Friday, October 26, 2012


I'm head over heels in love with Expedition Balance. For more information on what Expedition Balance is all about see my previous post: . Recently, we've achieved one of our biggest one year goals by taking a group of Veterans on a weekend retreat to Camp for All in Burton, Texas. We shared, we laughed, we cried, we faced our fears, and we did it all together.

It was truly a moving weekend for me. I am honored and grateful to have been a part of something so powerful. While the weekend was focused on our brave Veterans, I also took away a few very valuable life lessons.

Thursday night we had a campfire. The sky was crystal clear and I saw the stars brighter than ever before. It was a beautiful sight and oh, so quiet. As we sat around the fire, we shared our stories. I was moved to tears as I listened to these remarkable human beings talk about the trauma they have been though and what struggles they face day in and day out as a result. I wasn't weeping because I felt sorry or bad for them, but moved by how strong those folks have been.

Expedition Balance focuses on bringing yoga and mediation into the lives of our Veterans as a way to cope and find inner peace. We woke up each morning and Carl led us through a 30 minute guided mediation. Day one I had my first "out of body experience" during mediation. I felt remarkably heavy, but not in a constricting, panicked way. I felt solid, grounded, rooted. I imagined myself as the base of a steady tree, deeply rooted into the earth. I saw a montage of sunsets and sunrises, and the changing of the seasons. The tree (which was me) didn't move or weather. I was strong, balanced, and accepting of the changes around me. I don't know if it was the beautiful surroundings, but I felt more connected to nature in those moments than ever before in my life.

After morning meditations and breakfast, we had our yoga practice. I was excited be able to provide yoga mats for our campers, as most had never experienced yoga or even really knew what it was about. I'm grateful that my job allows me to connect with other people in my organization to make this kind of gift possible. The gift of yoga and the gift of living a life you love. We practiced yoga in a beautiful chapel on the camp property. I'm not a very religious person but I find spirituality through my yoga practice. This chapel had something new and different to offer me. It wasn't like any chapel I've been in before and the company of the folks around me probably had something to do with it. I'll admit I was a little nervous, I didn't know how the Veterans would take to the practice. They loved it...

Something else that was new for me was understanding and experiencing the healing power of animals, especially in people with post traumatic stress disorder. One of the participants was extremely enthusiastic about his dogs. The man lives with SIX HUGE dogs! He had taken them all in to prevent them from being put down. He and his wife actually started a business that helps rehabilitate and find new homes for dogs that usually get a bad rap, like pit bulls and other similar breeds. He is so passionate when speaking about his dogs and even attributes his own life being saved by one of them. While we didn't encounter many dogs on our weekend trip, we did get to go horseback riding. It was so peaceful  These massive, beautiful creatures were so gentle and I could really see how therapeutic it was for our group... even the volunteers.

As if the mediation and yoga were not enough for "stepping outside of our comfort zone," we had a ropes course to dominate. I was inspired to be brave because of the company I was with. If they can face what they face every day I can absolutely face my fear of heights. 

During our second day of meditation I had another major epiphany  I'd been four weeks clean of sugar, dairy, and gluten. At that point I had dropped 20lbs and completely changed my diet. Again, I sat in mediation and felt a strong sense of  being grounded. But my realization that morning was that "I am not my body." I am my soul living in a body. A body that needs to be honored, nourished, appreciated and loved for housing my spirit. I'd been on my weight loss journey for the wrong reasons. I was trying to "change" my body. I found a new respect for myself that morning and began, and will continue to respect the body I have the privilege of living in. I have no plans to fill it with the "junk" I was filling it up with a few months ago...except maybe on birthdays.

Everything I learned was great and dandy but the most rewarding aspect of volunteering that weekend was by far being able to witness the peace and stillness that the people I was with got to experience for the first time through yoga and meditation. Sitting still wasn't an option for most of them before that weekend.

I will be forever grateful to that group of people for allowing me to be present with them, for sharing themselves with me, and for them opening up their hearts and minds to what I love and cherish so deeply.. yoga. 

(Tweet) yoga for peace. yoga for love. yoga for balance. yoga for life.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

change is beautiful...

Fall is all about change. Change in season, change in temperature, perfect fall weddings bringing new families together, setting our clocks back an hour, new seasons of our favorite television shows, and a lot of folks go back to school.

I used to fear change. I liked to keep things the way they were. Why risk changing something that's working? I was settling for mediocre back then. I was comfortable. I was afraid of the unknown... and I actually wasn't very happy.

This fall my life is full of change. Instead of being fearful, I am celebrating all that is going on around me. Brett and I have been on a journey of "decluttering" our home, I've completely overhauled my way of looking at food, and I'm experiencing massive change at work by soon stepping into a new role. 

It all really hit me a few weekends ago as the hot, sticky Houston heat began to fade away and temperatures dropped into the 50s/60s. I spent a lot of time sitting outside in my backyard just soaking in the cool, crisp new air and loving every minute of it. 

Ironically, the AC unit in my car went out. It'll cost me $1,200 to fix so I've landed on the reality that is... I've put a lot of money into fixing little things here and it's adding up...I need a new car. I'll ride out the fall and winter here in Houston and begin shopping for a new car come spring. I was really sad at first because I've had my car for so long, and I really, really love it (and hello, I don't have a car payment!) But then I was reminded that change is necessary and nothing lasts forever. Especially material things.

What changes are you allowing for you in your life? How are you facing the change? The future is up to us and whether or not we want to embrace it fully with open arms, or resist it. 

