Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Elf 4 Health 2013

I participated in Elf 4 Health this year. When I first read about it, I knew it was something I had to do. The basic premise is this. It's a 4 week program broken up into 2 rounds (2 weeks each). Every day has a different challenge. Challenges are fitness, nutrition, or just working on you, etc. Each round you are paired up with another "elf" who you go through the challenges with, discuss challenges, successes, etc. So here's my recap!


Round 1 I was matched up with Sarah, a senior studying nutrition and dietetics at Arizona State University. LUCKY ME! She had such great ideas as far as food was concerned and was so nice to share them with me!

Day 1: Go Meatless
So I am an avid food prepper. But for some reason I chose not to look ahead at my challenges when I was prepping for the week. So late Sunday night I looked and panicked as the food I prepped for the week had meat in it. What was I going to have that was still healthy and would still give me enough energy to work out after work?? So during my lunch break I ran over to Safeway to see what I can find and it was rough, but I finally found the deli and that they had a veggie sandwich. So I had them make me the following:
Wheat Bread
Red Onions
Green peppers
Swiss Cheese
I also got a hard boiled egg and a pack of pretzels and hummus. I am currently OBSESSED with hummus. I wasn't super wild about the sandwich. It ended up being super salty. Maybe it was the artichokes, which I rarely have. But it worked. :)

For Dinner, I took the "easy way out" and went to my FAVORITE local restaurant, Spoons. I got Potato Parmesan Soup, with a Caesar Salad with a little bleu cheese on top (yum!) and their delicious focaccia bread. I brought it home and ate it complete silence. No tv, no radio, no playing on my phone. It was a nice change.


The challenge was to unsubscribe from newsletters that you receive but NEVER read. I felt like I did a really good job unsubscribing, but every day when I'm checking my mail I realize there are SO MANY MORE I should really unsubscribe from.

Okay, this one was SUPER challenging for me. Mainly because I've been doing the same workouts for the past 3 years. And they work really well. Sarah told me about a website called thedailyhiit.com that had some workouts. I perused it, but nothing really struck me. I took to Facebook and asked for suggestions and tried to incorporate those as best I could.

While at work I was doing laundry, so I decided to run up and down the stairs with each trip. yay! I did this "Beach Babe Booty" workout that I had on my fitness board on Pinterest. I used a kettleball (that was a facebook suggestion) and for good measures I did some box jumps!

*Note: My trainer used to make me do box jumps and I was TERRIFIED. Doing these box jumps helped me power through my fear and I was super proud of myself.*

Noah and me at my graduation party in 2009

I have a confession. I have a phone phobia. I absolutely HATE talking on the phone. Which is funny because in my younger days I was ALWAYS on the phone. But not anymore. At any rate, with it being Thanksgiving and not wanting to bother people who were with their families. I kinda put my own spin on this challenge.

I texted my friend Noah. It said this: Happy Thanksgiving! I just wanted to let you know I'm very thankful for you. I hope you're enjoying your time with your family.


I don't drink enough water. I know this to be true. I try, but I just don't. My job makes it really hard to keep drinking water because I get so busy with the kids that I forget. But I did really well with this challenge. I ended up drinking 88 ounces of water. WOAH!

Also I had to pee. More than ever before. Also not conducive with my job. I've heard that if you keep drinking more water your body gets used to it and you don't have to pee as much. I'm not sure I buy it.

Pretzel Friends

Basically the whole day was a treat! I went to the CSU Vs. AFA game. The weather was GORGEOUS. (A t-shirt in Colorado at the end of November???) I was with WONDERFUL people. Life was good. But my official treat for the day was a pretzel. Katy and I have a slight pretzel obsession, and these ones were fresh baked for us!

This may come as a surprise... but I HATE BURPEES. When I originally read this challenge I said "You have GOT to be kidding me." But I decided to break it up. Mostly it was challenging because I was working in the morning, but during youth group I did some burpees and had the kids take pictures of me. Which led me to a few realizations: 1. burpees in leggings, a mini skirt and boots is not the best idea. 2. Sports bras are DEFINITELY a necessity.

Hey at least it was entertaining! ha!

I did some more in my office (when no one else was there) and then I went home and did 10 every commercial break of the Broncos game until I reached 100.

I don't think I've done a burpee since!


I really debated who to write a note to. I wrote a few notes, but they weren't ones I wanted to make public, so I  wrote this generic one and posted it. And I actually heard from someone that it was JUST what they needed. Success!


