Friday, July 29, 2011

Friday Fun Facts

One: I love breakfast food; it might even be my part of the entire day. But I can’t do oatmeal. I will eat oatmeal cookies on occasion though, especially after donating blood. I really don’t know how people eat oatmeal for breakfast every single day, it kind of creeps me out.

Two: When I have to write something that requires deep thinking, I listen to rap music. Not sure why.

Three: On that note, the worst pick-up line I ever received was while pumping gas for my family in South Carolina. The dude looked like Lil Wayne without the long hair and said, “Hmmmm girl, you’re beautiful. Did you ever think about dating a thug?”

I had to stop and think for a minute + I was in shock. Well, I did think about it once when I saw Dem Franchise Boyz in concert in South Padre Island (jokes).

“I’m actually in a really happy relationship.” I could have kept it simple and said I had a boyfriend, and turned the other way – but this fueled him for another comeback.

He looked me up and down and said, “Damn- what a shame. Hope he treats you good as you look!”

I thought he had a limp when he walked away, but just this year I learned the limp is referred to as “swag.”

At this point, I pictured myself in a video. Maybe I would date a thug. Just kidding, but I definitely would be in the cupid shuffle dance video. Or that Cha Cha Slide, I’ve got those moves down. Just ask anyone at one of the 11 wedding receptions I’ve attended this summer.

Four: Speaking of wedding receptions, our bank account is not impressed. But I have a lot of cute summer dresses if that counts for anything. (I think it does).

The Emenhiser Wedding 03.05.11 (Lindsay & Matt)

The Rice Wedding 06.25.11

The Emenhiser Wedding 06.11.11 (Kyle & Amanda)

The Foley Wedding 05.14.11
The Semon Wedding 04.29.11


Anytime I'm in the sun :)
Today at work. I'm standing awkwardly because I'm afraid someone will walk in and catch me.

Five: I have a newly developed addiction to the salad bar at Marsh. Even better? They have free cheese samples laying out every single time I go. Most days, I also grab the bread sample from the bakery and make the world’s smallest cheese sandwich.

Smallest cheese sandwich ever. For free. Thank you, Marsh.

Have a great weekend!

Much love,

Thursday, July 28, 2011

From The Eyes of a Daughter

Three years ago, I was on the fifth floor at Clarian Hospital. I was typing away on my computer. I would take a few sips of my coffee and look up at my dad every time I heard him moan in pain. Once I realized everything was OK or that he needed a drink of water, I was back to writing about one of the most inspiring and moving days of my life; the day my dad donated his kidney to his wife to extend both her life...and their journey through life together. Below is the story that I wrote about that day (which also got picked up in the local paper): 

July 29, 2009
Ronald Darrell Bedwell smiled across the hallway to his wife. His bright smile was similar to the one embedded on his face when she walked down the aisle on their wedding day fifteen years ago. Beth Ann Bedwell smiled back. They were placed directly across from each other in the pre-operation rooms.

Today, he is donating his left kidney to his bride.

One doesn’t often hear a love story similar to theirs; a wife in kidney failure after a life-long battle with diabetes and a husband standing by her side through every admission in the hospital. The couple’s true love keeps their souls intertwined as one. After six long weeks of testing and worrying, he will do more than stand by her hospital bed this time. He will be the reason she will live to see tomorrow.

For better or for worse, through sickness and in health, and til death do us part were promises the couple kept wholeheartedly.

The smiles paused when their daughter became overwhelmed by the situation. She realized both of her parents were undergoing an extensive procedure, leaving the fate of her parents in the hands of trained medical experts at Clarian Health in Indianapolis. But what if something happens?

As a tear rolled down Brittney’s cheek, she threw herself onto her mother’s lap. Her voice cracked and the tears started pouring like a fierce storm.

“I’m so scared, Mom!” she said.

The emotional moment made everyone start to cry. Across the hallway, tears filled his eyes.

“Are you ready, Ron?” the nurse asked. He stood up tall and strong. He walked over and gave his wife a loving kiss. For those few seconds, they reflected on being in love, not being in the hospital. When Ron opened his eyes, he saw his daughters crying. His eyes became full again.

As he hugged everyone goodbye, his bride leaned back in her bed. She stared confidently in the eyes of the man who was about to save her life. Now is the time when music would start playing in a scene of Grey’s Anatomy. 
But I didn’t hear Meredith say anything inspirational and Dr. McDreamy wasn’t there to hold our hands. 
We were left to inspire each other.

The next few hours seemed to pass like months. Around 3 p.m. the doctor told us the surgeries went great.                                                                                                                                                                           

“Britney, please take the phone and take a picture of Dad. I just want to see him,” Beth said softly when we first saw her.

The transplantation brought our family together. The devoted surgeons, doctors, and nurses extended a happy marriage, which may have ended sooner than anticipated if dad wasn’t a compatible donor. Their love story inspires others to cherish every awakening moment together. After all, when one is standing in a hospital gown with their cherished spouse, all that matters is the love that fills their hearts and the hope that floats in their souls.

At the Cowboys v. Colt's game this past year.
 Three years later....they are both doing great and still head over heels for each other. 

Love big today every single day.

Much love,

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Over The Weekend...

Last week, I gained 4 lbs. I've already lost those 4 lbs by eating right and not drinking every single night (last week we did a Styx concert Tue, friends over for dinner Wed, drinks after work on Thurs and Taco night on Fri).

