The 10 Commandments of School Lunches

This has absolutely nothing to do with ninja, but guys, it has to be addressed…

My oldest is starting kindergarten this week, tomorrow to be exact, and I decided last Friday night that I better think about what I’m going to be packing for her lunches.  So I started making my lunch idea list.

  1.  Peanut butter and jelly sandwich.  Fruit.  Pretzels.

I didn’t get very far.  She can’t take mac and cheese because she can’t warm it up, and that pretty much exhausts our lunch rotation around here.  Don’t judge me.

Plus, she’ll only eat fresh mac and cheese, and not leftovers rewarmed.  It’s a whole thing around here.

So I went to google.  Oh. My. Gosh.  I had no idea what big business kids school lunches are.  Are you kidding me???


I was overwhelmed in about 2.3 seconds.

Gone are the days of a PBJ, in a plastic sandwich bag, inside a brown paper bag.  That’s absolutely unacceptable these days.

Now I certainly wasn’t going to send her lunch in a brown paper bag (I mean, we had to search through every. single. lunch box in town to find the. perfect. Hello Kitty one), but I had no idea that if I sent my child with a PBJ, in a plain (gasp!) sandwich bag, how much I would be communicating to all the other parents and school employees how little I actually cared about my child.  Or the planet.

So I did a little research, and I found out the new acceptable rules for school lunches, so that your child feels secure in your love for them.  And the Earth does too.   I’m passing these rules along to you, so that if you have also procrastinated on the lunch front (or were totally ignorant like I was), it’ll save you some time.  And your child will be spared from a life of sex, drugs, and jail since you got kindergarten lunch figured out early.

**Disclaimer:  Since I have only researched the appropriate ways to pack a kindergartener’s lunch, I can’t speak personally to whether or not these rules apply to any other grades.  Don’t blame me if you ruin your first graders life because you packed them a kindergartener’s lunch.**

The 10 Commandments of (Kindergarten) School Lunches:

1.  All the containers the food is packaged in should be reusable. A bento box lunch container is preferred. They are available in 1-7 separate compartments, based on how much you love your child. You can also get versions with labeled compartments so you can be sure to remember to include all the food groups. If you love your child just a little bit, you’ll get an inexpensive plastic version. Just beware that every time you serve your sweet child a meal in it, you’re slowing giving him/her cancer from all the chemicals leaking in to it from the plastic. If you really love your child a lot, you’ll go with the stainless steel version that is cancer-leaking chemical free. And it’s $70. Yes, I said 70. Seven. zero. Dollars. FOR A LUNCH CONTAINER! But I mean, whatever, if you don’t love your kid, I guess that’s your prerogative. Choose the plastic then. You might as well not buckle them in on the way to school either.

BONUS POINTS:  You purchase 5 different bento lunch containers so their creativity is sparked anew each day with the variety.  And it’ll probably make them smarter.



2.  Sandwiches are not appropriate.  They convey laziness.  Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches specifically convey that you don’t care about your child’s health.  They are only okay, once per quarter, if all the following criteria are met:

a. they are made with 100% whole grain, gluten free, no sugar added wheat bread

b. no sugar added freshly mashed fruit instead of jelly

c.  organic no salt added peanut butter.  

If you can’t get past the sandwich idea, opt for a ‘pinwheel’ instead. The same rules for bread (see a. above) would apply to the tortilla, of course, but you would roll up your selected foods together, and then slice them into pinwheels. You may not use plain toothpicks, you must use BPA free reusable toothpics with little animal faces on them. Then your kids will know you love them. 

BONUS POINTS:  You include a handwritten education sheet for each animal depicted on a toothpick so they can learn something while they eat.



3.  If you are still going to send a sandwich or piece of bread of any kind, they must be cut into fun shapes using a sandwich sized shape cutter.  That way they know you love them.  The hearts and dinosaurs are kind of overdone, so you really should move on to the ‘2 dolphins with a heart’ cutter.  

BONUS POINTS: You can find a unicorn sandwich shape cutter.  Or just cut one by hand.



4.  You must include all the food groups in the appropriate ratios in the lunch.  They need a protein, dairy, fruit, veg, and carb.  This way they know you love them.  It goes without saying that all protein should be grass-fed, free range, antibiotic free.  The fruit and veg should be organic, non-GMO, and locally grown.  

