Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Camu Camu

You might be asking yourself what is Camu Camu…well, I am here to tell you it is INCREDIBLE! Camu Camu contains more than 1000% of your daily Vitamin C intake. It has the equivalent of 15 oranges’ worth of Vitamin C in one single dose.
Camu Camu is a tropical fruit that is similar to a cherry. It grows deep in the Amazon rainforests. It is known to be extremely high in Vitamin C and phytochemicals. This fruit has been used for many things including; antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, astringent and many others. It also contains several amino acids and B vitamins giving it a variety of health benefits. It is thought to increase serotonin levels supporting better memory, less depression and anxiety and better vision.  It has powerful anti-inflammatory properties that can help the body repair joint, cartilage, ligament and tendon damage by supporting collagen production.

Camu camu can boost the immune system, aid in skin care, and preserve eye health. It can also protect against arthritis, atherosclerosis, cancer, depression, diabetes, and gum diseases.
All you need is one teaspoon per week for a supercharged dose of Vitamin C. But guess what if you drink Shakeolgy, Camu Camu is already an ingredient in it…so as you can see this is just one reason why I love Shakeology.

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Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The Never-Ending Transformation...

Today when I took time to UNPLUG and be still...I started thinking about my story and the obstacles that I've had to overcome in my life...

The transformations that have taken place in me that have made me who I am today...a woman of God who is strong and knowing that I can do all things through Christ!
Broken Home
Rejection & Abandonment Issues
Shame & Guilt for getting pregnant before married
Financial Struggles
Low self-esteem
Control Freak
Panic Attacks
Chronic Physical Pain 
But out of all of these struggles the one area of my life that has done the most damage in my life is FEAR!
Ever since I was a child I have always been fearful. Fear of not being excepted, fear of not being good enough, fear of not being loved, fear of being alone, fear of losing loved ones, fear of being imperfect, and many more!
These fears developed behaviors in me that caused me to try to control everything around me so that I could protect myself from not getting hurt.
Fear made me an uptight, controlling, stressed out person. And I never had peace in my life!
As years went by other bad habits were formed, other struggles were confronted and the internal fear just continued to grow.
Fast forward and when I had my third child the ultimate fear was placed in front of me... the fear of something happening to me and my children not having a mother.
On June 6 of 2012, when I first had my panic attack I truly felt like my life was over! And my fear skyrocketed. Anytime I had a headache, unexplained physical symptoms, airplanes rides, confrontations, being alone when husband traveled, taking a bath without anyone being home...just the thought about anything fearful happening to me and or a loss of control, I would have a panic attack.
Lies were spoken over me from doctors and fear began to cripple me. Medication wasn't working... Nothing was working and that's when I realized that I couldn't do it on my own. I have always loved Jesus with all my heart but it wasn't until that day that I was completely broken that I realized I needed Jesus more then ever at the center of my life! Any fearful thought would throw me into panic attacks whether I was driving my kids in the car, out at the grocery store, or even out at dinner with friends. There were even nights when I would wake up with them and I would have to wake my husband so he could help me calm down.
I was at a complete loss of how fear could have that much power over me!  I saw a counselor every week, I read Joyce Meyers and other self-help books.  I daily replaced lies with the truth from Scripture and that is also when I drastically changed my life with the way I ate and exercised. My life had been completely uprooted and flipped upside down and I had no control over it.
But as I write this transformation to you, I realize that even though that was the darkest place in my life I now know that God had every intention to use it for good. I know that if that one specific moment on June 6 never would've happened I never would have faced all the fears that have been built up in my life. I had so many strongholds and barriers related to fear that was causing me to miss out on peace and joy in my life. My fears were ultimately stopping me from being the best woman, wife, mom, and daughter I could be.
The thing is...I'm not done being transformed. I know that I will forever struggle with fear and anxiety but I know that with God all things are possible!
I am a forever work in progress, I do not try to be perfect because I know that I am imperfect in every way but I know that through God and with his help I will find balance of overcoming my fears and living a happy, fulfilled, and joyful life. I will not let fear cripple me anymore. I know that God has so much more for me and for me it all starts with my thoughts.
You have to change your mindset! And you have to make a daily effort to replace those fears and those lies from Satan with the word of truth and that's how you overcome fear. That's how God gives you freedom!
So I am proud to say that I am still in the middle of my journey and every day I am continually being restored, renewed, and, set free from those lies that I fear the most!
During this time, I was afraid to talk to anyone because I was afraid of being judged and look down upon that I didn't have control, that I was controlled by fear. But I want to tell YOU, whoever you are, if you're struggling with anything like this, reach out and connect with someone that can help you. I felt so alone during this time and we are not meant to do it alone!  God doesn't want you to do it alone. Face your fear, get help, and make the change that will ultimately change your life forever!
I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord plans to prosper you not to harm you, plans to give you hope and future.
Fear not for I am with you says the Lord do not look around you in terror and be dismayed for I am your God. I will strengthen you, I will help you and I will hold you up with my right hand!
YOU are Fearfully and wonderfully made!