My body hated me, especially over the weekend....

At least I tried to drink healthy with vodka, water and cucumbers. False, booze will make you fat.
End of story.

Another example of how powerful and important it is to fuel your body with the right foods.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

My Best Friend's Birthday

It's my best friend's birthday this weekend. Not to be confused with My Best Friend's Wedding, which is one of my favorite weddings of all time. On that note, I am reminded of how important it is to tell your friends how much you love much you need them...and how much you value your memories together.

Toni as my wedding date at the Frey wedding.
One of my favorite pictures of us...ever.

Proudly standing beside me on one of the biggest / best days of my life.
We fall down together and get back up together. That's just what best friends do.
Halloween 2006. We are babies.


We would never miss a photo opp.

Who knows?

Toni's 21st bday with the girls! :)

My 21st bday! :)
This picture sums up Toni.

And this picture sums up our adventures living together.

Toni and I have been through so much together.

First loves.

First roomates.

First fights.

First drinks.

First roadtrips.

First heartbreaks.

First year at college.

We - like all friends- went through a tough time. But without fail, we survived our first fall out too.

She is a beautiful and inspiring person. Right now, she is going to school for nursing and wants to move away when she is done. It absolutely breaks my heart. And I realize how important it is to spend every moment I can with her...before she is states away. But she has promised that she will go to my birthing classes with me when I am preggers one day...even if she is there via Skype. Yes, she is that close to me that I would let her be my birthing coach. Justin did not object, although I know he will come too! :)

I remember laying in bed one night in the dorms at Ball State. The lights were out - but like sisters sharing the same room - we stayed up all night talking and laughing.

She told me that if something ever happened to me...she would get a tattoo of me...on her back so I always have her back. It makes me smile thinking of that memory and those nights...and I never ever for one minute doubted if she would get that tattoo...Heck, she still might.

She is my sister from another mister. She is a blessing in my life. And it's safe to say, she has shaped my life and made me a better person. I wouldn't trade our memories, stores and adventures together for anything in the world.

And the biggest lesson from our friendship? Never give up on someone. Love them and support them...pick them up when they fall down and never forget how important time can never give enough of it to someone you love.

Much love,

Monday, July 25, 2011

Falling Off The Wagon

Pizza, booze, cheese dips and mini hotdogs. Yes, those are just a few of things I ate over the weekend. Yes, I felt horrible. Yes, I easily gained 3 lbs. Easily. I feel off the wagon. One cheat day turned into a giant cheat weekend.

But I am human. I make mistakes. In the past, I would have given up and resorted to old habits. Very quickly. I would have gone to Starbucks this morning for a sugary latte and had Mexican food for lunch. Yes, I'll have another basket of those 1,000 calorie chips please.

What did I do instead?

I kicked ass.

I ate fresh fruit for breakfast, soup & salad for lunch and a banana and peanut butter for a snack. Next up = salmon and fresh veggies for dinner. No sugary coffee. No booze. Just water and black coffee.

I am human.

I make mistakes.

But this time around, I kept going.

Everyone falls off the wagon here and there, but the most important thing is that we wipe ourselves off and climb back on. Even if you feel that you have no strength, I'm sure you have someone in front of you waiting to pull you up.

Thank you to my beautiful, loving and amazing hubby for picking me up today...and every day of my life really.... I woke up late, so sleepy. I didn't know what to wear so I just threw something together and he looked at me with a huge smile and said, "You look really pretty!"

I didn't feel pretty ...I felt like a bloated whale. And felt horrible my habits over the weekend. But my husband made me feel pretty. More importantly, he gave me that little burst of hope and energy to invest more time and my health for the day. And every day.

Justin, you truly make the bumpy road a lot smoother.

My best friend.

It's going to be great, growing old with you.

Much love,

Monday, July 18, 2011

Eating Right Part 2: Saying Goodbye To Excuses

I don’t have enough time.
It’s too expensive.
I don’t know where to start.

Do you know what the above three sentences represent? The most common excuses I hear for why people don’t eat healthy. Let’s address each one of these:

1-    I don’t have enough time. No one really has enough time. There is always something to do and somewhere to be. Just like your mama always told you – money doesn’t grow on trees – well neither does time. Just like you have to work hard to make money, you have to work hard to make time; which often means changing around your schedule. For me, I used to always wake up late (unable to pack my lunch and eat a healthy breakfast). Now, I try to wake up an hour earlier in order to make egg beaters and turkey sausage (no buttery toast as I am running out the door) and for lunch I make sure I plan for something healthy and low-carb (a salad, wrap, etc). Another suggestion is cleaning your plate – not literally the plate in front of you at the dinner table- rather, evaluate all the organizations, clubs, classes, etc. that you are involved in. Think of what you can eliminate from your busy schedule to give yourself valuable time to focus on your health and fitness.