BONUS POINTS:  You taught your child about cultivating the Earth while you grew and harvested the fruit and veg yourselves.


5.  If you are going to include anything that is firm to semi-firm, it must be cut into little shapes with little shape cutters.  That way your kids know you love them.  Using a plain melon baller is no longer acceptable.  Examples of foods that will be expected to be shaped: watermelon, cantaloupe, kiwi, banana, cheese, meat, bread, cucumbers, carrots, etc.  

BONUS POINTS:  If you’re sending a banana in their lunch, and don’t love them enough to cut it into shapes, at least give it a tattoo.

EXAMPLE:  61yRtekTKML._SL1000_

6.  If it is a food that cannot be cut into a shape, it needs to have eyes.  Then your kids will know you love them. 

BONUS POINTS: You have taught your child Japanese, so they can read the packaging the fruit eyes come in.


7.  The different foods in your child’s lunch cannot touch.  Although they may be in the same bento compartment, they can’t mix.  So get reusable silicone baking cups to put in each compartment, with each food getting it’s own container.

BONUS POINTS: You choose something other than plain round cups.  It’ll make your kids smarter.



8.  You must include a little love note in every lunch.  Then everyone will know how much you love your child.

BONUS POINTS: Your kindergartner is already an expert reader on Day 1 of class.  That way they can read the note.  And you’ll show all the teachers how much you love your child because you’ve already taught them how to read.


Love letters

9.  If you can theme it, it must be themed.  Obvious days would be Birthday, Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas.  But don’t forget Easter, Flag day, and Earth Day.  These are the bare minimum.  You should also include a themed lunch for any topic your child is studying in school, or favorite topic they’re in to at the time. 

BONUS POINTS:  You do a Star Wars theme on May 4th.


10.  And it should go without saying that you may not repeat a school lunch.  Ever. 

BONUS POINTS:  You go all the way through senior year without repeating a lunch.

EXAMPLE: 180-Homemade-Lunches2-copy

Man, and I thought $2.55 per school-bought lunch was expensive.  Sounds like a bargain now.  Although I’m pretty sure I would doom her social life and intelligence potential forever if she was forced to buy school lunch.


Little Victories

Let me set the stage for you.  It was Saturday.  A full ONE DAY after the end of my challenge.  I had been on my own for 24 hours with no accountability.  My exercise and food choices were my own.  No meal plans, no group work outs.

I was tired.  I worked overnight Friday night, then came home and got 4 kids ready for pictures.  After wrangling the chaos, I came home and had a spinach smoothie and took a nap.  I woke up mid-afternoon, hungry, to 7 surprise guests in our home.  4 of which were teenagers who had floated the river that morning.  Nobody had eaten.  Wanting to be decent hosts, we knew we needed to feed everyone.  But what?  We didn’t have any groceries, so my husband ran to the store and bought several frozen pizzas.

We had leftover grilled chicken and salad stuff in the fridge.  And a housefull of 10 other people eating pizza, that smelled amazing.  AAHHHH!!!  What do I do?  I wanted the pizza!  But I was only one day on my own and had already splurged on a chocolate chip cookie at work, and a half of a chai latte to get me through the pictures until my nap.

I’m trying to rethink the way I look at food.  I’m trying to think of it as fuel, rather than an experience.  I’m trying to make healthy decisions a majority of the time, and not feel guilty if I indulge in a little treat here and there.

But I was really hungry.  And the pizza smelled really good.  So I put my big girl panties on and made a compromise.  I had a grilled chicken spinach salad, the only one in a room of pizza eaters, and a small half slice of the thin crust pizza.  And it was great!  I felt proud of myself for not eating a plate full of pizza, I felt healthy for eating a salad, and I still squelched the craving by having a small slice of a really yummy mozzarella/pesto pizza.

It’s little victories.  Make one little good choice at a time.  And they’ll add up to better habits and a healthier lifestyle.


Name That Ninja

I discovered this shirt for sale on the NBC website, courtesy of a Facebook ad.  (That Facebook ad stuff is brilliant coding, or algorithming, or whatever it is, by the way.  How do they know???).

ninja shirt

So I think I need to buy one.  Maybe it will give me more confidence when I’m exercising training.  Or maybe it’ll answer a few curious glances when I’m climbing all over everything at the park with my kids.  Either way, I think it would be an appropriate memento for this season of my life.

