Changing the Question

Laura Transformation

Motivation Monday: This picture was taken when Vaughn was about 7 months old so this is actually pretty accurate, it’s not like I’m 42 weeks pregnant in this picture…… you too can change the way you look and feel!!

My last post on fitness had the second most clicks of any post I’ve ever written.  Clearly this is a topic a lot of people are interested in and I say, give the people what they want!  I want to write about why I think DIETS don’t really work and how to make a lifestyle change that actually sticks.

Why diets don’t work well (at least for me).  A diet tells you what you CANNOT eat and what you need to give up and how to restrict yourself.  No gluten, no dairy, no sugar, no fill in the blank (I do think there is a place for this sometimes, but not really to lose weight).  It also tells you how many calories you need to cut out in order to lose weight.  At the end of the day on a diet you ask yourself “was I good or bad”?  You start to view food as on plan or off plan instead of just fuel.  You use words like CHEAT when you are on a diet.

A lifestyle change is more about goals.  When I started eating the PiYo Get Lean plan the focus for me was how can I eat ENOUGH vegetables and protein and hit all my marks for the day?  At the end of the day I ate a salad almost every night for the first couple months because I just couldn’t eat enough vegetables in a day without it.

When I would be on a diet if I were to “cheat” it would immediately derail my day.  It was like, well, I can’t be perfect today so I might as well enjoy myself and eat whatever I want.  Then I’ll get back on track tomorrow.  Then the next day I would do the same and I would get no where with losing weight because I felt like I had to start over every day.

I encourage you to change your question from “how good was I today?” to “how well did I respect myself today?”  For me, respecting myself fully is: eating things that FUEL me, exercising, drinking half my body weight in ounces of water, getting enough sleep, and limiting my sugar.  I just kind of use a general sense of how well I did.  If I ate more sugar than reasonable then I respect myself by doing another short work out or taking a walk with the family after dinner.  If I didn’t fuel my body well I respect myself by either drinking a protein shake for dinner or eating a ton of vegetables at dinner time/or after dinner snack.  Your respect scale might look completely different from mine and that’s the beautiful thing about health and fitness it’s so customizable for each person and we all have such different goals.  You are worth the effort and God gave you this INCREDIBLE body, so work to respect yourself!!!


Food and Fitness Thoughts


Today I weighed myself and I have officially hit 30 pounds lost since beginning my weight loss journey 5.5 months ago.  About 5 pounds ago I went into maintenance mode and began living a much more “normal” life with food and fitness, I figured I wouldn’t lose much more, but my body decided it could do without the extra 5 pounds so it came off slowly over the last couple months.  I wanted to write a post outlining some of the mind shifts I’ve had that have helped me lose the weight and keep it off.

You don’t have to go to the gym:  I have gone to the gym ONE time in 5.5 months and gone to ONE bootcamp and those were just for something fun to do with friends.  I have shed 30 pounds on my family room floor and around my neighborhood.  I don’t have time to go to the gym, but I do have time to workout every single day.  But I’ve had to really re-define what “working out” means.  If I have a booked solid day and the kids have had me up 5 times in the night I just squeeze in a quick 11 minute abs video.  If I have a lot of time I do a 30 minute DVD and then walk two miles with the girls.  Sometimes my kids are playing next to me when I work out and sometimes I get my bum out of bed before they get up and knock it out early, but I ALWAYS find time to work out.  6/7 days a week I just don’t let myself eat until I work out (Saturdays I make an exception sometimes and work out during nap), which is really good motivation for me to squeeze a morning workout in.  Instead of looking at it as I have to get X amount of time in everyday I tell myself I need to make strides to better my body daily.  It might be a 3 minute arms video squeezed in between activities, or a short abs video and then a stretch video before bed, but I make the time everyday because I find it to be that important for my body, mind, and mood.  And I am setting a fantastic example for my little girls.  Ellery pretend plays workouts now.

