The Other Side of Abuse

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I remember that night with a clarity I wish would fade.  It was 12:30 AM and I was locked behind the safety of the bathroom door, in an old, cigarette smoke filled house.  The door had light blue paint that was peeling off in one corner, and the bath mat on the floor was tattered in one corner.  The ceiling was nicotine stained and the faucet dripped.  It always dripped, no matter what you did, it dripped.

I wasn’t in there to use the toilet.  I wasn’t even there to fix my hair.  Though I flushed the toilet, just for effect, it really wasn’t why I was there.  I was in there to hide.

I could hear him on the other side of the door.  The sound of his voice slurred by the multiple bottles and cans of beer he’d consumed in the past few hours.  The rage in his tone, the reason I’d said I had to pee in the first place. 

He was angry, and nobody could miss who he was angry at…me.

We’d been out that night at a local pub.  There was live music and it had been packed.  We’d gone out for dinner with a group of his construction friends and then to the pub for the show. 

I’d driven.  I always drove.  That’s what you do when you’re the girl who never drank, you drove.  So I drove.

It had started out to be a fun night.  Most of his friends were good guys.  A few even had some pretty great girlfriends, the others didn’t have girlfriends but they were friendly enough, I didn’t mind hanging out with them.  They didn’t mind hanging out with me either, I was just his girl, and I knew how to talk hockey and the difference between a skill saw and a reciprocating saw.  I was also a good “girl gauge” giving the “go for it” or the “get out of it” signal as they checked out the women in the room.

That’s what I was doing when it all began to unravel.  His one buddy, a guy who’d become my friend.  A guy who’d warned me that was the one who needed help many times, leaned over and asked about a girl.  It was loud that night, so he couldn’t hear me say go for it.  I tried to say it louder but still he couldn’t hear, so I stood up on my tip toes, leaned in and said, “Go for it!  She seems great”.

He saw me and his blood began to boil.  

Not more than 5 minutes later it was announced we HAD to go.  It was time to go and that was that. I knew better than to argue, so I grabbed my purse, said goodbye and we headed for the car.  

The minute the doors were shut and the engine running, the shouting began. 

I was a “whore”, a “nasty, dirty b***”, “fat, ugly”, worthless”, a “cheater”, a “useless piece of…*, the ranting went on as I drove, silent, knowing better than to try to defend myself.

We reached his home (his mother’s home actually he just rented a room in the tiny old house) and it continued.  We walked through the door and still he raged.  Drunk beyond words, he stumbled in and slammed things around.  His shouts got louder that night, more aggressive, more cutting and with each word I got smaller, less confident and ready to admit defeat.

Needing a break from the sound, and a place to feel safe, if even only for a moment I went to the washroom.  That’s where the nightmares always start, from that moment in the bathroom.

I knew I couldn’t take too long or he’d try to come in.  I knew he was listening so after a few minutes I flushed the toilet and turned the knob on that drippy faucet.  And then, I wasn’t sure what I would do.  

I wasn’t sure where I would go, how I’d have the courage to open that door.  I never knew what would happen when he was like that, and I wasn’t sure I had the strength that night to face it yet again.

Then I heard a different voice.  Not the voice of his mother mind you, she was home.  She was always home but she just left me when he was like this.  I don’t know why she did, but she did and I knew I was on my own.

No, the voice I heard was another male.  His brother, and it was close, really close to where I was. 

Cautiously, I opened the door and I saw the back of a short, stalky man standing in my way.  

He’d happened to need something (in the middle of the night) from his Mom’s house and he’d come home.  He’d heard the raging from outside, and when he came, realized I was locked in the bathroom.  He put himself between us that night, standing his ground telling his big brother that he was drunk and to sleep it off.  Refusing to move until his brother, my boyfriend had moved to his room and slammed his door.

Then he turned to me.  Looked at my tear filled eyes (I didn’t cry there.  I couldn’t cry there.  If I did, he’d know.  He’d know he’d won and while I was broken, damaged & defeated, I refused to let him see he’d won.  I was too stubborn for that.) and asked quietly, “Are you Ok?”

All I could do was nod.  I didn’t have words and to this day I can’t remember if I thanked him.  But in those quiet moments, he grabbed my backpack, and my purse, walked me to the door and asked if I had the strength to drive the 25 minutes back to my own home.

I did.  I got in my car, opened the windows and then as I drove, I cried.  Hot, broken, pain filled tears poured down my face as I drove.

Even though I knew he was wrong.  I knew I had done nothing wrong, his words stung and somewhere, deep inside I’d gotten so used to hearing them, I was starting to believe them.  

That was 11 years ago about now.  That girl was broken, damaged and convinced she deserved all that she got.  Certain that she wasn’t worth anything more and nobody else would want her, could ever love her. 

When life gets tense like it is right now, that nightmare starts to creep back to haunt me.  Though I no longer try to physically run away in my sleep like I did the first few years we were married. I still wake up in a cold sweat, desperate to get away, barricaded in that bathroom, terrified of the pain that would come when the door opened.  Shaking, overwhelmed and panicked.

Then I see him.  Corey, my husband, the man who is the polar opposite of that boyfriend and my heart rate begins to slow.  The shaking begins to subside and as I take a few deep breaths, and curl myself into his warm back the fear begins to ease.

There aren’t words for how grateful I am for the husband I have.  How safe I feel in his arms.  How secure I am in his love.  How I cherish his quiet voice, tender ways and peace making heart.  Even now, all these years later, not a day goes by where I take for granted the man who rescued this broken girl and for the love he pours over me.

That girl back then had nothing, her insides felt dead and she truly believed she wasn’t worth anything.  Her self-esteem didn’t exist, and confident wasn’t a word anyone would have used to describe her.

That girl has changed so much over the last 11 years.  I have changed in the last 11 years and that change has come at the great mercy of a God who loves me and a man He gave me, who’s love has healed my hurt.

I believe with my whole heart that God allowed (not caused) that to happen to me for a greater purpose.  He allowed me to live in abuse for 2 years, to face pain, to choose to stay when I should have left – to bring me to this place, to where I am now.

Here, where I am now is a place of gratitude.  Abundant, unending gratitude for the man I am married to.  If I hadn’t lived the other life, I’d have taken him for granted, I know I would of because I wouldn’t have know how bad it could be.

