New Weight Loss Challenge & Bible Study Starting Monday!

At the end of last summer, I started a Weight Loss Challenge/Bible Study called “God Before Goodies.” It lasted 4 weeks, and the results were amazing! The ladies in the group became each others’ cheerleaders, friendships were formed, weight was lost, and GOD was given all the glory!

Since the group ended, I’ve been asked almost daily if I would start a new group. After much prayer and deliberation, I’ve decided to start another group. The new group will be called “Becoming the Woman God Wants Me to Be.”

Becoming the Woman God wants me to be

From January 4th through February 1st, we will look at the lives of different women in the Bible. We will apply the characteristics of their lives to better ourselves in all we do – whether eating, exercising, or living a life for Christ.

I promise you, this is unlike any weight loss challenge you have ever been a part of. We will keep Christ first, help you develop a habit of daily Bible reading, and encourage you in your weight loss goals.

The cost to join is $20 for the month. There are no extra fees. No products to buy. No hidden costs. You are welcome to join for the Bible Study aspect, the weight loss aspect, or both! When you join, you will be surrounded by like-minded women, focusing on your life in Christ, and improving all the areas of your life.

I do have several scholarships available (with no tricks to the scholarship, either!), so if you really want to join but just don’t have the funds, contact me and let me know. I don’t want the fee to keep you from drawing closer to Christ if you really can’t afford it.

I’ve been much in prayer for this study, and I would love to have you join us. It will be run as a secret Facebook group, and only the women who have paid are allowed in the group. (No lurkers – it’s all completely private!)

If you want in, let me know. I’d love to have you join us!

Guest Post: Essential Supplies for a Massage Therapist

The biggest decision most people will make in their life is in regards to the type of career they will choose. In order to choose the right line of work, you will have to take the time to get to know what is out there. Among the most enjoyable and lucrative careers our there is in massage therapy. Although there are some schools out there you can go to, a lot of what you will learn will be based on the amount of massages you give. There are a number of essential pieces of equipment you will need, such as a table de massage, to get started in this industry. Here are a few of the essentials you will need when getting started in the massage therapy world.

A Great Table
The first thing you have to consider when trying to get your supplies for your massage therapy career is a great table. There are a number of tables on the market and finding the right one will take some time and effort on your part. You need to make sure you go online and read as many customer reviews as you can to consider what is out there and which one will benefit you the most.

Marketing Materials
Another very important thing you have to do when trying to get your massage therapy business off of the ground is marketing materials. You need to make sure you make up things like brochures and flyers to promote your new venture. The more information you are able to give people about your business, the easier you will find it to drum up new business. The time and effort you put into this process will be more than worth it in the end.

The Right Oils and Lotions
When trying to get all of the supplies you need for your business, you need to make sure you pick up the right oils and lotions. There are a number of different types of oils and lotions on the market and each of them do something different. In order to find the right ones, you will need to consult with a professional to get some advice on which ones you have to have. The more you can find out about the oils and lotions on the market, the easier you will find it to get the right ones in your shop.

When in the market for you great massage supplies, be sure to consider the team at LIerre. They have a number of different products that you can get to enhance the massage experience you give your customers. Call them or go to their website for their information.

#Sponsored: Make a Difference with @GreenGiant #MyBlogSpark #Giveaway

Sample ReceivedDisclosure: The information and prize pack have been provided by Green Giant® through MyBlogSpark.

 

green giant make a difference

As you are all aware, I have been working really hard at losing weight and becoming a healthier me.

The road has not been easy, but I am finally starting to see a real difference. I look better, I feel better, and I know now that I *can* do this.

One thing that has really, really helped is that I am eating a lot more vegetables. Instead of reaching for chips or a candy bar, I grab carrot sticks, raw broccoli, or some other vegetable. And at dinner time, I can indulge myself in Green Giant Vegetables, eat a bunch, and still feel great!

I simply cannot believe the difference in 100 calories of Green Giant vegetables vs. 100 calories of pretty much anything else. Most of the time, a 100 calorie box of veggies is too much for me to eat by myself.

For the past month, I have made the choice to make *better* choices every time I sit down to eat. And, I have also added a lot more vegetables into my diet. (Thank you, Green Giant for making SO many yummy varieties and helping me on my journey!)

Look at the difference just one month of healthy eating and exercise can make:

green giant difference

The picture on the left was taken on my anniversary right after we got our van. The picture on the right was taken yesterday before my daughter’s chorus concert. I am blown away by the difference that just one month can make.

