Why You Should NEVER Give Up on Yourself

Because you were created in the image of God (true story) and He won’t give up on you. (sorry)

Because you will be more miserable giving up on yourself than you will ever be trying to grow. (no matter how many times you try and fail – there’s life in the trying)

Because sometimes not giving up on yourself doesn’t mean trying hard, but taking a break from trying anything and just investing in yourself. Believe you have value and you are worth investing in is the first step. (remember the whole image of God thing?)

Because there is ALWAYS hope.

Because someone in a worse spot that you has risen from the ashes…they were just flesh and blood too.

Because the obstacles in your life can be your excuse or part of your story.

Because deep down you KNOW the story is not over. (you know that right?)

Because there is a community of deep souled, not afraid of messy lives, don’t have their shit together, sisters who are there for you. (what is this magical group I’m talking about? Oh, that’s just my Stronger Together team!)

Because life is hard, but YOU, you are strong.

(These are all things I tell myself when I am tempted to give up…works in progress? always)


The Dance of Life is My Favorite

I love the rhythm of life.

The lazy rest of a weekend.

The slow, lingering, without regret.

I love the determination of a Monday.

Goals, dreams, responsibility.

Being focused, intentional and
moving through the week
with strength in my stride
and my eye on the prize.

I love the quiet of the 5am

The crazy of the 10am

The lull of the 1pm

And the push at the 6pm to make it
to the collapse at the 8pm.

Rhythm, flow, routine.

The dance of life is my favorite.

Possibly Paleo

I love carbs. Carbs and I have always had this incredibly close relationship. We are totally into each other. Bread, pasta and rice have been some of my best friends – getting me through some tough times (yes, I am a recovering emotional eater) and helping me celebrate the good ones! IMG_3852

However, part of this journey I’ve been on, has had me learning to stop and think about what will be best of me in the long run, and let that direct my decisions, instead of going with what I FEEL like in the here and now. Knowing what my goals are, knowing how great it will feel when I reach them, and focusing on that future joy has made my decisions to say no to sugar and unhealthy fried foods a LOT easier.

But through it all, I’ve held on to my carbs. Of course, now it’s whole wheat bread, and pasta and brown rice, instead of white, but still, our relationship has stayed strong.

Yesterday I listened to a podcast with Mark Sisson (a person I had never heard of before either) and he was talking about his book The Primal Blueprint and what the primal (or paleo) diet is all about. Basically is a high protein, lots of vegetables and fruit and (here’s a shocker) high healthy fat diet. There are no grains or complex carbohydrates allowed. His premise is that our carbs should come only from fruits and vegetables, because the carbs that come from grains turn on the ‘store as fat’ gene whereas the carbs that come from fruits and vegetables turn on the ‘burn for energy’ gene. This is an over simplification, but the basic idea.

A few other friends have been reading Grain Brain, which is a book that explores what, carbs and sugar’s affect on the brian. Hearing their thoughts, and quotes from the book has only compounded my interest in this concept of removing grains from my diet.

I still have lots of research to do, and I am putting both these books on hold at the Library at this very moment, but I can’t believe I’m actually starting to consider a paleo lifestyle (yikes!!).

If you have no idea what paleo is all about, I encourage you to take a listen to this podcast and check out these two books: The Primal Blueprint and Grain Brain.

I’d also love to hear from YOU! What are your thoughts about Paleo? Do you eat this way? Why? Has it helped? Anything I should be cautious about?

Here’s to always growing, changing and loving the journey!!

The Tipping Point

My 1 year old son has a tooth that is about to breakthrough and he is also on the verge of walking. Both have him slightly frustrated. I can completely relate. Whenever I am on the verge of a breakthrough, working so hard on something but not seeing the results yet, it can have me in tears too.

The exciting thing is – you will always feel the MOST frustrated right before amazing things burst through! The most intense pain in labor comes RIGHT before the baby. It’s terrible but exciting at the same time.

The tough thing about that moment right before a breakthrough is that when most people give up, and it’s SO SAD, because they have worked so hard, and are inches away, but can’t see the finish line, so they give up. I know how it feels, I’ve told myself, if something doesn’t change soon I don’t know if I will be able to hold on any longer. That’s the moment when you have to hold on just a little more. The breakthrough is SO close.