When those dreams come though, I remember deeply how bad it can be.  It takes me a minute to remember, I’m not there any more.

 I am here, now.  On the other side of abuse and I am eternally grateful for the light & love that has come after dark nights of pain.

 

3 Things That Aren’t Helping in the Wake of a Mass Shooting

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1. Throwing Racial Slurs/blaming actions on race (actually, this NEVER helps anyone. With anything).  From what I can tell the only choice the color of one’s skin effects is their lipstick choices, everything else comes from the condition of their heart.
 
2. Starting a debate about gun laws, it’s not going to help anyone!  I’m not looking for one here, we all have our opinions – arguing about them won’t change anything.
(For example: there’s a law for legal drinking age & another about drunk driving – yet we still have drunk minors driving on our roads…apparently laws don’t always stop people)
 
3. Pointing the finger at ANYONE other than the person holding the gun.
 
The only person responsible for our actions is us. The end. It is not the fault of the parents, the teacher, the sister, the gun manufacturer, the guy at Starbucks or the person dancing in the club that one very sick and disgusting individual decided to act in such a horrific way. It is HIS fault, and his alone.
 
Today my heart hurts for the people who’ve lost someone they love and for the hearts of the ones who’s loved one did such a horrible thing.  It’s not their fault either (even if they were a sucky parent) but today their lives are forever tainted – first with loss & then with the judgment, shame and pain of knowing that someone they love did something so hateful.
Love people my friends.  Just how they are, without judgement and with all that you have.  You never know when the love you choose to show the unlovable is the difference between a destroyed heart and one that’s saved.  None of us know what the next moment will hold.  

Confessions: Buyers Remorse (and why nudists have the right idea)

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Confession: I, am a TERRIBLE shopper.  Well, let me re-phrase that, I’m a terrible shopper when it comes to purchasing things for me.  I’m so bad at it in fact, I basically don’t do it.  Which is why, at the moment I have a problem.

In general, I like to think of myself as a good shopper.  I’m frugal, check flyers, use coupons, purchase things on sale and can make a dollar stretch pretty well.  I work hard to be careful with how we spend our money, and I try not to take for granted the fact that we are unbelievably blessed compared to the majority of the rest of the world.  

I love shopping for our girls.  They are in a fun stage right now of trying clothes on and really deciding what their “style” is.  I love and loath it.  I love seeing WHO they are and I loath waiting while they check themselves out at every. single. angle – twice.  (We have conversations of vanity and modesty often, because those things have a fine line). 

Anyways, when it comes to life’s general necessities I’ve got it covered.  I can get it done and I’m find doing it.

However, when it comes to me (deodorant aside) I have a massive issue making a purchase.  And often times when I do, I return it less than 24 hours later.  I think it boils down to a few deep seeded insecurities…

First, I really don’t know what looks good.  I’m terrified of looking inappropriate, like I’m squished into clothes that are too small or that my body shouldn’t wear.  I don’t want to embarrass my children or my husband, I don’t want to look frumpy but I also don’t want to look flashy (no metallic shirts for this girl).  I don’t know how to dress my body and in general I’m just worried I’ll do it wrong.

Second, I always, ALWAYS feel like there are better things I could put the money towards.  I can’t necessarily list them off, but I feel like there MUST be better things.  This has nothing to do with our budget either, I have 1.5 years worth of birthday and Christmas money sitting put aside that I’m struggling to spend.  It’s just that in my brain, I wonder – what if I need it for something else?

Third, who the frickety, frack has time to go shopping?!!  Between taking care of my home, feeding the people who sleep here, school, gymnastics, work, groceries, laundry and the necessary sleep, I’m not sure how one is to fit it in?

Just to be clear none of these issues involve Corey!  Well, they do involve him because he’s often heard telling me I NEED to purchase clothes and I SHOULD make time for me – and “Those pants look good, WHY ARE YOU TAKING THEM BACK?!”  But he’s never, not ever said or done anything to make me feel any of these things.

Here’s what happens – I’ll carve out a little bit (read 15 minutes) of time on one of my 2 days off (which are NOT days off they are the 2 days I have to get everything else done that I can’t do when I’m working) to try on a few clothes.  I’ll find something I think is OK, put it on 8 times in the change room.  If it’s pants I’ll bend over and check for underwear (nobody want’s a peek-a-boo-panties moment), do my best to quiet my own negative self talk and decide to buy them.

I pay the cashier, get in the car and already decide nobody’s really going to like them, I should probably take them back.  But my pride won’t let me do that and neither will my time schedule so I keep them.  I get home, I “model” them for my family, they like (or if you’re short and disapprove of everything your Mama buys that you don’t have one that matches dislike) them, say keep them.  I look in the mirror 15 more times, think about the price and then return them because “I really don’t like them anyways”.

Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

So, where did it come from?  What’s the problem?

I think it came from years of feeling ugly.  Of hating my body.  Of wishing I could hide and not be seen.  Of the words I heard from girls in high school, boyfriends later and the joy of being a female in a a “you’re not good enough” world.  

I work hard to ignore those voices, to fight them, to turn them off.  Most times I can do pretty good at it.  I’m proud of who I am and where I’ve been, and when I do finally buy and KEEP clothing, I generally feel good in it.  It’s just getting to the buying and keeping part that’s hard.

I need clothes now.  Badly I need clothes, predominantly I need more workout gear (that I LOVE, it’s my favourite.  Though I still suck at buying it) and stuff I can wear this summer.  Oh and bras that don’t come undone mid conversations resulting in armpit boobs.  

The other thing I need – a personal shopper or at the very least, someone(s) to take me shopping, be my eyes and help me make keeper purchases!

Anyone else struggle with shopping?  Anybody loath the process?  Anyone willing to shop for me?  Or better yet, dress me daily?  Sometimes I wonder, if maybe those nudists have it all figured out…

 

I was Selfish & I’m sorry

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Over the past month, since sharing my weight loss & fitness story with everyone I’ve realized something.  I was completely blown away to realize it and I’ve spent the last week or so trying to think about what I can do to fix it.

I need to apologize: to my family, my friends and to a lot of you.  I was being completely selfish and I am truly sorry.

As I have talked to a great many of you (THANK YOU for all the support!), heard your own stories, goals, struggles and plans, I’ve discovered something.  Keeping my journey, the things that changed my life, the way I manage my days, the health & fitness world that I adore a secret was completely, 100% selfish on my part.