MyBlogSpark and Green Giant sent me the most amazing prize pack. In fact, this has been my favorite spark so far, because it’s encouraged me to keep going in my weight loss journey, and it’s helping me make a real difference.

Here’s what was included in the prize pack:

  • Gym Bag (and since I just joined a local gym, this could not have come at a better time!)
  • Health Journal (this is great for keeping a log of what I eat, what time I am eating, and how much exercise I am getting. I absolutely love this journal.)
  • Water Infuser (I hate water. It’s so boring! But this lets me add fresh fruit – or cucumber! – to my water and ramp up the taste without a ton of empty calories or chemicals.)
  • Green Giant Coupons (5 coupons, so I could try lots of the yummy varieties!)
  • $10 Target coupon (So I could stock up on even more Green Giant veggies!)

I told you was an awesome prize pack. This is one that I know all of you will want to win. Heck, I’d win it again myself if I could. 🙂

I love that Green Giant has given all of us a tastier way to lose weight and feel great about what we are eating. I hope you’ll take some time to check out the Giant Difference website and learn more ways to get on the path to a healthier you. (Be sure to check out their “Giant Difference Recipes” section – it’s my favorite part of the website!)

giant difference prize pack

Want to win a prize pack (mentioned above) for your very own? To enter, use the rafflecopter gadget below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway will end November 3rd.

Life Wellness Center’s Grand Opening {Local News}

I’d like to invite all of my local friends and readers to join the Life Wellness Center for their Grand Opening. It will be held tomorrow and Saturday – May 4th and 5th from 9am to 3pm both days.

The Life Wellness Center is located at 48 Haralson Place, Suite #1 in Blairsville, GA – near the Sawmill Place on Pat Haralson Memorial Drive.

I encourage you to stop by and learn about the Integrative Holistic Medical services now being offered by Dr. Cynthia Libert in our area, and come tour the beautiful new facilities.

There will also be a live demonstration of medical thermography on Saturday, as well as a silent auction fund raiser for a Christian Missionary, not-for-profit school and feeding program for the children of Haiti called A Voice in the Wilderness. Refreshments will be served.

You can learn more by visiting the Life Wellness Center website for more information, or you can call 706-745-0200 to schedule a new patient appointment with Dr. Libert.

I’ll be at the Open House all day both days, and I’m really excited to have a part in this wonderful new practice. I look forward to seeing you there.

Would You Consider Lap Band Surgery?

You are all aware that I have made some major life changes lately. I am eating better, exercising daily, and doing my best to live a healthy, active lifestyle. After all, I have 6 sets of eyes watching every move I make. Do I really want them to see me sitting on the couch all day drinking can after can of diet soda? Not at all. I want to be able to play with them, take long walks, and enjoy every moment I have here on Earth. My hope is that they will learn from my experiences, and maybe they can prevent ever becoming overweight in the first place.

Last week, I had someone ask me if I would ever consider having lap band surgery. Honestly? If I were having a harder time losing weight, or if I were still morbidly obese, then yes, I probably would consider such a surgery. I know several people that have had the lap band surgery, and each one of them are well on their way to healthier lifestyles. I admire the steps they have taken in their lives and hope this is exactly what they need to succeed.

I understand that lap band surgery isn’t for everyone, and that’s ok. Every individual has to do what’s right for them. But, if you’re struggling with losing weight, or if you are having health complications because of your weight, I hope you’ll consider speaking with your doctor about options that are right for you.

Disclaimer: I am participating in a blogger campaign by Bucks2Blog and have been compensated for this post. However, the views and opinions are 100% my own.

My Final Weigh In for the #DietBet Mom Bloggers Challenge

It’s hard to believe that it’s the end of the DietBet Mom Bloggers Challenge. What a roller coaster of emotions this has been.

I had my final weigh in yesterday, and I have to tell you – I was nervous! This past week has been insane. Between moving, painting, cleaning, and the stress of everything combined, it was nearly impossible to find the time to get on the treadmill for my routine exercise. I had still been eating right and was only drinking water, but I didn’t know if I was still burning enough calories to make a difference and lose weight.

At my last weigh in, I was exactly 200 pounds – down 13 pounds from my starting weight. I just knew I was either going to go back up or I was going to be stuck at that big round number.

