Book Review: Your Holistically Hot Transformation

I LOVE reading. If I had a beach nearby I would grab a book and hang out by the beach daily. How is that for dreaming?!

As for books, I tend to alternate between reading a fiction and non-fiction. For my non-fiction books I love to read about health since I am in the career field of health and wellness. Recently, I got to read a book titled, “Your Holistically Hot Transformation: Embrace a Healthy Lifestyle Free of Dieting, Confusion, and Self-Judgment.


As a dietitian and nutritionist, I see some books with fad diets and information I shake my head at. This book is NOT like that! In fact, I nodded my head quite frequently in agreement with the author. She spreads a positive body message and is quite inspirational.

I have to admit that I have been in a cooking funk for the past year, if not longer than that. After reading this book I have added the Pinterest app to my phone and plan to pin recipes soon. My husband literally just told me tonight, “You used to cook a lot more,” and it made me sad. Don’t worry my feminist friends, he didn’t mean it in a “you need to cook more now” way. He has simply taken notice of the no cooking funk.

The book has several different sections. It not only touches on nutrition, but also on movement/exercise, meditation, cooking, and other healthy habits. Each chapter has a simple take-away listed at the end in a box. I love that!

The last few pages of the book are my absolute favorite because I can TOTALLY relate! Without giving too much away, she talks about how obsessing over being at a certain weight or being a certain size can be counterproductive. It causes stress, which as we all know halts any get healthy efforts we can attain. I know this to be true. I used to be strict and rigid with my eating and exercising that if I told you what I was doing you would think I had to be a size 2. But, I was a size bigger than I am now! Proof that most diets don’t work for the long haul.

Are you interested yet?! You can read a free chapter by clicking here. I would highly suggest checking it out and seeing if this book is right for you and where you are now. I enjoyed it and even as a health expert learned a few things. I feel inspired to touch up my nutrition a bit.

And since we are on the topic of health, what is one think you are doing for YOU this week?

Tiger Stripes Earned!

It has been awhile since I have posted. But today I find myself wanting to write… about tiger stripes. But, we’ll get to that.

I consider myself a body-positive dietitian. I believe that loving your body is the first step towards getting healthier or maintaining health. If you do not love the skin you are in, you won’t ever truly feel good about yourself no matter what size you are.

With that said, I have a confession to make…

I used to be scared of what my body would look like after having a baby. This “fear” was before I knew the power of loving your body. Just want to make that clear- I did not have this fear while I was pregnant. In fact, I LOVED being pregnant- growing belly and all.

So this fear was in me in my early twenties. Before engagement. Before marriage. Before baby. I was also terrified of the whole “birth” thing, but figured I would either get over that or not have any kids. But I always knew I wanted to be a mom so I had to “suck it up buttercup” at some point.

Thank God I did. I cannot imagine my life without my little boy. The cool thing is, though, this fear went away years before I had my son. It went away when I gave up dieting, restriction, and strict exercise. It went away when I traded in all of that garbage for trusting in myself and loving my body. I started to honor my hunger and fullness cues, no matter what the food on my plate was. I didn’t have to eat cardboard to feel good inside.


The day before I gave birth to my son!

And now, after having my son I still do not restrict my calories or put in miles on the pavement. I eat when hungry, stop when full, do 30 minutes of one of my favorite exercises most days of the week, never feel negative if I eat cookies or skip a workout, and most importantly LOVE MY BODY. And I am back to a very healthy weight for me.

I never had the goal to get “back to my pre-pregnancy body”. My body has forever changed. I have stretch marks on my belly, but I call them tiger stripes and I earned those bad boys. Every time I see them, I am reminded of how special it was to carry my child in my belly for 9 months and how special it is to have him with me now.

What about you? What do YOU love about your body?

Mommy Guilt

momguiltMy baby is 2 months old and I have a little less than a month of maternity leave left. I have to admit… I have a little dose of mommy guilt.

I want to be by his side every moment of his first year of life. Not literally- daddy needs solo time with baby too, but you get the idea. I am anxious about spending 40 hours per week at a desk job. What will I miss out on?

But, I know it it is the right decision for our household with where we are right now. I currently work from home most days and my husband’s job will be going away within a year. We need the health insurance my company provides. Plus I love my career! I worked so hard to become a Registered Dietitian and Wellness Coordinator- I don’t want to give that up. Just so we are clear though, I absolutely, 100% would give it up for my son if it came to that. He is worth every sacrifice!

