Back to the Gym



** This is a sponsored post.  All opinions are my own.

For the last week, I’ve been feeling pretty bad.  Not sick exactly, but I’m prone to migraines and this one has been revving up for the last week.  Today, I decided I didn’t care how bad I was still feeling (in reality today was a pretty good day) and I was going to the gym.

Once I got to the gym, my entire body was calling out to me saying, “What do you think you’re doing?  We just want a nap!”

I dropped the kids off in the childcare room, and found a treadmill with a TV on it.  I decided that if I could just walk for 15 minutes, I’d be happy and call it a day.  It was jut before noon, and I started flipping through the TV channels, a novelty since we do not have cable at home.  I came across an episode of Law & Order SVU that was just starting, an older one when Chris Meloni was still on the show, plugged in my ear buds, and started walking.

I didn’t want to overdo it, so I kept a slow and steady pace around 3.2 mph.  Not fast by any stretch of the imagination, but you know what?  Watching one of my favorite shows while going for a walk helped to push me well past my 15 minute goal.  Instead, I watched the entire show, and walked the entire time.

So how’d I do?  In the 64 minutes that I was on the treadmill, I walked just over a 5K – 3.27 miles.  I consider that a win.  

Ultimately, I’d like to run, and last time I was at the gym I completed W1D1 of the Couch-to-5K program.  However, with my limited core strength and stability, I think it will be best if I take it slow, and stick to walking for a little bit longer.

RWJ Fitness & Wellness Center in Mercerville is sponsoring my weight loss journey.  While I am being compensated for promoting them, all opinions are based on my personal experience at the fitness center.  RWJ Fitness & Wellness Center wants to give all Raising A Family On A Budget readers 2 FREE weeks at the Fitness Center.  Click here to complete the form and get your 2 week pass.

Recap of Week 2: On the Path to Better Health & Weight Loss

HealthyHeaderThis is a sponsored post.  All opinions are my own.


Last week was absolutely crazy busy, and even though we had something to do every day (sometimes a few things to do each day), I stayed focused on my healthy goals.

I met with my trainer at RWJ Fitness & Wellness Center, and she set up my training schedule for the next six weeks.  I was being very hard on myself during this session, because things I could do 2 years ago (pre-baby) I can no longer do.  Having had a c-section (3 c-sections total), my abdominal muscles have been put through a war.  When your abdominal muscles are fit and tones, you not only look trimmer and have a flatter tummy, but you also have better stability and balance.  Your core muscles, pretty much everything between your shoulders and your hips, influence every other muscle group in your body.  

What’s very frustrating for me is that I have zero core strength.  On a daily basis, I feel klutzy, off balance, and my whole body just aches.  I know its because other muscles and joints are over compensating for what my abdominal and other core muscles should be doing.  So that pretty much sums up phase one:  BUILD CORE STRENGTH & STABILITY.

My trainer led me through a series of stretches and exercises to help strengthen and repair my abdominal muscles.  In my head, I should be able to do more, but I have to look at this experience as if it is Physical Therapy that is needed in the recovery of an injury.

When you have other types of surgery, or other injuries, you are scheduled for several weeks of physical therapy after the initial healing period is over.  However, when you have a c-section, it is looked at differently, and no one ever talks about what a new mom should be doing to rebuild her abdominal muscles.  So here I am, 14 months after having my son, and starting the process from scratch.

While the exercises I am doing look like they should be easy, I can feel muscles working that haven’t been challenged in over a year.  It feels really good, and I’m not uncomfortable after my workouts, but I have that mild ache that is your body’s way of saying thank you.

In addition to the core exercises, I am doing cardio.  I don’t know how it ever happened, but I like to run.  I hated it in middle school and high school, and honestly could not even run the curves on the track in high school.  Now, I enjoy running and have actually been missing it this last year.  Since my core muscles are shot, there is some concern about my balance while running, and my feet not hitting the ground properly.  To avoid injury, I am starting very slowly.  I am following the C25K program, and during the jogging portion, I am keeping my pace around 4.8-5.2 mph.  Previously, I was running around an 7.6-7.9 mph during the  jogging portion, and am looking forward to working back up to that.