When I started the challenge, I needed to lose 9 pounds to meet the DietBet goal and be considered a “winner.” But, I had set a personal goal for myself to lose 15 pounds and bring myself under that 200 mark.

Do you think I did it?

Here’s the video….

Did you catch that? 196 pounds. I met both goals. Actually, I exceeded both goals, and I am so excited. I’ve lost 17 pounds in the challenge, and I think that’s fantastic. I’m pretty darn proud of myself.

I had hubby take some more pictures yesterday so I could see the before and after difference. Take a look… {You can click on the picture to see the larger version.}

Weight Loss Journey - 4 Weeks In

The past 2 weeks or so, I’ve been having more and more people come up to me and tell me they’ve noticed that I’m losing weight. I really hadn’t seen it until I looked at the before and after pictures side by side. I’ve lost half my face – and at least one or two extra chins. I also have to say that since I gave up soda and junk food, I feel so much better. I’m definitely keeping these changes and I’m determined that 2012 will be MY year to become a healthier me.

I know I still have a very long way to go, but I’m definitely off to a great start. And, I owe it all to DietBet and their Mom Blogger’s Challenge.

Soon I’ll post the final results and tell you how all the other moms did in the Challenge. I was up against some tough competition, so I wouldn’t doubt it if we all ended up splitting the pot.

So, how did I do? Are you impressed that I stayed motivated the entire challenge and lost as much as I did? Will you continue to support me in my weight loss journey?

Disclaimer: DietBet is giving me the opportunity to participate in a Mom Blogger’s Challenge and compete for $5,000 – which, if won, will go to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. I am not a doctor. Any steps I take to lose weight are my own, and individuals should seek their doctor’s opinion before starting a weight loss program of any kind.

End of Week 3 DietBet Weigh In

Can you believe that there is just ONE week left in the DietBet Mom Bloggers Challenge? These 3 weeks have flown by, and I’m finding that it’s getting easier and easier all the time to eat right, exercise, and live without Pepsi.

I went for my weekly weigh in yesterday afternoon at my local Curves facility. The girls there all know me by name there now, and they have been such a support and an encouragement. I was really hesitatant to step on the scale because last week I had only dropped a pound and a half. I was so afraid it would be worse this week and that my confidence would plummet.

bathroom scaleBefore I get to my results for this week, let me recap my numbers for you:

  • Day 1 – Official weigh in revealed I was 213 pounds.
  • End of week 1 – Lost 8 pounds, dropping me to 205 pounds.
  • End of week 2 – Lost 1.5 pounds, bringing me down to 203.5 pounds.

Again, I was expecting to have not lost much this week. I haven’t made any changes at all during the DietBet Challenge, so I never know what to expect when it’s time to step on the scale.

Imagine my surprise when I stepped on the scale and saw that I had dropped another 3 and a half pounds!

That’s right! I am down to exactly 200 pounds.

I am so, so happy. My personal goal for this challenge is to bring my weight under 200 pounds. I’ve still got one more week to go, but even if I have another week where I only lose 1.5 pounds, I will meet that goal.

Hard work pays off – and so does sticking with what works. I still eat the things I like, I just do it in moderation. I want chips? Ok. I get 2 – 3 chips. I want a cookie? I take a bite of Parker’s cookie. And I exercise. I burn 300 calories on the treadmill daily, along with the calories I typically burn. {Although, this week, I’m pretty sure I’m burning lots of extra calories with all the packing, moving, and painting going on.}

If you take a look at the DietBet Standings for the Mom Bloggers challenge, 3 of us have met our DietBet goals. The others are right behind us and are doing great! As of today, January 25th, 47 pounds have been lost – and 13 of those pounds are MINE!

Are you trying to lose weight this year? If so, how are things going for you?

Cranberry Naturals from Old Orchard {Ends 2/28}

As you are all quite aware, I am on quite a health kick. I’ve completely cut soda from my diet, and I am very, very careful to watch what I take in. So, when I heard about Cranberry Naturals, I was excited to give it a try.

cranberry naturalsBefore I get to my review, and my kids’ review, I want to share some of the great facts about Cranberry Naturals from Old Orchard:

  • Each service contains just 70 calories.
  • Contains 40% less sugar than other brands.
  • NO artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives.
  • Naturally sweetened with just a bit of sugar and Truvia.
  • Contains nearly 2 times the cranberry juice of other “diet” juices.
  • Contains NO High Fructose Corn Syrup.