I eat when I’m hungry:  I know this sounds so basic, because it is basic.  But I used to eat when I was happy, sad, bored, tired, to reward myself, when I saw food, when there were sweets in the room, you name it and I found a reason to eat.  I do eat sweets now  (and maybe this is bad advice), but usually I only eat them if I’m hungry (kind of in place of snacks).  It feels GOOD to be hungry, and I no longer eat to the point of uncomfortable fullness.  I used to gain 5 pounds from my morning weigh in to the time I went to bed, and usually I’m more like a .5 pound difference now.

A meal can be a half sandwich.  Lunch used to be a full sandwich and a cheese stick and veggies and hummus.  Now some days it’s one piece of bread, 4 slices of turkey, a half piece of cheese and some mustard.  And this fills me up for a few hours and THEN I eat the veggies and hummus.  A snack can be 4 cashews.  I used to eat a HANDFUL of cashews.  The PiYo serving is 4, and guess what, 4 cashews can get me from 3PM until dinner at 5:30.  Some of you might be thinking: so basically you are starving yourself, NOPE, I have started eating the amount our bodies were designed to eat instead of the amount our culture has conditioned us to eat.

Food is fuel: The purpose of food is to fuel your body, give you energy and give your immune system what it needs to fight off illness.  When I am eating right and working out I feel amazing, my mood is happy, I can get an incredible amount of work done, my brain fires on all cylinders and despite my children coughing and sneezing IN MY MOUTH I have been able to dodge the illness bullet.  Then I let sugar creep into my diet again and today I am suffering from either illness or allergies, but I’ll say the sugar is not worth how I feel.

You can get excited about healthy food:  We still eat out, but instead of getting really excited about my favorite restaurants Club Sandwich and mound of fries, I now get pumped up to have their spinach and kale salad (if you know me personally you have heard about this salad, it’s so stinking delicious).  Tomorrow night we are double dating and the restaurant we are going to has a fig and pear salad that I’ve been obsessing about since the last time we went.  This shift has really helped me not grossly overindulge when we eat out.

The scale is not my enemy: I’ve heard so many people say they don’t weigh themselves because they don’t think that it’s healthy.  They tell me that as long as they still fit into their pants they are fine.  And if you are literally just fitting into the pants you have in your closet that’s great, but if you go to the store and buy new pants it’s not so great, because VANITY SIZING.  One of the contributors to my weight gain was Ann Taylor LOFT (kinda kidding, kinda not), they kept making their sizes bigger and bigger and so I would go and buy a size 8 which is really a 12 and I would think wow look at me I still wear a size 8.  My goal size was a normal size 6, I went to the mall stores: GAP, Banana Republic, & LOFT and I am literally wearing a size 2 now.  I AM NOT a size 2, they have just begun labeling a size 6 a 2 and making 00 and even 000 pants now.  So that brings me to my scale point: I weigh myself every morning and I have a “tipping point number.”  If I get close to that tipping point I have to think to myself, ok what have I started eating that I know I shouldn’t and what can I do differently this week to stay under that number.  I don’t feel obsessive about it, it’s just part of my morning routine.  {If you become obsessive about your weight then everyday weighing is probably not for you, maybe just on the first of the month every month}.  It is SO much easier to lose 3 pounds then it is to step on the scale once every 6 months and realize you need to lose 20.

So I encourage you to work towards health and fitness.  Whatever that looks like for you.  Maybe that’s cutting your food off an hour or two before bed.  Maybe it’s starting to do short youtube video workouts first thing in the morning.  Maybe it’s limiting your sugar.  I can’t tell you what would make you feel better, but I can tell you that it’s worth the effort to feel great.

I get the question a lot about what shake I drink everyday for breakfast and I just changed to Vega One Chocolate and I really like it, so I thought I’d share.  (For the record I still like Shakeology the best, but it just doesn’t fit into our monthly budget, if $130 a month is not a stretch for you then by all means buy the Shakeology!)

