PiYo for Plus Sizes

As many of you already know, I have added something called PiYo to my workout regimen (read all about PiYo in my intro post by clicking here!). 

I’ve been following the suggested workout calendar that’s included in the DVD set (I know right? Total no brainer!) and I am really having fun with it! 


Boy can I tell how NOT flexible I am. I mean saying I’m “inflexible” doesn’t even cut it. I’m stiff, rigid, awkward, clumsy, and hell if those fat rolls don’t get in the WAY of every single pose and position!


I know, in time, I will improve. And I’m really looking forward to seeing my progress as I journey through the next 30 days of this month-long PiYo challenge. PiYo really is designed with ANY body type in mind. The workout is packed with modifications, and if there’s something you just can’t do (right now), skip it, or do something you CAN do in its place (squats or lunges are always my go-to filler!). 

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Even at Orangetheory I make modifications if there’s something that causes me pain or discomfort that just doesn’t feel right. For example, the extra weight I carry is killer on my wrists. So things like pushups and burpees always do a number on them. I modify pushups like many people do- by getting on my knees whenever I need a break. And for burpees, well I have to credit Coach Jeff at OTF for showing me how to do burpees on the weight bench. They still get my heart rate pumping, without causing wrist pain.

Piyo for Plus Sizes

What I love about PiYo is that I’m able to use many of these modifications (and others I didn’t even know about!) to ensure I’m completing the poses with proper alignment, and focusing on form in an effort to avoid injury and get the most out of what the workout has to offer. 

In the end it comes down to owning your body, knowing your strengths and weaknesses, and working WITH them, not against them. It’s SO easy to get frustrated, self-conscious or even quit when fitness becomes awkward or challenging. But if you stay calm, stay positive and stick with it, you’ll find that you’ll be able to reap the benefits sooner than later. 

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Flexibility comes with practice.
Results come from consistency.
Strength comes from determination. 

Here are the workouts I’ll be doing over the next 30 days:

  • Align: The Fundamentals (40 min.): This workout breaks down the most important and effective moves in the program to help you perfect your form and get the best results possible.
  • Define: Lower Body (25 min.): Get your sleekest and leanest legs ever as you lengthen and strengthen your entire lower body—from your glutes and hamstrings to your calves.
  • Define: Upper Body (20 min.): Use this incredibly effective workout to start chiseling away at your upper body to help shape your arms, carve out your triceps, and define sexy shoulders.
  • Sweat (35 min.): A traditional PiYo workout that incorporates effective dynamic conditioning, fast-paced cardio yoga-flows, and bodyweight resistance strength training to help sculpt your entire body.
  • Core (30 min.): This ab-centric workout hits your powerhouse from every angle to build a strong core, flat, sculpted abs and obliques, as well as a strong and sexy back.
  • Strength Intervals (25 min.): Twenty-five minutes is all you need of this nonstop body-carving, calorie-incinerating workout that uses no weights, no equipment, and gives you no bulk!
  • Drench (45 min.): This endurance workout maximizes fat burning while it works every muscle in your body. It will not only leave you drenched—it will kick-start your metabolism as you scorch away the fat.
  • Sculpt (30 min.): This workout uses varying tempos to keep your muscles under tension for different periods of time. This generates muscular endurance and metabolic changes that will totally transform your figure.
  • Full Body Blast (30 min.): A total-body workout that uses the Beachbody Strength Slides to push your fat-burning potential into overdrive in just 30 minutes.
  • Strong Legs (30 min.): Use the Beachbody Strength Slides to lunge, squat, and stretch your way to amazing quads, glutes, and hamstrings for your strongest, leanest, and most defined legs ever.

If you’re interested in doing this 30 day PiYo challenge with me, let me know!

And it never hurts to bring a friend or two along your journey with you…


Have you tried yoga, Pilates or PiYo? Do you have any suggestions for plus sized athletes? Do share!
Steph :)


Sometimes you just need to shake things up… (and a giveaway!)

