Feeling pretty damn good

      No Comments on Feeling pretty damn good

I’m feeling pretty damn good right now.  Maybe it was the two hours of zumba this morning for a good cause, with just a couple of breaks for a quick drink of water.  Maybe it’s because I got two compliments from complete strangers on my outfit (the one I wore for zumba and then went to Lowe’s). Maybe it’s because I’ve gained a ton of confidence in the last eight months or so.  I’m not entirely sure why I feel good, but I like it.

I’m not saying my life is devoid of frustration, struggles, aggravation and heartaches, that is far from the truth.  I am saying that somehow in the last little while I’ve figured a few things out.  One…I am not ok all the time, but that’s ok.  Two…it’s ok to feel good about myself.  Three….I don’t need any particular person, ie. spouse, friend, child to make me feel loved.  Let’s face it, if you’re counting on any of them, you’re probably going to be disappointed. I’ve figured out that I am loved regardless of what I look like, what I feel like or what I’ve been doing.  That’s pretty important to me, because I’ve spent a good share of my life doing what I thought other people expected of me so they would love me.  Not anymore.

I figured out something else, too.  I feel pretty damn good about what I look like, especially lately… in bright colors.  I’ve spent a lot of my life wearing drab colors and trying to blend in, trying to stay on the outside edge where no one will really notice me.  Somehow I thought that was protecting myself and other people.  My grandmother used to say that the women in her church were too drab, she loved color.  In that way, I think I’m becoming more like her.  If someone doesn’t like the fact that I LOVE tie dye, or that I’m learning to love the brighter colors, too bad!  I’ve also learned that if you take your picture from above you look a lot better. 🙂


I have to give credit where it’s due.   I started going to zumba around 8 months ago.  My sister in law kept asking me to go, but I was afraid.  I was afraid people would see how I have no rhythm, or that I was uncoordinated and they would laugh at me.  Eight months ago that would have destroyed me.  But, I finally decided to go.  I wanted to do something that was just for me.  So, I went and I actually loved it.  I couldn’t do most of the moves, I was behind most everyone there and I probably looked ridiculous, but not one person laughed at me.  That meant more to me than the exercise. And people seemed like they were open, caring and real, and I needed that, too.   My confidence has been building all this time.  The more I go to zumba, the more I learn how to do the moves, the better I feel about going.  I’ve met so many awesome ladies that I have become friends with that I wouldn’t even attempt to name them all.

The point I’m trying to make is this.  I’ve pretty much weighed the same for the last sixteen years, but until just the last eight months I have been self conscious, uncomfortable in my own skin and pretty much not feeling pretty or attractive at all.  Today I can honestly say I feel good about myself.  I am starting to actually enjoy exercise, especially zumba, and I am feeling stronger, prettier, and healthier.  The truth is, I feel pretty damn good.

Do you hate to exercise?

      No Comments on Do you hate to exercise?

I know as a health coach it’s just plain wrong to admit this, but I really hate working out.  I mean, there are some things I like to do, but when it comes to getting dressed, getting in my car, driving to the gym, then going in and trying to do all the things I know I should do…well, I can’t say I like it at all.  But, I know I need to work out.  So what do you do when you hate to work out, but you know you really need to do it?  Make up your own workout!  That’s what I decided to do this week.

I work a full time job that keeps me inside at a desk from 6:00 am to 2:30 pm.  A lot of evenings when I get out of work I have to stop at the grocery store, stop at the shop where my husband works, or some other kind of errand.  I try to go straight home, but that doesn’t always work.  In the summer I refuse to go to the gym, because I am already stuck inside so much of the time.  Lately, because of summer activities, zumba has been getting cancelled more often, so I haven’t been getting my exercise in like I should.  So this week I decided to do something different.

