Making Time for Marriage

It's a busy time.  With two 8 month olds, a full time teaching job, and a brand new fitness business, life is basically kicking me in the butt.  I'm not exactly complaining.  Yes, it's busy. Yes, it's work.  But a lot of that work is invigorating and honestly the best "jobs" I could ever imagine.  Still, it doesn't stop me from feeling a lot of weight on my shoulders.  And I realize a lot of that is self inflicted.  What can I say?  I want to be the best I can be.  I want to achieve it all and be it all.  I want to rock my business, and motherhood, and stay afloat at my day job simultaneously.  And you know what I almost forgot?  That guy that hangs around my house, makes the coffee, and climbs in my bed in the middle of the night.  Oh yea, I have a husband.  And I'd better start paying attention to him too!  

This weekend was a tough one.  Two days and a to-do list a week long and my husband suggests we go on a day date to spend time together before baseball season starts up.  Seriously?  Are you trying to make me lose my mind?? 

But then I took a step back.  I remembered a rule I swore I would live by before kids, and am realizing how tough it can be.  The marriage comes first.  The kids come second. 

A very close friend of me told me about this before we even got pregnant.  I thought it was the best idea ever and because I look up to her so much, I knew it was something I wanted to adopt as well.  But as life takes over and my ambitions get bigger, I find it harder and harder to commit to.  

Regardless, the husband's convincing won and we spent Saturday tasting the offerings at Union Brewing in Baltimore, eating food truck staples that are certainly not on the diet, and stealing a few kisses between conversation with friends.  It was a nice day.  And I know that making days like that a priority are going to be key in keeping the happy family unit that I've worked so hard to attain.  

My goals for the year...

  • Date nights twice a month.
  • Weekends away twice a year.
  • 30 minutes of alone time at home twice a week.
And a lifetime of love with the man who's made it all possible.  Love you honey! XO

Bella And The City
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Why I Believe in God All of a Sudden

First of all, I don't want to say that I just started believing in God.  It's not that I didn't believe before.  It's just that, well, I wasn't sure what I believed.  For me, church was more of a social experience.  It was more of a tradition that I wanted to share with my family. A place I went to see friends.  An excuse to wear a cute outfit and do something "good" for the soul.  I hoped their was Heaven.  And there are various things that have happened in my life to convince me that there IS, but that's not what I want to talk about right now.  What I want to talk about is the POWER of PRAYER.  I want to assure you that God IS listening, and He can bring your wildest dreams to fruition.

Let me explain... I've had a long life.  Though I'm only 33, I feel like I may as well be 63 for the amount of jobs, relationships, vehicles, homes, ups, and downs I have experienced.  I've been through numerous groups of friends.  I've accomplished tons of goals... goals that I didn't even really have, and yet they were sitting in the palm of my hand.  I've had some serious downs.. ones where I honestly didn't want to live anymore.  Where I begged and prayed to be in Heaven where all my grandparents and former pets would be there to greet me.  Clearly those prayers were not answered.  I wondered if anyone was even listening.  

Another thing I hate to admit to is a severe case of agism.  I got married a little later in the game than I'd have liked and I knew that I wouldn't have long to enjoy my marriage before kids would have to pop out.  If I wanted them, that is.  I wondered if I could even get pregnant, and although I claimed I was in no rush, you know that after a few months of reckless activity, you wonder why an "accident" hasn't happened yet.  Well don't ask me why, but I always wanted twins.  I told my friends.  I told my mom.  I told everyone except my husband, because he'd probably have gone running away in fear.  But, I'd never told God.  Last October I was in a really low point in my life.  I was depressed.  I was lost.  I said a prayer to God and said please please please let me get pregnant and let it be twins!  And do you know what?? I HAVE TWINS.  Two months later the test came back positive and the first sonogram told me there were two.  Two!!!

Nearly a month later, we went for our 2nd sonogram.  The technician was quiet.  They told us that both babies had a lot of nuchal fluid (we weren't even to the "folds" yet) and that the chances were more likely than not that both would have Downs or another chromosomal abnormality. They told us that it was time to discuss termination and decide what we would want to do.  I won't even go any further about the devastation we felt, but I will tell you my mom was never worried.  She knew.  And in my heart of hearts, I knew they would be fine too.  I knew because I had asked for these twins.  I knew that God had put them there.  And that he would NOT have answered that prayer if it wasn't meant to be.  These are my kids today.  Healthy as horses.  Whatever that means.  

Fast forward a few months and I'm waiting in line at the Dollar Tree.  I'm obviously pregnant, but not too pregnant, holding a couple of greeting cards in my hand.  The woman in front of me turns around, does a double take, and says with sincere entusiasm.. "Oh my gosh twins!! Congratulations!".  I look over myself... my outfit, my items, my purse, etc.  WTF.  Hoooow does she know I have twins??? Clearly flustered, I stop listening momentarily.  

"Thank you, but I'm confused.  How do you know I'm having twins?"

"Well you are aren't you?"

"Yes I am.  How did you know? Are you a psychic or something?"

