Monday, March 3, 2014

Maxin it Out!

Today marks day 6 of The Max Phase, and I'm still holding steady. I ended the Cleanse Phase losing 8.2 pounds. I am down another 1.2 pounds at the conclusion of day 5 of the Max Phase. That makes the grand total so far 9.4 pounds in just 15 days! Now let's not get ahead of ourselves - I still have a LONG way to go, but this is an awesome way to start my journey. And honestly? I'm proud of all that I've accomplished in this short time. It reaches way beyond weight loss. I finally have the motivation and will power to make the LIFE STYLE changes needed to live a long, healthy life with my beautiful family!                                                                                                                                                              

The Max Phase has been slightly more challenging than the Cleanse Phase, hence the delay in updating the blog. Don't fret. The ONLY reason it is even remotely "challenging," and I use that term lightly, is because I have Hypothyroidism. Before I explain any complications, let me first give you background information on Hypothyroidism, followed by a breakdown of how the Max Phase works. Then I will explain the dilemma, and how I decided to tweak things a bit to make it all work.

I was first diagnosed with Hashimoto's Thyroiditis (Hypothyroidism) when I was roughly 8 or 9 years old. I woke up one morning with a sore throat. My mother told me to put my head back so she could see if my throat was red. I did as she asked and she immediately screamed for my dad. Nice way to scare a kid, huh? Anyway, I digress. Apparently I had a huge goiter in my throat. In laymen's terms - I had what looked like a giant Adam's Apple. I quickly became the Circus Tent Freak Show at all family gatherings! After seeing some specialists in NYC, I was diagnosed with Hashimoto's Thyroiditis (Hypothyroidism) and put on Synthroid. I was told that I would likely be weaned off medication when I hit puberty, and back on again when I had kids. This was pretty much the case, although I was put back on Synthroid several years before having kids. Oh, and surprisingly, the goiter disappeared once going on medication. Thank God. I can't imagine the teenage years and dating being successful with a giant goiter in my throat!

One thing I learned from a very early age is that it is important to always take Synthroid on an empty stomach an hour before or two hours after meals. I am a creature of habit, and the first thing I do when I wake up in the morning is take my Synthroid. This means I can't eat for at least an hour. This is not a problem. I wake up around 5 am, and don't leave the house until 6:30 am. I also learned during my pregnancies that vitamins, iron supplements, antacids and certain foods interfere with the body's absorption of thyroid hormone and should therefore not be taken within 2-3 hours of your thyroid medication. This is why I took my prenatal vitamins at night as opposed to the morning like most people. Remember this last paragraph when I get to the "complications." We're almost there.

I'm going to divert your attention to the Max Phase for a few minutes. If you haven't already done so, I highly recommend viewing this YouTube tutorial on AdvoCare's Max Phase. It gives a good breakdown of what's included and how it works. Basically the purpose of the Max Phase is to provide you with the highest quality nutrients so that you can sustain energy and reduce food cravings. This will allow for you to establish healthy eating habits while "re-programming" your body to burn body fat rather than muscle. When you get your 24 Day Challenge in the mail, the Max Phase will look like this:

 Then you open up the boxes and it looks like this:
Meal Replacement Shake - Not so bad.
Vitamins & supplements - slightly intimidating!

I know, I know... you are thinking, "I have to take ALL of those pills?" Yes. Yes, you do. Honestly? It's really not that bad. The picture on the left is the Meal Replacement Shake. It is suggested you drink it in replace of breakfast. The picture on the right contains the vitamins and supplements. There are 3 different MNS packages you can get: Max 3 (overall health and wellness), Max C (pictured here - appetite control), or Max E (energy). The exact supplements will change slightly depending on which MNS Max formula you select, but the one I chose was the Max C. It includes over 50 vitamins, minerals, herbal extracts, anti-oxidents, and nutrients: multi-vitamin, calcium, vitamin d, omega 3, b vitamins, folic acid - just to name a few. It is designed to support digestive and intestinal health, and is a full spectrum system for general health, weight loss, and weight management. There is only one strip of vitamins you need to take per day. The picture above shows two. That is because I wanted to show the front and back of the package. If you look at the strip on the left, it shows that one packet should be taken 30 minutes before breakfast, one 30 minutes before lunch, then the remaining two should be taken with breakfast or with lunch.

