Just Heather

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On Monday night, my grandmother passed away. Her husband of 63 years held her hand, and she was surrounded by her children and several grandchildren. The room was full of sadness as we said goodbye, but it was also full of love and prayer, exactly the way she would have wanted.

Nana leaves behind 6 children and their spouses, 16 grandchildren and our spouses, and 24 great-grandchildren. 24.5, really. I know the upcoming birth of my cousin’s baby will be bittersweet when Nana isn’t there to hold her.

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20130926-092953.jpgShe was a champion baby snuggler, an amazing cook, and a mother or grandmother to anybody who needed one. That’s the legacy she leaves behind — family, by blood or by love, is second only to God.

Nana bought me my first Bible, taught me how to make noodles, and showed me that traditions make memories.

She will be there every time I serve a home cooked meal to a crowd, every holiday when I choose the same menu year after year, and every Sunday when I go to church, though I have a Bible app these days instead.

Things will continue to grow and change, but she will live on in our hearts. She will live on in our kindness. She will live on in our willingness to set an extra plate. She will live on in our service.

My grandma dutifully served God, the church, her husband, and her family — with a smile on her face and love in her heart. And I want to be just like her when I grow up.

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Barbara J. Smith

March 2, 1930-September 23, 2013

Friday night started like any typical evening out with my best friend. I was working a blog event, she was running late, and when we missed our show, we stopped at a bar before the next one. That all sounds like us, right? The bar was particularly crowded, but given that it was both GenCon weekend and IndyFringe week, it wasn’t unexpected.

When it was time to leave, we made our way through the crowd and Julie — in typical Julie fashion — stopped to tell a man in a kilt he had a “pretty skirt.” Utterly mortified (as usual), I turned my back to the crowd as I squeezed by. And that’s when my rear met said kilt. I whirled around to apologize and DIED.

My butt had just bumped full on Wil Wheaton’s, um, kilt. Wil Wheaton, you guys! After severely bruising my idiot friend with the pounding as I said, “Do you even know who you just insulted?” she turned right back around, apologized to Wil Wheaton, and introduced him to me.

So, here I am in a bar, DYING and what do I say to Wil Wheaton? “Please tell me you’re doing W00tstock again. I love Paul and Storm! Oh, and you too. Obviously.” You guys, seriously. That’s what I said. Because I am a dork. But not a Trekkie, sorry. I love Wil Wheaton for his own, personal nerdom.

W00tstock with Paul and Storm was my first real introduction to Wil Wheaton. And then there is Wil Wheaton Collating Papers, which is sheer genius and reason #58934 Wil Wheaton is awesome. So, I geeked out all over him.

Then I asked for a picture, turned my phone for a quick photo, and got the greatest selfie EVER.

And that is the story of how my butt met Wil Wheaton. He was gracious and kind and hinted that Wil Wheaton vs Paul and Storm could come as close as Chicago. I thought for sure they were sticking to the coasts, but I will be there if they add a midwest stop!

You know, to see my new friend Wil. And this is a much more fun story than when I originally crossed off #31 — meet a celebrity. Well, there was the part about how Harry Connick Jr. reached out to shake my hand and accidentally grazed my boob. There was also the time I asked Gavin DeGraw for a picture and he posed with his hand on my butt.

My body parts meet more celebrities than I do. Did I ever tell you about how my boobs met Reggie Wayne?

Wow. It was a crazy, whirlwind week, culminating in this chaotic day. This is the first time I’ve had to sit down all day — except for the 2-hour interview session for our adoption home study. That was exhausting and emotional and the reason for our crazy week.

It wasn’t all bad, though — all the running around to get our house prepped really upped my step count. I finally managed to get to 10K a few times. As we cleaned and painted all day Saturday, I had my highest step count yet.

It helped to have an outlet for all the stress and worry of the week, too. I ran. I worked out. I threw in some cardio. Sweating out my stress is working for me.

Plus, it gets my heart rate up and burns calories. The Omron Fitness HR-500U lets me monitor my heart rate during a workout. I’m learning a lot of fun activities that really get my heart rate going.

