I Am Braids and Brass

My truth:
I am a mom of two! One beautiful 2 year old and one hilariously happy 9 month old.
I workout 30 minutes a day MAYBE 45 depending on my kids moods.
I eat mostly clean and swing in and out of being a total zealot and not caring.
I have gone from results focused, to healthy living focused, back to results focused and am finding my way back into a happy heart focus.
I’ve gained a booty in two months, muscles I’ve never seen on my arms before and quads that are noticeable. I search for more but am pulling back that search for being happy and content while still striving for those goals and not getting lazy in my eating habits.
That is my balance.
I am imperfect and insecure but at the same time strong, mindful and powerful.
I don’t have a lot of money.
I shop sales racks, I buy groceries based on sales and I use coupons.
I shop at thrift stores partly because it’s cheaper and partly because I love finding unique clothes no one else is wearing right now.
I feel the strongest I’ve ever felt in my entire life and I’ve only been lifting weights for two months while expecting the results of someone who’s been doing it two years.
None of my pants fit.
Sometimes I yell at my children when I don’t mean to.
Sometimes I’m the most loving calm mother ever.
I drink Shakeology every day and another protein from a local store that isn’t related to beachbody at all.
I love home workouts, I love going to gyms, I love hot yoga and all things outdoors.
I love getting my nails done when I can afford it, but stick to French tips or clear because I hate nail polish; having my hair the perfect colour is always a must.
I love lipstick, I hate mascara.
I love getting dirty playing outside with my kids, I hate getting my hair wet when I go swimming.
I do not fit in a box.
Accepting that is my transformation.

It started with a dumbbell.
I am Braids and Brass.

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On Celebrating Failure

The year of discipline continues 📖 
Since the start of my journey, I have been trying to find my way back into the word of God. In all truth I was mad at Him for a long time for all the hell we went through and I had a hard time reconnecting. 
But I know my Jesus, and despite the struggles and hard times He is with us, and I knew I had to come back to him. 
Fitness saved my life, and God gave me fitness. I used to feel guilty for being able to dedicate myself to a workout daily but not to reading my Bible and now I don’t because I understand something, that fitness was the only way BACK to Him. It’s the only way to clear my head of the frustrations, of the fog that was post partum depression, of the anxiety … it’s what gave my mind rest. 
Sometimes I cried when I finished workouts in the beginning. Sometimes I still do, because it’s through movement I find peace, I find God there. 
Fast forward to today. Today has been a long long time in the making, and it’s only through trying and failing daily for a year that I sit here successful today, and by trying I mean thinking about doing it and not doing it. That’s it. I made no big efforts except the intention in my heart to succeed, knowing full well my standing with God was not dependent on my Bible reading, but my growth is. 
I look at this the same way it takes some people to start clean eating or to start exercising, because I don’t LIKE reading my Bible. Not yet. Because there’s no emotional joy attached to it. It feels like a chore and so that is how I am approaching it. 
Instead of sitting down trying to have these all powerful moments every day I’ve simplified the process for myself. I wanted to start January 1st but I didn’t and that’s ok, I started today. I will simply read the Bible on a schedule for the simple sake of finishing it in one year (which fully reminds me of the days in Jakarta that we spent reading the Bible non stop for THREE DAYS over the city we were ministering to. Powerful stuff.) 
And for some reason, today was the day. 

It’s the slight edge. It’s the compound effect of positive steps forward every single day, so whatever you’re trying to accomplish I encourage you to fail gloriously every single day and rejoice in your failure because it will lead to your success. 
Never feel bad for your journey. It is yours and yours alone, and if you need someone to celebrate failure with, look me up. I’m really good at failing forward. 

A Birth Story

I’m not even sure where to start, and I’m even less sure of where this will end, but this is my story.

What you read in quotes is from our amazing friend Christa, who supported us in this whole birth journey and was there to pray, capture moments and stand with us during one of the most challenging and intimate moments of our lives. Thank you Christa. Words could never.

