Advent Thoughts: What Are You Waiting For?


We are barely one week into Advent, a time of designated waiting. In the church tradition, we are waiting for the birth of Christ, the Messiah’s entrance into the world. We are told to be watchful during our wait, to prepare for His coming.

“Be watchful! Be alert!
You do not know when the time will come.
It is like a man traveling abroad.
He leaves home and places his servants in charge,
each with his own work,
and orders the gatekeeper to be on the watch.
Watch, therefore;
you do not know when the Lord of the house is coming,
whether in the evening, or at midnight,
or at cockcrow, or in the morning.
May he not come suddenly and find you sleeping.
What I say to you, I say to all: ‘Watch!'” – Mark 13:33-37

The sense of anticipation and drive to prepare is echoed in our secular traditions. Advent calendars, Christmas shopping, holiday music… all of this increase our sense of excited anticipation. Children are the clearest mirrors of this, simply bubbling over with impatience for the day. We are all waiting and preparing for big parties and family gathers. I know I’m not alone in feeling overwhelmed at the demands upon our time and budget. In our rush to please, we pack the calendar and our shopping lists. FOMO creeps in as we see others posting on social media about fun family activities, crazy Elf on the Shelf antics, and heart-warming charitable work. Yet we can hope and pray that all this frantic activity will mean we are fully prepared and can get the most out of the holiday. We are buying gifts, making lists, wrapping presents, decorating, cooking, sending cards, and generally scrambling to get it all done ahead of Christmas.

To sum it up, we are all waiting and preparing for fulfillment.

This time of year, whether you are religious or not, brings a sense of yearning to the front of our lives. Desire and anticipation. It is okay, expected, and encouraged to want for something around Christmas. Even in the Grinch-y-est of people, there is a sense of hope and possibility that the holes this imperfect world creates might be filled during Christmas. That we might get our wishes. That we might come out on the other side feeling complete. How else do we explain our love of Hallmark Christmas movies?

It’s pretty hope, with sparkly bows and angel trees. But it’s misplaced. And ultimately a dangerous lie.

As a stress-eater extraordinaire, I will never say that a bowl of popcorn or cup of hot chocolate can’t be therapeutic for your stress levels. But calories don’t fill that empty space in your soul. I know this on an intellectual level, though my stomach and will-power seem to still be in denial. While I get super excited when sweet potato casserole season arrives, that sugary pecan crust will not make me a whole person. Neither will presents, parties, wine, cookies, twinkle lights, Santa, shopping, or stockings.

Before you start thinking that I’m going to preach ‘Reason for the Season’ and beat that particular Bible over your head… that won’t work either. Even if you are putting forth all the effort in the world to create a Jesus-centered Christmas, with advent wreaths, Nativity scenes, and daily scripture readings. Let’s keep that Christian high-horse in the barn. True, you will likely receive much more personal spiritual edification that way. Anytime we genuinely come to Him for nourishment, we will be fed. But to imagine you will find complete fulfillment is denying a hard truth and setting yourself up for disappointment when the warmth of the hot chocolate and the glow of the candles die out. Our Christmas holiday does not fix our world. It cannot fix us. This world will reopen the wounds and create new holes as fast as we try to fill them. Until we go Home to Jesus or He comes to us , we are incomplete.

I’m not trying to depress anyone or dampen the Christmas spirit. We simply need to remember what we are waiting for and remind ourselves that we are still waiting for it after December 25th. The symbolic waiting and preparation of Advent culminates in our Christmas celebrations. We should certainly celebrate the birth of Christ because it is the birth of HOPE. Without Christmas, there is no hope in the future, no light in the darkness. But we wait for and celebrate a birth, a beginning. We are still waiting for the end of the story, for the true fulfillment that won’t come until He comes again.

Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down,
with the mountains quaking before you,…
while you wrought awesome deeds we could not hope for,
such as they had not heard of from of old.
No ear has ever heard, no eye ever seen, any God but you
doing such deeds for those who wait for him. – Isaiah 63:19-64:3

I am over the Christmas rush, the stress, the expectations. Before it even began, I was over it. But I still love to play my Christmas records and decorate the tree. In the midst of it call, despite the frustration, we CAN recapture the innocent wonder and magic we felt as carefree children. We CAN remember that our traditions and activities are symbolic of a bigger picture. This season can teach us wait with watchful anticipation, and to carry that into the rest of the year. It can remind us of what we want for the world, for ourselves. Peace on Earth and goodwill towards men pair just as well with pool parties and cookouts as they do with carols and eggnog.

How to Pack for a European Vacation


More videos coming at ya! I’m serious; if you aren’t subscribed to my Youtube, ya need to be.

Anyway, I’m getting pretty decent at this packing thing. I learn something every single time I go. And I realize I can take less and less each time. Next time we do this, I’m packing in a carry-on. For real. I know I can do this. I may check the thing so I don’t have to lug it around or find overhead space for it (as international flights usually include one checked bag in your ticket), but I just don’t need that much stuff. I’ll have to do a post about the necessary outfits you need, and then what you DON’T NEED (which might even be more important).

