Our Amazing RV Binder! The Whole Trip Planned in one Place!

 
 

Our family is taking our first RV trip with 2 kids under the age of 11 and a toddler! We will be visiting some of the 13 Colonies on our tour. Step 1 was realizing that I needed help planning the trip since I have no RV experience. Enter Thanks RV Adventure USA! We worked together to plan every detail of our two-week adventure. Here is a look at the binder!

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Feeding the Good Guys

When we feed ourselves, we’re feeding a whole ecosystem inside us.

There is so much confusion about our health today- what we should eat or drink.

We have a health challenge on our hands. 

There is good news! Our DNA, is not our absolute destiny.  Switching on good genes and turning off problematic genes, which has greatly to do with nutrition, is one of the the most important of all.

This emerging field of science is called Epigenetics. 

“It’s NOT so much what our Genes ‘do to us’ It’s what WE DO to our Genes!” 

And it’s not just what happens to our genes but also what happens to our germs that live within us, specifically in our intestinal system. We called that our microbiota or microbiome, where all those tiny small germs live in our intestines.

Our immune system resides in the intestinal lining, about 70%. It is the chief regulator for our immune function in our body and brain.  What we feed our immune system or our gut matters so much more than we realized before.

We’ve been encouraged to eat our colors; to eat a wide range of plant foods. Now we’re learning that these food are not only anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer, but they’re working to support the healthy germs instead of the problematic germs in our intestine.

Our immunity is our lifeline and 70% of it resides in our gut.

What is the microbiome?  It’s the big picture of who is living in us! There are at least 10 times as many good germs living inside us, as there are human cells in our bodies. Scientists have only been able to be research them recently because they are so small and delicate that they cant’ be grown in a laboratory; they only grow in the special environment of the human body or animal host. These good germs do things for us that we can’t do: they make anti-cancer substances everyday, they make vitamins for us, and they even perform much of our digestion and keep the barrier healthy and strong so harmful things don’t leak into our bloodstream. 

Antibiotics are those drugs made to kill the infection germs so then our immune system can take over and fix the problem.

Probiotics is the good germs. We've heard about these a lot in recent years. But there is more to this...

Prebiotics is the foundational food that must be present to feed those good germs.  We must eat that foundational food in order for the probiotics to reproduce in our body and do what they should! 

Psychobiotics: or how gut bacteria messes with your mind. It is how some noxious germs can take over when the good germs have been harmed by things like antibiotics. The good news is that the good germs manufacture neurotransmitters, and make many more than we can make for ourselves. Psychologist are realizing that the microbiome is very important and they have to address feeding the good germs with good nutrition. 

How do we feed the good guys in our body?

Phytonutrients are what these good germs feed on, which are found in that rainbow of plant foods. 

Conditions Associated with Whole-Food Deficit:

  • Alzheimer's Disease
  • Altered Immune Fuction: allergies, asthma, auto-immune disorders
  • Cancer
  • Degenerative Joint Disease
  • Depression, cognitive disorders, learning & behavior disorders
  • Heart Disease & Hypertension
  • Vulnerability to infections
  • Pre-eclampsia of pregnancy
  • Protein and fat damage in athletes

New Dietary guidelines require 50% of your plate to be fruits and vegetables.

We can’t culture these good germs because they are so delicate they cannot be made in a lab; therefore, they can’t be put into probiotics we buy because those are created in labs. So, how do we get more of those good germs???! Those good germs are IN your body already and they are waiting to be fed the food they need to grow to the trillions in order to help our body. 

It’s difficult to get that rainbow color of plants everyday. Juice Plus+ is an easy button, containing the rainbow in 30 different fruits and vegetables. 

It’s uniquely studied with over 20 years and 36 different peer-reviewed, double gold standard, published, independent clinical research articles. All this research we can share with you, just contact us!

“Our chemistry is from plant chemistry.”

Even when we eat animals, those animals ate plants to get all their nutrients! 

Those good germs need the phytonutrients in plant foods to thrive and help our bodies. 


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How Vanessa Preps For the Shred

We have a 10 day health jump start program called the Shred that I absolutely love.