Same problem as with Meatless Monday. I wasn't prepared... But I think I did pretty well....
Red: Red Peppers
Orange: Oranges
Yellow: Yellow Carrots
Green: Green beans
Blue: Blueberries
Purple: Raisins


This one was DEFINITELY a challenge for me. Make up is a NECESSITY in my book. And I was convinced that the kids would ask me what's wrong with me. One of them told me I looked pretty so that was interesting. We also had a snowstorm this day, so not having to put make up on was kinda nice! :)

The best part of this challenge was all the other elves commented on pictures telling everyone how beautiful they were. It was SO NICE to see women building each other up, rather than tearing them down.


Confession time again. I hate working out with other people. I've tried it and I just don't do it because it either gets too competitive, I feel judged, or it just puts unnecessary strains on the friendships. I'm better just working out on my own. HOWEVER.... Wednesday nights, Katy and I go to Hip Hop and we have a flipping BLAST. We stand in the back, pretend we have moves and basically just laugh the whole time. Now that's the best workout buddy to have!

Prior to Elf 4 Health, I knew nothing of Operation Beautiful and I LOVE IT.

For my piece, I wrote 4 notes and left them in various places in Kohl's. I hope they lifted someone's spirits.

They said...
1. Your smile is your best feature. Smile as bright as the sun shines. You are beautiful!
2. You are beautiful on the inside and out!
3. Keep on smiling. You are beautiful!
4. You are beautiful. You don't even know.

*So the last one is actually a lyric from an Andy Grammer song (Ladies) that I just adore*

So I actually didn't do this one. I was out of town because my cousins were visiting, so I was 3 hours away from my fridge and pantry for the weekend. I still plan on doing this at some point. I didn't think it would be nice to do to my grandma just to complete the challenge. ;-)


Seeing as how I participated in #ThankfulNovember i didn't find this particularly hard. So I sat down and quickly jotted down 50 things I am thankful for.

And with that... round 1 was over.


For Round 2 I was matched up with Samantha, a senior studying Business Legal Studies at Arizona State University. (What are the odds that both of my elves would be seniors at ASU?!) She actually graduated during round 2!!!


Again... new workouts are so hard for me. So, again.... I went to Pinterest. and found this one. It was awesome!


I stopped at Starbucks on my way into work with the intention of buying coffee for the person behind me... except for the first time in the history of EVER, no one was behind me. I had a crazy busy day of working 9 hours at my first job, driving 1 hour down to the other job for a meeting and then making the hour trip home.... So there wasn't a whole lot of time. So I discovered that you can "Tweet a coffee" so I sent coffees to my cousin Rachel (who was working so hard on her finals) and my dear friend Chance.

*Note: Apparently when you do this, it requires the recipient to give Starbucks unlimited access to their facebook and twitter.*

Funny thing: When I finally got home, I checked my mail and I had $45 worth of Starbucks gift cards from my brother's in laws! HOW NICE!


Cookies, Chocolate, Donuts,  Cake, Cupcakes... The list goes on of the stuff that usually makes it's way to this table in our staff lounge. My boss actually said recently one day she is going to put fruit out just for me.... Apparently I have some sort of reputation. :)

So I brought a healthy snack for the staff! I signed it "Elf" but I'm pretty sure between the handwriting and the fact that it was healthy, everyone knew it was me.

I love hummus.


This challenge could NOT have come on a better day. I had a busy and LONG day at work due to it was my class' Christmas Program which meant an 11 hour day for me. I took this challenge very serious!

When I left work, I went to Garbanzo and got a DELICIOUS Chicken Shwarma pita with some falafel. I also had some of my favorite wine as I sat on the couch, watched Sean Saves The World and the Broncos game.

It was the perfect way to de-stress after that long day!

Due to my long day on Thursday, today I got a 2.5 hour break to avoid any Overtime. I was exhausted but I told myself to just go to the gym to get this out of the way so when I was done with work I could just go home.

It was Pajama day at work so that was nice. So I drove alllll the way to the gym (30 minute drive), got in to the locker room and realized half my workout clothes (shirt and sports bra) were in my car. And the other half (workout pants) were at home.

But I drove all that way and luckily it was pj day so I was in sweats and a t-shirt. So I told myself to just go do the stupid mile. The only time I ever run a consistent mile is when I'm running a 5k. And I'm a SLOOOOW runner. But despite all the obstacles, I did it. Hooray!


I'd recently done a closet purge, so that wasn't necessary... but my desk was definitely in need of some TLC.

Ever since I started working a 2nd job on Sundays, my meal prep has fallen to the wayside. I've done it a few times on Fridays or Saturdays, but I pretty much just suck at doing it these days.

