Sunday, February 9, 2014

Temper Tantrums at 40...Really??

Temper tantrums can't ever be a good thing, can it?? I said to my friend yesterday that I should be over this phase in my life, but I guess not. I really wanted to yell and kick and scream and get my way, however, I didn't. I pulled myself together.

I found myself being mad at me. Mad at life- how I didn't sign up for all of this. I didn't ask for a pacemaker, or rheumatoid arthritis, or my newly diagnosed hypothyroidism(as if I needed something else!!). Yes, I had a real pity party going, you should have been there.

But the truth of the matter is: I have no control over it. I have to accept where I am, who I am, and work with what God gave me. I also have to understand that I CANNOT eat what I want and get the results I am looking for. Soda, candy, bread, fries, whatever- it's not on my plan. What makes it even more interesting is I am finally beginning to understand what those foods can do to me. I have friends that if they eat off plan, they get sick immediately. Not so for me- it takes days, sometimes weeks for me to feel the effects. My body swells. My joints ache. I break out in rashes. But not immediately. So by the time it happens, my brain has already lost the connection that "bad"foods=sickness. So, I can't do that to myself. The sooner I get that through my head, the better off and more successful I will be.

Anyway, I didn't stay mad forever. I didn't yell or kick anything like I wanted to. I turned to my friends and that really helped me through. I was honest with myself and my coach (although I didn't want to rationalizations sounded so much better in my head!!)and just accepted this is where I am. Now to move forward and make better choices.

The awesome thing about feelings is that they just are- they always change. Are you having a bad day? Do something to help someone else, go to the gym, talk to your friends, the feeling will soon pass. Here's to a successful week, a more positive week and another step in the right direction. Thanks for being there on the journey with me!

Just be awesome!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

My Fit Friend: Andrea Buchheit!

This week's fit friend is Andrea Buchheit. The picture of her was taken this last January after the Dopey Challenge at Disney. She will tell you more about that below. I was trying to figure out how long we have known each other and when we started teaching together- it's been 12 years or so ago...time flies and I lost count. She has a wonderful story, she's highly motivated and sometimes makes us all tired with her boundless here is my Bon Jovi loving friend...

Andrea Buchheit
Age: 40
Occupation: Teacher

Short-term Goal: To complete AdvoCare 24 Day Challenge in order to redefine healthy eating and focus on maximum nutrition with increased energy

Long-term Goal: To run at least a ½ Marathon in all 50 states; just completed 23rd state

Life Goal: To maintain health and wellness in order to get the most from life!

I began running again in 2006 when I joined The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s (LLS) Team in Training (TNT). I trained for my first half marathon while raising money for LLS. Their organization provides great support to cancer patients, as well as those training with their program. When my husband’s best friend was diagnosed with Lymphoma the following year, I decided to join TNT once again and take on the full marathon challenge. I ran my first full marathon in 2007 in Dublin, Ireland. I swore I would never run another full marathon, and instead decided to set a goal to run a ½ marathon in every state.
Well, it’s true-never say never! I just completed the 2014 Inaugural Dopey Challenge in Walt Disney World. The challenge was to run a 5K on Thursday, a 10K on Friday, a half-marathon on Saturday, and a full marathon on Sunday. That was my 5th full marathon. While I don’t intend to run anymore full marathons, I highly recommend that anyone looking for a memorable challenge, run the Disney World Marathon. During any of the Disney races, you are able to stop for pictures with the characters. But during the full marathon, you have the opportunity to ride a roller coaster. Crazy fun! Just be aware that with all this fun, there’s no time for a PR (personal record).
So with numerous 5K’s, 22 half marathons, five full marathons complete, covering 23 states and one foreign country, I’m almost half finished with my current long-term goal. My timeline is to complete the 50th state by my 50th birthday. In the meantime, I’ve just become an advisor with AdvoCare. I look forward to using the AdvoCare Performance Elite sports nutrition line to help me perform my best and recovery properly. This of course in line with my life-long plan of maintaining health and wellness in order to get the most from life!

Spinning Plates

This is what my life has felt like the last few the person I watched on TV trying to keep the plates spinning and not crashing to the ground. The first week of the semester is ALWAYS like this. I teach three sections of Orientation, a combined graduate and undergraduate reading course, and three sections of School Observation. So it's a mad dash to get everything set up, Blackboard set up, syllabi updated and printed, and a new schedule figured out. And that's just the beginning when it comes to work.