It has certain guidelines:

ADD--

  • More Real Food
  • Juice Plus+ Trio Capsules Daily
  • 2 Complete Shakes Daily
  • Plenty of Water
  • Sleep 7-8 Hours
  • Exercise Most Days

ELIMINATE--

  • Gluten
  • Dairy
  • Caffeine
  • Alcohol
  • Processed Foods
  • Refined Sugars
  • Eating After 6:00 pm*

*Pregnant or nursing mothers do not need to follow this.

These guidelines might seem strict but they are for only 10 days with 1 weekend! You can do anything for 10 days.

During the holidays I tend to fall off the wagon smack on my face for three months. It's a slippery slope that starts with everything pumpkin and ends with my skinny jeans not fitting by January! I love that for ten days at the beginning of each month I can take the time to focus on what I'm putting in my body. I can skip that drive thru and Starbucks and know that when I do enjoy those holiday meals it won't derail all the work I did to stay healthy the rest of the year. 

So, what do I do to make sure I'm successful during those 10 days? I spend the weekend shopping and prepping. 

How Vanessa preps for the shred (1).png

What do I buy?

All my favorite fruits & vegetables that are in season.

  • Kale
  • Spinach
  • Butternut Squash
  • Spaghetti Squash
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Red Potatoes
  • Bell Peppers
  • Leaks
  • Rainbow Chard
  • Zucchini
  • Mushrooms
  • Celery
  • Carrots
  • Variety of all fruits and berries
  • Hummus

What do I make?

We have a Shred10 Pinterest Board with a variety of recipes we enjoy making. But I also have certain things I like to make in bulk so I can easily throw a lunch or dinner together with no meal prep or cooking.

  • Quinoa
  • Brown Rice
  • Overnight Oats
  • Protein Balls (Which we have a Pinterest Board For!)
  • A soup or stew of some kind. (I'm planning on Potato Leek Soup this week)
  • Lentils
  • Butternut Squash
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Chick Peas
  • Vegetable medley cooked in the oven
  • Salads in a jar 

What I make might look a little different than you because I am plant-based, I don't bulk cook any meats like I used to. But I used to make 3 pounds of crockpot pulled chicken breast and skillet chicken thighs. Which I highly recommend if you like to have chicken with your salads in a jar or for easy dinners. 

What I love about having those key items cooked in bulk already is that all I might have to do is cook fresh vegetables or use the items I already cooked to create a meal like Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese. Or better yet, I just throw some quinoa, lentils, and veggies together for a quick lunch! 

If ten days of focusing on your nutrition and detoxing sounds like what you need contact us!

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You Can't Have Endurance Without Perseverance: Augusta 70.3

I was slumped over gasping for air holding on to my husband's shoulder while my coach, Skye, grabbed ice and Dan poured water on my head. I couldn't  catch my breath. Only 6 miles into the 13.1 mile run and I was hyperventilating on the side of the road. 

You Can't Have Endurance Without Perseverance- Augusta 70.3.png

I wish I could say I felt strong going into this race but sometimes life doesn't work that way. On Friday morning just hours before I left for Augusta, Georgia, I sat at the doctor's office while she told me I had sinusitis, bronchitis, and enteritis. Basically my whole body was "itis". She gave me three different medicines and told me I should not race on Sunday.

Yeah, right. I've been training for this race for six months. Unless I was in the hospital, I was going to Augusta.

I spent the next few hours packing and re-checking my bag. Hoping that in my cloud of sickness I hadn't forgotten a key item. I was already nervous because I had to get new shifters put on my bike just a few days earlier (one of my caps had popped off during Augusta Camp and with the delays from Hurricane Irma I didn't get my bike back in time to properly ride it before race day). Anyone will tell you that you should NEVER change anything for race day... 

I tried to push all the negativity aside and concentrate on what was ahead. This was my victory lap. For all the hard work. For all the hours on the weekends I gave up with family and friends. For every moment I told myself I could not stay in the ocean for another second, go that extra mile, push myself harder on that next lap around the track. 

This weekend was about "I Can."

So I went to the race expo and bought my mug that said "Augusta 70.3" and my t-shirt that already had my name printed on the back as a finisher. Because I was surrounded by women on my team that had and would persevere and I would join them. 

