Monday, September 30, 2013

My Journey to Getting Fit and Eating Healthier

Something is really compelling me to share this with you.  Part of it has to do with my journey I've been taking with FitAddict Training.  Part of it has to do with the Sassy ConFITent Bish program I've joined as well.  I'm really feeling like I need to share with you my incredible journey over the past 6 weeks and how I got there.

7 months ago, I discovered I was gluten-intolerant.  I've been suffering since I was 14 years old.  It really came to a head when I was in college and I had such horrible abdominal pain the doctors performed every test they could think of and I was taking pain killers daily.  I missed a lot of class.  I stopped living my life.  While my friends were out dancing, I was home in agony, with heating pads and sobbing into a pillow.  My relationship with my husband (who was my boyfriend at the time) suffered as well because I was getting really depressed.  I had no idea what was wrong with me and I was starting to feel like the doctors might think I was a hypochondriac!  They couldn't find anything wrong with me.

Fast forward to 2004.  After visiting every doctor I could think of, I finally saw a gastroenterologist.  She informed me I had IBS and was definitely lactose intolerant (which I had known for years just by my reaction to milk.)  I finally had SOME sort of an answer.  For a while, I was on a drug that helped alleviate some of the symptoms.  It was recalled from the market and I was back to square one.  I tried some other meds, but nothing really helped.

3 months before we were ready to start trying for babies, I had to go off all meds.  It was miserable.  Pregnancy brought on really bad days and really good days with my IBS.  My last trimester, I was pretty good to go.  After I gave birth, I could eat anything until I hit the 3 week mark.  Then, my IBS was back full-force.  Because I was nursing, there was absolutely nothing I could take.

After being pregnant and nursing for so long, I just didn't even think to go back to medication.  I suffered through the symptoms every day.  I got pregnant with my second some a couple years later and had similar reactions.  Last February, things came to a head for me.  I was SO incredibly miserable, I couldn't bare it.  I didn't want to eat any more because I couldn't picture myself any more miserable than I already was.  I finally conceded to going back to see my gastroenterologist.

I had dreaded for years what she told me...DREADED it!!!!  "Well, Hope.  Even though I've tested you for Celiac's disease and it came back negative, I suspect you're gluten intolerant or gluten sensitive.  I'd like you to try a gluten-free diet for at least 2 weeks."  NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!  Not the dreaded "GLUTEN-FREE" diet!

In one sense, I was terrified.  Mad.  Bothered.  In the other sense, I was excited.  Almost giddy.  Hopeful.

I was told to try this gluten-free diet for 2 weeks, and if that didn't work, I was told to try the FODMAPS diet.

I stuck to the diet for 2 straight weeks and kept a detailed food diary.  I felt about 20% better.  It was enough for me to want to keep going because 20% better was WAY better than I had been feeling for the past 19 years!

After 2 months, I was down 7 lbs. and feeling 100% better.  After 3 months, I felt 200% better!  I have accepted my gluten-free lifestyle.  I took a positive attitude.  I had to.

Then, during month 3.....I started gaining weight.  Rapidly.  It was depressing and I didn't know how to make it stop.  You see, being gluten-free, you start to feel a bit sorry for yourself.  You can't have the cookie everyone else is having, so you make yourself a batch of flourless brownies.  You find every excuse to eat those flowerless brownies because everyone else can have this, that and the other thing you can't have.  Bacon was on my weekly list of things to eat because I could.  I couldn't have the pancakes the rest of my family was having, so I compensated with other things.  I felt hungry all the time.

I finally had enough.  I bought a Jillian Michaels DVD and started working out at the end of July.  For a week and a half, I did it every day!  I was going to be "Ripped in 30" like Jillian Michaels said.

Then, Andrea Walshaw of FitAddict Training randomly "walked" into my life.  She sent me a message through my A Busy Mom's Slow Cooker Adventures page about her "FitAddict Program" she thought would be perfect for my busy mom fans.  Always a sceptic, I asked her to give me more info.  She told me to try it for myself and I did just that.

I was hooked after the first 3 days.  I could walk down to my basement, turn on my computer and workout.  No drive to the gym.  No juggling the kids around.  I could DO this!

And so, I've been doing it now for 6 weeks.  Along the way, Andrea and Julie have both helped me with a daily meal plan.  I've started cooking even healthier and I'm determined to stick to it.  I want my husband and kids to see the hard work I'm putting in and what can become of it when you really work for something.

Eating healthy doesn't have to mean flavorless.  You just learn to use ingredients in different ways.  Greek yogurt has become my new BFF.  Eating healthier has helped me stay focused.  I actually eat about 6 times a day.  I LOVE it because I don't ever feel "starving" like I used to.

