Shaun T's New Workout Is HERE! Insanity Max 30 Details!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Shaun T's New Workout Is HERE! Insanity Max 30 Details!
GAH! It's here!! Shaun T's new workout, Insanity Max 30 has officially launched and guess who is signed up and ready to kick things off starting January 5th!! And guess who is going to be my early morning workout buddy but didn't know what he got signed up for?!?!

Insanity Max 30 Program Details!
Shaun T’s new workout, Insanity Max 30, has been one of the biggest releases yet and I KNOW is going to sell out fast!

Get this, each workout is ONLY 30 minutes long but is going to give you the workout of your life. The goal isn't to get through the whole 30 minutes either. The goal is to go as hard as you possibly can and "max out". It's a 60 day program, where you workout 5 days a week. It has 150 new cardio and strength moves that are, well, for lack of better words, insane.


Insanity Max 30: What is "Maxing Out"?
Basically, maxing out is the point that you just can't do any more OR the point at which you can do any more without losing proper form. So even if you might be able to struggle through but you are getting sloppy and can't hold form? Yup, you've maxed out. The idea is that you keep track of the time when you "max out" in each workout and then when you come back to do that workout again, the goal is to just beat your previous max out time. That's probably the thing I love the most about Insanity Max 30, it's like a competition with yourself!

Insanity Max 30 
Insanity Max 30: Am I Ready?!?!
Here's my second favorite thing about the program. It's a seriously challenging program but you can start it no matter where you are in your fitness level. I am still only a few months out of finishing treatment and I know I can do this program. There is a modifier the ENTIRE TIME and you get a serious workout even if you have to modify the entire time until you max out. So this is the perfect program for people who are just starting out, for people looking for a total transformation or for people who have already graduated from some of the extreme programs!
Insanity Max 30

Insanity Max 30 Program Includes...
Here's what you get with the program....
  • 12 different workouts on 10 DVDs
  • Nutrition Guide
  • Max Out Guide
  • Max Out Calendar
  • No Time to Cook Guide
  • PLUS 2 FREE bonus workouts, Pulse and Ab Attack:10
And you know why it doesn't include any equipment? Because you don't need any!

Insanity Max 30

Insanity Max 30 Workout Descriptions
Here's a little insider info on the description of each workout!

  • CARDIO CHALLENGE: 30 minutes of an insane cardio sequences. Welcome to Insanity Max 30 people. 
  • TABATA POWER: Strength training with traditional Tabata-style "20 seconds on, 10 seconds off" structure.
  • SWEAT INTERVALS: Just in case the cardio workout wasn't hard enough, great ready for sweat intervals.
  • TABATA STRENGTH: NO REST, Tabata-style strength workout. That's right…30 minutes, no rest. Eek.
  • FRIDAY FIGHT: ROUND 1: This is a battle between mind and body!
  • MAX OUT: CARDIO: Even more cardio in Month 2!
  • MAX OUT POWER: The intervals are longer in this "45 seconds on, 15 seconds off" Tabata-style workout!
  • MAX OUT SWEAT:  The more minutes, the more sweat and the more calories burned.
  • MAX OUT STRENGTH:  Arms, shoulders, chest, and core, "45 seconds on, 15 seconds off" Tabata-style routine.
  • FRIDAY FIGHT: ROUND 2: The new "hardest workout ever." Enough said.
Check out this Insanity Max 30 video here for more info!

Ready to Start?
If you are thinking this might be a good fit for you, but maybe you need a little support, just message me at and join our next accountability group where I'll be there to support you in any way I can! You can also purchase Insanity Max 30 Here!

Tasty Tuesday: Homemade Whole Wheat Pizza Crust

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

It's "Tasty Tuesday"! 

So this week's Tasty Tuesday marks the first time that we tried to grill a pizza! We had it for the first time over the summer at my parent's house and it was really good, so we decided to give it a whirl! Instead of buying the pre-made pizza crust (which you could totally do to make it even quicker), Wes tried whipping up some homemade whole wheat crust which was surprisingly both good and super easy!

This recipe makes two twelve inch pizza's which worked out great for our little family of four because we were able to let the kids make one just for them with some more kid friendly toppings, and then we made one for us with grilled chicken, sauteed onions and some cherry tomatoes. I think all in all, for the first try, it ended up pretty good, and we have been able to do different variations since! This recipe was a hit with all four of us (and even Shamus too because The Squishy dropped an entire piece of pizza on the floor which Shamus quickly snatched up). When the summer was rapidly coming to a close, we were trying to use our grill as much as possible so did this a few times! You could pretty much put anything on your homemade grilled pizza and although its not quiet as convenient as picking up the phone to order one, it certainly is much better for you! What toppings would you try?

