Gap dress, but it looked cute too!  I pair it with a white cardigan (because I still am not comfortable enough with my arms to go sleeveless), a pretty necklace, and some simple, yet pretty flip flops. I wore this outfit out with Tim on a recent date night and I felt very comfortable and pretty.  

The last look I really like for the summer is basic jean shorts with a pretty shirt and basic canvas shoes.  I don't want to wear t-shirts ALL the time (although it is tempting), so I try to pair something casual like shorts with a pretty top.  I have a shirt similar to the one above (I could not find of pic of the actual one I own). I have to say that wearing shorts has been a HUGE step for me.  I have not worn them in years.  I decided recently that it was stupid for me to sweat just because I hate my pasty, wide calves.  Nobody will be paying attention or caring unless I am wearing said shorts around my ankles.  I decided to just get over it.  I also like my canvas TOMS and sunglasses are also a good call.

I know these outfits are nothing profound.  It is just a big deal for me to break out into something other than old t-shirts, jeans, and yoga pants during the summer.  I am feeling more confident in my own skin and have decided that there is no reason why I can't dress the part.  

What about you? What are your favorite summer looks?





Jun 23, 2014

Why not me?

I started regularly blogging about a year ago.  The blog was meant to document my journey towards a healthier me --- mentally, physically, what have you.  I just wanted to give you  a real glimpse into the life of a working mother who is trying to make it all work for herself.  I mean, it is so hard to accept the fact that you have to be selfish and take care of YOURSELF when you have children, a husband, a home, pets, and a career to take care of too.

Throughout this past year I have set a lot of goals for myself -- some I have reached, and many I have not. My previous blog entry discussed inspiration and why I am feeling inspired more than I have in a long time. It is amazing how many revelations I have had recently, since I have opened myself up to not only accepting them, but understanding them as well.  Well, folks I had had another.

This one seems pretty obvious...but it wasn't always obvious to me.  I spent some time over the weekend (including during a very long car ride home) reading success stories of women who have overcome incredible challenges and have lost insane amounts of weight.  Through losing the weight, they seemed to also have found themselves.  As cliché as that sounds, it really is true.  After reading all of these stories...some which caused me to get a bit emotional, I came to the realization of..."Why not me?"  Then as I thought more, that question became..."Yeah, Courtney, why NOT you?  There is absolutely no reason you can't do this!"  Yes it is HARD, but I had to question what I wanted more....the temporary satisfaction of shoving my face full of chocolate and then hating myself later or doing the right thing and living a longer, healthier life?  The sad part is that the chocolate has won waaaay too much.  Am I seriously choosing a bag of M&Ms over living longer? Over being more active with my kids?  The list goes on and on...

What I always blamed my pitfalls on was stress.  I just realized that stress is going to be in my life no matter what...so stop using at as excuse to let myself down.  I am finished with all that.  It may take longer than I want.  There may be times where I want to give up.  There may be days where I eat a less than desirable amount of candy, but life goes on...and quitting is not an option.

So that's it.  I am going to do this.  There is no other option.  At all.  Ever.


 

On another note, my nutrition plan throughout this journey is going to be the 21 Day Fix plan.  It is by far the best nutrition plan I have ever followed.  I have always had a big problem with portion control and eating a balanced diet.  This has helped me with that TREMENDOUSLY.   Thanks to this plan, I am eating so much better and eating the right foods -- real food.  I was seeing results as far as my appearance in only 2 weeks time!  The great thing about the 21 Day Fix, is that it also comes with a great workout plan.  The workouts are only 30 minutes and they really are awesome.

So, with that, I wanted to invite my readers to participate in a 21 Day Fix challenge group hosted by yours truly.  I will offer support throughout the program and you will have one another to bounce ideas off of, etc. I also plan to offer recipe ideas and other tips.  I really hope that you will participate!  It really is a great 3 weeks and you can lose up to 15 pounds if you work the plan! Actually, a lot of people cycle through multiple times because they enjoy the eating plan so much.

