My Go-To *Healthy* Sweet Snack

I have been obsessed with this recipe since my friend Laci brought these treats with us on our trip to New Orleans this summer–chocolate, peanut butter, and coconut are three of my favorite treat ingredients, so a treat that fits my meal plan, packs some awesome nutrition, and has very few ingredients?  #winning

This recipe comes from the great Danielle Natoni who I had the pleasure of meeting during our New Orleans trip–she is amazing!  So thank you, Danielle, for this awesome recipe.  This has quickly become a staple for me to help me with my sweet cravings, and is so easy to throw in my bag and carry around with me if I find myself hungry and no healthy options to turn to.

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You can use any flavor Shakeology with this recipe, but I highly recommend chocolate because, well, chocolate.  And peanut butter.  Go big or go home, right?  These are so easy to make and they keep really well in the fridge.  Good luck not eating all of them at once, because I could literally do that.


Vegan Chocolate Shakeology Balls (from Danielle Natoni)

1 scoop Vegan Chocolate Shakeology

1/4 cup crunchy peanut butter

1/4 cup unsweetened coconut flakes

1/4 cup raw, local honey

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix with a rubber spatula until well mixed.  Put in fridge for 5 min before forming into balls.  Roll into balls about the size of the circle your thumb and forefinger make if they are touching.  Keep in a plastic baggie in the fridge for about 1 week.  **This recipe will make about 7 balls, enough for one for each day of the week as a sweet snack.

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My Mindfulness Checklist

In an effort to manage my depression and anxiety, I’ve developed a morning routine that is focused solely on helping me clear my head and start my day with positive momentum.  Getting up early isn’t really my favorite thing to do, but the benefits I get from waking up earlier than the rest of the house, having some time to myself, and working through these steps makes it completely worth it!

Before I started implementing these steps, I was very skeptical about it.  I didn’t think that meditation or affirmations would make any difference, and honestly I felt really foolish doing it.  It took me a long time to even give it a try, but when I kept reading over and over about these successful people I look up to, time and time again they talked about doing affirmations and meditation (or least some version of it).  If all of these people that I respect were doing it, why not give it a try?  Once I did this for about a week, I noticed a big difference and I became a believer in the process.

Here is how I work through my checklist; hopefully this gives you some ideas on how you can incorporate these steps into your day.