Homemade Whole Wheat Pizza Crust

What You'll Need
  • 1 cup water(heated to about 110 degrees)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 envelope (2/14 teaspoons) rapid-rise or instant yeast
  • 2 3/4 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt

Preheat grill to 500 degrees.

Whisk water, sugar, oil, and yeast together in a small bowl. Allow yeast to proof for 5 minutes. It should puff up some by then.

Pulse flour, parmesan cheese, and salt in a food processor until combined. While running the food processor, slowly pour in the water mixture and process until a shaggy ball forms, about 1 minute.

Dump the dough onto a floured work surface and quickly knead dough a few times until it comes together. Halve the dough.

On a floured surface, use a rolling pin to roll dough into two  rounds about 11 inches in diameter. Brush each with a light coating of olive oil.

Place each on grill for about 3 minutes a side, enough to get the outer shell a little browned. Add your choice of sauce, cheese and toppings! Place back on the grill until cheese is totally melted and starting to brown on the sides.

Tasty Tuesday! Healthy Burrito Bowls (Great for PiYo & 21 Dax Fix Meal Plans)

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

It's Tasty Tuesday!

For this week's Tasty Tuesday we are doing one of our (definitely one of Wes's) favorite meals, healthy burrito bowls! This is usually one that everyone loves, so long we don't give Emma any rice!! We starting making our own spice mix to make it a more healthy option than a taco seasoning packet. The great thing about this recipe is that you can essentially tailor it to your liking. You can add chipotles in adobo sauce if you want it spicier, or you can make it with ground beef or turkey instead of steak or chicken. Listed below is the recipe, and really you can just make the servings that are appropriate for your family size. We generally make things in servings of 4, since that works for us!

This is a great meal for us to make because we each eat it slightly different. Wes likes his with more rice, less lettuce, and I like mine more as a salad (more lettuce, less rice). This is a great meal to use with the PiYo and the 21 Day Fix program! This is also a really easy meal to make as a clean version. When we have time, we substitute the canned black beans with dry beans, we make our own seasoning, use fresh salsa and it's a great clean meal!

Also, this is pretty close to the Chipotle Burrito Bowl but a healthier and quick version made at home!

Healthy Burrito Bowls

What You'll Need
  • Mexican seasoning
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Lean cut steak or chicken
  • Black beans (1 can reduced sodium or dry black beans)
  • Long grain brown rice
  • Red onion
  • Heart of romaine lettuce
  • Cherry or grape tomatoes
  • Avocado
  • Fresh salsa
  • Lime wedges
  • Cilantro

Cut whatever meat you choose into cubes or bite size pieces. Chop red onion, tomatoes and romaine lettuce.

Prepare brown rice according to the package.Heat beans over medium low heat until warm. If you end up using the dry beans make sure you check the cooking instructions because they usually need to soak and cook for a while (this is a great thing to do on the weekend for a meal later in the week)!

Heat oil in a large saute pan on medium high heat. Add meat (steak or chicken) and reduce heat to medium. After 5 minutes, add Mexican seasoning and a 1/4 cup of water. Cook until water is mostly evaporated and thickened slightly.

While meat is cooking, slice avocado and lime. Chop cilantro.

Remove meat, beans and rice from heat. Serve in bowls (or if you are like us do it buffet style because there is less to clean up afterwards). Add rice, beans and meat. Top with lettuce, tomato, onion, and salsa. Squeeze lime wedge over top. Garnish with cilantro.

Tasty Tuesday: Healthy Mexican Lasagna w/Spinach

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

It's "Tasty Tuesday"! 

For this week's Tasty Tuesday we are talking about a new healthy Mexican Lasagna with Spinach that we tried out! As for how it went over with all four of us, both Wes and I were quite pleased! It had good flavor, was great for leftovers but I'm totally not going to lie. Emma wouldn't touch this with a ten foot pole (she completely refused dinner the night we had this) and Jack, well, he at least tried it and ate several bites of the ground turkey but that was about it. So maybe if your kids are a little more adventurous, or you have older kids, I think this would be a hit with them too. But not so much with our picky little eaters this go around. We are definitely going to give it another try though!

This is another recipe where you could really add whatever your family likes best. We actually didn't put in all the spinach that the recipe called for because frankly, it just seemed like a lot, and I think next time we might try chopping the spinach up into smaller pieces too. This would probably also be really good with zucchini or maybe some other veggies thrown in. What toppings would you try?

