Sunday, July 1, 2012

And this is Sandy...

I spoke recently about a new project that I've gratefully been asked to be a part of - Mt. Saint Mary's icomunidad First Year Experience Program. My job will be to help the girls realize how a healthy, sound mind and body, will enable them to move through the challenges of college with a bit more ease. Sandy is a part of the Mt. Saint Mary's staff. She mentors students in the STEM program which influences girls to, and supports them in, their choice to follow a career in math and science. How much more powerful she will be as a role model by moving through this challenge. You can view some of her video posts at and these are her words...

Motivation, where are you?! I wish Costco would sell it by the bulk, that way I could store it in a cabinet and use it as needed. I am admittedly inconsistent. There’s no other way of putting it. I’m 28 years old and have been struggling with my weight since I was 8. I’m only two years away from the big 3-0 and I hear it’s even harder to lose weight after that!

Healthy is an adjective unknown to my family, exercise is a verb that I rarely practiced, and insecurity is an adjective that became synonymous with my name. My weight prohibited me from being an active kid. While in high school I wanted to join the Choreo[graphy] team, but all the girls were skinny; no one looked like me. Plus, they would wear skimpy outfits that revealed parts I did not want to expose. So instead, I took a P.E. dance class my junior year and discovered that I LOVED dancing and was pretty good at it. This let me know that I could try-out for Choreo, but it was my own insecurities that led me to believe that even though I danced better than half of those girls, they would never select me because of my weight.

My senior year proved to be a pivotal moment for me. With prom approaching, my friend and I made a pact to lose weight. We worked hard, we were disciplined, and dedicated. I still remember the first mile I ran non-stop…Success! Within weeks I began getting compliments of how good I looked and at that point I had lost roughly 15lbs. Prom came and went, and by then there was no turning back! I knew how to eat healthier and what it took to be fit. By my first quarter in college, I had become a gym member, learned more and more about fitness and even got a trainer, but unfortunately, my school was known for its reckless party scenes. I started drinking, partying, and stopped working out completely but I tried to maintain a healthy diet, at least compared to that of my roommates, who all seemed to live on carbs!

By graduation I had gained 30lbs! I was disappointed and mad because I had taken a million steps backwards, but it was my fault. The first thing I did when I moved back home was join a gym. With time and effort, I lost he weight and was able to maintain it… for a while.

By the time I started my Master’s program, inconsistency had won again and my motivation was nowhere to be found. I felt I was too busy to take care of my body and rarely stepped foot in the gym.  Although I didn’t gain all 30lbs back, I was getting there slowly, but surely. I was back to feeling insecure and lost.

In January 2010, two of my friends signed up to compete in a triathlon happening in June and somehow I convinced myself and my mentor to compete. I was completely unfamiliar with triathlons and thought it was a relay where each of us would complete one leg of the race. I thought, ‘Yes, I can do the running portion because I love to run. Wait a minute, I have to do what?!?’

So, of course the journey was not an easy one, but with the help of my team, especially my mentor’s encouragement, I learned how to swim correctly, began biking for miles, and began to run more than my typical 2 miles. I have to say that running our first mock triathlon was the best feeling ever! A few laps in the ocean (I almost drowned wearing that stupid wetsuit), about a 10 mile bike ride up and down the Malibu highway, and my first 4 mile run; all non-stop. I seriously wanted to cry as I crossed our ‘pretend’ finish line because Sandy showed up!

June 27th and it’s tri-time! Game face is on and my nerves are crazy but there’s no turning back now! This race was not easy but I finished it. I can’t even begin to explain the feeling I got when I was closer to the finish line and saw my family, friends, and teammates cheering for me because my motivation was slipping away. Legs, please don’t fail me now we’re almost there! Yes! I finished...and lost a few pounds in the process. Call me triathlete now, please!

I have maintained a healthy lifestyle since then. I work out pretty consistently, but sometimes my bad eating habits take over. In the last two years, I have lost 20lbs, participated in my first half-marathon, become stronger, but I still can’t seem to get down to my ideal weight. I have worn weary of the same gym routines and have reached a plateau. Reaching a healthy weight and becoming stronger are definite goals but the main focus is consistency because after all, I deserve to be healthy. I’ll be participating in another half marathon a week before my 29th birthday in October. Naturally, I want to beat my time and be lighter for the sake of my knees, but more importantly, I want to be a step closer to being in the best shape ever by the time I’m 30.

