BetterU Challenge – Mommy Guilt


The BetterU Challenge is an American Heart Association sponsored event where twelve women, including myself, undergo a total lifestyle transformation with the assistance of coaches and trainers.  We’re in Week 9 . . .

I’ve always been a fairly self-centered individual…until I had my first child.  Then it became not so much about me, but about her.  Then there came child number two, and suddenly, I became lost in the shuffle.

Throughout these last two months, I have struggled with my obligation to my children vs. my obligation to the challenge.  I already have mommy guilt supreme since I’m currently working two jobs.  As a general rule, I try to save my writing until after the kids have gone to bed, but I’m still gone the majority of the day.

Last week on my way out the door to go to the gym, my youngest grabbed at me and said “I don’t’ want you to go exercise”.  Now, keep in mind – she’s a pretty cute kid.  She has a big round face and naturally curly blond hair.  Throw in those big blue eyes of hers and it’s nearly impossible to say no to her.  In fact, I almost didn’t.  I was just about to throw my gym bag on the floor and stay home when it hit me.  The best thing I could do in that moment was leave.

As mothers we believe in doing whatever we can for our kids.  We sacrifice our alone time, our husband time, and whatever else we need to better their lives.  Because I’ve not taken the necessary time to work on myself over these last few years, I’ve potentially sacrificed the very thing both my kids and myself regard as being most important—time.  By not working out, by not eating healthy, I’ve potentially taken years off my life.  In the short term, by sacrificing that ‘me’ time, I’ve given my children a fraction of the mom I could be.  I don’t have energy, I’m tired all the time, I’m stressed out, and I spend more time covering myself up at the beach then enjoying time in the water with them.

That’s not quality time.

So, I gave my child a kiss and told her I would be home in a couple hours.  I don’t go to the gym every night, just a couple nights a week.  But since going to the gym, I’ve regained bone-density, I’m less fatigued, and far less stressed out than I was.  I try to work out at home when I can, but I still benefit from the sessions spent with the trainer so I’m willing to give up a few hours with my kids.  By doing this, I’m showing both my daughters that it’s okay to make yourself a priority sometimes.  And hopefully they grow up knowing that personal health is hugely important.  And hopefully they’ll understand that my short term sacrifice will benefit our entire family in the long run.

And on a sidenote – Lots of inches lost, a few pounds shed, five pounds of muscle mass and some good ol’ bone density gained

BetterU Challenge – End of Month 1


BetterU Challenge – end of month one

**The BetterU Challenge is an American Heart Association sponsored program where 12 women undergo lifestyle transformations with the assistance of professionals in the areas of wellness, diet, and exercise.

When I first walked into the gym, I thought – whoa.

Body Evolution is not the type of gym I was used to seeing.  I’m no expert, but I have had a fair amount of experience with gym memberships.  Sometimes I even used them.  Walking into this gym, I was taken aback by the lack of typical gym equipment.  You know the ones – large monuments of metal so complicated to use that you have to hang back and watch two or three people use it first before you have the courage to try it for yourself.  But, this gym was different.  There was only one monument and nothing else but bars, bands, straps, and balls.  It was all very “fifty shades” of fitness.

What became readily apparent was that those monuments at the other gyms had made it possible for me to cheat.  I was anonymous at the big box gym, and now I was just one of a few women without any equipment to hide behind.  Now, things like form and actually doing the entire exercise became important (no stopping half way through a rep!).

 Of course with good form comes…not-so-good pain.  I felt muscles I’d never known existed before, let alone know they could hurt.  I found it difficult to get up once I was sitting down, and difficult getting down once I was up.  Instead of sliding into my chair at work, I more or less fell into it.  Needless to say, even a simple trip to the restroom presented quite the challenge.

 It’s been a few weeks now and the exercise has gotten easier.  I don’t hurt quite as much, and I’m starting to get used to the smell of my post-workout self.  And what I find most comforting is that since most of us started together- we’re all in the same boat.  There are a few that exceed my own abilities…I simply don’t stand next to them unless I have too.  But various degrees of capability aside, we all support each other in a way that only women who’ve seen each other at our ugliest – wearing spandex and no make up, can.

Oh, and I’ve lost a couple pounds.  Yay me!

Better U Challenge – T-1 Week (Week before official kick off)


This week was the last week before the official BetterU Go Red for Women Challenge kick-off.  Let me remind you that this a 12 week challenge sponsored by the American Heart Association in which they take 12 lucky, yet incredibly unhealthy women and  help turn around their lifestyles with assistance from wellness coaches, as well as personal trainers.