I'd recommend accepting and embracing it... change is beautiful.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Our bodies don't always need as much food as our mind tells us. #fact

It's amazing. I'm doing something that I let myself believe wasn't possible to do again.

It's been a little over three weeks since I radically changed my diet and focused on only eating clean, whole foods, and eating with portion control being top of mind.

The first couple weeks we're pretty tough. I was tired and got a little "hangry" around 5pm everyday. It wasn't my body that was hungry though. It was my mind. I was so used to stuffing myself full of fatty, sugar filled sweets and heavy caloric pastas and breads that I would literally go into a food coma every night. Similar to a drug or alcohol addiction I needed those bad foods to "feel good."

Well... I've finally broken free of that mentality.  At first my body was in total shock. "What the hell are you doing to me?" Then week three rolled around and my workouts got easier, my skin was glowing, and I'm waking up every morning to a delightfully decreasing number on the scale! I can hear my body thanking me every minute of every day and I respond with a swift, "you're welcome!"

I've had so much support over the past three weeks. From friends, family, and my husband. I'd even say that my dog, Google, is happier because that little girl has been getting a lot of leftover chicken and apple slices. She seems to have no problem supporting me in my weight loss journey.

I'm sharing because my mission and goal in life is to help people understand that they can have/do/be anything they want. I probably overuse this but almost 4 years ago I couldn't run a mile and now I'm training for my 5th full 26.2! I've lost 30lbs before and I can do it again. In fact, I'm DOING IT NOW. As of this morning I've lost 20lbs from clean eating and portion control. I'm getting sexy back, people!

Our bodies don't always need as much food as our mind tells us. #fact

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

my 1st guest blogging experience...

I have a goal to write a book. I have no idea what type of book but I will write a book. A friend and massive inspirational influence of mine, Jacki Carr, is supporting me in this goal and asked me to guest blog for her. The link will take you to the original post but do yourself a favor and subscribe to her blog, devour her words like candy. You'll thank me later. Enjoy...

September 24th, 2012

“Do those stars on your feet mean you’re a dancer?” An older gentleman in the waiting room of a doctor’s office asked me as he pointed to the star tattoos on my foot.

“No. They mean I’m a dreamer.” I respond.

“Ahhhh… a dreamer you say? Stay that way,” he said and went back to reading his magazine.

A dreamer I am… and shall remain. I love when the Universe sends me little reminders like this!
We’re always dreaming, are we not? When you’re in the office at your desk you may drift away to a tropical island where you are sailing along the coast on a beautiful boat with your most cherished friends and family. When you watch the Academy Awards, you sit and take notes for what your acceptance speech will sound like when you win Actor of the Year.
Dreams are only unreachable if you say they are. What stops us from achieving our wildest dreams? Excuses do. Maybe its money, social class, or where we live, we’ve all made excuses for not living a BIG life.  Stop making them! Believe in yourself and your goals and take steps towards achieving them.
What I love most about goal setting is that I get to write my dreams down on paper for the World to see and hold me accountable for taking steps towards. If I want to lose weight, I need to make healthy food choices. If I want to earn more money, I may need to invest in self development. If I want to be a writer, I better keep blogging for practice!
When you share your goals and achieve them, others they can be inspired by you. As a result, they set goals, knock ‘em out and inspire others. Pretty soon it’s catching on, spreading like wildfire. This is how we change the World. And we do it one goal at a time.
So don’t be afraid to dream, and dream BIG… be inspired and inspire those around you. I read a quote recently that reignited a fire in me to move my dreams to reality…enjoy!
Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world. 
-Harriet Tubman
Dream on, friends.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

diet overhaul...

Honestly, I'm feel pretty darn great!

It's been 8 full days since I cut out sugar, grains, and dairy. I'm still alive and functioning! I've lost 12lbs! It's incredible to see how grateful my body is to be fueled by healthy, whole foods. I'm lighter, I'm more confident, and my clothes are fitting me again! I'm waking up feeling more energized than ever.

The toughest part for me, aside from the 5 o'clock tired spells I get everyday, is being in social situations.

Exhibit A:
Last Thursday, I went to a happy hour with friends. They we're drinking margaritas and eating fried food. I chugged 10 glasses of water to keep myself from launching across the table and ripping food from their hands. I ended up leaving early because it felt like torture. But when I got home, I realized what a success it was for me to be there and not cheat on myself.

It hit me like a brick... I'm in control. What?! Yes. Samantha, you are in control!

Exhibit B:
Friday night, I attended a "Beer WOD" at my CrossFit gym. It is pretty much exactly what it sounds like... workout + beer drinking. I had originally planned on participating before I got fed up with myself and started cutting out the crap. I chose to stay above the line and spectate, and cheer on my rad friends and workout buds. The event was insane, and I ended up getting sweaty!

Exhibit C:
Saturday night, Brett and I went to see Florence and the Machine live in the Woodlands. The show was EPIC. Her voice is soulful and always gives me goose bumps.  They completely rocked the venue.  Normally, I would have slammed 3 or 4 over priced beers but I didn't. I wanted to.... but I didn't. I stuck it out...
It wasn't that bad.
(see her perform live! #doitnow)

So here I am today, still committed as I was a week ago. Loving my new outlook on food as fuel. I've got a support system stronger than steel and I'm ready to keep taking it one day at a time.

What can you do TODAY to make yourself better? Let me know! I'd love to support you.