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Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Challenger Transformation Story - April - The Queen of Excuses decided to STOP making excuses!

Today’s amazing transformation story is about my friend April.

April is a wife, mother of twins, and full-time Family Nurse Practitioner. Her life is NONSTOP, yet she makes time to work out and eat clean. She joined her first Challenge Group with me in January and I am so incredibly proud of her for not giving up despite the many excuses that have come her way! She is always posting pictures in our group of her kids working out with her and her husband even helps her with her meal prep, she has made it a FAMILY change too…And that is what I LOVE the most. April’s story isn’t just about weight loss, but it is about the overall LIFESTYLE change. She knows it will take time to lose weight, because that is the healthy normal way to lose weight…when you make it a lifestyle it just becomes natural, a daily part of your activities to work out and eat clean. But the BEST part of all of this is that she is getting healthy on the INSIDE. Because of the lifestyle changes she has made she has been able to reduce the dosage of her diabetes medication. I LOVE THAT. Food truly is thy medicine to thy body and you have control over your health. You choose if you want to HONOR your body and either build it up or tear it down. So choose TODAY to honor your body. It will change your life for forever like it has April’s.
A little bit about April…
She has spent the last 3 years studying, working, and being a mom and a wife leaving no time for herself.   April wanted to start focusing on herself and her health so that she could set an example for her children when it comes to healthy eating and exercising but also to extent her life so she can see them grow up! April really needed someone to push her otherwise she would be the QUEEN of excuses.
1. What's your health story and how have these challenge groups helped you?
I have battled my weight since I was about 8 or 9 years old. At 15 years old I was diagnosed with PCOS (poly cystic ovarian syndrome) which affects multiple aspects of your endocrine, pituitary, hormone levels and adrenal system. It causes you to become insulin resistant, which leads to diabetes (check), infertility (check), irregular menstrual cycles (check), weight gain with difficulty losing it (check), Hypertension/high blood pressure (check), thinning hair (check), acne, obstructive sleep apnea, high cholesterol, increased risk for stroke, coronary artery disease and depression just to name a few. This lovely disease process just sets a woman up for failure or one heck of a battle if she chooses to take it on head first.
Research and treatment has come a long way in the fertility aspect, however there is no cure for PCOS. Only management of the co-morbid conditions that come along with this "syndrome". In 2006 at 31 years old, my husband and I decided to battle head first for children. At that time I weighed 320 pounds.  There was no way we were having a healthy pregnancy if we were able to get pregnant at all. I was already diagnosed with high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes. We tried unsuccessfully anyways. So after yo-yo dieting for years and it obviously didn't work we did some research and decided I should opt for weight loss surgery. We chose the more conservative route and went for the Lap Band Surgery in 2008. I lost 60 pounds! I was down to 260 lbs. We did one round of simple fertility treatment and we were pregnant with twins. I gained 31 pounds with the pregnancy which came back off quickly after delivery. When our babies were 6 months old I decided to apply for graduate school to become a Nurse Practitioner. My program started when our twins were 1 1/2 years old, so through 3 years of intense education and residency, my son going through heart surgery for a very rare congenital heart defect I have put myself last when it came to my health, nutrition and fitness. I was now 271 pounds and haven't worked out in YEARS! Taking medications for diabetes, high blood pressure and now high triglycerides while dealing with anxiety I decided it was time for me to take charge of me. Put myself first. I realized I am now 39 years old, I have 5 year old twins and a loving husband who want and need me to be here for them! I have conquered so many obstacles along the way in my life it was time I conquered my health!