I have found my motivation again and this time I’m not losing it because I have a great support system and I know I can push myself… hard!  My ultimate goal is to compete in the San Diego International Triathlon. I am Motivated. I am Confident. I am Found. Yes, I will do this!

This is Sandy's video after her 1st day...

Now Meet Stephanie...

 Stephanie is addicted to almonds. Yes, almonds are one the healthiest foods on the planet containing protective nutrients like calcium and magnesium for strong bones, Vitamin E and phytochemicals that aid in the prevention of cardiovascular disease and cancer, they lower cholesterol and are protein powerhouses. A 1oz. serving, which is about 20-25 almonds, contain around 120 calories from fat. Though it's a good, essential, healthy fat, she was eating them by the bagful. The BIG bagful! That's 16 servings people, and by her own admission, there was nothing physical in her life. And there's one more caveat - Stephanie works the infamous 'graveyard shift' which means her internal clock is totally off. What to eat? When to eat? Do I eat at all being that it's 3am?

There are many people who can relate to these crazy working hours. I actually used to be one of them. In college, I worked at an in-patient pharmacy during the wonderful hours of 7p - 7a. If you've ever visited a hospital floor then you've seen those med carts next to the nursing station. I'm the chick who filled those little boxes and allowed your nurse to wake you for your 2 AM dose of Naprosyn.  Many of the products we use to get through our days are prepared and delivered while we slumber. For those of you whose waking hours tick away on the lunar clock, Stephanie's movement through this process will help you realize that you are not destined to gain the 'overnight vending machine' weight. You can watch as she posts her video logs on
These are her words...  


When I was growing up, I was always a skinny kid. Even through high school, I ate like a horse and NEVER put on weight. That was partially due to the fact that I played softball and I never sat in the house. I was always out playing with my friends, riding my bike, etc. I ate constantly and my mom would always say, "one of these days, that's going to catch up with you”, but it never did... until my freshman year of college. 

When I got to college and started dorm life, I was in heaven! I was up all night with my friends talking, laughing, partying and EATING. I stopped playing sports and had never been to a gym to do a workout outside of what I did on the softball field. Heck, I didn't need to... or so I thought. I'm from a small town in the South and health and fitness wasn't really a hot topic there. 

Anyhow, back to college. By Christmas break of my freshman year I had gained almost 20 pounds!
WHAT?!? How was this possible??? I had always eaten like this and never gained weight BUT, I hadn't always been inhaling cheeseburgers and pizza and passing out at 3am. So, I took my butt to the gym! I learned how to work out properly and my weight has always been exactly where I wanted, give or take 5-10 pounds every now and then... that is, until I discovered an addiction to raw almonds. 

Okay yes, it sounds crazy but, I lived in New York from 2005-2010 and I spent my last two years there in an acting program where I snacked on raw almonds. I would just sit there eating them while I observed class. I went from snacking on small packs in class to the big bags while I watched Whoopi on The View.

Not to mention, I had grown tired of living in New York and the cold weather so in the winter time, I refused to leave the house unless I had to. Now, I know what you're thinking, "but almonds are good for you!" Yes, they are but not the way I ate them. I have an all or nothing mentality so after I’d stuffed myself with tons of calories from almonds, I would feel like, ‘well, no need in working out’, or think, ‘I may as well go to Chipotle’. Horrible.  

Fast forward and I now live in LA but by the time I got here, I had packed on an extra 20 pounds from my self-sabotaging, endless almond inhaling, non-workout habit. I felt miserable and discouraged because I had packed on more weight than I ever had in my life and I knew it was going to be a struggle to get it off. I eventually started working out once I got here but not like I used to and ummm… I'm still addicted to almonds. 

When I found out about Candace, (thank you Simone Cook-Missick!), I instantly jumped at the chance to join her program for two reasons:
1.       Because I knew that if I was being held accountable, I would straighten up, and
2.       Ummm… have you seen her?!? She's in AMAZING shape!  

What's most important however is, I want to be healthy, inside and out and I think that working with Candace will set me back on the right track. I'm looking forward to the workouts, meeting the other ladies and watching this transformation over the next 12 weeks!