If you've been paying attention, this is my challenge: WHEN SHOULD I TAKE MY VITAMINS AND SUPPLEMENTS? I did some research and found there are two ways to handle it: 1) take the packets before and during lunch and dinner, as opposed to breakfast and lunch. This solves the 2-3 hour down time between Synthroid and the supplements or 2) take them as instructed, before and during breakfast and lunch, just pushing breakfast back 2-3 hours after taking Synthroid.

I've been following approach #2. I take my Synthroid at 5 am, followed by a glass of Spark water. I make sure to take the first packet of vitamins and supplements at 8 am before my 1st block class starts. The Spark water holds me over until 8:30 am, which is when I have my Meal Replacement Shake. I prepare it before I leave the house in the morning, and drink it quickly at 8:30 am with the 2nd packet of vitamins and supplements. After my 3rd block (and last class of the day) ends, I take the 3rd packet of vitamins and wait 30 minutes to eat my lunch. While munching on my tasty, healthy nom nom, I take the last packet of the vitamins and supplements. The only thing left to do is  take 2 Omegaplex with dinner, and sigh a breath of relief! Easy peasy? It really does sound much more complicated than it really is. Planning and organizing is key. If you have no health issues to coordinate with, it should be a no brainer.

A quick pointer on the Meal Replacement Shake - definitely use a blender. The first few days I tried to just mix it in a glass with a spoon, but it was super thick and left chunks of unmixed powder floating around. I finally caved and used the blender and it's been SO MUCH BETTER. The drink tastes yummy, has a nice, smooth texture, and really does fill you up.

With only 9 days left in this challenge, I'm feeling great. I'm back on track with eating healthy foods, and don't have the urge or desire to cheat. We were at my dad's house last night for his birthday dinner, and I wasn't even tempted to have cake - and it was my sister's tres leches to boot! I'm really enjoying coming up with new, healthy food choices. I even ate broccoli for the first time - and if you know me, that is HUGE!
Roasted garlic quinoa, asparagus, and baked broccoli!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

5 in 5!

I'm a little late in publishing this blog entry. Okay I'm REALLY late in posting this blog entry, but sometimes life just gets in the way! As of day five of the Cleanse Phase, I was down 5 pounds. That's right, 5 pounds lost in 5 days! Just the boost I needed to stay motivated. I was down 6.6 pounds as of day 7. Today officially marks day 10 and the final day of the Cleanse Phase. I will wait until the morning to weigh myself to see where I land at the conclusion of Phase 1 and report back with final results. I anxiously await starting the Max Phase, but will wait until tomorrow to post more information about that. 

In the meantime I thought I would clarify a few things that have come up since starting this journey. I previously mentioned that a huge part of AdvoCare's 24 Day Challenge is eating clean and healthy. During the Cleanse Phase it is IMPERATIVE that you eliminate dairy and vinegar entirely. This makes salad dressing choices a tad bit difficult. I found that I was easily able to get around it by: 1) adding a little olive oil and herbs, or 2) adding a hard-boiled egg, quinoa, and/or avocado - the moisture of those ingredients really does not require any additional dressing, and was quite delish! :) Eliminating dairy temporarily didn't really phase me. I bought Almond Milk in place of regular milk, and just took a break from my beloved cheese and yogurt! For those of you who don't think you can ditch yogurt for the 10 days, I saw this at the grocery store in the yogurt section:
It is also suggested that you eliminate or drastically reduce your coffee intake. This was hard for me simply because coffee is my vice. Drinking two Spark waters per day helped with the caffeine withdrawals, but I definitely consumed way more caffeine per day than the Spark replacements I am currently drinking. But if I'm being totally honest, it really has not been THAT bad!
So tomorrow will be my last weigh in for the Cleanse Phase - wish me luck! If you have any questions about the challenge or the cleanse phase, please comment here or message me. Feel free to check out my AdvoCare page if you are interested in purchasing a challenge, becoming a distributor, or simply want more product information. I also found out last night that you can now create your own bundle when ordering the 24 Day Challenge, which was NOT available when I purchased mine. Hence getting stuck with the very textural, pulpy Citrus fiber drink. You will now be able to select the two different Spark flavors of your choice, the fiber drink flavor of your choice (PEACHES AND CREAM), the meal replacement flavor of your choice, and the MNS formula of your choice. SO much better than the options I was given only two weeks ago.