I have known Ali since we worked at a local children's hospital together in 2005-2008 time frame. Thanks to the power of social media we have been able to keep in touch and I was following that she had started her own personal journey for her health. In November 2014 I contacted her to see if she could guide me. She added me to her December 2014 group just as an "observer" since I wasn't ready to make a commitment yet. I had recently graduated grad school and accepted a new position that I wanted to get use to first before making any more huge life changing decisions.
With her December group I started changing some eating habits so I could get use to clean eating and drinking a protein shake and I lost weight over the holidays! I was amazed and ready to commit to the January group. I have NEVER been someone who works out every day... or eats healthy... or eats every 2-3 hours... or drinks a gallon of water everyday so I wasn't sure how long I would stick to this. I still face my own challenges within the group. I struggle to eat all of the required food every 2-3 hours due to the restriction the lap band places on me. Plus the profession I am in is not very time friendly to do so. I do the best I can do. I work out every day. If I miss a workout... life still happens. I pick it back up with a double workout on Saturdays when I have more time. Due to my condition I do not see the weight dropping off by the bucket loads but it is dropping off along with the inches. Slowly and surely. I am fine with that. I have stuck with the program, the healthy eating, the daily exercise and the lifestyle change for 3 challenges now. It has become my lifestyle. My children and husband have adopted this lifestyle as well. There are many nights my twins workout with me and encourage me when I am tired and just don't want to do it. Every weekend my husband helps me meal prep for the week and works out with me. It is an empowering feeling knowing that I am taking BACK control over my life with the help and support of my family, Ali and all of the encouraging ladies in our challenge group! To date I have lost 15 pounds and nearly 16 inches.
2. What was your favorite aspect of the challenge group?
My favorite aspect of our challenge group is the sense of belonging, encouragement, accountability and empowerment it gives me to know that I am not on the journey alone. Even on days I fall down, I lose my motivation, or I feel like just not doing it anymore. I either read other members posts of encouragement and success, or I post my own trials of the day/week and I am instantly lifted by the power of inspiring words and prayer.
3. If someone was deciding whether or not to sign up for the challenge group what would you tell them?
Do it. Do not waste one more minute thinking about it. You will not regret it. You will start living your life again from the moment that you type the words "I commit" on your very first challenge and every challenge after that!
April, I am so proud of your incredible transformation on the inside-out! Always remember your WHY and know that you are inspiring so many women around you to get their health back!
If you are looking for support to get healthy on the inside-out please email me at imperfectlybalancedbyali@gmail, I would LOVE to help you!

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Friday, April 10, 2015

Foodie Friday - My ULTIMATE Cheat Night is always a home made pizza....Strawberry Balsamic Pizza Recipe

Every week I usually splurge on a meal...those meals usually consist of Mexican or Pizza. This pizza is one of my ultimate cheat meals on the weekend. I pair this Strawberry Pizza with my Cilantro Pizza and it is just AMAZING! And you can't go wrong with HOMEMADE. You actually know the ingredients that are being used for it. ENJOY:)

Strawberry Balsamic Pizza with Chicken, Sweet Onion and Applewood Bacon

·         ½ cup strawberry jam or preserves

·         ¼ cup balsamic vinegar

·         1 teaspoon Sriracha Chili Sauce

·         1 pizza dough, make your own or purchase

·         1 cup diced or shredded chicken breast

·         ½ cup applewood smoked bacon, chopped

·         ½ cup thin sliced sweet onion

·         12 ounces shredded Italian blend cheese, I used Sargento

·         ¼ cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped

·         ¼ cup fresh strawberries, diced small

1.    Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

2.    Place balsamic vinegar in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer 4 to 5 minutes or until reduced to half of the original volume and mixture is thick and syrupy. Add strawberry preserves and Sriracha and mix well. Set aside to cool.

