Thursday, January 30, 2014

A Day in the Life...

...of me on the 24 Day Challenge!

**I am currently a breast feeding mom so my challenge is a tad modified**

5:00 AM:  BEEP, BEEP, BEEP, my alarm goes off.  Ugh...I was just up an hour and a half ago feeding baby.  Gotta get up...time to pump, but first my SPARK!  (Oh Spark, how I love you...)  The biggest decision at this point of the day...which flavor??? Take 3 Catalyst and the best Probiotic out there! 

5:15 AM:  Drink more water.  Get dressed, hair, and make-up. (I showered the night before...FYI)

5:30 AM:  Pack lunches if not done the night before.  Today...meal replacement shake for me, I have break duty (recess) at lunch, so I need a quick meal!  Ethan gets tomato basil chicken breast and whole wheat pasta.  Multitask and clean pump attachments, dry, and pack breast pump to take to school. 

6:00 AM:  Make Ethan's Spark, he drinks that while taking the first color pack of his MNS supplements for the day and 3 Catalyst.  Start breakfast.  Today... 1/2 cup oatmeal with scoop of peanut butter, cinnamon, and half of a banana sliced, 4 egg whites scrambled with spinach and tomatoes.  YUM!  Ethan:  breakfast burrito with turkey sausage, scrambled eggs (mixture of egg whites and whole eggs), salsa, jalapenos, and a whole wheat tortilla, and half a cup of grapes.  Ethan takes white packets of his MNS supplements, I take 3 CorePlex with Iron (my prenatal vitamin) and 2 OmegaPlex (Omega 3 fatty acid dietary supplements)

6:45 AM:  Get baby up, dressed, and fed while hubby gets toddler up and dressed.  Switch kids.  I do toddler's hair, hubby gets baby in car seat. 

7:00 AM:  Roll out!

10:00 AM:  Take 3 more Catalyst.  Have second Spark if needed. (I usually do because I like to take Spark and Catalyst together). 

10:30 AM:  Snack!  Apples and natural peanut butter it my typical go-to snack.  Ethan's too! 

11:30 AM:  Lunch.  Today's shake...Chocolate!  My favorite!

3:00 PM:  3 more Catalyst.  Sometimes, depending on how the night went with baby or the day went with teens and preteens I may have another Spark! :o)

3:20 PM:  Bell rings at school and I walk out my classroom door and start walking laps at the school or put in my Can You 24 DVD workout and bust out 15-25 minutes of some sort of physical activity! (length of time depends on if any kids come in my room needing help with something or to finish up work.

3:45 PM:  Head out to pick up girls.  Drink Post Workout Recovery shake if I did workout DVD.  Eat Advocare snack bar if I walked.

4:30 PM:  Get home from picking up the girls at daycare.  Start dinner if needed.  Feed baby if needed.  Play with toddler or get toddler to "help" with dinner.  Try to keep toddler from shoving pacifier in baby's face.  Tonight's dinner:  Chili (1 lb. 93% lean hamburger, 1/2 lb turkey sausage, black beans, no sodium diced tomatoes, low sodium tomato sauce, chili powder, cayan pepper, garlic powder, basil and oregano, salt and pepper to taste).  Sprinkle a little cheese on top with a dollop of Greek yogurt.  Tasty!  2 more OmegaPlex with dinner.

6:00-7:30:  Clean up kitchen, play with girls, give girls baths if it is bath night, or anything else that needs to be done.  Hubby helps with all of the above. :)

7:30 PM:  Bed time for toddler.

8:00-8:30 PM:  Feed baby and put her to bed.

8:30 PM:  Shower.  Have a snack of fruit if hungry (after out of the shower of course)

9:00 PM:  In bed.  Little computer time, little Netflix time (House of Cards Season 2...Feb. 14!!!).

9:30-10:00 PM:  Ahhh SLEEP!

Sometimes I have a hard time picking out exactly what is part of the challenge, other than taking supplements.  That's the great thing about the 24 Day Challenge, it really does transition you into a REALISTIC healthy lifestyle.  This is real life.  Eat good, clean food.  Take vitamins.  Get SOME KIND of physical activity each day.  SLEEP. 

And enjoy some tasty, good-for-you energy with SPARK!  :)

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Why Advocare?