I leave you with that. I need to get busy organizing my bags for the next 14 days of the Max Phase, oh, and to create a rubric for a group presentation tomorrow! Damn life getting in the way again! :)

Monday, February 17, 2014

Are You Ready for a Challenge?

Yesterday I started a 24 day journey to not only weight loss, but to a healthy lifestyle transformation. To help jumpstart this expedition, I decided to take AdvoCare’s 24 Day Challenge. In an effort to document my progress, and to log a blow-by-blow review of the products and the Challenge itself, I decided to blog about the experience. I’m not going to lie, there are a lot of packets, pills, and overall “steps” in this Challenge. It’s really not all that complicated, but in an effort to do it right and not screw it all up, I decided to do something completely unlike me – I pre-planned and organized myself prior to the start!

The 24 Day Challenge is broken up into two phases: The Cleanse Phase, followed by the Max Phase. I am currently on the Cleanse Phase, and it is meant to do just that -  cleanse the body of toxins, while getting it ready for optimal absorption of healthy vitamins and nutrients. I decided to organize everything I would need into daily bags.  

Lets face it, I’m lucky I walk out the door with all three of my children let alone my lunch and such. If I was going to have any luck at doing this, I need to be on my A game. As of now, I’ve only pre-packed the first 10 days (I plan on organizing the last 14 tonight). It has made the entire process so much easier. I wake up in the morning and grab the appropriately labeled bag. Inside each bag are smaller bags, labeled breakfast, lunch, and dinner/bedtime. 

Now all I have to do is pull out the smaller bag I am looking for, and voila! I don’t have to worry about running late each morning because I am fumbling through boxes and instructions, looking for the right products. If you decide to do this, TRUST ME, pre-plan and make these packages. It might take a little while of your time, but it will save you HOURS in the long run!

Now on to the good stuff! I woke up with lots of excitement yesterday – waiting to start the program. I grabbed a glass of water and added a SPARK packet (Fruit Punch) to it. It tasted yummy and was a good pick me up in replacement of my beloved morning coffee. 30 minutes later I grabbed the packet for the fiber drink (Citrus) and anxiously added it to another glass of water. I was previously warned to make sure to drink it fast because the fiber will coagulate and become thick and unpleasant. I tried to chug it, and chug it quickly – but it was ROUGH. The Citrus flavor packet has a thick and “pulpy” texture. It was HARD to get down. I tried every trick in the book – holding my nose while quickly trying to get it down, silently praying that it would STAY down. I put on my big girl pants and got it down. I’d be lying if I told you I wasn’t having a little anxiety about drinking the fiber drink again the next day. I kept chanting the following mantra, “It’s only for a few days, it’s only for a few days. You can do this.” I’ve since been told that the Peaches and Cream is just lovely. Good to know for next time. I digress. I then had breakfast – a hard-boiled egg with chickpeas (sorry, but I didn’t think to take a picture). I followed it with a banana as a late morning snack. I continued to drink water (you are supposed to take your weight and divide it in two, and drink that many ounces of water per day) – this is going to be the tough part for me. Approximately 30 minutes before lunch I had another SPARK water (this time Mandarin Orange – which was equally yummy). I had a delicious salad consisting of baby spinach, quinoa, and a hard-boiled egg for lunch.  

I had a handful of nuts for an afternoon snack, and a hearty grilled chicken, avocado, and bean salad for dinner, accompanied by two Omegaplex tablets. I actually think I ate and drank more yesterday than I have in a LONG time. Right before bed, I popped the herbal cleanse pills. And just like that – I survived the first day!

