Redefining Health

Hi guys! Long time no talk… er write.

I’ve been MIA because I’ve been busy well… living.

I’ve been known to go off the grid. I’ll “lose” my phone or let it die (and not charge it). And when it’s not lost or dead I’ll have half a dozen text messages that were semi constructed during the red lights I hit during my commute home. And by lights I mean just the one light. I live less than a mile away from work, so I don’t have enough red lights to finish my texts. They tend to be forgotten the moment the light turns green.

I’m one of those.

It’s really annoying for most people in the age of instant gratification.

But for the most part I’ve been busy with work and hanging out with my family. I’ve been rearranging my priorities. I’ve been giving myself head space, taking long walks and pondering life and how I want to live it. You know, the usual.

I haven’t written quite as much lately because I haven’t needed to. I’ve been getting my creative outlet through teaching. I spend a lot of my creative energy manipulating the education system in a way that allows me trick kids into enjoying school. This is actually pretty funny because in my latter high school years I spent the majority of my creative energy manipulating the education system by skipping school.

I was a master I tell ya. I mean, I literally walked through the front door, waved to the office ladies on my way out, and made my way to my car which was parked in one of the temporary parking spots at the front of the school. So cheeky! I know.

The past couple of weeks I’ve also been busy redefining what health means to me. My perspective has changed quite a bit since my surgery. Right before spring break I was feeling particularly weak and unhealthy. I stumbled upon a Pinterest article on how to use social media to motivate you to live a healthy lifestyle. Mostly it consisted of women dedicated to attaining the perfect body.

When I first saw the before and after pictures I was super impressed. I followed them on Instagram and then slowly as I watched them pop up on my feed I began to notice what was really going on. Hidden behind their inspirational quotes about not giving up was a lot of loathing and self doubt. It seemed to me that the “Don’t Quit” theme started to warp itself into, “Don’t quit picking out the parts of you that you hate… because there is always something that needs to be improved!”

What started out as a motto of belief in oneself turned into a motto of “You’ll never be good enough”.

I soon discovered that these women were just using social media to scrutinize themselves. You could tell that they were relishing in the attention they gained from their success and were feeling the pressure from it. Through this they were beginning to lose sight of what it means to be healthy, constantly comparing themselves to these unrealistic standards.

Being a middle school teacher I can spot this type of desperation a mile away. These grown women were doing the very thing I try to encourage my daughter and all of my students NOT to do.

Instead of finding freedom in their newfound health they were chaining themselves to an unending torrent of selfies in which they judge themselves. I’m talking ab selfies, butt selfies, arm selfies, boob selfies, stretch mark selfies, food selfies… It’s never ending.

It made me wonder if that is what I had been doing all along and maybe that was why I was losing interest in my blogging journey. I mean, I’m not a huge selfie fan but look at the title of this blog. “Too Hottie For That Body” what does that even mean?

I’ve been thinking about my own journey and all of the self-deprication I’ve dished out to myself. I would make healthy choices in order to lose weight, end up feeling really good about myself regardless of whether I lost weight or not. But I would ignore how great I felt because I felt obligated to focus on the superficial end result. At one point I did it for you. I felt like I needed to apologize for being happy with myself the way that I was.

By putting my journey out there I felt like people were waiting for me to succeed and by succeed I mean posting a final AFTER picture of myself in a bikini.

With this vision in mind I would calculate how long it would take me to reach a certain number. I would come up with these restrictions that I felt needed to happen in order to obtain my goal. I would implement these restrictions, get pissed off by the restrictiveness of it all and then rebel against it.

I don’t think that’s healthy.

Maybe I was rebelling against all of these restrictions because deep down I knew it was shallow and unfulfilling.

I hate to break it to you but I kind of doubt I’ll ever post that bikini picture. Not because it can’t be done, but because even if I did get to that level of fitness I wouldn’t need your validation on it. I don’t have anything to prove. In fact, I like my imperfect bathing beauty look just fine…


When I was in 8th grade I remember being in the locker room with a bunch of girls. Somehow we all started talking about what we wanted to be when we grew up. I thought about it long and hard. When it was my turn I said that I wanted to be happy. Everyone thought I was a weirdo, but it didn’t matter because that was truly what I wanted.

Over the past few months after my injury I’ve been thinking about that more and more. What does it take to be happy? Lying there with my crippled leg I wasn’t happy and I rediscovered that a true piece of the happiness puzzle is health.

In reality, true health feels good. I’ve learned how to tune in to my body and acknowledge what feels good to it. Real food makes me feel good, sweating on purpose feels good, sore muscles feel good, the sun on my face and a good endorphin pump feels good. Taking a deep breath and feeling grateful for that very moment… that, that’s what feels good.