The Special Sauce

I believe Beachbody has figured out the missing piece to the fitness puzzle.  The thing you can’t get by just doing workouts at home, just running, or even just going to the gym.  I’ve seen coaches refer to this element as the “special sauce,”  That leads me to my weight loss tip #4: GET SOME ACCOUNTABILITY.  For me that was getting a coach when I purchased my PiYo challenge pack.  I got into a group that held me accountable every single day for the first 60 days.  I would get up in the morning and think, ugh I don’t want to work out, and then I would think, all the other ladies are getting up and working out I should too.

Every Saturday I posted a sweaty selfie after my workout.  Sunday I had to turn in my meal plan.  Then every Monday morning I had to send my coach my weight.  Weighing on Monday morning is GENIUS, it really motivated me to not blow my diet on the weekends.  We had fitness challenges that were fun and very challenging, like a weekend of two a days or 15 squats every time we went to the bathroom for a day.  Also had a water challenge day where we tracked how much we could drink in a day.  It really got me engaged in thinking about working out and eating well every single day.  I took a month off from a group which was good to show me in what ways I needed to have more accountability and then jumped back into a group the Monday after Thanksgiving that takes us right up to Christmas.  It looks like I’ll be flying solo come January, but I actually feel prepared to do so, I feel like the diet I began has turned into a lifestyle and I can do this.  The awesome thing is now that I’m in this Beachbody “system” I know I always have a way back on track if I ever lose my way.

Not only did it give me accountability, it also gave me a place to celebrate my victories.  When you first start out (or really anytime) you don’t want to go around “bragging” about your success, but as you lose weight you want to share it and want to celebrate all the “small victories.”  It gave me a space to post pictures when I got into my goal pants and then when I got way too small to wear my goal pants.  It gave me a group of girls that said “WHOO HOOO WAY TO GO” when I hit goals.  It made health and fitness fun.  It also gave me the courage to share all of this with you.  I cannot recommend getting an accountability partner or group enough, do it, you will not regret making this commitment!  Let me know if you want me to put you in touch with a coach (I am not a coach, nor do I plan to become one), I really believe in this program and want my friend’s who are looking for a change to adopt a new lifestyle in the new year!

Accountability 2



This MAY be the most important weight loss “secret” I can share.  Get your nutrition in line.  I follow the PiYo get lean plan which I like because it’s very much doable in real life, with eating out, and eating at people’s homes.  The basic premise of the diet is you get a certain amount of each food group based on your weight.  I believe when I started I got 2 carbs, 2 fruits, 4 proteins, 5 vegetables, and 4 fats.  I was able to continue eating much of what I was eating before, but the portions have changed DRASTICALLY.

1 fat serving = 4 cashews…. FOUR CASHEWS.  I was eating like a handful every time.  Another fat serving is a tablespoon of cheese, let’s just say I was eating more than that.  A fat serving of peanut butter is 1.5 teaspoons.  We were eating large spoonfuls of peanut butter without giving it a thought.  I really had to increase my vegetables to get 5 per day which is why I eat a lot of salads.  My greatest find for this weight loss journey has been Bolthouse Dressings.  We really like ranch, spicy ranch, Caesar and honey mustard.  We also really like the balsamic vinaigrette.  The taste is great, and the amount you can have for a small amount of calories is amazing!  I am not saying this meal plan is the end all, be all, but for me it has been the lifestyle change I really needed.  I feel like I could successfully eat this way forever.  It was basically training myself to eat the correct portions and correct amounts of each food group.

One rule I came up with for myself is the 3 bite rule.  If I go someplace that has desserts I allow myself 3 bites.  This way I don’t feel deprived, but I don’t over do it.  There have obviously been some days where I have let myself have more than 3 bites, but if it’s not a special holiday or event I try to adhere to this 3 bite rule.  One thing I tell myself is either I can be the garbage can or the bin can.  We live in a country that glorifies “finishing everything,” but honestly we don’t NEED that brownie or cupcake, or whatever junk we eat, so once I’ve eaten a few bites I just don’t feel bad tossing it.