She smiles and chuckles.  She explains that she is not psychic but that she is just open to hearing God.  God speaks to her in ways that others cannot hear.  She tells me that He wants me to know that He heard my prayer.  He is rewarding me for publicly acknowledging Him.  He wants me to know that I have an exciting life ahead of me.   He wants me to know that I am going to go through a rough time in the pregnancy and that things may get traumatic, but not to worry.  Everything will be fine.  There are wonderful things ahead for me.  

She told me this.  A complete stranger told me this in line at the Dollar Tree.  She proceeded to hand me a $20 bill and refuse to let me pay for her items or to give it back, despite multiple attempts.  She told me it was a blessing and to never turn down a blessing.  She said to just pass it on.  And I have remembered to do so ever since.  

For the record, her predictions have been on point thus far.  I DID have a sudden traumatic birth of my twins.  We spent 6 weeks in the NICU and my recovery process was certainly not the norm.  Bonding happened over an extended period of time.  There were no magical moments there.  But guess what?  Things ARE okay.  We are adjusted and wonderful.  And I simply cannot wait to find out what those exciting things are ahead.  God is listening.  And now I am listening too. 

Spread the Word.  

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Diet No-No's I Swear By

Who wants a flat belly?  Who wants to live a healthy lifestyle and make your 30's (or whichever decade you're in) look like you're fresh out of college?  Well I certainly do, and have spent a lot of my time and energy aiming to do just that.  But for those that really know me, you know I am not fitness obsessed.  I like balance in my life and a few winter lagers with friends to balance out that morning protein shake ;)  

First, let me make clear that I am in now way a licensed professional in nutrition or fitness. (Although my first degree was in Kinesiology. Ha.)   I enjoy both topics and have dabbled enough to teach the basics to middle schoolers, but I'll freely admit that I do not know it all.  I have however recently given birth to twins and due to separation of my abdominals, had been working diligently to get my stomach back into "me" form without any type of core exercise, or much exercise at all, for the first 6 months after their birth.  

I definitely had held a few beliefs pre-pregnancy.  Secrets that I thought might be keeping me thin.  I wondered though if my theories would hold up as I approached my mid-30s with 2 children under my belt.  And although I hate to toot my own horn, I'm going to here, because my 7 month postpartum stomach is nothing to smirk at, especially for a 5'0" girl who just held TWO babies in there!  Trust me, I was stretched to the max!  

So what are my secrets?  I'm happy to share.  But be warned, they are certainly NOT mainstream beliefs and may go against every diet rule you've been following!

1. I eat ground beef.  Yes, normal red meat, "horrible for you" burgers.  I bet you've been substituting with ground turkey and patting yourself on the back for making such "healthy" choices right?  Do yourself a favor and check the label.  When you choose extra lean ground beef, it can actually have less calories and fat than a lot of the ground turkey out there.  More importantly, it often contains more vitamins and minerals as well.  I'm not saying this is always the case, I'm just saying read the label.  Turkey > beef is not always accurate, so do your research.  

2. I drink cow's milk.  Not soy.  Not coconut.  Sometimes almond.  Mostly I do this because I like the taste and don't do a whole lot of change in my life, but it's great knowing I'm consuming a lot of protein as well.  Yes, there is lactose in the milk, but I'm willing to accept this certain amount of carbs knowing that the protein is there too.  There's a plus and minus to all types of milk, and I choose the old fashioned cow kind.  Sometimes.  

3. I don't sacrifice sleep to get my workout in.  Let's be honest, with newborn infants, there isn't a whole lot of sleep going on anyways, but even before they were born, I knew that getting my 8 hours of sleep would help my fitness level more than a 5 am workout.  Some people don't work this way and to each their own, but I encourage you to consider the value of sleep.  I swear it works wonders.

4. I eat ice cream.  And french fries.  And cookies.  Not all at one time, but yes I eat them.  Even these past several months after baby, I have eaten all of them on several occasions.  As long as you're not trying to lean out for a competition or something, I fully believe in BALANCE and partaking in all of the treats that make life worth celebrating.  If you're just trying to build some body confidence and establish a healthy lifestyle you can actually maintain, don't restrain yourself from everything.  Aint no body worth losing the joys of life over.  (Unless ice cream, french fries, and cookies do not bring you joy.  In which case, I hate you.)  

I guess my point of this post is not exactly to get you to go out and down burgers with fries for dinner and expect to lose weight, but simply to consider the pros and cons of every diet fad out there.  Don't focus in on a diet that you can't logically maintain in the long run.  Eat everything in moderation.  Trust the power of portion control.  With a little common sense, maintaining your health should be a piece of cake! 

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What IS Shakeology??

I already know.  I won't shut up about it.  It's borderline annoying the way I'm blasting your newsfeed with sunshine and Shakeo.  You want to hate it, but you sort of love it.  Though you may not be willing to admit it yet.  And amidst the confusion, the main thing going through your mind is what is up with this effing Shakeology?  It's come to my attention while speaking to a few people recently that while I'm telling you how much I love it, you don't really get it.  Somehow much of the public has this idea that Shakeology is either a cure all weight loss plan or a phony gimmick.  Either of which are not worth spending any money on.    I don't blame you.