But it’s customizable.  So I can’t just put ‘Joanna’ on it.  I have to figure out my catchy ninja name before I order my shirt.  Everyone on the show has a catchy ninja name, you see.  And ‘crazy mom of 4 who thinks she can do this because in her head she’s still 20, but probably will just break her neck ninja’ just doesn’t really have a nice ring to it.

So I’ve been trying to come up with something catchy, that the producers will like, that hasn’t already been taken, will describe me, and will fit on a shirt.  It’s hard!

So I turned to google.  There are several ‘ninja name’ generators that you can try.  I won’t post the links because they’re probably spam, but I braved virus infestation to give it a go.


This is perhaps on par, pronunciation-wise, with Akbar Gbaja-biamila, but probably wouldn’t fit on a shirt.  Next.


This one is actually funny.  If you know anything about me, and anything about Lorazepam, it’s actually quite appropriate.  But as I’m not being sponsored by big pharma, I think I’ll pass.

So google wasn’t helping much.  Back to square one.

Hmmm, I could go with the fact I have twins… The Twinkie Ninja?  That probably would make people think of Hostess, and not my sweet babies.  Although the babies are as sweet as Hostess Twinkies, so maybe appropriate.  The Twinja Ninja?  It’s got a nice ring to it, but can you make up a word when picking your ninja name?

Okay, well I’ve got 4 kids.  ‘The Mom Ninja’ is too boring, and has probably been used.  And really, ‘mom’ doesn’t totally describe what all I am.  My husband sometimes calls me mama bear.  The ‘Mama Bear Ninja’?  Eh, maybe a contender.  How about ‘The crazy ringleader of this chaotic circus ninja’?  That’s pretty much the same as the ‘Lorazepam master’, so we’re back to that.

So then I tried to think of words that could be more appropriate to this journey I’ve been on.  The process from becoming nothing (fitness-wise) to being a ninja.  I’d love to somehow use my motto ‘She Believed She Could So She Did’ in there, (because really, hutzpah is all I’m going on here), but how to incorporate that into one or two words?  I have to rely heavily on and for this, but here are some ideas…  ‘Just Believe Ninja’, ‘Optimistic Ninja’, ‘Hopeful Ninja’.  How about ‘The No Quit Ninja’, that’s got a ring.  The dictionary defines ‘utopian’ as: founded upon or involving idealized perfection; given to impractical or unrealistic schemes of such perfection.  That seems pretty relevant.  The ‘Utopian Ninja’?  Thesaurus-ing for faith, hopeful, belief, strive, driven…doesn’t bring up anything good.

Then I used the thesaurus for ‘crazy‘.  Now we’re getting somewhere.  A whole lot of super applicable words came up.

How about ‘The mid-life crisis ninja’?  Or ‘The Webster Ninja’ because I’m redefining what a typical ninja looks like?  See what I did there?  But that sounds a little presumptuous.

‘Night shift ninja’?  Because I…work night shift.

So you can see I’m not having much luck.  So I’m coming to you!  What’s your suggestions??  Name that ninja!

Letting Loose

I took some great advice from Sarah and ditched the exercise routine for the morning and just took the family to the park.  My instructions were to channel my inner child, but I’m pretty sure I wasn’t the kid doing the crazy climbing on all the equipment.  I think I was a ‘stick to the swings’ type kid.  I may have done the merry-go-round when I was feeing especially crazy.  So instead, I tried to think outside the box, and channel my inner ninja.

Because it’s over 100 degrees 95% of the daylight hours here, we had to go first thing in the morning.  We took some yummy overnight mason jar oatmeal’s for breakfast and just made a picnic out of it.


My MIL was in town, so she pulled the babies around in the wagon while my husband took pictures of me being crazy.  The 2 bigger kids just tried to keep up with me.  Okay, not really.  They could smoke me on any obstacle, but if I was only having to lift 30 pounds of bodyweight, I’d probably look stronger too.  At least that’s what I tell myself.