Since most of my exercises are done without any special equipment, I spend about 15 minutes a day stretching and working on core, even when I am at home.  Just like when you are assigned Physical Therapy from a doctor, when you follow the prescription for repairing the injury and continue to do the exercises at home, you heal more completely.

Going forward, this week is going to be crazy again since Steve is home during the week.  We have quite a bit scheduled, and my next day to sit still is going to be next Sunday!  My goal is to make it to the gym two times this week, complete C25K week 1: days 2 & 3, and continue doing my core exercises on my “off days” at home.

RWJ Fitness & Wellness Center in Mercerville is sponsoring my weight loss journey.  While I am being compensated for promoting them, all opinions are based on my personal experience at the fitness center.  

On the Path to Better Health & Weight Loss

Last week, I took several small steps that will lead me to better health.  While these may seem like baby steps, getting them taken care of in the beginning of my journey will make this entire process so much easier.

Blood Work & Physical

PennMedicine_logoI hadn’t had any blood work done in over a year, and the last physical was in 2012, prior to getting pregnant with Michael, so I figured finding out where my health stood currently was a good place to start in my journey of getting healthy.

The results were a combination of good news and not so good news.  First the good news – my heart is strong, I am healed from my past c-sections, my blood pressure is beautiful, and I have been cleared to start a wellness and fitness plan.

The not so good news – my thyroid levels have been on the increase over the last 3 years, and while still in the “range” of normal, its a little out of whack; my cholesterol is borderline, but considering I’m still breastfeeding and overweight it is to be expected; and the one that is scaring me the most, my fasting glucose was 105 when it should be 99 or lower.  While these three things aren’t devastating news, and could be linked to the fact that I am still nursing, and am overweight, it is hard to see the numbers on paper and know that my health isn’t what it used to be.

The other scary part, because of my BMI and 2 additional health factors (the elevated cholesterol and fasting glucose) I would be a candidate for gastric bypass surgery.  My doctor knows that this is not an option for me because my relationship with food (the good and the bad) is all mental.  I need to do this the old fashioned way with diet and exercise otherwise it isn’t going to work for me.

We agreed that the best fit for me would be a membership to a gym so that I can get more physical activity than I do at home, and to join Weight Watchers to get the nutrition component in check.  He believes that my cholesterol and fasting glucose will both correct themselves with weight loss, and we will continue to monitor them as well as my thyroid to see what happens.  

I go back for my next round of blood work on Nov 1, and my follow up with the doctor on Nov 11.  The goal:  lose a minimum of 10 lbs in 3 months.  I got this.

Bye-Bye Pepsi

no sodaHi, I’m Stephanie and I have a Pepsi addiction.

 It all started in college when buying a bottle of water cost more than buying a soda, and it went downhill quickly from there.

So Friday afternoon, I drank my last glass of Pepsi for a while.  I am going through traditional withdraw symptoms – migraine headaches, shakes, chills, insomnia – it really isn’t pretty.  It has been just over 5 days, and I am having wicked cravings for Pepsi, and keep wanting one every we go out, but so far so good.  I am being strong, and doing my best, taking it one day at a time.

RWJ Fitness & Wellness Center

rwj fitness & wellness center 2Two years ago I joined the RWJ Fitness & Wellness Center in Mercerville, NJ.  When I got pregnant with Michael, I was having early complications and was not supposed to be working out, so I left.  Enter almost 2 years of being sedentary.  BLEH!  It was time to go back to the gym.

I am delighted to have the RWJ Fitness & Wellness Center sponsoring me for the first three months of my weight loss and fitness journey.  The facility is amazing, with plenty of cardio machines, a wide variety of resistance machines, free weights, classes, a pool, and FREE CHILDCARE!  No more excuses for me to not work out because I have access to FREE childcare for up to 2 ours each and every time I go to the gym. 