The Swim:

With friends by my side we walked down to the floating dock to get ready for our wave to start. I jumped in the water to swim out the nerves. With every stroke my breathing settled and I grabbed the dock in anticipation for our start. Women ages 35-39 poured around me, splashing, kicking and off we went! My goal for the swim was to use it as a warm up; swim solid but I knew it was key to not lose my breath. I needed to conserve. 

I finished in 35:45. My original goal was 35 minutes. I was off to a great start!

swim out augusta 70.3

The Bike:

Talking about perseverance-- Three weeks ago, during our Augusta Training Camp, one of my friends took a terrible fall on mile 50 of our practice ride. She ended up in an ambulance along with many stitches and patches of road rash. But she came right back to camp after the hospital and stayed the rest of the weekend to cheer us on. Teresa is also a firefighter and the next week was out working 24 hour shifts to help in Hurricane Irma. It is women like her that I meet in my race journey that humble me. That make me look at challenges in a whole new light.

So, why did I go so far off the topic of race day? Well, I was right behind her when she fell.  Every single bit of anxiety about my past bike accident reared it's ugly head. All I wanted was a safe ride for the race now.  

As I flew down the hills I braked. I knew better. I knew I was losing momentum to go up the next hill but I froze. I let fear get the best of me while people flew down next to me. I could not let go of my brakes. I prayed for a safe ride. I prayed that I would dismount that bike into a safe run. 

And then my chain fell off. 

And then it fell off again.

But I was not alone. Someone stopped to hold my bike while I wrestled for way too long to get it back on. We exchanged names and I thanked her profusely. But in my fog of nerves and sickness I cannot remember it for the life of me! I don't think I could have done it without her. I was in panic mode trying to understand how something so simple could keep happening! 

Less than ten miles away I rode into transition safely. 

In 3:26:41.

Who knows how much time I lost braking on those hills or trying to put my chain back on. But I was off the bike and running into transition. 

bike augusta 70.3

The Run:

A half marathon. 13.1 miles ahead of me at 1:10 pm in Augusta, Georgia on September 24, 2017. It was hot. And although my sinusitis and bronchitis had not held me back in the swim and the bike, I would not be so lucky on the run.

I started with a decent pace of 11 minute miles, thinking that I was allowing myself to go slow. Oh, but I had no idea what pacing myself would mean. 

Around mile 4 I started to fall apart. All of a sudden I felt like every breath I took brought in less and less air. I started to get dizzy and began to walk. I made sure I was stopping at every Aid Station: drinking water, eating my nutrition, taking my salt, and grabbing ice to put in any place I could store it. I threw ice water on my head, down my back, on my chest. I told myself "only 9 more miles!" but then yelled at myself to shut up because that might as well be 50. 

I was not in a good place. 

Then I saw our team tent at mile 6 with Skye, Dan, and Dave waving and cheering me on and I began to cry. Dave came over as I totally fell apart. Knowing I wasn't even half way made every single doubt and emotion flow out of me as the little breaths I had got smaller. Skye and Dan talked me off the ledge. After ice, water, hugs, and words of encouragement I was off again. 

I realized I could breathe a little better if I inhaled through my nose and not my mouth. I focused on my breathing, my running form, and I even closed my eyes at points. Then my teammate, Jae, came upon me; lifting me up and I held on to her for many more miles. She talked to me even though I couldn't say anything back. She asked what I needed and if I had the ice for my chest to help me breathe easier. She helped me forget the miles we had to go. 

This is what team is about.

This is why I am part of a training group. 

I ran a 2:49:55. My longest time for a half marathon ever. My goal for an under 7 hour race was gone. 

I finished in 7:02:40. 

The Finish:

There were many tears at the finish line but not because I was upset at my time.

I was overwhelmed with emotions for finishing while each breath was a struggle. I was overwhelmed with emotions that someone took time to help me put my bike chain back on.

I was thankful for my husband, Dave, cheering at every step and for holding me up when I just wanted to break down. I was thankful for my friend and coach, Skye, for not letting me think for even a second that I could not do it. I was thankful for our team: Dan's smiles and encouragement, Jae's kind words and push during the race, and every single one of us that screamed out each other's names for our awesome accomplishment that was almost over. 

I love giving myself athletic goals for my health. But it is the journey with the people around me that make it worth it. It is seeing the perseverance of my friend Teresa who finished in her goal time even after her fall just weeks ago. It is the camaraderie of our team of women in Tri With Skye pushing each other, cheering for each other, being there for each other when it is most needed. 