Today I woke up and frantically realized that 1) I never took before pictures and measurements, and 2) that I was going to have to endure the fiber drink again. I quickly snapped some pictures and tried to conjure up some ways to make the fiber drinking experience more pleasurable. Scratch that. Conjure up a way to get the fiber drink down without hurling it right back up. I decided to mix it in the blender this time. And guess what? IT WORKED!!! Who knew? The key is to make sure it is MIXED WELL. AND to chug it down as quickly as possible! Surprisingly, it actually was quite pleasant this time. It really was like drinking oj with pulp. What a relief! I won’t bore you with my daily meals today, but I’m right on track, I’m not feeling hungry, and I feel pretty good!

Here’s praying that this journey goes as smoothly once I go back tomorrow. And more importantly that I can make it the 3 hours bathroom free before my lunch/prep while drinking all that water! ;)


There is only so long you can justify your weight with the response, "I just had twins." My time has officially expired. Like three years ago. I know I need to eat healthy, and eat clean. I realize that I must exercise. But playing double duty as both full time teacher and full time mom, it is easier said than done. I admit that this is also a convenient excuse. I COULD wake up at 4 am and go running, or do a workout video before I get ready for work. I COULD make healthier choices when planning my meals.  So why don't I? If I had the answer to that question I likely wouldn't be in this position in the first place. I guess there was a part of me that hoped I would find a secret pill that I could just take, and "POOF!" Wake up skinny. But we all know that if it's too good to be true, it probably is. So when I first heard of AdvoCare's 24 Day Challenge, I figured it must fall into that category. Some magic plan that will drastically show results in just 24 days. If it's too good to be true... But then I actually witnessed, through several family and friends, exactly that. How could I not try it for myself? Now let me start by saying that it is not just a magic pill. You do NEED to eat clean and healthy, or you won't see the results. For me, it is the push and motivation I needed. So yesterday I started my 24 day journey. I plan to blog my experience regularly over the course of the next 23 days to give you the good, the bad, and the ugly of the experience. I will start a separate post in a minute to specifically discuss my experience so far, but I wanted to give some general information first.

I chose to sign up a a distributor in order to get a discount now and on all future orders. I realize that I put the wagon before the cart on this one, but speaking to those I know that were very successful doing and maintaining this program, I decided to bite the bullet now.

Here is my sight in the event you want to order and/or sign up as a distributor:

Here are some links to a youtube tutorial that tells you a lot of information about the 2 phases of the 24 Day Challenge (Cleanse Phase and Max Phase).

If you are interested in taking the 24 Day Challenge, or signing up as a distributor yourself, leave me a comment or message me!

Thank you for taking the time to read about my weight loss and healthy lifestyle transformation. I hope you enjoy the ride!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

New Project: Historical Fiction or Non-Fiction?

For the longest time I've wanted to write a book. Until today I've come up with a million and one excuses as to why I couldn't start writing. Although I'm not sure what made me decide that today is the day, the time has come to bite the bullet  and commit to this project. It has been a long time in the making, at least in my mind anyway. While cleaning out his uncle, Reverand Charles Herr's,  apartment after he passed away 5 years ago, Joe and I came across a box filled with letters and post cards from his grandparents while his grandfather was stationed overseas during World War I. After spending hours reading them, I immediately knew I wanted to turn them into a book. Originally I thought I could write a historical fiction based on them, but after some thought (I mean I have had FIVE years to think about this!) I think it might be nice to simply do a non-fiction piece using the actual letters - placing them in chronological order, including pictures of the actual letters/postcards, as well as his family, to accompany it. It would give everyone a real life account of the war, and the actual lives affected by it.

I realize that this will be a HUGE undertaking, so I decided to start by typing them all out, then sorting them in chronological order. Baby steps. Once that is done, I need to decide if I want to keep it as a documentary accounting the life of Charles Herr and Josie Emmerling (they were not yet married at the time the letters were written), or do I want to create historical fiction based on them? Once that decision is made I will need to think about publishing - yes, I know I am getting a bit ahead of myself! My dear friend and fellow blogger, Lishie, has graciously put me in touch with a friend of hers who already self published a book for some guidance in that area (check out Lishie's blogs: and - thanks Lishie! :)

Here are two letters to give you an idea of what you will find in my book. The first is from Joe's Grandfather to his Grandmother, the second is from his Grandmother to his Grandfather - let me know what you think. And PLEASE weigh in: historical fiction or non-fiction???