So I practiced swinging…IMG_8406

And climbing…

And holding on for dear life…


And anything I could think of to strengthen my arms…


Anything I can do, she can do better…


And I practiced balance…


And heights…


It was a really fun family morning.  And then we got stung by bees and went home.


And Then There Was That Time I Decided to Be a Gymnast


My oldest daughter, who is 5, is in gymnastics.  As I was when I was 5 a loooong time ago.  She’s been doing it for 6 months, which is probably longer than I was in it.  I distinctly, to this day, remember jumping in the middle of a huge trampoline and hearing the other little girls in the class making fun of me.  About what, I don’t remember.  But it hurt my feelings so much I told my mom I didn’t want to do gymnastics anymore, and that was the end of that.  In retrospect, had I had a little more fortitude, told those girls to shove it, and stuck with gymnastics, maybe I’d already be a ninja warrior.  Ah well, hindsight is always 20/20.

So I saw an ‘adult gymnastics’ class advertised at my daughter’s gym, and of course, since I have no realistic view of the things I can and can’t do, decided to try it out.  Because all the best ninjas are gymnasts and rock climbers, right?  (I’ve also signed up for rock climbing classes this fall, insert eye roll here).  I emailed her coach, who owns the gym, and asked if it was mostly perky teenagers or if there were any middle-aged moms.  She assured me they had a range of teens to 40-somethings.  Perhaps I should have clarified a little more.

Last night was my first class.  My daughter was very confused about why I was wearing workout pants and t-shirt and not a sparkly purple leotard like her.  I promise you I could not have stuck out more or felt more awkward had I been wearing a sparkly purple leotard.

There were 9 of us.  5 of the participants, including the leader, were the gymnastics coaches from the gym.  One was a young 20’s guy (I’m guessing) (about the age, not the gender), who was very clearly a gymnast.  You could have looked at him with your eyes crossed and tell he had been an elite gymnast at some level.  Then there was a perky teenager, and another lady who was also clearly a gymnast at some point in her life.  She was very petite and compact and was doing back handsprings like nobody’s business.  And then there was me…

bad feeling gif

But once everybody saw me, I couldn’t just leave.  It was too late to bail, so I decided to just jump in.

horrible decision gif

Wes, the coach, started with instructions.  I didn’t understand a lot of the words he was saying, but it included a lot of handsprings, somersaults, and handstands.  I did understand the ‘forward roll’ and ‘backward roll’, but that didn’t mean I could execute them.  I channeled my 5 year old, got my ‘pizza hands’ ready, and made my best attempt at a backroll.  I didn’t get all the way over.  So Wes came to spot me.  On a backroll.  Amongst a group of seasoned gymnasts.

huge mistake gif

But everyone was so nice, really.  And I kept going.  I got my second backroll on my own.  I think it looked something like this.

rolling over gif

While everyone else was doing handstand walks down the lane I just worked on kicking my feet up in the air.  Sort of like a donkey.  Although I would bet money that a donkey looked more graceful than I did.  While everyone else was doing some sort of running roundoff handspring thingy, I worked on my cartwheels.  And so on and so forth.  At one point Wes was helping me do a backbend walk over thing and told me I was ‘a natural’.  As I crumpled to the floor.  I just had to laugh at loud.  Oh Wes, I appreciate the gesture.

At the end of the class we all got in a circle on the floor, did some horrible ab exercises, and then he asked who had done anything new tonight.  Seriously?  I actually wasn’t the only one, but the other 2 people’s ‘new’ thing was getting to the top of the 2 story rope.  Mine was a front roll.  And a back roll.  And everything else I did.  They gave me a round of applause.

Y’all, I think I pulled every muscle in my body.  Nobody knew I was injured at the time, because I have more pride than that.  But I was/am in so much pain.  I pulled a groin, broke hurt my hand (there was quite a bit of audible crunching, so I’m unsure of the actual hand injury status), and hurt my neck.  I was the only one drenched in sweat.  I came home, took a handful of Advil, limped into a really hot shower, and then got a heating pad and ice pack to sit down and watch American Ninja Warrior.

I think I’m getting too old for this.  But there’s only room for improvement, right?  My goal for next class will be to only injure 2 body parts instead of 3.  I think I’ll premedicate with the Advil before I go.

Next Monday night is the evening before Avery starts kindergarten so I’ll probably stay home for family night.  I probably won’t be recovered by then anyway.  But the next Monday night after that I’ll be back at it.