But on this day! I made crockpot chicken bbq (for sandwiches on sandwich thins), made salmon with veggies, protein waffles, and prepped greek yogurt and grapes.


The challenge was to get up early and meditate. I already get up at 4:30, so there's no way that was happening. I was exhausted so half of my lunch break I just spent lying on the couch with my eyes closed and the lights dimmed.

When I got home, I found this meditation on YouTube, laid on my living room floor and felt quite relaxed. Definitely helpful!

There is NOWHERE at the gym to take your picture
doing a wall sit without having to ask someone to do
it for you, so I crammed myself behind a machine to do this one. haha! 

One day my friend Vita and I were doing wall sits at the gym and a guy approached us and told us we made them look so easy.

The longest I'd ever done a wall sit was a minute, so I set the super lofty goal of 3 minutes, thinking there was no way I could do it. When I stopped I was proud and thought I could probably hold it longer. I posted on Facebook asking people the time they thought I got and people said stuff like 17 minutes! So I felt totally lame, so when I got home I did a second one and held that for 4:03.


So I didn't even think I had any expertise, so yet again... I took to Facebook. I ended up writing a "My Expertise" blog.


This challenge was to eat 3 food groups at each meal.
Breakfast: Oatmeal (grain) with raisins (fruit) and latte (dairy/protein)
Lunch: Ham Sandwich (dairy, protein) Fruits and Veggies.
Dinner: Salmon (protein), brown rice (grain), and veggies.

After I did this, I read that some people did 3 physical and 3 non-physical. Oh well...
1. My heart-- I have such a giving and loving heart and I love that about me!
2. My body-- this one was hard as I think there will ALWAYS be aspects of it that I don't love, but I truly love it, how far I've come and all the things I can do with it!
3. My loyalty-- I am a loyal friend to the very end. That may get me in trouble, but I do love that about me.
4. My passion-- I am so passionate about so many things. I love it!
5. My humor-- Oh my goodness, I am ALWAYS goofy and cracking jokes. And I love it.
6. My drive-- It definitely takes drive to work as much as I do and still find time to workout and other things. I love that about me!

I never got around to making a pic of this one because I was crazy busy, but I did come up with one! Coming up with these is so hard for me because I just keep working at what I have been so here we go. (I wrote it down, but can't seem to find it. Here's to hoping I remember!)
1. Try the TRX Training!
2. Hit my goal weight (that's been a work in progress for like 3 years)
4. Start training (maybe even do) a Tri!


I gave $75 to my favorite local non-profit SAVA.

I truly wish this kind of organization wasn't even necessary and I pray for the day that it isn't. But, as long as people are hurting others, I am SO THANKFUL this resource is available.

I absolutely LOVED this program. In the second round, I was able to join the Elf 4 Health Facebook group. It was amazing. Every post was liked and given the most wonderfully, supportive comments. It's crazy because I feel like typically, women DO NOT support each other. But the group of women I "met" doing this are AMAZING. I felt like a lot of them understood me more than most of my "real world" friends.

I hope you'll join me next year!


What do you do to help get through the holidays???

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

What Christmas Means To Me

During our first service in church we had a component called "What Christmas Means To Me". Throughout the service we had 3 people (a child, a teenager, and a grandma) tell of what Christmas was like in their homes and what Christmas meant to them. As I sat there and listened to them tell their stories, it got me thinking.


  • Spending Christmas in Florence. All the cousins slept on the floor in Grandpa's Study. The boys would wake me up really early and have me go look at what Santa brought us, and come back and report. And I did it. Also, all of us going to Grandpa's church and sitting in the front row. :-) 
  • Going to Utah for Christmas one year. 
  • Going to see the lights on the City and County building after church. And having my cousin be VERY upset because he'd rather be home playing video games. (He shall remain nameless but we all know who he is haha) 
  • That wretched video recording of us singing 12 Days Of Christmas and showing not only how unintelligent I was, but how loud and out of tune I was with my "5 Golden Rings". Yikes. 
  • The year my grandpa got me a JTT calendar. Seriously best present. ever. 
  • The year I got one of those dolls where you have to get the diaper wet to find out if it's a boy or a girl. My grandpa performed a baptism on it. And prior to Christmas, my mom pulled me aside and asked me if I would mind if my doll was black. I told her no. 
  • The year we were moving like a week after Christmas. And everyone came to our house for Christmas (that was poor planning on someone's part) and there was an earthquake. In Colorado. 
  • Tying the sled to the back of the van and having my dad drive us around the neighborhood on Christmas morning. SO MUCH FUN
  • Playing "Santa". (This is what happens when you're the youngest. And you get stuck with the job every year)
  • Going to church on Christmas Eve. As I got older it was more like reunion night where I got to see all my old youth group friends, catch up, etc. Definitely one of my favorite nights of the year. 
  • Once I started driving, after church I would always drive by our old house and look at the lights in that neighborhood. 
  • Me getting up early and making breakfast for everyone. 
  • My brother playing with the hot wax on his candle and spilling it on my leg. 
  • The running joke of who is going to set their hair on fire. :) 