  1. A peaceful space: Find a spot in your house that will allow you to spend a few minutes alone, a space where you can keep your materials for your morning routine, and a space that makes you feel calm and peaceful. For me, I use a spot in my basement; it’s away from the rest of the house, it is comfortable and relaxing, and there’s a table next to my couch where I keep my Bible and journal so it’s easy to access.  It really doesn’t matter where you decide to make your morning mindfulness space, as long as you feel relaxed and can be uninterrupted for at least a few minutes–your kitchen table, your living room couch, your bedroom, your porch or deck, etc.
  2. 10 minutes of quiet solitude: This has been huge for me!  I wake up with a lot of tension–lots of thoughts swirling through my head, physical tension in my back, and stress thinking about my to-do list for the day ahead.  Taking 10 minutes of quiet solitude to start my day has allowed me to get rid of that stress and start my day with a lot more peace.  I use the Headspace app for their free 10-min guided meditation sessions–it doesn’t have corny background music, it doesn’t ask you to focus on anything except your breathing, and it doesn’t feel too hippy-granola to me.  If meditation isn’t your thing and you want to spend the time praying alone, awesome.  If you want to spend 5 minutes focusing on your breathing, fantastic.  If you want to just sit at your kitchen table and sip your coffee for 10 minutes, great!  The key here is to try and CLEAR your mind, not just sit quietly for 10 minutes stressing about your day or what happened yesterday.  It might be helpful to try a guided meditation once or twice to give you the tools, and then you could do it on your own.  I also have a list of positive affirmations about myself that I say out loud–things that help me change the negative dialogue in my own head.  One of my affirmations is “I am disciplined” to help me focus on who I want to be, instead of spending my day talking down to myself.  The affirmations help me change my perception of myself–when you talk negatively to yourself, you are a negative person.  When you talk positively, you become more positive.  It’s pretty simple, but it makes a huge impact.
  3. Intentional focus on spiritual development: I love doing this section right after my meditation because I’ve cleared my head, gotten rid of some tension, and I feel much more equipped to focus on my reading and prayer instead of feeling distracted by my thoughts.  My spiritual development is really all about focusing on my personal relationship with God and growing in that; I read my Bible (following a specific plan), do some journaling about what I read, and spend some time praying.  If you aren’t sure where to start with this, I love the She Reads Truth app–it’s free, includes a Bible in the app, and has a lot of great studies to choose from (free up to $3).  There is also a He Reads Truth app for the guys, too.  Focusing on this helps me keep my priorities in check, helps me have a good mindset for my day, and helps me focus on what is really important in my day instead of focusing on insignificant stressors.
  4. Physical activity: This one might be my favorite.  I like to do a full workout in the morning with Beachbody On Demand–I usually forget that I even worked out by lunchtime and then it feels like a rest day!  But even just a short and sweet workout, like some pushups and crunches, or jumping jacks and planks, even for just 5 minutes, is shown to benefit your mindset in the morning.  All exercise releases endorphins and helps you get your day started with positivity.  When I start my day with a workout, it helps me stay motivated to make healthy choices throughout my day, too.  Whether you choose to do a full workout, a few jumping jacks, or a 5 minute yoga flow, doing some kind of physical activity will help you lower your stress levels and get in a good mood for your day.
  5. Personal Development: One of my favorite things about my coaching business is the focus on personal development.  Being intentional about reading positive books that help me become a better person, better wife, better mom, better coach has truly made all the difference in my life.  Personal development is what helped give me the confidence to leave teaching and be a stay-at-home mom, and helped me be able to identify my depression and anxiety enough to know I needed to get help.  In choosing a personal development book, I think about one of my goals and what I feel like is holding me back from accomplishing that goal.  For example, as I’ve been trying to lose weight, I’ve realized that I struggle with emotional eating, and I looked up some books dealing with that topic before choosing Made to Crave, which has been an amazing resource for me.  Some of my business goals weren’t becoming reality and I realized I needed some help being disciplined, so I read a book called Take the Stairs that was a huge help.  You can also choose a podcast to listen to–I love the God Centered Mom podcast for personal development, too.  We all have aspects of our lives that we want to improve–I use personal development as a tool to become the person I want to be.  Starting my day with this helps me stay focused on making better choices throughout the day instead of going on autopilot with bad habits.

I’ve included a printable version of this checklist for you to use as you create your own routine for mindfulness.  There is a lot of evidence for everything included here and the benefits of putting them into practice, but the only evidence you really need is trying it out for yourself.  Give it one week and see what kind of a difference it makes, and then come back and let me know how it went!

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Mindfulness Checklist

 

Healthy in Every Way–My Journey Through Depression and Anxiety

I have major depressive disorder and generalized anxiety disorder. (I tried to think of a nice introduction to transition into this declaration, but I couldn’t think of how to get there so I decided to just go for it.)  I’ve been fairly open about my struggle with depression on this blog before, and this past year has been a pretty dark place for me.  I’ve been pretty quiet about what’s been going on with me lately, but I want to share more about this aspect of my life because I’ve been realize just how much my mental health is connected to my physical health.  

 

I’ve struggled with depression for several years, but this past year has been the hardest yet.  The transition from working mom to stay-at-home mom is never an easy one, my husband has a new position in his work with some new responsibilities, and there have been lots of other transitions in other areas of my life, too.  I think that for a long time it was really easy for me to blame teaching for my depression, but once I left and the depression stayed, I was forced to really examine what was going on.

 

So, for the first time in my entire life, I started going to a therapist and taking an antidepressant.  This was honestly a really hard decision for me to make because even though I’ve recommended therapy to a lot of people close to me, I was embarrassed to admit that I needed that kind of help.  I’ve always had some kind of twisted pride in the fact that I was “managing” my depression without the help of therapy or medicine.  But honestly, I wasn’t managing anything.  I was barely holding on by a thread and constantly felt like everything was falling apart.  Every single part of my day was a struggle, from waking up to getting out of bed to taking care of my child.  I was miserable, so my pride in taking care of myself was pretty misguided.