It all started with some blood work.  Imagine, throughout my 29 (cough, cough) years, I have yet to have my cholesterol tested.  I honestly thought that the lab would find about a 50/50 ratio of red blood cells to Big Macs, but to my surprise – it was perfect!  Great ldl, hdl, triglycerides, blood sugar – I aced that test.  Now at this point, I was feeling pretty good about myself.  And then the measurements came …

We were then introduced to our personal trainer.  I thought perhaps she was about twenty-five, fresh out of school, and must live at the gym.  I was wrong – she was nearly 40, and a busy mother of two kids. But she did work at a gym – a gym where there’s no equipment, just a lot of go-getters with exercise bands.  For some reason I find myself inherently more worried about exercising without large monuments of equipment than with them.  I’m guessing it may have something to do with the ability to cheat on large equipment that just isn’t there if its only you and a couple of mats.

Then the group was weighed and measured – much like cattle.  They were discreet, though.  Amusing how there’s always such an effort to keep these numbers secret when, let’s face it – I’m obviously a little overweight, and chances are people already know the number on the scale is higher than it should be.  One of my arms measures over an inch larger than the other one – which as someone at work pointed out, means I really do have a good side side.  They measured my chest (I neglected to inform them that the measurement up top was padded to about 2 inches greater than normal), my stomach and my hips.  I’m really not a pear, or an apple shape, just kind of watermelon-y at this point-but a smaller watermelon, not one of those huge ones you get in summer.  Even though my blood pressure and labs were great, my weight and measurements put me at a physiological age of 50.  50 is a bit older than my actual age, and even more older than the age I keep telling people I am.

We were told to keep a food diary – which I’ve already been doing.  That was especially helpful during the Superbowl when I learned that Weight-Watchers can actually track triple digit points values for a 24 hour period (jk).  I did use all my extra points for the week, but don’t worry, that didn’t stop me from over-eating at any point.  Fortunately, the BetterU people did provide me with a great chart so I can visualize which foods are bad (they’re in the red category), and which are good (they’re green).  Unfortunately, glazed donuts fell into the red category (shocker).   Red-wine was good, but only if you drink in moderation.  Apparently, you’re supposed to get more than 2.5 servings out of one bottle (bigger shocker).

What I love to drink vs. what I have no intention of drinking willingly

What I love to drink vs. what I have no intention of drinking willingly

How anyone starts a lifestyle change . . . homemade big ass cookies

How anyone starts a lifestyle change . . . homemade big ass cookies

BetterU Challenge – 12 Week Intervention (T-14 weeks)


Days 1-2 (Technically, still pre-days.  I’m trying to lose ten pounds before weigh in!)

The BetterU Challenge is a great opportunity the American Heart Association provides for women to start their journey to better health.

When I received the application via email, I said to myself, “Self- what do you have to lose?”  The answer—about thirty pounds.  So, I filled out the application.  After all, things have been a bit slow to get back to normal after the second baby.  Let me clarify—the ‘baby’ is now almost three.  Prior to ‘baby’, I ran 5k’s, had a normal BMI, and was probably the healthiest I’d ever been.

And then my coworker cursed me.  He told me that once I lost all the weight and started feeling good about myself, that I’d end up pregnant again.  And he was right.  I gained well over fifty pounds, and to my surprise, the baby didn’t weigh nearly that much.  After the baby,  I entertained the idea of losing the weight.  I joined the gym, signed up for Weight Watchers, bought some Fiber One bars.  It didn’t really work out that great.  Rather, I didn’t really work out.

So, nearly three years later, I filled out the application, not thinking much would come of it.  After all, I’m not really obese, just ‘fleshy’.  Imagine my surprise when I received the notice that the American Heart Association believed me to be unhealthy enough to necessitate intervention.  The next 12 weeks will be spent learning to be healthier with the assistance of diet and exercise coaching, culminating in a big reveal at the ballroom at Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana.

So, Monday 1/20/2014, I thought I’d get a jump on the whole thing.  My older exercise clothes were a bit snug, so I purchased a new ensemble for the occasion.  It may have looked more flattering on the hanger.  This inspired the question, “Should I wear Spanx with my exercise clothes?”  It’d go a long way to iron out all those lumps and bumps.  My pants made my legs look like two sausages in black, shiny casing, with my bottom resembling two pork roasts covered in Lycra.  The whole thing left a lot to be desired, but I applied my new coral lipstick and went onto rediscover my treadmill.

Jazzy Dance Moves

Jazzy dance moves in the new exercise clothes


The treadmill in the basement/jungle gym for kids


A mix of exercise, eating, and writing (I think they might all be connected!)

Monday 1/20 – Thirty minutes of walking twice in one day.  Severe overage on my Weight Watchers Points.  There was this red velvet cupcake, and the wine, and then the frozen pizza for dinner . . . Will try harder tomorrow – made healthy soup.  Sales fell on book (insert pouty face).

I made these . . . and then ate them.

I made these . . . and then ate them.

Tuesday 1/21— Ate healthy soup.  No comment.   Walked during lunch at work.  Received bad review, plus an addendum to a previous bad review (what’s up with that?).  Then ate two Valentine’s Day cakes.

Turkey sausage, northern beans, and a lot of vegetables.  Needs . . . bacon.

Turkey sausage, northern beans, and a lot of vegetables. Needs . . . bacon.