Healthy Mexican Lasagna w/Spinach

What You'll Need
  • 10 6-inch corn tortillas
  • 2 Cups of canned low-sodium black beans, rinshed
  • 4 Cups of Healthy Tomato Sauce
  • 1 1/2 Cups Monterey Jack Cheese
  • 1 Bag (10 oz) baby spinach leaves, rinsed
  • 2 Cups Grilled Chicken, diced
  • 2 Tbsp Fresh Cilantro, rinsed, drained and chopped
  • Nonstick Cooking Spray

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly spray a 9 by 13 inch baking pan with cooking spray. Place two to three corn tortillas on the bottom, trimming as necessary for a good fit.

Add beans, 1 cup of the tomato sauce (we used Wes's homemade clean spaghetti sauce), and 1/2 cup of grated cheese. Top with two to three more corn tortillas. Then repeat! But in this second layer, add the spinach in between the sauce and the cheese. Then top with two more corn tortillas.

Add chicken and 1 more cup of the tomato sauce, then top with two more corn tortillas. For the top layer, add the last cup of tomato sauce, 1/2 cup cheese and chopped cilantro.

Bake for 30 minutes or until the cheese is melted and browned and chicken is reheated. Let stand for 5 minutes, cut into eight even squares and voila!

Nutrition Facts Per Serving: (serving size is one square)
Calories: 304, Total Fat: 10 g, Sodium: 275 mg, Vitamin A: 80%, Total Fiber: 6 g, Protein: 23 g

Tasty Tuesday: Baked Pork Chops with Apple Cranberry Sauce

Monday, November 17, 2014

It's "Tasty Tuesday"!

We have been a little behind when it comes to our Tasty Tuesday recipes but today's is one of our new favorites! This comes from the same Healthy cookbook that our Healthy Turkey Meatloaf and Crunchy Chicken Fingers. This recipe has a very Thanksgiving-y feel too it, making it the perfect fall dinner. The orange and cranberries give it a sweet but tart (odd I know) taste. If you have picky eaters, you can give them the pork chop, with a side of applesauce and dried cranberries, which is what we did and both Emma and Jack loved it!

Baked Pork Chops with Apple Cranberry Sauce

What You'll Need For The Pork Chops:
  • 4 boneless pork chops (about 3 oz each)
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 medium orange, rinsed, for 1/4 tsp zest (use a grater to take thin layer of skin off the orange; save the orange for garnish)
  • 1/2 tbsp olive oil 

What You'll Need For The Sauce:
  • 1/4 cup low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 medium apple, peeled and grated (about 1 cup) (use grater to make thin layers of apple)
  • 1/2 cinnamon stick (or 1/8 ground cinammon)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup 100% orange juice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and season your pork chops with pepper and orange zest.

In large saute pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add pork chops, and cook until browned on one side, about 2 minutes. Turn them over and brown the second side, an additional 2 minutes. Remove pork chops from the pan, place them on a nonstick baking sheet, and put in oven to cook for an additional 10 minutes (to a minimum internal temperature of 160 degrees).

Add chicken broth to the saute pan and stir to loosen the flavorful brown bits. Bring to a boil, and then lower to a gentle simmer. Simmer for up to 10 minutes, or until the cranberries are plump and the apples are tender. Remove cinnamon stick.

Peel the orange used for the zest, and cut it into sections for garnish. Serve one pork chop with 1/4 cup of sauce and two orange segments.

Conquering My Fears - Beating October

Friday, October 24, 2014

So obviously my last post was something I wrote after a tough emotional day. And towards the end of September I had a lot of those types of days because I was so afraid of October, and everything that it represented. But one day, I just woke up and decided that cancer had taken enough from me already. It had already taken too many days away from my family. It had already taken too many happy moments away from me. So I decided that enough was enough and that instead of being afraid of October, I would use that fear, to conquer it. I decided that the only way to beat October, was to face it head on and face my fears. It's kind of like on those old talk shows where they would have someone on the show that was afraid of spiders, and then make them hold a tarantula. Yeah. Ummm...I wasn't about to hold a tarantula but same kind of thing. Work with me here. :)

So I decided to challenge myself during the first full week of October and choose 5 things I've was afraid to do, and do one thing each day that week. I purposely chose that specific week because it was the week before most of my big one year anniversaries. I figured this little exercise would either help me through that week or be a big fail, in which case I didn't want to have a big fail AND a tough week of all the one year anniversaries at the same time. Ha. I dubbed the week #fearlessforfive.

It didn't take very long to come up with my list of five things I had been afraid to do. What was harder to do was narrow it down to only five! I ended up making a last minute switch on the last day, but more on that to come.

Each day, I posted about my challenge and my accomplishment on my Facebook page. I had no idea what kind of response I would get. Honestly, I really didn't even think anyone would care. But after my first post, I knew I had stumbled onto something and the response was truly amazing.

