I walk into chain stores like Target and Lowe’s, which look the same everywhere, and I feel like I’ve been transported to the Alexandria, Va., locations where we used to shop. I walk out, into an unfamiliar parking lot and am reminded that I no longer live in Arlington.

The only way I can describe how I’ve been feeling since the move is this: heartbroken.

And like I’ve been dumped.

So how can a woman who’s happily married – newly happily married – feel like she’s been dumped?

This feeling comes with a bit of guilt, because I have so much love in my life. I have friends and family whom I miss and an incredibly supportive husband who’s been so patient with me and has enough energy to support me in making my dreams come true.

This move reminds me of what it feels like to be dumped, because I long for how things used to be but know that, if things went back to how they used to be, they wouldn’t be the same. 

I’m grieving a loss.

The happy ending beginning

The heartbreak that my mother and father caused our family when they gave up on each other left the biggest, deepest mark on me: fear of abandonment. Rather than losing myself in unproductive coping mechanisms as I navigated adolescence, I found myself in academics.

Every time my heart was broken after that first, scarring experience, it motivated me to do something bigger and better for myself – from being voted president of my university’s student alumni association and Homecoming Queen to pursuing graduate school at Johns Hopkins University.

I’m convinced that my breakup with Arlington is also for the best and that it’ll lead me to bigger and better things in Augusta.


5 tips for living well this holiday weekend

No matter how much time passes since my weight loss in 2012, I still feel less than fantastic about interrupting my eating plan and exercise schedule. We all know that holiday weekends and traveling are a blast, but they can feel like a bust for the health-conscious if not kept in perspective. Keeping it in perspective means understanding that it’s healthy to embrace these interruptions every now and then. I like to eat comfort food just like everyone else, but I can’t help being a sucker for a routine and consistency.

My latest struggle with this took place on our honeymoon in April. I remember making it a goal to break the routine and live a little – and to do so without guilt. “You’ll never go on a honeymoon again” served as justification for eating too much food and getting zero exercise. Evidenced by the photos below, I certainly lived a little, but I’d be lying if I told you that I didn’t feel a little defeated.

GritsChicken and Waffles

I often think back on something that a good friend told me as we were in the thick of our weight-loss journeys. She told me something to the effect of:

Guilt isn’t a productive feeling, because it doesn’t change behavior.

I didn’t understand or agree at the time.

Is it because we don’t anticipate how bad we’ll feel emotionally about making an unhealthy decision? I tend to have the foresight to base my decision making on how I anticipate feeling about my actions and their associated outcomes.

Is it because of selective memory – subconsciously choosing to remember the desirable aspects and to forget the undesirable ones? For instance, we remember how good food tastes and not how badly it made us feel. Not me. I have memories of a few of my worst struggles with food during my weight loss journey. Like in February 2012, the first weekend I was on Weight Watchers, when I cried over three slices of pizza being an entire day’s worth of points. And in September 2012, after losing most of the weight, being rushed through ordering off of an overwhelmingly large, unhealthy menu and feeling like a failure for ordering seafood alfredo that was incredibly thick in consistency, overpriced, and didn’t even taste that good. That was a lesson in choosing to eat what will make me feel good afterwards. You only get to experience the enjoyment of eating food while you’re eating it. That feeling of success or failure is long-lasting.

My friend also said something to the effect of:

Guilt keeps us from moving forward.

This is what won me over on the idea that guilt isn’t a productive feeling. For instance, I’m much more likely to keep my head in the game after a healthy decision or string of healthy decisions. It’s the interruptions and one poor decision that knock me off track and leave me feeling defeated.

If you’re like me and progressing toward your health and fitness goals, you might be going into this holiday weekend feeling a little uneasy about how to deal with too many tempting treats and not enough classes on the schedule at the gym. I hope that you’ll find these 5 tips for living well this holiday weekend helpful.

  1. Set realistic goals and expectations. Is there something that you can easily go without and, therefore, cut out? Mine is alcohol. I’d much rather eat than drink.
  2. If you’re traveling, pack your bags for success with exercise clothes and healthy snacks. I packed some running clothes so I can hit the hills of Lexington, Va., tomorrow morning with Nate.
  3. If those with whom you’re celebrating give you weird looks for this seemingly odd holiday-weekend behavior, tell them what you’re doing, and ask them for support.
  4. Act with intention by thinking about what you’re eating and drinking. This can reduce the risk of experiencing guilt.
  5. Most importantly, be safe, have fun, and be good to yourself!