2-    It’s too expensive. This one gets me every time. I understand – in general- healthier foods are more expensive. However, you can eat healthy and still remain in your budget. It starts with pre-planning your meals and thinking of what you can re-use in other dishes.  Think about how much money people spend on going out to eat. Sometimes Justin and I will spend $40 at dinner just between the two of us! I could buy a week of healthy meals with $40. Grilled chicken breast, vegetables, fish (this is where the cost really is noticeable), fruits, etc. Let’s apply a real-world example.  A (good) frozen pizza cost about $5 – using that same money, I could get a bag of carrot sticks for $1 at Meijer (steam those puppies up and save the rest for snacks), chicken drumsticks $2.50 (to grill up) and box of brown rice $2. I spent 50 cents more and I have a healthy meal and leftover carrots for snacks! But the cost savings isn’t what matters; it’s the calories, grams of fat and grams of carbs that you end up saving that TRULY matter.
Grilled scallops and fish (not sure which kind) and a grilled tomato stuffed with goat cheese and corn!

Grilled salmon, carrots and broccoli! YUM!

3-    I don’t know where to start. We’ve all been there. You feel stuck in old habits and don’t know how to change them. You aren’t sure what to cook and are always stumped at what healthy dishes to order when you dine out. Like all good things, it starts with research!  Instead of picking up a Cosmo at the grocery store, pick up a health and fitness magazine such as Women’s Health or Healthy Living. Google recipes for healthy meals and side dishes. You’d be surprised by the healthy desserts you can make too.

Here are a few meals and snacks I enjoy:
•    Non-fat plain Greek yogurt with one packet of splenda and add berries of your choice.  I buy a large bag of frozen berries, which taste great and last longer. This is a delicious and sweet snack that fills you up at the same time!
•    Hummus – my dear Hummus. I love it. Instead of eating it with pita bread or chips (high carbs) I opt for carrots or other veggies such as broccoli and cauliflower – even mushrooms are good dipped in hummus!
•    Low-carb wraps filled with turkey, ham or chicken loaded with lettuce, tomato, avocado, and low-fat mozzarella cheese – sometimes light mayo. Make it a high-fiber vegetarian wrap by using black beans, corn, salsa, lettuce, low-fat mozzarella cheese and non-fat plain Greek yogurt (for those of you who love sour cream like me).
•    Egg beaters or egg whites with turkey sausage crumbles are delicious. Add in chopped veggies such as peppers, mushrooms, and onions.  Sprinkle low fat mozzarella cheese and salsa / hot sauce for more flavor. The best way to start your morning!
•    Get rid of pop! NOW! Start drinking green tea and water. Coffee without sugar or cream is great too. It’ll grow hair on your chest, so get some Nair. Just kidding, but you really do get used to it. And if hopes for a better future in taste don’t make you change your mind, think about this: You will gain an average of 10 lbs a year simply from drinking coffee with sugar and cream every morning.
•    For dinners, Justin and I usually cook a meat (typically chicken or fish – sometimes ground turkey or chicken burgers without buns) with a salad or two vegetable sides (broccoli, asparagus, zucchini, yellow squash, green beans, corn and sometimes potatoes (baked only).
•    Vegetable stir fry- less rice, more veggies!
•    My favorite fruit snacks, which are easy to carry with me are: bananas, mangos, peaches and oranges. I generally hate apples, but make an exception for apples with peanut butter or Apple Crisp (not on the approval list, however).

I hope this helps you stop making excuses (like I did for countless years). It's not easy. And there have been times I cried at the thought of eating another piece of grilled chicken. Literally, I cried; tears- down my face. But I sucked it up and ate that grilled chicken. Because at the end of the day, I know I'd cry a lot more if I ate a cheesey pepperoni pizza and breadsticks dipped in nacho cheese dip.

 In the meantime, what excuse do you hear most often and what is your reaction?

Much love,

Read Eating Right Part 1 here.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Praying in the John, Diving Into Rapids and Peeing While Surfing

July 6, 2011

"Twenty yeras from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you did not do than by the ones you did..." - Mark Twain

This quote was in the magazine at ACE Adventure Resort that highlighted the white water rafting trip. I fell in love with the quote instantly and it quickly became my mantra for the white water rafting adventure.

The Morning of the Trip
Justin often says that I'm like a child...I forget to pee before we leave and end up having to stop 15 minutes into the trip. I pout when I don't get my way- sometimes even do a foot stomp. I beg for things I want. I tell him I refuse to eat stuff that he makes. I cry when I am frustrated. Really, Justin is prepared for parenthood simply by being married to me.

We woke up a little late, which is understandable considering how we had to be at the registration tent by 7:30 a.m. Who gets up that early on vacation? Well, The Adventure Siebs, of course! :)

You are supposed to wear non-cotton clothing / swim suit when you go white water rafting because cotton material will keep your body cold.

Of course, I put on my non-cotton workout clothes...yet, forgot to put on my swim suit. I just put on my cotton undies and bra. Justin reminded me 100 million times to put my swim suit on, but it was early...and I don't function until at least 9 a.m. most days. By the time we walked out of the door, it was 7:30 a.m. (so we were a little late).

We were half way there when I realized I didn't have my swimsuit on.

"Babe - I forgot my swim suit- is that big deal?" I asked. I already knew the answer. Yes, it was.

"Really?" Justin said with his "daddy" voice. "Yes, it's a big deal. Go back and change."

"OK- well give me the key and you go down to check us in," I said. "I'll run!"

I took off running in my wet shoes. I felt like I was running in Vibrams and I must say, I really liked it! So that made me smile.

Justin locked the door, but for some reason it pushed right open without me even sticking in the key. Great, the lock is jammed on the door. And someone is going to break in and steal all of our stuff.