I’ve decided that this whole diet culture has screwed around with my head long enough. Healthy is just a path you choose, it’s a road I’ll have to choose for the rest of my life. Because in reality, there is no end result… not unless you’re dead. And that’s kind of the opposite of what I’m going for here.

Summer Snackin’…

FYI: The title to this post is supposed to be sung to the following song…

Because it’s summer and lets face it… snacking is the same as loving, healthy or not.

Since school has let out I have relished in my freedom via making all of the home-made concoctions I didn’t have time to make during the school year. But once I actually made some of these things I realized that it didn’t really take any time at all and I hope to continue the trend throughout the school year. Because there is something just so satisfying about making home-made products that are healthier, cleaner and not to mention… cheaper.

(Take that you unseen corporate force… damn the man!)


Take for instance this easy home-made hummus


(My husband is a die-hard Cardinals fan as you can see by the cutting board my sister made him. Therefore, it was only appropriate to serve this hummus with red bell peppers. GO CARDS!)

I had put off making hummus for a long time because I didn’t want to have to buy a ten dollar jar of tahini for something I wasn’t so sure would turn out. Then I stumbled upon a tahini free recipe (link above) and I fell in love. Ingredients include canned chickpeas, lemon juice, garlic, cumin, olive oil and salt.

That’s it. So Good!

I served this when we had an impromptu deck party with some of my fellow teachers and once again when I rode my bike over to my friend’s house for an Outlander watching marathon… (You know, that one time I got called a goddess. No big deal.)


Being the super host that she is my friend KJ was already prepared with snacks, so we had a feast that night. She even made a strawberry lemonade cocktail that went down like kool-aide. (Needless to say, the bike ride home was a bit interesting. But I digress…)


In preparation for our festivities I had also managed to sneak over some of my home-made jalapeno yogurt ranch made from herbs in my garden. (Yay me!)


I wasn’t able to bring much because Brent (the guy who can’t eat anything without a condiment) didn’t want to share. We actually served it with Avocado chicken burgers for dinner one night and it was seriously the yummiest meal. Ever. Brent has taken it a step further and has put it on everything… including eggs.


(Don’t make fun of my scratched up plates.)

Things kind of turned for the worst nutrition wise the next night we went to one of Brent’s beloved baseball games. We managed to mow through nachos, beer, popcorn and even the saltiest pretzel known to man. But I didn’t let myself feel too bad, because well… when in Rome.


I did however feel a little hung over the next morning when I woke at five to meet my friend Andrea for one of our morning walks. I don’t know what made be feel worse… the salt or the beer. (Or maybe even the fact that I had partaken in drinking shenanigans two nights in a row. But who’s counting?)


By the end of the walk I felt so much better, even if I did get rained on and my hands were swollen.

When I got home I tried to sneak in through the back door so that I wouldn’t wake anyone up. On my way in, I passed the strawberry patch and noticed that a lot of my strawberries were already over due for picking, even though Penelope goes through the patch nearly every night.


When all was said and done I had more strawberries than I knew what to do with so I decided to make jam.


I don’t know what possessed me. It’s not like I had ever made jam before. But I had remembered stumbling upon a strawberry jam recipe that included chia seeds during the winter months when strawberries were super expensive to buy. I dug through my Pinterest account, passed all of the pins that I had never put to use, and finally found it…

Strawberry Chia Jam

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It turned out awesome! The smell of the simmering strawberries wafted up to Bridget’s room and woke her up from her slumber. She thought it smelled like cotton candy. Then later Brent came home from his walk with the dog and thought I had been toasting marshmallows over the stove again. (What can I say? It happens…)

Later that day, Brent had plans to watch the Cardinals game again, this time with some of his firefighter buddies, and Bridget had an important rendezvous at the pool. That left Penelope and I alone for lunch. I felt like it was only appropriate that we eat Peanut Butter and Jam sandwiches…


… and s’mores


Because now that you mention it, toasted marshmallows do smell pretty tasty.


It’s a work in progress, a little yin for the yang. As long as we keep moving this summer there’s nothing wrong with a little summer snackin’. Amiright?

(Don’t answer that…)

The Goddess of Spring and Summer


Have you ever caught yourself sitting at the pool wondering when you went from being Ariel the little mermaid to Ursula the sea witch?

This thought crossed my mind the other day as I waded around the baby section of the swimming pool on my stomach following Penelope from splash activity to splash activity. The pool zeros in like a beach and at one point I remembered feeling like a beached whale when my belly hit the shallowest section of the pool. At that moment, the ties of my bathing suit floated and curled around my hands reminding me of an octopus. And then it hit me…

I’m Ursula.