Fearless for Five (Day 1): Filling Out My Genetic Testing Paperwork

I got this huge packet of papers the day I met with all the surgeons last October right after diagnosis. It was such an overwhelming day, completely like drinking from a fire hose. A fire hose that keeps smacking you in the face. The packet of papers were the forms required to start the process of genetic testing. I had been staring at these papers for a year. I had been so afraid to do this because if the results came back and show that I have the BRCA 2 gene mutation, it means automatic surgery to remove my ovaries. That gene mutation links breast cancer and ovarian cancer. It's just a surgery that I couldn't face yet. I was also afraid that if I have that gene mutation, what that would mean for my Emma Kathryn. Maybe it would mean that I passed that gene on to her, and she would have a higher risk of breast cancer in her life. That's a weight that I wasn't ready to hold on my shoulders yet. I was still just trying to figure out how to stand tall myself. 

So this was an easy decision for me to put first on the list of my #fearlessforfive challenge to myself. So before bed on day one, I sat down and filled out the paperwork and the next day it was sent in. Although I am still nervous about what the results might say, it feels like a huge weight has been lifted, just knowing that one thing is done! The overwhelming support that I got from my Facebook post was unbelievable.

Fearless for Five (Day 2): Heading to the Pumpkin Patch

After day one, I was thinking that my day 2 post would seem silly to most folks. But I stuck with it because it was a big deal to me, and something that I had been afraid of for months at this point.

Last year, the day after my diagnosis, October 15th, I went on Jack’s Pumpkin Patch field trip. That day was incredibly hard. I was crumbling on the inside. Crumbling. I was hiding behind my sunglasses the entire day. I was trying to talk in code to the surgeons after I got call after call trying to set up appointments, while Jack just wanted Mommy to come look at the animals and the pumpkin he picked out. Emma was actually there too, but decided she would rather go with her friend then Mommy. It was actually a big relief. In retrospect, going on the trip that day was probably the best thing that I could have done, but man was it tough.

This year, that same field trip to the same pumpkin patch was happening about the same time, and I was afraid to go. I was afraid of how it would make me feel. I was afraid to have to face those feelings all over again. But I decided that I was more afraid, of missing that time with my Squishy, and never being able to get it back. So on Day 2 of #fearlessforfive, I conquered my fear of the pumpkin patch and signed up to chaperone Jack’s field trip. The overwhelming support just continued. I was blown away. 

Fearless for Five (Day 3): Consultation for Reconstruction Surgery

Day 3 was all about conquering my fear of going back to where I was after surgery. My first surgery was pretty major. It was just 9 hours long and truly took me probably two months to really recover. I had been putting off contacting the hospital to schedule my reconstruction surgery because I was afraid to feel that pain again. I knew this surgery wouldn't be as bad, but that little voice in my head just kept telling me to put it off. The thought of going through surgery again, especially now that I was finally feeling like my health is back under my control, wasn’t fun. I didn’t want to have to go through it again, even if it’s not as bad as Round 1. I didn't want to have to tell Emma and Jack that I couldn’t pick them up for two months again. I didn't want to have to wait 6 or 8 weeks to start exercising again. I’ve finally found my rhythm and I wanted it to stay that way.

But I decided on day 3, that even if all those things happen, they are all only temporary. If I eventually bounced back from surgery and treatment the first time, I can bounce back from this, and probably even faster now that I’m in better shape than when I started. Nothing can match what I have been through already, and if I am ever TRULY going to move on with my life, I couldn’t keep having this hang over my head. So I stuck a fork in Day 3, and it was done!
I made an appointment for my consultation with my plastic surgeon as the first step towards my follow up surgery. 

Fearless for Five (Day 4): Before and "After" Pictures

Day four is where my little switch-a-roo came. I was originally going to do this one on the last day, because to me it felt like the biggest. But I quickly started to second guess myself and I could feel myself starting to chicken out. So I knew that if I waited an extra day, I wouldn't do it because I was too afraid, and that's what this little challenge was all about right? So on day four, I posted my before and after pictures from our health journey so far. All of the fears that I’ve was trying to overcome that week felt so different for me. With this day though. I was not just trying to conquer the fear, but the shame of how I felt when I started our journey.

I normally would never have posted a picture like this of myself for all to see. In fact, I’ll pretty much posted it and then ran away from my phone so I couldn't see the responses. But ultimately I figured that if I was truly going to share my story and our journey, it needed to be with full disclosure. The good, the bad, the embarrassing, etc.

I think I actually called it a before and “during” picture because I’m certainly not done my journey, not by far. I let go of my fear of what people will think of me. I let go of the fear that at 34 years old my mom would probably still reprimand me for posting something like this. I let go of my fear of my coworkers seeing me like this. I let go of the fear of showing my imperfections. And before I knew it, day four was done! The positive comments, support, inspirational messages started pouring in. I woke up with the biggest, widest smile on my face the next morning. I couldn't thank everyone enough.