I changed quickly into my swim suit, but I was still worried about someone breaking into our cabin. So I did what any logical person would do. I jammed up the benches / kitchen chairs against the door. I was certain this wasn't going to stop someone from busting through..but I at least wasn't going to make their burglary that easy.

I went out the back door of the cabin and ran my heart out to the tent. Along the way, a group of four older man watched me as I flew past them. They were drinking beer (yes, at 7:36 a.m.) and one of them yelled, "RUN A MILE FOR ME TOO!"

I smiled and yelled back, "Sure will!"

If only he knew I stopped 50 feet up the road. Oh well, at least I looked like a fast runner for 20 seconds in my life to 4 old men. I'll take it!!!!

I finally found Justin and told him about the door. He politely informed me that he knew it was like that the whole time, but didn't want me to stress or freak out. So I informed him that I had, in fact, stressed out and blocked the front doorway with every chair I could find and thought about lifting the couch up sideways to block the door.

"Oh...My...Gosh," Justin said. "You are crazy. I'll let the office know about the door. And I'll make sure I'll tell them to use the back door since my wife barricaded the front door..."


Praying in the john

Just like scuba diving, your instructor / guide always makes you fear your life before going out on your adventure. They tell you every way you can possibly die and everything that will and can go wrong. Of course, they do this for your safety. The more educated you are, the more prepared you are in the event of a crisis. But somethings you just can't save yourself getting thrown out of the boat near an undercut rock and drowning. Not fun.

Even though she assured us that the most common injury on the trip was sunburn, I was absolutely terrified. I figured up at least 23.5 ways I could die that day on the river....and that was just in the time it took to get ready, load up the bus and drive to our location.

When we got there, the first thing I did was run into the Port-a-Potty and pray. I was so frantic I forgot to lock the there is a good chance someone saw me praying for my life and the safety of Justin while hiding in the John.

I was in there praying for a good 10 minutes. By the end of it, I decided if I was supposed to die while white water rafting..I suppose that is better than dying a long and painful death of cancer. So I repeated my mantra and reminded myself I don't want to regret not going on this trip in 20 years.

We ended up getting grouped with another guide and two young college girls, who were really awesome. Our guide was a hilarious Southern boy, who made the trip a lot of fun.

I got my fear out I was the first (and only) person to fall off the boat during a rapid. We were straight towards a rock and when you catch the video (I promise I will post soon), you can see that I look at Justin with confidence that I am falling out of the boat. And I did. And I didn't die. I laughed and got pulled back in the boat with a huge smile on my face.

Diving Into Rapids

"Alright- this next rapid you can actually swim through if you want," the guide said.

Swim? Through a rapid? Before I could think of the consequences my legs were half way out the boat, "Who is coming with me?!" And I was in the water! :)

My next big milestone was jumping off a 25 foot rock. It was (by no surprise) called Jump Rock. The height depends on the water level. Climbing up the rock, it didn't seem that high. But holy cow...once I got up there, it felt like 50 feet.

The camera man was in my life, "Sooo are you ready to jump? Any final words?"

How does he know that I think I will die during every event? Do I always have a look on my face that says "I am scared of life!"?

"OH wow- this is a lot higher than it looks...why did I come up here?" I said.

The camera was still rolling. Someone yelled "JUST DO IT!!!"

"Ohhhhhh SHHOOOOTTTT!" I said and then threw myself off the edge of the rock, screaming the entire way down.

Peeing While Surfing

For some reason I couldn't pee in the river, which is really your only bathroom from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Maybe it was the pressure of the water / currents- but I just couldn't pee all day. So after lunch, I felt like my bladder was going to burst.

When you "surf" a rapid, you go through the rapid and then turn around...go back into the rapid from the opposite direction and let the rapid turn you sideways and "surf" the wave of the rapid.

The first boat attempted to surf and didn't have the power to fight through the rapid. Next, we went  and made it. Only we made it a little too far. We got stuck. In a hydraulic. So there we were, getting pounded with water and stuck sideways. I couldn't stop laughing, I thought it was so funny. Everyone was trying to escape and I just sat in the middle of the boat and laughed....and then finally, I could pee. It was a miracle.

"OMG!" I yelled. "I HAVE TO PEE!"

"JUST DOOOO ITTTTT!!!" The guide yelled up at me.

It was like a true scene from Dumb and Dumber...and I wasted no time. I peed while surfing the rapid. It was magical.

Finally, 13 minutes later, we were towed out of the rapid by another raft and were able to finish our journey down the New River.

Overall, I had an amazing time on our white water rafting trip. And I would DEFINITELY go again. In fact, I'm trying to gather up a big group of friends to come...I would probably pee and laugh a lot more in the boat with them....

Much love,

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Eating Right Part 1: Embracing the Power of Your Mind

Last night, one of my good friends Savannah sent me an encouraging message after my blog post yesterday revealing my newly discovered belly button. Then she asked me a question that took me SO many years to figure out: "So, how do you control your eating habits?" I promised her a blog post, so Savannah - this one is dedicated to you. And to Chelsea Baughman- who has been waiting for this post...after a minor teaser :)

I'd like to start by asking this question: Do you realize how powerful your mind is? 

