Find Your Support System

People often ask me “how did you do it?”  By “it”, I’m referring to losing 212 pounds. Two people. More than half of myself. So how did I do it? I did it with the tremendous support of my family; mainly my husband, James. James was there with me every step of the way. From the day he brought me home the gym membership in October, 2008 to the day I reached my goal weight in April, 2011, he was there. Sure, he wasn’t physically there at the gym pushing me, coaching me, he didn’t attend my weekly Weight Watchers meetings, but he was there where it mattered most; in my heart, in my mind, in my soul. I could hear his voice telling me that he was so proud of me. I could see that pride reflected in his eyes as he looked at me. And that pride empowered me. It gave me the courage to push myself further, to try a little bit harder. Not only for my husband, but also for myself.

His pride gave me my pride back. It had been a long time since I felt proud of ME!  Sure, I had three great kids that I was raising and I was proud of THEM. But I didn’t do anything that was all mine. All for me. And suddenly I was. I took my life back. I spent 36 years of my life just moving through the motions. A bystander in my own life. But I knew how my story would end if I didn’t change and I was determined to rewrite the chapters. And I did.

When you begin your own journey, make sure you have a support system in place.  It doesn’t have to be your spouse. It can be a friend, a relative, a sibling. You want someone that can give you a “thatagirl” when you feel like you just can’t do it anymore. As I started to lose weight and gain pride, I also started to develop confidence. With this confidence I started to reach out to more people to bring into my support network. Social networking on Facebook and Twitter became a huge source of support for me. I had people from all over the United States cheering me on.  It was encouraging and inspirational. I also reached out to the group fitness instructors and other members at my gym. But times change and a lot of those members and instructors have moved on to other things, and so have I, though I'll always have those memories!! And I can’t forget about my fellow Weight Watchers members and my leader. They were my anchors. They kept me grounded and reminded me of how far I’ve come.

The first step to a successful weight loss journey is putting your support system in place. Look in places you’d expect, but also in places that you might not. What you find just might surprise you.

Here I am with James (and my mom) on my 37 birthday in 2008. I am pretty close to my heaviest weight ever (not including pregnancy.)

And recently on the 4th of July.  I know he loves me as much now as "fit Jenny" as he did when I was "fat Jenny" but what's key is that I love myself more, and that love transfers over in to other areas of my life.

I now find support and accountability from my workout buddies at CrossFit En Fuego. Watching strong women get stronger is SO MOTIVATING!!

  and from my running and cycling buddy Denise from RunDMT. Denise is an early riser, so she keeps me accountable for those early morning workouts. She's also a speedy runner, so she helps to inspire me to run faster!

Do you have a support system in place? Who helps keep you accountable??

Push Away the Screen: Top 5 tips for Adventure Island

As summer vacation draws to a close, I had the amazing opportunity to Push Away the Screen and take my kids to Adventure Island.

Adventure Island is a 30 acre water park full of ways for you to have fun with your family while keeping cool!

From thrilling slides like Gulfscream and Riptide to the more laid back areas Splash Attack and Fabian's Funport, there is guaranteed to be something for everyone in your family!

My family really enjoyed the Rambling Bayou, a Lazy River offering a relaxing trip around the park, while riding on an inflated inner tube. You float through a  misted rainforest and a flowing waterfall. We did this "ride" both with and without tubes. My son enjoys "running" through the river, swimming, and being pushed by the current. With a maximum depth of 3 feet it's a great way for him to practice some of his swimming skills, and when he's tired, he can float on his back and be pushed by the current.

We also enjoyed a few "family style rides." The Calypso Coaster (which can be experienced by single or double riders) is a high speed open flume ride with twists and turns that dumps guests in to a 3' pool at the end. I rode this with Ronin, and my girls rode together. There were a few other family rides as well, but we didn't get the opportunity to experience them all on this visit as the park was very crowded and my gang is not much for waiting in lines.

Having been to Adventure Island a few times each summer (except for this summer, we only made it once) I have my top 5 tips to share with you!