Fearless for Five (Day 5): The Hair

At this point in my little conquering my fear challenge, I was surprised at how much it was truly changing the way I looked at October and my fears in general. The past couple of days had taught me so much. I was so afraid to put myself out there, thinking that no one would even care. But people were sending me messages about how inspirational they thought I was, how they couldn't wait to see what I did next. I got stopped in the hallway. I got stopped at daycare. People were truly listening. They were truly caring. I quickly learned that social media isn’t about portraying your “perfect life” or just your “highlight reel”. It’s about sharing your true story, the ups and the downs. That’s what people relate to. That’s how you truly connect with people. 

Because of my little switch-a-roo the day before, I had what I felt like was an "easier" idea for my last day. But with feeling suck the unbelievable support, I was on cloud nine, and decided that I needed to go out with a bang. So I came up with a new fear to conquer, and it was all about the hair.

On January 27th, right after we got home from my second of four big treatments of the red devil, we buzzed my hair. After that point, I never posted a picture of myself without my hat or wig on until my hair started growing back after I was done treatment, like eight months later. I kept my profile picture from last year, a picture of me and the hubby, with my long flowing hair. At home, I pretty much never wore my hat, so Wes and the kids got pretty used to seeing me with no hair, even though I never really got used to it. Outside of my parents, there were very few other people that saw me like that.

On the tough days when I would get upset about the hair, people would try to reassure me that it wasn’t as bad as I thought. They would say that it was only hair and that it would grow back. They gave me scarves or hats. They said I didn’t need hair, that I looked beautiful without it. They told me what it might be like when it started to grow back. They always knew someone whose hair came back like this or like that. They would call be brave, or strong. And I appreciated everything they were saying, because I know how hard it is to react to something like that. They were just trying to help, trying to make me feel better.

But most days, I just wanted to reply “None of that matters. It just sucks. Like big time.” No matter what they said, the hair just always mattered. And it wasn’t just the hair on my head. It was my eyebrows, my eye lashes, everything. It mattered to me. It mattered to the kids, even if they didn't say it outright. Emma would always draw pictures of Mommy “when Mommy had long hair”.

Sure, there were some perks. But the perks never came close to how much it mattered. When your nose hair falls out your nose runs constantly. It’s embarrassing. No one tells you about those kinds of things. They give you a window of when they think your hair might start to fall out, and every day,, you wait for it. You pull on your hair to see if today is the day. Then one day you just know that it’s starting. For me, it was the day I did my 2nd treatment. I was sitting in the chair, just pulling out strands with my mom watching. I couldn’t wait to get home and buzz it off, because I couldn’t sit back and just wait for it any longer.

One of the hardest things about losing your hair, is that it takes away your ability to fly under the radar on the days where you just want to be “normal”. There were days where I ran to target to get a gift, and I just didn’t want anyone to know. There were days when just Emma and I went to breakfast, and I couldn’t help but see the stares from across the room. Some days you just want to hide, and losing your hair takes your ability to hide away from you.

I don’t have many pictures of myself without my hat on, but for some reason we decided to snap a few shots the day we buzzed it. And I'm glad we did. I only took one picture when it completely fell out, to show my oncologist the allergic reaction that I was having on my face from my Taxol treatments. I never wanted to show anyone this picture.

But my #fearlessforfive challenge had given me the confidence to put it all out there. To truly show ME. To show that no matter how much the hair mattered, I could still conquer those feelings. I could conquer the shame and fear. I may not have had the confidence to do this while it was happening, but after this challenge, I was ready. So for my day five challenge, I showed my true self, on my darkest of days.

So there it was. I was done my challenge and I felt amazing. It has truly changed the way I look at the things that I am afraid to do. Are there still things that I am afraid of? You bet. But am I going to wait a year now to conquer them? Nope.

And you know what the most amazing part of all of this was? The fact that I was so afraid of October, this year, and the majority of the biggest days that I was afraid of, came and went. On most of those days, I didn't even think about what day it was until late that evening. 

I truly conquered October. And maybe even inspired a few people along the way.

I'm Afraid of October

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Although I am actually feeling pretty ready for fall, with the cool weather, fall flowers, sweatshirts, snuggles under blankets, seat warmers, trick or treating... I have to admit that there is something that is heavily weighing on my mind.

My one year anniversary of diagnosis.

I keep telling Wes, and this probably sounds silly, that it's hard to pick a one year anniversary because there were are so many October dates, that just the mention of the day, brings back that sinking feeling in my stomach. Is it October 9th, the day I found the lump? Is it October 14th, the day I got my mammogram and biopsy and was told it was cancer? Is it October 16th, the day we got the official phone call with the biopsy results? Is it October 17th, the day we met with surgeons to start the process? Or maybe it's November 18th, the day of my surgery, the day I officially became cancer free?