I believe mental strength can most always beat physical strength. So the theme of my advice isn't about eating non-fat plain Greek yogurt on your tacos in place of sour cream (which is actually really good and zero fat). It's not about drinking green tea instead of coffee in the morning.  I don't need to tell you to eat more vegetables and fruit and replace red meat with fish and chicken- I know you've heard those's nothing new. While I think all of these things are important and great steps to helping you control your eating habits, the most important lessons starts with:
  • learning how to control your mind
  • changing your attitude
  • becoming accountable for your actions.
First -start now! I don't care if you ate a bad breakfast or a large lunch. Or maybe you ate french fries at dinner and you knew you should have ordered the salad. Do NOT kid yourself and say that you are going to start your diet tomorrow. Make up your mind to start your new healthy lifestyle RIGHT NOW.
NOTE: I didn't say "diet" - this is another important piece of the puzzle. Approach your newly found goal as a life style change...not just a diet. I told myself for three long years that I was going to "start my diet tomorrow." And guess what? I ended up gaining nearly 60 lbs in 3 years aka 20 lbs each year. One day I woke up and thought, "Ashley- how many more years are you going to allow yourself to gain 20 lbs? What is your tipping point?" At that moment - I said these words out loud, "I am making the change NOW!" So say it out loud...and mean it.

Second - Tell people about your goals. If you are anything like me, you NEED to be held accountable for your actions. I blog, tweet, and blow up Facebook about my running and healthy eating goals. Because of these conversations, I have surrounded myself with such loving and supporting people who keep on me track. They keep me accountable.

A few weeks ago, my wonderful friend Sabrina Skramstad drove a group of us home from Steph and Jon's wedding. She stopped at Taco Bell and my mouth was drooling; I was dreaming about a cheesy gordita crunch.

"Do you want anything?" Sabrina asked me.

Without even pausing and thinking about the consequences, I shamefully said, "A cheesy gordita crunch!"

She gave me a serious look and said, "Are you sure?"

No, I wasn't sure. I was thinking with my stomach instead of my logic. I had done so well the past month..and that day I got a makeover so I was feeling great. But that is not a reason to return to old habits. And thankfully, I had a great friend to remind me - even without saying more than those 3 words - that I don't need to eat horrible and take steps backward.

"No, you are right," I said. "I don't want anything. Just a water."

And it wasn't that I didn't "want" anything...the true fact is I didn't NEED anything. Learn to control your wants from your needs, also important.

Goodbye Fourth Meal. Hello Will Power!

Third-  understand your weakness. I was talking an un-named person about eating healthy a few weeks ago. They are going to school for a nutrition and health related degree, so I was definitely excited to pick their brain for tips and ideas. Searching for inspiration, I asked this person what their weakness was in terms of eating habits. I was hoping they would say "Carbs" and then I would have not only good ideas, but a support buddy as well.

"I don't have a weakness," they replied with such arrogance.

I was shocked. I didn't know what to say back to really don't have a weakness? Pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving? Mom's meatloaf? Pizza King pizza? Cheesy Gordita Crunches? Nothing?

Here is the deal, you probably have a weakness. Admit it. Don't be in denial. And don't be arrogant either. Identify this weakness and research recipes and tips to help keep you on track.

Because my weakness is carbs, I eat lettuce wraps (or low carb wraps) instead of sandwiches. A Beach Club #12 sandwich at Jimmy John's is about 790 calories and 38 grams of fat. Take off the mayo and replace the bread with a lettuce wrap....and you go down to 191 calories and 9 grams of fat! Best of all - the bread has 71 grams of carbs...and the lettuce wrap takes you down to only 7 grabs of carbs!!

Fourth- cheat! Yes- I said it. No, don't cheat on your exam at school. Definitely don't cheat on your significant other, but for crying out loud - have a cheat day! You are still human. You still have cravings. You still have bad days. The main reason I was never ever able to control my eating habits before was because I put myself up on this hardcore diet, and if I messed got ugly. Instead of eating a small bite of a cookie or having a bite of Justin's pizza, I would eat 3 cookies and then 4 pieces of pizza. Seriously. I had no control. Once I had the first bite, it was all over. I kept PLOWING my way through the food (or somethings booze)...because I missed that food / drink so much. So have a bite here and there. And give yourself a cheat meal once a weak. It will keep you from going overboard and giving up.

I still have a lot of tips about learning how to eat right and controlling your eating habits. I will also dedicate some posts to recipes and tips too! I've learned a lot these past few months. Here a few more ideas to hold you over until the next post:
  • Don't have bad food in the house. If it's not there, how can you eat it? (Good advice Sarah Frey!)
  • Write down your meals. This comes back to the accountability thing. Writing something down is a way of taking ownership. Do you really want to write down that you ate 3 bread sticks, a large bowl of Alfredo pasta and 2 glasses of wine? That meal alone can be nearly 2,000 calories. I would burn that paper if I had to write down I wrote that many calories / grams of fat / carbs in one meal...
  • Research the nutrition content of restaurants prior to going there...some salads (in fact most salads) are worse for you in terms of fat and calories than some burgers. I've also seen turkey burgers having more calories / fat than regular burgers. Don't be fooled into "eating healthy."

What advice do you have for eating healthy and controlling your eating habits? Leave your comments below or email me to write a guest post!

Much love,

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

I have a belly button!

I run faster.

I eat healthier.

And more importantly, I have a belly button.