It’s all in a days work when you’re training to be a ninja…


**This post, in edited form, will live at the top of my page under ‘Picky Eater’s Guide to Paleo**

One thing that’s really frustrating to me as a ‘non-expert’, is that it doesn’t seem like any of the actual experts can agree on what is a healthy way to eat. There are so many trendy, conflicting ‘diets’, and how are we to know which is right? Paleo people say we should eat like the cavemen. (I’m pretty sure cavemen didn’t have a very long lifespan, although who’s to say whether it was heart disease or wooly mammoth maulings that killed them off early). Then other people say nope, that’s not healthy to eliminate a macro-nutrient altogether. Other people say meat is unhealthy, eggs are unhealthy, eat this, eat that, eat nothing, eat everything! It’s so confusing.

So while I’ve titled my page the ‘picky eater’s guide to paleo’, I’m not necessarily advocating paleo as the best or healthiest diet. Because who the heck knows, really. Certainly not me. But, I’ve had recent paleo experience, and my ‘prior to paleo’ diet was the SAD (Standard American Diet) of sodas and junk. And although I’m not sure about the status of red meat, I do know that hot pockets and Coke are not my best choice.

I don’t keep to a strict paleo diet post-challenge, and do have some grains and dairy occasionally. I don’t know if that ruins my ketosis, or if that’s even a real thing.  But I do keep a mostly paleo diet because I feel healthier eating so many veggies, and I like meat. I’m a carnivore.

I know there are a thousand and one paleo blogs out there, and I think I’ve been to most of them.  But most of the sites I visited seemed to assume I had a pretty mature palate, and an unlimited budget to buy all sorts of specialty ingredients.  I don’t.  To either.  I have the palate of a preschooler, and the budget to match. I could list the veggies I like on one hand, and about the same amount of expendable dollars.

However, in doing ‘The Challenge”, I had to do paleo for 6 weeks. I gave it my best effort, and actually ended up finding quite a few recipes and meals that I liked!! And I feel so much healthier for it.

So, I thought maybe there were more people like me out there. Folks who are self-proclaimed ‘picky eaters’, don’t want to spend a bunch of money on car insurance weird ingredients, but would like to eat a little healthier. I will say, I did have to end up buying a few things I don’t normally use, like coconut aminos and almond flour. But by and large, I didn’t make anything that has a bunch of stuff you can’t use often.

I plan on listing some recipes up in the ‘PEGTP’ page that I’ve found are yummy, and maybe even some weekly meal plans, at some point. DISCLAIMER: none of these recipes are mine. I’m not a creator in the kitchen, just an instruction follower. These will just be recipes I’ve found here and here, and will give credit where I can.

Self Doubt

Social media is a funny thing.  It has a way of connecting us, of making the world feel a little bit smaller.  Anything we’re interested in, we can find others in the world who are doing the same things.  We can encourage, support, and connect.

But it has a dark side.  People feel like they can hide behind the veil of their screens and say anything they want, despite how hurtful it is.  People can write and post articles about whatever they want, despite how truthful it is.  And people can post tiny pictorial snippets of their lives, staged and filtered, despite how realistic it is.

These things are mostly direct effects of the internet.  People intentionally encourage and support.  They also intentionally hurt and distort.

But today, and many days, I’m struggling with more of a side effect of social media.  The side effect of comparison, which often causes discontent and discouragement.  Before the days of Facebook and Twitter (yes, there were days before Facebook and Twitter), you would meet people in the check-out line at the store, maybe wave to your neighbors on an evening stroll.  The opportunity to compare yourself to others was fairly limited.  But in current e-times, you can literally see behind everyone’s closed doors.  We are bombarded with pictures of strangers’ dinners, events with their kids, and vacations they’re taking.  We can see what they’re wearing, where they’re living, and how they’re getting around.  And if we’re not vigilant, that can often start to sow the seeds of discontent in our hearts.