Here are some details:


The challenge begins on July 7th, so you will want to order your package soon!  Click here to access the website to order!  Just choose "fitness programs" as your option.  The essential package is $59.95 plus shipping.  That order includes (taken from the Beachbody website):

SIMPLE FITNESS
6 easy-to-follow workouts on 2 DVDs
Ready for a major calorie burn in only 30 minutes? We made these workouts short so you can get in, get out, and get on with your day. But that's no excuse for taking it easy. The workouts will challenge you at every level to help maximize fat loss. And there's always a modifier on screen to show you how to dial down the intensity without losing the benefits.

Your 21-day portion-control system Forget about ounces, cups, and calories. These seven color-coded containers and Shakeology shaker cup deliver exactly the right portions every time, so you never eat too much or too little. Fill them up with as much food as you want—if it fits, you can eat it!
Green—Vegetables
Purple—Fruit
Red—Protein
Yellow—Carbohydrates
Blue—Healthy Fats and Cheese
2 Orange—Seeds and Oils
Shakeology® Shaker Cup—Drinks

And 4 FREE BONUS gifts:
21 Day Fix Eating Plan
This simple Eating Plan takes you step-by-step through the process and makes portion control so easy, you won't even have to think about it. Enjoy delicious, healthy food without counting calories, and watch the pounds fall off.
3 Day Quick Fix
Get beach-ready in 72 hours! This is Autumn's secret weapon for losing weight fast before a competition or photo shoot. Do it during the last 3 days of 21 Day Fix for mind-blowing "after" pictures.
Dirty 30 workout
4 rounds of fat-burning exercises help carve out a leaner, stronger physique.
24/7 online support
Get extra support and motivation from weight-loss experts and other 21 Day Fix customers.
Results guaranteed. Or your money back!
We're going to let you try the entire program—the full 21 days—and if you don't get the results you want, simply send it back within 30 days for a full refund of the purchase price (less s&h). You don't have to wonder if 21 Day Fix is going to work. You get to finish the program and then decide if you want to keep it. That's how convinced we are that you're going to love your results.

I hope you will join me!  E-mail me if you want more information or need help with ordering!  I am excited to get started with this challenge!




Daily Dose of Del Signore

Jun 16, 2014

My Dream Board

A friend of mine, Jess @ Operation Skinny Jeans, recently posted a dream board and suggested that others try and do this for themselves.  I thought it sounded like a great idea...so I decided to give it a whirl.  As I was trying to think of things to put on my board, I struggled a little bit.  I am not sure why.  Once I got going though, it started to come a little bit easier.

Soooo...here is my board....


Reach my Goal Weight:
I think this one is pretty self-explanatory.  My ultimate goal is to lose 100 pounds.  That has been my goal for years...I just never had a real plan for how to do it.  I want that for myself in the coming year.

Look Hot in Skinny Jeans:
This may seem superficial, but I want to look and, most important, FEEL hot in a pair of skinny jeans.

Reach Emerald and Diamond Status as a Beachbody Coach:
I am new to being a coach, and I have not gotten far yet.  I do, however, hope to reach more and more people...not because I want to make money, but because I want to make connections with people and actually help and support them.  That's what makes being a Beachbody coach so cool.  I want that so badly.

Make it to Summit in 2015:
The Beachbody Summit, that is.  Yeah, this one kind of goes hand in hand with the one above.  It is just that I have "met" so many cool people since I got involved with Beachbody.  I would love to meet up with all of them at summit next year.

Learn to be a Better Swimmer:
I know how to swim...as in if you threw me in the water I would not drown.  I do not, however, have any technique whatsoever.  I would love to swim for exercise, but I do not have the stroke techniques down at all.  I want to step out of my comfort zone and take some lessons at the gym to help with that.