Pushing yourself physically is hard. But it is the mental push of endurance sports that separates the "I Can" from the "I Will". 

finish augusta 70.3

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3 Mistakes I Made When I Started Running, and What I did Right

When I ran my first mile six years ago my only goal was not to stop.  I also intended it to only be 1 mile.  I never expected to run it very fast and I never thought I’d go over a mile.  But I was in a Fitness Challenge with a mom’s workout group, surrounded by runners… And I’ve decided it’s just contagious.  I quickly made a 5K goal for myself.

As a beginner runner I made a few major mistakes.

1.  I Broke the 10-Percent Rule

  • To increase your milage safely, and decrease your chances of injury, you should only run 10% further than the week before.   For example, if you ran 3 miles last week, you should only run 3.3 this week.

When I began making race goals for myself I was so excited I just went out and started running.  I did not do any research on how much or how far I should run.  I didn’t hire a coach or find a program online, I just went out and ran.  I mean it sounded so easy, you want to run further, you just go out and run further!  I had no idea that I was setting myself up for failure.  Not mentally but physically.

  • As I learned in Physical Therapy 6 months after I began running– there is a 10-Percent Rule.
  • My body began to break down because I was not increasing my milage correctly.  And then I ended up injuring myself and going to physical therapy and I had to take 6-weeks off in the middle of my training.

2.  I Didn’t Research Running Nutrition

  • You need nutrition during a run, especially when you begin increasing your milage past a 5K.
  • I would hit “a wall.”  When you hit a wall when doing any workout, you feel like you can’t finish.  All of a sudden you feel like you just can’t take another step, you might slow way off your goal pace, or find you’re extremely hungry or thirsty.
  • There are many options out there to fuel your body before, during, and after your run.  
  • I learned that micro-nutrients were a KEY for recovery; they actually combat the oxidative stress we put on our bodies when we exercise, which leads to sore muscles and injuries. But I had always focused on macro-nutrients! 

It’s important to realize that you are burning A LOT of calories when you are running and as you increase your milage your body needs to refuel in order to keep your goal pace and go further.  When I began running I had never done any activity out of a gym and did not realize that there are a whole new set of requirements to make sure my body performs at the level I wish it to.

3.  I Didn’t Stretch!

  • This is SO simple and even seasoned runners make this mistake.
  • It is important to stretch every day.
  • Yoga a few times a week is wonderful and my physical therapist recommends 45 minutes twice a week to develop overall body strength and flexibility.
  • Stretching will not only make you a stronger athlete but will also prevent injuries.

What I did Right:

  • I went to a running store and got fitted for a running shoe.
    • I found out I was wearing a sneaker a whole size too small and that I needed a shoe that would correct the way I landed while running.  I highly recommend getting fitted for a running shoe before increasing your milage.
  • Most importantly–  I found a group of friends to run with!
    • Having accountability when you have to wake up at 5 am was key to my success!  I still need to meet someone for a run to make myself go do it.  Plus, it’s amazing how fast a long run will go when you are talking to a friend.  All of a sudden you don’t realize you’re running faster, going further, and actually looking forward to that Saturday morning run.

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From Skinny to Strong!

In my 20’s it was all about being “skinny” for me.  How little could I eat and how much could I work out to be thin and have the body I wanted.  Well, I never got there.  No matter how much weight I lost I never looked like the Victoria Secret model I thought I should.  Years went by without me eating pizza and ice cream.  Then my husband and I decided to have a baby and the doctor told me I was underweight.  Underweight?!?  He told me I should gain pounds to increase my chances of getting pregnant faster.  Wow, I was just told to gain weight!

It was awesome.  I ate years of pizza and ice cream in a matter of weeks and those 10 pounds flew on.  I also got pregnant with no problem that month.  But my eating did not stop there.  My new train of thought was, “I’m eating for two!”, and no one could convince we otherwise, even when the scale tipped 80 pounds I had gained at the end of my pregnancy.  I lost the weight quickly and was basically back to my pre-baby weight by the time my son was one.  But by baby #2 my eating habits had changed and I felt I could live on McDonald’s fries if that was the only thing that I felt like eating.  I gained another 70 pounds.  Obviously.