Out of all the nutrition systems out there, why do I believe so much in Advocare?  What brought me here in the first place?

For me Advocare stood out for two specific reasons.

1. It had a program, the 24 Day Challenge, that was modified for breast feeding moms.  I knew that the supplements I would be taking and the food I would be eating would be safe for me, as well as giving me enough food so my milk supply didn't dwindle.  This was important to me, I wanted something that would help me lose weight without "dieting."  Nursing moms still need to consume extra calories.  I wanted a way to get those extra calories, help become more healthy, and make life-long changes. 

2.  It was shared with me by a friend who was very similar to me.  She had been a college athlete, and built like one.  She had spent her entire life thinking she would always weigh a certain number.  Then Advocare helped her drop 20 pounds lower than that number.  I saw myself in her.  She inspired me to try, talked to me in terms I understood, and helped me along the way.

I started out like many others I hear...

"I can't afford it."

"I'm not good at following a set eating plan."

"There is no way a shake is going to fill me up like my usual breakfast."

My friend had answers for all of these excuses.  Answers that made sense. 

"I can't afford it."

You "CAN'T" or you "WON'T" there is a big difference.

"I'm not good at following a set eating plan."

The 24 Day Challenge really allows you to eat all kinds of foods.  It asks you to give up wheat and milk for 10 days, and try to eat less processed more clean foods.  It isn't like those diets that restrict you to only eating one food group, where you miss out on key nutrients and vitamins.  This really helps you make habits that are LIFE LONG.

"There is no way a shake is going to fill me up like my usual breakfast."

Try one.  If you don't like it, we can talk about how to have a healthy, nutritious breakfast that will give you a great start and keep you satisfied just as long, or longer than your typical breakfast now.


I can do this.  24 day cleanse.  It's 24 days out of my life that can help me feel better, look better, and achieve more.  24 days.  Less than a month.  I can stick to something for 24 days.

Little did I know what those 24 days were going to do for me.

I am 2 days away from completing my second Challenge, and I don't plan on stopping there.

I feel better.

I look better.

I have more energy.

I can do more! 

I am so thankful that Advocare has become part of my life.  I am so thankful for my friend and her support.  And now I want to be that friend for you.

Let me help YOU jump start your LIFE.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014


I read a quote once shortly after starting my journey with Advocare that made me stop and go, Hmmm....

"If you can't afford 200 dollars to make a change in your life, then you need to change your life."

Now, I'm not going to say I completely agree with this statement.  I am never one to tell someone in financial trouble that they need to spend 200 dollars on a program to jump start healthy living rather than pay their electric bill.  But, it got me thinking about what we, as a society, value and promote over others.

It seems as though we will balk at purchasing the healthy peanut butter, whole wheat bread, and spaghetti squash because they are more expensive than the more processed, sugary, and cheaper counterparts.

But we'll drop $400.00 on a new TV because it is Black Friday or some other super sale.


"If you can't afford 200 dollars to make a change in your life, then you need to change your life."

We will turn down the opportunity to make a healthy, life long change in our lives and become positive examples for our family and friends because we are "to cheap" to purchase supplements.

But, we'll go out to eat 3-5 times a week.


"If you can't afford 200 dollars to make a change in your life, then you need to change your life."

We will talk about how much we wish we could stay home with our kids, have that "dream house" that we keep pinning on Pinterest, or just lose 10 pounds.  But we don't actually DO anything about it. 

We are reactive instead of proactive.

Which makes me think of another quote that graced the back of many of my t-shirts from various sport teams throughout my life.

"Don't dream it.  Be it."

The cool thing...Advocare can be IT.

Advocare can help you with those 10 pounds (or 15, or 20)

Advocare can help you set a good (and realistic) example for your family and friends.

Advocare can help you spend more time with your family.

Advocare can help you on your way to being debt free.

BUT, it won't do the work for you.  It won't make it "easy," it will help make it POSSIBLE.

So your DREAMS can become YOUR LIFE.

"If you can't afford 200 dollars to make a change in your life, then you need to change your life."

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Spaghetti Squash: My Official Review

It's all over Pinterest.

It's all over the health blogs.

The reviews are so positive, it is almost unbelievable.

"I Love spaghetti squash!  Didn't even miss the pasta."