July 6th 0730pm
I arrive to a welcome from your mom, ushering me into the house. I look up the stairs at you and instantly notice your face is different. You have the look of a mother who is in labor. You are glowing, your face is so soft, your cheeks are flush and your eyes are sparkling.
At this point my contractions are regular, and we are so excited to finally end the wait. It’s been a full 24 hours since contractions started, and we were up all last night. At a week overdue, and what felt like the biggest fight against the medical system, God was faithful, and kept our baby safe and gave us strength to advocate for him/her until s/he was ready. And here baby is … ready.
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Lucas, myself and Christa start out with a walk to help move baby down; I want to labour outside and the weather couldn’t be more perfect to take my mind off the pain, which I have such a tough time accepting and instead find myself fighting. By the time we get back to the house my contractions are 8 minutes apart and getting stronger.
It’s midnight; we’ve gone for another walk and we’re back home and my contractions have shown up strong. I’ve had back labour for almost a full 24 hours at this point and I can barely stand I’m so tired that I fall asleep sitting upright on my living room floor only to wake up for contractions, and fall back asleep. The heat and intensity of the pain in my back is like nothing I’d ever experienced and I find myself scared, but determined.
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Instead of prepping my mind for the inevitable, I brace and prayed the next wouldn’t come, but of course it did. Things are gearing up, and it’s time. We are heading to the hospital now, and I am kneeled in the middle seat, breathing and groaning through the pain. Luc reaches back and holds my low back during a contraction while Christa coaches me to lower my voice and focus; they both keep me strong and calm. Immediately when it’s done I fall asleep.
02:39am
July 7th
We arrive at the hospital and you’ve had four contractions walking in. You are moaning, rocking, swaying and calling for Luc. You are in triage now. The hallway out here is quiet, all I can hear is the chatter of the nurses and your voice behind the wall. “Oh, there’s another one.” I think to myself.
I hear them tell you that you are only 1-2cm dilated. You are discouraged, and tired. You want to go home – and even though they want to keep you there – you trust your body and your mind is made up. This is YOUR journey. We leave the hospital to labor at home. I drop you and Luc off at your house and go back to my house, it is almost 5am.
Again I am encouraged to be induced. Again I am told I am leaving the hospital against medical advice. Again, I’m being told it’s just not happening. I am starting to lose faith. How can I be in so much pain, and have such regular contractions so close together, and be so far from my baby? We leave as we need time to sleep, to pray and to process.
I doze in and out of sleep and contractions all morning. Asher is still at Nana’s and Lucas is asking me to go for a walk to get coffee, but it’s too light out. I feel too vulnerable here; I don’t want to have contractions with anyone around. I want to be alone, so we drive for coffee and park; we sit here in silence while I continue to fall in and out of sleep and contractions.
“We should go to the abandoned golf course outside of Christa’s house and you can be alone there, but outdoors and we can talk.” He’s so perfect. He knows me so well and has been such a strong rock for me to lean on.
By 10:30 AM we are in an open green space; the same one we had maternity photos done with our first son, Asher. It’s sunny and peaceful, and completely quiet. Here I can think. Here I can labour.
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It’s day 3. I have had back labour through the night and day for nearly 50 hours. I’m so tired, I feel like I can’t think. We talk and talk. You listen. More contractions follow and you scoop me up in your incredibly strong arms and hold me; sway with me. I think to myself … I’ve never been more in love.
It’s time. We’ve decided. I want to have my water broken and to have this baby. I root myself in prayer, because I am the only one who can fully make this decision, and I need to love myself through it. I need to be able to handle looking back and seeing that things could have been different, but be ok anyways. I don’t want to fight Dr’s and contractions anymore. I’ve fought long and hard and we want to end the fight and fill our family. I’m ready to do this.
You and Luc enter the unit and I sit in the waiting room. Shortly after I discover they have instantly put you into the Labor and Delivery room, and promptly broke your water at your request. I am called in to the room and things have already changed- dramatically.
Music is playing and your surges are different this time – you can tell your body is working with more purpose. You dance between contractions, you know you must keep moving.
Hours pass as you rock, moan, sway, cry, ache, cringe . . .but eventually you get the hang of it. You listen as we tell you to relax your face, lower your voice, relax into the surge, move as your body needs to move. You are suddenly the poster child for handling the most intense, transition like surges. Everyone is so impressed with you. As time goes on though, you reach a point of exhaustion, you fall in to sleep between almost every single contraction.
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I’ve been here for 8 hours; contractions are strong and a minute or less apart. They bring me to my knees; I can feel my back tightening and burning up, it feels like it’s going to break me. I hear words like strong and focused, but I don’t feel it. And yet here I am, faced with my biggest fears, and I have to keep going. I’ve never been one to embrace pain.
I thought my labour would be peaceful; I’d be the poster child of natural birth. Maybe I am; maybe that’s what this is. I’ve never felt so weak and yet here I stand on day 3 of nearly no sleep and I haven’t sat down in over 8 hours. My feet ache, my calves burn from the deep squatting and rocking…I have come into this one woman, and I will leave it another.
I have cried, screamed, thrown up, groaned and prayed.
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I have felt the presence of God in a way I haven’t felt Him in a long time as worhsip music plays and pours out over me as I thank Him over and over for giving me this opportunity. For giving me this strength. For allowing me to come into this process my own woman, making my own choices and not backing down for anyone.
His promises are true, in weakness, we can be strong.
The nurse frowns, you are still only 2-3cm. “What?! How?!” you say. Another set of incredibly intense surges overtake you. The nurse encourages you to get on all fours and rest between them. You do. You also move from side to side, begging for relief. You fall asleep again only to be awoken by a surge almost everyone in the room can feel.