Go here to learn more about RWJ Fitness & Wellness Center

All members meet with the nurse every 10-12 weeks to keep track of your progress and make sure you are doing things the right way.  During my screening, the nurse took my vitals, height & weight.  She was also able to calculate how hydrated I am (or am not), my percentage of body fat, as well as my percentage of lean tissue (muscle, skin, bones, & organs).  The goal: increase lean, decrease fat, and stay hydrated.  I will be meeting with the nurse again in late October to check in on my progress.

All members also get access to an amazing team of trainers.  I worked with two trainers in 2012, and both of them are still with the fitness center.  That says a lot about a facility if they have employee retention.  In fact, there were many familiar faces in the red shirts through out the building.  I decided to work with the trainer I had 2 years ago, and scheduled my initial evaluation appointment with her.  

During the evaluation, you discuss why you joined a gym, your fitness/wellness goals, what would prevent you for reaching your goals, and what motivates you.  We also discussed the fact that I am a blogger, and that RWJ Fitness & Wellness Center is sponsoring my journey, and how that makes going to the gym my job.  We set an initial schedule of 2 days a week to ease back into physical activity.

When I have worked with trainers at other gyms, it was always about how much you could do and how fast you could go.  You weren’t allowed to complain, and even if you said something didn’t feel right, I was told to push through it and get used to it.  That is not the case here.

After the discussion part of my evaluation, came the physical part of the evaluation.  My trainer had me go through a series of movements to see how my joints moved, how flexible I was, and where my strengths and weakness lie.  Based on that information, she will create an individualized workout plan for me.  I look forward to meeting with her again on Monday to review my plan, but until then, I am going to the gym twice a week and just walking on the treadmill trying to do 1-2 miles as comfortably as possible.  

Weight Watchers

As I mentioned last week, Weight Watchers had a deal where you could join for 3 months at 50% off.  My doctor agreed that this would be a good fit for me, so I paid for a membership.  I went to my first meeting this past Sunday in Hamilton, and have been following the program all week.  Weight Watchers now offers a Simple Start plan for the first 2 weeks where you don’t have to weight anything or track points.  However, I don’t eat anything with artificial sweeteners, or that is low fat/non-fat other than dairy (and even then I scrutinize the labels).  So using the Simple Start plan as a guide, and then modifying it to include the foods I actually eat, the leader and I decided that the traditional counting of the points was going to be the best plan for me.

Weight Watchers determines your daily PointsPlus target based on your current weight, height, gender, and whether or not you are breastfeeding.  Given all of my current factors, I have a daily PointsPlus target of 50 points!  WOWZERS!  That is a lot of food, especially since the majority of fruits and vegetables are now 0 points.  I am then given a weekly PointsPlus Allowance of 49 points to use as I choose, or not use at all.  So far I have been between close to 50 points every day, and slightly under a few days because I filled up on fruits and veggies.

This is my third time joining Weight Watchers, and hopefully it will all click this time and be my last time on this journey.

Follow me on my journey

HealthyHeaderOver the next 12 weeks, and probably after that until I hit my goal, I will be sharing my progress here on Raising A Family On A Budget.  I have been asked why I’m doing it on here, and the honest answer is that I need the accountability.  While this is not the usual content that I share on RAFOAB, I do feel that moms, and dads, need to remember to take care of themselves, and put themselves back on the list.  I know that if I don’t take care of myself I won’t have the energy or desire to truly take care of the rest of my family, and they need me, so I need this time for me so I can be there for them.  

Taking care of yourself is not selfish. By spending 1-2 hours alone for your health several times a week, you are giving your family so much more of your time in the future, and that is so worth it!

RWJ Fitness & Wellness Center in Mercerville is sponsoring my weight loss journey.  While I am being compensated for promoting them, all opinions are based on my personal experience at the fitness center.
I am a Weight Watchers affiliate.  When you make a purchase using a link that I share, your price is the same, but RAFOAB makes a small commission.  I have purchased my own Weight Watcher’s membership, and have the same expenses as you would as a member.  They do not sponsor these posts, and all opinions are based on my personal experience as a WW member.