Gone are the days of yesteryear when I would swim around the pool with my legs together half drowning, gulping down chlorinated water (and probably some other kid’s pee) in an attempt at dolphin kicking… excuse me, mermaid kicking my way from one end of the pool to the other. At this point I had already picked out what color my sea shell boobies were, and secretly wondered when I would have real boobies to fill out my sea shells. The color usually coordinated with my tail… which was sparkly.

I would always swim to the stairs at the pool where I could whip my wet hair out of my face like Ariel did only to find myself sputtering and sneezing out the water that was inevitably thrust up my nose in the attempt. I didn’t care if the other kids saw me gasping for air and wiping my hair out of my face… one day I would have that move mastered, and it would be awesome!


(Update: Still haven’t mastered it, but not for a lack of trying.)

Fast forward a few years later…


I have a toddler sized tan line sunburn line on my inner thighs and the stealth realization that I am no longer Ariel.

This whole thought process had probably been kicked into gear earlier that morning when I got suckered into watching a wrinkle cream infomercial. I’m turning 35 this summer and it has hit me that in a few months I will transition from my “early thirties” to my “late thirties”. I think an identity crisis is underway and it has begun with the loss of Ariel.

Later that day I had packed up my Frozen bag (borrowed from Penelope) with homemade hummus and watermelon in preparation for my bike ride through the neighborhood to my friend’s house for an Outlander watching marathon. My legs were burned to a crisp and my bare blonde eyelashes blinked through the wind as my flip flops peddled as fast as they could go… hair whipping wildly behind me.

Then out of nowhere I heard a voice calling out, “Oh Goddess of Spring and Summer… come hither, come hither!”

What the hell?

It was the weirdo that trains his show dogs in the park by my cul de sac. I had never seen him before, but sometimes I can hear him cheering his dogs on from my backyard. He was obviously trying to pay me a compliment, so I waved and smiled while I peddled all the faster.

But as I rounded the corner the smile on my face lingered…

He called me a goddess.

There wasn’t anything goddess like about my appearance while I peddled in my gym shorts and t-shirt. It must have been my overdue-for-a-haircut hair whipping in the wind behind me that beckoned him to call out.

Score for finally flinging your damp hair in an alluring way! (It took you 25 years…)

From this, a new frame of mind came about and a new age-appropriate idol was born…


The Goddess of Spring and Summer!

Hey Steve Wait For Me!

I don’t know about you but sometimes all of my domestic motivation goes away somewhere and I have no drive whatsoever to feed my family. On those days I would pretty much rather do anything other than cook dinner.

My domesticity has its limits, you see.  Just ask Brent who, years ago, made the mistake of asking me what I did all weekend while he was at work. When my response was laundry he snorted and said, “That’s not a lot of work. You could have done more.”

Guess who ended up washing his own undies… for a year?

That was early on in our marriage and he’s learned since then. I think it kind of scarred him because now he won’t tell me if I make a crappy dinner for fear of hurting my feelings… or having me go on strike again. (It could happen, you know.) So, I never know if he’s enjoying what I’ve made or not. That all changed the other night when I made Lighter Sesame Chicken.  I could tell that he was really enjoying it and Bridget liked it too even though there was broccoli in every bite. The best part was that it really wasn’t as much work as I thought it would be.


All of the chicken is coated in a tempura like batter that is actually made of egg whites and corn starch.  All of the chicken is fried in only 1 tablespoon of oil. Not bad! I served it over brown Jasmine rice which I have learned to cook ahead of time and keep on hand for dinners like this. I’ll also use it to make Bridget’s favorite breakfast…Papa’s Breakfast Rice.


My Grandpa used to make it for me when I would visit using white rice and cooking it with milk, cinnamon and sugar. The tradition has continued and my dad makes it for Bridget when we go back to Wichita Falls, TX. So when we miss my dad and get a little home sick I make her my healthier version. I just reheat the rice with almond milk, brown sugar (less than the Grandpa’s use), cinnamon and top it off with raisins and sliced almonds. My version of comfort food.

Anyway, not only have I forced myself to wear my apron and put dinner on the table all week but I’ve also been really active. My favorite time of the day to go out and play is right before sunset. I’ve been taking Penelope out on bike rides during this time and let the crickets and sprinklers serenade her until she’s ready for bed. As the breeze blows through my hair I can’t help but think about when I was a kid and practically lived on my bicycle.

The first time I learned how to ride my bike I felt like I had obtained a new super power. I remember practicing in an old school parking lot with my dad as two older boys walked by. I heard them talking about me as I sped by on my bike. When I looped around toward my dad I said, “Hey Dad, did you hear what they said?”

“What did they say?”