3.    Pat or roll out pizza dough on a lightly floured surface to approximately a 14 inch circle.

4.    Combine chicken with 2 tablespoons of the balsamic-strawberry mixture and mix to coat all chicken with sauce. Pour rest of sauce onto pizza dough and spread to cover. Leave a 1 inch border all around the edge. Scatter chicken evenly over the sauce.

5.    Place about ¾ of the cheese on top of dough and spread to cover sauce evenly. Scatter bacon and sweet onion over cheese to distribute evenly. Scatter remaining cheese over this layer.

6.    Bake for approximately 8-10 minutes or until cheese is bubbly and crust is golden brown. Watch carefully, at this temperature it is easy to burn the pizza!

7.    Remove from oven and let cool slightly, 1-2 minutes. Sprinkle with chopped cilantro and fresh diced strawberries. Serve and enjoy!

*You can purchase pizza dough from Whole Foods, Trader Jo's and many other grocery stores. Often pizzerias will sell a ball of their own dough.

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Thursday, April 9, 2015

Challenger Transformation Story - The Incredible Mercedes

My favorite part about being a Health Coach is watching the incredible transformations in my challengers. Every month I lead online challenge groups for all women and I help them on their journey to becoming healthy on the inside-out. Today I want to share with you one of my challengers success stories as she is one of the many women who have truly changed their life since joining my challenge groups.
Mercedes's has lost 20lbs & 13.8 inches.
A little bit about Mercedes’s…
She is a mom to a 12 year-old daughter with enough extra-curricular activities to keep her going NON-STOP from one thing to the next. She is a  Marketing Professional with insane deadlines and a busy travel schedule.  Mercedes’s was looking to improve across the board in all health areas and she wanted to develop good, healthy habits. The nature of her job is sedentary and she has been inactive for quite some time now. Mercedes’s not only wanted to improve her physical health but she wanted to learn how to take control of this part of her life.