Sometimes I feel like I’ve been on this weight loss journey my entire life. 
Well, honestly, it HAS been. 

As many of you have learned already, I have been “overweight” as long as I can remember. 
Being heavier than the average child, teenager, and young adult had far more disadvantages than the health concerns carrying extra weight brings. As most of the world knows, there is a certain stigma attached to the overweight. And because of that, I never really had a lot of friends as a child. Being overweight made me VERY shy, and embarrassed, and so I just kept to myself. I opened up a bit more in Junior High and High School, and although I was able to grow my circle of friends, as people began to date and pair off, I never even went on so much as a date in high school. 

By the time I entered college, my weight had begun to really lose control. And by 2010 I was tipping the scales at almost 380lbs. I remember going to the doctor’s office for a check-up and getting the “talk” from my primary care physician.

“Stephanie, you know you’re only a few pounds away from reaching 400lbs”.
“Stephanie, you know it will be easier to lose weight while you’re still young.”
“Stephanie, do it for your health. I don’t want to see you become sick or injured.”

Funny thing is, I had been hearing the last two comments most of my life, but it would take a 400lb reality check that would put me into total freak out mode. And so I decided that enough was enough.

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I started walking at first, and attempted to eat better, which is what led me to start cooking and creating recipes. 
I completed a few 5ks and noticed that the pounds started to fall off. 
I got into swimming, biking, and eventually went on to complete two sprint triathlons. 
I wanted more of a challenge so I crossed the finish line of a 15k. 
I decided that I needed even stronger  of a push, so I joined Orangetheory Fitness
I started to cut grains and sugars and focused on eating clean.
I passed by the 300lb mark and vowed to never see that “3″ again!



And over the past 4 years, what has become most important of all, is the realization of how strong and capable I am. I’ve learned to recognize my successes, be proud of my curvy body, and above all else, learn what it feels like to be confident. 

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I may have been working on this for a long time, but who cares. It’s my journey, and I’m enjoying every second. I have never resorted to using drastic or dangerous methods for losing this weight and getting my body to be it’s healthiest. The reality is, there is no permanent quick fix. Weight loss is hard. It takes time. It’s a complete lifestyle change.  It takes effort and a desire to want to push yourself to be your best YOU. 

My journey is not over, in fact, in a way it’s just beginning. Each and every day I set new goals for myself, and challenge myself to try new things and push my body out of it’s comfort zone. Each day is a new day to go for something that will benefit my health, and help create a better version of my past self. Are there times when I’m scared? Absolutely. Do I get frustrated? You bet. But living a healthy life is about feeling that fear, acknowledging those frustrations, and continuing on regardless of those pesky emotions.
Above all else, always #BeBrave.


While I’ll be continuing my hard work at Orangetheory Fitness, I’ll also be adding something new to help me along my fitness journey. Orangetheory has changed me (big time!), but I’m finding that I need something extra to help me with balance, mobility and flexibility. For a long time now I have had some conversations with myself about starting yoga classes. As I was researching local studios and offerings, I was introduced to something that would be the perfect solution: PiYo.

PiYo combines muscle-sculpting, core-strengthening benefits of Pilates with the strength and flexibility advantages of yoga. It’s an awesome low impact workout that is easy on the joints! It’s a workout for people of all ages, fitness levels and body types. There’s a modifier to follow in every workout move so you can focus on form and work at your own pace! 

The thought of taking a yoga class made me a bit nervous. As I said before, flexibility, balance and mobility are not my strengths, so I was a bit anxious about being in a class and possibly falling on my face! (there’s that fear!). When I heard about PiYo, I knew this would be right up my alley for the main fact that I would be able to do this in the comfort of my own home, where I would be able to make mistakes and practice at my own pace. 