I am going back to work in May and my husband will be staying at home to take care of our baby. I am so happy about our decision, but that doesn’t take away the mommy guilt completely. I know it will take time to adjust to this next phase of mommy-hood. I am ready and willing, but you better believe I will check in during my breaks and hopefully not miss out on any huge milestones. He is only little once!

So for all you stay at home moms and working moms, I feel ya! The decision to stay at home or go back to work is NOT an easy decision. I also know some moms don’t have a choice and barely have a maternity leave. We have to make decisions that work best for our own situation. Every mom has a little dose of mommy guilt and we don’t need others to give us more so please don’t ever forget…YOU ARE DOING A GREAT JOB AS A MOM AND WERE PERFECTLY PICKED FOR YOUR LITTLE ONE(S)!

Ab Separation after Having a Baby

Diastasis recti. Ever heard of it? I sure hadn’t before I had my little man. Luckily, I saw a Facebook post about it and wanted to learn more. It is not uncommon to have some type of ab separation after having a baby, making diastasis recti pretty common.

While researching, I stumbled upon Carrie Harper’s website and Flat Belly System. She explains diastasis recti extremely well so feel free to click the link to learn more. Her video below even helps you determine if you have ab separation or not.

I have a small amount of ab separation (1 finger width), but many women do have much larger gaps. It is extremely important to heal the injury or improve the gap (some larger gaps decrease in size, but do not fully go away) before getting back to certain exercises. The gap can be made worse with full push ups, planks, crunches, etc. leading to a bulge in the abdominal area. From what I have read, a 1 finger gap is not much to worry about but since Carrie’s system is so reasonably priced (seriously, 10 bucks as opposed to over a hundred bucks that I saw on 2 other websites with similar type plans), I purchased it and have been doing it for a week and half.

I honestly feel like Carrie’s plan is good for anyone though. It has reminded me how important posture and alignment is in everyday life. It has also given me a new focus when it comes to abdominal work. Working harder isn’t always best, but working smarter is.

So anyway, I feel like I would be doing you all a disservice if I did not mention ab separation, diastasis recti, and Carrie’s website to you. I don’t personally know Carrie, but I can tell she is passionate about what she does and I love it when women are on a mission to help other women.

Can I get an Amen?!

Curious, have any of you heard of diastasis recti before or experienced it yourself?

Have a happy, healthy week!

Mesothelioma Cancer: A Survivor’s Story

Back in November, I wrote a blog post about keeping your lungs healthy. I touched on mesothelioma cancer, but I think it deserves much more attention. In fact, writing that blog post was the first time I had ever even heard of this specific disease. I bet many of you are in the same boat.

I find myself extremely inspired by all sorts of personal stories, but especially from cancer survivors. I am willing to bet we all know at least one or two family members or friends who have battled or are battling some form of cancer. It is my honor to share with you an interview with Heather Von St. James, a mesothelioma cancer survivor. Hopefully her story will inspire you as it did me!


Let’s dig in!