Buy a Bigger House:
I really like the house we live in now, but we have outgrown it.  The kids share a room and we are running out of storage, etc.  I am hoping that we can get ourselves in a position soon where buying a bigger house is a realistic option.

Build My Savings:
This is essential for the new house thing.  I am actually good with money and work very hard to save money back.  I just want to do even better and learn some new strategies for managing money.  I think everyone has room to improve in that area.   Along with saving money in our regular savings, I would like to start a college savings for both kids that cannot be touched until the time comes.

After I publish this, I am sure that I will think of other things to add.  How about you?  What would be on your dream board?

Finding Courtney

I have started my posts like this too many times...

"I know I have been gone for awhile, but..."

As much as I love blogging, it is difficult sometimes.  I don't always know what to say.  I mean, you don't want to hear about the stress of my job or the state of the cleanliness levels of my house.  Sometimes, I feel like my day to day is not noteworthy...not something you want to spend part (although a tiny part) of your day reading.

I am at the beach right now on my family vacation.  I am as relaxed as I have been in a long time, and it is amazing how just sitting on a balcony and watching the ocean and people can clear your mind.  It is amazing how being really relaxed for the first time in months can put things in perspective.

The reality is that I am not a success story...yet.  I have a lot of goals (fitness and otherwise) that I want to accomplish.  You are going to hear about my struggles and my successes...my good days and my bad days.  I am real life.  I may be just like you.  I think my writers block has sometimes been due to that I did not have any good news to share.  I have blogged about my favorite new workouts...but not on the disgusting display of binge eating that took place in my kitchen on Memorial Day.  What I COULD have said though, is that I had a disgusting display of binge eating, but I stopped myself and got rid of the foods that triggered it.  I could also say that I got right back on track the next day and even completed the day with a workout.  I didn't though...because I was too afraid to share my failures.

You aren't going to see progress pictures that take your breath away...yet.  I have shared pictures and I HAVE made progress.  I just ask you to to be patient with me as I meander my way through.  I KNOW those pictures will happen.  It is just taking some time.

I don't really know what the point of this entry is.  I guess I just wanted to explain my reality to an extent. The truth is that after spending a lifetime overweight, changing things around is HARD.  I am proud of myself though because I am doing things I honestly thought I could NEVER do.  I am pushing my body, fitness-wise, to places that I never thought it could go.  I am so proud of that.

I guess I also want to give a plug.  Of course, there is my blog facebook page, where I share my posts and other tidbits.  I have also created a facebook page dedicated to fitness and health.  I want this to be a place where people can share ideas, victories, and even struggles.  This is where I hope to coach everyone along.  Being a coach does not mean that I am an expert.  It just means I am a support system.  It means I am a cheerleader.

If you would like to be a part of it, then click below and "like" the page.  Strength is in numbers, right?  I called the page "Finding Courtney."  The reason is that I really feel like I am finding parts of myself that I did not even know existed.  I hope that if we embark on this journey together, you will find those qualities in yourself too...no matter what they may be.  Join me!  I cannot wait to get to know you!



I am linking up to Motivation Monday...just in case you need a little motivation and would like to join.


Daily Dose of Del Signore

May 26, 2014

Summer Corn Salad

This weekend, my aunt and uncle hosted their annual Memorial Day weekend barbecue.  Of course, in true family barbecue tradition, it was a pitch in meal.

I had a couple strategies for what I would bring...

Strategy 1:  I decided to bring a healthy veggie salad that I could eat and not feel guilty about.

Strategy 2:  I have been wanting to try this recipe I found on Pinterest for banana pudding.  It is Paula Deen's recipe, so we all know how that goes as far as fat and sugar go.  HOWEVER, I still wanted to try it.  So, instead of making an entire batch that I would be tempted to eat my way through at home, I decided to make it to share.  I had one serving and it was delicious.  I sent some more home with family and I am taking some to work to give to some co-workers.  I still got to indulge in trying a dessert I have wanted to try, but I don't have the guilt associated with it -- which is what I WOULD have if it was still in my fridge calling my name.