It didn’t take much to sell me! My DVD set arrived last Friday and I’ll be trying out my first session tomorrow. I have quite a few friends who have been doing PiYo since it was released last summer and have seen some amazing results. I’m hoping that a month from now I will be able to post a follow-up sharing some of my successes with this program. In addition to Orangetheory Fitness, clean eating, 5k races (I have 5 coming up!) and PiYo, I will also continue my journey by nourishing my body with Shakeology

For the past month I have replaced my breakfasts with a daily glass of Shakeology. If you’re on social media in any aspect, I’m sure you’ve heard of Shakeology at some point. So what IS it?

Shakeology is a nutrient-dense drink with over 70 super nutritious ingredients including proteins, fruits and vegetables, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, phytonutrients, prebiotics, probiotics, fiber and digestive enzymes!  It can be used as a meal replacement (if you’re looking to lose some weight) or as a supplement in addition to your daily meals. Shakeology has helped me lose weight (7lbs during my first month!), has reduced my junk food and sugary cravings, has increased my energy and has helped improved my…well let’s just say I’ve noticed a significant change in my “digestion.” ;)

Shakeology comes in a variety of flavors, and REALLY does taste delicious! It is not your typical grainy, overly sweet, or stomach-turning shake. I mix mine with unsweetened almond milk, and everything from frozen fruit (think Vanilla Shakeology, frozen cherries, almond extract and almond milk) to peanut butter (think Chocolate Shakeology, peanut butter, almond milk)! The combinations are endless, making it hard to burn out on the same ol’ same ol’ every day. 

Now here’s the part I really need you to listen to. Pull up a seat and pay close attention. Are you here? Are you listening? OK, good. 

It’s not too late to begin your own journey to health. Whether you’re 25 or 55, it’s time. 
It’s time to feel better about yourself in clothing and pictures. 
It’s time to prevent disease and premature aging. 
It’s time for your joints to feel normal again.
It’s time for you to learn to love yourself and enjoy life. 
It’s time for you to feel the accomplishment and pride that comes along with knocking the crap out of your goals. 
It’s time for you to DO THIS.

And I want you to know that I am here to help motivate you, keep you accountable, and be your own personal cheerleader. If you think you’re ready to make those healthy changes in your life, I’d love to connect with you. We can chat about options for meal planning, workouts that would fit into your life, questions or doubts you might have, options for accountability groups I’ll be starting up that you can join and so much more. Oh and remember that giveaway I mentioned? Comment on this post (about anything you want!) and you’ll be entered to win a beautiful hand stamped #BeBrave bracelet, and a prize pack of goodies that celebrate all things healthy and beautiful. 


I want you to succeed. Life is special. YOU are special. Feeling good is important. Being your best self is your priority. 
Let’s #BeBrave together. 
Love, Steph


Healthy cooking for beginners

Out of all the searches that drive readers to my blog, the top search phrase has always been “healthy cooking for beginners”. I get a LOT of questions about how to meal plan, how to shop and how to cook. I’ve had people tell me that their eating habits are horrible because they “can’t cook”, and resort to pre-packaged foods, fast food and dining out. I’ve heard this on the blog, social media and even in person. 

Well, I’m here to tell you that healthy cooking is EASY. No seriously, I promise! Here are my tips for getting started in a healthy meal prep routine… and making a habit of it! 

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First things first
What does it mean to “eat healthy”? For me, it’s eating whole, unprocessed foods like fresh fruits and vegetables, proteins, beans, dairy products, nuts, honey, butter, etc. Yes, I eat full fat items. Typically foods labeled “fat free” come with a price: high sugar content, calories, preservatives, etc. Keep it clean, fresh and natural. Think about how your grandparents and great grandparents ate… yes, this includes “real” fats like butter, olive oil and coconut oil. If you want to learn more about the health benefits of eating fats like our grandparents did, read this

Before we begin, let me say this: I don’t cook everyday. It may seem like that on social media (if you stalk me), however, I don’t. I cook at least 4-5 days a week, but we go out on the weekends for dinner, and breakfast out on Sundays. And honestly, some of those weekdays involve eating leftovers.  I do all of my shopping and meal prep on Sundays, but if Sundays don’t work for you, find a day that does. You don’t need to shop AND prep on the same day, so divide the time into two separate days if necessary. 