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My resolve is breaking to maintain through this contraction knowing it’s not doing what I need it to do. It’s 10:30PM. Eight hours with almost no dilation. I can’t cope. I’m too tired, too sore everywhere, I need to sit. I need to rest. My body is fighting this now, and I need to relax. I ask for an epidural. I am proud to have asked. I am proud of myself for enduring what I have, and feel no pride to power through. I have nothing to prove to anyone; this is my journey, and my body needs to rest now.
I’m cross legged on the bed. Sitting down during a contraction is the worst thing imaginable. I’m given a pillow to hold and crush as I need to be completely still during the epidural. I feel it coming, but just knowing relief is on it’s way, I find the strength one last time. It starts; the needle is in my back and I am fighting. I cry, groan and shake but I don’t move.
It’s done. I can feel myself falling asleep as the pain diminishes, and pure exhaustion sweeps over me.
It’s 1 AM. My body needs more sleep than 2 hours, but I woke up anyways. Something deep inside me stirred to let me know it’s time. I get to meet my baby now. This is what it means to be a woman; to know things without being told. To rely on that deep instinct of the Holy Spirit. 10 CM; my heart is racing. We made it; I get to deliver my own baby. I get my VBAC.
I don’t question whether or not I’ll be able to deliver this baby on my own. I hear them talk about baby’s heart decelerations as I push, and as NICU staff come in, but I am at complete and total peace. God has us, we are safe.
Pushing is a relief; I feel such overwhelming joy and peace knowing this is God’s design.
I feel every contraction, I feel every push and suddenly I feel my baby.
I reach down and grab my baby. I’m weeping as I scoop my hands under the armpits and pull to my chest; it’s a boy you tell me, and we both know this is our Niall.
As soon as he is out, you both cry, you weep.
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I want to delay cord clamping until all the blood was done pumping through. I want all the best things for our son, and they leave it attached, no fight, no struggle. 
Then the Doctor tells me in surprise that the placenta is still intact and ready to be delivered, and I have the hospitals first Lotus Birth. I can feel the culmination of everyone’s prayers in that one moment, and it was beautiful. She pulled out the placenta and it lay beside us delivering everything baby needed until it was done. I never realized how beautiful creation is, even at its messiest. 
Surrounded by Christian nurses and staff, we end up having the most beautiful experience imaginable. I can feel the strength of all the prayers that went up for us this week, and I can’t tell you how grateful I am so many people held space for us, and how grateful I am that we serve the God we do.
It’s time to let Asher meet his baby brother.
Niall Gannon Gross, we’ve been waiting.
Welcome home.

No Perfect Bodies; On Why You’ll Never Look Like Me

Unless I’m standing straight…I get rolls.

You don’t see that on Instagram or Facebook. And I want you to see it. 

I have rolls, cellulite and love handles. 

Stuff doesn’t fit. 

So what is the perfect body?


The perfect pregnant body is one that carries, sustains, and sometimes sadly, loses babies; yes, you are still perfect. It can birth naturally, via c-section or with the assistance of drugs and tools. It can breastfeed, it can bottle feed and give skin to skin for comfort, and loving caring arms. It can sag or tighten, wiggle or not. 

The perfect pregnant body is not one without stretch marks, fat rolls or weight gain. 
My desire is to embody a healthy pregnancy, not give an unrealistic idea of what anyone can or should look like. This is my journey. Mine. You can’t actually have it, because you are not me. Your body will look different. 

I hear a lot “you have the perfect little belly!” and while this has made me feel good in the past … it’s starting to make me a little uncomfortable when said. Because if I have the perfect belly…what does that say about someone who doesn’t look like me? Was she not perfect? Is she not the embodiment of feminine, God given, life sustaining perfection without the “perfect round little belly”?


I have seven years of fitness behind me. I have a small frame. I have exercised through two pregnancies and have eaten well for myself for the better part of a decade. 

Simply put, I love health and fitness. 

It didn’t take me being overweight to realize I needed a change, I was always more into health food than anyone in my family, like the real earthy hippy kind of food. Yea that’s me. I was always in sports, and when sports died out after high school I moved into running, hot yoga and the gym. It’s ebbed and flowed but essentially had the same projection for most of my life…

This is me. 

35 weeks with baby 2

Does my life sound similar to yours? No? So stop comparing yourself to me. Stop feeling bad for not being where I am. You might get here, you might not, but where you get to isn’t less because you aren’t naturally small. 

 

I hope this doesn’t come across arrogant like I think everyone wants to be me, I’ve just heard a lot of people say they wish they could look like me. And I love that I am privileged enough to show people what a fit and healthy life looks like, but don’t make me out to be perfect. Because if I’m perfect, and you can never be me because I’m me and you’re you, you have set yourself up for complete and utter failure. And that’s just not fair to yourself. 


I want you to see that you could inspire the next generation. Your kids could be little freaks like me! Imagine, little grass munchers haha Craving fruit and enjoying avocado ice cream and matcha teas, not because we have to but because we want to. Do you see though? It’s not about what we look like, it’s inspiring others to live healthy fit lives. It’s being healthy and fit just because it makes us happy and healthy. 

So when you are looking for some inspiration, I am grateful for the opportunity to provide that; I’m grateful and humbled. It’s an honour to share my life with you and to bring you on this journey with me. 

But please, for heavens sake, if you’re looking for someone on whom you set goals after, make sure it’s someone who has a similar body type to you; if that’s me, I’m flattered. Because aside from what I was born with, I have worked very hard to maintain and strengthen this body. I am proud of my muscles and my ability to run and chase my family.  But please remember this when looking to the Internet for the next “Pinspiration”…

Aim for healthy, aim for strong looking women, aim for the fittest your body has ever been. And be proud of your body however it looks when you fuel it, work it and rest it. 