We live on a short road with a cul de sac at the end.  I haven’t measured how long the road is, but we only have four houses on our little road.  Monday I decided I was going to go out and walk on our road, so I grabbed my phone, so I could keep track of steps, and my weighted gloves and I started walking.  After about two times around,  I determined it was around 400 steps each time around, I figured I needed to do something different with my arms than just swing them.  I started out by raising my arms out in front of me shoulder high and then back down, around twenty or thirty reps.  Then I raised my arms out to the side about shoulder height and back down, about the same number of reps.  I continued walking and moving my arms in several different ways, including punching out in front of me and doing uppercut punches.  I didn’t really count how many arm raises I was doing on the first day, I just kept moving.

After about 2500 steps, I decided to take on the back yard so I could have some varying terrain.  Our road is very straight and level.  My back yard has a dip in the middle so when you start from one side and go to the other, you have to walk down a hill, then back up.  I did a very tight snake pattern on the back yard all the way to the back and back up to the front.  Last night I figured out it makes about 2500 steps there too.  I found that I can walk for almost an hour and get at least 5000 steps this way and I’m getting a work out on my arms, back, legs, and abs and I don’t get bored.  After a week or so I’m going to move up to carrying weights instead of the weighted gloves.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again.  The very best exercise you can do is one you will enjoy doing and do consistently.  If I get bored with this workout, I’ll come up with another one, but for now, I like this one pretty well.  I can already see toning in my arms just from three days this week!


Thirteen Ways To Stay (or get) Lean

      No Comments on Thirteen Ways To Stay (or get) Lean

Here are thirteen ways to stay lean:


