Push Away the Screen: Staycation at the Gaylord Palms Resort

Recently my family had the opportunity to Push Away the Screen and spend 2 nights and 2 full days at the beautiful Gaylord Palms Resort in Kissimmee, Florida. We had been once before, back in 2009 for their winter ICE Festival, but we had no idea what other amenities the resort offered.

Upon check-in we were told that we would be staying in a Ground Level King Suite with an adjoining Queen Suite. Say what?? Traveling with a family of 5 usually means that we are crammed for space and overwhelmed with "kid clutter" every where, but not on this trip!

There was no way I could even get one room in the camera shot, so I didn't even bother! And besides, we weren't there to spend time in our room, we were there to relax and unwind with our family while being active and pushing away the screen.

We arrived at the resort around 7:30pm and we were hungry and the kids wanted to swim. We all quickly changed in to our bathing suits and with a map in hand, Ronin led us to the Cypress Springs Family Fun Water Park! On our way to the pool we passed through all sorts of beautiful gardens that had us excited to explore when the sun came up!

Once at the pool the kids were disappointed to see that the water slides were closed, but I had warned them in advance that they wouldn't be open on the evening when we arrived. I think they must have thought I was joking. But what did keep them entertained was Madagascar 3. Yes, we were there to #pushawaythescreen, but with a Dive-In Movie, we made an exception and the kids frolicked and played, stopping every few minutes to catch a glimpse of the movie.

I stayed with the trio and James went off to find us some food. He came back with take-out from Wreckers Sports Bar. A wonderful Cesar salad for him and I, and fish and chips and chicken tenders for the trio. The Cesar salad was made by the dressing. It had to have been homemade. It was SO GOOD with a lot of garlic. Yum.

After a quick dip in the pool, I was ready for an adult beverage so I wandered over to Wreckers (which was the only spot open at this time of night) and got us each a libation. The beer was for me. Wink

Upon our return to our room we had this lovely welcome tray and note waiting for us! The Gaylord Palms motto of "Consider it Done" certainly rang true for us this entire staycation, and this bit of personalization was the icing on the cake.

They also stocked our fridges (yes, we had 2) with sparkling water Smile The kids were very excited for a fun Saturday at the pool, so went right to sleep.

We woke up and since we had reservations to eat Villa de Rosa for buffet dinner, we opted to not eat buffet for breakfast and headed to the Java market for a quick bite to eat. We wanted to be at the pool soon after opening! It's uncanny how James and I think alike for on this morning we both ordered a Greek salad...FOR BREAKFAST! The kids each had a breakfast sandwich. We ate in the St. Augustine atrium, and then James decided he needed a nap, so while he went back to the room the kids and I headed to the Cypress Springs Family Water Park.

You must show your room key, and give your last name when you check in at the park. Apparently it is quite common for locals to try to get in to the pool area on the weekend. When we checked in we were informed that we had a POOLSIDE CABANA!! SWEET! We were given towels, our cabana number and headed down to Cabana 17! I knew James would be quite happy to learn we had a cabana because he is quite sun sensitive! And I was right! He spent quite a bit of time in the shade reading It Starts With Food. Our cabana had a fridge stocked with water, plus 2 chaise lounges, and a dining table with 4 chairs. We also had chaise lounges right outside our cabana.

The kids had an absolute blast! They participated in poolside games! Ella did the hula-hooping contest (see Haley in the water cheering her on!!) and came in 3rd place.

And all 3 of them did the cannonball contest and Haley placed 2nd overall! Very proud of my big splashers!


The games took place on the top of every hour beginning at Noon. From 10-Noon my gang just had a blast going down the slides and swimming in the pool!



And James enjoyed the slides too! Look at that splash he made!

And you better believe that I enjoyed myself as much as the kids did!

But in typical Florida fashion, the storms rolled through at 1:45pm and closed down the pool. We hadn't eaten lunch yet, so we headed back in to the resort to the Key West area (where our suite was also located) and let the kids have a bite to eat at Sunset Sam's. We sat in the sailboat, had a few drinks, and the kids snacked on calamari. If you look closely you can see James in the left side of the photo!

It was pouring rain outside, and though we were inside, it felt like we were outside. It was amazing! The kids had so much fun exploring and before we knew it, it was time to head back to our room to get ready for dinner.

I brought along a great selection of dresses from Gwynnie Bee and decided to wear this one! I loved it. It was so comfortable, and the colors really popped!