I didn’t want to be annoying.  I didn’t want to be that person who overshares and everyone is like “SHUT UP”.  I didn’t want to sound like a “know it all” or make someone else feel less than because they weren’t working out, or eating clean too.  I was (and let’s be honest, I still am) terrified of pushing away people I love, people I respect, people I’ve yet to know by putting the real me out there.

Instead, I’d mention it from time to time but otherwise I kept it close lipped.  Truly believing I was making a good choice, the best choice for everyone.

Man, was I wrong!!!!!

There have been so many people, 4 very special ones in particular who have said to me, “Man, we all were watching what was happening.  We saw you changing, we wish we had known SOONER what you were doing so we could do it too

The first time I heard that my stomach dropped to the floor.  Had I really been that evasive and secretive about how I was taking care of myself, and what I was doing to change my body?

Ya.  I was.

Many people assumed I’d lost the weight because of my corn allergy.  Which definitely plays a part in the foods I choose to put into my body, but let’s be clear.  There are plenty of things I could bake and eat, chocolate bars that are “safe” for me and excuses I could make to not workout that have nothing to do with my allergy.

Others, who didn’t know me when I was younger.  Those who weren’t around for my heavier days, assumed I’d always been fit like I am and when I’d mention that I hadn’t been, they’d scoff.  More than once, when I would offer empathy to a friend struggling to lose weight, I’d hear “Ya. as if you know what it’s like.  I can’t imagine you like that, it was probably never that hard for you”  It would sting, but I’d move on.

The thing is, it WAS that hard.  I lost 78lbs through a lot of hard work, careful choices and sweat.  Seriously you guys, a lot, A LOT of sweat!  

What I thought was being private was actually me selfishly hiding what I was doing, so that I wouldn’t be judged.

Never in a million years did I think that instead of facing judgement, I’d have been given support, shown grace and most importantly had the opportunity to help other people find their way to a healthier body too!!

If you were someone who wished I’d have shared sooner, I’m sorry I didn’t ever mean to hurt you.  Being secretive ends today.

So what does that mean?

It means from today forward I’m going to be sharing what I’m doing.  The workouts I’m loving, the ones that are kicking my butt, the meals I’m eating, my struggles, my successes, my discoveries and most of all, I’m going to be inviting you to join me. 

The thing about being successful at things, really truly successful in life is that it really doesn’t mean a whole lot if you don’t share it with someone.  I’m learning that and I want to change it.

I’ll be sharing here what’s happening in our lives, because I’m not the only Stone making life changes.  Corey has joined the workout train and is killing his program right now.  And my girls, are my forever cheerleaders, Audrey is a “JR. Coach in training” and Bethany is excitedly getting ready to launch their “Fit Kids Challenge Group” at the end of the month (stay tuned for more info!).

It won’t all be health & fitness, but a lot of it will be.  You can still count on me for recipes, for rants (because I HAVE to let the words out), reviews and for updates on how we are, on Audrey’s health journey (side note: We have appointments at cardiology, hematology & rheumatology all within 3 weeks at Children’s in June.  We’d love the prayers and hopefully will have answers by the end of them).  I just also want you to know that you can also count on me for support, for encouragement and for authenticity. 

So, here it is.  Me taking a REALLY big leap, putting myself out there, and extending to you the first real invitation from my heart and our lives to YOU.

If you’re interested in learning more about how I’ve managed to lose the weight and get fit.  Or if you need someone to just support you on your own journey to health & fitness PLEASE LET ME KNOW!  There is little else that would make me happier than being able to come along side of you and see you succeed!

 Leave a comment here, or on Facebook or send an email to ashleystonefitness@gmail.com and I would sincerely love to be able to hear your story too!

Telling My Weight Loss Story & Sharing My Future Helping Others!

Losing 78lbs

When you look at that picture, what do you see?  78lbs, confidence, strength, mountains, dumbbells, and joy.  That’s what I see.   I see a woman who has walked a long road, worked hard and discovered things inside herself she’d never imagined were there.

I remember the day that photo on the left was taken.  It was a few months after Bethany was born, we were at a co-ed bridal shower and we were taking pictures with out of town family.

That morning, I’d tried to put my pre-pregnancy jeans back on and I couldn’t even get them past my knees.  It had been nearly 6 months since Bethany was born, and while I’d lost maybe a few pounds, the weight that everyone had promised would melt off, hadn’t.  I had sailed past the 200lb mark during my pregnancy & 6 months later, I still hadn’t dropped below it.

For as long as I can remember I’ve felt like the “bigger girl”.  Standing at 5’8″ I was taller than many of my classmates, and a little “thicker” too.  Faced with numerous health struggles throughout my childhood I was often sitting on the side lines unable to participate in the activities.  I was in general inactive, and overall unfit.  

If I’m being honest, I leaned into those struggles too.  They were real challenges, painful at times but also, really good “reasons” to not push myself.  Somewhere along the way, probably about the time I got my driver’s license I became an “Excuse Girl” who soothed her poor self-esteem with slurpees & McDonald’s.

Those poor habits were only magnified as I moved away from home.  Now, being alone I could survive on perogies, sour candies and drive thrus without anyone being any the wiser.

Until I met Sonia.  She was a radiant mother of 3 who ate well, hiked, hit the gym, ran and rode her bike to work.  She’d often pester me to join her for a hike and most times, I’d find an excuse not to go, until one day I couldn’t.

We weren’t more than 15 minutes into our “hike” (ok, walk) when I pulled out the inhaler I’d been prescribed for my “exercise induced asthma”.  She waited while I used it, surveying the situation and we carried on.  A few minutes later she turned to me and said, “Ashley, you don’t have asthma, your lungs are unconditioned and you are unhealthy.  What are YOU going to do about it?”

I was floored.  NOBODY had ever said that to me before, but when the inital shock & indignation wore off I realized – she was right.  She encouraged me to join a gym and take start taking better care of myself and I did.

Sort of.

did go to the gym sometimes and I was changing my eating habits kind of but it wasn’t enough.  You see, I was in a very abusive relationship with a man (10 years my senior) who did everything in his power to keep me under his thumb.  My confidence was at an all time low and though I had lost a little bit of weight, I’d truly never felt worse. 