As I've gotten older, things have changed. Fewer of my friends came to Christmas Eve. My brother couldn't always make it home in time for church. Last year, he didn't get in until afterwards, my dad was super sick from the chemo he was going through and I ended up going to church all by myself. It was horrible.

This year things are a little different. And honestly, it doesn't even feel like Christmas to me. I have to work all week, for the first time EVER. I always get the week of Christmas off, but this year is different. So that is kind of weird. My brother and sister-in-law aren't able to come out until next week so we aren't even really celebrating Christmas until then. And now that I have a job at a church, I don't get to go to the church I grew up in on Christmas Eve. Which made me a little sad. I missed my friends and all those familiar faces I've known forever. On the flip side, it has been such a blessing to get to know this new church family. It's just very different. And the big part.... I miss my brother. :(

Tonight at church as I was standing in front of the congregation and we all had our candles in the air an we were singing Silent Night, tears came to my eyes for the old memories that I miss so much. But then I looked out and I saw all these people, a lot of them young adults who I've seen grow up over the last few years and that just warmed my heart.

After church, I drove back to my old neighborhood (because let's face it... I can't leave the past alone) and I was so sad at how none of the houses on my old street had Christmas lights up.

To me, Christmas is a day when we can just stop being so dang busy, be with our families and just relax. It's a day to think of how lucky we are and thank God for the wonderful things we have. I am so lucky to have all these wonderful memories of families and friends on Christmas Day. And though I may be a little sad tonight and not feel like it's really Christmas, I know when my family does celebrate it, we will have a wonderful time together.

May you and your family have a blessed Christmas.


What is your favorite Christmas memory??

What is the best gift you've ever received/given??

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Elf 4 Health: Share Your Expertise

Some of you may know I've been participating in a program called Elf 4 Health. It's a 4 week program where we are matched up with another "elf" and have a challenge every day. We are in our last week and at the end I will be blogging about the whole experience. 

Today's challenge is to "Share Your Expertise". When I first read that I thought "expertise? I don't have an expertise" so as with most important decisions, I took to Facebook. I asked for ideas of what to write and I decided to write about all of them. 

Here was what I got in return: 

"Um, I think I heard somewhere that you TEACH kids. And you know about getting healthy. Need I go on?"

"So much! You know how to believe in yourself to do something, tenacity, ability to go to the gym when EVERY cell in your body wants to watch desperate housewives. You know how to deal with extreme tragedy and survive to see another day! You are a DAMN expert!!" 

"Pretzels... hip hop dancing are 2 just off the top of my head"

So here we go!


I've been teaching preschool for about 5 years now, and even still a lot of the time I don't feel like an "Expert". I kind of wonder if teachers EVER feel like an expert, mainly because every day is different. But I have people tell me how good I am at teaching, how I'm a natural and how it's something I was born to do. So I guess I'm doing SOMETHING right. So here are a few of the components in my teaching philospohy. 

  • EVERY child is different. What works with one, may not work with another. The key is to find what works with each child and do it. It may not be your particular style, but what's important is helping the child succeed. Step out of your own comfort zone to help a child. When you find out what makes a certain child tick, do research. Find ways to related to him or her. Seeing things from a different perspective can change your world as well as changing theirs. Being the first person to believe in them can be a rewarding experience for both you and the child. 
  • EVERY child deserves love. Kids these days are held to such high standards. It's important that each child feels loved and special. 
  • FOLLOW THROUGH! I CANNOT stress this enough. When you say you are going to do something, YOU MUST DO IT. A teacher/parent with no follow through will not be taken seriously and walked ALL OVER. It's hard, but you have to just tell yourself you are doing what is best for the child. 
  • BE IN THE MOMENT! When I was interviewing for my internship, I asked the interviewer's favorite part of her job. Her response was "being in the moment with the kids". There is not a day of my job that goes by that I do not think about that moment. Playing with the kids, watching them learn, not worrying about anything else is THE BEST. 
  • POSITIVE. It is SO easy to be negative. Don't do this. No. Stop that. it's SO EASY to do. So when you first walk into the classroom, make sure you walk around and say at least 3 positive things to the kids. It's a great way to start the day. 