A healthy dose of culture shock

There really are no words to explain what we did yesterday. Just a video:


I hoped that attending my first truck and tractor pull would make me feel acclimated to southern culture. Instead, what was meant to be a light-hearted afternoon activity ended up making me feel even more alienated and out of place.

On the bright side, I ate the best pork BBQ sandwich I’ve ever had.


Through this adjustment, I’ve been keeping in mind one of my favorite quotes:


That being said, while truck and tractor pulling may not be my thing, Nate is my man; if he’s interested in it, I want to be supportive. I mean, I’m sure that he didn’t love when I dragged him to LOFT today (even though I was in and out in less than 15 minutes), but he never would’ve showed it. Regardless, my point is that these are things that we should do for each other with a joyful heart.

The bigger picture

Next time I have to swallow another culture-shock pill, I need to remember why we made this move in the first place: quality of life. Based on how we measure quality of life, it’s impossible to achieve that living in Arlington, Va. To us, a good quality of life means spending less time and money – less time sitting in traffic just so we can go to work and less money living in an area where the federal government pay scale inflates the cost of living.

Also, I feel a sense of purpose here, which is vital to my happiness. Teaching my first RPM class since moving to Augusta today really locked that down. That’s because inspiring people through health and fitness is my purpose.


P.S. This photo was taken pre-sweatfest.


Getting settled without settling

When my family, friends, and colleagues ask how adjusting to life in Augusta is going, I often reply with:

I feel like I’m coming back to life.

They know that this means that I’m being productive and in a state of progress. And that this is how I’m happiest.

One of my proudest accomplishments to date is losing about 50 pounds in 2012 and keeping it off through a healthy diet, portion control, and exercise. Reflecting – and not dwelling – on how I felt physically and mentally before and during the early stages of the weight loss and comparing that to how I feel now tells me this: There is simply no other way to live. For the first time since the wedding, honeymoon, and move, starting last week, I got serious again about my diet and exercise routine – even before getting fully unpacked. After all, the perfect time to start something never arrives, right?

Since experiencing the empowerment and joy that came from doing something that I thought was impossible, it’s my joy and honor to share it with others. I do this through offering free health and fitness coaching and teaching Les Mills RPM classes. I started my second round of the 21 Day Fix late last week – this time as a coach. I haven’t quite made it through my first week yet, but I already feel healthier, more fit, and toned. The abs that made an appearance when I did the 21 Day Fix this past February/March are coming back! Who needs an expensive white gown for motivation? Not me! I’m making progress in the “RPM department” but will share at a later date!

As it relates to my mental health, over the course of the past week, I managed to change my name – new social security card (not pictured, obviously) and all – and get a Georgia license (also not pictured), tags and registration.


Before moving here, I knew that I wanted to pursue my health and fitness endeavors more deeply, but I wasn’t sure what opportunities Augusta would have for me. I’m still figuring that out, but the important thing is that I’m seeking and creating opportunities. That’s progress. I’m finding happiness here.

Stay tuned.


In a previous post, I mentioned a few of my favorite things from Arlington, one of them being the Mt. Vernon Trail, and discussed my progress with finding them in Augusta. Nate came home from running errands during the weekend before this past one and told me about a trail whose entrance is right down the street from the entrance to our neighborhood. As fate would have it, someone in my running group mentioned the same trail the next day at our weekly run. When this past weekend came around, I figured that it was time to check it out.



I don’t run with a camera, so Nate and I went back this evening, after dinner and took our first evening stroll in a long time. Here’s what we saw:



We discovered that there’s an entrance from the front of our neighborhood.



Oh, and duckies!


Licensed to lose: The road from sabotage to success

I traded in my Virginia driver’s license for a Georgia driver’s license yesterday. This was one of the easier things about Virginia to part with, considering that:

  • You’re not allowed to smile in the photo;
  • It’s in black and white; and
  • I was at my peak weight and all-time low – and you could tell from the tiny photo of just my face.

Filling out the driver’s license application today brought back a memory: the old version of me struggling over what to write on that dreaded line that reads “weight.” Out of sheer embarrassment and shame, I scribbled down a number that at least put me in the 100’s range. Lies.

This was in early 2012, right around the time when my weight-loss journey began. I was in a dark place, and things had barely started to get brighter. This was also before I came to learn, understand and believe in the power of making small changes that add up to a big change.

The small changes I made, which felt anything but small at the time, were mainly diet-focused, as I’ve always been pretty physically active. The big change ended up being as big as another person … a 50-pound person.

Last weekend, I started reading a book that an inspiring person in my life recommended: The Compound Effect, written by Darren Hardy, publisher of SUCCESS Magazine. Hardy discusses how this principle applies to achieving success. I’m not a bookworm but find that this book speaks my language:

It’s time to create new behaviors and habits that are oriented away from sabotage and toward success.