Fast forward through the intense drama of that relationship (one day, maybe I’ll have the courage to tell that story) to the day of the bridal shower.  I had a husband who did (and does) adore me, a beautiful little girl and family who loved me.  I had every reason to be happy, yet I wasn’t. 

I was still an “excuse girl”, pouring all of my time and energy into taking care of everyone else, so that I wouldn’t have to face taking care of me.  Focusing on them meant I didn’t have to face the parts of me that were broken.  Not just the physical weight  but the emotional weight destroying myself esteem.

We left the party that day and I decided I needed to start making changes.  Not just for me but for my daughter(s) as well.  I wanted to become someone my children could be proud of. 

The changes were small at first, kicking out the junk food and addressing my consumption of Coke but the weight started to come off.  Then I started walking, putting my girl in her stroller and getting outside, more came off.  

Just after Bethany’s 1st birthday I was back at my (still overweight) pre-pregnancy weight and I was pumped.  2 months later I was pregnant with Audrey and thus it began again.

I didn’t gain as much weight that time, but still at the end of it all I was overweight and needing a change.  I’d worked through a lot of my emotional baggage by that time and when we hit Audrey’s 6 month mark I began what has become my greatest transformation to date.

Not only did I changed my eating habits but I discovered exercise made my weight lose easier, AND it made me HAPPIER!

I started in baby steps, working out 15 minutes at a time a few days a week but before long I began increasing my time, pushing my limits and challenging myself in new ways.  I used free programs, streaming websites, DVD’s to start but as the time went on, I progress to more comprehensive programs & challenging workouts. 

That was just over 6 years ago and MAN has life CHANGED!

The “excuse girl” who once hid from exercise and considered chocolate bars & chips a quality lunch has disappeared.  She’s been replaced with a woman who happily gets up at 5am because she loves her mornings & she needs her workouts.

Now, I sweat it out with the likes of Chalene Johnson (TurboFire, PiYo & ChaLEAN Extreme), Shaun T (um, HELLO… Insanity Max 30, T25 & CIZE!!) and of course, my girl Autumn Calebrese (21 Day Fix!).  I have NEVER seen my body change like it has since I started with some of these programs.  I’m getting muscle definition, increased strength and my “life exercise” stamina has gone through the roof.   Hikes are easier and chasing my girls around the yard isn’t painful, it’s fun!

I can’t say that losing 78lbs doesn’t make me happy, it does!  I’m proud of how hard I worked to lose that weight, the changes I’ve made and the effort it still takes every day to maintain it.  My body is stronger than it’s ever been and I love pushing my limits every day to see what I can do.

But that weight isn’t the best part for me.  The emotional change is the part that I’m most thankful for.  Though I still have moments of struggling with my self esteem, gone are the days of feeling worthless.  I no longer feel guilty when I squeeze in my “me time” exercise or feel unworthy of even making eye contact with people. 

Instead I relish that time.  I’m pumped when my girls come join in with my routines and even have to laugh as they correct my form or push me to “get your knees UP on the next tuck jump, Mama!”.  

I am in love with health & fitness and I am passionate beyond measure to share it with others.  Learning to eat healthier, exercise and take time for me changed my life.  It changed the lives of my family and more than anything I want to help other people change their lives too!

And so my friends, I am SOOOO excited to share with you that, that is exactly what I’m doing! I am officially a health & fitness coach working with Beachbody (the company behind the programs that truly transformed my body) and have the wheels in motion to also be getting a certification in Holistic nutrition and my personal training certification!  I’ll be creating meal plans, designing personalized fitness routines and who knows, maybe one day you’ll even find me teaching a class at your local gym.

 

Discovering the freedom in eating well & being active has given me a life I never knew I could have.  I believe whole heartedly that God gave me the gift of that life change, so that I could take the true joy I find inside being Fit & healthy and share it with others – with you!

I don’t know where you are in your life’s journey.  What your struggles are.  Your dreams, your values, your fitness level or your health, but I’d like to.  

Please leave me a comment, send me a FB message, an email or text to tell me YOUR story!  I would love to hear it and I’m confident that together we can find a way to help you achieve your goals!

So I’ll ask you about your life, what Sonia asked me about mine – “What are YOU going to do about it?”

Healthier Gluten Free “Doritos” Recipe – 21 Day Fix Approved!

Healthier Gluten Free-Doritos- Recipe
Corey and the kids love them some Doritos.  Heck, when I was able to eat them, before my corn allergy got so bad, I loved me some Doritos.  They’re cheesy, and crunchy and yummy.

The problem is, they are also chemical filled, deep fried, death in a bag.

Ok, so maybe they aren’t actually death in a bag, but they offer absolutely ZERO benefit to your daily life.  As a once in a while treat, I will let my family have them but we are talking once maybe twice a year because I truly hate what’s in them.  Some of those ingredients are linked to some horrible life side effects/diseases**.

Now, I’m always trying to create new recipes to provide my family with their favourite treats & snacks in a healthier way.  I love to play around, experiment and then find something that works.  It’s pure victory when I finally achieve the desired result & my family is happily chowing down on their healthier favourites, straight from my kitchen!
Gluten Free Healthier Doritos Recipe 2

Paired with the fact that I’ve officially begun my Health & Fitness Coaching Business (Fit, Healthy Life Coaching!) and I have customers who are beginning the 21 Day Fix Program, needing some treats and Ashley’s test kitchen is back up an running.

First on the recipe test list…make “Doritos” seasoning that can be used on chips, popcorn, roasted chickpeas or toasted nuts.  Help remove the chemical laiden garbage & replace it with a snack I’m happy to see EVERYONE eating!

It took some trials, but I’m happy to say, we did it.  Ok, I’m not just happy to say it, I’d like to announce I WIN!  I’m not trying to be arrogant, it’s just, that well…I am floored by big business and their need to kill us with crap.  When I find a way to remove that crap & still have the taste, it leaves me feeling like I’ve won yet another battle.  And let’s be honest – this girl likes to win!

So, you need this in your life.  I need you to trust me, to try it and then to come back and let me know what you think!  

What do you like to put your “Healthier Doritos Seasoning” on? 

Gluten Free Healthier Doritos - Nutritional Yeast

In the recipe, I use Nutritional Yeast.  This is KEY for achieving the Doritos taste.  We tried it without, it wasn’t quite right.  We tried it with Parmesan, it still wasn’t right.  We went and bought the nutritional yeast and BAM we had a winner!