Depending on the day and what I’m looking at, this can manifest itself in different ways.  Sometimes it makes me feel dissatisfied with my home.  Pinterest, anyone?  Man there’s some gorgeous houses there.  They’re so clean, and bright.  And clean.  I can’t take 2 steps in my house without stepping on a toy someone left about, or seeing some unknown food smear on the walls.  Things fall out of my cabinets as soon as I open the doors.  I don’t have my pantry staples in pretty containers with fancy vinyl labels.  And I don’t have beautifully coordinated (but not too matchy-matchy, just coordinated enough to look like they were randomly thrown together, but still happen to pull the whole room together) throw pillows on my couch with the little creases in the top so they all stand up straight.  My closets are a mess, and the bathrooms are in disarray.

Sometimes it makes me feel like I’m failing as a parent.  That stranger on Facebook was able to homeschool her kids, take them to the zoo, take them all to volunteer at a homeless shelter and then go home to handmake a perfectly organic vegan dinner.  Of course it’s all documented in what I’m sure is unstaged, unfiltered, candid photos of her with her 4 children, all with hair combed and adorably matching designer clothes, calmly sitting around the table doing school work, then feeding the camels, then handing out warm meals to the needy, and finally all eating Brussel sprouts and quinoa with smiles on their faces.  How can I compete with that??  I haven’t even showered today, nobody’s hair has been combed, one kid is running around naked, and they’ve eaten mac and cheese (from a box!) for 8 our of their last 10 meals.

Some days I find myself being dissatisfied with my job, car, or life choices.  Today it’s making me I’m allowing it to make me dissatisfied with my fitness progress. I follow a lot of ninjas on social media. I read about obstacle course races. And I watch videos about the best exercises to do to train for these events. Man, those people are strong.  They can lift their body weight with just a pinky finger.  They might as well be levitating.  As much as I see progress in my strength and physique from where I started just 2 months ago, when I see these videos I see how very far I am from whatever they’re doing, and all my progress seems to pale. Will I ever be able to do a flip from one salmon ladder to another? No. Will I ever be able to free rock climb a mountain with just my fingertips? Heck no. Do I have to be able to do these things in order to be an ANW? I don’t know. Will I ever be good enough? Will I be good enough in time? Will I ever accomplish my goals? Will I ever be satisfied with my progress? Will I ever be able to embrace and enjoy the process?  All the questions and doubt sometimes overwhelm me.

Whatever my interests are (and I’ve had a bunch), I can find dozens of other people interested in the same thing.  And to go along with it, I can find dozens of other examples to compare myself to.  And usually I feel like I come up short.  I feel like I’ll never be as good as, as talented as, as accomplished as, or as successful as.

Why do I have to be this way?  (For starters, I’m a perfectionist, incredibly competitive, super insecure, and very hard on myself).  Is this a personal issue I have?  Yes.  Am I alone in feeling this way?  I don’t think so.  I see an epidemic of people feeling like they have to push the envelope.  It used to be that we were just trying to keep up with the Jones’.  Now we feel like we have to keep up with the Kardashians, the ‘real’ housewives, the Photoshop masters, and the selfie experts.  We know that all those pictures are staged, filtered, and edited to look perfect.  We know that these fitness experts have been training for years.  So why do we think we have to compete?  There is no way I can compete and win with the images I see on social media.  (And I’m not even touching the subject of body image.  That’s a whole other monster in itself).

So what do I do with it?  When I’m feeling tired and weak, it makes me want to give up.  If I can’t ever get there, why even try?  If I set my bar compared to those standards, I will always come up short.  I will always feel like a failure.  Will I let it beat me?  Cause me to quit?  Or will I use it to fuel my fire, make me work harder, and inspire rather than intimidate.

So how do I combat it?  That’s a hard one.  You can try to stay away from social media, but that’s pretty difficult.  You can spend your life trying to actually compete, but that’s pretty exhausting.  Or you can you can embrace the beautiful mess that is your life and choose to be thankful for all you’re blessed with instead.  No, my house will never be on the cover of HGTV magazine.  For every one photo I have of my kids in matching outfits and all smiling, I have about 673 of them in some degree of disarray, and me sweating behind the camera and yelling threats if they don’t get their smiles on.  I’ll never feel as calm and put together as the other mom’s look.  And goodness knows my meals won’t ever be worthy of a Tasty video.  I’ll never drive what they drive, wear what they wear, or live where they live.