But before you dive into the world of shopping and prepping, consider the following:

  • What is in your fridge and pantry right NOW? If your goal is to eat and cook healthier meals, start with a purge of your current food supply. Typically packaged foods that have more than 5 ingredients in a label are purge worthy. Anything that contains MSG, high fructose corn syrup and/or giant words that Siri wouldn’t even be able to pronounce shouldn’t be going into your nor your family’s bodies. Take a look at your spice cabinet as well and look for the same kinds of words on those labels. If you’re feeling guilty about throwing those items away, consider donating them to a food pantry or soup kitchen. 
  • What are some of your (and your family’s) favorite foods? If you live alone, think about what you enjoy eating. Make a list and cross off the items that are prepackaged, processed crap. Focus on what’s left behind and keep your list handy when planning meals. Have children or a spouse? Consider giving them the same survey and collecting info about what their favorites are. Are “chocolate chip cookies” making an appearance on your list? So what. You can totally make those from scratch with whole ingredients easily. It’s not about restricting what you’re eating, it’s about rethinking what you’re eating. 
  • What tools do you have in your kitchen? Keep it simple. All you really need for healthy prep and cooking is a sharp cutting knife, cutting board, vegetable peeler, can opener, saute pan, baking sheet/jelly roll pan, food processor OR blender, a simple slow cooker (think $20 at Target), a somewhat deep pot, your oven (of course), a spatula and a wooden spoon.
  • What’s your weekly grocery budget? This is a big one, as healthy eating always comes with a higher price tag. Consider shopping at a local farmer’s market or joining a co-op to save money on your fresh produce. Look for BOGO deals and other sales on meat at local supermarkets and stock up (if you have the space) when you find a good deal. Join a rewards club (like Winn Dixie’s gas points) or a bulk store membership (like Sam’s). Plan meals that are heavier on vegetables and beans (like chili) that will stretch your dollar further. 

Meal planning
Whether you’re completely new to cooking or cook regularly, plan to prepare 2-3 healthy meals each week to start. You can easily double most recipes, giving you leftovers that you can freeze, take to lunch or serve for another dinner option that week. Most recipes can be used in other ways as well (think slow cooker pork loin and black beans becomes pork tacos another meal). 

Before you start your weekly meal plan, think about what you currently KNOW how to do. 

  • Can you grill? Think grilled chicken, steaks, burgers, veggies (wrapped in foil with salt, pepper and a bit of oil)
  • Can you roast? Think roasted veggies and roast chicken or turkey cutlets. 
  • Can you saute? Think sauteed chunks of chicken and veggies for stir fry, mushrooms and onions for burger, steak and chicken toppings, fish filets with a little butter, lemon and fresh herbs, ground meats like chicken and beef for tacos, lettuce wraps and meat sauces over veggie noodles (like thinly sliced ribbons of zucchini). 
  • Can you bake? Think baked whole chickens stuffed with lemon wedges, fresh herbs and drizzled with olive oil, salt and pepper, homemade meatballs lined up in a dish and baked until golden brown, and homemade fritattas with eggs and veggies like spinach, onions and fresh herbs, for breakfast options. 
  • Can you turn ON a slow cooker? Think slow roasted pork loin, brisket, chili, soups, shredded bbq chicken, chowder. 
  • Can you boil? Think boiled sweet potatoes topped with ground beef, veggies and shredded cheese, thinly sliced ribbons of squash or zucchini (as a pasta replacement), hard boiled eggs to add in salads, and cauliflower, rutabaga or parsnips boiled then mashed with milk and cream cheese. 

Think about what you CAN do and build on those strengths. Sure, there will be times when you might try a recipe that’s a no-go (I’ve done it PLENTY of times), but it certainly doesn’t mean you should throw in the towel. Cooking is a science. It’s all about exploring and testing different flavor combinations that work and please you and your family. Don’t be scared to play around. And, try being a little adventurous during each trip to the market! I like to try and purchase 1 new item at the market each time I visit. Maybe it’s a new vegetable, or a fish I’ve never tried. This keeps things interesting in the kitchen, and teaches me to learn to like new things (and not be scared to cook them!). 