  • Can you tell us a little about your story? I’m Heather Von St. James. I’m a mother, a wife, and before my mesothelioma diagnosis I was a stylist and business owner. In 2005, I was diagnosed with a rare but preventable cancer called mesothelioma. I had just given birth to my baby girl Lily and was told I only had 15 months to live. I got sick from wearing my father’s work jacket around the house. As a girl I loved wearing his coat and I had no idea that I was exposing myself to the toxin asbestos, which were in the fibers of his coat. My husband Cam and I quickly found ourselves in Boston with Dr. David Sugarbaker, who told me I was a candidate for a risky but potentially life saving surgery that would involve the removal of my left lung. On February 2, 2006, I underwent this surgery and spent 18 days recovering in the hospital. After a month or so, I went back to my parents house in Boston and in the following weeks received 4 rounds of chemo and 30 sessions of radiation. Cam stayed home in Minnesota to work while most of this was going on. It was extremely difficult but I would not be here today had I not gotten the treatment and support that I did.
  • As a new mother, how did you react to hearing you had the “C” word? I was full of fear and uncertainty filled my head. What would happen to my newborn, Lily? How would my husband go on without his wife? What would happen to our house and the life we had worked so hard to build? Lily needed her mommy and Cam his wife. Dr. Sugarbaker was incredibly helpful in easing this initial shock. After that, I’d say my determination kicked in. I was going to beat this; I had to. It was all quite surreal. Months ago everything was fine, but then this happened. My fighter instincts were ignited and I knew I had to do anything and everything to push through this.
  • What helped you get through your cancer experience? The support from everyone around me made a huge difference in my life once I was going through my cancer experience. As a new mom, you have to dismiss the idea that you have to do everything on your own. My parents took me in and let Lily and I live with them while I was recovering. I was motivated by my husband, who was able to keep it together from miles away while still working to support our family. He really only saw Lily for about 36 hours during the first three months of her life, because he had to be back in Minnesota working. There are also tons of support groups that can help make the fight against cancer easier. I acknowledge that I won’t go back to that “normal” feeling again, but I’ve adapted to a new normal that is pretty astounding.
  • Where do you find your inspiration as a 10 year survivor of a rare cancer? Other patients inspire me to no end. I’ve gotten involved in a few different organizations and meeting with people from all walks of life who have beat seemingly impossible odds are such a source of inspiration. My childhood friend’s son was given four months to live after being diagnosed with cancer at only 18 months old, and he just started college this year! He is just one of many people whose journey inspire me.
  • What does the future look like for you? I hope to inspire in the way that I’ve been inspired. I want to prove that with hope, the odds don’t matter. A positive attitude is key in overcoming adversity and if people can look at my story and think, “if she did it, I can too,” then I’ve successfully accomplished what I want to. I want to spread awareness about the dangers of asbestos exposure, a material that is still not banned, and how mesothelioma is a man-made illness. To me, being a survivor means helping others who are facing similar challenges as I do.

Cam_Lil_HVSJ Family

What an inspiring story! I have goosebumps that will probably last for days. Thank you, Heather, for sharing your story with us!

How to Burn an Extra 100 Calories

burn 100 calories

Want to burn an additional 100 calories today?

Don’t get me wrong, I am NOT into counting calories eaten or calories burned on a daily basis in a restrictive way. But, I do like to find ways to move a little more or get a little bit healthier so I LOVE the “Fun ways to burn an additional 100 calories” visual above.

Do any of the above activities strike your fancy? I have definitely had my share of quick shopping trips to get a little more steps in on my Fitbit. I love doing a walk (window shop, anyone?) before actually going into the stores.

How do I burn an extra 100 calories? Currently, by breastfeeding my baby. 😉 But soon, I will slowly make my way back to regularly working out and adding in the extra “burns” here and there. One of my favorite ways to get an extra 100 calories or so burned is to participate in a monthly challenge (you know, the Pinterest-worthy ones that focus on squats, planks, or the like). A co-worker and I challenged each other to a month of doing 100 each of 3 exercises that worked upper body, lower body, and then core. We could choose the actual moves. I liked being able to switch things up a bit!

So now tell me, how do you like to get an extra calorie burn throughout the day? And if you had to choose one or two of the activities in the graphic above to try one day next week, which would you choose?

Side note, I also have to say after looking at the graphic I visited Chobani’s website and noticed a recipe I SO WANT TO TRY. The Pina Colada smoothie… yum! I can do anything Pina Colada…. just sayin’.

Happy Wednesday, y’all!

Chobani has a Simply 100 line and are encouraging people to live a healthier life. I did not receive anything for doing this post. I just LOVED the theme and idea so decided to participate.

Baby Love

So I had a baby…

On February 13th, my life changed forever. I had a baby boy and am SO IN LOVE! Being a mommy is so special to me, in ways I could not have imagined until now.

After 4 weeks, I finally feel somewhat adjusted and like I have a rhythm down. The first few weeks of having a newborn are TOUGH. I felt like I did not know what to do at times and add in sleep deprivation, you really feel like a crazy person.

One of the many things I have learned in the past 4 weeks is how to give more. I know, giving is something anyone can do and is not all that unique to raising a child. However, I am a very independent person. My husband is too. A baby, though, needs your attention at ALL times. Sometimes the constant giving is overwhelming, but most of the time giving breeds connection. It allows me to bond with my child and cherish every tiny, precious moment I can.