But you know what?  That’s okay.  I’m choosing joy.  And I’m choosing thankfulness and contentedness.  Daily.  I’m so thankful that I’m able to put a roof over my family, however messy it is.  I’m thankful I have a houseful of rowdy, noisy kids, however chaotic.  I’m thankful that I’m able to feed them, even if it is only PBJ and mac&cheese.  I’m thankful that I have a job to go to, and a vehicle to get me there.  I’m thankful that I have clothes to put on, and a family that loves me even if my socks aren’t matching or there’s a stain on my shirt.  I’m thankful for the laughter.  I’m thankful for health.  I’m thankful for my salvation.  And I’m thankful for my freedom.

I’m a hot mess most days.  I struggle with feeling like I’m not good enough, but desperately wanting to be.  I struggle with the fear that I will never accomplish my goals, or live with regret.  But that’s just going to have to be okay.  I’m going to have to keep dreaming big, pushing hard, and staying strong.

“Shoot for the moon.  Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars”.  Norman Vincent Peale

The Conclusion of ‘The Challenge’

Week 5 was so uneventful I don’t even remember it.  Our vacation was brutal, so I think I was in a recovery fog most of the week.  I missed Monday’s workout but I’m pretty sure I made it to Wednesday and Friday.  I know we didn’t do the actual meal plan because we didn’t get our ducks that much in a row.  But I did stick to paleo.  I had a lot more salads than usual, but that was easy and I knew it followed the rules.

And then there was week 6!  The end!  On Friday we started with our ‘after’ pictures and our measurements.  Then we redid the WOD we did the first day to check for improvement.  It was AMRAP (as many rounds as possible) in 12 minutes: 5 burpees, 10 box jumps (step ups), 15 sit-ups.  Day 1 I did 4 full rounds + 5 burpess.  Today I did 6 full rounds.  So I felt good about that.

So let’s get to the results of this 6 week ‘New You’ CrossFit/Paleo challenge:


  • 8.5 pounds
  • 6% body fat
  • 10 inches
  • Any more excuses


  • 1 pound of muscle
  • a new hatred appreciation for a burpee
  • Healthy eating habits
  • new friends
  • a jumpstart to my new healthy and active lifestyle
  • motivation to keep going

I know weight is just a number, your gravitational pull on the Earth and all that, but that’s the only thing I have any frame of reference for.  8 pounds of weight loss?  I know what that means.  Losing 6% body fat?  Not so much.  Is that a good amount?  Who knows.  But I’m happy with 8 pounds less of gravitational pull.

I will admit that I don’t see much difference in my before and after pictures.  Most of my visible change is in my abs, and I think that’s more due to my nutrition change and ninja workouts at home than anything.  And I’m still not putting up a picture of my core.  But this is what I can share, without thinking I might scare anyone.


While I may not be a crossfitter for life, I am so thankful for this challenge.  I am thankful for the coaches that pushed and encouraged us along the way.  I really needed this catalyst to get moving and help with new eating habits.  Thank you everyone who had a hand in the challenge, and I’ll wear my FitnessLab CrossFit t-shirt with pride.


Obstacle Warriors

So Tuesday of vacation week I went to Gauntlet Fitness, then Wednesday I went to Phamily Fun and Fitness.  Originally I had planned to go to Conquer Fitness in Tulsa on Thursday, but after I saw how spent I was, I decided not to embarrass myself further.

Having sick, crying babies on vacation for a week, we decided to head home a day early.  It turned 2 short driving days into 1 loooong driving day.  To break up the time a little bit and use up some energy, we made a pit stop at Obstacle Warrior Kids in Dallas on Sunday afternoon.

Now this place was completely different than the other gyms we went to.  It’s a chain place, and very crowded.  All the obstacles are for kids, and they have an employee stationed at almost every obstacle to wrangle help kids where needed.  They did have a small section that was supposed to be for the really small kids, but it was pretty much a free for all for kids aged 2-12ish.  There was a lot of chaos, and a lot of kids running, jumping, hanging and swinging from all directions.  But having said that, there was also a lot of padding and foam, and I felt my kids were very safe.

I had thought that this would have been my daughters favorite.  Afterall, it was all obstacles that were her size!  I’m not sure if it was the mass of other children, or if she was just off her game, but she started out very clingy.  She didn’t attack the course like I thought she would.  Her very bold and capable cousin met us there, so Jena did help Avery warm up a bit, but she still never got the full potential out of our visit.