Once you’ve established what you know how to do as far as technique goes, grab a pen and pad and get to work on a list. I try to never complete a big grocery trip without a list. If you’re thinking about going grain free and low sugar (like me), feel free to use and print the list I’ve made with compliant foods that you can find in your local market. You can find the list here. If you just can’t seem to give up grains, consider trying quinoa as a rice or pasta replacement. You can click on this link to learn all about purchasing and preparing this ancient seed. You can also try using cauliflower as a rice replacement! It’s delicious! Here is a recipe for cauliflower “rice”. Squash, zucchini, and spaghetti squash also make a great pasta replacement. Check out Rachael Ray’s recipe for zucchini noodles, this recipe for spaghetti squash and sausage bake (think baked ziti!) and my recipe for unpasta lasagna with squash and eggplant instead of noodles! 

Before you create a shopping list, start with your meals. Here are some “norms” that show up in our house each week:

  • Breakfast: Lately my go-to morning breakfast is to whip up a Shakeology smoothie. I’ll typically blend a scoop (or packet) of Shakeology with frozen fruit and almond milk. It’s SO satisfying and over the past month I have felt a real difference in the way I feel as far as energy goes. Oh, not to mention I’ve lost 7lbs! Not into morning shakes?How about mini fritattas and crust-less quiches? I make them ahead of time, freeze or refrigerate them, then warm them up throughout the week for breakfast. You can add your family’s favorite veggies, cheeses and meats. They’re easy, portable, healthy and delicious! I also like to chop up fresh fruit and place them in baggies, plain yogurt with honey and walnuts (buy a big container and use small Tupperwares to divide). Greek yogurt pancakes are also an easy make ahead breakfast item that you can refrigerate or freeze, then warm up when ready. Want to make them grain free? Try almond flour instead of regular flour and use plain yogurt (sweeten with honey or pure maple syrup). 
  • Lunch: I pack my lunch most days, and usually they consist of dinner leftovers. We try to grill out on Sunday evenings, giving me an opportunity to grill up extra chicken (breasts or boneless/skinless thighs) and burgers then pack those for lunch (think grilled chicken salads and burger salads. To go along with lunch I prep bags of carrot and celery sticks, grape tomatoes, and cucumber slices to dip into guacamole or homemade avocado ranch
  • Snacks/Dessert: I love munching on apple slices with peanut or almond butter (ingredients should just be nuts+salt),energy balls, cheese cubes, dried fruits (like figs and apple chips), unsweetened apple sauce, hummus, fresh salsa (in the produce section or make it yourself!), raw nuts (like walnuts, macadamia nuts, and almonds), 85% or higher dark chocolate and fresh whipped heavy cream with cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger with fresh berries. I also like to boil a dozen eggs at the beginning of the week for hard-boiled egg snacks, or to toss into salads. 
  • Dinner: I plan on grilling once a week (grilled chicken, burgers, steaks, fish wrapped in foil with veggies). Once a week I make a roast in my slow cooker (pork loin, brisket). I bake a whole chicken once a week (great for chicken salad with the leftovers!). I’ll use leftover grilled chicken or homemade meatballs paired with one of the pasta alternatives mentioned above. Big pots of chili or soup are also great go-to dinners that make for delicious leftover lunches. Some of my favorite sides are mashed cauliflower or rutabaga, butternut squash, roasted veggies, and sweet potatoes.
  • Beverages: Water with lemon or lime and fresh mint, coffee with cream. I love to flavor water with berries, citrus, and fresh herbs like basil and mint. My latest craze is sparkling water (Think LaCroix!). It’s such a satisfying treat! 


This is just a sample of what my week looks like as far as meal planning goes. Remember, build on your strengths in the kitchen, and food likes to help create your own family favorites that are healthy, and you can feel good about cooking each week! 