On a lighter note, here are some other quick tid-bits I have observed the past 4 weeks…

  • Baby fake out sneezes are the BEST. I seriously want to capture it on video if I can, but I never know when he is going to sneeze and then give a fake out (him saying “ugh” after a real sneeze).
  • Babies can fart and burp SO LOUD. And sometimes I can’t help but laugh.
  • Breastfeeding is not all that easy. I didn’t really think it would be, but I rarely hear about women having a hard time with it so this caught me by surprise. Oh the flaws of social media! And some say breastfeeding is when the mom feels so connected or bonded with baby? Sorry, doesn’t do it for me. I bond with my baby through everything else though.
  • The whole sleep thing got better for me (or perhaps I just got used to it) after 4 weeks. Sleep deprivation is NO JOKE. I can totally understand how some women get plagued with postpartum depression or anxiety.
  • Spitting up is scary for the mom. I thought something was wrong with my baby when he started spitting up A TON. Now I see that most moms have babies that spit up. That made me feel better!
  • I love to smell and kiss my baby’s head… often!
  • Pants, hats, and jackets are silly in this newborn stage. I have a few that will not be worn most likely because with the spitting up issue, I usually change baby 3x per day. Onesies are the easiest to change so he pretty much lives in those.
  • Weight charts are stupid. I got scared that he wasn’t growing like he should because of the damn growth chart. But, he was happy, pooping, peeing, eating, etc. so shouldn’t that count for something?!? And I am happy to report we are gaining weight… I just have a small baby!
  • I was scared of a lot of things the first couple weeks… driving with baby (I didn’t personally drive with baby until week 4), SIDS (because let’s face it, warnings for SIDS are everywhere even though the percentage rate is pretty low), kidnapping (that damn viral FB post about kidnappings at Target and Wal-Mart), etc. I decided to give over my worries to God and focus on loving my baby as much as I can. All that is certain is the NOW. I have to remind myself of that regularly!
  • I am blessed beyond belief for my parents, especially my mom. Experiencing motherhood for the first time gives you an all new appreciation for your own mom.

If you have any children, what did you learn those first few weeks?

Hope everyone is doing well!

How the diet mentality relates to anxiety or depression

“There is always one true inner voice. Trust it.-

So I had a conversation with my older brother recently. We have a lot of deep talks- I love it! He has been struggling (as we all do at times) to find his path in life. Or purpose. Whatever you want to call it.

During our talk, I had an aha moment! The lightbulb was definitely flashing above my head.

Being a female and one very interested in health and wellness, I have experience with the diet mentality. When I was in high school I developed an interest in health and it kept growing in college. Only, some of my good intentions led to bad behaviors (stressing over weight gain, thinking I needed to be on ANOTHER diet, over exercising, etc.). I didn’t know any better back then. Instead of loving myself first AS IS, I focused on nursing the signs/symptoms of low self esteem instead of working through the actual issue at its core. Now that my self esteem has been healed, I no longer even feel the need or desire to diet or over exercise. I love my body as is and it is naturally in good health (granted, I am currently 38 weeks pregnant so I do have quite the belly on me, but I sure love it. And when I was in college I NEVER thought I would get to a place where I could ever be happy with a pregnant belly.) How cool is that?!

Fast forward to my brother and I’s convo… not having direction or being uncomfortable with where you are NOW can often lead to coming up with other signs and symptoms, nursing those, and forgetting about the real issue at hand. The signs and symptoms look much like anxiety and depression, among other mental issues. Focusing solely on fixing depression or anxiety can often lead to MORE anxiety and depression when the real problem is not being looked at. It is a downward spiral, much like the diet mentality.

With the help of THE best solution-focused therapist in DFW, Elliott Connie, we came up with a solution to the real problem of not listening to your inner wisdom. The solution for my brother is to travel more. It is that simple! To find a job where traveling and adventure is a natural part of the position. He is one that starts to feel uncomfortable when he is stagnant for too long. He has known deep inside that he would love to travel and work with different people on farms for awhile, but always seems to find reasons (aka excuses) not to move forward with this path. He denies his inner wisdom when he does this.

It is easy to get suckered into the societal rules of thinking you need to work a 9 to 5 regular Joe Schmo job, getting married, purchase a house with a picket fence, have 2 kids, etc. However, this lifestyle would cripple him! And that is OKAY… that is okay for anyone. The American dream gets to be individualized and is not cookie cutter, even though Facebook makes it look like it should be.