This has been a long journey for me, but such a rewarding one.  As I move forward with my FitAddict Training, I know I have SO much potential.  My clothes are feeling so good!  I'm actually seeing something I admire and like when I look in the mirror.  I'm feeling more confident.  More energetic.  I'm able to handle stress in a way I never could.

Here is me now.  I'm still a work in progress, but that's ok!  I'm going to be the best ME, I can be!

I guess in a way, you could say it was being diagnosed as gluten-intolerant that has changed my life so dramatically.  That, and Andrea Walshaw randomly walking into it when she did.  Timing is everything.

People have saying to me "I don't know how you do everything you do." "I could never get up that early and workout like you do."  "I'm so busy, I just don't have the time."  Here's the key.  You have to WANT it.  You can do ANYTHING you WANT to do.  But, you have to want it bad enough.

What's my secret to fitting it all in?  Not only do I WANT it, I make it a priority.  I am worth that.  Sometimes that means not getting a blog post done.  Sometimes that means working out when I'm dead tired.  Sometimes that means waking up at 5:30 a.m. before the kids and family are up.  But, you know what.  It's worth it.  Every second of it.  It is making me a better person.

Do you have fitness and health goals?  Are you afraid to start something?  Let's chat about it below.  I would love to hear what YOU are thinking!

*For more information on FitAddicTraining please email Andrea and Julie at
*For more information on Sassy ConFITent Bish program, please email Andrea at Print Friendly and PDF

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Super Healthy Cabbage Soup - Gluten-Free

Delicious. Low-Calorie. Low-Sodium. Delicious. Good-for-you.  Delicious.  No guilt.  Did I say delicious?

I've waited a long time to create a cabbage soup recipe!  Actually, about a year ago, my neighbor gave me a bottle of V8 juice and I had heard that was a great starter for Cabbage Soup.  It sat and sat in my cupboard and one day, my husband cleaned out the pantry when I wasn't home and tossed it (apparently it had expired according to him.) Sigh.  At least he took the initiative to clean the cupboard, right?  Glass half full???

In case you haven't noticed, I've been on a "health kick" since starting my FitAddict Training 6 weeks ago.  When I went to the grocery store, I realized I didn't want all the sugar or sodium that came along with V8.  So, I picked up a can of "No Salt Added Tomato Juice" and decided I could make it taste as good, if not better, than the V8 in my soup!  And my friends, MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!!!!

I present to you a soup PACKED with vitamins and incredibly flavorful.  Please feel free to adjust the spices to meet your families' likes and needs.  I've been really focused on low-sodium because I don't ever want Kidney stones again (if you've never had them, thank your lucky stars!  Men, if you've had them, you now know what labor feels like, congratulations!) My husband felt it needed more salt, but that's the beauty of salt.  You can have each person add it to their liking at your table, instead of making it salty and no one wanting to eat it because it's too salty! LOL

On a side note, my son has been LOVING helping me cook.  Please excuse the messy and blurry pictures.  It was difficult to work with a 2 year old very close to a knife and on a stool......and my hand wasn't real steady!  LOL  He had a blast though and I LOVE that he loves to cook like his mamma!!!!

Enjoy this guilt-free soup!

Servings: 8-10

3 cups cabbage, chopped
1 1/2 cups onion, chopped
2 large tomatoes, chopped
3 carrots, halved and sliced
2 stalks celery, halved and sliced
1 jalapeno, seeded and diced
1 Tbsp. garlic powder
2-3 tsp. salt
1 tsp. basil
1 tsp. oregano
1/4 tsp. pepper
46 oz. no salt added tomato juice
5 cups water

Directions: (Use a 5 quart or larger slow cooker)
In the bottom of your crock, place the cabbage, onions, tomatoes, carrots, celery and jalapeno.  

Add in the garlic powder, salt, basil, oregano and pepper.

Now, add the tomato juice and water.

Cook on LOW for 8 hours, or on HIGH for 4 hours.
Serve and ENJOY!

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Friday, September 27, 2013

New and Kid-Friendly Recipes from FamilyFun Magazine

FamilyFun emailed and asked if I was interested in sharing some of their new kid-friendly recipes with my readers.  When I saw this idea for Banana Cupcakes, I instantly responded "YES!"
Isn't this a GREAT idea!!!!!  Here's what you need:
Peanut butter (You could sub almond butter for this)

1. Use a piping bag and round decorating tip (or a ziplock bag with a corner snipped off) to pipe a swirl of peanut butter on a 1-inch thick slice of banana.
2. Top with fresh berries, shredded coconut, or other healthy favorites.