 

Before I started therapy and learning different ways of coping with my depression and anxiety, I had pretty much one coping mechanism–food.  I’ve always known that I was an emotional eater, but I didn’t quite realize how deep my relationship with food really went.  I started to figure it out after I read “Made to Crave” and did Whole30, but once I finished Whole30 I basically fell into a giant pile of sugar.  I had certainly learned better food habits, but I hadn’t worked on the deeper issue: I was using food as a coping mechanism instead of actually dealing with my depression and anxiety.

 

As a result from this emotional eating+not working on my mental health combination, I gained some weight and started to feel bad about myself.  I lost energy, I lost motivation, I lost confidence.  I was embarrassed that I was losing control of my health–again–and I felt like a total failure.  Of course, that just made my depression even worse.  And then I continued to eat poorly to cope with all the negative feelings…which made me feel worse.  See the cycle there?  It took me months to figure out that connection.  Actually, it took me months to figure out that I was deeply depressed.  It was a rough year.

 

But, that is in my rearview mirror.  Once I figured out what was really happening, decided to get to a professional, and became open to medicine, things started to change.  Now, I have a mindfulness routine to start out my days.  I’m focused on my personal development to help keep my mindset positive.  I’m focused on being consistent with my fitness because a good workout does WONDERS for my depression and anxiety.  I’m learning different ways to cope with my issues instead of running to the drive thru for a sweet tea and cookie every day.  (True story).

 

I’m going to be posting a little more about some of the specifics of my routine and different coping strategies, but I set an alarm to get up early so I can have some quiet time to do a 10 minute meditation, read my Bible and have some prayer time, read personal development, write out affirmations, and say some affirmations out loud.  I feel like a total hippie when I’m doing it, but it’s seriously amazing to feel the difference in my mindset every single day.  Those are my new coping mechanisms instead of food, and even though it’s still a struggle and I’m still working on it, I finally feel like I’m out of the pit and I’m able to get back to myself again.

 

So, why am I sharing all of this?  Part of it is to help myself get out of feeling embarrassed that I have struggles.  I deal with depression and anxiety–that’s part of my story and I don’t want to be secretive about it anymore.  It’s not anything to be ashamed of; it’s just part of who I am.  But more importantly, I want YOU to know that you’re not alone.  It has been amazing to me to hear some of my friends and family say “me too!”.  Whether it’s a struggle with depression or anxiety, or going through junk that distracts you from your health, or just dealing with gaining some weight after working so hard to lose it, you are not alone.  And you need to focus on your mental health!  It’s not just about your physical health–you have to take care of your mind and your spirit to be truly healthy.  

 

Since this is now a part of my health journey, it’s going to be a part of the blog more and more.  Stay tuned for more posts about this aspect of my story, and feel free to share any wisdom from your own journey, too!

Getting Back Into Running

Before I had my Little Man, I had been into running for a few years.  I did several races, including a couple of half-marathons, and I loved it!  Over the past three years of having my son, though, I just fell out of regular running.  It takes a lot of time to train for longer distances, and I was really loving my at-home workouts.  It’s so much more convenient to just walk down to my basement and get a workout in without worrying about driving anywhere or worrying about what the weather is doing.  I still prefer my at-home workouts to running, honestly, but I missed running!  There is something about running that clears my mind and just lifts my mood that nothing else can replicate or replace, and I just missed it.

When I realized how much I missed running (which not surprisingly was happening as I watched a lot of my social media friends posting about getting ready for the Kentucky Derby Festival Half Marathon), I decided to get back into it and train for a race.  I’m spending the next several months training for the Urban Bourbon Half Marathon in October!  Go big or go home, right?  It doesn’t really take that long to train for that distance, but I’m going from not running in months to working up to that distance, so I’m giving myself plenty of time to build my stamina again.