That is the TIPPING POINT!

Whether you are waiting for a physical change to occur, a business to take off, or a difficult relationship to be not so difficult, hang on – just a little longer, push just a little harder. The best things take a little sweat (and I can say from personal experience with natural childbirth (3x) – sometimes a lot of pain too!) but it’s WORTH IT. When you reach the peak, when you hold that baby in your arms, when you are seeing transformations and are on the other side of the trial – it will all be worth it!

If you can push through THAT MOMENT – you will prove to yourself how strong you are – and sometimes, that is the best reward of all.

round 1 day 15

Glorious Imperfection

I have been reading the book: Failing Forward by John Maxwell for some time now. Just slowly chewing my way through it. For an over-acheiver, perfectionist, big dreamer like myself it has been a breath of fresh air. Striving for excellence is a fantastic trait, until the pursuit of it drives you crazy (and everyone else around you).

I am learning to keep my standards high, but at the same time, realize that the only way I have any hope of achieving them is through FAILURE. Try, try, try again. Learn from mistakes, don’t take yourself too seriously and be kind with others. In fact – the MORE I fail, the more quickly I will reach that ever elusive goal. I feel like this may be why so many visionaries and perfectionists are frustrated most of the time. You have to wade through the muck to get to the diamond. photo 2

Understanding this principle has helped me not only in my own simple goals, but even with my children (being a mom of three and a recovering perfectionist is a comedy in and of itself!). It’s made me more gracious and more persistent. A no, a slammed door, a failed attempt only tells me I need to try one more time – it doesn’t mean give up.

Try something else, try a different way, try to be more consistent, try to be more creative, try to get more training, try to ask for help but never NEVER give up simply because you have failed.

Move through failure, enjoy the glorious imperfection – because if you can’t shake the feeling that you are meant to do something – it’s because you were meant to do it, and if you keep moving through the muck I know you will find your diamond.
photo 1

A Stress Eater’s Guide to Health

My name is Vanessa, and I am a stress eater.

photoIt’s CRAZY how without even thinking I will start searching for some chocolate after a stressful day! Or ask Fernando to pick up a bottle of wine on his way home.

One of the things that being mindful of my diet has done, is shown me just how MUCH I was relying on food to distract me, or make me feel better. It has forced me to deal with stressful situations, instead of escaping to food – which has been good (although, not always easy).

HOWEVER there is nothing wrong with a little bit of ice cream, wine or something warm and sweet after a long day, let’s face it, a Kale salad just doesn’t scream “comfort”.

Making small changes in your comfort food can make a HUGE difference when done consistently over time.
Here are some of my favorite swaps!

Ice Cream -to- Banana Ice Cream
I LOVE banana ice cream! You can add frozen strawberries and lemon juice and make it fruity and tart or peanut butter and vanilla extract for something sweet and creamy. You can even scoop some unsweetened cocoa powder for a chocolate fix, or some coffee and have it for breakfast. photo

Microwave Popcorn -to- Brown Bag Popcorn
This is essentially the same thing, only when you make your own popcorn from kernels in a brown paper bag you don’t have all the chemicals and artificial junk. You are in control of what you put on it – just sea salt, a little butter or coconut oil. The possibilities are endless and the taste – WAY BETTER.

Apple Pie -to- Warm Baked Apples
A cold crunchy apple may not scream comfort, but a warm, gooey, spiced one certainly does! I add coconut oil, cinnamon and a tiny bit of organic coconut sugar to my sliced apples and stick them in the microwave. Adding chopped pecans on top gives a GREAT textural crunch!

Chocolate -to- Chocolate
Ok, there’s no substitution for chocolate, but you can be smart about what KIND of chocolate you have. obviously Dark is best – but you have to really watch your portions (at least, I do!) one piece turns to six all too quickly. My recommendation is don’t have a chocolate ‘stash’ but ONLY buy one piece or bar for a special occasion. If you have a steady supply, you will have some EVERY NIGHT. And, of course, I would be remiss not to mention Shakeology. The Chocolate and Vegan Chocolate flavors are just…there are no words! Get’s me over that craving every time.