Getting a helping hand

Her brother, on the other hand, who has never felt fear in his life, attacked every part of the course.

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Now next door to Obstacle Warrior Kids, is the Obstacle Warriors for adults.  So since we were already there, I had to try it.  There were a whole lot of things I couldn’t even begin to do.  It was not a place to go to get one-on-one help, it seemed to be a place where you would go work on skills you already had the basics of, but just needed a little more practice.  As it was, I didn’t get too much use out of what they had, but I got a few things in.

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And then I had this magnificent fall on a spinning PVC bridge thingy.


That left this magnificent bruise.


Oh well, all in a day’s work when you’re trying to be a Ninja.


Phamily Fun & Fitness

So the day after Gauntlet Fitness I went to Phamily Fun & Fitness in Edmond, OK, run by the awesome Dominic Pham.  I was riding high after my first experience, but came crashing down to Earth pretty quickly.


Don’t get me wrong, Dominic is great, and his facility is top-notch.  But wow, I had no strength left.  I didn’t really feel that sore, but as soon as I tried to jump on the monkey bars, I quickly realized I left all my muscles in Ardmore.  And my hands really hurt.  It was embarrassing how little I could do.


Which is really disappointing, because there are a TON of obstacles built into this place.  Depending on which track you take, you could try SO many things.  It’s a genius of planning and engineering.

So I focused the majority of my time on balance, with some spider climbs and a little warped wall.  This time it was just my daughter and I, and Dom was so great with her.  He showed us how to do everything, and then he set up a whole obstacle course run for her to do.  She really blossomed there, and had no signs of the timidity or cautiousness that she usually does.  And she did that warped wall no less than 30 times.  He was such a great cheerleader for her, and I was so proud to see her determination.


This gym had a different vibe than Gauntlet.  Where Gauntlet had more of a gritty warehouse type vibe, PF&F had a softer vibe.  And air conditioning.  Both places are equally awesome for different reasons.  We went to PF&F during an ‘open gym’ time, so there were a few other people there working on their skills.  We all cheered each other on, and it was fun to watch everyone trying stuff out for the first time, just like us.

Since I was pretty much relegated to balance, I gave it my all.  I practiced walking on a big wooden spool, then a smaller metal keg.  (Now I gotta get a spool and keg for the house).  Then I worked on transitioning between the 2.  After I got the hang of that, I practiced walking sideways down a PVC while trying to keep the pipe still.  And then finally transitioning between all 3.  By the end, I had actually gotten pretty good at it.  So while I was super bummed I couldn’t hang or swing, I was glad to see some improvement in myself.

At the end of the spool lane, there was a vertical spider wall.  I got to practice walking the spool to the end, then jumping off of it onto the spider wall, then moving up that to climb over the top of the wall.  It was tricky, but so much fun.

One new experience I had here was fear, and I’m not sure why.  I think maybe I was doing things a little bit more vertical than the day before?  But I really got a bit scared on a few of the things I was doing, and I could picture myself crashing down and shattering all my bones.  I’m sure I was actually pretty safe (beyond the innate danger of doing all these things in general, you do have to sign a waiver after all), and I don’t want to imply at all that Dominic has an unsafe facility.  I just mention this because for the first time I realized the mental aspect of the obstacles.  It’s kind of like when I did a box jump at CrossFit for the first time.  I had the ability to jump that high, but there was the mental aspect of it.  You just have to fully commit and do it.  You can’t doubt yourself, and you can’t bail out at the last-minute.  That’s how you lose shins.

And I realized how important it was to learn how to safely fail.  What’s the best way to get down the warped wall if you can’t get up and over?  What’s the best way to come down off a spool if you can’t walk it to the end?  What’s the safest way to land from a high jump?  All things I’m going to have to learn.  And Dominic even said that once I start getting better at obstacles, I need to start making mistakes on purpose so that I can learn to be safe, and learn what to do in a controlled environment in case I ever get into trouble on an obstacle.  So that was definitely a valuable lesson to learn.  Fully commit to an obstacle, but also know how to fail safely.  There’s probably a really good life lesson in there somewhere, too.


Thanks Dominic for a great experience!!