Just Dance 4′s Sweat Mode keeps me in cardio mode but is a ton of fun. I played for 30 minutes on Saturday morning, watching my heart rate hit the yellow cardio zone and stayed there until cool down. And, the video game workout was worth 3000 steps!

This is the last week of the Omron Fitness challenge, and it’s working!. In just a few weeks, I’m down 3 pounds and several inches. There are visible changes in my body already — which is why I love to take before and after photos.

You can see the final results — and have the chance to win some Omron products of your own — at the Omron Fitness Challenge Twitter Party on February 20th, 8-10pm. My fellow Omron Fitness Ambassadors and I will talk about our success, share tips on losing weight in less time, and give away the same awesome equipment I’ve used for the last few weeks.

I’ll continue using my goodies and stick with a similar workout routine even after the Mamvation program has ended. It’s the perfect combination of fat-burning, muscle building, and flexibility for my schedule. Our next cardio day is a 45 minute workout. Lucky for me, Just Dance 4 has a 45-minute option. I think I’ll go with the cardio-boxing style this week, though 80′s-style was a ton of fun!

I just like to mix it up a bit. How do you keep workouts fun and fresh?


Starting Weigh-In: 195 pounds
This Week’s Weigh-In: 192 pounds
This Week’s Weight Loss: .6 pounds
Total Omron Fitness Weight Loss: 3 pounds
BMI: 27.7



Updated Measurements:
Bust: 38″ (no change)
Waist: 31″ (no change)
Hips: 40″ (-1″)
Thighs: 26.5″ (-1.5″ total)
Arms: 12″ (no change)
Total Inches Lost: 8.5″

This post is sponsored Omron Fitness as a collaboration withBookieboo Blogging Network and Mamavation — a community dedicated to weight loss for women and obesity prevention for families.  I was provided with product and compensation for my time and honest opinions.


In the last week, I’ve pushed myself quite a bit. I upped my weights on the assigned workouts, added a few more, and yesterday, I ran farther and faster than usual. Yet, when I stepped on the scale, it hadn’t gone down much.

A few years ago, that would have discouraged me. Now, though, I know there is more to fitness and weight loss success than a number on a scale. Sure, it’s frustrating to work hard and not lose weight. But sometimes it’s good to focus on the other benefits of fitness.

Here are 5 great ways to tell your weight loss efforts are not in vein:

Measurements: If you haven’t already taken measurements, do it now! Seriously. Stop reading and go measure your chest, waist, hips, thighs, and arms. In just two weeks, I’ve lost 6 total inches. When you aren’t losing weight, it’s great to have definitive proof that you’re still shrinking!

Photos: Before and after photos can really show a difference, even if you don’t lose a lot of weight. Take front, back, and profile shots once every month or two. I’m already looking forward to the “after” pics for my current fitness challenge.

Energy: When you’re working out and eating right, you’ll actually have more energy. Take note of your energy levels — for me, that usually means my desire to nap — to see how much healthier you are even before the weight starts dropping.

Muscles: A pound is a pound is a pound. But, while muscle doesn’t really weigh more than fat, it is more dense. You may be gaining weight in muscle even as you’re losing fat. The full body composition monitor from Omron Fitness has been great for me. It measures not just weight but body fat, skeletal muscle, and more. I’m able to actually see that I’m building muscle and losing fat, even when I’m not losing weight.

Clothing: How your clothing feels is often the first indicator that things are changing — I was down a size long before the weight loss felt significant at all. I focus a lot on how my clothes look and feel to measure my fitness success. The jeans that were getting a little snug already require a belt — I’ll take that kind of loss over a number on a scale any day.

How do you measure your success?


Starting Weigh-In: 195 pounds
This Week’s Weigh-In: 192.6 pounds
This Week’s Weight Loss: .6 pounds
Total Omron Fitness Weight Loss: 2.4 pounds
BMI: 27.7

This post is sponsored Omron Fitness as a collaboration withBookieboo Blogging Network and Mamavation — a community dedicated to weight loss for women and obesity prevention for families.  I was provided with product and compensation for my time and honest opinions.

Wow — what a week in the Omron Fitness Challenge!

I’ve been working out. I’ve been running. And, I’ve been trying to increase my step count with the daily use of a pedometer.