Today, I would like to share the recipe for the corn salad. I found the recipe on the all recipes website. I have invented a few of my own dishes, but I mostly find them online.  I am going to share it here, but I cannot take credit for anything other than following a very simple recipe.

This recipe is just so pretty.  It really is like summer in a bowl.

I started out cooking 8 ears of corn in a pot.  When they were finished, I ran cold water over them to help cool them off.  Then, I began cutting the corn off the cob.  I love it when the corn comes off in these big pieces.  Fresh sweet corn is one of my favorite things about summer eating!


I set the cut corn off to the side to cool and then began on the rest of the salad.  The recipe calls for garden fresh tomatoes.  Well, I don't have any of those yet.  When it comes to store bought tomatoes, I prefer the sweetness of the grape tomatoes.  I cannot WAIT to make this salad when I have tomatoes straight from the garden though!  


Anyway, I sliced the tomatoes in two and added chopped sweet onion and fresh basil.  I rolled the basil leaves and sliced them into little ribbons (I, uh, learned that from Rachael Ray back when she did 30 Minute Meals...thanks, Rach!)  


Next, I put in the corn and added some salt and pepper.  The dressing is simple!  I just mixed 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil with 2 tablespoons of white balsamic vinegar.  I tossed it together and put it in the fridge to chill for later.  This would be yummy at room temperature also.

This was a great dish.  I can definitely see myself making this as a light summer side dish.  I think it would be fantastic paired with fish or shrimp.

It was a big hit at the barbecue!  Enjoy!!

Summer Corn Salad

8 ears of corn, cooked
3 large, fresh tomatoes (I used a container of grape tomatoes and a container of yellow cherry tomatoes)
Half of a sweet onion, chopped finely
1/2 cup of fresh basil, chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
2 T white balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper

  1. Cook ears of corn.  I used boiling water, but this could be awesome with grilled corn also!
  2. Take the corn off the cob and place in a dish.  Set aside to cool.
  3. Chop tomatoes, onion, and basil.  Place in your salad bowl.
  4. Add in corn and toss together.
  5. Combine vinegar and oil.  Toss into the salad.  Add salt and pepper to taste.






May 19, 2014

Roller-coaster

I could start this blog entry with a metaphor about how my mission to get fit is like a roller-coaster, but I am not.  That is a given, right?

Right. (And it has been used 6 million times, Courtney...)

ANYWAY...

This past Friday I chaperoned the Senior class trip to Kings Island.   Because I did not want to sit around all day staring at people having fun (most of the other chaperones had already stated that they did not plan to ride a single ride), I invited Tim along with me.  He agreed, but his only stipulation is that I actually got on some roller-coasters with him.  Well, ok, then...

Ok...before I continue...some back story.

I have been afraid my whole life.  Afraid of change.  Afraid of making mistakes.  Afraid of disappointing others. Afraid of getting hurt.  Afraid of failure.  AFRAID.  This past year has been particularly difficult for me.  I have had to face challenges in my professional life that I have NEVER encountered before.  These challenges put me face to face with the fears mentioned above.

When all of these fears came to a head, I had to make the decision to be a little more selfish -- to stop putting my professional life before my mental health and to stop always putting the needs of others before my own.  Of course, I will always put the needs of my children first...that is a given.  HOWEVER, I will not put the needs of people that don't give a crap about me and my welfare before myself.  This has been something I have been working on.  It has not been easy, and lately my stress levels have started to build up again.  What can I say?  This time of year is a busy and stressful one for school counselors.  It is kind of like our "tax season."