Save 50% When You Join Weight Watchers!

I recently mentioned that beginning August 1, I am on a mission to get healthy.  One thing that I knew had to change was my diet.  Fourteen years ago, when I was only 190 lbs, and thought that that was heavy (I’m 6′ tall, and at that weight I was a size 12), I had joined Weight Watchers, after a boyfriend told me I could loose a few pounds (stupid boy).  I listened, joined, and was successful, but stopped attending meetings before making Lifetime.

Its been a long time since I last did Weight Watchers, but one thing I know, its the only program I’ve ever done (and there have been a few) that allowed me to eat real food, still have a glass of wine, and didn’t criticize if I only lost .25 lbs at a weigh in instead of some crazy number.  I also know that my Medical FSA will reimburse me for Weight Watchers as long as I submit my receipt with a letter of medical necessity that includes my weight and my current BMI. 

Then, as if I needed any more motivation to join Weight Watchers again, I received an email on Monday (which I didn’t see until this morning, eek!) that was sent to all Weight Watchers affiliates (disclosure: I am a Weight Watchers affiliate, which means if you make a purchase by clicking the link, I make a small commission.  They do not sponsor this post or any posts on RAFOAB.  All opinions are my own, and based on my own experience.  I pay for the same services you would pay for as a Weight Watchers member.

The email shared the following deals which end this evening (7/30):

As I have mentioned before, I need accountability, so a 3-month pass for meeting and the e-tools is the perfect fit for me.  I checked out their website, and noticed that my local Weight Watchers center does not offer monthly passes, however there are quite a few that are just a little further away (within 8mi) that do!  YAY! 

I selected my center, the Weight Watchers Store in Hamilton, and the 3-month option.  My out of pocket cost is $64.42 for 3-mos (approximately 12 weeks).  That works out to just $5.37 per week!  I had previously had weekly weigh-ins with my doctor, but at a $20 co-pay per visit, that got crazy expensive quick, so $5.37 is a nice alternative, plus I will get the group support I wouldn’t get at my doctor’s office.

At the end of the 3-month, my monthly pass will auto renew, and I’ll take the receipt that is emailed to me, along with my letter of medical necessity, and submit it for reimbursement from my FSA.

If you have been thinking about joining Weight Watchers, just like I have, today is a great day to do it!  The 50% off savings is only valid through this evening, and you don’t need a promo code, just to click the link.

Note: The page was acting funny for me and I was only able to search meetings by zip code, not by city/state.


Affiliate Disclaimer


Taking The First Step Towards Better Health

healthy squareI watch Biggest Loser and Extreme Weight Loss and am always so inspired by the transformations that happen on these shows.  I have considered writing a letter to Chris & Heidi Powell, but I don’t think I could be away from my family, my children, for the first 90-days of Boot Camp.

Since getting married 13 years ago, I have not weighed under 200 lbs, and I am fed up with being unhappy, unhealthy, and uncomfortable.

My New Year’s Resolution for 2012 was to finally lose the weight.  The year started out strong, and in the first 6 months of 2012, I lost over 40 lbs.  Then, I got pregnant, had my activity levels restricted, and a lot of the weight came back.  My son is now 1 year old, and there is no more time for excuses. 

Over the next year, leading up to my 37th birthday, I am challenging myself to lose the weight (goal to be set with my doctor) and to run a 5K.  This is completely out of my comfort zone, but I need to put it out there and I need to be held accountable. 

I don’t expect it to be easy.  In my teens and early twenties, I could drop 5-10 lbs in a few weeks, however 3 children and 20+ years has done a number on my metabolism. 

I want to go about doing things the right way, and not rely on fad diets, shakes, and supplements to achieve my health and wellness goals.  I have scheduled a physical with my primary; the first one in over 2 years.  Since I don’t want to take all 3 children with me to the doctor’s office, I won’t be getting my physical until July 31, at which time I am hoping to have approval to start a diet and exercise program, and a referral (yeah, we have an HMO) to meet with a nutritionist. 