From my experience, once you do this in one area of your life, it spills over into others. For instance, my weight loss was the first of many wonderful things to happen to me, and I think this is because it opened me up to receiving and experiencing life’s blessings. I strengthened relationships, made a career change, got engaged, earned a master’s degree, got certified by Les Mills to teach RPM, ran a couple of races, got married, and started a new life.

I challenge you to orient yourself away from sabotage and toward success starting with one area of your life and see how it enhances other areas of your life.

Are you picking up what I’m putting down? If so, you should also pick up this book. I purchased mine from my iPad in the iBooks Store.


When I think of compound effect, I think of Yoplait’s “Swapportunity” campaign, which promotes trading higher-calorie snacks for a 90-calorie Yoplait Light.


8 tips for kicking homesickness

Before we moved last weekend, I thought that I had the art of finding happiness in a new place down to a science, which involved one thing:

Getting involved + right now = happiness

Going away to college followed by moving to Washington, D.C., were two of the biggest turning points in my life before our recent move from Arlington, Va., to Augusta, Ga. In order to prepare for this move, I found myself referencing how I handled both of those life changes, which started out as rough and turned out to be very successful, and thinking about how to apply them to this move. When I went away to college, I joined the campus newspaper right away, got a job at the library, and not only found the fitness center but also used it (!). When I moved to Washington, D.C., to start my career, I joined a gym and a kickball team.

I’m quickly learning that the process of not only preparing to move but building a life in a new place becomes more complicated the older we get. It must be because we put our roots down a little deeper as we acquire more things and more people in our lives. My lovely mother-in-law warned me last week that this is the last time that Nate’s and my life will fit in a few box trucks.

This is why I’m sharing not just one but 8 tips for kicking homesickness.


1. One word: unpack.

Bring some order to your living space, and make it look and feel like yours. You’ll see, in step five, why this should happen early on.

My home office is oddly my favorite space so far.

desk1 desk2


2. Stop calling your old home “home.”

I’m all about speaking things into existence. Here’s something that I’m going to speak into existence right now: Next time I move, the number of tips for getting settled in a new place won’t increase eightfold.


3. Get dressed, and go out in public where people are.

I’m really working hard to embrace the simplicity that is living in this region of the country and this city. However, y’all can’t deny the positive effects of putting on some makeup and real clothing.


4. Think of three of your favorite things from your old location. Find or create them in your new location.

Before I found enjoyment in running, I used to love my evening strolls in Arlington, Va. Nate and I strolled the Augusta Riverwalk at the end of our first full day here, last Sunday. I also met up with a running group Monday evening and jogged here. It’s no Mount Vernon Trail, but it’ll certainly do!



  • Gym with Les Mills and/or barre classes – check
  • Nail salon that does gel manicures – check
  • Friends – in progress

Alternatively, think of what you weren’t able to have at your old location that you’ve always wanted. For us, it was a grill for making quick, easy, healthy dinners – check.



5. Take care of yourself. Eat well and exercise. There are proven positive effects of healthy eating on mental health (source: me over the past two years). If you’re like me and like your at-home exercise routines like the 21 Day Fix, you can now use all of that space to exercise instead of tripping over the Aggro Crag that is the pile of boxes in your living room.



6. Let people help you. Instead of pushing people away, draw them in.

I know that I need Nate in different ways from how I needed him when we lived in Arlington, Va. Not only is he:

  • A mastermind at understanding how everything under the sun works, including being able to tell me from hundreds of miles away what button I pressed on the new remote control that turned off the cable box;
  • An expert bug killer; and
  • A budding mower of the lawn (and so many other things).

But he’s also a pair of open arms to embrace me when a palmetto bug (a.k.a. cockroach) scurries right past me across the garage floor.


7. Visualize what your future could look like in your new location. Dream big in regard to “what,” but be realistic in regard to “when.”

I may not live in the center of cause-related work anymore, but I still want to change the world. And I will, but it won’t happen overnight.

Short term (now/within the next month): I want to continue to help people to meet their health and fitness goals.

Intermediate (six months): I want to have a few acquaintances.

Long term (a year or more): I want to build a strong network of friends, buy a house in Evans, Ga., just north of Augusta within the next year or two and raise kids there.


8. Look for the good in things.

There are green trees and green grass and even better green curry (with chicken, mild).

In other news, I got a good mani-pedi Wednesday performed by a woman who has the same name my nail technician in Arlington – not at “home” but in Arlington.


I’d love to hear your strategy for kicking homesickness.