Along the way we had time to explore all of the different eco-systems represented in the resort. The Florida Everglades was Ella's favorite! Ella loves snakes and this was her "I'm excited to see snakes" face.

And we walked though a brick area that had the name of every Florida county of them! We took our pictures next to the three that hold the most meaning for us! James is from Tampa so that's Hillsborough County, I'm from Venice, so that's Sarasota County, and now we live in Land O' Lakes, so that's Pasco County.

Then we were off to dinner! We were greeted warmly by the hostess, shown to our primo view table (which might have been located next to a quick release gate for children to easily depart to go explore the St. Augustine fort??) and the manager came over, introduced himself, shook my hand, and informed me that if there was anything we wanted to eat that we didn't see on the buffet, to please let him know and he would have his staff make it! Talk about the Consider it Done motto coming in to play again!

They had amazing healthy opitions, and here's a sneak peek of my plate(s). Yes, I ate too much. And I drank too much. But it's fine. It's not something that happens often, and I enjoyed every bite and have not one ounce of regret! Both of those plates went in my belly. Tongue Out

An alligator feeding happened at 6:30pm pretty close to where we were eating, so the kids and I hopped over there really quick, saw the show, and on the way back we ran in to Po!


And I'll be darned if it doesn't look like I am sporting a bicep!

We explored a bit more after dinner, but went to bed pretty early. I had to go and charge my phone, so went out exploring while the family was in bed and look who I ran across!

We had an amazing Saturday, and got to sleep in a bit on Sunday! The kids didn't wake us up until close to 9am! We did pretty much the same thing as the day before! Had breakfast at Java, James went to take a nap, the kids and I went back to the pool, got our cabana again, and just played until the rain closed the pool down at 3pm. That worked out perfectly because we had a late checkout at 4pm, so we came back to our room, took showers, packed and left.

Having a Staycation at the Gaylord Palms is more like a vacation! We never left the property! There was no need to go anywhere! We had plenty of food options, entertainment options, and of course the pool.

If you are looking for an amazing family getaway, I HIGHLY recommend that you check out the Gaylord Palms.

You can follow them on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest!!

Be sure to check out their webpage or social media channels for great promotions and of course their upcoming ICE show which this year will feature FROSTY the Snowman! I sure hope that they invite us back again because we sure loved being guests at the Gaylord!

Have you ever done a Staycation at a local hotel? What did you like best about it?

What Inspires You?


I am often told that I am inspiring.  Merriam Webster defines inspiration as "the action or power of moving the intellect or emotions." It humbles me to know that my journey, full of triumphs and struggles inspires other people.

The idea of “inspiration” is a crazy thing to comprehend. Something that one person may not even notice could be the most inspiring thing in the world to someone else — and inspiring in what way? Does it inspire them to do? To say? To think about? To create? I’m always curious to find out where people draw their inspiration — and today I'm showing you where I draw mine. 

In the beginning of my journey, I drew my inspiration from my dreams. Quite literally. In my dreams I was fit, I was healthy. I was never overweight in my dreams. I never struggled with breathing or walking. Upon waking it usually took me by surprise to realize that I was a fit girl trapped in a fat girls body.

Dreaming of being fit and healthy made me realize that it was up to ME to take the necessary steps to live the life that I dreamed of. It was up to me to take RESPONSIBILITY for the body I was living in and the body I wanted to live in. I didn't feel like I was my authentic self.

I hear a lot of other weight loss folks talk about how they loved themselves when they were overweight/obese/morbidly obese. I'm happy that they had that in them. I DID NOT. I did not like the person I was when I was nearly 400lbs. I did not love myself. I was merely living and existing.

To find my authentic self and my inspiration I had to to ask myself a question "who am I?" In 2008 I was a mom, a wife, a graduate student, a daughter, a granddaughter, a sister, and a friend. But none of these things got to the core of who I was. I was merely living on the surface of my identity, and not in touch with my deeper self. I was spending my time looking outside of myself to create a sense of who I was and that was bringing me further off track. How can we know who we truly are when we spend our time and attention trying to be something other than what we find ourselves to be? I knew who I was truly meant to be. I met her in my dreams nearly every single night.