Keeping health as a priority and preparing for the week feels very similar sometimes too. Prepare all the foods, figure out all your supplements and when you can take them; plan your workout schedule for the week, meet with coach and make all your workouts. It doesn't happen by accident- you have to make time for it. After a time, you may even really look forward to it! I know I do, and I am actually looking forward to getting to the gym tomorrow after being snowed and iced in for two days. Drives me stir crazy!!

"I just don't have the time" I see this a lot, hear it a lot, but in essence, it's just not true. The correct response would be that it isn't a priority for you. No judgement here- it just may be where you are. We all have the same hours in a day. We all have work and family obligations. My coach said if I have to, then just get up earlier. That was his response when I said I didn't think I could get there every afternoon. I teach two evenings a week!! I have three kids! I was writing a paper! I have X,Y, and Z to get done. The truth of the matter is, I had to make time. So when I worked out my class schedule, I began to figure out what times each day I would work out. I usually give myself one day off during the week and then again on Sundays. Otherwise, this semester, you will find me at the gym after work.

So, life is always going to be full of spinning plates. Somethings you can prepare for, others you cannot. Set a routine- I know people who work out every morning at 4:30 am and 5:30 am; I also see the same gym friends when I go in the afternoon. You can do this! What do you do to help keep yourself on track? What times do you find work best for working out? Share your suggestions- we'd love to know!

Just be awesome!
~ Vanessa

Friday, January 24, 2014

My Fit Friend: Sandra Singer!

A feature I would like to do once a week or so is called "My Fit Friend". I have made lots of connections in my fitness journey, as well as received motivation from friends and family who have pursued their fitness goals.

What is a fit friend? It can be anyone who is trying to work towards your fitness goals and making healthy changes in your life. Some of my friends are athletes, competitors, trainers, but it is also people like me, who are trying to lose weight, run that race, reach a goal that once seemed impossible. Would you like to be my fit friend and share your story? Email me at for more information- I would love to feature you!!

So, my first "Fit Friend" is Sandy Singer. I met Sandy on the stairmill at my old gym. I love the connections and friendships I have created just by working out. I have a whole "gym family" and I love it!! I was doing 30-45 minutes each morning before I went in to work. She jumped up on the stairs next to me and introduced herself and we've been friends since. She was asking me if I was working towards anything, and I was telling her about my goal of becoming a bodybuilding bikini competitor. (Still a dream of mine, all in due time). Sandy had been working out for almost 15 years and seriously could step on stage and be ready to I encouraged her to meet with Debbie and the rest is history! Here is her story:

My name is Sandra Singer and I am a 46 yr old mother of 2 boys and a IFPA Bikini Pro. I live in Washington MO and work for Evans GroundsCare as an account manager and I am also a Personal Trainer for Integrity Training. My fitness journey started about 15 yrs ago when a friend of mine asked me to join a gym with her I thought to myself why not I need to lose a few pounds and get toned up, little did I know that it would be the start of great changes to come. Here we are 15 yrs later and I am in the best shape of my life and now I am sharing my passion of fitness with others through personal training.

My favorite workout is leg day or leg days! It is the toughest workout but the most rewarding.

I work out at Complete Fitness, Lake St Louis MO and Powerhouse Gym St Louis MO. I train with Debbie Portell with Integrity Training Group she is also my coach for competition.

My Fitness goal is to build my glutes and and hamstrings for competition in June and to place in the top 3 in masters bikini.

Fitness challenges I have had stress fractures in my feet from long distance running along with a runners knee.

Accomplishments: I have run a total of 7 half marathons, more 5Ks then I can count and a few 10ks and 7ks. I competed last year June 2013 in my first NANBF Natural Bikini competition and place 1st in Tall and 1st in Master earning my IFPA Pro card. I then place 4th in my first IFPA Pro show in Sept 2013.

Influential Person/Mentor: Debbie Portell with Integrity Training Systems has really helped me become the athlete I am today. She is one of the most knowlegable people I know in fitness and so proud to not only have her as my coach but as my boss and friend as well. She is the true meaning of Integrity she lives up to the word by her actions and passion for what she does. You only need to meet Debbie once to see how much joy she has for what she does she would do anything to help you achieve your goal if you are willing to give it your all.

Integrity to me is how you walk your walk in life and show people what you are about what you stand for.