One thing Autumn Calabrese (21 day fix creator) said that really put nutrition into perspective was something to the effect of, you can’t work off in a week one really bad meal.  Even working out 7 days a week I still couldn’t burn enough calories to work off one terrible meal (think over 1000 calories).  This has just been a really good mind shift for me, I don’t want to put in all the exercise work to blow it on a crazy cheat meal (I do take at least one cheat meal per week, but I cheat within reason, like a slice or two of pizza, or most of the time it’s honestly a juicy burger and some fries).

salad 2

Never Skip a Day

Weight Loss Secret #2.  Work out 7 days a week.  I RARELY miss a day.  I would say never, but occasionally I do have to skip.  The last time I remember skipping was when we were on our road trip and we got home late and had driven all day.  The first travel day I got up and worked out before we got in the car to leave, but I just didn’t have it in me to push play when I got home the next day.

I do PiYo which is a combination of pilates and yoga and I can’t tell you how much I LOVE it.  My favorite type of workout I have ever done.  One of the nice features of PiYo is it has varying length work outs.  Most are 25-35 minutes, but there is also a longer 45 minute one and a short upper body workout that lasts 18 minutes.  I like this because it takes away all my excuses.  I get up every morning and workout “before the girls get up.”  Usually my girls sleep until around 8 (I know, luckiest mom alive), so I get up at 6:30 workout, make my shake and get ready before they awake.  This week, however, they have been getting up before 7:00 which either means I have to workout with them or skip it.  I have been TEMPTED to just take a rest day, but instead I do one of the short 18-20 minute workouts and I have never regretted pushing myself to workout.  Sometimes I have two little ladies crawling on me while in down dog, but hey extra resistance right?  Ellery has started doing some of the parts with me and I’m reminded that I’m setting the example of health and fitness for this little one, I want her to want to work out and eat right as she grows up.

The calendar for the program accounts for a rest day, but I found that if I took a rest day I basically wasted two days.  I would take the rest day one day and then another day that week I would do the 18 minute video because I was crunched on time or just not feeling it and basically that was wasting two days of pushing myself hard.  Now I consider the short workout my “rest day.”  I still strengthened and stretched without really pushing myself too hard, so essentially I rested.

When I say every day that isn’t every day that it’s convenient, that’s every day like it or not.  I took my DVD’s on our trip to Illinois and worked out every morning even on the morning after I slept a total of 3 hours (after being up with a very sick 3 year old).  I got up Thanksgiving morning and did one of the longer DVD’s in anticipation of eating crummy that day.  It is doable, I’m working THREE jobs and staying home full time with my little girls.  I have never been into fitness or healthy eating, but as I turned 30 I realized it was time to prioritize myself and a healthy lifestyle.  I feel great, have tons of energy and I’m able to work 3 jobs and take care of my girls because I start my day with exercise which is the boost I need.

Vaughn joined me pretty much everyday this week and here we are post workout 🙂IMG_4065

Shake It Off

Here is my first weight loss “secret.”  I replace one meal with a protein shake every single day.  When I first started this journey I used the Vegan Chocolate Shakeology and IF YOU CAN AFFORD IT I highly recommend using Shakeology.  I don’t think it’s ok to bust your budget in order to purchase this and that is why I had to switch to another protein shake.  We have a very tight grocery budget and we don’t eat out a whole lot.  For us it wasn’t like I could replace my $4 a day fast food meal with a $4 a day shake, for some people I think you would actually save money by drinking Shakeology, but for us that was not at all the case.  The biggest benefit I saw with Shakeology over my other shake is it zapped my sweet craving.  It also has an amazing taste and texture- it actually felt like drinking dessert.  I would HOPE that it also has more health benefits to justify the price, and it pays for your coach so I understand that it would be more expensive than just a plain protein powder, we just simply don’t have room in our budget for it right now.