  1.  Keep a journal.  Sometimes if you write down everything you eat during the day you will realize just how much unhealthy food you are eating.  Keeping track is not supposed to be a discouragement, instead it is supposed to motivate you to add some good stuff in there!  Write down what you eat, how much you exercise, and even more than that, write down your goals.  When you write down your goals it helps you to work harder to reach them, and it is so encouraging when you do!
  2. Know your numbers.  Below is a list of the measurements and medical tests that you should record in your journal.  Make sure you do before and then after three months or so after you start changing your lifestyle.                                                                                                           Waist Circumference, Height, Weight, Blood Pressure, Fasting Blood Sugar, Complete lipid and cholesterol profile, fasting insulin level, inflammatory marker profile, Illness feelings: energy level, joint aches, heartburn, etc.
  3.  Graze. This can be the first major change you make.  Most people have a difficult time with grazing because they work jobs that don’t allow them to take breaks often during the day, and others have a difficult time because we’ve been programmed to eat three meals a day.  This is not how our bodies were designed.  When my boys were little they used to eat all day long, just little snacks throughout the day, and then I “trained them” to eat at meal times.  I think that is when they stopped being so lean.  Both of them were lean and very active when they were little, but now they have bulked up and can really eat a large amount of food. Dr. Sears rule of twos is as follows:  Eat twice as often, eat half as much and chew twice as long.    In Dr. Sears’ book Prime Time Health he mentions the grazers vs. gorgers study.  Obesity researchers studied two groups of overfat people.  Both groups ate the same foods and the same number of daily calories.  Yet, the group that ate six mini-meals lost more body fat than those who ate three square meals a day.  Grazing perks up your metabolism and turns you into more of a calorie burner than a calorie storer.  Dr. Sears suggests that people who need a major metabolic overhaul and must lose twenty to thirty pounds and three to four inches off their waist begin by sipping on a smoothie for breakfast, snacks, and lunch for the first month.  This is the simplest, most effective, and healthiest weight control tip I can share with you.  It resets your gut-filling level so you are satisfied with less food, sort of like shrinking your stomach’s “I’m full” gauge.  Eventually your stomach will let you know that you are eating too much and you will learn to eat less at a time.                                            mason jar salads
  4. Eat real foods.  This is probably one of the most important things I can share with you.  There are so many artificial foods out there today, they are just not good for you.  Many of them, instead of helping you lose weight, will add fat and not only that they could make you sick.  All fruits and vegetables should be in your daily diet, but a good rule is seafood, fruit, vegetables, whole grains and lean meat.  All foods should be minimally processed, which means not produced in a factory in most cases.
  5. Eat foods that are filling.  Foods that are naturally high in protein and fiber help curb overeating.  Fill up with fiber rich and high protein foods, such as salad and salmon, near the beginning of the meal.  They will help you feel satisfied early in the meal and you will crave fewer carbs.
  6. Be satisfied with less.  The faster you eat, the more likely you are to overeat.  I found when I am working and only have thirty minutes for lunch, that I tend to eat fast, especially when I go to lunch with my husband.  I have learned that I need to slow down and enjoy what I can, rather than trying to finish it all in less than thirty minutes.  If I can’t finish my lunch during the thirty minutes, I decide whether I want to save it for later or just throw it away.  I was taught not to waste food when I was younger, and I try really hard not to waste it now, but my stomach is trained to only eat a certain amount of food, and most restaurants serve way more than I can eat.  Sometimes I get the kids meals and still don’t finish all the food.
  7. Eat all you want of “free foods”.  Free foods are all fruits and vegetables.
  8. Eat a “right carb” diet.  Right carbs are lean carbs.  Lean carbs include fruit, vegetables, oatmeal, flaxseed meal, soy foods, yogurt, and whole grains.  Fat carbs include sweetened beverages, white breads, sugar loaded icings, cereals and snack foods that are highly sweetened, low in fiber and low in protein.
  9. Eat a “right fat” diet.  Good fat comes from a food that swims in the sea, runs in the forests or grows in the fields.     burger
  10. Make little changes that produce a lot of fat loss.  You can make a huge difference just by quitting those sweetened sodas and teas.  Don’t switch to artificial sweeteners though, they are sweet, but they are not good for you and they only trick you into thinking you can eat more.
  11. Eat breakfast.  This is a difficult one for me, I just don’t wake up hungry.  I get up very early (4:30am) and the first thing I want is my coffee.  After I’ve been at work a little while, I start to get hungry, that is when I drink my morning smoothie.  Most days, that is all I need for a while, but I also keep raw almonds in my desk drawer for when I want a little snack.     smoothie
  12. Shed stress.  This is a tough one.  We all have so much going on in our lives, getting rid of stress seems nearly impossible.  Deep breathing is one good method for dealing with stress, meditation or prayer also works very well.  I remember the Prayer of Serenity from when I was a kid.  “God grant me the serenity to change the things I can, accept the things I can’t change and the wisdom to know the difference”.  I quoted that many times, but never really saw the truth in it until now.  There are a lot of things we can change, but there are many more that we can’t.  Dwelling on the things we can’t change probably make up the majority of our stress.Serenity_Prayer_Lotus_Butterfly_sm.116145812_std
  13. Finally, move.  Really I think this should be one of the main priorities in all of our lives.  Sitting at a desk for the last several years has shown me that I need to get up and move, a lot!  I have always been pretty healthy, but changing jobs has made me much more sedentary and I don’t like it.  I loved having a job that kept me in shape, now I have to work at it a little more.  If you are overweight and you struggle with exercise, start slow.  Even the smallest amount of additional movement will help.  Each day add just a little more and before you know it, you’ll be going and doing more than you ever though you could!12899446_856831667793973_1071472684_o

Todays tip:Stay Lean

      No Comments on Todays tip:Stay Lean

From Prime Time Health by Dr.William Sears M.D. “Here’s one of the most important health tips for prime timers: become leaner as you get older.  Lean does not mean skinny, which can imply not having enough body fat; it means having the right amount of body fat for your particular body type.  A person who is thin is not necessarily fit, and becoming lean does not necessarily equate with weight loss.  Muscle and bone weigh more than fat.  You want to lose excess fat but not at the expense of losing calorie burning muscle and strength building bone, which will make you frail.  Becoming lean in a healthy way actually makes you stronger because you are building stronger muscles and bones.”

Motivation after Vacation

      No Comments on Motivation after Vacation

me beach

After spending a wonderful long weekend at the beach, it is difficult to get motivated sometimes.  My motivation could be to work hard so I can go back to the beach again!  Going on vacation is always exciting for me.  I love going new places and seeing different things, and trying new foods!