When you head to the market, stick to your list. Try to shop the perimeter of the store (produce, meat/poultry/fish and dairy. Head to the center aisles only for things like nuts, healthy oils (coconut, olive oil), dried fruits and seasonings. And never shop on a hungry stomach. Let your list guide you, not your brain! 

Prepping and cooking
Plan to dedicate time to prep everything when you get home from the market. Two hours on a Sunday afternoon will save you TONS of time during the week. Wash and chop all of your veggies ahead of time (keep in mind things like apples and pears will brown if pre-cut). Utilize gallon and sandwich/snack sized bags for cut veggies for roasting and snacks. Pre-wash greens and fresh herbs, then keep them dry and long lasting by wrapping them in paper towels before placing them into Ziploc bags. Do not freeze fresh greens, however, a great idea for herbs is to chop them, then freeze them in ice cube trays filled with chicken or vegetable broth. They are an easy way to add flavor to soups, slow cooker recipes and so much more. Pre-season roasts and meats, then place them into gallon sized bags to marinate (they can be easily frozen in the marinade), then defrosted the night before you plan to cook them. Post a list of everything you plan on preparing that week for dinner as a reminder of things like what to take out of the freezer ahead of time (and of course, to keep you motivated and organized!) ;)

Want to save even more time? If you find that you have extra time on those weekend prep days, consider roasting veggies, baking sweet potatoes and steaming cauliflower for sides! Store them in containers, refrigerate or freeze then warm up when needed throughout the week, that way you’ll only need to focus on cooking your protein on busy weekday evenings. Stews, chilis, cooked beans and soups also freeze well ahead of time, so when you have the time, whip up these dishes in advance and store them in your freezer for when you’re in a pinch and are dangerously close to hitting the drive thru. Get into the habit of labeling containers and Ziploc baggies before you store them away in the freezer. When times get really crazy, you’ll be glad you did! 

I’d love to feature some of YOUR tips for healthy meal planning, prepping and cooking! Comment with your great idea below and I’ll add it into the post, with a link to your blog (if you blog!). :)



Butternut squash pasta sauce

If social media hasn’t let you in on the secret yet….

And for reasons other than pumpkin-everything, fall is my absolutely favorite time of the year. 
It’s a chance to whip out hearty recipes like this one; even though it’s still 90 degrees outside. 

So if you’re a blog reader from a part of the world that truly DOES get a fall, this recipe will be the perfect dish for those crisp and cool Sunday evenings. And if you’re like me, in an area of the world where fall is only in swing because the calendar says so, well, lower your AC and pretend. You won’t get a chance to look at fall leaves cascading down your window as you eat this gorgeous pasta sauce, but you can do your best to pretend. ;)

Butternut squash pasta sauce
This hearty, sweet, yet savory pasta sauce would be amazing over so many things other than pasta. I used potato gnocchi and sliced Italian turkey sausage for this recipe, but feel free to get creative with this versatile cream sauce (and don’t forget to send me pics of what you come up with!). 


1 butternut squash, seeded, diced and steamed (you can also buy the steam-in-the-bag kind)
1 can diced tomatoes, drained
2 large carrots, diced
1/2 sweet onion, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
the juice of 1 lemon
2 sprigs of fresh rosemary, chopped
2 fresh basil leaves, chopped (save extra basil for a garnish)
1 fresh sage leaf, chopped
1 tsp. salt (reserve more to taste)
1 tsp. cracked black pepper (reserve more to taste)
1 tsp. cinnamon powder
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 tbsp. raw honey
1/2 cup heavy cream (or 1/2 and 1/2)
2 tbsp. unsalted butter
1/4 cup chicken or vegetable stock


In a sauce pan over medium heat, saute onions, carrots and celery in a bit of butter until soft. Add garlic and diced tomatoes. Stir to combine. Add butternut squash, fresh herbs, honey, lemon juice and seasonings. Stir to combine, and cook on medium heat for 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool. Pour the contents into blender and blend until smooth. While still in the blender, add chicken stock. Blend to combine, then return to pot and reheat. When hot, remove from the stove top and stir in heavy cream. Serve over your favorite pasta with a sprinkle of fresh Parmesan cheese and basil ribbons. Enjoy!