"My picky kids and husband ate it and didn't even know the difference."

"Turned out just as I hoped it would.  So yummy!!"

Hmmm.  I needed to check this out.  I was a little skeptical for a number of reasons.  I just kept thinking...those people who rate spaghetti squash CLEARLY do not love pasta (or anything carb-filled) the way I do.  And even thought I consider myself a pretty skilled cook (at all things "easy"), I will still expecting the squash to turn out looking like mashed potatoes, rather than the stringy "pasta" consistency.

So I bought one.

And researched how to cook it...

YIKES.  There are about 15 different ways.

After consulting my sister, who I consider an expert on all things healthy, and my mother-in-law, who was coming over for dinner that night, I decided to go with cutting it in half (easier said than done...)

Notice my lovely knife-skills with the uneven "halves." I'll just say, that's what I was going for...

Brushed it with a little olive oil and a sprinkle of salt and pepper.  A little roast in the oven for 45 minutes at 375 degrees, and I got this...

Yay!  Strings not mush!

I made a batch of chicken cacciatore (recipe below) to put over it.  For those who were a little leary of the spaghetti squash, and in case I needed a back up, I also made some whole wheat pasta.

Healthy eating is all about portion sizing.  I love my pasta, but the correct portion for me is 1/2 cup.  Now, I could have done some tricky photography and placed it on a tiny, toddler plate to make 1/2 cup of pasta look like it would be enough to satisfy my tummy, but that's what the "healthy" blogs do to fool you.

So here's a real comparison.  On a real plate.

1/2 cup of whole wheat pasta.  (I think there are maybe 15 spirals here...)

1 cup of spaghetti squash.

After plating up my meal and digging in here are my pros and cons.

Pro:  The taste was WAY better than I expected it to be.  Actually there wasn't much of a taste to the actual squash, it is more what you put on it or with it.

Con:  It was a tad crunchy.  I could have probably baked it another 5 minutes longer, but I didn't want it to be mushy.

Pro:  It really was easy to prepare.

Con:  It was NOT easy to cut in half.

Pro:  I can think of many ways to eat this and replace a lot of the pasta I was having before.

Con:  It is pricey when compared to pasta at the store.  The one spaghetti squash cost me over $4.00.  I can buy 4 bags of pasta for that. did yield more "fruit" than I thought it would originally.

Pro:  I get 1 full cup of spaghetti squash vs. the teeny tiny 1/2 cup of whole wheat pasta!

Now that's a dinner!

Chicken Cacciatore (modified from Skinny Taste recipe)
- 4 chicken breasts, thawed
- 1/2 red pepper
- 1/2 green bell pepper
- 1/2 orange bell pepper
- 1/2 red onion
- 1 tsp minced garlic
- 28 oz. can low sodium crushed tomatoes
- any mixture of Italian spices (I used, basil, oregano, garlic powder, crushed red pepper, and a bay leaf)
- salt and pepper to taste

Place all of the above in a crock pot and cook on high for 4 hours or low for 6 hours, or until done.

PS...I do not measure much, I just dump and pour.  Drives my hubby nuts :)

Friday, January 17, 2014

It's a Toddler's World

We have been having some fun around the house these last few months, as our little toddler grows, begins new challenges, and learns new words. 

Here's a little insight on life with our little toddler.

We have begun the much anticipated process of potty training.  Sometimes I feel like it is a little early...surely she isn't old enough for that yet, she's still a baby.  But Little Miss has started to show a VAST interest in all things "potty."  Miss Rose was all for attempting to sit her on the potty after nap once Christmas Break was over at daycare.   And I must say, so far so good.  Or at least better than I thought it would go.

After little over a week of trying, she is going in her little potty almost every time we put her on it.  She sits down and immediately wants a "treeeeeaaaaat." A little chocolate chip that she is SO PROUD of receiving after a successful potty trip.  We have found, when she has an accident or doesn't need to go she cries and cries because she's not getting a treat. 

And after her first poopy accident...ohhh HER WORLD ENDED! 

I wish she would understand that it was only day 3.