After my daughter was born I couldn’t lose the weight and I felt like I was living inside someone else’s body.  I would look at myself in the mirror and not recognize the person looking back at me.  I would try to put on pre-baby clothes and swear I could fit into them just to realize I couldn’t zip it or even pull in down over my shoulders.  I didn’t know this new person with stretch marks and cellulite and I refused to admit that it was me.  After changing my eating and exercise, which I talk about in Find Your Secret Athletic Self and Fuel Your Body With Real Food, I was still obsessed with losing the weight.  I kept thinking, “If I just lose another 5 pounds I’ll look like I used to!”  But I was so very wrong.  I weighed less than I did as a senior in high school but I promise you, I DID NOT look like I did when I was when I was 18.

It took me two years after my daughter was born to come to terms with my new body:  the belly I would never lose that looked like cottage cheese, the stretch marks along my hips and thighs, my deflated breasts…  Every year I think twice about wearing a bikini but finally decided, “I may not be skinny but I’m strong.”  I’m stronger than I’ve ever been in my life!  I’m more athletic now than I ever imagined.  I changed my goals from a number on the scale to a number on the clock.  I began fueling my body with whole food and flooding it with fruits and vegetables.  I pushed myself to run harder, go longer, try a new sport.  I started taking care of myself from the inside. Now, I have never loved my body more.  I’m proud of all it’s accomplished.  I’m amazed it could bring three amazing, beautiful children into this world.  My body is God’s gift and I will never again look at it as “not good enough”.

But what can you do for yourself?

Find out how I flood my body with 30 different fruits and vegetables every day.   

Easy fruits and vegetables?!? I'm IN!

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Easy Chewy Granola Bar Recipe

During my 30 Day Sugar Free Challenge I decided to also cut added sugar from the snacks my children were eating.  I was shocked by how much sugar was in all the organic “healthy” snacks they were eating.  Since I started to change my eating six years ago I have wanted to make my own granola bars, but I always felt like it was too overwhelming.  This sugar challenge really pushed me to find different alternatives to the Clif Kid ZBars and Cascadian Farm granola bars I have been buying for years.  So, I decided to move to homemade whole food snacks and my first recipe to tackle was our granola bars.

I was shocked when I couldn’t find many granola bar recipes that didn’t include tons of brown or white sugar, so I took a few different recipes and made a few different batches until I found a granola bar that both my children liked!  The recipe is chewy and soft, not hard and crunchy.

I have to say that I am not one that usually makes things from scratch, but this recipe is so easy and doesn’t include a ton of sugar or ingredients I can’t pronounce! Plus, it saves us money… Who knew eating healthier would save us money?!

Ingredients

  1. 2 cups rolled oats
  2. 1 cup shredded apple (or half cup of apple sauce)
  3. 1/4 cup peanut butter
  4. 4 tablespoons honey
  5. 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  6. 1/2 teaspoon vanilla or almond extract
  7. 1/2 cup chopped almonds (or nuts of choice)
  8. 1/4 cup raisins
  9. * Flax and/or Chia Seeds Optional

Instructions

1. In a large bowl add all ingredients: 2 cups rolled oats, shredded apple, 1/4 cup peanut butter, 4 tbs honey, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract, 1 tbs cinnamon, 1/2 cup chopped almonds, and 1/4 cup raisins.

2. The mixture should be sticky and not runny. If it seems too watery add some more rolled oats to thicken the mixture, if it's not sticky enough add a little more honey.

3. Line a 9X9 pan with parchment paper.

4. Pour the mixture into the pan and press down evenly.

5. Bake in preheated oven at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes, or until the edges are golden brown.

6. Let stand to cool and then flip it over onto a cutting board and gently pull the parchment off.

7. Cut into desired sizes. It makes 12-15 when I cut them into normal granola bar sizes.

Notes

I do recommend using organic and NonGMO ingredients when possible. 

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Find Your Secret Athletic Self and Fuel Your Body With Real Food

FIND YOUR SECRET ATHLETIC SELF AND FUEL YOUR BODY WITH REAL FOOD

We’ve all been there-  “I need to lose 10 pounds!” But what if this year you dropped the number and decided to focus just on good, whole food?  Focus instead on eating healthy and finding exercise that you really like, or even love, instead of just going to the gym because you want to get to that number.  That realization changed my life.