I really could write an entire blog on teaching. But I'll stop there. 


Honestly, it kind of makes me laugh when people say this because it's so surreal that I'm here. It feels like a dream because I think of how I used to be and it feels like another lifetime. I constantly have people ask me (and my mom) how I lost so much weight. The answer is simple. 

Eat less. Move more. 

The funny thing is this isn't a complicated concept. I always knew that was how to do it. But these days, everyone is looking for a quick fix. So I'll break it down for you. 

  • Track what you eat. This is probably the most important part. Write it down. EVERYTHING. Count the calories in it so you can figure out what kind of balance you have going on. A great resource:Fitbook
  • Figure out how many calories you are burning throughout the day. I swear by my Bodybugg.
  • Take your favorite recipes and find out how to make them healthy. There are so many resources out there! I'm obsessed with my Biggest Loser cookbook, Skinny Mom and Cooking Light. There are also awesome bloggers out there with great ideas! 
  • DO NOT DEPRIVE YOURSELF. There will be times where all you want is chocolate. Have some freaking chocolate. 
  • DO NOT LOOK AT IT AS A DIET. It is one of my pet peeves when people ask me how my diet is going. It's not a diet. It's a lifestyle. If you look at it as a diet, when you go back to your old ways, you will gain back what you lost and possibly more. 
  • BELIEVE IN YOURSELF. You can do it. I promise. 

I'm kinda surprised someone suggested this because I have days I don't believe in myself. At the beginning of my fitness journey, 2 things helped:

  1. I had a personal trainer who was expecting me to do certain things. I am a people pleaser to the core, always have been. And I really wanted her to be proud of me and not disappointed, so I went to the gym when I needed to. Did what she told me to. And before I knew it, I actually liked doing those things. 
  2. My journey was NOT a secret. I posted weekly pictures on Facebook and discussed the challenges and successes. Having all my friends and family members along for the ride and offering encouragement when I needed it and knowing that TONS of people were supporting me was an AMAZING help. 
Now the biggest part of believing in myself is doing A TON of self pep talks. "You can do this. Don't stop. You've got this" are things I tell myself almost every single day. I may not believe it, but I know if I don't say it, the negative thoughts will seep in. And we hate those. 


If you knew me 5 years ago you would know I was (and still can be) THE BIGGEST EXCUSE MAKER. Knowing this about myself is why I picked 24 Hour Fitness. It's open ALL THE TIME and on my way home from work. There is no reason NOT to go. My previous gym closed at 8 which I would use as an excuse not to go. In the 3 years I've been going to 24 Hour I think I've been past 8:00.... once. So that excuse was stupid. 
If I don't go, I still pass it. There are times when I truly just can't-- yesterday was one of those days. But for the most part I just tell myself to suck it up and get my butt in there. 


Quick recap for newcomers: When I was 17 I was in a near fatal car accident where I broke my hip and developed bursitis, which was a HUGE hurdle in my fitness. I was overweight because it hurt to use my hip, but it hurt to move my hip because I was overweight. And somehow I told bursitis to take a hike! 

As someone who is EXTREMELY accident prone, it seems like I'm always getting hurt. I could easily just throw in the towel and give up. Except I'm a fighter. I always have been so quitting isn't really an option for me. The point is to just take it one day at a time, believing in yourself, and working toward your goals. And you will get there. It may take years, but you WILL get there. Just keep going. 


This one cracked me up. Katy and I have an obsession with pretzels. They. Are. Amazing. (See: Don't deprive yourself) The best kind of pretzel is a fresh baked one with no salt, while you are watching the Rams dominate Air Force. 
Pretzel Advice:

  • Always enjoy with friends
  • Only eat when hot
  • ENJOY!

Hip Hop is a class I got into at the gym a couple years ago. I missed dancing and decided to do it and learned that I hated it. But I kept going and once I learned the dances and Katy started joining me, it became one of my favorite parts of the week. Hip Hop Advice:

  • Don't take yourself too seriously. Laughing is the best way to do it. A good ab workout too
  • Push yourself to reach that 500 calorie burn.
  • Don't look at yourself in the mirror if you are as white as I am. 
  • HAVE FUN!!!!!

So there you have it friends, my expertise at the recommendation of my friends. I hope you took something away from this one!