Little Jackie has become quite the little "helper" around the house.  She wants to help with everything from unloading the dishwasher to helping baby go "Bye oh Bye Baby" (rock-a-bye baby) to pulling out or putting shoving the pacifier in Katerina's mouth (not caring to ask if she was done with it or even wanted it in the first place...).  Poor Katerina.  I would love to say that all of the attention from Jackie just helps toughen her up, but I do believe that Little "Kit Kat" is going to be the dramatic one.

I try to live my life with a toddler around the phrase "Don't stress a clean mess."  It helps me focus on the things Jackie really shouldn't be doing, like grabbing a knife off the counter with leftover peanut butter and walking downstairs while trying to lick off the nuttery goodness.

Yep. That happened.

My motto is, if it can be easily picked up and it keeps her occupied longer than her 20 second attention span, I'm good. 

Or so I thought. 

The other day I went to get a dish towel out of the drawer, only to find this...

After a quick search of the kitchen, I found them shoved (along with many other toys) in the plastic container cabinet.  Silly child.

Without a doubt, Jackie's favorite pastime is playing "bugs" on the little tablet we have.  If she had the attention span for it, she would play it all day.  Luckily, the longest she goes is about 20-30 minutes before getting distracted.  We have tried to limit her playing time to just before bed.  Last night she wanted to play with it and Ethan told her "not until 7:00."  I kid you not...7:00 On.The.Dot. She ran up to daddy "Bugs, bugs!!" 

I LOVE this stage.  Yes, she throws fits, yes she is a STINKER at times, but I just love watching her learn.  It is fascinating.  I can't wait to see what she comes up with next.

As long as it doesn't involve knives...

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Nothing worth having...

Comes easy.

We did it!  The Cleanse phase of the 24 Day Challenge is now complete. YAY! 

So what were our results so far?  We did a weigh-in and measurement check to see how we were doing. 

I lost 3 pounds and about 4 and 1/2 inches (1 1/2 from waist, 2 from hips, and 1 from thigh).  Ethan lost about 2 1/2 pounds and about 2 inches overall.

I am happy with my results.  Although, I will admit that I (and like most others) would have been ecstatic for rapid, blow-you-away type results.  I have to constantly remind myself that my goal isn't a quick fix.  There is no such thing.  If something promises you extreme weight loss without any work and in a short amount of time, there's something off...or possibly a parasite??? 

Nothing worth having comes easy!  It is WORK.  People shouldn't be afraid of WORK.  Making life-long changes takes time and work before it becomes a new habit.  If you aren't ready to work for it, don't expect results to be long-term.

My goal is sustained weight loss.  I want it off for good (or at least until the next baby comes around).  I want healthy habits embedded in our routines and recipes, so we have a lifestyle change as a family.  I have to remember that it took me 9 months of carrying a baby to put on 45 pounds.  The 14 pounds I have left before returning to "pre-baby weight" (and any extra poundage I can shed) won't come off easily or in a measly 10 days. 

And I'm ok with that.

Advocare IS NOT A DIET.  It will help give you strategies to begin to develop new habits.  Those habits helping you to live the best life possible, help you to be the best YOU you can be.  

Then and only then will it be easy.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Let's talk about sweat

The workout.

Almost every single thing you read about weight loss and living healthy lives includes the need for physical activity.  Suggestions usually range from at least 30 minutes a day to more intense workouts involving intervals, weight lifting programs, and high intensity classes. 

The "experts" will tell you that it has to be a priority. 

Ok.  I get it.  Yes, physical activity is important and it is a priority, but let's face it, working out is one of MANY priorities I have. 

And it doesn't rank above my children, husband, or God.


As much as I would love for it to be a higher priority than my job, it just can't be.

So that means on my list of priorities...working out (at this point in my life) is AT LEAST 5th on the list, and sometimes lower than that.

The first time I completed the 24 Day Challenge in August of 2012, I didn't specifically add any extra exercise to my day.  I was just starting back to work after almost 5 months of maternity leave, which included coaching MS volleyball.  I would be putting in up to 12-14 hour workdays depending on the day.  Plus, I would jump into volleyball drills, be serving and hitting balls at junior high girls two hours each afternoon.  I figured that would "count."

This time, though, I want and need to add in a workout somewhere. 

I needed it to be short, but effective.  So I purchased the Advocare Can You 24 workout DVD.  24 minutes long and promised to make me sweat and get my heart rate up. 