Eating -to- Working out
So, this is a little different, but how about when you feel stressed, or emotional or just frustrated, you workout, or take a walk or a jog or just do a few jumping jacks? It’s amazing how much BETTER I feel emotionally after I’ve worked out. Next time you are scurrying around the kitchen, mindlessly opening the refrigerator, take a moment and even if it’s the LAST thing you want to do, just be active for 5 minutes (I bet you’ll want to keep going after that!).

I hope these tips are helpful! I know that they have worked for me and I feel a million times better equipped to deal with my emotional cravings than before!

If you are interested in taking 21 Days to really focus on your nutrition and fitness with an accountability group and coach – contact me! I run complimentary challenge groups on facebook every month, I’d love to help conquer your cravings once and for all!Photo on 9-12-14 at 4.10 PM

Goals vs. Growth

I’ve written a lot about goals and how to reach them. It’s something I’m very passionate about because it’s something that has brought so much value to my life. I’ve always been someone who knows what she wants – even if I didn’t always know how to get there. But what if you don’t have any real goals? What if you don’t know what you want? How can you pursue something you don’t know?

This can be a really frustrating place to be, but I think that making this small shift in thinking might help you. Stop thinking about moving towards a goal and start thinking about personal growth. Even if you don’t know WHERE you want to be in 10 years, chances are you can think of WHO you want to be in 10 years. Start with that. Do you want to be smarter, stronger, more disciplined, or a better listener? What kind of person do you want to be?

Growing yourself to become better or stronger in a certain area will ensure that even if you don’t know WHERE you want to go right now, when the time comes and that goal comes into focus, you won’t have to start from square one – because if there’s one thing I’ve learned about goals – getting to them is usually bigger and scarier than staying where you are right now. To reach goals you have to grow. So why not start growing now?

A few months back I read this fantastic book called: “15 Invaluable Laws of Growth” by John C. Maxwell. If you feel like you want to move forward in your life, but aren’t sure of your destination yet, pick up this book. Let that be step 1. We can only do so many things each day to move forward, but we can always do at least ONE thing every day.

Shakeology is NOT (primarily) for Weight Loss

Now, I’m no expert on Shakeology or nutrition (although I am learning TONS everyday and would actually LOVE to be a certified nutritionist some day – if that even exists) BUT I wanted to throw my two cents out there when it comes to Shakeology and weight loss, and hopefully help anyone who is looking for a ‘weight loss shake’.

photo 1I have people come to me all the time, looking for help when it comes to losing weight. I am happy to do it! That’s why I started the 21 Day Fix and drinking Shakeology. There’s just something about seeing and feeling your body flabby and weak – your back hurts (no core strength), your energy is down (poor nutrition), and you dread visits to the doctor. Not to mention just not loving the way you look in clothes – although physical beauty is not something to put as your number one priority, God created each and every woman with beauty and with a desire to feel beautiful – to fight against that is to fight against your God given design…so treating your body with love and respect and stewarding it well (as God intended) will bring out that God given beauty and you will FEEL beautiful. Wow – how did I get down this rabbit hole? I think I need to do an entire blog post on beauty and weight loss, but not today.

So, most people (myself included) are focused on the scale or the pants size, going down. That is A WAY to measure success, but not the ONLY way (and not the most important way). If you are starving yourself and the weight is going down, I can ASSURE you, your body is not healthy and you will have problems in the future. Let’s think of our bodies as INVESTMENTS. Put good in, get good out. But, when you invest in your retirement account, do you have enough to retire after 2 weeks of contributing? Nope. You have to do it consistently – over years – to reach your goal. Now, I know, in our day and age of ‘instant’ everything, that’s not what you or I want to hear. However, with working out, you don’t have to wait years to see (and feel) the difference that being healthy makes. After just a week of eating right, even though I wasn’t at my goal weight, I FELT INCREDIBLE. My body was getting fueled like it never had before (honestly). I had never eaten so many vegetables (and since I could pick and chose which vegetables I liked, it really wasn’t a chore – now I was just eating MORE of them), or protein! My body had never worked out a FULL week straight before. Even though I was sore, I was feeling stronger and SUPER energetic.