Right now, my training plan is to get 2 runs in per week.  Most programs you’ll find online will recommend 3 runs per week, but when I was training for my past half marathons I did 2 runs and it was fine.  The most important thing to me is to get that long run in each week and to be consistent with my cross training.  The last half I did, I really focused on my cross training and it made a huge difference for my pace and endurance.  And with the all-access streaming workouts I have through Beachbody On Demand, I can do literally any type of workout I want while I’m training–cardio, weights, Pilates, yoga, barre, or dance.  That will help me not just with my running, but with my overall fitness and helping me continue working toward my goals.

This is my weekly training plan–I’m staying flexible to change this as I pay attention to what my body seems to need rest-wise.  I’m already thankful for my Beachbody Performance Energize and Performance Recovery to help me have the energy to push hard in my workouts and not be sore!  I know I’m going to need the help!

Monday: Whole Body Cardio workouts

Tuesday: Upper Body workouts

Wednesday: Training run

Thursday: Pilates/Core workouts

Friday: Lower Body workouts

Saturday: Long run

Sunday: Yoga/active recovery workouts

 

This is just a loose schedule–it won’t look like this every single week.  Sometimes I’ll need to switch up when my training runs are happening based on what our family schedule is and my husband’s work schedule, which means I’ll need to change up workouts and switch things around.

I’m especially excited about choosing different workouts from different programs!  There are some programs that I’ve done before and LOVE (like 21 Day Fix, T25, and Insanity Max:30) that I excited to do again, and there are programs I’ve never done before that I am looking forward to trying (like P90x3, Yoga Studio, and Country Heat).

This is what my workout schedule looks like this week:

Monday: 21 Day Fix Extreme Power Strength

Tuesday: 21 Day Fix Upper Fix

Wednesday: Training run

Thursday: 21 Day Fix Pilates

Friday: Long run

Saturday: T25 Lower Focus

Sunday: 3 Week Yoga Retreat Week 1 Stretch

More Than Fruits and Veggies–What I’ve Learned (And Am Still Learning) About Healthy Living

Until about two years ago, what I knew about being “healthy” was basically just eat less. move more, count calories, eat more fruits and veggies, and go running.  There was a lot of fuzzy facts in my head–if you eat at a deficit (intake less than you’re expending) you’ll lose weight.  Running is great cardio and will help you drop weight.  It was all about counting calories, paying attention to macros, and following a running plan.

Now for a disclaimer–there is nothing inherently wrong with anything in the above paragraph.  I love running.  You do need to pay attention to how much you eat.  You do need to be active.  Some people find a lot of success with counting/tracking calories and macros.  But for me personally, most of this didn’t work.  It was too vague, too fuzzy and broad.  I wasn’t seeing the results I wanted with this kind of plan and mindset.

I’ve learned that it’s not just about being active.  It’s about being active with a plan, and a plan made by someone who knows what they’re doing so I work different muscle groups in a strategic way to get the best results possible.  It’s about pushing myself–which for me means I need to have someone else telling me how long to go and when to stop.  If it’s up to me, I’ll quit after 10 seconds!

It’s not just about the calories for me–it’s way more about where those calories come from.  I can eat 1200 calories a day and not see results because they are calories from sugar, carbs, and unhealthy fats in processed foods.  Eating more calories from whole, nutrient-dense foods gives me better results.  In the past I would “make room” in my calories one day because I wanted ice cream or a candy bar, and then be frustrated that I wasn’t seeing results because I was following the “rules”.  Now I know how those different foods affect my body and my results, and I can plan to indulge without unrealistic expectations for my progress.

I’ve also learned that different things work for different people.  Some people thrive off of a small indulgence every day (like a small piece of dark chocolate); some people do really well with one off-plan meal a week; some people do best with strict plan that doesn’t allow for many off-plan indulgences.  I am one of those people who needs a lot of structure, so a stricter plan works well for me.  If I allow too many off-plan meals or foods, it tends to open the floodgates, so to speak and it’s hard for me to get back on track.