It delivered!

I love how the video is good for ALL LEVELS, having a beginner/modified move, intermediate, and advanced levels done for 10-30 seconds.  24 minutes.  I can do that.

Then I started back at work.  My original plan was to workout during the week in the morning.  (getting up at 5 AM).

Yeah right.

Little two-month old is not a consistent enough sleeper for me to say I will be able to workout at 5:00 AM every morning.  She may (and did the first day) wake up to eat at 5:00.  And even if she sleeps in longer, I have found that even with getting up at 5 AM, I don't sit down until I get in my vehicle to go to work at 7.  The mornings are B.U.S.Y!

After slapped in the face with reality that mornings were NOT going to work.  I had to rethink my options and habits of working out.

First of all.  Set a REALISTIC goal. 

I want to workout AT LEAST 4 times a day with the CU 24 workout DVD, and try to get some sort of walking, chasing babies, or even some simple stretching in on other days.

Second.  Rethink old habits. 

For as long as I can remember, working out always happened during the week and weekends were for rest.  Not anymore.  Weekends are the one time, I can usually count on to have a spare half hour to break a sweat.  I can even sleep in until 7 (not including getting up to feed baby and going back to bed) get up and still have a couple hours before everyone is up and moving in our house.  And even if I feel like sleeping in a little longer, there's always nap time during the afternoon.  Weekends are no longer rest days. 

That means in order to get to my goal of at least 4 days a week, I only have to find TWO Days during the work week to squeeze in my CU 24. 

Thanks to the 24 minute workout, I have found that if I take the DVD with me to school, the second the bell rings, I can start the video, workout in my classroom, mix up my after workout recovery shake to drink on the drive home and still get to daycare in time to pick up the girls. 

It may be a pain to take workout clothes with me to school, change, and workout with students and teachers wondering in and out of my classroom.  But getting a workout in needs to be a priority, right?  This is how I'm making it a priority. 

Advocare now has a Can You 24 Level 2 DVD available for 39.95 (plus tax and shipping).  I plan on trying that one out after I've mastered Level 1 DVD.  Level 1 is available for 29.95 (plus tax and shipping).  Both are a GREAT deal for the workout you get :)

You can contact me for more information or click here to order.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Tips for Success!

It wouldn't be called the 24 Day CHALLENGE if there wasn't something "challenging" to it.  The Challenge is always something different depending on who you are.  The point is that you are doing something to "challenge" yourself to improve your health in some way.

Maybe the challenge is drinking enough water.

Maybe it's getting in a workout.

Maybe it's giving up things you love like coffee, candy, or french fries.

No matter what challenge this brings to you, the end goal is that you are able to incorporate some new healthier changes in your life from here on out.  (And usually lose some weight in the process!)

I thought it would be helpful to list some strategies that I have found helpful or that others have shared with me.  (Just another thing to love about Advocare...such a positive, supportive network of people to surround yourself with.  Everyone WANTS you to SUCCEED).

~  Use a gallon jug of water to track how much you have drank through the day.  Decorate it up nice and pretty with positive sayings to keep you going.

~  If you're not a morning person and find you need to get up earlier, start off slow.  Set the alarm for 15 minutes earlier for a couple days, then another 15, until you reach your destination.

~  Prep anything ahead of time that you can.  I find if I get our lunches for the next day ready and packed the night before, that saves me a bunch of time in the morning.

~  Read up.  Prepare for the Challenge before you begin. Know what you're going to be eating and doing each day.  Ask questions!

~  Rethink the workout.  Depending on how you have worked out before, or if you never have, you may have to do something different than you were used to.  (A whole post coming about this!)

~  Surround yourself with positive people, who want you to succeed.  This is something we try to teach our middle schoolers.  You become who you hang around.  If you are constantly surrounded by negativity, you will become negative. Positive people are more fun!

~  Rethink recipes you already have.  Mix your own taco seasoning, swap out brown rice for white rice.  Try spaghetti squash??? (I'm giving that one a whirl this time :)

There you have it.  Hope these help!  Anyone else have a tip that works for them?

Here's a rundown on the food for the last couple of days.

Breakfasts:  Have been consistent on the egg white scrambles, oatmeal, and fruit.  Feeling good starting out the day with a super breakfast!