Tomorrow morning, bright an early, I have an appointment to get my lab work completed so that when I meet with my doctor at the end of the month he and I can discuss my current health and where I need improvement.

Since I am not “officially” starting my journey until after my physical, I am taking the next 2 weeks to prepare – start being more mindful or what I eat, drink more water, move more, and find a good sports bra & pair of running shoes.

This journey is just one facet of who I am, and I look forward to sharing my experiences with you.

Food Projects for 2014

food projectsWhen we got married, I claimed the kitchen.  This is my space to relax, destress, and create.  From quick and simple sandwiches, to more elaborate desserts, I have always enjoyed the time I get to spend in the kitchen.

As our family has grown, my kitchen time has gone from pleasure to more of a necessity, but that doesn’t mean I don’t still enjoy it.  I have made baby food for my older children, and each year I put up enough applesauce and jam to get through the entire year.

This year, I want to enjoy some more play time in the kitchen, and have come up with ten  food projects that I would like to attempt this year.  I’m not assigning these to any particular month, however some will be part of the DIY Blogger Project as well.

  • Homemade Feta
  • Crockpot Yogurt
  • Homemade Apple Cider Vinegar
  • Lemon Curd
  • Puffed Pastry
  • Smoked Brisket
  • Grind My Own Sausage
  • Homemade Mayonnaise
  • Beef Jerky
  • Cure Our Own Bacon

My husband is excited about having homemade beef jerky & trying our hand at curing bacon.  Actually, I think all of us are really excited about the bacon, because, well, its bacon!

I’m looking forward to quality time in the kitchen, and sharing these food projects with my family, while teaching my children that real food comes from the kitchen.

Goals for This Week

Goals ConceptFor over a year now, I’ve been sharing my daily goals on the Raising A Family On  A Budget facebook page.  I list 5 things that I want to accomplish each day, and posting in an open forum has kept me accountable.

Since I have so much to do over the next 7 weeks to get ready for the baby’s arrival, I figured why not post my weekly goals here on the main page so that I can be accountable for them as well, and you will often see these broken down during the week as my Top 5 Daily Goals.

So here’s just a peek as to what I have on my plate for this week, which is full of end of the year activities at my children’s school, my daughter’s birthday party on the weekend, work at the university on Tuesday, and what real life looks like for a mother of 2 with one on the way.

  • Order edible cake topper for Emily’s birthday cake
  • Design party favor labels & decorations
  • Send labels & decorations to Office Max to be printed on card stock
  • Assemble favors
  • Bake & decorate cake – Friday
  • Clean out my coupon binder
  • Send expired coupons to the military
  • Order extra coupons from My Coupon Hunter
  • Contact Hammertime to schedule install of range hood/microwave
  • Attend both David & Emily’s parents’ day recitals at school
  • Grocery Shopping
  • Sell back books that are taking over my office floor
  • Donate old prom dresses/bridesmaid dresses that I have no use for
  • Make a consignor appointment at Little Boutique to sell off some of the little girl clothes that I have and won’t be needing
  • Send in rebate for HH Gregg
  • Send in rebate for P&G from ShopRite last week
  • Update BRU & Target baby registries so that the items I need are on there prior to receiving my 10% close the registry coupon
  • Put Shop4Charity & BDFL stuff into storage

So this is what real life looks like.  A busy week of stuff to do around the house in addition to normal housework, blogging and working.

What does your week look like?  Anyone have an equally busy week to tackle?

Businesses mentioned in this post are ones that I actually do regular business with and mentioning them is just a true picture of what my upcoming week looks like.  None of the businesses mentioned have asked me to post about them, nor do they know I was going to write this up today.

Mega Swagbucks Today! Sign Up to Earn Free Gift Cards & Merchandise!

mega swagbucksI just love SwagBucks!   I want to hit my Daily Swagbucks Goal each and every day until the baby is born so that I can rack up the gift cards to use for the things we need – diapers, wipes, pedicure for mommy, you know the necessities.  So far so good, and I’ve had 57 consecutive days of hitting my Swagbucks goals, and am only 725 Swagbucks away from another $50 gift card!  Add that to the $110 in gift cards that I have already earned in 2013 and this is a HUGE help for us financially.