"Be Fit be Happy"


Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Before, After, Now What?

Ok, I have been stressing about this post for days and days and days... But here it is. 

I finally got brave enough to post the first two pics on Facebook about a month ago. I was really happy with the support I received - who likes putting their before pics up?  Not me. But for me, the scariest part is talking about the "Now" picture. The one on the far right. 

First, the pic on the left is from 2007. My then-husband and I were in San Antonio, Texas celebrating our 10th anniversary. I had pretty much let myself go, wasn't working out at all and eating whatever. It was seeing myself in this picture, and ones like it, to try and lose weight and be healthy. I was winging it, that's for sure. I weighed over 174 in this pic. I think I quit weighing myself for a long while. I was a bit in denial. 

The middle picture- I am really proud of this one. It had almost been a year that I was working with Roger and I had been trying to get down to competition weight. At this point I weighed somewhere around the low 130's. This was taken in June, 2013 and I was around a size 6 

The last picture. Ugh. This is the one I'd really like to skim over and just wait until I look like my middle picture again. However, that's me. January 2014. I currently weigh 160 and run about a size 10/12. Yep. You read that right. I gained weight. I have tried to ignore it, I tried to pretend it didn't happen, I have been in a tailspin for about 4 months or so.  I have cried about it, been depressed about it, gotten mad about it, but realized I need to get back to basics and get to work. 

So what happened?? (I know, I ask myself that sometimes too. ). Did I quit going to the gym?  Nope. I continued to workout and lift weights. I wasn't hitting the cardio as rigorous as I should have, but I kept showing up. I think that alone, was my saving grace. If you compare the first and the last pic- that's a 15+ pound difference but my body looks completely different. I carry the weight differently, I have more muscle in the last two pictures. I have to be careful not to define myself by a number. 

Anyway, what happened. It's simple. I quit doing the things food wise that helped me reach that goal. I think I celebrated turning 40 for almost 6 months. It adds up over time. That one bite, that one off meal that turns into two off meals, which in turn ends up being the whole week. The thought of "I worked hard for this, I deserve it". "One bite won't hurt". If you truly only do it once in awhile, no, it will not affect you. I however, went back to some really old habits and it kicked my behind. Plain and simple. 

Here's what I learned in this process:

Weight gain happens. Accept it. Learn from it, fix it. 

My life revolves around food. I got a promotion? Let's go eat!  It's your birthday? Let's go eat!  Hockey game?  Let's go eat!  See the pattern?  We live in a society that revolves around food. Watch your TV.  Think about your own life. How important is food outside of just fueling your body to survive?

I always hear the phrase "It's a lifestyle change". It's not let's lose the weight and then go back to living the way you were before. I promise you, it will ALL come back. See? I just saved you a lot of heartache. However, you might be like me and have to learn the hard way.   There may be some of you reading this who do not suffer from the same emotional attachment to food like myself and others do.  It may be really hard for you to understand why it's such a struggle. My boyfriend is like that. He could care less about food. He likes food but it's not a big deal to him. I often times wish I could be like that. And I can, it just requires more mental discipline and changing things in my life. 

So, my next few posts will be talking about how to do just that. How to live in the real world and not give in to every single food temptation that's there. You can do it, we can do it. We just have to be willing to do the work. Thanks for listening and being so supportive!  

Just be awesome!

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Motivation: What Drives You?

Why do you want to do this?

That was the hardest question Roger (my mentor/food guy) asked me. He said I really needed to figure this out. I needed to have some sort of a purpose. 

Now, those of you who know me personally, know I am goal-driven in my life. When I say I am going to do _________, for the most part, it happens. Simply because if it is something I want to accomplish, I work to make it happen. 

Let me give you an example. I have known since I was a kid what I wanted to do as a career. I can remember my mom and I having a conversation about school and she said that I would first graduate high school, then go on to college. She explained that you get your Bachelor's degree, then your Master's and then finally your Doctoral degree. My family put a strong emphasis on education. They didn't push me into any career, they just wanted us (my siblings and I) to be successful. From a young age I wanted to be a teacher. I had it in my head that I would do all of those things. It never once occurred to me that I couldn't. No one ever said I wasn't capable. They will also tell you I'm pretty hard headed and pretty determined. I'm sure that played a role along the way. 