There is no ideal. My goal is to coach you into a healthy relationship with food, exercise and self acceptance. 

You should try it. Contact me and let’s join hands. 

On Sharing the Real Pictures…

 

These two photos were taken the same week. Guess which one I didn’t share on the world wide web?

Yep. The left. The one that shows my squishy tummy. The one that made me cringe, and cry, because it’s been 7 years since I looked any different from the picture on the right, and I placed my value on it.

At this point in my mom journey, I was 6 months post partum and diagnosed with Post Partum Depression, which I had refused treatment for. I was and am scared of medications, but I was mostly scared of admitting I needed them, and couldn’t fight it on my own.

My fitness and how I look has been huge to me, for a very, very long time. I’ve struggled with my weight a little bit, but mostly I’ve struggled with accepting myself as I am, and just enjoying working out and eating well for the sole purpose of just that, being healthy. Being strong. I have a definition in my mind for how I should look, and I beat myself up if I don’t look that way.

And I didn’t.

And here I am, 3 weeks out with baby number 2 and have become a health and fitness coach, have been sharing my fitness journey this pregnancy on social media like crazy, and am now faced with the sudden reality that soon I will be sharing my post partum fitness journey.

No more pretty belly selfies.

No more “wow, you have like, the perfect pregnant body!” comments …

It’s about to get real.

Our culture LOVES pregnant women. Honestly I get stopped all the time. Talked to all the time. And I hate being pregnant so imagine how fun that is 😉

But what about post partum? Have I been basing my worth on how I look this pregnancy? Maybe. Probably. Sometimes. Not always. I work on it. I am doing my best to embrace the love handles, the cellulite and the thickness that weighs me down and frustrates me. I can’t say I fully embrace it because I am afraid of the after.

In fitness, it seems the truest successes are the ones that have flat tummy’s post partum and say “see, if I can you can.” which is sort of ridiculous because … every single body is different. Where we started is different. Where we are going is different … so how does that equate to us all being able to achieve the same goal?

It doesn’t make sense.

And yet here I am, with my post baby goals being things like, walk across the stage in Nashville at the Beachbody classic, and in my head I have the perfect body. And that’s the only reason I’m brave enough to consider it. Because I’m fairly certain I’ll get to where I want.

But what if I don’t?

What if I don’t look how I think I should? Will I still compete? I say yes…but this is going to be a very challenging period of learning to love the new me. Because our bodies are just different after babies, and I never accepted that. I tried to cheat it by sharing only the photos I wanted to.

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I shared this photo last summer, but I didn’t share that I undid the top button most of the day and sucked in my baby ponch most of the day because I couldn’t stand how my own body felt.

I was, in short, a fraud.

And maybe I still am. I’m able to accept my body right now because this is the way it’s supposed to look.

Will I be able to share with you all, when it gets really real, and I’m on the other end of this pregnancy?

I know I will force myself to, because it will force me to grow. And I want to grow. I want to be real.

But know that I’m just as real a person as you, I have feelings, fears and I struggle with my own set of issues. And if you say things like, I have no reason to feel those fears because I look great, you’re missing the bigger picture.

The point is that no woman seems to be able to love themselves fully. Regardless of how fit we are, I guarantee you, ask the fittest woman on the planet, I bet she hates her nose or something.

If you think because I have this body I have that I should have no reason to not love myself, then you’re struggling to. Because you have an idea in your head of what perfect looks like, and unfortunately, none of us stack up.

So here’s to not stacking up.

Here’s to being ourselves, and having fit goals but still enjoying life and love all the while.

Here’s to eating a piece of pizza because we have plans that have held us up and we can fall back into the next day.

Here’s to balance, here’s to healthy babies,

and here’s to the next 3 weeks of being as healthy and fit as possible as an act of love to myself, and respecting the results whatever they may be.

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On “Those” Days; An Open Thank you to my Husband and Mother

Today has been one of those days one of those weeks months years.

Ok, but today it all boiled down to a nightmare of a day.

I truly want to be one of those moms who writes about nothing but the rainbows her child poops and all the glorious joys of motherhood. And I will. One day. I do know those joys, I have those joys, I live for those joys … but to be honest, if I talk to you and you speak of nothing but all the happy times and how amazing everything is 24/7, I don’t relate to you. And sometimes I hope you’re a liar, because if you’re not, what the heck am I doing wrong? Is my parenting bad? Are my sons endless tantrums and lack of sleep my fault, thus causing the misery we find ourselves drenched in from time to time and if I could just … teach him better, none of this would be happening?

Probably not true. But my thought process none the less.

In any case, if you’re like me and my husband, you’ve had … well let’s politely call them shitty days. Yes, I know. I’m a Christian, and I swore. No, it doesn’t make me cool. No, it doesn’t make me evil. I’m very sad, very vulnerable and very tired today. And sometimes, it’s the only word I can find. So shitty it shall be.