*Disclaimer: I typed these letters as they were written - I did not edit them in any way - hence some punctuation and capitalization missing. I managed to figure most words out, but there are two instances where I couldn't make out the words (I noted it in the letters). Enjoy!

Joe's Grandfather, Private Charles Herr

Monday April 15th 1918

My dear Sweetheart
   Well dear how are you. I only hope you are in good health. I don't know what happened to you but I am hoping for the best. I haven't heard from you today again that's 4 days now. I am feeling pretty punk (? can't make out handwriting) today. I am going to tell you something and I want you to keep it to yourself and don't tell anybody and I don't want you to worry either but there's an epidemic broke out down here influenza and Malaria. Gee why they drop like flies around here we sent 22 men to the hospital in stretchers today there are 207 men out of the regt. so I hear. Gee why if it aint one thing in this damn place it's another. If felt pretty rotten all afternoon we rec. orders any man that feels sick to report. I did and had my temperature taken just a little while ago. I have 102. I don't know what's going to turn up but I hope and pray it won't be serious. Jesus Christ I feel like I am burning listen sweetheart, if you don't hear from me for a few days don't worry. I'll come out allright don't say anything to mama and keep this to yourself. Good Night dear.
     Your own Sweetheart Chas

Envelope addressed to Private Charles Herr

Wednesday Jan. 22nd '19

My dear Sweetheart
   How are you dearie? I hope you are in good health because I haven't received any mail over a week again the last letter was from Dec. 13th. I don't know what to think anymore. I'm sure you haven't forgotten me or?? No I don't believe you have. I only hope you are not sick. My dearie is sure is terrible to wait for something you want very much. One day after another I try to console myself with the thought that I may get a letter the next day. But I sure am trying very hard to keep up courage and I say a prayer every night so God may bless you and keep you in good health.
    Dearie I hope you received some of my letters by now because I want you to know that your little Schaty is still alive and anxiously waiting for you to come home. Say a young fellow I know came home a few weeks ago and I happened to meet him and he said he thinks it will be a few months before the 29th Div. comes home. But still you can never tell. If that is true you won't be home for your birthday. But what can we do? Make the best of it that's all. Some consolation. Somebody said to me the longer you have to wait the sweeter it will be. So I'm trying to think that way. Cheer up Josie, the day will come no matter how long you have to wait. That is if somebody doesn't steal your from me. That's right scold me for writing such a thing. Say how is the weather. My we are having some crazy weather our winter is at all is like spring very damp weather is sure is the right kind of weather for the Flue. We haven't had much real cold weather. I suppose when we are to have Spring weather we'll have winter is sure is funny.
   Say dearie it's too bad you can't be here that wonderful baby of Jennie and Joe's going to be Christened Sunday afternoon as I told you in one of my letters I'm going to be Godmother. Yes it's going to be a little Josephine. Gee Joe was hoping that you would be home by then. But [u]wats dee juse[/u]
   Well I suppose you wonder how we all are. I'll tell you dearie not as we should be. Pop is home since last Feb. with a cold and Schwiegeruand (can't read handwriting) hasn't been so well. But they are feeling pretty good again. I don't know if Pa will go to work tomorrow. And little me well, I, Oh! I'm all right dearie. Anxiously waiting for a letter telling me you'll be home soon. Good Night Sweetheart. May God bless you and keep you in good health. With love and kisses as ever your own little S.H Josie

Thank you for reading. I look forward to seeing what you all thing of my new project! :)

- Jamie

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

THIS Is Why I Teach!

With interviews and demonstration lessons on the calendar this month, I figured I would take the opportunity to start blogging again. I figured what better to post than why it is I love to teach - I hope you all enjoy!