For me, my truest purpose in life began when I sought to seek the answers to the deep questions of  MY life and then living in accordance with what I found to be true. It was like I turned on an inner light, and something inside me woke up. Once I did that, my inner self seemed to have a voice that, if I listened to it, guideed me in my daily choices. This is not the voice of personal opinions, judgments and preferences. It comes from a deeper place than that, and with practice and time I learned to tell the difference between the voice of my ego and the voice of my authentic self. For me, it took a lot of time and experimentation to distinguish between these two voices. Now, the difference is very clear to me. The challenge is in choosing to listen to my true self rather than to my ego when they don't agree.

Now, I know that I am being authentic when I am making a choice that creates a resonance of affirmation inside of me. Alternatively, I have learned to recognize the lack of resonance as well -- even for simple things. For example, yesterday my son enthusiastically proposed that we buy a dessert at Sam's Club.  He was very excited, smiling from ear to ear at the idea of a dessert. His proposition went clunk inside of me, so I said no and suggested something else that passed my inner test of resonance. Ultimately, we were able to find something that worked for us both (angel food cake with fresh berries and low-fat vanilla yogurt, compared to the Key Lime Cheesecake he had wanted.)  I've learned that if we had tried to force it, BOTH of us would  have been out of sorts, him because he didn't get something that he was so excited for, and me because I would have eaten the Key Lime Cheesecake. Tongue OutWhen I listen to my inner feedback system, I find my life is easier, more graceful and I am more peaceful inside. When I fight against it or ignore it is when I get into trouble and find myself disconnected from what I am doing or who I am with and I become irritable inside. It's like having an internal GPS that tells me where my truth is.

Living in a place of authenticity involves being rooted in your deepest beliefs, values and truth and living a life that is a true reflection of those beliefs. It is about being true to yourself through your thoughts, words and actions. It means being willing to sacrifice any relationship, situation or circumstance that violates your truth. My example, if you are living in a body that requires you to function in a way that is not in accord with your truth, you need to change it. Does this mean you will live a charmed life? No, you will still have your share of sorrows as well as sweetness in your life. However, you will have the wisdom of knowing who you are to guide you. The more you practice listening to your inner wisdom, the less friction and discord you will find yourself creating in your life.

Once I started to listen to my true self, inspiration started coming at me from all different directions!  I was inspired to LIVE! To LOVE! To be AUTHENTIC! This meant that I had to change a lot of things about myself that were not at the core of who I really was. I had to remove people from my life. I had to apologize to other people who I hurt with unkind words and thoughts. And I had to forgive myself.

So what inspires me???



Will YOU have loose skin after weight loss??

One of the most common questions I get is "Jenny, do you have extra skin after losing so much weight?" Yes, I do. Do I care? No, not most days. In fact, I talk about it and show you some of it in THIS VLOG post. Most of MY extra skin in on my upper arms, inner thighs, and lower stomach. Do I wear sleeveless clothing. YES. But I'll be honest, it took some time to get to that point. I didn't start wearing it until I hit my goal weight. Do I wear a bikini? SOMETIMES! I prefer tankini's because I am so active with my kids and I don't like my jelly belly to bounce around and a tankini holds it more in place. Do I wear shorts? HECK YES! I live in Florida people! 
Watch my VLOG. You'll like it Tongue Out
Here I am in MARCH showing you where my loose skin is. Even after 3 months of CrossFit, I still have it. It's getting less and less and my muscles are becoming more defined, but it's still there. I'm okay with that.

Here are a few FAQ and answers to help some of you that are worried.
1. What will my skin look like when I reach my target weight? The most important thing to remember about weight loss and your skin is that no one — not even a doctor— can tell in advance what your skin will look like when your reach your goal weight. Every person’s skin will react differently to weight loss.
However, many people who lose a significant amount of weight are unpleasantly surprised to find that their skin looks worse and worse as the pounds drop off. Fat cells themselves never go away entirely; they empty out but their structure remains behind. As the fat from the cells and inches melt away, there’s less support for the overlying skin and it starts to look deflated — collapsed and wrinkled — like a balloon that was blown up and popped. Since the underlying fat layer to which the skin was attached is now gone, it flops around loosely.
There are some common variables that affect how your skin will react to and look after weight loss:
* How old are you? — the younger you are, the more elastic your skin is. I'm nearly 42...maybe that's why my skin didn't bounce back so well?? Tongue Out
* How long were you overweight? — skin that has been stretched for many years is less elastic than skin that was only stretched for a brief time. I was overweight A LONG time. Maybe another reason??

 * What are your skin genetics? — some people are genetically blessed with elastic skin.