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ready to face and endure danger or pain; showing courage

What comes to mind when you hear the word “brave?”
A firefighter? Police officer? Soldier? 

We all understand what it means to be brave in those aspects, and appreciate and honor those who dedicate their lives to defend, help and protect us each and every day. They are true heroes and display braveness, above all else, in their daily lives. 

However I’m here to recognize a different form of brave. 
A quiet form that often gets overlooked. 
An internal brave that many people must endure at some point in their lives.
Probably one of the most difficult situations where one may ask you to “be brave”. 

When my mother was diagnosed with stage 4 of an aggressive form of breast cancer, we knew we would need to encourage her to be brave. It was important for her to stay positive; to keep hopeful; to trust her doctors.

When she courageously underwent weeks of chemo, radiation, surgeries, and days where she just could not get out of bed, we would encourage her to be brave. And on that last week, when the outcome was inevitable, we would continue to tell my mother to be brave.

My mother bravely fought for her life until her last breath, and above all else, that is what I remember her for most. My mother was strong and outgoing; fun and positive. She was SCUBA certified, and wasn’t afraid to try new things. She was all about grabbing life and making the most out of it. She was one of the bravest people I had ever met. 

I often think about my mother in moments where I need to find my own braveness, and because of all that she went through, I have adopted this motto for my own life and for #TeamJudy. Because being brave is what makes life worth living. 

Being brave is about fighting against the things that try to take life from us. 
It’s about staying strong and positive; even through the roughest of life’s moments. 
It’s about being there for the ones you love. 
It’ about going for your goals and the things you want. 
Being brave isn’t about being fearless. Being brave is about feeling the fear, and doing it anyway. 

If you’d like to show your support for #TeamJudy and our #BeBrave campaign, please consider ordering one of our upcoming race shirts. We’ll be wearing these as we Race for the Cure in October. 


So much to say, so much to say

Hi! ::waves::

10653826_10152741414787474_8646149832800265194_nSorry I’ve been so MIA around the blogahood. A LOT has been going on, and life has been anything but calm!

But that’s the way it always goes with the start of a new school year. I must say this is one of the smoothest starts I’ve ever had. I’m still working in that hybrid position as teacher/instructional coach. I’m teaching 6th grade science for three periods each day. The remaining periods are dedicated to helping teachers grow professionally. It’s my 2nd year in this role, and I still love it; even more so this year because I know what to expect! 

In between getting to know my new students and falling into a steady fall routine at work, there was an evening at the Summer of Rum Festival. It was H-O-T, but the drinks were ice cold, and we were able to escape the heat a few times inside the gorgeous Cuban Club in Ybor. 


There was also a surprise party for my Uncle Marty’s 50th birthday at Hula Bay in South Tampa! My aunt Bernadine and I had been planning it for a few weeks and were so excited that HE was so excited (and surprised!). It was an awesome time with good food, cold drinks, and our closest family and friends. 




I also teamed up with Callie, from The Wannabe Athlete , for a week of clean eating and a month-long trial (thanks to a teacher friend) of Shakeology and can’t wait to share my thoughts with you guys! My goal for this week is to try and cut back on my dairy intake. Eating NSNG means I rely on cheese a LOT for snacks and such. I’ll be looking for some salty alternatives to help cut the dairy a bit!


And…we purchased our first camper! During our last camping trip at Ft. Desoto, we decided that we were done with the world of tent-camping and needed an upgrade. After shopping for a few weeks, and being totally disappointed with what our budget was bringing us, we found this little pop-up for a steal! It’s in AWESOME condition, sleeps 4-5 comfortably, has AC, running water, an outdoor stove and lots of storage! We’re going to test it out in a few weeks on our first camping trip with our new home away from home! 