What does this have to do with Shakeology? Well, there are other ‘meal replacement’ shakes out there and the SOLE photo 3purpose of them is to limit your caloric intake. So, instead of eating a 350 calorie breakfast, drink a 150 calorie meal replacement that is full of protein, so you can make it to lunch without passing out. It’s SIMPLY a calorie game. This will help you lose weight (obviously) BUT many of these shakes are actually REALLY bad for you. I’m not going to bash other companies, but I am going to mention Slim Fast because it really is THE WORST. The chemicals and artificial sweeteners in that are absolutely terrible for your body. Losing a few lbs is not worth all the junk you are pouring into your body with that stuff. <<end rant>>

With Shakeology it’s a totally different approach. Hence the title. Shakeology IS a low calorie meal replacement, but it’s amazing value isn’t in what it LACKS in calories, but what it is FULL of. Shakeology GIVES your body an unprecedented profile of superfoods (Pomegranate, Blueberry, Goji berry, Acai, and more) – not the ‘extracts’ from these superfoods – the actual thing. It’s a WHOLE FOOD shake. Then, on top of the superfoods, it gives you Pre- and Probiotics that help with digestion and CRAVINGS – those probiotics go to work equalizing the levels of Candida in your gut. Candida feeds on sugar and carbs, and thus makes you CRAVE sugar and carbs, getting Candida levels in check does WONDERS for those late night sugar cravings.

As if that wasn’t enough, it also contains Adaptogens (I’m not entirely sure what they do, but I think they help your body absorb all the nutrients in your food) and Super Greens (Spinach, Barley Grass, Wheat Grass, Spirulina, etc.) and then PROTEIN. Although it’s not a “protein shake” it has 16g of it and NEVER uses SOY (this is super rare! but important because soy is awful for you).

photo 2So, yes, a 130 calorie Shakeology CAN help you lose weight, if you replace your 350 calorie breakfast with it, or your 500 calorie lunch, but that’s not PRIMARILY where it’s value lies. It’s an investment into your health…fueling EVERY cell in your body – combating diseases on the front end (prevention vs perscription – am I right?). Giving you natural energy without ANY chemicals, artificial sweeteners, soy or JUNK. I drink it for my HEALTH and for my clear skin, and energy, and mental clarity, and strong immune system, and lower blood sugar levels, and internal vibrance!

Is that worth $4 a glass? HELLS ya!
I’ll take internal health over a size 0 EVERY DAY.

If you want to learn more about shakeology – from the real experts – I have tons of resources on my website.

Realizing My Potential With Soapy Hands

I wasn’t planning on writing a blog about this tonight – tonight’s post was supposed to be about your relationship with your scale, what it should and shouldn’t be, but as I was doing the dishes, my mind started wandering.

I started thinking about the testimonies I heard at Super Saturday (a live Beachbody event I attended). I started thinking about Tony – who is a millionaire with Beachbody, and his story of coming from an abusive family, growing up an angry kid, obese in his teens, and how P90X and signing up as a coach (which he said no to several times) COMPLETELY changed his life. And how now that he’s a millionaire and doesn’t have to work another day in his life, has chosen to become a high school football coach and try and affect as many young men who might be angry and lacking direction like he was, as he can.
photo 2
I started thinking about Monica. A mom of 3, who has been able to retire from her corporate job because of Beachbody and was sharing about how when she went to Beachbody’s leadership retreat she felt like she didn’t belong, because she wasn’t a 15 star diamond coach, but then she realized that she was there not for her own ego but to learn as much as she could to bring it back to her team – leaders lay down their lives and serve their team!

I started thinking about the fact that I am on track to not only build a business that in 1-2 years could be bringing in over 50K+ for my family, but I am in a position to help OTHERS who are desperate – just like I was – to make additional income, to help out their families, but just don’t know where or how to do it.

I started thinking about this company that invests SO much into it’s coaches and has created this incredible culture of positivity, service, helping others and paying it forward. A company that is constantly giving to organizations like Wounded Warrior (they pledged 250K in the month of October) and International Justice Mission.

And, right there, with soapy water on my hands, and dirty dishes all around me, I broke down crying. This opportunity is ENORMOUS. This opportunity is rocking my world in so many ways. This company is changing my life and my family. I just couldn’t contain myself. I WANT to be worthy of this opportunity. I want to pay it forward and help as many people as I can. I want to learn how to communicate the incredible, life-changing potential being a Beachbody coach has.