From the very first moment I stepped through the door of my preschool classroom, I knew I would love school. Little did I know that my passion for education would extend beyond my time as a student. From a very young age I wanted to be a teacher, but like most kids changed my mind as I got older. I wanted to be a successful business woman, breaking through glass ceilings in the corporate world. But after five years of working in Corporate America, I quickly realized that I wanted more out of life. I was tired of giving 110% of my blood, sweat, and tears just to line the pockets of wealthy stock holders. I wanted a meaningful career - one that would leave me feeling fulfilled at the end of every day. I finally decided to follow the advice of Henry David Thoreau and went back to school to pursue my dreams of becoming an English teacher. I find Thoreau's words so inspiring that I have them displayed in the classroom from the very first day of the school year, "Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined." Thoreau has inspired me, and I hope to inspire my students to not only follow their dreams, but to embrace the passion I have for literature and education!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Bittersweet, or just bitter?

As I sit and ponder what to write for my first blog entry, I can't help but think about my former co-workers as they embark on the start of a new school year. As much as we all dreaded the annual first day Convocation, where the theme would quickly be coined as the catch phrase of the year - and later cleverly used against them while negotiating a new contract, I can't help but feel nostalgic that I am not there... That nostalgia soon turns to bitter resentment, and I'm not sure why...

Ever since I can remember, I've always wanted to be a mom... to have a tribe of kids, and stay home and raise them. Realistically speaking, it is extremely difficult to live off of one income. With this in mind, coupled with the fact that I felt completely unfulfilled in my career, I decided to go back to school to become a teacher. My rationale was that it was the best of both worlds - have 100% fulfillment in my career, knowing I was educating the youth of the world, while having a schedule that would allow me to have optimal time home with my (future) kids. It was the perfect plan...

Then all of a sudden, life complicated things... I easily landed a job as a high school English teacher at the school I did my student teaching. Now all I had to do was get pregnant. That shouldn't be a problem? Or so I thought. After months of trying and a miscarriage later, I realized my perfect plan was flawed. Never one to give up, we altered our original plans and started working on the contingency plans. We bought a house in Central NJ, and in the last minute found a teaching job teaching 6th grade Language Arts near our new home. As luck would have it, finding work in this new district allowed me to continue the dream of becoming a mom through a change in insurance plans.

Life was good - everything was going according to plan: great position teaching in a prestigious disctrict, awesome co-workers and principal that I would soon call family and friends, and a step in the right direction in starting our family. By the start of my 2nd school year, I was just months away from welcoming the newest addition of our family into this world - my son, Henry Joseph! Life was perfect - who could ask for more??? Knowing that time was limited, we decided to add another member to our family, but this time we got more for our money (literally) and welcomed twin girls, Josephine Florence and Dorothy Ann to our brood only 16 months after their big brother was born! We were ecstatic - we finally had everything we ever dreamed of - life was going according to plan.

The excitement over our new station in life was apparently not shared with the higher authorities, because soon after the announcement of our impending twins things started to change - and not for the better (for obvious reasons, I don't care to indulge you with the details - but do want to go on record as saying that I think the WORLD of my former principal - she is an awesome administrator who will go to great lengths for her staff, and for that I am truly grateful)... Before I knew it I found myself getting to be the full time Stay at Home Mom I'd always dreamed I'd be, so why wasn't I over the moon happy about it? Maybe because the choice wasn't mine? The grass isn't always greener on the other side? I have found this whole process to be exhausting, and at times makes me wonder about my sanity! As I continue to look for new teaching positions, part of me prays that the next interview will be THE ONE... yet I get anxiety every time I am brought in for an interview or demo lesson, thinking about leaving my beautiful babies in the hands of someone else.

Life is funny sometimes. Had I not taken the position in my last district, I would not have been blessed with three beautiful gifts from God that I call my children... Yet it is having those same three kids when I did that ultimately cost me my job... Do I have any regrets? Not one. I would not trade my children in for the world, and the friendships I have forged with my former colleagues are ones I treasure most today. And although I sit here with nostalgia, thinking about what could've been and what should be, I also realize that everything happens for a reason - and I am right where I am meant to be! So for the time being I wish my former colleagues well, but plan to enjoy every single second I have at home with my children while I can... because no matter what my plans are, life happens to sometimes just get in the way...