That has been a real struggle for me. The goal set for us by Mamavation is 10,000 steps per day. I’ve heard about the 10K step goal many times before, but I’ve never been one to use a pedometer regularly so I had no idea how difficult it would be.

I setup my pedometer, I wore it all day long, and then I proceeded to get frustrated by my less than 5,000 daily steps each day. I set a new, personal goal to increase my steps each day, even if only by a little bit. I gained extra steps each day.

On Tuesday, I decided it was time to make a real effort at 10,000 steps. I spent the entire day on my feet, running errands, doing chores, neglecting my desk work to keep moving. I went for a 2-mile run — and ended the day just shy of 9,000 steps.

So discouraging. As hard as I tried all week, I just couldn’t work a desk job and fit in 10,000 steps every day.

That’s when I set out to learn more about my fancy space pedometer. Turns out, it doesn’t track steps the way you would think. It counts strides — forward motion only, basically. So any baby steps I take doing laundry or on a break at my desk aren’t measured. It also doesn’t start calculating until you’ve walked for 4 seconds — putting away dishes or a quick walk from room to room won’t trigger the pedometer.

And the last problem was that my daily stride isn’t the same as my purposeful stride. So, taking 10 steps to measure my stride length for the pedometer resulted in a much higher number than most people. I took a few different measurements and finally landed on a number that I think is counting more accurately.

And, yet I’m still not hitting 10K every day, but that’s okay! My goals are mine. My progress is for me to measure. Sure, I’m taking part in a fitness challenge with 24 other people and being watched by entire community. But, at the end of the day, it really only matters if I’m happy.

No one can make me lose this weight except me. And, getting frustrated is the first step to giving up. I can’t let that happen. I have to remember that everyone is at a different level. Everyone has a different lifestyle. There’s no one size fits all weight loss plan.

But I can make my own.

That’s why I’ve updated my personal goals in the Omron Fitness Dashboard, focusing on a weekly step count instead of a daily stresser. It’s also why I’m content with just making progress, even if I’m not all the way there yet. And, it’s working!

I’ve lost 2.5 pounds this week and 6 inches so far in the challenge. More importantly, I feel good. My clothes are getting looser already, and I’m more motivated than ever to reach my goals. My goals.


Starting Weigh-In: 195 pounds
This Week’s Weigh-In: 193.2 pounds
BMI: 27.7
This Week’s Weight Loss: 2.6 pounds
Total Omron Fitness Weight Loss: 2 pounds


Updated Measurements:
Bust: 38″ (-3″)
Waist: 31″ (-1.5″)
Hips: 41″ (no change)
Thighs: 27.5″/27″ (-.5″ total)
Arms: 12″ (-1″ total)
Total Inches Lost: 6″

This post is sponsored Omron Fitness as a collaboration withBookieboo Blogging Network and Mamavation — a community dedicated to weight loss for women and obesity prevention for families.  I was provided with product and compensation for my time and honest opinions.

I’ve spent the last week getting prepped for the real meat of the challenge. Stepping on a scale for the first time since before the holidays was the first goal, and now that I have my fancy space scale from Omron Fitness, I’ll be doing it a lot more frequently.

This scale measures not just weight but bmi, body fat percentage, muscle something or other — I guess I have a little more reading to do. I’d tell you what my numbers were, but since I don’t even know what it all means yet, it’s basically meaningless for now.

I do know that it means I have some changes to make. I’m starting small — baby steps, really — in both fitness and nutrition. When I try to make too many changes at once, I get overwhelmed and give up. I’ve started wearing a fancy space pedometer, and though I haven’t made it to 10K steps yet, I’ve improved every day. I think if I can get to the point of actually wearing it all day, I’ll be a lot closer!

I’m learning to take short breaks to walk around. It’s a good chance to step away from work and de-stress, in addition to adding to my step count. The hubby and I are planning to start taking a daily walk as well.

I also began the fitness challenges from Mamavation’s personal trainer. They officially start today, and last week I did a few less reps and lighter weights to ease into it. I’m really looking forward to tackling the full workouts this week. I just need to figure out how to work in running still.