These Whooo's Hungry Owl Crackers are adorable as well!
Here's what you need:
Round crackers
Mini round crackers
Cream cheese

1. Spread a layer of plain cream cheese on a round cracker, using the tip of the spreader to make small indents for feathers.
2. Press on a pair of mini round cracker eyes (we pulled apart a Ritz Bits sandwich and used a half for each eye) and attach raisin pupils with a dab of cream cheese.
3. Finish by pressing on an almond beak and almond-slice feathers.

These snacks would be perfect for school parties, after-school snacks, parties or for play dates!  What a great excuse to "play with your food!"  For more great kid-friendly snack ideas visit
We'll be feasting on both of these in the near future!

*Disclosure: I am NOT being compensated in any way for this post.  All opinions expressed here are entirely my own. Print Friendly and PDF

Disney on Ice Celebrates 100 Years of Magic Comes at The Palace of Auburn Hills Oct. 16-20, 2013

Great News!
Disney on Ice Celebrates 100 Years of Magic
is coming to The Palace of Auburn Hills
October 16-20, 2013

A century of classic and new Disney stars are taking to the ice to share memories, laughs and excitement in Disney On Ice celebrates 100 Years of Magic (produced by Feld Entertainment).

Tickets are now on sale and are priced from $20-$57.  They are available for purchase at The Palace Box Office, all Ticketmaster outlets, online at, and by phone at (800) 745-3000.
This magical moment in entertainment history combines Disney’s unforgettable stories and enthralling characters that have entertained families all over the world. The captivating production features the largest cast ever of lovable Disney stars on ice – Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Buzz Lightyear, Woody, Pinocchio, Jiminy Cricket, Stitch, Nemo and the Incredibles – and exciting moments from Disney’s Mulan and The Lion King.

Audiences will not want to miss this once-in-a-lifetime ice spectacular that features beautifully choreographed figure skating to Academy Award®-winning songs “When You Wish Upon a Star,” “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah,” “Beauty and the Beast,” “Under the Sea,” “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” and many more. Dazzling sets, memorable characters, beautiful costumes and exciting special effects will transport audiences through decades of beloved Disney stories.

Show times for Disney On Ice celebrates 100 Years of Magic at The Palace of Auburn Hills, October 16-20, 2013 are:
·         Wednesday, October 16 @ 7:30 PM
·         Thursday, October 17 @ 7:30 PM
·         Friday, October 18 @ 11:00 AM & 7:30 PM
·         Saturday, October 19 @ 11:30 AM, 3:30 PM & 7:30 PM
·         Sunday, October 20 @ 1:00 PM & 5:00 PM

To discover more about Disney On Ice, go to, or visit us on Facebook and YouTube. 

*Disclosure: I am being provided with Media Tickets in exchange for this preview. 
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Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The Zelfs #Review and #GIVEAWAY!

*Disclosure: I was provided with a "The Zelfs" in exchange for my review and to host this giveaway.  All opinions expressed here are entirely my own and may differ from others'.
 Do you see this adorable little guy?!  This a Zelf doll.  They are incredibly cute and will keep your child entertained for hours!  They encourage your child to "Love yourzelf!" So cute!!!!
 As you can see, the main attraction of these is the hair.
 My daughter LOVES to do hair on anyone, so when she got her hands on the Zelf doll, she immediately went to town!
 Each Zelf comes with a brush and some hair clips.
 Some finishing touches going on here....
 And "Ta-Da!!!"  Her masterpiece!

These little guys come in many different colors and finishes (glow in the dark, glitter and pearl) and would make GREAT gifts for the kids in your life!  They are appropriate for ages 5+ and run about $12.99.  They are available at major toy retailers nationwide.
You can find them on Facebook or
Their website is great by the way!  Fun stuff for the kiddos to do there!

Want a chance to win one of these adorable little Zelfs for a child in your life???  Well, you've come to the right place!
You may enter below through the Giveaway tool.
The only required entry will be to comment on this blog post with which Zelf you like most!
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Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Princess Expressions Dress Up #Review from Almar

*Disclosure: I was sent some Princess Expressions items to try in exchange for a review.  All opinions expressed here are entirely my own and may differ from others'.

My beautiful little girl is wearing a Princess Dress, Light-Up Tiara and Shoes from Almar. 
These adorable items made my little girl giddy with excitement!
She loved how the pretty purple shoes...

and how the crown sparkled!

The dress was super cute!  Ella said she felt like Princess Sophia!