So, fast forward to today. I finished my Bachelor's degree in 1996 (while getting married, having 2 kids and then getting divorced). I began teaching in 1998 (after substituting and working as a paraprofessional and and an Instructional assistant, and getting remarried during that time too). I taught for 10 years (had a third child), finished my Master's degree and then left teaching in 2008 to complete my PhD. I wanted to teach at the University level. After four years of graduate work (two more jobs and getting divorced) I wrote my dissertation and graduated in December 2012. 

My point in sharing that quick synopsis of my life was that I had a goal and despite whatever job I had, personal struggles I was going through or what life handed to me, I did what I set out to do and reached my goal. Again, It never occurred to me that I couldn't. Write a paper?  Sure. I can do that. Research and make it over 100+ pages?  No problem. I wanted a University job, and I went to numerous interviews, made connections and landed full time where I am today, two years later. 

So. What does that have to do with fitness?  Well, I needed a new goal. A new challenge. I wasn't happy with how I had let myself go. My health wasn't the best. So I figured I would work on me. Remember, I set goals and work to make it happen. Well, this girl met her match. This was completely new to me. It required an entirely different skill set. I didn't (and sometimes don't) have the confidence. Write a huge paper?  Sure. Speak in front of hundreds of people?  No problem. Lose 30+ pounds and keep it off?  Um, I don't know. Not sure if I can do it. I don't know how. 

This has been by far the hardest thing I have ever done. And that my friends, sends me for a loop. I don't have the experience or education to back me up this time. Going back through my health history, I have been told there are things that I can't do. In this area of my life I am no longer the expert. I'm the new kid. I'm not the teacher and I really suck being the student.  (Sorry, I'm sure there's a better way to put that, lol). And, I have stumbled a lot. 

But here's the cool part: I have an amazing support system that I have put together to help me reach my goal. Not once has Roger ever told me I couldn't do this. (I was pretty sure at some point he would tell me to give it up. He hasn't. ) My trainers, my gym friends, and the ladies I have developed supportive relationships keep cheering me on, encouraging me to get back up and try again and sharing with me how they did it. If I didn't have that in my life right now, I would have quit ages ago. 

So, what motivates me now?  You do. People who join me along the way in the journey and say, hey! I get it. You're human. I struggle too. WE CAN DO THIS. That is what keeps me motivated. 

So think about your goals. Mine was to get skinny. It's not about that anymore. It's about getting fit, feeling healthy and being around for my family for many years to come. 

Thank you for coming along on this journey with me. You help me more than you realize. 

Be awesome today!!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

My BIGGEST Struggle

One word: FOOD

Not just any food, SUGAR. Desserts, soda, candy, whatever.

I have a ridiculous love affair with SUGAR and I am struggling to drop it. I know- it's JUST FOOD. It's not real food (no nutritional value) and wreaks havoc on my system. But old habits and emotional eating make this the hardest thing for me to quit EVER. There. I said it. That is my weak spot.

I find when things are good, I can stay away. The stress and frustration that life brings seems to bring the want/craving back. I can be an emotional eater and I find myself just going straight to it without even thinking- "is this getting me to my goal??" Of course, the answer is no. Do I feel better? For a minute. Then guilt, remorse and all that goes with it sets in.

I am in no way perfect. (yep, admitted that IN PRINT!) but I am finding a few things that do help: I try not to keep tempting stuff in the house. No, I do not make the rest of my family eat like I do. I encourage it, but I don't make them. So, if I have to have that around, I get stuff I don't like. I also try to plan ahead and make sure I eat as I am supposed to. If I miss a snack or eat later than usual, it messes me up. I have also just tried being honest with myself and talk to some close friends who know what it's like. I even message my nutritionist and tell him that I REALLY want to drink a soda, or eat some bad foods. Sometimes just acknowledging it takes the power of the food and the urge away. I am striving for progress here. Most times I am successful, some days, not so much.

The other thing I learned through trial and error, is that if I screw up- the whole day IS NOT LOST. I used to think, well, I screwed that up - forget the rest of the day. It's on! Not the case. I just need to clean it up and stay on track the rest of the day. I read somewhere that if you get a flat on one tire, you don't slash the rest of them. As silly as that may sound, it made logical sense to me. Just because I mess up once, don't trash the entire day.

That is where I am today. Just trying to stay on track. Are you aware of what your triggers are? What do you do to avoid giving in to temptation?

Just be awesome!