Nutritional yeast can be found at most health food stores (if you live in Chilliwack the best place is Sardis Health Foods) and I highly recommend the Engevita Yeast over the other nutritional yeast options because it’s in powder form.  It tastes more cheesy, like Parmesan (warning: it smells really funky but it tastes yummy!), is great in homemade cheese sauces or on pasta and packs a nutrient dense punch.  Among other things each serving contains Vitamin B and Protein!

One bag will last you a very, very long time and I guarantee, if you trust me and try this recipe you won’t be sorry!

21 Day Fix Container Counts:
     – Added to 3 cups of air popped popcorn = 1 Yellow + 1 tsp
     – 2 Small Corn Tortillas (16 chips) = 1 Yellow + 1 tsp
     – Roasted Chickpeas = 1 Yellow + 1 tsp

Gluten Free, Healthier "Doritos" Recipe - 21 Day Fix Approved
This spice blend & recipe is delicious! A healthy, homemade version of a popular favourite snack. It can easily be used on popcorn, tortillas, chickpeas or toasted nuts. It also easily fits within the 21 Day Fix meal plan! DOUBLES REALLY WELL!
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Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
15 min
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
15 min
Spice Blend
  1. 1/2 tsp Garlic Powder
  2. 1/2 tsp Onion Powder
  3. 1/2 tsp Paprika
  4. 1/2 tsp Chili Powder
  5. 1/4 tsp Cumin, ground
  6. 1 tsp Nutritional Yeast (I HIGHLY recommend the powder version, Engevita Yeast)
To make Chips
  1. 4 Small Corn Tortillas
  2. 1 tsp of Coconut Oil Melted
To Make Popcorn
  1. 3 Cups of Air Popped Popcorn
  2. 1 tsp of Coconut Oil
To Make Toasted Nuts
  1. 1/4 Cup of Raw Cashews, Almonds or nut of your choice
Spice Blend
  1. 1. Add all spices to an airtight container and stir/shake to combine
Tortillas
  1. 1. Pre-heat oven to 400°F
  2. 2. Cut each corn tortilla into 8 pieces
  3. 3. Melt coconut oil in microwave for 30 seconds
  4. 4. LIGHTLY (really lightly!) brush each chip on both sides with oil and place in a bowl
  5. 5. Once all the chips are LIGHTLY covered in oil, sprinkle 2 tsp of spice blend over and toss until all are coated (you can adjust the amount of spice you add based on your preference)
  6. 6. Place in a single layer on a parchment lined cookie sheet
  7. 7. Bake for 12 - 17 minutes, turn over once half way through. They're done when they are crispy and slightly browned
Popcorn
  1. 1. Melt coconut oil in the microwave for 30 seconds
  2. 2. Pour oil over 3 cups of air popped popcorn and toss to lightly coat
  3. 3. Sprinkle 1 - 2 tsp of spice blend over popcorn and again toss to coat
Chickpeas
  1. 1. Pre-Heat oven to 400°F
  2. 2. Drain & rinse chickpeas & dry thoroughly (easiest way to do this is lay them on a clean kitchen towel and rub them dry
  3. 3. Melt coconut oil in microwave for 30 seconds
  4. 4. Put chickpeas in a bowl and pour over coconut oil. Toss to combine
  5. 5. Sprinkle on 2 tsps of spice blend and stir to coat
  6. 6. Spread in a single layer on a parchment lined cookie sheet
  7. 7. Bake for 30- 40 minutes or until golden brown, stirring periodically
Toasted Nuts
  1. 1. Pre-Heat a skillet on medium heat
  2. 2. Add raw nuts to pan and stir until warmed, toasted (they'll become really fragrant as their natural oils release)
  3. 3. Once they're slightly browned and warm, remove from heat and sprinkle with 1 tsp of spice blend, toss to coat.
21 Day Fix Container
Tortilla Chips
  1. 16 Chips = 1 YELLOW & 1/2 TSP
Popcorn
  1. 3 Cups = 1 YELLOW & 1 TSP
Chickpeas
  1. Fill 1 Yellow container = 1 YELLOW & 1/4 TSP
Nuts
  1. Serve nuts according to 21 Day Fix serving size = 1 BLUE
Our Family Stone http://www.ourfamilystone.org/
If you’re interested in finding out more about the 21 Day Fix or how I can help you achieve your health & fitness goals, please feel free to contact me.  You can visit my Beachbody website here or feel free to Email me!

 

Your Children Are Only Young Once: Your Dishes Can’t Wait & Your Clothes Are Starting To Smell

Dishes can't wait

“The dishes will wait, your children are only young once”, “Leave the housework until later & play with your kids, they grow up so fast”, “There will always be work, your kids won’t always be at home”.

Whether you’re having tea with a mother who’s children are all grown, or scrolling through Facebook – these platitudes are everywhere.  They’re based in good intentions, said by those who miss the “yesteryear” and shared by those who’s children are asleep after a day of terrorizing their home (you know, when they look so sweet & peaceful that you feel like your heart is going to explode with love.  It’s the opposite feeling to when your brain is going to explode from hearing “But MOOOOOM, SHE….” and “You are the WORST mother EVVVVER!”).

Regardless of who shares it, I believe they all have the best of intentions – to encourage parents in busy, fast paced world to prioritize their children.  In an effort to make them feel special, loved & important & to avoid regrets later in life. 

I get it, we DO need to pour into our kids.  We need to put down the devices, close the laptops & look into their eyes when they’re speaking.  We need to soak up the snuggles, read stories, have “yes kids” days (we plan those days where they throw out suggestions and I do my best to say yes to all of them) and be present with them.  

There are times it’s OK to do a puzzle instead of the dishes & dress Barbies rather than fold yesterday’s laundry.  We all want to LOVE them and doing those things sometimes will absolutely make them feel just that, valued & loved.

Which is great, but we also have a job to do.  Those platitudes & the behaviour they promote are threatening the successful product of that task.  

Our #1 job as parents is to raise upstanding, responsible, compassionate, confident people, who not only have the wings but the skills to take flight when the adult years come.  No matter how much we love them, no matter how much we’ll miss them, they won’t stay at home forever and when the time comes for them to leave – WE need to be confident that they’re prepared to succeed.