  1. BRING YOUR OWN FOOD! Adventure Island allows guests to bring a 15X15X15 cooler in to the park. I was able to pack lunch and snacks for my gang. This meant we were able to steer clear of the typical theme park food, and eat our healthy foods! I also brought in my own chilled bottled water and that certainly came in handy!
  2. WEAR WATER SHOES! Not flip-flops, but real water shoes. I wore my Merrell River Glove Water Shoe and it was great! Lightweight, but kept the hot sand and pavement from bothering my feet! The ground at Adventure Island is very hot for my feet, and the bottom of the Lazy River can be hard on feet, too. My kids didn't want to wear their water shoes, and while they didn't complain there were quite a few times when they were hopping from one foot to the other due to the hot ground.
  3. GET THERE EARLY!! Getting to the park at least 15 minutes BEFORE it opens is key to finding your perfect spot to set-up for the day. Yesterday the park opened at 9:30am, and we arrived at 9:37am. By the time we had our bags checked, and picked up our tickets it was after 10am, and we high-tailed it to try to find a spot in the shade and we were lucky enough to find a place tucked in the shade of some oak trees. We managed to snag the last table and it wasn't much later that I noticed people setting up towels on the grass. Getting there early also means you can get on some of your favorite rides without much of a wait. As I mentioned earlier there were quite a few rides we didn't get the opportunity to experience simply because the lines were too long, and having a special needs child often means we physically can't wait in those long lines and Adventure Island doesn't offer a special needs pass like Busch Gardens.
  4. KNOW WHEN TO LEAVE!! Growing up in the Sunshine State, I've become pretty awesome at predicting summer storms. Even though it was only 2:45pm, and the skies over Adventure Island were blue and shining, I could see something brewing off in the distance, so I told my gang it was time to pack up. They weren't happy with me, but went about doing what I asked. By the time we got to the car it was 3:15pm, and we started our drive home. Within 5 minutes it began to sprinkle, but by the time we made it home we were in a full-out downpour, which eventually turned in to a severe thunderstorm complete with a tornado! So be smart when playing outside. Know when to hold them, know when to fold them. Tongue Out
  5. RELAX! With more than 50 lifeguards stationed throughout the park, roving security, ample life-jackets, it's a great opportunity to just let go and have fun with your kids. I'm not telling you to let the non-swimming toddler experience the wave-pool on their own, but you can allow your kids to be kids, and just enjoy watching them having a blast!


Have you been to Adventure Island, or any other water park? What tips do you have to share??

Reflections on 41

My 41st year of life went by very quickly. A lot of things happened. Some good, some not so good.

What were some of the highlights?

  1. I went on the Today Show
  2. I was in Woman's Day Magazine
  3. I participated in Project Athena's Keys Race to Recovery
  4. I participated in a triathlon
  5. I quit my job as a media specialist
  6. I started my blog
  7. I was featured on the front of the Huff Post, AOL, and Marlo Thomas
  8. I became a certified Spinning Instructor
  9. I got a dog
  10. I ran a race every month
  11. I made some new friends that I treasure dearly

And so much more!!

This was a whirlwind of a year.

Thinking back on my 41st year, I wouldn't change anything, and I have no regrets. Every decision I made brought me to the point that I am at now. And I'm in a fairly good place. As I start my 42nd year of life there are some things I'd like to be writing about this time next year.

  1. I have a paying job

Honestly that's all I want for this year. I don't regret leaving my job as a Pasco County Media Specialist because all media specialist positions were cut at the end of the 2012-2013 school year, so I'd be out of a job regardless. As least leaving a few months early gave me the opportunity to start this blog, learn valuable social media skills, make friends, and experience a bunch of cool opportunities through blogging. I love blogging, but let's be honest. It doesn't put food on the table or a roof over my head. Thankfully my husband works hard so that I can stay home with the kids, and give this whole blogging thing a try, but I'm not cut out to be a SAHM. Sure, it's great being able to drop off and pick the kids up from school, and be here for them during summer break, etc., but I enjoy getting out of the house and working, connecting with other people, feeling like I am making a difference. I am ready to go back to work, so that is my goal for my 42nd year of life. FIND A GOOD MEANINGFUL JOB, that's close to my house, flexible with the kids schedule, and allows me to use my talents to make the community a better place. That's not too much to ask, is it?? If I don't find a job maybe I'll go back to school. Tongue Out You can never have too many advanced degrees, right??