Today started out like any other day…6:00AM wake up on the nose, child in the fridge screaming for strawberries and the tantrum over food begins. No, you can’t eat 12 plums and 38 strawberries for breakfast. Here’s your eggs. Well you said you wanted eggs. No you can’t have oatmeal. Because you asked for eggs and I made eggs. I don’t live to make you food. Yes, you can have a plum when your eggs are finished. Because if I give you the plum all you’ll eat is the plum until your stomach thinks your full and you never eat sustainable food. Sustainable. Sus-tain-a-ble. It keeps you full. No, you can’t have more strawberries. When you’re done screaming and kicking on the floor, come find me. I’ll be eating your eggs.

Usually my patience is pretty far reaching. I am able to take deep breaths and relax, remind myself this is a stage and that one day he won’t throw himself on the floor every single morning the minute he wakes up, and he will have slept through the night.

Today was a different day.

I managed to get in a team call this morning while he screamed and ran around peeing on things because he’s kind of over being told he has to pee and is rebelling, and I managed to do quite a bit of tidying around his tantrums. We also sat together and drummed, and played hide and seek around his fort, and read books inside of it. He then napped for 1/5 hours and woke up foul, as usual. And today I couldn’t handle it.

I don’t know why my son doesn’t sleep well, and I don’t know why he wakes up angry. But it frustrates the hell out of me, because I want to fix it. I want to see him happy and thriving, and to see him so upset all the time honestly just breaks mommas heart. He cries intermittently and hard for a long time after waking up. We’re talking a couple of hours until he’s righted himself, and I’m at the point where I’m falling asleep while he’s screaming because I’m so bloody tired of it all. My body is exhausted and my mind is weary.

And then in walks my husband, and in walks my mother.

My mom came to help me clean today … and all I could do was sit there. And cry. And then leave to nap. And then wake up and stare into space. And watch her clean.

She cleaned my floors, my banisters, my kitchen and every inch she moved along, she scrubbed away a bit of the clutter frustrating my heart.

My husband was in there with her, helping, putting in an effort … while I sat here. Immobilized by exhaustion? Yes … depression? Maybe … in any case, I am not alone in these struggles and there he is. Doing things I cannot do. Cleaning dishes. Making dinner.

My family has surrounded me and it took me a good couple of hours to get up off the couch, and pitch in.

And to top it all off? I can’t show my gratitude…I can’t seem to be very warm and inviting and kind. I can however be critical, condescending and lack the ability to extend anyone else the grace to not be perfect.

So because I can’t seem to find my voice when anyone is present to say thank you, here I am. Saying thank you.

Lucas, you have strength I cannot comprehend. No, you don’t have to be pregnant. No, you don’t know how tired or emotional I am. But what you do know is that you were once married to a vibrant, joyful woman who didn’t condescend, criticize and fall apart. I promise you, even though I keep losing that woman, she is here, and I will keep doing everything I can to find her, to be her. You have put up with just as much sleep loss and frustration and joy and pain as I have, and yet you come home and you take care of this family. I promise I will show you all the kindness I have, even if it’s not much I will muster it up and give it all to you. You have provided for me, for Asher in ways you’ll never understand. Food, finances, it all pales in comparison to the peace you’ve given me to know I am married to a warrior. A fighter. A man who is so capable of loving even when love is not being shown. Sometimes I get angry around you simply as a reaction to your love, because it’s too much for me to handle your gentleness that I react negatively…like being in the presence of God’s overwhelming love that if we don’t feel worthy we run from. I’m 5. No big deal. Just know that I see you, for every little amazing thing you do, even though I don’t seem capable of voicing it. I’m learning. Pray for me and work with me; I know God will use you to be the hand that pulls me up. Thank you for every day, for every hug, for every kiss, for every time we forget to make eye contact throughout the day and then you touch my shoulder to remind me that you’re there. Thank you to the ends of the earth, which I will crawl to to find a way to show you my love.

Mom, I don’t know how you’ve put up with me all these years. To no end do I wish I could actually be as kind as you deserve, when I am this down and out. And just like Lucas, what kills me the most is your endless ability to pour out love on me when I’m like this. To not ask for anything in return. To just be willing to do whatever you can to help me and my family, even if you never get a thank you. I wish I could open my heart when it’s this hard, but I haven’t been able to, and you deserve every ounce of gratitude I can muster. For loving my son to the ends of the earth, to taking him when I’m working, to always be there to help me, to always bend your plans to help mould them around mine and A’s sporadic naps…you’ve never asked for anything, and I’ve never been able to give much, but my love and respect and deeply rooted desire to be like you, you have. Thank you for choosing to love me even on the hard days.

I 100% believe this will pass. I know that this is 95% sleep loss and 35 weeks pregnant. But it’s hard to see past that, especially when I had such a good handle on it just a few short weeks ago.

But I’m here, putting the few things in front of me that I know how to do.

One of those being my complete and utter commitment to sharing my journey with you. Because while it is scary to some to be “so open” it’s actually very therapeutic for me. I’m a verbal processor but I also believe that God will use my struggles, and reach out and touch someone with them.

Maybe to help you feel like you’re not alone.

Mom’s, it’s a tough gig.