At the shear mention of any of those dates, I feel sick to my stomach. The minute I think about Jack's upcoming pumpkin patch trip, I feel sick to my stomach. Despite the fact that I'm probably in the most positive place of my life right now, I'm still very afraid of October and what it represents.

I'm afraid of what I'm going to feel like on each of those days.

I'm afraid that all those awful, indescribable feelings I had a year ago, are going to come flooding back, despite my best intentions to celebrate a year later.

I'm afraid to feel like I felt the day I broke in half, and cried in Wes's arms after the mammogram. I'm afraid to feel like I did when I thought about having to call to tell my family, especially my mother.

I'm afraid to feel like I did when I saw my parents for the first time that night, like it was all my fault that I had to put them through this.

I'm afraid to feel like I did the next morning, sobbing in the shower before trying to put myself together to go on Jack's field trip like I promised him I would.

I'm afraid to remember all the days where Wes broke down, and I felt like it was my fault.

I'm afraid to feel like I did the day we met the surgeons, seeing pictures of what my body was going to look like after surgery. 

I'm afraid to feel that anger again. That anger that I felt at God.

I'm afraid to feel that weight on my shoulders again. The weight of trying to keep a smile on my face when I was crumbling on the inside.

I'm afraid to feel like I did waiting in the back room, alone, in between mammogram pictures, where it just seemed never ending. One more. No, two more pictures. No, even more. 

I want to celebrate the fact that this changed my life, for the better. 

I want to celebrate the fact that I made it through, that I won. 

I want to celebrate the fact that I feel more blessed then ever.

I want to celebrate the fact that I'm strong then I ever thought I was.

But I just don't know if I can focus on celebrating, with it all still so raw some days.

Jack's field trip to the pumpkin patch this year is on October 16th, the one year anniversary of the biopsy results. I don't know whether to go, and basically give cancer the big middle finger and say. well, look at my now (while trying not to burst into tears every six minutes)! Or, do I take the day off work, and go visit my grandmother's grave, because I KNOW, she is the guardian angel that led me to find the lump. Or do I just go to work that day, and not let cancer take one more minute away from my normal life.

These are the times where I don't feel very much like an inspiration. So many people that have reached out and been so supportive over the past year, and especially lately, have told me that I'm an inspiration to them. Well these are the types of days where I don't see how. But I feel like if I am truly going to share my story, I need to share about the bad days too. The days where it's not all sunshine and rainbows. The days where I struggle, or where I'm afraid.

Tasty Tuesday: Tex-Mex Chicken Chili with Lime

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

It's "Tasty Tuesday"!

This week's Tasty Tuesday is one of our all time favorite chili recipes. We searched for a long time for a good chicken chili or a white chili and had the hardest time! This would also be super easy to make a clean version of (which we are going to try next time). The kids will actually eat this as well, but granted we do need to pick through it a bit and really only give them the broth, chicken, sweet potatoes and beans.

We got this recipe from Southern Living Magazine a few years back and it's always a hit when we make it for guests too! To make the cook time even shorter, you can use store-bought rotisserie chicken (we like to cook our own though since the rotisserie chicken can be pretty salty). We hope you enjoy it!

Tex-Mex Chicken Chili with Lime

What You'll Need for Chili:
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large white onion, diced
  • 1 medium red onion, diced
  • 1 poblano or bell pepper, diced
  • 1 red or green jalapeno pepper, seeded and diced
  • 1 large sweet potato, peeled and chopped
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp chipotle powder
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 16oz cans of navy beans, drained
  • 1 12oz bottle while ale (optional)
  • 4 cups shredded chicken
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • Toppings: Lime Cream (see below), fresh cilantro, green onions, lime wedges

What You'll Need for Lime Cream:
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 lime
  • salt (to taste)

We usually bake our own chicken to shred, so simply toss it in the oven at 425 degrees for 20 - 25 minutes depending on the thickness of the chicken breasts. Or if you use the rotisserie chicken you can skip this step!

Melt butter with oil in a Dutch oven (we just use a giant pot haha) over medium heat. Add the white onion and next 7 ingredients, and saute for about 8 minutes. Then add the garlic and cook for another 30 seconds.

Stir in the beans and beer (although we actually skip the beer most of the time) and cook for 5 minutes or until liquid is reduced by half. Add chicken and broth, and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 30 minutes until thickened.

For the lime cream, simply combine one cup of sour cream and the juice and zest of one lime. Salt to taste. Serve with the lime cream and any toppings you would like!! Enjoy!

Tasty Tuesday: Clean Eating Chocolate Chip Protein Bars

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

It's "Tasty Tuesday"! 