So, fast forward to this past Friday.  I am about to board my first roller-coaster in years with Tim. I am nervous.  I am wondering why I am doing this.  I get on.  We climb the first big hill.  We go down.  I scream. I LOVE IT.  It was so much fun!!!  I screamed the whole way, but it was so freeing. I felt alive! It was the best stress relief I have EVER experienced.  For the rest of the morning, I couldn't figure out why.  I mentioned it to Tim and he said, "You were allowed to scream."  Wow.  Never thought of that. So true.  I was allowed to scream when I was afraid.   I mentioned it to my friend later that day and she agreed with the screaming part, but she also said, "Courtney, you were allowed to have fun! You had no responsibilities at that moment other than to enjoy yourself."  Wow, again.  So true.

So, I guess it took a roller-coaster to help me understand that I need to give myself permission to have fun and to scream every now and then.  Now, I don't plan to walk up and down the streets screaming like a lunatic when I have a bad day, but I will try to get better to voice my concerns so that the stress doesn't build up so much.  THIS will be hard for me.  I despise any form of confrontation.

I guess the point I am trying to make with this extremely  long rant is -- give yourself permission.  Give yourself permission to feel.  Give yourself permission to let it out.  Give yourself permission to enjoy life.  You don't have to be so wrapped up in your responsibilities that you forget what it is like to really live.

Have a great week!





Daily Dose of Del Signore

May 6, 2014

Getting Over It

This month I vowed to try some fitness activities that take me out of my comfort zone.  Well, so far so good.

I started T25 even though I had a lot of conversations with myself over whether or not it was a good idea. When looking at previews of T25, I had the following thoughts...

I cannot make my body move like that!

Is that actually a pool of sweat on the floor in front of that one guy? Yikes!

It looks so haaaaaaaard! 

Damn, that looks painful.

THEN, I saw before and after pictures of people who completed the program.  This picture is the one that sold me!  I think the words that actually came out of my mouth when I saw this were "Great Odin's raven!!" (No joke...)

photo courtesy of Team Beachbody


So, I ordered it and got started last week.

Last week, my kids started swimming lessons at my gym.  While watching them swim I decided that it would be cool to start swimming as a form of exercise in the evenings.  First, I would do T25 at home and then I would drive to the gym to swim.

I arrive at the gym, get my locker, and walk to the pool.  It is FILLED with senior citizens.  I have NO CLUE why this intimidated me, but it did.  I felt like I had stepped into the movie Cocoon.  (If I was in Cocoon, who did that make me?  Steve Guttenberg?)


Is it sad that you younger whippersnappers who are reading this may not even know who Steve Guttenberg is??  I feel sorry for you.  He is Hollywood ROYALTY!  But, I digress...

Walking to the pool I am thinking...

That is a lot of older folk.  Am I like invading their turf or something?

My arm flab is disgusting.  I would look so much cuter without it.

Why do I care how cute I look at the gym?  

These old men are awesome!  They swim so much better than me.

Are they judging me?

Why I am the only one not using one of those little foam bar bells?

Despite these ridiculous thoughts, I got into the pool and swam laps for about 30 minutes.  They were slow laps, but they were laps.

What is the point of me sharing all of this?  I guess the point is that if we are insecure about some things we can try and talk ourselves out of GOOD things.  I am trying so hard to ignore that negative voice in my head and step out of my comfort zone.  It is RIDICULOUS to avoid a pool because there are lots of people in it. They were, by the way, lots of very sweet people.  It also makes ZERO sense to avoid trying a new workout because it might be hard.  Waaaaaah!  Poor baby has to sweat!  Get over it! Isn't challenging yourself the point!?  This is just another way of making the excuses that I discussed earlier this week.  One thing I am learning lately is that if I am comfortable with a workout it is time to shake things up.  I am proud of challenging myself more lately!

It made me think of this awesome quote I saw recently.  It said:

Cry a river. Build a bridge. Get over it.

It may seem harsh but I love it.  Step outside your comfort zone.  Challenge yourself.  We are capable of so much more than we give ourselves credit for!

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