My heart is incredibly full tonight, and my soul is burning with purpose. Processed with VSCOcam with m5 presetIf you have ever thought about this opportunity, I would LOVE to chat with you, learn about what sets your soul on fire, and see if joining my team could change your life – like it has mine.  You can email me at: strongertogetherfp@gmail.com

The Importance of Knowing Where You Want to Go

Vision Board Blog Post

Every single decision you make moves you in a direction. Our entire lives are moving us in a direction. And the awesome thing is, we control EVERY choice we make. But, there have been many times when I have found myself in a place in life that I was unhappy with or would wonder: “How did I get here?!”

It’s not that I didn’t have control over my own life, the bigger problem was that I didn’t know WHERE I wanted to go, so my decisions were a hodge podge of whatever felt right in the moment and terribly inconsistent.

A few months ago I decided to get serious with my life and sit down and write out what I wanted out of life, what would truly make me happy. I didn’t let my doubtful brain tell me what was and wasn’t possible, I just went straight from the heart.

Some of the things that came out of my heart were not surprising – I wanted a strong marriage and a true friendship with my children, I wanted to make a REAL impact on other women’s lives. I wanted to be a giver and have the resources to leave a $100 tip on a $5 coffee bill for a struggling waitress. I wanted to use more of the creativity inside of me. I wanted to be more disciplined with my life and not have so many days where at the end I felt like I had wasted a good part of it. These are all things that I knew in my heart would bring a deeper happiness and fulfilment to my life.

SIDE NOTE: Lest you think I have fallen from my God-centered roots am only concerned with my personal happiness let’s do a little rudimentary theology. The chief end of man, after all, is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever, is it not? And did God not make us to image Him? And is He not the master planner and architect? Did He not place within us gifts, desires, dreams and purpose? If He is first in my life and I am rooted in Him I should not fear digging deep into my heart and what makes me happy and making plans to chase after it. I would humbly argue, this practice is VASTLY glorifying to Him. Ok…back to the post.

So, after digging around and taking time and figuring out what makes me happy, I looked at my life and took stock of what I spent my time and energy doing to see if I was moving in that direction. I was…somewhat…but as I mentioned before, inconsistently. I would go on date nights with my husband…sometimes. I would stop what I was doing and read a book to my daughter or play legos with my son…sometimes, IF I felt like doing it in the moment. But feelings are funny things, they come and go. If you want to ACCOMPLISH something, you have to CHOSE to do it – consistently – despite feelings.

Now that I have a Vision Board (yes, it’s a physical piece of paper with my life goals on it, and because I’m me, it’s pretty and got lots of pictures and is hung where I can see it EVERY DAY) I can reference what I want out of life multiple times a day, and when I am faced with a decision to buy something frivolous that I don’t NEED, I can look at that board and see that what makes me even happier than a cute tank top from etsy, is to one day give that $100 tip. It let’s me live my life with PURPOSE. I am moving towards something. I am building something.

Saying NO to that tank top won’t let me give a $100 tip tomorrow. But saying no to 20 tank tops over the next year might. I have to be consistent, but at least now, I know WHY I am doing it, and my pesky feelings don’t run my life…I run my life.

So, what about you? Do you know what YOU want? It’s ok if it’s not all selfless and giving (like the $100 tip)…some of my goals are selfish too! I want to put my kids through college, I want to run a 1/2 marathon, I want to build a career where I get to use ALL my gifts, I want to live in a foreign country with my kids and so many more.

The important thing is to sit down and make a list – and don’t let yourself edit out things you want because you don’t think it could ever happen. Just write it down. Stop being afraid. Put it out there, and see if there’s something small you can do every day to move you closer to seeing it become a reality. And don’t give up. Dreams this big don’t happen overnight, or in a week, or a month, or even in a year, but if you are consistent and BELIEVE in the process – oh my – you just might go miles further than you ever thought possible.

If you want to make a vision board, but you aren’t sure where to start, take a look at my Chasing Dreams Pinterest Board for tons of inspiration!