I was a little worried that I might have gained a little weight while on vacation, because I did go off my normal routine, but I was very happy to find that I had actually lost one pound!  It was probably due to all the walking we did while we were there.  I’m not much of a lay-on-the-beach-all-day kind of girl.  I prefer walking where the waves are coming in and checking out all the sites available at the beach.

We did something on this vacation that I have never done before, party because of the expense, but partly because of plain old fear.  We went fishing, out in the ocean, for four hours!  I almost planned to spend the whole day out on the boat, but decided since it was our first time I would go for half a day.  I’m really glad I did because we ended up getting sunburned the four hours we were out there before noon, I’d hate to think what we would have looked like after eight hours out there.


This is what it looked like from the boat.  I’m not ashamed to admit I was a little bit afraid for the first half hour or so.  Once I got comfortable with the waves it wasn’t so bad, but I will say I much prefer calm water boating. 🙂


I did catch a few fish, although no really big ones, but I enjoyed catching the ones I did.  I know some people don’t like the idea of fishing, but I have always enjoyed it.  Some of my best memories are of fishing in upstate NY with my grandfather and bringing the fish home for Grandma to cook.  We didn’t keep any of the fish I caught at the beach though, they just weren’t big enough and we didn’t have anywhere to cook them either. As much as I love to cook, I don’t cook when I’m at the beach!  If you’re ever at Wrightsville Beach in North Carolina and you want to go out fishing or just on a scenic boat ride, get in touch with my friend Von Hall at American Boat Charters and he will fix you up.

We also went to see the Battleship in Wilmington.  This was something my husband wanted to do, but it was really interesting.  It amazes me that something so big and so heavy can carry people and equipment across the ocean.  I never realized how many stairs there are in a battleship either, we sure got some exercise exploring all the levels.  Then came my favorite part…we went to the Aquarium.  I love animals of all kinds and I was really excited about being able to pet a stingray.  It was really funny, they had a raised tank where the rays and some horseshoe crabs, sea stars and a few other creatures were at a level you could touch them.  The stingrays had their barbs removed so they were perfectly safe and they were pretty small, about the size of maybe two of my hands. They would glide by and you could touch them if you wanted to, which I did.  One of them came up and stood up on its tail and waved and splashed like it was wanting to be petted, my husband was quick and got a picture of it that I will post later.  I also got to pet some baby sharks, that was pretty cool.  I just love that kind of stuff.  Someday I plan to swim with dolphins too, but that may be a while.

stingray hello                   sharks

With all the excitement and fun, I really had time to just relax and not think about work or my new business or anything other than just having a good time.  The weather was perfect and even on the last day when the wind was coming up and causing some nice waves we got to see some kids surfing and playing in the waves.  There’s nothing like a relaxing beach vacation to charge you up and get ready for more working and pushing to be better and healthier.  I don’t think my husband realized how much I love the beach until the last day when we took our last walk along the beach, took pictures and said goodbye.  I was intentionally a little over-dramatic, waving goodbye to the beach, telling it how much I would miss it until the next time.  I guess growing up in Oswego on Lake Ontario is what made me love water so much, and I just feel more alive when I’m around it.

Lake O            Last beach walk

Lake Ontario                                                                     Last walk on the beach

Now it’s time to get serious and find some motivation.  In fact, I think I may have found it.  We don’t spend a lot of money on vacations, you would probably be surprised how inexpensive our trip to the beach was, but I wish I could do it more often.  So, back to work, back to driving hard to get my business up and going so I have more freedom to go visit Oswego, or the beach, or Washington State where my youngest sister now lives.  That’s all the motivation I need!




3 Tips To Get You Started

      No Comments on 3 Tips To Get You Started

Here are three tips to help you get started on your path to losing weight and better health! These work even before you’re ready to make a lot of changes in the actual food you eat.

1. Never eat when you’re not hungry. This is a big one. Many of us have been taught to eat when it’s time to eat. The problem is that when you eat when you’re not hungry, that’s when you’re adding calories that your body just doesn’t need.