I have a T-Minus 1 Day Packing Tips video to share as well as a small series of ‘Must-Have Travel Accessories’. So here ya go!

Packing Tips for International Travel

Must-Have Travel Accessories



A Week of Hard Labor with Sagi Kalev – Workout Reviews

I’m all about weightlifting right now. Because I’m all about putting on muscle so I can EAT ALL THE FOOD. Seriously. Lean muscle increases your insulin sensitivity, increases your resting caloric burn, and has loads of other health benefits (strong bones, less disease, etc.).

So I’m super excited that Sagi Kalev is launching 5 new advanced weightlifting workouts on Beachbody On Demand this week. I’ll be reviewing each day and posting on YouTube. I’ll embed them here on my website too, but head over to YouTube and subscribe to my channel to make sure you don’t miss any awesome content.

Instead of posting 5 separate times, I’ll just update this post with all 5 videos as we go along. If you want to check out these workouts yourself, just head here for a free trial of BOD.

Day 1

Day 2

How I Plan My Workouts | Home Leg Workout

Home Leg Workout

Here’s how I organize my own workout split, plan my workouts, and generally keep it together. There are dry erase boards and notecards involved. Because I’m an organization nerd. Now if that only extended into my housework.

If you want to do the Week of Hard Labor with me (I explain this in the video), even if you’re starting well after I do on the 4th, just send me a message on my website or comment below here. You can get a free 14 day trial of the streaming service I use right here:…

Other links to stuff I use in this video…

Dry Erase Calendar:
Notecard Case:
My Favorite Pre-Workout:…
Workout Elastic Bands:
Dumbbell Weights:
Yoga Mat:

*Yes, these are affiliate links, which means purchasing stuff through them could get me paid a wee bit. As always, feel free to google search for the stuff on your own if you have a problem with that. No hard feelings.*

How to Plan a Europe Trip : 10 Steps for Planning a BIG Vacation


I’ll always LOVE fitness and health. It’s my daily jam. But let’s be honest… working out is what keeps me sane in between vacations.

I can plan a trip like no one’s business.

Except Disney trips. I leave that to my BFF Ashlee. Theme parks intimidate me.

But random little places in the backwaters of Eastern Europe? I gotcha. Major historical reenactments? All me. Paying cash for a seat on a Russian chartered flight out of the Beirut airport to get into Northern Iraq/Kurdistan? I’ve done that. I’m not saying it was the best idea, but I’m still alive and benefited greatly from the experience.

I’ve realized over the past few years that many people will simply book a tour, join a group, or hire a travel agent. All valid choices. I will never knock someone’s efforts to see the world. But tour buses give me hives. While I have been on some good group tours, I’ve also been trapped in a few terrible ones, which tour guides being paid on the side to take you to the kitsch shops instead of the places you actually want to go.

I’m a lone wolf traveler. Wait…I might have to make that a hashtag. Anyway…the video series.

This is a four part series with ten total steps of how I plan the trip. All videos can be found below!

Please subscribe to my YouTube channel and like these videos. It really helps my channel, and it assures that you won’t miss any future videos!


My Reviews of Shaun Week

If I didn’t love Beachbody On Demand enough, they bring me new content from none other than the motivation man himself… Shaun T!

You will know him from his crazy cardio programs like Insanity, Insanity Max 30, and Asylum as well as the fun dance cardio of CIZE and the ever classic Hip Hop Abs. We were all itching for the next level from him, and he BROUGHT IT.

Starting on Monday, June 12, Beachbody On Demand released a new Shaun T workout each day for the entire week. SHAUN WEEK! Kind of like shark week; less blood, more sweat.

Despite the fact that I had promised to fill in for a friend who was on vacation and teach P90X every day at lunch that week, I STILL took the Shaun Week challenge. I LOVED it. It was hard, but they were quick.

The schedule was simple… one workout each day… No accompanying meal plan. This isn’t a program that’s meant to completely change your body in one week. That would be impossible and unhealthy. It’s meant to get you moving, inspired, and motivated to keep going. If you can set a small goal and accomplish it, it sets you up for success with future goals. There is also a modifier that even uses a chair instead of getting down onto the floor. Shaun T wanted to make these workouts accessible to everyone, and they are!

And the program is short enough that you can finish it TWICE on a free trial of the BOD Streaming service. Just click here to check it out.

I filmed some of my workout each day and followed with a review. Without further ado…

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

Day 4

Day 5

Day 6

Day 7

Change Your Mindset

Here’s a few short clips from the end of Total Body Chisel. This is part of the Masters Hammer and Chisel program that features both Autumn Calabrese and Sagi Kalev.

I end with a little thought about mindset. What are you telling yourself? What have you conditioned yourself to believe? What could change if you changed your mindset? What do you have to lose by trying?