And sometimes, we aren’t the nicest to those who are nicest to us, and I know you’re like me and find it devastating to know we’ve hurt someone whom we love so dearly.

If you’re in the same boat, I’m praying for you. The trenches are deep, but the hands reaching in are strong and sturdy.

Grab hold of one and don’t let go.

Commit with me to taking the time every single day to doing something that utterly feeds your soul.

Spend time with God, knit, rest your face in the sun, walk alone outside, exercise, eat well and as you walk alone let the wind caress your skin and fall in love with life every single day.

It won’t be like this forever.

Just promise me you will take the steps to walk forward every single day.

More than a fitness coach, I walk hand in hand with women struggling with things I too struggle with.

A tribe of strong women is forming around me, and together we climb ahead.

I have an incredible support at home, and there are those of you who are single parents or struggling the same but have no family to help …

I can’t say I’ll come be the things for you that my family is for me, but I can walk with you. I can climb with you.

We are strongest when we hold each other up.

On the Cheat Meal and Balance

Ok ladies and gents, welcome to the fitness portion of my blog, where I will share thoughts, tips  and encouragements on all things fitness. 

Today the message that’s heavy on my heart is about finding balance. 

Do you know what I hear all the time? “I fell off the wagon…” “I cheated last night …” “I screwed up again…” and it’s not a healthy mindset

The pendulum has swung and people go from eating unhealthy and having NO fitness in their lives, to expecting themselves to eat healthy and on point 100% of the time and workout every day without fail for the rest of their lives. I’m of the belief that this is not attainable. It’s also not sustainable. 

We cannot expect perfection of ourselves from now on for the rest of forever, that is why people fail. That is why people have one chocolate bar and don’t try and workout or eat healthy again for a year. Because you failed and what’s the point because you just keep failing, right?

Well, let me just clear the air. A chocolate bar isn’t failing. 

Let me ask you this … if you drop your phone and the screen cracks, do you figure since it’s cracked you might as well stomp on it until it’s completely destroyed? No. You pick it up, maybe you fix it, maybe you put a case on it … you get the point. One treat doesn’t mean you destroy your body from here on out. 

It doesn’t make sense. 

I am here for my mental health. The body results etc is all fun, but it’s all a natural by-product of the work I put in for a healthy mind. To be the best version of myself starts with my mind. And in all truthfulness, a healthy version of myself doesn’t look like me sitting alone in the corner eating plain chicken and steamed broccoli for the rest of my life while my friends laugh and play while indulging in greasy food. 

This journey is supposed to be one of freedom. Yes, we want to eat clean most of the time, fuelling our bodies and getting our blood pumping to keep our hearts strong, but I also want to go for a meal or desert with my family and never feel guilty. 

Because enjoying or refraining from food doesn’t define my idea of a full OR a deprived life. 

It’s not about food. 

Right now, I am sitting on the beautiful island of Kauai in Hawaii for 10 days with my family and so far I’ve had chips and salsa for lunch, a bottle of Pepsi and some (ok half a box of) gluten free Oreo cookies in the last 4 days. And I don’t feel bad. I don’t feel like a hypocrite either. Because I’m not trying to tell people to live in a box for the rest of their lives.  


I will take you on a 30 day challenge to clean up your eating and to get you to a place where you are making MORE healthy choices than unhealthy. Where you are exercising 3-6 days a week depending on your goals. Where you can lift your spirits from a workout and fuel your body for a long healthy life through clean eating, and then go out for a beer and nachos with your friends because you know you have the discipline and practices in place that that one night isn’t going to ruin your end goal, whatever that may be. 

We live for these memories. 

What I want people to learn is HOW to eat, how MUCH to eat, and then how to go on and live life on their own terms in their own definition of balance, and live healthy long lives fulfilling their goals and dreams because their weight and internal health isn’t holding them back. 

Get strict for 30 days. 60 days. 90 days. Whatever it takes to make that total life change. Get to the point where if you start eating junk, after a day or two you don’t feel good and know it’s time to reign it in and eat clean again. Get to the point where skipping a workout is the worst feeling. That’s where you want to be. It’s a mindset

I can’t tell you what your balance looks like. But I can tell you that eating a chocolate bar doesn’t mean you’ve screwed up again and are off the wagon. 

There is no wagon. 

This is life. 

And if you keep telling yourself that you’re cheating, you’re going to feel guilt and shame and you’re going to want to hide it. 

There is no room for shame on my team. 

Set your goals. Learn how to achieve them, and reward yourself with living.  

Don’t sit at home alone eating a pint of ice cream; how uninspired! Go to a ball game with your friends; laugh, cheer and have awful dome beer with nachos and cheese so fake you could probably make a plastic bottle with it. But the food is not the focus. The point is, you go out and enjoy your life, with no guilt and no shame. If you want to eat clean while you’re out, eat clean. But if you want a beer and you know that your life is on track and you have the self control to enjoy one day without making it a habit, have a damn beer and relax in the knowledge that you have put in the work. 

Life is not made or broken on the back of enjoying junk food or not. A healthy life is not a deprived life, it is a free life. And only when you get into that funnel of freedom do you really get it. 