Before: 236 (and I reached a maximum of 238 )
Six Months: 219.5 lbs (and proud of my curves)
What have I learned the most throughout my journey? It doesn't matter how many miles you run or bike, what really matters is the FUEL you use for your body. Also (and more importantly) NEVER GIVE UP! I didn't gain this weight overnight, so I can't expect to lose it overnight either.

25 more lbs to go. Lots of miles to run. Even more milestones to reach. I'm excited.

Much love,

Angels on the Zip Line

I will write about my adventures on a daily basis. You can read about my drive down to West Virginia here and find out why I cried at the dinner table our first night at the resort. This entry is about conquering a fear.

June 5, 2011

Last night, I got very little sleep. Right before bed, I watched Conan O'Brien. He made fun of a guy in the audience who was pointing at him very creepily as he walked in. He compared his stare and point to that of the grim reaper ....Needless to say, I woke up in the middle of the night and thought the grim reaper was pointing at me. Turns out, it was the fire extinguisher.

I continued to have dreams that only Stephan King himself could imagine...


We woke up early for our canopy tour aka zip line tour. I was feeling pretty confident, but I was nervous. I thought about a conversation Justin and I had just days before we left. We were at a local pub on a whim enjoying a beer together; deciding the night was simply too beautiful to sit inside all night.

"So - what are you most looking forward to on our vacation?" Justin asked me.

"Ummm an escape from everything," I said quickly.

He agreed, but said, "No seriously- what do you think you are most excited for?"

I thought for a minute, but I knew my answer the entire time.

I looked away to the small child walking across the street with her father. She has the rest of her life ahead of do daring things, explore fantasizing places and meet inspiring people. But then I heard a car drive by quickly....the sound broke my day-dream spell and I was reminded of my true answer once again...

I looked back at Justin.

"You know- I'm honestly looking forward to doing something that I absolutely terrified of doing," I said.

He looked at me confused. So I went on.

"When Rick and Corey died in car accidents right before I went away to college, I became terrified of everything," I said. "I was reminded that nothing is certain, especially your time here....and I couldn't ever drive anywhere without thinking of a car accident happening...I didn't even want my parents drive to work. I was just so scared...."

I paused and held back my tears.

"If you would have asked me to go on this trip even two years ago," I stopped- "I wouldn't have done it. There is no way in the world. But with you, and us - you inspire me to try to new things...I'm really just looking forward Finally."

And I meant it.

It didn't mean I wouldn't be scared.

It didn't mean I wouldn't be scared of the equipment breaking and me falling to my death...

But it DID mean, I was ready to conquer a fear.

And as I said to Justin that night...I was ready to live on the edge. Literally.


Thankfully, we had an amazing group of people on the zip line tour. And I did manage to meet an older man named Frank, who was actually more afraid to do the zip lines than me (believe it or not).

After a short overview of the equipment, we were off to the mountain riding in a short bus. The guides joked that the only reason we wear helmets was for the bumpy bus ride.

When we reached what felt like the top of the mountain, I got butterflies.

What in the WORLD am I doing? I thought. I started to think about the countless things that could go wrong....

We stepped out of the bus and I was afraid to move. I didn't want to look down at the view below.

"Babe!" Justin yelled.

He is fearless and wasted no time checking out the river down below.

"You have got to see this view!" Justin yelled again.

"Um- NO! I am JUST fine over here," I yelled back. But suddenly, I started walking toward him. It was as if someone was pushing me as my mind definitely was not interested in seeing the view....I kept walking to my hubby.

I didn't get too close to the edge...all it would take is one bump or a trip over a rock and I was a goner....

That's when I saw it. The river...and it looked like the size of veins on leg.

Yup - we are definitely up here....I started to walk toward the school bus. Will anyone notice if I leave?

Maybe I can just hid under the...

"Alright- everyone come over here!" the guide yelled at the group. "Come close so you can hear me!"

Justin - of course- was the first in line. He was like the kid waiting to see Santa Claus at the mall...Justin wanted to be the first one on Santa's lap...the first to experience the rush.

Turns out, we were the second ones to go. Frank went first- which was HILARIOUS.

"You ready?" Justin with a huge smile.

When you watch the video, you can see that as I am getting hooked up to the line...I whisper to him with a deer in headlights look on my face, "I am going to shit my pants."

And I'm surprised I didn't.

I was hooked up, but my mind still said I wasn't going to go. I wasn't going to jump off the ledge.

"ONE....TWO.....THREE!" the guide yelled.

Suddenly, my body moved without hesitation. It was like someone was there pushing me...not like a shove. But a gentle push- nothing more than a slight breeze...and I was off.


Flying through the mountains.


I was thankful for that extra "breeze" that pushed me along.

The first time I was so nervous I didn't look at the view. I just looked straight ahead at the landing pad, hoping I didn't miss it. If I did....then I would fall back and get stranded in the middle of the zip line..only to be rescued hours later....

The second zip line came easier, and the view got better...probably because I was actually looking at the world around me.

After we landed, Frank came flying in.

"Frank- you did great! Did you see the water down there?" I asked.

"The only water I saw was running down my leg!" Frank yelled back.

I love Frank. End of story.

On the ride back to the resort, Justin leaned over and kissed my cheek, "I am proud of you! Did you have fun?"

"Yeah, actually I did," I said. "I had a blast. But I really didn't want to go at all. I mean, I definitely told myself I was NOT jumping off that cliff on our first zip line."