So I think it's important that we discuss, and discard, any slang terms for Shakeology.

Gimmick:  Nope.  Get rid of it.  Shakeology is not meant simply to stir up profits or business.  It is meant to help people on their way to a healthy lifestyle.  It is basically your protein shake and multivitamin all rolled into one, with added phytonutrients, pre and probiotics, fiber, and herbs specifically chosen for optimal nutrition.  There's a reason people stick with it.  Because it's a great product.  And it's not going anywhere.  

Diet: Nope.  Not that either.  It's simply a supplement, which CAN be used as a meal replacement, but thats only assuming you're consuming many small meals and snacks along the way.  It is not a diet all on its own and must be accompanied by fresh produce, lean proteins, and regular exercise to see results.  There are no short cuts.  

Cure:  Nah. It's not going to cure you of any diseases, pains, or obesity. What it WILL do is support a healthy immune system, blood sugar levels, skin, hair, and nails, and help to protect you against free radical damage.  So in a roundabout way, yeah, I guess it could be like a cure... for the crap that just sitting in your body right now waiting to get out.  It's just downright good nutrition, in a simple to mix, no cooking required form.  

As you can see, I'm sort of a fan of the stuff.  And I would LOVE to share the benefits with you!  Hit me up with questions, concerns, or to figure out which formula is right for you.  I wouldn't promote a product I don't believe in.  And in this one I definitely do! So, I'm sorry if you want the Shakeology craze to disappear, but I'll get you my pretties... and your little friends too! ;)  

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Planet Fitness - You CAN Get Fit Here!

This is NOT a sponsored post.  Planet Fitness has not contacted me or enticed me in any way.  I simply am sick and tired of hearing people hate on this place as though it is the scum of the fitness world.  This post has been a long time coming, and I'm finally getting it off my chest, so get ready for a piece of my mind...

If during your visit to the gym, you find amusement in recording overweight, strangely dressed, uneducated gym goers, get the heck out of here.  Go ahead and unfollow me.  I'm not down with your shenanigans.  Do you have any idea how much COURAGE it took for that person to actually step foot in a gym, let alone attempt to use one of the machines there??  I've had people on several occasions interrupt me during my workout to ask me to help them use a machine, to which I happily oblige with a smile and friendly conversation.  I've even interrupted another's workout at one point upon realizing they needed some assistance.  All it took was a simple "I see you're having trouble slamming your weights when you come back to starting position.  Do you mind if I show you how to adjust the settings?"  They are usually very gracious and thankful.  The point is, I was blessed to have an amazing high school P.E. teacher who taught us the ropes on all of the machines in the weight room.  I still credit her with much of my love for fitness and definitely for my confidence upon entering a gym.  If you also have the same know-how and confidence, it's because you too had someone to teach you the ropes at some point in your life.  Not everyone has this.  I'd assume most people don't.  So before you go judging the next grossly overweight person who walks into the gym in keds, jeans, and a tie dye wolf t-shirt, remember that this is probably the first step they have taken in a long time towards their health.  They came to make positive changes in their life - to feel good and look better.  What they need is kudos and support, not a pitiless videographer looking to blast their fails on social media.  Hey remember that time you were trying to learn something and fell on your face a million times before you figured it out?  How would you have liked THAT blasted on social media?  Yeah.  That's what I thought.  End rant.  Now onto the gym...

It's no secret that Planet Fitness has a gotten a bad rap among fitness enthusiasts.  And I will tend to agree with you that it does not have all the bells and whistles of many gyms out there.  But if you know what you're doing and you have a plan, do not let anyone tell you that this is a bad place to go.  I went here for 10+ years (before I had my twins and started working out at home for the most part) and got in what I consider to be the best shape of my life.  These are all photos of me during my Planet Fitness days.  And while they're certainly not perfect, it was to no fault of the gym.  I wasn't following a healthy diet in any way.  Annnd I drank like a fish.  Oh to be young again... 

I realize that not all branches are created alike, so for the sake of full disclosure, I frequented both the gyms in Frederick, MD and Catonsville, MD and was equally pleased with both. Reasons why I liked it were...

  • A ton of machines.  Never had to wait for anything, cardio or weightlifting.  So it was easy to stay focused on my routine.
  • Inexpensive.  I paid $20 (the expensive option) so I could have access to both gyms equally.... and because I used to tan for free.  Ugh.  I know, bad.  Like I said, I was young.
  • 24 hours. All the time.  Even my husband's more respectable gym wasn't open that much.  His would close.  But mine... mine was open.
Now I have heard that for heavy weightlifters, they do not have the equipment necessary to keep you challenged, and for that I cannot speak.  As a 100 lb. female just trying to tone up, it had everything that I needed.  It was my happy place and a great deal as far as I'm concerned.  

Lately I've stopped frequenting either location simply because I have infant twins at home who prefer to watch me sweat it out in the comfort of our own living room, which I would love to share with you.  Still, I couldn't let my days at this gym fall into the past without giving my true, honest take on the whole thing.  Planet Fitness, you have my stamp approval.  You CAN get fit here!  

Bella And The City

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