If your happiness is based on the foods you eat, that is the root of the problem. 

And it has nothing to do with balance, and everything to do with cheating. 

When being a mom isn’t so great …

There is nothing more soothing to my soul than the sweet sound of my little boy calling out, “Mommy!” and you can just hear the joy in his voice as he says my name. The name that only he calls me; it’s my favourite name.

But there was a time when motherhood wasn’t so great. I would hear people talking about motherhood and it was rainbows and sunshine. Joy unspeakable, and I could not relate. I even pulled away from these women. I felt like a bad mother. Why didn’t I enjoy it that much? I mean, I didn’t hate it, but it was most certainly just ok.

It wasn’t the life changing, joyful experience I had been told to expect and I was so lost and confused as to why that was.

I have so many photos of the first 12-15 months and it’s all smiles and laughter, but who photographs the moments you’re sitting on the floor crying because you are wishing you could wake up tomorrow and not be a mother? No one photographs those moments. But those moments and I have held hands. We’ve danced. I’d know that song anywhere. And it hurts me. I look at my son, thriving, full of joy and I feel my heart bursting with love and happiness that this little human has been gifted to me. But I also feel it breaking a tiny bit over the lost year. That moment in time where nothing was as it should be.

I mourn that time. I mourn that first year that I was to become a mother. To learn and to grow and to figure out our rythmn and settle into things…to really grow into the mother I was to be. To absorb those baby giggles, that fat little face and the nuances that only a baby can bring. I have had to move past anger for being robbed, and I still feel at times that I am grieving it. Maybe I will grieve more when my second is born and I see how much I truly lost. I hope not; to be honest it scares me.

But I can truly say that exercise and eating right have given me that year again. This year with my son is magical, he’s unreal. I get it now. I understand that uncontainable joy that says “I can’t believe he’s mine…” and it’s all because I reached out to someone and said “I need a change.”

If you’re missing something … if being a mom is just ok most days, but you feel generally lost and wandering through life, know that you are not alone. And know that I am here.

I DO think exercise and eating well are for absolutely everyone. I do NOT think everyone needs to have major weightloss or muscle gains goals. But I believe that this routine saves lives every single day, because exercise is the most under utilized anti-depressent in the Western World.

Motherhood is a gift, and it’s the most amazing part of being a woman to me. When I wake up in the morning to a cute little man snuggling in my arms, who looks to me for advice, boundaries, how to react, how to live … I want to show him that life isn’t just survival. I want to show him how to live, and live abundantly and live life by design.

I love coaching women into this journey. So many messages I hear include people saying things to the effect of, I want to be strong for my kids … either ones they have or ones they want to one day have.

Motherhood is embedded in many of our souls, and it’s absolutely my passion to help as many people as I can enter into a healthy lifestyle that enables us to be surrounded by other strong women who can encourage us on the most beautiful, and most difficult journey we will ever be on.

I honor that lost year by living in this one to the absolute fullest.

I honor that lost year by reaching out to you and saying, it’s your time.

If this speaks to you, reach out this Mother’s Day, and ask for help

You’re not alone, and there’s strength in numbers.  

On Making Me Happy

“It’s just not making me happy anymore”

Have you ever said this about a job? I have. In fact I am saying it; and I’ve felt in a very stuck place for the last while. 

Returning to work with post partum depression left me feeling like I hated my job (as a hairstylist) and this left a deeply conflicted feeling in my heart. I love doing hair, I love the art I create, but then I had my son, and that art failed to satisfy me. My career … the work I had literally poured myself into that satisfied my soul for so long, left me feeling drained and unhappy every single day.  

I began to question it every day leading up to work; does this make me happy? I had shining moments that I really loved doing hair; these make me giddy and that feeling carries me for a while, but then it fades, and I’m left wondering where it went and how come it leaves, and how do I get it back? 

I started this coaching business, and I felt fire and passion as I had for the hair world, and wondered if this was my new adventure … yet I still felt conflicted, unable to decide in my heart…am I done? I can’t be; I can’t imagine my life not doing hair and I think of all the people that tell me how amazing I am, and how much they love having me as their stylist…

Conflict. Major conflict. 

Feelings of thinks like I no longer posess a talent. 

Feeling low.

Yet, feeling something…

So what is this?

Well firstly, I think it’s natural. I think it’s the ok that God put a passion in me to be home with my son, and for my passion for hair to take a backseat. My family should be more important to me than my job.

But that doesn’t mean I have to leave. 

That doesn’t mean it’s not “making me happy…”

In our society, if it doesn’t make you happy then quit and keep quitting until you find this magic happiness. 

If your marriage sucks, quit, find a new one. If your job sucks, quit. Find a new one. If your house sucks, sell it. Buy a new one. If your life sucks, move. Build a new one.

Sounds fun and fancy, but it’s not reality.

Because happiness doesn’t come from things.

Happiness comes from me.

I make me happy. I lean into God for my joy. I choose to be grateful. I choose to let emotions rule me, or to rule my emotions. I choose to find joy in the hard times. I choose to allow happiness in, despite my circumstances.