The best part? It really tastes great. The kids absolutely love it, and I love that they aren’t filling up on empty calories whenever they ask for a glass of juice.

I’m really impressed with everything about Cranberry Naturals Juice. I love that it’s 100% natural, and I don’t have to worry about what it might contain. Cranberry juice contains natural vitamins and minerals that are essential and effective for the treatment of urinary tract, bladder, and kidney infections. My youngest daughter suffers from urinary tract infections frequently, so I try to always keep cranberry juice on hand. As soon as Cranberry Naturals is available in our local grocery stores, you can bet that I will be switching over to them. {I’m working on getting my husband to make it available in the store where he works.}

Would you like to try Cranberry Naturals juice for yourself? I have 5 coupons for FREE bottles of juice, as well as 5 coupons for $.50 off one bottle of juice.

To enter, use the Rafflecopter gadget below.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclaimer: I received 2 bottles of Cranberry Naturals juice to facilitate my review. The coupons received were sent to me to be given away on my blog to my readers. The giveaway is sponsored by Old Orchard. I was in no other way compensated for this post.

The Effects of Vitamin D Deficiency

Shortly after Gage was born, I started having these very strange pains. They would show up without warning, but would usually go away a few minutes later. They would attack a single area: my shin, my back, my shoulder, my neck. One place at a time, and I’d usually only have an attack once every few days.

vitaminsAbout 3 months ago, the attacks got worse. They would come more frequently, last longer, and be way more intense. Not only was I dealing with the attacks on just one area of my body, but I would also have full body attacks. When a full body attack occurred, I was {am} rendered useless. Sitting down hurt. Standing up hurt. Lying down sent surges of pain through my entire body. I couldn’t do anything but sit there, rocking back and forth, and cry. Sometimes for hours. About a month ago, these pains started coming every day or every other day and were taking control.

When my husband found out what I was going through, {because I had tried so hard to hide it!}, he insisted I make an appointment with my doctor. Not being able to stand the pain any longer, I gave in.

I was terrified it was going to be expensive. With hubby’s crappy insurance, we just don’t have thousands of dollars to pour into medical tests.

A little over a week ago, I saw the doctor. She decided to do a full blood panel and see if we could draw any answers from it. Six vials of blood later, I left praying that I would soon have answers.

I got my results late last week by phone and mail. My Vitamin D levels were very low. {The report suggested it should be between 32 and 100. My level was at a 14.}

After doing some research online, I am amazed at what Vitamin D deficiency can do to a person. One website I found suggested Vitamin D deficiency to be the cause of these symptoms:

  • Depression
  • Obesity
  • Chronic Pain
  • Diabetes
  • Heart Disease
  • Hypertension
  • Many other symptoms….

I’ve started a daily vitamin regimen, and I am praying that I see some relief soon. What an answer to prayer it would be if the cause for my pain could be “fixed” with just a few pills every day.

Looking back, I should have caught this. After Gage was born, I found myself leaving the house less and less. And when he stopped nursing, I stopped taking my prenatal vitamins. Both of those things could very well explain the drop in my Vitamin D levels, as the timing fits perfectly.

I had no idea that a drop in Vitamin D could cause so many problems, but apparently it can. If you are struggling with any of the symptoms mentioned above, talk to your doctor immediately about what it may be.

I’ll follow up soon and let you know if taking Vitamin D helps eliminate my pain.

Do you suffer from Vitamin D deficiency? Did a vitamin regimen help you?

Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional. This post is based on my pain and experiences with Vitamin D Deficiency. Symptom information can be found on this website: www.vitaminddeficiencyguide.com. Talk to your doctor if you think you are suffering from Vitamin D Deficiency before starting yourself on a vitamin regimen.

Time to Get Healthy!

It’s hard to believe that this coming Friday, Gage will be 8 weeks old. And I’m also having a hard time grasping the fact that Summer is just around the corner. That means bathing suit season is looming, and I just had my sixth baby! Ugh.

So, it’s definitely time for me to get healthy!

Because I am breastfeeding Gage, I can’t jump head over heels into a rapid weight loss program. Instead, I need to make sure that what I do eat is healthy, gives me the nutrients I need, and also gives Gage exactly what he needs, all without adding extra pounds or “fluff” to my hips, thighs, and butt. I have never been one to eat my veggies. But, that has changed big time in the past year. I started eating more veggies while I was pregnant with Gage in order to prevent gaining too much weight. It worked like a charm, and now my favorite snacks are veggies and/or fruit. In fact, I rarely eat any of the other kinds of snacks that I did before.