I’ve learned that I need accountability, so I have learned to be honest and vulnerable on my social media as accountability, and to open up to the ladies in my accountability groups and use those groups the way they are designed–to help me through my celebrations and struggles.

I’ve learned that working out at home with a streaming workout system is best for me; being able to walk downstairs to my basement, have over 7,000 workouts to choose from (different equipment requirements, different world-class trainers, different time commitments), and be able to get my workouts done with little fuss is the best equation for me to be consistent and successful.

I’ve learned that having a nutrient-dense shake that I can make in 5 minutes for a fast and portable breakfast is the best way for me to start my day.  It sets me up for success and helps my mornings go more smoothly.  I used to go through a drive-thru or get donuts at a gas station in the mornings, which started my days off poorly and didn’t give me the momentum I needed to make good choices.  Now, I have a healthy choice in just a few minutes that propels my day toward healthy choices instead of making me feel lethargic and bloated.

I’ve learned that I have a very deep, very strong emotional connection to food.  That makes it tougher for me to be consistent at times (and is also why I do better with stricter plans).  This is something that I deal with every day, and am still learning how to deal with to keep my body fueled properly and have a healthy mental/emotional relationship with food.  I can’t recommend the book Made to Crave enough to help with this issue!

The biggest lesson I’ve learned with being healthy is that healthy living is a journey, not a destination.  It’s not a place you arrive to one day and then you suddenly don’t have to worry about making good choices anymore.  It’s not a set test you either pass or fail.  It’s not a checklist that you can easily click off each day.  It’s individual for all of us, and it requires patience, grace toward yourself, experimenting with what works for you, and a willingness to be flexible as you learn about yourself.

Sometimes you need help with this process and guidance to learn some of these things about yourself.  I am so thankful for the fit family I have found in my accountability groups, and I know that you’d find the same support!  If you need some extra help with this part of your life, let’s chat.  I’d love to take you under my wing!  wweaver0@gmail.com.

Meeting A Coach Hero (Louisville Super Sunday Recap)

I love going to live events for my coaching business.  Whether it’s the annual Coach Summit in the summer or the quarterly local events, I love getting together with fellow coaches to learn more about this business and be inspired to do more with my team!

Yesterday was one of those quarterly local events, and I was SO excited.  We had a special guest speaker coming that has a lot of personal significance for me.  Erin Young is a top coach that isn’t on my team at all, but as a fellow mom and high school English teacher, I relate a lot to her story.

Right after I finished crying. Lol.


When I was a brand new coach trying to decide what I really wanted out of my coaching hobby, I was also a working mom struggling with wanting to stay home with my son.  I had dropped him off at daycare and had seen a sign promoting their upcoming “Muffins with Mom” event, but I couldn’t go.  It was happening on the last day of school for me, and I would already be well into teaching by the time the event started.  I couldn’t take time off for it–it just wasn’t even an option for me.  I was so upset by that–I just wanted to eat a muffin with my kid.  He was asleep when I left for work every day, I didn’t get to drop him off most of the time because I’d have to take him in so early, and I didn’t get to see him until almost dinner every day.  I just wanted to be home with him, but was struggling with feeling like I was stuck in teaching.  That’s what I went to school for, that’s what we cash flowed my Master’s degree for–I couldn’t give up on that, could I?

My Dream Achiever Laci!


Right around this time, I saw a short video of this random coach, Erin Young.  She was talking about how she loved her teaching job, but wanted to be able to put her kids on the school bus and make them breakfast–with her teaching schedule, that wouldn’t be possible.  She talked about struggling with realizing that she wanted to do something different than teach and about how she had to give herself permission to dream a new dream with her coaching business.  This resonated so much with me and helped me in my decision with what I wanted to do–and ultimately I decided to make this business happen for me and stay home with my son!

Getting to hear her speak in person, learning some business strategies from her directly, and working out with her was so much fun!  I got a chance to talk with her for just a minute and ask for a picture, which was embarrassing because I totally lost it.  I was trying to explain how much her story impacted me and thank her for sharing her story and making a difference in my life, and I just cried.  So embarrassing!  But I also kind of don’t really care because this business means SO much to me and my family, and I love being able to share with the people who have impacted my life how much of a difference they are making.  She was really sweet about it and so inspiring for me.