I hate the cold. I hate the snow. I pretty much hate running. But running outside in the cold with snow on the ground? It’s pretty much awesome! I’ve also learned that I just have to make myself run. I don’t like it, and I don’t want to do it, but I feel so good when it’s done.

I’ve never — not even once — finished a run and thought, “Wow. I wish I hadn’t done that!”

And, I feel the same about eating healthier. I’ve never regretted a salad — not ever — but for some reason it’s rarely my first choice.

So, Saturday’s lunch was a grilled chicken salad. Last night, we had salads with our dinner. And today’s brunch was filled with fabulous greens and included a side of fruit. Okay, and a fabulous hot chocolate.

Baby steps, people. I’m getting there! I have to allow myself the occasional treat if I want the changes to stick. It just means I’ll have to skip my bubble bath chocolate tonight. And, it gives me a little more motivation to work it all off before dinner.


Starting Weigh-In: 195 pounds
This Week’s Weigh-In: 195.8 pounds
This Week’s Weight Loss: -.8 pounds
Total Omron Fitness Weight Loss: -.8 pounds
BMI: 28

This post is sponsored Omron Fitness as a collaboration withBookieboo Blogging Network and Mamavation — a community dedicated to weight loss for women and obesity prevention for families.  I was provided with product and compensation for my time and honest opinions.

Two years ago, I embarked on a weight loss journey as part of my 40×40 list. I was eating better, working out, and even running. Running, you guys. I lost a total of 22 pounds in 6 months.

And today I weigh exactly the same as I did when I began.

Except, I’m still in much better shape than I was then. This isn’t exactly starting over — it’s just a bit of a reboot.

I have still avoided soda. I’ve still been eating 3 decent meals a day. And, I was still running, until it got far too cold to step outside. I ran Color Me Rad over the summer and Wine at the Line in October. And then I did nothing.

Wait. That’s not true — I did eat a lot of Halloween candy and Christmas cookies.

I finished off the last of my mom’s pecan brittle last night, so it’s time to do this again. I’m excited to be working with Mamavation on a new challenge, as an Omron Fitness ambassador. I’ll be participating in the fitness challenges, adjusting my meal plan, and tracking my progress each week.

I weighed in this morning, and it was ugly. I set a weight loss goal on our new Wii for the next 4 weeks, but my real goal is to get back into habits. I tend to let things go over the winter, because I like outdoor movement the most.

With the support of the Mamavation team and some awesome equipment from Omron Fitness — hello, strapless heart rate monitor; aren’t you gorgeous? — I’m excited for this kick in the pants during the coldest months to really get me going again.

And, I’m counting on you to keep me accountable!



Starting Weigh-In: 195 pounds

BMI: 28

Starting Measurements:
Bust: 41″
Waist: 32.5″
Hips: 41″
Thigh: 27.5″
Arm: 12.5″

This post is sponsored Omron Fitness as a collaboration withBookieboo Blogging Network and Mamavation — a community dedicated to weight loss for women and obesity prevention for families.  I was provided with product and compensation for my time and honest opinions.

Fifteen years ago today, I married my best friend — and it nearly destroyed us.

We spent years trying to be everything to one another. But when you rely on just one person for everything, you lose yourself a little bit. One of the greatest things I’ve ever done for my relationship with Spencer is find girlfriends.

I have friends to hang out with when we just need a break from one another. I have mom friends who get the day in and day out of my life. I have friends who make me laugh or let me cry. I have friends who support my relationship or let me complain about it.

My friends helped me find myself far better than my husband ever could. Because they were separate from me. Spencer and I are just so entwined after 15 years. Getting married young, having a baby a few months later — we grew up together. And, for awhile there, we grew apart.

The key was remembering we’d always wanted to grow old together. No matter who my friends are, what I’m doing or where I am, at the end of the day, Spencer is still the one I want to hear my stories. He’s not my best friend anymore, but we’re so much better for it. Oh, we’re still friends — talking, laughing, spending time together — but he’s so much more now.

Instead of trying to be everything I ever needed in a friend, he can be my love, my life, my soul mate. This man? He’s my heart and soul. He’s the link to my youth. He’s the dream for my future. He’s the one I want now and always.

Even after 15 years.