Paleo and the 21 Day Fix

My last post explained a little about how I’ve been dabbling in the Paleo diet world and really enjoying it. I used to think that eating Paleo was DUMB. I’m not a caveman; and their life expectancy wasn’t so hot. So why should I eliminate my beloved Greek yogurt just because cavemen hadn’t tamed a cow yet?

Fast forward a couple years of testing various eating styles and learning more about nutrition… I’ve realized that you can create your own diet. I don’t have to follow someone else’s list; I can gather the knowledge, test the parameters, and make my own perfect diet. This second time around approaching Paleo, I’ve made some personal choices about my food that aren’t exactly Paleo. I’ve been calling this Paleo-ish. I think the correct term for it might be “primal.” Whatever it is, it works for me, so I do it. I’m not trying to sell you on a set diet, but you might get some ideas for your own personal eating plan…

What is Paleo?

Just in case you’re new to this,  the Paleo diet is based on a theory that our bodies are made to process the foods that our Paleolithic ancestors once hunted and gathered. The Paleolithic period was prior to farming, processing, and certainly manufacturing. Ergo, we are healthier avoiding anything that couldn’t be hunted or gathered. TBH, I’m not sure I buy this completely as I have much better health than Nelda the Neanderthal did. But I can get on board with the unprocessed, real food angle. I’ve heard enough of the science to realize that some “food” isn’t actually food. Without going too much into the weeds, I can recommend the following resources (some free) to begin educating yourself to make your own decisions:

Strict Versus ‘Ish’

This is where the Paleo police attempt to arrest and publicly flog me. Whatevs. You do you, boo.

I like to start with what you CAN eat. Put on your positive pants. In general, Paleo means you are eating a LOT of:

  • Meat
  • Fish
  • Eggs
  • Fruit, especially berries
  • Vegetables, except for nightshades
  • Sweet potatoes, in moderation
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Healthy fats: Animal fats, coconut, olive, avocado, flaxseed, grassfed butter

If you are doing ‘strict’ Paleo, you eliminate the following from your diet:

  • All grains
  • Legumes (beans, soy, peanuts)
  • All dairy, except for grassfed butter
  • Sugar, including honey or maple syrup
  • Nightshade vegetables (tomatoes, peppers, white potatoes)
  • Cocoa/chocolate

Don’t freak. I’m NOT telling you chocolate is never going to pass your lips again. I have chocolate daily.

That elimination list above is what you START with, especially if you have gut issues or auto-immune disease symptoms. If you’ve never tested yourself before, you should go strict for at least a couple weeks, maybe even a month if you’ve got health issues. Then, you slowly add things back in, one at a time, to test if you have an allergy or sensitivity to it.

So what does my food list look like? Most days, it resembles…

Paleo-ish Food List (1)

My additions of the fermented dairy, occasional white potatoes, and Shakeology push my Paleo diet into the -ISH realm. My occasional dark chocolate (70%) is also not Paleo. I also eat fresh green beans and baby peas, but Mark’s Daily Apple considers these Paleo/Primal as they are technically seeds when picked and eaten fresh. Regardless, these items are still clean and make it possible for me to actually stick to and enjoy my eating plan. Sanity matters, people.

Adapting the 21 Day Fix to Paleo (ish)

The 21 Day Fix color-coded containers are still an amazing way to ensure you are eating a balanced, healthy diet. It already limits processed food and encourages you to eat lots of good vegetables, fruits, and protein. You can still follow the plan according to your calorie level (which you calculate based on your current weight, activity level, and goals). You simply adjust the approved foods to match your version of Paleo, or Paleo(ish) in my case.

A couple notes about this graphic:

  1. The foods are listed in order of most beneficial/compliant to least beneficial/compliant. For example, in the blue container group, avocado would be preferable over aged cheeses if I’m trying to choose between the two. Let’s be honest though; I usually eat both.
  2. I didn’t include the serving size guidelines here, so you’ll want to investigate that if it’s not something that readily smushes into the container. Example: 1/2 banana = 1 purple container.

Paleo 21 Day Fix

As for the number of containers of each, you either follow the plan, or dabble a bit on your own. My dabbling has led me to eat a little less of the yellow and purple, keep my purple to berries mostly, and have a little more of the blue, orange, and gray (teaspoons). This leads me to a lower carb, higher fat macro ratio, which agrees with me. My container count looks more like…

Paleo HFLC Container Count

Full Disclosure: I’m not measuring out everything I eat. But this is generally what a day would look like if I went back and measured it all out.

I’ve been using the 21 Day Fix containers long enough that I’ve learned what portion sizes need to look like. Can we say NSV (non-scale victory)? That’s a major benefit of learning to eat with the containers. I also naturally think of meals in balanced portions when I make my plate. I’m searching for protein and vegetables, with a little starch on the side if it’s available. I think of snacks as fruit, nuts, and healthy fats. This has truly been a mental shift that has led to a big lifestyle change for the better.

I would LOVE to help you make this same change.

Reach out to me about making a personalized plan for YOU or joining my next challenge group! I also offer free groups occasionally, if you are curious but not quite committed just yet. Let’s talk!