"Well, what made you go?" Justin asked.

"I don't know," I said. "Well- I do know. I am pretty sure I had some angels out there blowing a little extra breeze my way."

Grandpa Larry, Rick, Corey and Brittany are just a few of the angels in Heaven...that I believe were with me that morning. My angels in the sky; my angels on the zip line.

Turns out- the zip line tour was my favorite part of our vacation- well minus, eating and drinking like a frat boy the whole week and only gaining two lbs. Don't worry- I busted my butt and already lost my vacation weight that I gained last week! :) (Almost 20 lbs down for the year!!!!!!!!!!!!)

I will tell you one last thing, I'll zip line every single chance I get for the rest of my life. I might even build one from our house to the Semon's you think the Homeowners Association in our neighborhood will approve? Maybe after a few drinks....

Much love,

Monday, July 11, 2011

And She Cried at the Dinner Table

I will write about my adventures on a daily basis. You can read about my drive down to West Virginia here. This entry is about getting to the resort and why I cried at dinner (it's not why you think).

July 4, 2011 (again)

I was not happy when we got there. Driving into the "resort" made me want to cry. I was less than pleased with the rainy drive down there and the man I saw beating a dog behind a church in a town of 40 people.

"Ash- maybe the dog ran away and he was just disciplining him!" Justin said trying to make the situation better.

"NO, I have zero tolerance for dog beaters," I said. "Turn around. I'm going to take that dog home and yell at him!" And make him pull up his pants because his butt crack was hanging out by a foot.

Of course, we got there early - so we couldn't check in.

Justin decided we should go grocery shopping and told me I had to wait in the car while he did the shopping. Someone had to guard the bikes, especially because someone could easily steal them. I was so nervous, and everyone who stood behind the car was a suspect in my mind. I tried to relax and read, but suddenly I heard a loud crashing sound.

I looked over and saw four men surrounding each other. The one guy in the black wife beater and short jean shorts had thrown a shopping cart at the shirtless man. Classy.

They yelled for about 5 minutes and their friends "held them back" - all while I pretended to read my book. I definitely didn't want to make eye contact and get kidnapped on Day 1.

When Justin got back to the car, I was an "unhappy camper" - literally. The rain was pouring at this point and when I looked up the weather for the week - it was nothing but rain and scattered showers. I wanted to cry and steal the car and drive to a beach.

No such luck. Justin came out excited about his purchases. At that moment, I felt so bad about my negative attitude. The powerful rain, forecast for the week and sketchy community made me want to leave and never come back.

But despite holding back the tears, we checked into our cabin. To my surprise, the cabin was really nice!
Home Away from Home.

Yes, this was the best feature- but a close second to central air.

The AC felt amazing, the cabin had cable (which we don't even have at home) and there were NO BED BUGS! :)

We opened up some beers and Justin turned on the TV. We watched an episode of "Keeping Up with The Kardashians" and I started to feel happy again. How can anyone be upset after watching Kim Kardashian get an X-ray of her butt to prove its real?

Next, we went to dinner at the bar / restaurant. I got excited when I saw the lake. It looked like every kids, adults dream!

Seriously, how can you NOT smile when you see this lake!? :)

Dinner was great and after one drink, I was feeling good (I'm kind of a light weight). Before we knew it, the sun came out.

I looked at Justin across the table and felt a rush of happiness. My heart filled with joy and love. And I couldn't help but feel completely happy with who I was with and where I was at this point in my life. I'm sure I was extra emotional because mother nature was visiting (and I cried like 24 times already this week) and tonight was no different.

Tears filled my eyes as I looked across the table at my husband. We both have great jobs, our fun son makes me so insanely happy, our family is so supportive and our new house is amazing! We are so blessed. I drive a nice car,  I go shopping for new summer dresses and I enjoy dinners out with my husband. Not everyone gets to live like this...and I'm sure we can't live like this forever...children will eventually cut our budget in half and the house payments will start up soon. But I am truly living the life I never imagined. I went from the girl who had $0.32 in her checking account in college after paying all my bills and tuition, to a happily married woman with a savings account, good job and investments. Everyone who told me my hardwork would pay off one day...and my struggles would make me stronger, you are right. 100% right....

Insert the waterworks. I truly love Justin so much and we are building a great life together- but most of all, we are happy on our journey together. We are working hard, but remembering to have fun along the way. We laugh often, dance always and never stop kissing in public- the key to a happy marriage (right after you have communication, trust and respect nailed down).

As I was bawling, I said, "I never dreamed I would have this good of a life. I love you so much and we have a beautiful home...I drive a nice car...I do fun things. I have so many summer dresses....You are so good to me ....and I feel spoiled."

I realize I said a lot of material things, but I was still crying thinking about the irrplaceable things in our life- such as each other, our family....Our family does SO much for us....and my nephews, they bring SO MUCH joy in my life....and again, I thought of my beautiful fur son who we left behind...even though he wanted to come with us on vacation.

I am convinced Bandit is half human.

Bandit hiding on my tummy because he was afraid of the fireworks.

"I know I am emotional because I am on my period and I've cried like 24 times this week," I said. "But I am just so happy with where we are...and even more- where we are going."

Justin smiled and then laughed. I was a hot mess. I laughed too.

"I love you, so much - baby," he said.