My cooking habits have also changed tremendously. Now, I’m reading labels a lot more closely, and I’m avoiding things that just aren’t good for us. And I’m making a lot more from scratch now, too, which is a very big deal, given that I’m learning as I go. The family has noticed the change, and they are loving it. Hubby is excited about all the new vegetable dishes I’m introducing, and I’ve been finding ways to make dinner fun for the kids. (Making smiley faces out of vegetables, etc.)

I’ve also cut a lot of soda out of my diet. I love soda. Pepsi is my absolute favorite drink in the world. Before I got pregnant with Gage, I was drinking up to 14 cans of Pepsi a day. Yes, that’s per day. No wonder I had such a hard time losing weight. But, when I got pregnant with Gage, that all changed. I’ve gotten myself down to 3 sodas per week, and absolutely no more than that. There have been quite a few weeks when I’ve gone without a single soda! (Amazing how much longer a 24 pack lasts when you don’t drink 14 cans a day!) I feel better about myself, and while I’m not losing any weight yet, I know that this is definitely a very good step in the right direction to becoming healthy.

I’m also getting a lot more exercise. The past few weeks, I’ve been busy working my tail off at the old house, but in the evenings, we’re taking walks as a family. We now live on a large (paved) hill, so it’s more of a workout to get back home! The kids love getting out as a family, and Gage absolutely loves taking a ride in the stroller. This is one new habit that we will definitely stick with, because everyone enjoys it so much!Weight Watchers Smart Ones

I also want you to know that Weight Watchers Smart Ones is making it easier to stay on track with a healthy meal plan without spending time on prep work beforehand. Their products provide a variety of delicious, convenient and portion controlled meals and snacks that contain lean proteins, whole grains, fruits and vegetables. And now they are offering two new breakfast items – like the new Egg, Sausage & Cheese Wrap and the French Toast with Turkey Sausage. Plus, the packaging tells you the Weight Watchers PointsPlus values in each serving, allowing you to conveniently plan for the day. Visit www.eatyourbest.com for more information.

So, tell me: What are YOU doing to get healthy and prepare for Summer?

Disclaimer: I wrote this review while participating in a blog tour campaign by Mom Central Consulting on behalf of Weight Watchers Smart Ones and received a promotional item and coupons to facilitate my review.

Dannon’s “Small Steps to a Better You” Program

Most people that make New Year’s Resolutions always include one that’s focused on eating better, exercising, or doing something to make a “better you.”

I’m not one for New Year’s Resolutions, only because I rarely follow through, and I get discouraged when I fail at anything. However, since getting pregnant – and already being overweight prior to the pregnancy – I have taken a lot of little steps to change my lifestyle. I’m eating right, I’m exercising, and I’m just trying to make healthier choices. And I’m not just doing it for myself, either. I’ve made changes to my whole family’s lifestyle. We’re parking farther from store entrances so that we have to walk farther, we’re eating better, making better snack choices, and cutting down on all the fatty, greasy foods. It’s made a big difference in my blood pressure, my pregnancy weight gain, and it’s helped keep my husband from gaining weight right along with me this pregnancy. We sleep better at night, and we feel better during the day.

Dannon Small Steps SweepstakesNow Dannon wants to encourage you to live a healthier lifestyle with their Small Steps to a Better You” program. Not only can you take these small steps by making healthier eating choices, you can also get the chance to win free groceries for a week, a month, or even a year! All you have to do is head to dannon.com/smallsteps and enter the UPC code from any Dannon product. You get four daily chances to win instantly. (There’s also a free way to enter at dannon.com/smallsteps.)

Here are the prizes you could win:

  • 3 Grand Prizes: Free Groceries for a year. (Valued at $7,800.)
  • 50 First Prizes: Free Groceries for a month. (Valued at $550.)
  • 100 Second Prizes: Free Groceries for a week. (Valued at $150.)

To learn more about the Dannon “Small Steps to a Better You” Sweepstakes, and to enter for yourself, head to www.dannon.com/smallsteps today.

Please note: Sweepstakes ends February 28th, so hurry and enter!

Now, tell me: How are YOU taking small steps toward a better you?

Dannon Products

Disclaimer: I wrote this review while participating in a blog tour by Mom Central Consulting on behalf of Dannon and received a coupon and gift card to thank me for taking the time to participate.