What are your Swagbucks goals?  Are you earning free airfare to Disney like Jen from Berkley Baby Creations?  Paying for Christmas with gift cards like our friends Donna & Steve?  Buying new furniture for your child’s room like our friend Kelli Lynn?

No matter what your goals are, or what it is you want for yourself or your family, utilizing Swagbucks can help get you there while saving some cash!

Want a little boost to your Swagbucks earning potential?  Today is Mega SwagBucks Day. Every Friday you have a higher chance of winning the Mega Bills (30 – 1,000 Swagbucks!). So, if you haven’t been searching all week, then at least remember to search today!  And don’t forget about your guaranteed SwagBucks either by answering the Daily Poll and completing NOSO.  And if you have either an iOS or Android device install the free SwagTV app and earn up to 50 SB per day just watching video clips (if you don’t have unlimited data, turn data off from your settings menu, and only use the app when you are on WiFi so you don’t get hit with the data overage charge).  It all adds up to big savings for you!

 If you haven’t signed up yet, what are you waiting for!?!  Consider this your personal invitation.

Setting Daily Goals

As many of you have noticed, I post my top 5 goals for the day on the Raising A Family On A Budget facebook page.  I have found that by sharing my goals, I feel more accountable for actually getting stuff done.  There have been times that I’ve wanted to do things for weeks, and it isn’t until I write down the goal and have the accountability of saying it out loud that it actually gets done.

As we move into 2013, I plan to continue sharing my daily goals list with you, and you are always welcome to share your list as well.  Having that accountability of having it written down and having other people know what your goals are can benefit us all.

My daily list is usually 5 things that I want to get done.  This does not mean these are the only things I’m working on during the day.  Every day involves a myriad of tasks that need to get done, but these are the 5 on my “hot list” for the day.  Depending on my mood, and everything that is going on, sometimes accomplishing a hot shower before noon is a goal!  And, that is absolutely ok.

With each stage of life, things change and we need to be willing to accept that none of us are super human.  There are only 24 hours in a day, no matter how much we try to cram 36 hours of stuff into it, it just won’t happen.  Some days, I may have only 2 or 3 goals, and that’s ok.  You have to be realistic and do what works for you, but not so much that you get burned out (hence while I have been MIA for the last few weeks).

Housework continues to be my nemesis.  I’m taking 2013 to take care of myself, take care of my family, organize the house, remove clutter from every aspect of my life, and learn to live on less.

I am going room by room so that I do not get overwhelmed nor do I burn out and decide that I’m not going to do it anymore.  For an item to make it onto my daily list, it needs to move me towards one of my umbrella goals for the year.  By breaking down my larger goals into smaller bite sized pieces, all things can be achieved.

Here is to a productive 2013, where we all reach out goals!




New Month, Time to Revisit Goals

Its the start of a new month so it is time to revisit my goals for 2012.

Having been sick and completely out of commission for 2 1/2 weeks really set the tone for January.  I didn’t get to my DIY project for the month, nor did I read my first of 12 books for the year.  My house is still cluttered, and we haven’t had a chance to schedule a painter to come out to take care of the kitchen (which is ok, since there is still a ton of other stuff to be done in the kitchen).

On the positive side, I’ve lost 11 lbs and have been doing well with the weekly menu planning.  I have spent a lot of quality time with my family, and am taking full advantage of taking Sunday’s off to rest and relax, something I haven’t done in ages.

As February begins, and I’m finally feeling healthier, its time to kick it back into high gear and meet my goals.  This month, I plan to complete 2 DIY projects – the cloth napkins and homemade lip gloss – and I am going to start reading Dave Ramsey tonight instead of putting it off for another day.  This month’s organizational project is the kitchen and laundry room so that we can get the kitchen painted, and move forward with having an oranized home.

What are your goals for February?  How have you been doing with your 2012 goals so far?