I loved seeing the excitement in my brother’s eyes as his inner wisdom took over and gave him the confidence he needed to move forward. What a beautiful gift our inner wisdom is! Don’t get suckered into the “shoulds”… they can create more problems than good.

Happy New Year!

new year

Happy New Year, friends! I hope 2016 brings you much joy and happiness.

I am looking forward to all this year brings. First up, in February, will be the birth of my baby boy. I love having him in my tummy and I am also really excited about meeting him in approximately 6 weeks. Even with all the happiness and excitement a baby brings, I am also reading or hearing about the baby blues that can often happen in the two weeks following the birth. Hoping I don’t experience this, but it is always good to be aware and arm yourself with tools to combat any stress, anxiety, or depression that may rear its ugly head. I found a podcast for new moms that discusses a lot of these issues- Newbies by New Mommy Media. I love finding new resources like these!

On another baby note, a gentleman came to our house last week to fix our heater. My husband told me that he and this man were having great conversation and asked about children. My husband mentioned we were expecting and the man said something along the lines of, “Being a dad will come naturally to you. You’ll know what to do.” I love that!

I love the thought of trusting in myself that I will know what to do. I will not parent perfectly and I will not expect to have a perfect child, but I sure will love that child unconditionally and show him what it means to love and be loved.

If you have any new mommy resources, please share! I am currently trying to find a list of things to pack for the hospital. I know 6 weeks is early to pack a bag, but I want to start soon so that if I need anything I do not have I can order it.

Cheers to 2016!

Not fearing the birthing process anymore!

birthing process

Update time… I am 31 weeks pregnant! Feels like I am in the home stretch and in 9 weeks or around there, my husband and I will meet our baby boy. For such a joyous time of year, I feel even more joyful housing an itty bitty soul. And I am proud to admit that I no longer fear the birthing process!

I have to admit that before I got pregnant, I had my assumptions…

  • I assumed I would not like being pregnant very much. WRONG! I have loved it. The good way outweighs the bad for me. I do credit much of my energy to working out throughout pregnancy and doing yoga. Keeping those endorphins high! And to the naysayers out there, I modify.
  • I assumed the birthing process was meant to be painful and I feared it VERY MUCH. Well, the jury is still out on the pain, but I have changed my mind. I am no longer afraid of giving birth. I credit my newfound knowledge to my birthing class, Birth Outside The Box. My hospital’s birthing classes were at odd times that did not work for my schedule so luckily found this online class. I did not intend to change my mind about having an epidural and trying the whole natural birth thing, but my plan A is to give birth naturally now. If I end up needing an epidural or having a C-section, well so be it, but those are my plan B’s and C’s. I want to feel myself push and work with the baby instead of being numb. And there are so many cool ways to stay relaxed while giving birth. It is the tension and anxiety that causes pain!
  • I assumed I would not like my body with a belly. I have never loved my belly more. Seriously! It is the coolest thing to watch it grow and now watch it wiggle with baby boy’s movement.
  • I assumed I would love my OB and that my insurance would work smoothly throughout the pregnancy process… you know, since pregnancy is nothing new to insurance companies. This is one I wish I was right on, but unfortunately learned my lesson. First things first, my OB is a great doctor but her practice bites. The wait times have been 45 minutes to an hour and half. Unless you are giving me diamonds, I don’t want to wait that long for a 10 minute check up. At 31 weeks, I am switching OB’s. Not only because of the hassle this place has been, but also because my insurance changes January 1st and she is no longer in network. Blessing in disguise? I think so. Praying that my new doc and practice is much better! And we won’t even get into the insurance process.. it makes me giggle how things work and rarely does it fully make sense.
  • I assumed strangers would treat me like any other stranger. Wow, people love pregnant women! I think I get more attention than a whore right now. Not going to lie, most of the time it is refreshing because of the nice words said but there have been a few times where I think…. did you really just say that?

I have a lot to get ready for in the next 9 weeks. I meet my new doctor on December 24th and I just visited my new hospital. I loved it! I got great vibes from that place. Looking forward to meeting baby soon, but for now will continue to enjoy every minute of holding him in my belly.

Hope everyone is joyful this holiday season!