Today officially marks my one-year anniversary using Advocare products. It all started with the 24-day challenge, until I began using the Performance Elite line during my marathon training. I can honestly say I don't know where I'd be today without Advocare.

I'm going out on a limb here and sharing a before and after pic-- the first was taken the day before the challenge last year, and the second was taken this past Friday. A lot can happen in a year! What a difference 20 pounds and 20" makes! I cannot wait to see what change the next year will bring.
What's next? I've decided to tackle something that I've avoided for years -- abs and arms! I am exploring a few different exercise plans to help tone up those areas between marathons. This plan is the first I'm going to attempt. Who wants to join me?



One of the things I've struggled with a lot over the years is comparison. Boy, howdy, is it tough sometimes. In the world of social media, it's hard not to find yourself doing the comparison dance as you're looking into the windows of other people's lives. Heck, I'll be honest. Seeing beautifully decorated, full Christmas trees on Instagram, when our own forest-harvested tree looked a little funny once we got it home, kind of made me a little sad at first. Then, I turned the bare spot to the back, hung a big green ornament where the lushness was lacking, and let my son and husband go to town with the decorating. It was painful to watch at first, but I used what I like to call my inside voice (aka inside my head) to sing Let It Go as the fear of carnage and OCD crept in. When it was all said and done, I somehow managed to only demand they rearrange ornaments twice, when there were too many similar ones placed near each other. And, just like the Grinch, my heart too grew three sizes that day.

Last year, we sold our home. Going from homeowner to renter was a lot harder than I thought it'd be. The perfectionist in me wants to make all the quick and easy fixes, while the landlord doesn't see the benefit. The inner monologue goes something like this: "Why would he? It's a rental. But it could be so nice!" I have chosen to make a home out of the imperfection of our 1970s rental with the wallpapered bathrooms and yellow dishwasher. My husband saw absolutely zero potential when we first looked at the place, but nearly 18 months later, even he has grown to love it. Location, location, location with a yard AND a garage? There would be plenty of people ecstatic to have what we do! I remind myself of this daily as I feel that pang of jealousy sneak in. Now, I choose to live vicariously through friends who are going through a different chapter of their lives and force feed them Pinterest links to amazing home decor. (Building a new home or redecorating? I'll totally help you spend your money if you let me!)

There comes a time when you have to let go of the idea of perfection. Life will never be perfect. You never know what goes on behind closed doors or what chapter of someone's life you're trying to compare yours to. Another blogger has coined the saying, "It doesn't have to be perfect to be beautiful." Once I heard that, I couldn't help but chide myself for getting worked up over silly little things. So, do yourself a favor this holiday as you feel your heart leaning toward sadness for what you don't have. Bring your mind back to what makes you happy. We all need a reminder of our blessings every once in a while, and there's always something to be thankful for.

This holiday season, I'm thankful for our tree-harvesting tradition of twelve years, for time with my husband and son, and for phone calls with family and friends who warm my heart. I'm thankful for my health and for strong legs that carry me through the runs that keep me sane. I'm thankful for the change the past eighteen months has brought us, despite the stress, because it has helped me appreciate what and who matter most. 

From my home to yours, quirky tree and all, I wish you a joy-filled holiday season.



Yesterday, my friend, Lauren, did a Treat Yourself Tuesday blog post, and it got me thinking. I recently saw this image on Pinterest and was suddenly stricken with how my priorities have changed over the past year.

Last year, these words couldn't have rang truer. We had been going through some stressful times as a family, and honestly, the only thing I had control over in my life was food. And, damn it! I wanted queso! (Seriously. I've been known to lick the queso bowl at a restaurant, and there's photographic evidence.) Despite how horrible my body felt every time I reached for the cheese, I just kept shoveling it in. When I came up for air, I would be filled with regret and rush to Zumba. When I put on the dress I was going to wear to my company holiday party the night before I started my first 24-day challenge, I felt like a stuffed sausage. I think I tried on every dressy garment I owned while my husband stared in disbelief as I cried. (There may have been a similar incident with ski pants before cutting our Christmas tree that prompted me to finally break down and order the challenge to begin with.) One of the hardest things about change is deciding you're ready for it. And, at that moment, I knew that I couldn't keep on keeping on, or things would just get worse. The next morning, I was all in and was determined to turn things around. This past Sunday, I put on those dreaded ski pants from last year, and my husband commented on how they look huge on me. And now, as I prep for that company holiday party, I'm actually looking forward to getting all dolled up instead of dreading it. 

When I think about "treating myself", I think in much different terms than I did a little over a year ago. I'm treating myself to a better life. I treat myself with another 24-day challenge every 90 days. I'm treating myself to another marathon entry or three (although I may not think it's a treat when the time comes to actually run them). I'm treating myself to being a happier person for my husband, son and myself. I'm treating myself to better sleep. Now, let's be honest... I'm not immune to wanting to treat myself with "things" either. I got a manicure and pedicure on Sunday, which is a rarity for me these days, but with all the running, my dogs were looking rough! It was an anniversary present to myself for sticking with my long-term goals and keeping 20 pounds off! I also decided to treat myself by signing up for some running classes at a different gym than I have a membership to (and by refusing to feel guilty about spending the extra money). And, now that I have what my husband likes to call "saggy bottom jeans", I think I may just treat myself to a couple new pair.

So... how do you plan to treat yo' self? I dare you to go after something you've been putting off. I promise you won't regret it. Take that leap.