Well...actually....umm...technically it's "Tasty Wednesday" this week. But work with me here. Sheesh, you are so picky! :)

This week's Tasty Tuesday Wednesday is another breakfast recipe! And check this out, this is a Clean Eating version of Chocolate Chip Protein Bars (from The Gracious Pantry)! When Wes and I started our new journey, one of the things we set out to tackle early on was finding some healthier options for on-the-go breakfasts, especially for the kids. During the work-week, Wes and I usually use our Shakeology as breakfast (he adds to his breakfast with Shakeology, I use it as a meal replacement) but the kids were usually grabbing a pop-tart or cereal bar along with some fruit on the go. Now that Emma is in Kindergarten, she has some more time at home for a less-rushed breakfast but The Squishy and I are usually rushing to get out the door so I can drop him off at preschool on my way to work.

Insert our new love of Clean Eating Chocolate Chip Protein Bars. The kids TOTALLY dig this recipe, especially our pickiest eater Emma Kathryn. There are tons of different versions out there and I can't wait to give some others a try but you know the old saying "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." This is another recipe that the kids love to get involved in making and I love it because it's SUPER easy to whip up a batch on the weekend so you are all set for the week.

Clean Eating Chocolate Chip Protein Bars

What You'll Need
  • 2 cups quick cooking oats
  • 1 cup natural (clean) peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup clean honey
  • 1/2 unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 tbls grain sweetened chocolate chips
  • 1 cup whey protein powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tbls chia seeds

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and roast oats in the oven without oil for 10 - 15 minutes, let cool completely (or they will melt your chocolate chips)!

Mix all ingredients in large mixing bowl and spread out the batter on a cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 15 - 20 minutes or until the bars are a nice golden brown. Cut and let cool and store in a Ziploc bag or Tupperware container. And Enjoy!

Nutrition Facts Per Serving: (serving size is 1 bar)
Calories: 311, Total Fat: 12 g, Sodium: 4 mg, Total Fiber: 5 g, Protein: 21g, Carbohydrates: 29g

Keeping It Real

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

I bet some of the readers of our blog (mostly our family members) are probably thinking that its looking a little different lately since we started our health journey. Although we've made a lot of changes and although some may have appeared "sales-y", that will never be the intention of this blog.

I started this blog almost SIX years ago now (whoa) so we would have a way to share our pregnancy journey with our long distance family members. We kicked this baby off with the announcement that Emma Kathryn was on the way. We have been through our ups and downs with the blog. I've taken breaks from it when I've needed to. I've posted things that have upset family members before. But I've always been open and honest and all these changes that you are seeing aren't going to change that. It's always been an unbelievable outlet for me, a way to share our story, no matter what that story looked like.

It just feels indescribable to finally be able to share our new story. We are happier then we have ever been. And we just want to share how we got here.

I've been in the market for a new phone lately and I was just realizing that I'll finally have to avoid my fears and upload everything to The Cloud so I don't lose all of my pictures and videos since our home computer is still somewhat out of commission. So that started me into looking back through all my pictures and of course there are tons where the kids were little that just struck me how much time was flying by. Then there were the pictures that came after my diagnosis. Those pictures are much harder to look at.

Like this one. This picture is from October 15th, 2013. This was the day right in the middle of diagnosis. The Monday before was when I went in for my first mammogram and pretty much got diagnosed right then and there. The day after this was the day I got the call with the biopsy results that sealed the deal. But that day in between? That was the day I went on Jack's first field trip to the pumpkin patch. I had those sunglasses on all day because I just kept crying. I kept getting phone calls from the hospital, trying to set up meetings with surgeons. Probably one of the hardest days out of all of them. But you know what, I kept up with life, and my Squishy had an awesome day at the Pumpkin Patch. Even though Mommy was a hot mess.

This picture was taken on October 19th, the Saturday after diagnosis. I didn't know what to do with myself this day. All I wanted to do was curl up in a ball under a blanket with the babies. It still didn't seem real. I think the kids knew something was wrong, but maybe just not sure what. But they stuck by my side that day. I remember being so torn with my thoughts because I just kept saying to myself that I didn't FEEL sick, so I should get up and do something. Then the next minute I just kept saying to myself, no, you have CANCER, you need to rest. I didn't know what to do.

Here's another tough one. I both love and hate this picture. I love it because it's probably the best picture I have of me and my girl. She was so excited to go see the photographer for pictures. But I hate this picture at the same time because of the reason behind it. This was ten days after my official diagnosis and it was a spur of the moment family photo shoot because I was afraid I wasn't going to have any pictures of my family for a long time. I had no idea outside of surgery what kind of treatment I was in store for, but deep down I just had a feeling that chemo was in the cards. And I was scared. I have a smile on my face but I was scared to death as to what was to come.