And right then - happy tears were streaming down my face; this will be a great vacation after all. I picked up my cranberry and vodka - he lifted up his beer and we smashed our drinks together.

"Cheers, to us and vacation."

And then I cried some more and ate my spicy black bean soup with the biggest smile in the world. I probably had a black bean stuck in my front that why Justin couldn't stop laughing? Who knows. It was perfect. I'm happy.

Much love,

GPS Coordinates Only

I will write about my adventures on a daily basis. The first entry is about my drive down to West Virginia.

July 4, 2011

Writing is my crack. I can't go a day without writing. A journal entry- Facebook status - a hand written note - an email - a press release - a blog post - a text- it doesn't matter; I need writing in my daily life. So when we left for vacation with no computer or journal, I knew I wouldn't make it long.

The journal I got an hour into our trip from the Dollar Store.

I passed the time drinking Starbucks and reading Chelsea Handler's new book, which always inspires me to write a book one day. And I know I will.

My favorites. End of story.

Not long into the drive, Justin pulled over to the side of the road and turned on his hazards.

"Um- what are you doing?" I asked. "I can enter the address, you know."

"Well- I am entering GPS coordinates- not an actual address," he said.

GPS coordinates? Oh my....Right then, I realized why I never watch scary movies; I'm about to star in one. I was definitely stereotyping, but I imagined a man with missing teeth wearing  jean overhauls  with no under shirt and a cigarette hanging out of his mouth. I was thinking of the movies "Delievrance" and "Wrong Turn" and trying even harder to forget I ever heard of those movies...

"I really don't think you understand where we are going Ash,"Justin said laughing and studying the look on my face.

No, I don't. Where is the beach? I'm hitchhiking after the next exit.


We barely made it 45 minutes into the trip before I had to pee. Like a child, I didn't pee before we left the house. Yes, Justin reminded me of this child-like mistake. But, I informed him the Starbucks didn't help because it quickly went through my system.

We pulled over at the next gas station. It is a tragedy I wasn't wearing the GoPro into the gas station because this crowd was truly unbelievable. I prayed for my safety was I approached the jail-cell looking doors.

To my surprise, the gas station suddenly turned into a fried chicken shop. I've never seen that much fried chicken in my life- not even at KFC. Not to mention, they were selling buckets of nacho cheese with the fried chicken. Interesting combination.

The cashiers looked at me as if I was an illegal alien and I searched frantically for the bathroom. I spotted a door with  a large sign on it just past the giant chicken deep fryer.

The note said:


Instantly I had a few questions running through my head:

  1. How many people were doing "illegal substances" in this bathoom? 
  2. Is this an every day occurrence? 
  3. At what point do you decide to post this note? 
  4. Every hour? 
  5. Did one person ruin it for all the other crackheads?
  6. How many people tried to fit into this bathroom at the same time?
As I pondered these questions, I looked up and saw half of the ceiling was missing...I knew someone was either watching me or taping me. I tried to hurry and I thought about doing the Sun Drop booty dance, thinking the creepy dealers at fried chicken capital of the USA would submit my tape. Maybe they could fix the ceiling, sink and leaky toilet with the money they earned from my submission.

I tried to find my phone to take a picture of all of this, but I left it in the car. Of course.

As I walked out of the bathroom, everyone watched me leave. So I smiled and wipped my nose.

"We have to get the hell out of here!" Justin said immediately once I got into the car. "I thought I was going to have come in and save you. And why do you smell like fried chicken?"

Until my next adventure....

Much love,

Friday, July 1, 2011


I am out of the 220's.

I am proud.

I am happy.

I'm not sad about saying goodbye to those carbs now. It's paying off.  I am smiling so big...

My next major milestone will be seeing 199 or less on that scale.

And I know I can do it.

Much love,

Letting the Pictures Tell the Story

I’ve had so many emotions surrounding the softball benefit for Brittany, which is why it’s been very hard for me to write about it.

I could write from some many perspectives.

I could share stories about how it started.

I could write about the day itself. The happy faces. The amazing food. The talented band. The generous donations. The beautiful weather. The memories shared of Brittany. I could go on forever...

I could write about how much work and heart Kristin Matthews and the Raymond family put into planning the event.

I could write about how much I want to cry when I think about all of the people who donated and supported the cause.

I could write about how amazing my team was during the softball benefit; a team that started as friends – some strangers – and transformed into a family.

I could also write about how I haven't ever been so sore in my life...and I couldn't run for a whole week afterwards because my muscles refused to move. But it was good to know I wasn't alone:

But instead of trying to find the right words – which has been really hard for me. I thought I would let these pictures and conversations on Facebook do the talking for me.

Team Spirit

She amazes and inspires me beyond words.

Setting up the tents!

Oh logistics.

Jeff, were you hungover?
One of my favorite pictures of the night...after the championship game.

surrounded by love.

thinks makes me hungry again...



beautiful smiles; loving hearts.

Battle wounds from @jozzyj


Runner's up & super proud!

Good action shot!

My favorite picture of the entire event. Perfect.
 There are so many more pictures available on Kristin Matthew's profile. Check them out.

Thank you to everyone who participated, sponsored, donated or came out to celebrate Brittany's life at the Brittany Raymond Arnold Grand Slam benefit. It truly was a beautiful event that will have a lasting impact on so many lives.

Much love,