Erin young during her presentation


My biggest takeaway from the event was that I am capable of accomplishing ANYTHING I want to accomplish in this business.  The only thing standing in my way is me and my own excuses!  It’s just like with my fitness journey–at first I thought that it was impossible to lose weight and reach my goal, but once I stopped making excuses and followed a solid plan, I not only got to my goal size, but actually got down one size smaller!  And this isn’t just true for me and my specific goals–it’s true for EVERYONE with ANY goal!  There is nothing standing in your way except for YOU.

I am so motivated by this event and it made me even more excited for my trip to New Orleans this summer for the annual Coach Summit.  Anything is possible!

Insanity Max:30 Results!

This week, I finished Day 60 of my 60 day program!  I have NEVER finished a program this long before, so I am so excited and proud of myself for finishing this program.  When I decided to do it, I was really nervous about it because I have only ever completed the 21 day programs–the 30 day programs I’ve *almost* finished them, but have never gotten all the way done.  I was afraid that I would be setting myself up for failure with an 8-week program, but I realized that the only thing stopping me from finishing a program is ME!  There is no reason I can’t finish a 60-day program other than my own excuses, so I decided that I would be successful, I committed to the program, and I followed through!


I didn’t do the program perfectly–not every workout was done on the exact day it was supposed to be done, but every workout WAS completed!  I finished all of the workouts in the 60 days without going over on days, which is what I had committed myself to.  I am really proud of that!

As far as nutrition, I’ve talked pretty openly about how that has been a struggle for me.  I was very focused on proper nutrition while I was doing the Whole30, but it was very hit and miss the rest of the time I did Insanity Max:30.  I still got great results that I’m really excited about!


Here are my general thoughts about the program:

  • I love that they are 30  minute workouts.  It makes it so much easier to fit these in my schedule!
  • I love that there are 2 rest days each week!  If I was able to get my workouts in Mon-Fri, it made my weekends more relaxing to not have to worry about fitting workouts in or getting up extra early.  On the weeks where I didn’t get all 5 workouts in during the week, I loved having 2 rest days making the schedule more flexible if I needed to move things around.
  • I love that I was able to stream the workouts online!  Not messing with DVDs, being able to just go down to my basement, and not worrying about travel time or getting ready to leave to go somewhere else to workout made it so much simpler for me to be consistent with this program.  I was able to use my computer or my phone to work out, depending on where I was and what my schedule looked like.
  • I love that there was no equipment!  I just needed my workout clothes and my shoes (and some people work out barefoot!).  So easy!

The workouts are HARD.  I modified most of the moves most of the time, and I still got a great workout every single time.  I was really sore, so I drank some Beachbody Performance Recover to help me not be so sore–it makes a huge difference, doesn’t count as any of my portion containers on the eating plan, and tastes really good!  I was able to push harder in each workout because I wasn’t struggling through feeling sore from the workout before.

I love how I felt doing IM:30!  I see a big difference in my body, but I feel better, too.

  • I am stronger–I was able to do more moves full-out instead of modifying everything.
  • I was getting less winded earlier on in each workout, which helped me be able to push harder and get even fitter each week.
  • I was able to do higher tuck jumps by the end of the 8 weeks
  • I was able to do longer plank holds by the end of the 8 weeks
  • I was able to take less breaks throughout the workouts
  • I was able to do more push-ups each round

And there is a difference in my body, too!  The scale says there are only 2.6 lbs difference in these two photos, which in the past would have devastated me, but today, I really couldn’t care less.  My clothes fit better, my body looks different, and these workouts make me feel like a badass.  The scale can suck it.

I’m still deciding on what I’m going to do next, but I’m pretty sure I’ve decided on doing yoga for the weekend and then going into 21 Day Fix Extreme starting Monday, April 10. I’m also going to be submitting my before and after pictures to the Beachbody Challenge to get a free shirt for Insanity Max:30!  I have made some awesome progress with this program, and I’m excited to keep going!