Whatever your little boy or girl likes to dress up as, you're sure to find something that they like!
Princess Expressions are available at TJMaxx Stores.
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Monday, September 23, 2013

MadPax Spiketus Halfpack #Review

*Disclosure: I was provided with a Spiketus Halfpack in exchange for a review.  All opinions expressed here are entirely my own and may differ from others'.

Boy, oh, BOY was my son excited when I pulled this adorable MadPax Spiketus Halfpack out of the box!

What is it?  It's an adorable Toddler sized backpack that looks like a Dinosaur shell!
Gavin wore it everywhere!
 Look at that excited little face!
 He was most excited because his sister got a new backpack for Kindergarten and he was feeling left out.  He takes this backpack every day to Daycare and he feels like such a big boy!

This backpack has been traveling back and forth to daycare for the past month and still looks brand new.  Ms. Colleen tells me that all the kids at daycare like to feel Gavin's backpack every day!  LOL

MadPax's come in a variety of cool colors, designs and in 4 different sizes.  Gavin is wearing the Halfpack Spiketus.  You are sure to find the perfect MadPax for your little one on their site!
You can find out more at or visit them on Facebook.
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Sunday, September 22, 2013

Outshine Fruit Bars #Review

*Disclaimer: I was provided with several boxes of Outshine Bars to try in exchange for a review.  All opinions expressed here are entirely my own and may differ from others'.

We had recently had the pleasure of trying 4 of the great Outshine fruit bars flavors! The flavors are Coconut Waters with Banana, Coconut Waters with Pineapple, Pomegranate and Strawberry.

We decided to involve several taste testers in our review, so we traveled around the neighborhood, bringing Outshine goodness to all our friends!

 Gavin enjoyed the Coconut Waters with Banana!  He LOVES banana....and he even shared with his sissy!
 Gavin was a happy customer!
 Our neighbor Brook enjoyed a Strawberry Fruit bar!  Her tongue actually got stuck, but we got it all worked out, LOL!
 Our neighbors Alexis and Morgan enjoyed the Pomegranate and Coconut Waters with Pineapple.  They both gave them a major thumbs up!
 Here's Gavin.....still working away at his!
 Morgan shared her Coconut Waters with Pineapple with her dog, Fiona.  Fiona was a happy customer!
Here's Ella with our neighbor Lila.  They both enjoyed the Strawberry Fruit Bars very much!

I had a little taste of each and I can tell you these stand out above other Fruit Bars.  The Coconut Waters Bars contain real pieces of fruit!  That's something you don't find very often.  All of the bars are very low in calories.

Outshine has a new flavor coming out soon....Blood Orange!  Oh, YUM!!!!  They should hit the shelves mid-November (that's right around the time of my birthday!)  I fell in love with blood oranges when I took my first trip to Italy in College, so I can't wait!

You can keep up with Outshine on their Facebook Page.
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Thursday, September 19, 2013

Slow Cooker Frittata with Tomatoes, Avocado and Cilantro - Gluten-Free

My good friend Maria suggested I make a Frittata for dinner this week, so I said "why not?!"  We all LOVE breakfast around here, so this was the perfect fit for us!

A Frittata is very simple, you see.  All it is is eggs, some seasonings and some delicious add-ins.  We love tomatoes in our eggs, so that was a "for sure" add-in.  I had avocados in the fridge, and that was a no-brainer for me.  They are such a healthy fat to have!  The cilantro was hanging out in the fridge and was about to go bad, so I used some of that too.  However, you can make this with anything your heart desires!  Add in meat if you want!  Add in some bell peppers if you like those!  Own it!

This has about a 4 hour cook time on LOW, so I cooked it on HIGH for 2 hours when I got home from work (Wednesdays I get home around 4:00.)  While it cooked, the kids played outside, I mowed the lawn, got lunches ready for the next day and read with Ella.  It was a very productive 2 hours in which I didn't have to babysit anything on the stove or oven!  

This. was. delicious! The kids cleaned their plates.  Hubby and I cleaned our plates.  I'll be making this far more often!

Servings: 4-6

10 eggs
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
8 dashes hot sauce
1/8 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4-1/2 cup onion, chopped
1/2 cup tomato, chopped
1/2 cup avocado, chopped
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped

Directions: (Use a 5 Quart or larger slow cooker)
In a bowl, place the eggs, grated parmesan, hot sauce, pepper and salt.
 Mix it up.

Spray your crock with non-stick spray.  I used a slow cooker liner and sprayed it.  I was able to lift the entire frittata out of the crock this way to cut and serve it easier.
Pour the egg mixture into your crock.
Sprinkle in the onions,
and cilantro.

Cook on LOW for 4 hours, or on HIGH for 2 hours (or until the center is set)
Serve and enjoy!
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