I switched to Raw Meal Vegan Chocolate which is grittier and not nearly as sweet, but it’s about $100 less per month so I deal with the grit and add a packet of stevia which Shakeology has in it anyway.  I am not saying this is the exact same as Shakeology, but we had to work with what our budget is currently and this saved us $100 a month.  I add PB2 and usually 1/2 of a frozen banana.  I’ve also tried making a Thin Mint and Snicker shake and they are both good too. I put a handful of spinach in whenever I have it and can’t tell it’s in there at all.  I love how easy a daily shake is, I can drink it while I get ready or drive Ellery to school.  I always started my day with carbs (an english muffin to be exact), and now I start it on a healthy note which I feel like sets the tone for my day.

I think there is a stigma that if you use shakes you are “cheating,” but honestly the healthy people I know drink a protein shake everyday even when they are not trying to lose weight.  There are tons of benefits to drinking a HEALTHY meal replacement.  This is not slim fast or some other fake filled junk drink, this is packed with healthy stuff, probiotics, vegetables, etc. Do your research, figure out what is right for you and SHAKE that weight off!!  If you need a Christmas gift idea for yourself, get a magic bullet, it’s so easy to clean compared to a big blender! (we just bought a back up at Target for $30 for when ours dies, it’s 7.5 years old so I can see it getting sluggish).

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I’ve Lost a Vaughn, Well Technically THREE!!!!!

No, I haven’t lost Vaughn three times, but I have lost more than 60 pounds this year, and it really hit me when we went to the doctor for Vaughn’s 12 month check up and she weighed 20 pounds that since her birth I have lost 3 of her.  When I carry her around the house I think MY GOODNESS you have gotten heavy, but I used to carry around 3 times that weight everyday, no wonder I was tired!  The first 20 I birthed, so really that was just two really hard days, the second 20 came off with nursing and eating what I regularly did, and the third 20 (or more accurately 23) came off with hard work!

The last 20 is what I’m going to write about over the next week or so.  You’ve probably seen people all over the internet praising Beachbody and all their programs and Shakeology, and now I am adding my name to the list of one of those people who has been transformed through it’s programs.  I AM NOT a coach, nor am I becoming one, I just have seen AMAZING results with PiYo and Shakeology and I wanted to share them with you.  Over the coming week (or month, knowing my full schedule) I am going to share with you some of my “secrets” for how I melted 23 pounds off in 3 months.

The ONE drawback of a healthy self-esteem is you have no idea what you REALLY look like.  Day one of my challenge group we took our before photos and I kinda freaked out.  I was so used to looking at myself in clothes that slimmed me down and disguised all my “problem” areas, that I hadn’t seen how unhealthy I had let myself become over the past 6 years.  And yes, you read that right, I had been the same weight for the past 6+ years.  This wasn’t a case of “losing the baby weight” it was a case of losing the complacency weight and my impending milestone birthday gave me the kick in the rear I desperately needed.

I had been thinking about doing a PiYo challenge group since Vaughn was born, but life got in the way and I just didn’t have the energy to pull the trigger.  Then I signed up for a group and we sold our house the same week so I decided it best to defer the group until September 1st.  Ellery started school the week before which forced our whole house to get on a schedule and it was the perfect time because I was in the process of restocking our pantry after the move, so anything that wasn’t on the meal plan wasn’t purchased (we lived here almost 6 weeks before I even bought sugar).

SO if you have people in your life who are asking what you want for Christmas I would highly recommend asking for a Beachbody program (it’s about a $160 investment).  I personally would get PiYo and Vegan Chocolate Shakeology, but I’ve heard great things about other programs too.  I will do my best over the next week to share my “secrets to success” in case this is a journey you are looking to embark on.  If you have any questions feel free to e-mail me at and I will answer them or get you in contact with my coach!