I asked Mercedes’s a few questions so that you can hear more about her story and journey on becoming IMPERFECTLY BALANCED.
  1. What is your health story and how have these challenge groups helped you?
I came into my first challenge at a point in my life where I truly felt that my weight and the way my body looked and behaved were completely out of my control, following a long battle with hormonal imbalances and digestive issues that never allowed me to feel well enough to have the motivation to begin any kind of exercise or eating program and stick to it.  Constantly zapped of my energy, feeling depleted, tired and frankly, in pain a lot of the time, I found short term comfort in eating the things that made me feel good emotionally and only wanted to rest when any down time was available.  I finally ended up needing a hysterectomy to remove problematic fibroids and stop daily bleeding that went on for almost 2 years! The recovery process from that procedure was more challenging that I ever anticipated it would be.  Not only did I have to build my energy back up but also patiently wait until my body found its rhythm again and began to adjust.  I’ve needed some hormone therapy to treat post procedure symptoms, but the bloated feeling and distended belly kept lingering on for months and months.  This only made me even more depressed about the situation which led me to more comfort food and zero accountability to myself during business trips (and I have a lot of those…), holidays and just about any excuse to not do the right thing.  Being so tired, I looked for occasions to eat out or get take out as often as I could because, after all, “I was so tired” and forget wanting to exercise!  In my younger days, I never had problems with maintaining my weight and my figure stayed on point so having a plan to manage these things was completely foreign to me.  Sure, I’ve done some sort of physical activity in the past, but nothing I consistently stuck to or strayed too far away from walking in the neighborhood or riding a bike.  Weight training? Never! I couldn’t think of anything less exciting to do than engage in any sort of workout routine.    Fast forward to January 5, 2015.  I knew at the end of 2014 that I needed to take control and make a drastic change.  If I hated the way I was feeling and looking, I had to own it and start somewhere.  As a go getter, goal achieving person in every other area of my life, I knew that I what I needed was accountability and the uninterrupted time to focus on me and making these changes.  My travel schedule had been so hectic that I was never home 2 weeks in a row for the longest of times, and with all the disruption that this schedule created in the balance of my family life, I knew I would only be successful in adding this extra layer if I had the opportunity to nurture myself and start building the habit at a time I could focus on it and not have additional distractions.  I had been watching Ali’s blog and on line activities about her challenge groups and knew she would be starting one at the beginning of January, a perfect “down” time for me, also psychologically tied to the beginning of a new year – a new dawning, in my mind, to create new paths in my brain and build a transformation plan knowing that I was minimizing opportunities to sabotage my efforts.   I was prepared to drive myself and follow the program, but what I didn’t anticipate or could have dreamed of, was the amazing support and sense of accountability I found in the challenge group as I instantly bonded with complete strangers that I quickly realized were sharing the same struggles regardless of the different things we may have going on in our lives or where we are in our own life journeys.  These women build each other up and share victories and opportunities in an inspiring, genuine way and when you couple that with the dedication of our coach, Ali Tessitore, her compassion and interest in seeing you succeed, there really is no room for failure.  When days get tough and you find it hard to get that workout in, or pass on that temptation, I know I can just log in and read the posts of my on line sisters in health or ask for help, and within seconds, I find the support I need.  The challenge group has been the definite game changer for me in this project as I not only feel accountable to myself, but I feel accountable to the group. The more engaged I get, the more accountable and committed I feel!
  1. What was your favorite aspect of the challenge group?
I love the fun we have posting check-ins, the daily observations, sharing recipes and learning from each other.  The participants share so many tips and learnings from their own experience that it makes the entire experience that much more enriching, but the true joy for me has come from feeling like I’ve gotten to know some of these woman on a personal basis, even though we’ve never met in person. I know that I would do anything for any of them and that if in need, all I have to do is reach out and ask.  The understanding, caring, compassionate nature of everyone involved is extraordinary and the willingness to support each other bar none.  I know that a big factor in my desire to wanting to stay engaged and looking at this journey as a lifestyle change vs a “diet” or exercising for the moment is the accountability the groups have helped me develop and what I have learned from everyone’s stories.
  1. If someone was deciding whether or not to sign up for the challenge group, what would you tell them?
You have everything to gain and nothing to lose but inches, weight and bad habits!  Joining the challenge group is one thing, but becoming an active participant, engaging with purpose with the other challengers, cheering and supporting all, sharing your own experience and following through with the requests from the coach are all necessary to get the most out of the program.  Watching from the sidelines will not give you the biggest bang for the buck and if you’re looking for results, follow the formula.  I still follow that mantra when I have slow days or feel like things are not happening fast enough: just follow the program and the rest will follow….and it does!  There is no price tag you can put on the power of engaging with a community of women focused on the same goals.  If you plug into that with an open heart and a desire to succeed, you will…!  

All I can say is WOW!!! Mercedes's I have loved every minute of being on YOUR journey of becoming healthy inside-out. Every day you check-in with our group and you always go the extra mile with getting your double workouts in.  You have the ultimate excuse not to get healthy with traveling for work, but you made yourself a priority to be healthier and happier. I love your commitment to our group and to this new LIFESTYLE. I know it will FOREVER change your life! I am so proud of you and honored to call you my friend.

If you are struggling and need to get your health back on track just like Mercedes's did, please fill out this form below so that you can join our incredible support system to getting healthy on the inside-out! I know it will change your life like it has many other women.

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