2. Only eat until you’re not hungry anymore, not till you’re FULL. This is another big deal. Most restaurants serve way more food than any person needs to eat. Your stomach is only supposed to be the size of your balled up fist. Next time you’re getting ready to eat a meal, make a fist and hold it next to whatever you’re planning on eating and let that sink in. 🙂

3. Eat your favorites first. If you eat your favorite foods first, you won’t feel as inclined to keep eating once you’re full (or not hungry anymore). If you eat the things you like less first, you will want to finish off the favorites, again adding unnecessary calories.

I learned all of these tips after I had my first child who is now almost 25. I was struggling with losing weight (I had gained 40 lbs!) and I was very frustrated. I have followed these three tips ever since and when I had my second child I only gained 20 lb. in comparison and lost all of the extra weight in less than half the time it took me with the first child. I have maintained basically the same weight for the last sixteen years and plan to continue to follow these steps as well as improving the quality of the food that I eat as well!

Nutrition & Cancer

      No Comments on Nutrition & Cancer


I don’t think there is anyone that is not impacted by cancer in some way or another.  I have so many friends and family members that are going through cancer that it just makes me angry.  I am not the type of person who just accepts the fact that cancer is and there’s nothing you can do about it.  Just like anything else in our lives, I believe we do have a certain amount of control and responsibility.  I certainly don’t blame anyone for getting cancer, and I don’t necessarily believe that even given perfect circumstances that we can avoid all uncomfortable or scary things in our lives.  I’m just not willing to give in and give up, not if I believe there is even the tiniest shred of hope.

The more I study about our health, the more I believe that our bodies were created to heal themselves.  I don’t believe that ability was lost in the Garden of Eden, maybe it was short changed for a while, but ultimately our bodies are still the same beautiful creations that they were back then.  We have a lot more obstacles that keep us from healing than people did thousands and even just hundreds of years ago, but our bodies are still capable of doing the job.  In order to help our bodies heal themselves, we have to be giving them all the right building blocks.  A diet rich in fruits and vegetables and healthy fats and protein is only one of the building blocks that we need, but it is a really big one!  Without the proper nutrition our bodies will not run the way they were designed to.

It’s no different than a car engine.  If you put the wrong kind of gas in, or God forbid you put water in the gas, you’re not going to get far.  If the car does start it’s going to spit and sputter and barely make it up the road.  It’s the same with our bodies.  Our bodies were designed to live on food that comes from the earth.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a vegan or even a vegetarian.  I’ve tried that and although I love vegetables I still love a good steak once in a while, and I practically live on chicken.  What I am saying is that everything we need nutritionally is grown, either from the ground or from the water: vegetables, fruits, fish, meat, nuts, beans, and grains of all kinds.  The problem is that Americans especially have become so concerned with “living the American dream” that we have become too busy to prepare our own food and prepare it in a healthy way.  We’ve grown accustomed to eating so much fast food and processed food and we hardly even know what we’re putting in our mouths or in our children’s mouths.  I am researching everything I can to help my friends and family who are struggling with cancer to recover, strengthen their immune systems, and fight back against the odds.  I will be posting videos, articles and anything else I can get my hands on in the hopes that it will help someone.  Please share this with anyone you know who may be struggling with cancer or knows someone that is.

If you are interested in watching some videos about cancer, I recently watched a series by Ty Bolinger called The Truth About Cancer.  These videos are eye opening and full of information that may be extremely helpful if you or someone you love are fighting cancer.  There are so many options out there that are just not made available to everyone, I just want to do my part to help get the information out there.

My sister just told me yesterday about two more people that she works with who have been diagnosed with cancer!  We have to get the word out!  We need to take better care of our whole bodies!  It’s not about having the best figure, or the best skin tone, it’s about being healthy from the inside out!


      No Comments on Patience

Wow, Patience.  That is definitely not a word in my vocabulary when it comes to certain things.  When I got my certification in February, I started working at trying to start my health coaching business and I had all these lofty ideas about how soon I would be able to quit my full time job.  I really want things to happen right away, I guess that’s why I understand when people want something that is going to work fast.  The truth is, very few things that work really quickly last for very long.