And last, I had a little snafu in the way of minor surgery…


10676293_10152750372152474_8533464641680924648_nI’ve always had this “bump” on my shin, which I always attributed to a softball injury from high school. I got hit with a line drive to the shin area which left me with a long-lasting bruise and quite the bump for a few months. The bruise eventually went away, but the bump always kind of hung around. When it started causing me some pain over the summer, I decided to have it checked out. An X-ray, sonogram, an MRI and a visit with a specialist later, and well, the rest is history. The MRI showed that it was nothing terribly serious to worry about and that it could be scar tissue or some type of fatty cyst. Either way, bone and bone tissue looked clear, as well as the surrounding muscle tissue. It was definitely benign and the only reason my doctor suggested we remove it is because it was causing me discomfort. As much as I hated to take off a couple of days so close to the beginning of the school year, I wanted to go ahead and get the procedure over with. Aside from some anxiety from putting in the IV (my first!), and some post-op nasuea from the general anesthesia, it went well. Today I’m resting up in front of the tv with an ice pack, lots of ice cold LaCroix, and some pain medication. I should be good as new (I hope!) within a week or so! :)

So what have YOU been up to lately? Do share! 

Steph :)


Dear Teachers,

Dear Teachers,

As we approach the start of a brand new school year, I can feel the excitement in the air. I hope that everyone has had a restful summer, and that you are all prepared, motivated and excited to make this the BEST year yet!

My wish for all of you this year is to remember what inspired you to go into this profession when you first decided to take this path. Did you want to make a difference? Did you want to be a role model? Did you want to play a part in developing the future of our country?

Whether this is your first year or your 40th, as the new school year begins, I encourage you to dig deeply and remember those first moments of deciding to become an educator.

It takes love and courage to be a teacher. No matter what is thrown at us each year, we pick ourselves up and return; thinking of ways we can learn from the challenges of the past. We go to sleep brainstorming ideas to motivate, inspire and create learning environments that help our population. We wake up with headaches, runny noses, and personal problems. Yet we get dressed, get in our cars and drive to school. And on the days when life becomes too much and we must take a “mental health day,” we spend time preparing plans and activities to ensure that our students are productive while we’re out. We are constantly thinking, planning, worrying, and wanting the best for our students, as if they were our own family.

And even on the most frustrating of days… even when dealing with the most frustrating of students… even when stressing about the most frustrating of policies… we return each year, because we love this profession, and have the courage to continue to try and make a difference.

The courage we carry helps to support students who are overlooked and undervalued. We will face children with the odds stacked up against them. They might live in poverty. They might have gone to bed hungry the night before. They might not have a place to call home. And although these factors may impact how they interact and deal with their world, our willingness to be there for them, go the extra mile for them, and provide a structured, safe, comforting, and meaningful learning environment for them, day after day, is something they really do appreciate; even if they don’t express it in a conventional way.  As teachers we must have the courage and faith to believe that the long hours, meticulous planning, and effort that we put into our profession is truly making a difference in the lives of our students.

No matter what our students walk through the door with this school year, we must show each and every one of them that we care. We want them to feel empowered. We want them to feel like they’re someone important.  

This year I challenge you to greet each and every one of your students as they walk through your classroom door. To laugh and have fun with them. To reach out to someone if you need help. To know that it’s ok to have a “bad” day. To have the courage to love them, because you may be the only one who does.

To be that teacher that your students will always remember.

Best wishes for an amazing 2014-2015 school year,

teacher quote


Key West Inspiration

It’s hard to believe that tomorrow I will have my alarm set bright and early for the start of another exciting school year! 

And although this summer has been BUSY, to say the least, there were some fun moments sprinkled in between trainings, leadership retreats and back to school planning meetings. 

There was that little getaway my gentleman and I took back in June. 

Birthday and 3rd anniversary adventures

Lots of trips to the beach and the pool. 

And just last week, we drove down to the Florida Keys for our annual Key West lobstering trip! Continue reading