Vanessa Before 2011.png

Being healthy is a lifestyle not a diet or a program.  

Six years ago my life changed.  After my second child was born I could not lose the baby weight.  Well, I called it that a year later…  I decided that what I was doing in my 20’s: random classes at the gym and fad diets, were not working anymore.  So, I joined a mom’s workout group called Stroller Strength.  Don’t let the name deceive you!  I was extremely intimidated.  I had never ran a mile, didn’t even know people that did “races”.  I was surrounded by athletic moms… MOMS.  I had no idea that there was this group, no entire culture, of moms that were not just skinny, they were athletes, they were healthy, they were strong in ways I didn’t even know existed.  I was NOT athletic as a child or in high school, I knew people did sports, but as adults and moms didn’t that end?  My knowledge of working out consisted of a gym.  And whatever was in it.

Of course not all of them were these amazing athletes, many were just like me.  And I clung to those moms for comfort while I looked on at those athletes, wondering if I could ever be like them.

They spoke of marathons and races, body figure competitions, and paces…

Listening to them was like listening to another language.  I had no idea how far a marathon even was!  This was a whole new life I was being introduced to, not just a workout group, not just a group fitness trainer, not just women trying to get skinny.  These women had real goals, goals that included numbers, but not on a scale!  It was uplifting, it was freeing…

So, I started to open my mind when the Spring Challenge started a few months after I joined the group in January.  It was a fitness challenge for 8 weeks and you set the goal.  Of course I made my goal about my weight.  I wanted to lose 20 pounds.  As part of the challenge we ran a mile, and a variety of other exercises like push ups, and sit ups, etc.  We would mark down how fast we ran and how many of each exercise we could do in the allotted time.  I had never done anything like it before.  I had never ever ran a mile before, not without stopping!  So, I did it.  With another mom that had never ran a mile, we promised we wouldn’t let the other one stop to walk during testing.  And we didn’t!  I ran my very first mile in 11:25.  A very sad pace for most people but I was elated.  I hadn’t stopped!  It was the very first step to the person I am now.  It was the very first step toward my 5K’s, my half marathons, my marathons, my triathlons, and my two Ironman 70.3 races.

All because I found a goal that challenged me in a way that I couldn’t starve myself to reach.

This new world that opened to me didn’t stop at the work outs we did together.  It didn’t stop at opening my eyes to the amazing athletes and the ability to even become one of those.  We also had to log what we ate!  What?!  I’m on a diet too??  But no, that was not the case.  I was introduced by my Stroller Strength instructor to Clean Eating.  But what is Clean Eating?  It sounds easy– eat clean.  But what did it mean?  There are magazines, website, books, FaceBook pages, and endless information out there.  As soon as I heard it I thought, “Oh no, not another fad diet!”  But I was very wrong.  It is not a diet.  It’s about taking all the processed food out of your diet.  Simply, if you can’t pronounce what’s on the label, than it’s not clean.  It’s REAL food.  That perimeter of the grocery store.  It’s much like eating the way our grandparents did before the “convenient” foods came into existence.  No prepackaged Weight Watcher’s food?  No fat free bagels?  Everything I had known about staying skinny was being thrown to the curb!  I had to reteach myself what food really was, and what healthy really meant.  And I would finally have to learn to cook… Well, at least a little! It was the first step toward many years of learning about food and learning how to follow recipes, LOL! It was the springboard that led to the plant-based nutrition I follow now. 

That first fitness challenge I lost 13 pounds.  Pretty good out of a 20 pound goal in just 8 weeks.  But that challenge was not about the weight I lost.  It was about the new person I found.  My goals started to change.  I decided after I finished that first mile that I wanted to shave 2 minutes off my mile time by the halfway testing.  And by halfway testing I decided my goal for the end of the challenge should be to run a 5K.  My very first race.  I finished in 30:24.  Without stopping.  I was hooked.  The obsession began without me even realizing it.  I was determined to become one of those athletic moms.  I was determined to learn the lingo.

I found a part of me I never knew was there, and I was impressed with the person I saw.

I found my athletic self surrounded by incredible women I still look up to.  I learned how to be healthy not only for myself, but for my family.  Make this the MOMENT you find your passion in food and exercise. 

Vanessa Law 2013

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