We’ve all probably heard the story of the tortoise and the hare.  I like being the hare.  I want to be fast.  I want to get to the finish line before anyone else, but unfortunately a lot of times I burn out before I even get close to the finish line.  I usually start out all wide open and then when things don’t go as well as I hoped they would, I start to get discouraged.  Then I sit down and rest for a few minutes and before you know it I’ve lost focus and the tortoise just passes me by.

Yesterday I was thinking about how slowly it seems like this new career of mine is taking to get started.  I have been trying to go in so many directions just trying to get my name out there and trying to generate some income, and so far things have just not gone as well as I would like.  It’s like I think I need to do this thing overnight.  Why do I think that way?  I guess it’s something that everyone has to deal with.  Why do we charge up our credit cards?  Because we want something right now and we don’t want to have to save up for it.  Why do we buy diet pills and shakes and exercise videos and all the things that are supposed to aid us in losing weight?  Because we want to lose weight and get in shape as quickly as possible.

I finally figured something out yesterday.  I have a good job.  I don’t have to get this business going overnight.  I have time to enjoy my family, go to zumba, spend time with friends and still work on my business.  I don’t have to make this happen today.  I am trying to teach other people that anything worth having takes time, but I’ve been pushing myself to hurry up and get things done that just take time.

When you are trying to lose weight remember that you didn’t gain all that weight in a couple weeks, and you probably won’t lose it all in a couple weeks.  You didn’t get out of shape overnight and you are not going to get back in shape overnight either.  It’s time to step back and look at things and see that slow and steady really does win the race.  Teaching ourselves new habits and new objectives will take time, but it will be worth every minute!

Can’t contain my excitement!

      No Comments on Can’t contain my excitement!

Have you ever come across something so exciting and so wonderful that you just want to share it with everyone?  A few years ago I started really learning about grace and who God really is and it was such a revelation for me even though I had been in church my whole life!  I was so excited to find out that God actually, really, truly does love me even though I’m a pretty big mess most of the time, that I wanted to share it with EVERYONE!  What I found out was that not EVERYONE wanted to hear it!  All I could think was, “How could anyone not want to know this stuff?  It’s so freeing, so exciting, so awesome!”  But, it’s true, people got tired of hearing me talk about grace and Jesus and all the other things that just really got me pumped up, so I tried to tone it down a bit and only talk about it with people who really wanted to talk about it.  Well, I’ve always been interested in health, wellness, fitness, and living the healthiest life I could, but since I went through my health coaching education I am even more pumped up about it than ever.  I’ll be honest, I’ve spent most of my life wishing I could look like _____________ (insert the name of some amazing looking movie star, especially if she has muscles you can see!).  I have worked fairly hard at maintaining what I considered to be a healthy weight and I’ve worked out moderately most of the time, but in the last few years I had gotten kind of slack on the working out part.  My job changed so I sit a lot more than I ever did and that’s not good for me!    I have learned so much about how our eating habits, our exercise habits and our overall lifestyles impact our health that I just want to share it with everyone I come in contact with.  But again, I’m finding that some people just don’t want to hear about it.  They like living the way they are, not really having to put much thought into what they eat or what they do or how their attitude may play a part in everything.  So it’s hard some days.  The other day one of my co-workers said, “We aren’t spring chickens anymore, aches and pains are just a part of life for us now.”  I really wanted to say “bull$#@&!”, but I restrained myself.  I don’t believe that anymore!  I actually never believed it really, I just let myself sink into an acceptance of “that’s just the way it is when you get past 40, you just fall apart”.  I will tell you, I used to take ibuprofen every four hours while I was awake, and sometimes I would get up in the middle of the night and take more.  I used to have migraines on a regular basis and always kept Excedrin for migraines in my purse/car.  Not anymore.  I can’t even tell you when the last time I took an ibuprofen was, but it’s been months!  And as for Excedrin, I honestly think it has been over a month since I’ve taken it, and I think I have only taken it that one time in several months.  You might ask me, what am I doing different?  I am doing several things different.  First of all, I have cut all artificial ingredients out of my life, that includes artificial sweeteners, artificial colors, and artificial flavors.  I have also eliminated MSG, high fructose corn syrup, and hydrogenated oils, and you would honestly be surprised how many things I used to eat every day that contained all of those things.  I started taking Juice Plus  every day around April 1, 2016, and I had already been taking Wild Salmon Oil supplements for the last several months.  After starting to take Juice Plus I have noticed a lot more energy and I don’t get that afternoon “I need a nap” feeling around 3:00 pm like I used to get.  I have way too much to do to have to worry about getting sleepy every afternoon!  I have also started exercising regularly.  I do zumba two nights a week and I go to the gym a couple of times a week.  If I’m not going to the gym, I am doing something physical around my house like painting or yard work.  I don’t look like any of the famous people that I used to think were so great, and I realized that I really needed to get healthy instead of trying to maintain a certain weight.  My weight is still really good, but I am working toward being healthy and strong instead of being skinny.  I just want to be able to share this with as many people as I can, because I know how much it has helped me..I just know it could help anyone who wants to make changes in their lives, too.  If you know someone who really wants to learn more about how to eat better and live healthier, share my website or follow me on Facebook at Lifestyle Muse!