And that, my friends is where I call BS on the whole “it will wait” movement.

Now, more than ever we are living in a destructive, self centered, selfish world.  The statistics coming in show that children & the young adults coming up through the ranks are the most narcissistic, entitled generations we’ve ever seen – and that scares me.

These brilliant young people lack social skills, struggle to maintain a job because they don’t have good work ethic, & they seem sad, missing the self worth that comes from a job well done. They also feel very strongly that the world owes them something.  

Um, HELLOOOOO – NOBODY OWES YOU ANYTHING.  If you want it, WORK for it!

I can’t help but think that our desperate need to full fill our kids, paired with the fact that we’re so bloody worried about not hurting their feeling is one of the major contributing factors to why we’re looking at such a social mess. 

Maybe if our kids had to wait a little more, maybe if they had to self entertain (without the aid of technology), maybe if they had to pitch in a help & even have to re-do a job 3 times over until it’s done right – they wouldn’t grow up feeling like victims.  Maybe they’d grow up feeling like warriors, capable of doing anything, being anything & achieving it all through hard work.

Dishes done

As the mother of a 9 and 7 year old, I certainly can’t claim to be an expert on parenting, then again I don’t really think anyone can.  I am however, the product of parents who invested in us while still managing to do the laundry & provide home cooked meals served on clean dishes.  I’m walking proof that this theory doesn’t damage the heart of your children, I always did & still do feel overwhelmingly loved & important to my parents.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t EVER put aside your chores and focus on your kids.  I’m just saying you shouldn’t ALWAYS make your kids the most important thing in the room.

I believe whole heartedly, that it’s OK to make them wait until you’ve finished a conversation to speak to you.  Just like it’s OK to do the dishes and ask them to help, do laundry instead of playing Lego and pass out consequences when there is attitude dripping off their words (even in public).

I Want my Children to Know I Believe in Them!

Desperately I want our children to know I believe in them.  By giving them jobs, I’m teaching them I believe they can do it.   By making them wait, I’m showing them I believe they have good manners.  By doing the dishes instead of playing with them, I show them I believe they are capable of creating their own fun.

No matter how much time we give to our kids, I think those regrets will still come.  Not because we didn’t do enough, but because we will miss them.  Sadly, no matter how many hours we do or do not invest, nothing will stop that growing up from happening.  It’s the inevitable part of life, like grey hair & acne (at the same FREAKIN’ time over here?!!).  

I don’t know about you but if I can’t slow down the growing up process, I’d rather spend my years building into our girls in a well rounded way.  I’m going to guess, since you’re here and you’ve made it this far, that you feel the same way too.

So, I want to encourage you today!  Go ahead, wash those clothes so you don’t stink and grab your kids to help put away those dishes.  

Then when the jobs are all done, gather them up, curl up on the couch (with leftover Easter chocolate) and “fill their buckets”.  You can tell them what a great job they did, how proud you are of them and you’ll all feel accomplished loved.

“Focus On The Facts” : Do you KNOW what you’re eating?

“Made with REAL Fruit Juice”, “ALL NATURAL INGREDIENTS”, “A Good Source of Fiber”, “Organic”, “Healthy”, “Wholesome”, “Nutritious”

These days, everywhere we turn, we’re bombarded with claims of how a food, a product can completely change our lives.  How “healthy” something is, how that conveniently packaged product is a “better choice”, why we should feed them to our children.

Finding the Facts-Do YOU know what you're eating-

The claims & slogans are plastered on to the fronts of packages, the ads on TV & the sidebars of Facebook.  We are all on a quest to live healthier lives (I believe YOU are, otherwise you wouldn’t be here.  My people, my friends, you – they’re the kind of people who want to live a good, healthy life) and these products are promising to help us do just that.

Their pretty colors & comforting words lull us into believe that we’re making wise choices.  I mean it’s written right there, in bold letters, across the TOP of the cereal box, it has to be true, doesn’t it?  They wouldn’t lie to us like that, would they?   I saw a celebrity “eating” it, and they wouldn’t mislead us, right?

Maybe not.  Maybe that box in your hand right now IS telling the truth.  Maybe the foods that are inside, do contain good ingredients.  Maybe the CEO of that company does have our best interest at heart.  Maybe that celebrity does believe in the safety of that product.

And maybe not.

Marketing is a tricky business and loop holes can be large.  Not all CEO’s put the consumer’s health before that of their bottom line.  And sadly, many celebrities enjoy the perks of having an endorsement deal more than they care about the people who call themselves fans.

Right or wrong, truth or a lie, black or white, in a world run by social media & an abundance of products, finding the facts can feel like an overwhelming chore.  Especially when the aisles of the grocery store have become so very grey.

So, what do we do?

Finding the Facts - Sisters

We become detectives.  In our house we’ve been food detectives for a long time, otherwise known as label readers.  

When my corn allergy began getting more serious 10 years ago, I was forced to look at the labels on our food.  I’d skim them for the ingredients that would hurt me and carry on, never paying much mind to what else they contained.

Then I had kids, and I decided to get healthy.  All of that changed.  I soon was reading the labels, searching for GOOD ingredients, hunting for the TRUTH behind the packages and discovering that the nutrition labels were more than just a simple table, but a fact finder’s friend.

Finding the Facts - Nutrition Detectives

Turns out, the information was all there but learning to read it, took sometime.  It came with bumps along the way, misunderstanding and some serious frustrations.  If only there had been a simpler way to learn how to read it…

Then there was.  I’m super excited to have been given the opportunity to share The Nutrition Facts Education Campaign: “Focus On the Facts” with you.

Designed by the Government of Canada, this campaign has been created to help Canadians learn how to use the Nutrition Facts Tables (NFt) found on the packaged foods they find on the groceries store shelves.  By learning how to read these labels, they are empowering us to make informed and ultimately healthier food choices.  

Starting with learning how to determine the Serving size of an item (not always what think it will be.  Those can be sneaky too!) they walk us through the Percent Daily Values (% DV) of the item & more.

Finding the Facts - Nutrition Table

You learn to determine the serving sizes of two items, then turn your eyes to the right column on the NFt to see the Percent Daily Value of each one.  Hint: 5% or less of a % DV isn’t very much but 15% or higher, is!  Do you really want to use up 24% of your daily sodium in take on that one, tiny snack?