I realized I am so, so incredibly blessed and ungrateful.

I am blessed to have passion for so many things, and for hands that are gifted in them. A mother, a coach, a stylist. All these things I have a love for, and it’s a copout to leave one simply because it’s not doing what I want it to do for me anymore.

It’s childish.

Leaving now would be like stomping my feet in a candy store because I couldn’t get what I wanted. The reality is, I have a choice. I can keep being unhappy where I am, or I can change my mindset. I can choose to find joy and life in my job again.

I can choose to push through these emotional days and see that overall, my job is really really great, and it pays me well, and that I get to afford a lifestyle for my family that otherwise we wouldn’t have.

Lows come, but they also go. Same as highs. They go as well.

If you want to quit somethings right now, don’t. If you’ve lost your motivation, put on your big girl panties and get back to work, and choose life. Choose commitment. Choose to be happy, and to be grateful. Look for the positive.

Realize that the problem might actually be coming from within and that getting up and leaving will only satisfy you for a short time, and then you’re left with unhappiness. Again.

Don’t mope around like I have, waiting for whatever it is in your life to make you happy. Make yourself happy by choosing to move forward.

Choose to cook whole, healthy foods today. 

Choose to workout. 

Choose to get outside, even for 5 minutes. 

Choose to do look on the bright side and be your own inspiration. Dig deep and get to it. 

For me, it’s choosing joy at work. It’s choosing to take my vitamins and drink my shake. It’s choosing to workout. 

EVEN WHEN I DON’T FEEL LIKE IT. 

Because feelings are fleeting and they change with the wind.

Stay the course. Find your courage. Find your muchness. And get to work. Get busy. 

And if in the end it means you leave your job, let it be 

  because you are happy, and you have so much happiness that you need another place to let it grow.

For me, I found that joy again in coaching.

I find that joy in sharing words of encouragement to my team, to my challengers and to my coaches.

This is what fuels me and gives me life at the salon again.

The problem wasn’t my job.

The problem was me.

Happiness doesn’t live in place or thing.

It lives in you.

On Starting Over

It’s ok to start over. In fact, it’s bloody brave of you.

Right now, I’m starting over.

We are in a society that values success as starting something and never quitting, never wavering, never falling down.

Well I value getting back up. I value those who say my journey does not end here.

The choices we make to be better…to do better, sometimes they’re easy to let go of. Because life gets in the way. It just does.

Don’t ever let anyone make you feel bad because life happened. It’s what we do before, during and after life happens that matters.

My choice to be better was to put myself first. And for me, that’s working out and eating well. I became a personal fitness coach to steer my passion, hold me accountable, help other women like me and clean up my messy brain.

And then I just made one small choice that wasn’t in the right direction…then again the next day. Then it got harder and harder to steer back on course, and here I am two weeks later, encouraging others to do their best, be their best…and I’ve fallen. Hard and fast.

I don’t know why I feel so weird saying this, but I do. I struggle with depression.

And I think maybe I feel weird is because I think I’m diminishing other people’s struggles because I don’t want to kill myself every day…I don’t cry all day…maybe because it started when my son was born and do I really get to call it that? Isn’t it just post partum? Does that make it any less? Well you know what?

Depression doesn’t look like I thought it did. Not at all.

And I think what I see now is that it looks different for everyone, but we all “know the feeling.”

What did it look like for me today? Aimless. My son is sick and I used that as my excuse as to why I did nothing, but it’s not the truth.

I’m sitting around more. Letting dishes pile up more. Being on my phone in front of my kid more. Zoning out. Screaming at my dog because she can’t tell me how much my anger hurts her. Feeling  less energy every day. Letting the fog settle into my brain and losing the ability to make small choices, like how to start making dinner.

Depression looks like a tired mom, but one who’s “getting by”. It’s lack of patience, it’s anger at my husband for literally everything and nothing. It’s anxiety. Panic over the little things that I can’t control.

And so, I start over. Making one small positive step every day.

Except, maybe it’s not really starting over…

I already have a foundation to build on; one I’ve been working on for months now. I’ve developed skills, like how to take a deep breath and just pick up a few toys, and go from there. How to take my vitamins in the morning, or drink my shake even if I just. don’t. want to. Like the action of lifting my arms to make it all is just too much to handle. But I do it anyways. It’s small. I can handle small.

So starting over really isn’t starting over at all, not for me … and not for you.

You’ve come a long way already, and you’re stronger than you think.

Whatever it is you’ve been trying to do more of in life, you’ve come a long way my dear.

There is no ground zero. You can look back but you can’t get there, because the person you were then is gone. You’ve grown.

Your actions and feelings may be familiar, but oh how you grew.

Remember that.

And take action.

Don’t sit in the fog.

Reach out.

Find help.

Make a move.

So if you’re starting over with me this week, let me know just one area you feel stronger in even though you feel like you’re failing, and I want you to comment, then write it down and stick it to the mirror, and I want that success to fuel your frustration at falling backwards to the point where you get so angry you tear apart the chains holding you down.

I want you to fight.

I want you to break free.

Remember, you are strong. You are brave. And you will succeed.

One bloody inch at a time.