Lunch:  Usually leftovers from dinner.  When I put away leftovers, I always portion everything out into individual containers for easy grab and go lunches.  Meal replacement shakes and bars are wonderful on busy days or when we are out of leftovers.

Dinner:  Made Cajun talapia with creole sauce over brown rice for dinner last night.  Tonight is hamburger patties (made with 96% ground beef) and sweet potato wedges. 

Snacks:  Ethan has really liked the apples and peanut butter, so he's been really consistent on eating that.  I've tried to mix up the fruit a bit with apples, oranges and bananas, but still try to get the protein or healthy fat from peanut butter or almonds.

Monday, January 6, 2014


In order for something great to happen... you first have to START.

In order to have success at something... you must BEGIN.

In order to reach a have to SET IT.


Today is day one of our Advocare 24 Day Challenge.  We start with a 10 day cleanse.  Ethan and I will be doing this together, however ours will be a little different since I am still breastfeeding and will be doing a modified challenge so I don't lose my milk supply.

I am realistic.  I know there are going to be parts of this that are more challenging than others.  It helps if I identify them, and point them out so we will be more than ready.  Besides how fun is it to reach a goal without any challenges?  If there isn't something to challenge you toward your goal, it isn't a goal.

My Challenges:

  • Time management:  I am taking on quite a lot at the moment.  Returning to teaching after 9 weeks of maternity leave.  Trying to establish a morning routine with TWO girls, under the age of two, one who is completely dependent on either Ethan or myself, and the other who is determined to be independent, but lacking the skill to do so.  A full day of teaching, without forgetting to eat.  Trying to fit in a workout at least four days a week.  Cooking dinner.  Normal housework. Getting food ready for the next day.  Blogging.  Oh...and sleeping somewhere in there...
  • No Wheat.  During the Cleanse Phase we will be avoiding wheat and dairy (except for Advocare products).  I love, Love, LOVE all things wheat.  
Ethan's Challenges:
  • No Dairy.  Ethan loves his milk and cheeses.  Although he will get to add this back in after the cleanse in moderation.
  • No Dips.  Ethan is a big dipper.  This will also challenge me to find ways to fix foods where he doesn't feel like he wants to dip it in BBQ or Ranch.
  • Veggies.  Ethan doesn't like cooked veggies.  He will eat them raw, but that can get old (and even quicker when there's no Ranch to dip them in...)  Many of the meals include cooked veggies
Today's Menu:  Remember, this is a cleanse where you get to EAT!  :)

Breakfast:  Egg white scramble with peppers and onions for Ethan, tomatoes and spinach for me.  1/2 cup oatmeal with banana and a TBS of all natural peanut butter. 

Snack:  Banana and two TBS of peanut butter for me, apple and two TBS peanut butter for Ethan.

Lunch:  Meal replacement shake for me and meal replacement bar for Ethan.

Snack: After workout recovery shake (a whole post coming on this later!)

Dinner:  Chicken taco bowls with black beans, cilantro lime rice, and homemade guacamole.  YUM!

Tomorrow... a cleanse friendly recipe and some tips for dealing with those challenges! 

**If the Advocare 24 Day Challenge is something you would like to try or would like more information on let me know or visit my website**

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Our Journey 24

I know it is a cliche to talk about wanting to lose weight and become more healthy at the start of each new year, and tomorrow, the first Monday of 2014, Ethan and I begin our journey with Advocare's 24 Day Challenge.

I have done the challenge before and fell in love with Advocare and their products.  I am doing another challenge, not because I stopped being healthy all together, but I need a little jump start in losing the rest of the baby weight (in particular around my hips and thighs which is causing none of my pants to fit.)

I have also taken on another goal.  To try and share Advocare with as many people as I can.  I LOVE the products and how they make me feel.  I want everyone to feel as great as I do while taking them.  I want everyone to have the opportunity I am hoping for as well.

I have had this blog for little over 5 years now and I share much of my life with the friends and family who read this.  It only makes since to share my journey with Advocare here as well.

So for the next 24 days I will be sharing our experiences with the 24 Day Challenge.  Tips, recipes, highs, lows, favorites, results, and much more.  My hope is that anyone wanting to make a change, try something new, and challenge themselves will allow me the chance to share these wonderful products.