      No Comments on Perspective

A few of us girls are going to the beach in a few weeks and we’ve been talking about it and how excited we are about going.  This week we were talking about the what we’re going to be doing and who needs to buy some clothes and one of my friends said, “I’m not wearing a bathing suit, I’m fat.”  The rest of us fired back by saying, “No you’re not! You’re beautiful” and “We love you just the way you are!”  But I know she didn’t believe it.  I know because I’ve spent my whole life feeling the same way.  I know that my one voice in my friend’s life, or even the voices of all five of us friends plus more will not change that deep down sense of self that she believes.  I know there are people who look at me and say, “You can talk about feeling good about yourself, look at you, you’re thin”.  The truth is that what our bodies look like actually have absolutely nothing to do with our self esteem or self image.  I know this because other people look at me and see someone who is thin and in good shape and I still struggle with how I look.  Its a heart and mind issue.  We have been force fed a lie, most of us for our whole lives, about what perfection looks like for women, and for men.  We’ve been taught that men are supposed to be muscular and strong, and women are supposed to be petite, sexy and feminine.  The problem is that God made us all to be unique for a reason.  We all have different personalities, body styles, gifts and desires.  To say that my body should look like another woman’s is just ridiculous and short of surgery, impossible.  I’ve finally woke up to the truth that I was given the me that I am and I’m going to enjoy and embrace that.  I have allowed people, the media, religion and even myself to put an image on me that doesn’t even exist, except in someone’s mind.  No more.  I accept that I’ll never look like Demi Moore or Charlize Theron and I’m ok with that, and I accept that I don’t have the bubbly personality that draws people to me like a few of my friends have, that’s ok too.  There’s a place that we all have in this world and if we try to fill the place that belongs to someone else, we are not fulfilling our own inspired goals and dreams.  Sometimes it doesn’t look “right” to someone else, but we have to live in our own skin in order to truly be happy.  To live in my skin means that I love being outdoors, physically active, wearing jeans and boots and hating dresses, getting paint in my hair while I’m painting the house and working my way up in my industry, then deciding I want to help other people instead.  This is why I talk about accepting yourself so much,  I want all of my friends, as well as everyone I don’t know to be able to learn to accept themselves and like who they are.  As a health coach, and just part of my personality, I am going to do the best I can to live in my skin as healthy as I can and I’m going to encourage my friends to do the same.  Not so they can look “better” by other people’s standards, but so they can live healthy lives and succeed in fulfilling the goals and desires they have for themselves and for their families.  We all have work to do, goals to complete, dreams to live out…lets do it together, loving ourselves and other people just the way we are!