Once we’ve discovered how to read these labels, we’re able to add more foods to our diet that contain the nutrients we need, like calcium, fibre, & protein.  It also enable us to be aware of & even reduce the less desirable nutrients like sodium & trans fats. 

In other words, the “Focus On the Facts” campaign is giving us, YOU the consumer the power.  The power to understand, the power to decode & ultimately the power to make the BEST choice for you & your family.  Not to mention the power to empower your children to do the same!

And I don’t know about YOU but this girl loves her some choice making power.  (Now if only they’d send me a cape…in pink.  With sparkles.  And maybe a really cool emblem…)

Finding the Facts - Label Readers

Our girls LOVE reading labels with me.  They have for a long time, but only recently have they learned to understand what they’re reading.  Now they care about what it means for their health & more importantly, in their eyes for how they feel.  Whether they’re helping choose a fruit leather or picking out a treat, they’re learning to make a better for them choice.

Now it’s your turn.  Head out and discover what you can about the foods you’re putting in your body.  Gather up the free information the Government of Canada is offering you (non-Canadians the information will be JUST as useful to you.  So don’t hesitate to check it out too!), grab your kids, head to the grocery store and make good choices.

Finding the Facts - label

Here’s where you can find ALL the information about the “Focus On the Facts” Campaign!

Those grocery store aisle don’t have to stay grey, with a little education & some smart detective work, they will become an easy to maneuver, black & white healthy journey.

Now, I want to know – Do YOU read nutrition labels?  Is this information new to you or old hat? 

Lessons from 10 Years: Your Marriage Isn’t as Strong as You Think

Marriage Prayer

Today we celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary, and it’s hard to believe.  How did we get here, two kids & grown up life our daily reality?  It seems like only yesterday we were getting our hair done & praying we wouldn’t puke our way down the aisle.

Depending on where you sit in your own relationship journey, 10 years may sound like a long time or merely a drop in the bucket.  It isn’t forever, but I believe that God designed us to be together and that forever IS His plan for us.

We got married pretty quickly, you know.  7 months and 7 days after our first date I walked down a church aisle and said “I do.”  2 weeks after that first date, we decided we were going to get married and a little more than a month after, he got down on one knee and asked me to be his – for always.

Not everyone was sure we were making the best choice.  Oh heck, let’s be honest – there were people who thought it wouldn’t last.  It didn’t matter to us, we knew that God had planned for us to be together and we walked in to it with faith.  Blind, naive faith.

Since that time, we’ve learned some things, a lot of things.  Some of them I think you might like, maybe they’ll save you some of the struggles we faced to learn them or maybe you can relate because you’ve learned them too.

Either way, I wanted to share them.  After all, what good are lessons learned if all we do is keep it to ourselves.  I’ve broken them up into a few blog posts because, well, I have a lot of words.  Instead of writing a novel of a blog post or stifling my inner voice to keep it short, let’s just spread them out instead.  

1. Your Marriage Isn’t as Strong as you Think

Before Corey and I got married, we attended some pre-marital counselling at our church.  As part of that program we each filled out the LONGEST survey ever.  We answered questions about our views on marriage, on children, on our relationship together and a myriad of other different topics.  It was a way to give our pastor a clearer insight into where we might find struggles in our future.

A week later we sat in his office, and discussed our results.  I wasn’t worried, we were perfect together, we knew God had ordained us to be and we’d never had an argument (not much time for those in, at that time 5 months), what could some silly survey have shown other than the fact that we were PERFECT?!

Overall, that’s exactly what it showed.  Our views on raising children, faith, family life etc where very much in line.  There were no glaring places for obvious conflict and in general, we had answered our questions the same.

Hearing that, I leaned back in my chair and smiled, feeling quite smug.  Hadn’t we just told him that we were getting married because God had told us to?  Geeeeez.  

Then he said, “I’m concerned.  The fact that your results are SO good might actually be the thing that drives your marriage apart”

My stomach hit the floor and my brain started to race.  What was he talking about?  Did he hear himself?  He just told us we’re nearly 100% compatible, why would we worry?  Are we wasting our time with a complete quack?!

“Don’t get me wrong.  It’s not that these things are saying that your marriage is doomed to fail.  It’s just that you’re looking at life through rose colored glasses right now and I want to warn you.  To encourage you to think about life & the reality of those best laid plans.”  He continued on.

“Your plans for your future sound good right now.  They’re reasonable and they’re pretty clear but what will you do when the unexpected happens?”

“OH! We’ve talked about that.  We know that marriages have arguments and conflict, I’ve seen my parents go through them and come out still together on the other side.  Divorce isn’t an option” I interjected.  Certain that he was talking about the over used “D” word.

He smiled and continued, “I see that.  Both of your are prepared for the conflicts that inevitably come when two people live together, but that’s not what I’m talking about”

“I’m talking about what happens if one of your loses your job?  If a family member dies? “If you face a child who becomes seriously ill?   You think those things will bring you closer together but in truth, they are often the thing that drive you apart.  Believe me I know.”

He carried on to share with us his story.  How a severe accident that permanently injured one of their children almost destroyed his marriage.  Not because they didn’t love each other but because the stress and strain of caring for that child, the inevitable blame that comes along with wanting answers for awful things happening and the financial stress was almost too hard, too heavy for them to bare.  

“I can’t prepare you for those things, you guys.  You can’t prepared yourselves for those things, but you can talk about them.  You can decide now that you’re going to work through it, that you’re going to get help when you need it.  You can commit right now to each other that no matter what you face, you’re going to take it to God.  Not just individually but together, as a couple, as the team He’s built you to be”

We did talk about it some that night, and a few days later.  Then the topic dropped and it didn’t come up again.

Until nearly 6 years ago, when Corey and I sat in yet another emergency room with our sweet little girl and heard the doctor say, “Her hemoglobin is dangerously low, she must be bleeding internally, you’re not going home.”

As I paced her hospital room, fixing magazines over and over, begging God for her life I heard the words of our pastor whispering back at me.  “What happens if you face an ill child?….Commit right now to each other that no matter what you face, you’re going to take it to God”  

He hadn’t know what our future would hold in that moment, but God had.  He knew what was coming for us, the road we’d walk and He knew that we’d need that gentle reminder when things got really hard.