“They said… ‘Boy, that girl sure can speed!'”

Later on, my dad told me with a chuckle that he actually did hear what they said and it was more along the lines of “Hey Steve, wait for me!”

So, apparently my delusional over-confidence manifested early in life… that’s okay, it does leave me feeling like I have secret powers. For instance, while I did box jumps today I felt like I was a ninja landing gracefully on the weights stacked up to my waist.


I managed to clear 31 inches. I probably could have done more but then something humiliating happened…

I heard a resounding slap sound emit from my body. The left over hanging skin from my stomach somehow slapped against itself. Brent and my friend Amanda asked me what the noise was and my face turned red. You would have thought I farted or something. I told them I just popped. “What popped?” Shut up! It was My foopa, “Umm, my hip.”

That’s right, I lied… I stuck to my lie and continued to workout and cried about it later after I told Brent what really happened. But at the time I didn’t stop to let it bother me because I wasn’t done with my workout yet.


In fact, that’s what I keep on doing. Pushing through all of the things that bother me about myself. Picking at the things that I hate about my body doesn’t do anything but drag me down. It starts off innocent enough but before you know it you’re getting sucked into a whirlpool of low self-esteem. It’s so hard to get out of that cycle. So instead I’ll continue to focus on the aspects that make me proud. I’m strong. I’m agile. I’m flexible. And I’m healthy, finally… I’m healthy.

With that knowledge I keep pushing on. So tomorrow when I strip down naked to weigh myself in front of the mirror I’ll look past that empty pocket of flesh that used to hold a baby and instead focus my eyes  on the curve of my waist that is starting to make its girlish reappearance. I’ll look at my legs that are getting strong and lean. Then I’ll straighten my broad shoulders, look myself straight in the face, involuntarily pucker my lips out (it’s my go to mirror look) and fluff my hair.  I’ll look at my bright blue eyes and focus on the determination that is staring back at me. Because I’ve got this… foopa and all 😉

Who Do I Want To Be When I Grow Up?


I’ve been thinking a lot lately about who I want to be when I grow up. In every phase of my life I’ve looked forward to the day that I would reach this ideal person that I had envisioned myself being. I’ve never quite lived up to this dream person but I’ve taken great comfort in dreaming about who I have the potential of becoming.

I’m 32 and I’ve accomplished some great things. I’ve got a bachelor’s degree in creative writing and I’m working on a master’s degree in secondary education. I married a hottie, I have two kids, a dog, a cute house with a  garden.  I can paint when I want, write when I want and read anything that strikes my fancy. I’ve got it pretty good but I want more.

I feel like I’ve still got a lot of growing up to do and I still find myself asking…

Who do I want to be when I grow up?

I’ll sit in the bookstore and scour health and fitness magazines looking for tips on how to become this elusive person. How do I get more organized? What should I wear? How do I decorate my home? What is the best way to raise my kids? The list goes on and on…

I struggle with the balance of enjoying where I am in the moment with striving to better myself. How do you do that? Being awesome is a constant journey because if you stop pushing yourself than you stop being awesome and you have to catch up all over again. At the same time what good is being awesome if you don’t take the time to marinate in your own awesomeness? (Was there enough “awesome” in that paragraph for you?)

Sometimes I’ll wonder if I’ll ever be that person I dream of being? The one who is organized and stylish and smart and fit… I can usually manage to pull off a few of those things at a time but I’ve never been able to do it all. Am I supposed to be able to do it all?

I people watch all of the time. I’m not going to lie, as I watch them I judge them but only for my own personal comparison purposes. When I compare myself to everyone else I find that I’m right in the middle… average. I’m not the sloppiest person out there but I could use some improvement.

I don’t typically find myself too concerned about what others think of me. You can tell this by my penchant for walking out of the house without makeup, or my uncanny ability to spout inappropriate things at inappropriate times. I may not worry about what other’s think of me but I do worry about what I think of myself. Every once in a while I’ll walk past a window and catch a glimpse of my ragged self or stop to reflect on what I may have just said and beat myself up… that’s the worst. Everybody could hate me and it wouldn’t matter as long as I thought I was pretty cool. If someone else doesn’t like me then that’s their problem but If I don’t like myself then I’m kinda screwed.

When I decide that I’m not up to par I’ll ask myself, “Who do you want to be?” After I’ve decided then I step into that person’s shoes and make the decisions that my dream self would make. What kind of drink would that person order at a coffee shop? What would they do on a Sunday afternoon? What would they wear? What kind of workout would they do? How would they treat other people? How would they treat themself?

This different perspective leads to taking those tiny steps to becoming who I want to be. Before I know it I’m not just dreaming of a better version of myself…  I’m just being it.