Here is another picture that is pretty high on the list. It's probably the cutest picture of my kids like ever (but seriously, they are pretty damn cute right?). This was less than a month after my surgery and I was still having trouble recovering. I had a ton of trouble sleeping, and it took me a good six weeks to be able to get out of sleeping in a recliner in our bedroom. This was the first snow day of the season last year, and the kids were begging me to go play outside with them. But I felt awful. So I had to sit back and watch as Daddy got to build a snowman, make snow angels, you name it. They were so excited. I remember walking outside just briefly to snap a few pictures and they just didn't understand why Mommy couldn't play. It was heartbreaking.

This was on December 16th, exactly two months from diagnosis. This was the day I was headed to meet my oncologist for the first time and figure out what the plan was. I never wore my hair down. Like ever. But I just knew what was coming that day. I just knew I was going to get signed up for chemo. And for some reason, I felt like as soon as my oncologist said those words, my hair would fall out. So I felt like it was the last picture I would ever take with my hair down. I know, seems stupid. But that's what it felt like. That appointment was like getting kicked in the stomach repeatedly. Too many phrases like "because of the higher risk nature of your breast cancer..." and "worst possible side effects are heart failure and leukemia..." and "complete genetic counseling/testing for BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes...". That last one is what scared me the most. To this day I have yet to fill out the paperwork to get the genetic testing done because I'm scared to death to find out that I'm a mutation-carrier, and could have passed that on to Emma.

My oncologist gave me until after the holidays before starting treatment, so right after the new year, on January 3rd I headed in for my pre-chemo visit. I got six different prescriptions that day, and we talked IN DEPTH about all the side effects of both the AC and the Taxol chemo treatments. For the first time I saw the schedule, that had procedure for port placement on January 7th, a start date of January 13th and an end date of not until May 28th. I could barely even see past the next day, let alone five months from then. It felt like as soon as you picked yourself back up from getting kicked during the first appointment, you were back there before you knew it, still getting kicked. Needless to say I left that appointment and drove straight to the mall to a hair salon that accepted walk ins. I got most of it cut off and donated my hair. One of those I'm smiling in the picture but secretly full of sadness on the inside.

This was taken on January 13th, my first day of chemo. Wes and I actually laughed a lot that day because it was our defense mechanism. We didn't know what to do. We didn't know how to act. We didn't know what I was going to feel like. We were still having trouble with our insurance company clearing my nausea meds and we didn't get that all sorted out until too late. I had always heard "Day 3" was the worst, so I wasn't expecting it when it hit me a few hours later. That night was probably the worst I felt the entire time. It's much harder to chase down the nausea after it's already set in, then when you keep up with it so that night the medications basically didn't work at all.

This was the last of my four big AC treatments. Man, these were gnarly. Looking back I honestly don't know how I worked the week after each treatment, especially near the end. By the third and fourth treatment I was having a lot of issues with anticipatory nausea. Basically, my body started to realize what was coming so I would feel very sick before I even started. By treatment number four, I couldn't even look at those vials of the red devil. I couldn't watch the nurse push it into the IV cords. I just wanted to leave. I had to BLAST my music so I couldn't hear what was going on. I had to almost completely leave my body, go somewhere else mentally. I couldn't bare to think of that stuff coursing through my veins anymore. I couldn't bare to think of the smell of it as I sweated it out laying in bed. I couldn't bare the smells of the oncologist lobby, or of the alcohol wipes that were being used every time you turned around. I can't wear that little white hoodie anymore because it's what I wore to almost every treatment so they could easily access my port.

But you know what...

after all that...

the pictures on my phone now look like this...

They are proof that I am taking time out for MYSELF. 
I'm becoming a better person. Better friend. Better wife. Better mother. Better everything.

I'm facing my fears because my self confidence is building by the day.
I'm back to being me again. And maybe even a better version.

I'm having a ton of fun with my family. 
These are genuine smiles. Not fake ones. Or ones where I'm dying inside.

I'm happy. Like, stupid happy. 
Like, the happiest I've ever been.

I have big goals and big dreams for our family now. 
Not just goals of how much money I want to make in life.

I'm straightening out my priorities. 
They still may not be perfect yet, but I'm on the right track.

I'm focused on helping my family THRIVE. 
I'm no longer focused on just "making it through each day".

I'm focused on all the things we wanted to do before, but couldn't. 
Or that I couldn't truly enjoy.

So the next time that one of our posts seems "sales-y", just know that's not our intention. It's just a by-product of what has helped us get to this positive, happy, fulfilling place in life. We don't want to sell you. We just want to share what is working for us because if it worked for us, it can work for anyone.
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