I turned my face into Corey’s shoulder that night, tears soaking through his shirt and listened to the husky timber of his voice as he prayed, pleading with God to heal our baby girl.  My words echoed his as we asked the Lord for wisdom for our medical team, for answers and for strength.  Not just as a mother, but as a wife and for our marriage.

It didn’t fix everything in that moment.  She wasn’t healed instantly (though they didn’t ever have to do the blood transfusion they’d planned on.  On the last test before her transfusion was to begin her bone marrow kicked back in, just enough to prove her body would fight this), this road hasn’t been easy and this journey is far from over.   

It didn’t make things easier, but it did make us stronger.  The decision to do this together, to search for answers rather than point fingers, to take our children, both of them to the feet of Jesus, to take each other to that same place started something incredible in our marriage.

Marriages start out as weddings, a declaration of love in front of your family & friends.  They’re an excuse to buy a pretty dress, have an awesome party & are sealed with a simple piece of white paper.  Weddings are the things that fairy tales are made from, but they play no part in building a strong, life long bond.

Those weddings create marriages, and what they become is entirely up to you.

We’ve learned that a strong marriage is an investment, a job, at times a sacrifice and a choice.  The strength comes from the moments when you could walk away but you choose to stay instead.   From the times when the weight of life’s hards threatens to divide you and you choose to turn into each other instead of away.  And it is solidified by the time you spend together, in laughter, in frustration, in fear and in prayer.

You see, our marriage wasn’t as strong as we thought it would be, but it’s getting there.  Every struggle, every tear, every day, we’re finding the strength in God, in life, and in each other.

I’d love to hear YOUR marriage story.  How you came together?  The hard times you’ve worked through, the lessons you’ve learned.  Please feel free to share them in the comments or send me an email.

When You (the husband) Say Nothing At All

First Dance

The other night, while Corey & I were watching TV together the topic of “our song” came up.  

On the show, the wife heard a song on the radio, got all lovey eyed and looked at her husband.  It was obvious that it was “their song” and she was feeling rather romantic, he on the other hand was completely oblivious.  Song?  What song?  We had a song?  

Turning to the love of my life, I smile and ask, “Do you remember our song?”  

I love this man I get to call my husband with all my heart and because of that I know what I can, and can not expect.  Remembering what song we danced to at our wedding is not something I expect him to remember. Now, attending our wedding & the fact that I fainted during said dance, that I do expect a memory of.  (Between you and me if he can’t remember what was playing in the background I’m really not that worried.)  

I didn’t tell him that though.  At least not at first.  Instead, with a small smirk on my face I patiently waited as he squirmed, trying with all his might to remember the song.

Giving him a little grace (and to speed up the process) I gave him a little hint, and by hint I mean I smuggly told him what it was…

“It was “When You Say Nothing At All” by Alison Krauss” I said, and then I burst out laughing.  A good, solid belly laugh.  Boy had I sealed my fate when I chose that as our song.

You see, in our marriage there are very few things that Corey and I actually argue about.  We have our moments, our tiffs, our attitudes (ok, so maybe that’s more like my attitudes) and things we don’t agree on but on the whole, full blown arguments aren’t a common occurrence.  

There’s no secret sauce to that, it’s just how our relationship works and for that I’m very thankful.  Arguing is exhausting and stressful and emotional and let’s be honest, nobody really likes it.

That being said, there have been those moments.  There are those topics or situations that do, from time to time bring us beyond the point of “heated discussion” right into the epicenter of a full blow argument.  

Now, let me set this up for you:  

Something will happen (we’re going to keep the real “something” private), one of our hot button issues will arise and we’ll begin discussing it.

 I will talk, pause, wait a moment, hear nothing and keep going.  

I’ll talk a little more, this time adding in some open ended questions, trying to drive home my point or searching for some help, pause and wait some more.  

There may be a grunt, or a few worded sentence from Corey and then silence.  

Me, being well, me can’t handle the silence and I hardly feel like my point as been made and I’ll start talking once again.  Depending on the topic, and the level of my frustration this talking may begin picking up speed, and my tone will begin to change.

His turn will arrive and by now, I’m generally rather agitated and again, it will be few words or sentences and silence.

Now, the conversation hits Mach 3 and takes a turn.  We are no longer now discussing whatever “something” was and we’re talking about about talking.  Or rather, I’m talking about how HE’S NOT TALKING!

For 10 years, this has been our thing.  You see, I’m a talker (which you’d never guess from my 900 word blog posts) and my handsome husband, is not.

It’s why we work.  Corey is a selective hearing, man type listener.  He’s content to take in people’s information, enjoys the sound of other people’s voices and doesn’t mind silence, when listening is finished.

99% of the time this works out well for us.  I can say what I need to say, rant and ramble (remind me to tell you later what I’m learning about that!!!) for a while, he listens, pops in his two bits every now and again and everyone is happy.

The other 1% of the time it’s the above mentioned arguments and his listening skills drive me absolutely batty.  Kick you in the shins, shake you till something comes out, crazy!  JUST SAY SOMETHING!

It wasn’t all that long ago that we’d faced one of these one sided arguments and it’s reality was fresh on our minds.  So when we realized what song we had danced to nearly 10 years ago when we began this marriage it was impossible not to laugh at it’s irony.

There I was a young bride, choosing a 1st dance song that so beautifully described the man I was hopelessly in love completely blind to what that very sentiment would mean over the years.  

Believe it or not, that realization did wonders not just for the laugh we needed that night but for our marriage & its future.  

In that silence Corey manages to make me feel beautiful with a look, feel safe in his arms and melt my heart with a smile.  In that silence, I can speak and feel heard, validated & refreshed as all that weighs on my heart can pour out uninterrupted.  In that silence, he chooses his words carefully and because of that my heart has been protected.

I know this, because in my lack of carefully chosen words, sometimes his has been wounded.

Our marriage isn’t perfect, neither are we.  And while our arguments may be few and far between, they are a valuable part of our marriage and to be honest, I wouldn’t trade them for anything.  It’s in the moments we completely let our guard down with each other that we face the issues, work through them and grow stronger as a team.

However, in saying that I’d like to pass on a word of advice to all the future brides & grooms out there.  Choose your wedding song wisely, you never know when it’s truth will come back to haunt you in your future 😉