 * Do/did you smoke? — smoking negative affects the skin’s ability to tighten up.

 * How much weight did you lose and how quickly did you lose it? — the more weight you lose, the more likely it is that you’ll have excess skin. Extremely rapid weight loss (e.g. loss as a result of gastric bypass surgery) can also cause loose skin to occur.

 * Are/were you a sun worshipper? — sun damages skin. UM.....GUILTY

 * Were you ever pregnant? — a large pregnancy can permanently damage the underlying fibers of the skin and permanently separate the ab muscles that keep your stomach flat. YES!!!


2. Will exercise affect the way my skin looks when I reach my target weight? Exercise alone can’t make your skin tighten up; however, building muscle as you lose weight and afterwards can help to fill up some of the loose skin.


3. Are there any creams or lotions that I can rub on my skin that will make it tighten up? Will 'brushing' my excess skin make it go away? No, but it certainly never hurts to moisturize.


4. Are there any vitamins or supplements that I can take that will make my skin tighten up? No.


5. Is it true that if I lose weight ‘the right way’ that my skin will tighten up and I won’t have any loose or excess skin? There are myths, misinformation and outright lies floating around the Internet about skin and weight loss. The Big Lie is that if you lose weight ‘the right way’ you won’t have any problems with your skin — that it will shrink to fit your new body. The ‘right way’ is commonly held out to be through healthy eating, exercising and lifting weights, drinking lots of water, using lotions of various types, losing slowly, and taking various supplements and oils. Often whoever is espousing the ‘right way to lose weight’ is selling something: a book, lotion, supplement, or weight loss plan. Or that person is simply misinformed and has never personally lost enough weight to get to the point where excess skin is an issue. In any event, they’re wrong. You can lose weight 'the right way' and have a lot of excess skin.


6. Am I a failure if I lose weight ‘the right way’ and still have a problem with excess skin?  No! The Big Lie perpetrates the myth that we've done something wrong if we reach our goal weights and don't have magically shrinking skin. Many people have lost weight the right way and have problems with excess skin. You’re a success for losing the weight! Don’t let ignorant people make you feel like you're a failure.


7. Why do I see pictures and read stories in magazines, books, and on the Internet about people who say that they have lost a lot of weight but have tight skin with no excess skin problems? Everyone is different and there may be a few lucky souls who can lose large amounts of weight with no excess skin problems. Those folks would probably be ones who lost their weight at a young age, hadn't been overweight for very long, and/or were genetically blessed with elastic skin. Unfortunately, however, sometimes people just aren't honest about their skin problems because they are selling products or services or trying to make a name for themselves. So you have to consider the source: does this person, magazine, company, or book stand to profit from giving the illusion that you can lose weight without having any problems with excess skin? Keep in mind that photos can be airbrushed and that lighting, posture, makeup, and hair styles make a huge difference in before and after photos. Sometimes excess skin is tucked into clothing, even skimpy posing suits, to make it ‘disappear’. Listen, I had a chat with Olivia from the Biggest Loser and she had skin removal surgery. MOST high profile weight loss success stories DO. I commend Oliva for being honest as most don't say anything and leave the public thinking that they did it all on their own!
In other words, be cautious about believing all that you may ‘see’ and ‘hear’ about weight loss without excess skin problems. Especially if it involves your money!


8. When will I be able to tell whether my skin will tighten up after weight loss? Try not to worry prematurely about potential skin problems before you reach your goal weight. Many body changes happen as you lose the last ten or twenty pounds. Most plastic surgeons tell you to wait at least six months after you reach your goal weight and stabilize there to see how your skin reacts to your weight loss. However, not much is likely to change after a year.


Remember, if you decide that your skin looked better before you lost weight, you can always gain the weight back again – but I bet you won’t! NO WAY!!
9. I’ve reached my goal weight and waited six months and still have a problem with excess skin. What can I do? At this point, it comes down to two choices: live with the skin or have it surgically removed. Excess skin problems can usually be camouflaged under clothing quite nicely. If you don't want to live with the skin, you can schedule a consultation with a plastic surgeon to discuss surgical options. You might want to consider talking to one just to find out what all your options are even if you don’t think that you would consider surgery.
I don't think people that need to lose 50 pounds or less have to deal with the extra skin issue, but I might be wrong!! I'd love to hear from you all that were overweight, but weren't morbidly obese!!
Would you have skin reduction surgery?? Have you had it?? On what part of your body? How expensive was it??