And here I am about to share some of the most vulnerable pictures of my life.  I have felt like maybe these are super inappropriate for the internet, and then I realized I’m more covered than a bikini.  It was these types of pictures that inspired be to get started, and I hope I can do the same for someone else!

Laura Back before and afters Laura Before and After 2 Laura Front Before and Afters Laura Before and After 1


Best Banana Bread

Have you ever stumbled upon a recipe and you just know you will always make it that way forever? That’s what this recipe is for me. In college I got this recipe from a roommate’s cookbook and have made banana bread this way ever since. Wish I could give credit to the maker, but I have no idea what cookbook it was. There are a couple things that make this a beautiful recipe: it’s easy and you probably have everything on hand. Did you know that you can freeze bananas and they are perfect for smoothies and bread? I discovered this after years of only making bread when I had three super ripe bananas (which almost never happens).

1/4 cup butter
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 cup ripe bananas (about 3)
2 large eggs
1/3 cup low fat yogurt, sour cream, or buttermilk
1t vanilla extract
2 cups all purpose flour
1 t baking soda
1/2 t salt

Preheat oven to 350 and spray an 8×4 loaf pan

Beat butter and sugar. Add banana, eggs, “yogurt,” & vanilla. Blend well, bananas may have lumps. Add flour, baking soda and salt with a spatula. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake on middle rack for about 1 hour.

My favorite way to eat this is heated or toasted with a little bit of peanut butter, so delicious!!


Eggplant Parmesan

So this is not my creation. My friend Shanyn made this for Andrew and me once when we were babysitting her little boy and now I can’t make it enough. It is for sure my favorite vegetarian meal and it is my go to meal to make for my vegetarian friends. I have been asked several times for the recipe so here it is with step by step picture instructions.

You will need:
1 Eggplant
2 eggs beaten
1 bag shredded mozzarella (2 cups)
Italian seasoned bread crumbs (approx. 1.5 cups)
Shredded Parmesan cheese (a few shakes)
1 jar of tomato basil spaghetti sauce















Part Time Vegetarian

So I know there is really no such thing as a part time vegetarian, but if there was that would be the category Andrew and I would fall into. A while back I decided we would try Bob Harpers skinny rules. Then with the craziness of moving, nursing, etc, I stopped doing them. One of his suggestions is to eat vegetarian one day per week. I found that I didn’t really miss meat and when Andrew was on a trip I realized I didn’t cook meat for myself, so I made a decision. When I cook at home for us we don’t eat meat. When we eat out I try to order vegetarian and when we cook for people so far we’ve just made vegetarian meals, but I’m completely not opposed to cooking meat. Anytime we eat at someone’s house we eat meat. We decided since we don’t have a moral dilemma about meat and we don’t have medical dietary restrictions we would not be picky about what we eat when we eat with others. I also sometimes just really want meat when we go to a restaurant and I eat it without guilt. I made this decision to eat vegetarian part time for a few reasons.

-I have high cholesterol and I do not want to be put on medication
-We didn’t eat a lot of vegetables before so this is a great way to force us to eat more veggies
– I would ‘t mind losing weight and vegetables are less calories than meat
-I am finding that eating vegetarian is cheaper than eating meat
-I find that I feel better when I don’t eat meat

I looked through Pinterest to share some of my favorite things, but the links that I pinned don’t work so to give you some ideas I’ll list what we eat and then maybe someday I’ll put som of the recipes on here so you can enjoy them.

-Eggplant Parmesan is my absolute favorite, I could eat it every week or every day. My friend gave me a tasty simple recipe I’ll have to share soon.
– Black bean, quinoa, & corn stuffed peppers, yummy!
– Veggie Kabobs and wild rice
– Black bean tacos
-Mac n cheese and veggies
-White bean “meatballs” and spaghetti

Still trying to figure out a good veggie enchilada recipe, mine always turn out terrible! I welcome any vegetarian meal ideas, we are sorta new at this and I don’t have tons of recipes, links would be appreciated if possible.