Beauty is…rocking it!

Shelby is all about sharing her story, supporting other women with PCOS, and eating all the M&Ms

Who you are: Shelby aka PCOS Support Girl

What you do: Certified Fitness Nutrition and Weight Loss Specialist (NASM), Online health and fitness coach, Founder of PCOS Positivity, Full Time mom

Where you do it: From my home in Atlanta GA!


On your blog you describe yourself as a PCOS sufferer and ED warrior. Can you talk about what those two things are and how they affect your life?

I have always been the ‘big’ girl in my life. Out of 4 girls, I was the only one who significantly suffered with weight and health issues. I was always the biggest girl in my group of friends who couldn’t borrow any of their clothes because my boobs were too big or my belly too round. I was the chubby girl on dance team who dreaded the days we had to wear the crop top uniform to games. I vividly remember pretending to have the stomach flu those days.

Struggling with my weight, low self esteem and pressure from every direction to be a certain size or weight lead to my long rocky road with disordered eating (for more of my ED story).

I didn’t know it then, but part of my body weight issues were amplified by having PCOS, orShelbyPCOS Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. PCOS affects approximately every 1 in 10 women of reproductive age.   Symptoms and complications of PCOS include: ovarian cysts, amenorrhea, hirsutism, acne, insulin resistance, weight gain, anxiety, depression, fatigue, hypertension, Type II Diabetes, and infertility.

But here’s the thing. I didn’t know one other single person going through what I was going through with my disordered eating and PCOS. I turned to social media, looking to connect with maybe one person who knew what I was going through. I was amazed by how many women I met going through the same things. So I decided to connect and help as many people as I could and built the PCOS Positivity community, a network of women across the world who come to together to share support and promote self love and acceptance.

The biggest thing these battles have done for me has set me on my path to self love and acceptance. I want to help others understand they are not alone. I want people to know loving yourself is not easy. Whoever says it is, is a liar. It’s a deliberate decision. And you have to work at it everyday.  And hating yourself is exhausting. It really is. I got so tired of disliking myself.

I had to think WHY do I dislike this about me? Why is it so wrong to be okay with who I am, flaws and all?  The truth is, I am not your poster girl for perfect anything by any of society’s standards. But why is what society thinks of me any of my business? I had to decide that what others think of me is none of my business. And to be honest, in the end it just didn’t matter. What mattered was if I liked myself. The minute you stop searching for gratification and fulfillment from outside sources is the moment you can be who you really are.

I am not saying I don’t stop and think about what I post before I do it. I have questioned if I am sharing too much, or being too vulnerable. Too open and exposed. Too much. I always ask myself before posting anything:

If my daughter was posting this, would I be proud?

As long as I am being true to myself, and being an example of the kind of woman I want to raise, I’m confident in sharing myself.

But you will always be too much for someone. Not everyone will get what you do. Doesn’t mean you should quit doing it.

There is freedom in knowing who you are, and not being afraid of it. The minute you stop caring what people think about you is the minute you can focus on more important things.

Loving Yourself

When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I had no idea what I wanted to be when I was growing up. It changed daily. I wanted to be anything from a dance teacher to a math teacher. Indecisive, much?  It wasn’t until I turned 30 that I found my true passion in helping and supporting other women. It is so true when they say, “You know you’ve found your calling when you wake up wanting to go to work.” I enjoy every second of the work I am doing.

You talk about your journey to health on your blog. What does that look like for you– what is your “ideal” state? What are your goals and how are you working toward them?

It’s simple. I want to be happy and healthy. I want to know that even though I have this ShelbyHealthycondition and have had these struggles, It’s not who I am. I am a mother and a friend and a woman of strength. I just happen to have a shitty endocrine disorder and an eating disorder.

As far as what I want to contribute to these communities, I want to be an example to anyone living with these battles of a REAL woman with REAL struggles that is living a happy healthy life despite her diagnosis. I want to continue to share my stories in hopes of helping others.  I want to be a positive example of how being positive and loving yourself despite your struggles can be just as healing and productive as the physical aspects of treatment.

And most importantly, I want to be the person I needed at 14. I want to let younger girls know that they aren’t alone. They aren’t any less worthy or pretty or lovable because of their diagnosis.

I have PCOS. So what? PCOS sucks, but I don’t have to. I’ve battled the demons of disordered eating. That doesn’t define me. I want to see women overcoming, living life fully, surviving. I want to see how women can take a negative and turn it into a positive. But most of all, I want to be around women who support other women. Because positivity breeds positivity. Being real and sharing our stories encourages others to do so. And everyone’s stories have something someone can relate to. Can feel less alone in. Find strength from.

What is the best song to sing in the shower?

What song ISN’T the best song to sing in the shower is the better question. My go to is always Britney. Or Journey. Now Don’t Stop Belevin’ is going to be stuck in my head.

What is the best piece of advice you have heard? What was the worst?Not a bad life

It’s a bad day, not a bad life. It’s a reminder for me that you just need to take everything one day at a time. Forgive yourself for your past, accept yourself in the present, and work on the future.

Worst advice I’ve ever heard is Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels. First off, Kate Moss, you’ve clearly never had Hawaiian rolls. But more importantly, it just promotes disordered eating. Everyone thinks being ‘skinny’ or a certain size or weight brings this magical euphoric happiness. I have been everything from a size 0 to a size 18, and I can tell you I was just as unhappy at both sizes.

How do you spend your down time? Favorite books, shows, movies?

When I do find myself with down time, I enjoy a bubble bath, a good book, music and a big glass of Shiraz. I love reading self help books. I spend most of my days being a support system and uplifting others. I find it’s a nice break to try to help my mind so I can better help others. Currently I’m reading, “ You are a Badass” by Jen Sincero.

Image from

If you could have coffee with any woman, past or present, who would it be and what one question would you ask?

Betty White. I think there is such a beauty in her nature. Behind the funny words and humorous quips is a woman with powerful, empowering words. My favorite quote of hers is, “I don’t know how people can get so anti-something. Mind your own business, take care of your affairs, and don’t worry about people so much.” I think I would just pick her brain. There is something so intriguing to me about a woman who is completely herself, unapologetically.

M&Ms: peanut or regular (or crispy, or peanut butter, or…)

All of the above. Have you tried the coconut ones? They are amazing!

What did you have for breakfast this morning? What is your guilty pleasure?

I just finished up a egg white omelet, a ton of bacon (because, well, PROTEIN) and tomato slices. I don’t get why everyone dislikes tomatoes so much. They’re delicious

Guilty pleasure, eh? Which one? I would have to say reality TV and long strolls down every aisle at Target. Alone. With a 6 shot iced skinny latte.

Is there anything we haven’t touched on that you want to chat about?

You have to just forgive yourself. So you’re 60 lbs heavier than you were on your wedding day? So you ate a whole pizza and drank a whole bottle of wine last night because they killed McDreamy on Greys? It happens. Everyone struggles. Everyone falls down. It’s not the falling down and failing and binge eating cheeseballs that makes it a failure. You’re human. Welcome to the club. There’s like, 7 billion of us. The failure comes in not getting back up. Wake up the next day, get your ass to the gym or get to the grocery store or quit rescheduling that doctors appointment you’re afraid to go to. Just keep going. And if you get stuck, find help to get you unstuck. We are not meant to be perfect. We are meant to be flawed. Quit beating yourself up and start focusing on your shit. Take it one day at a time.

What is your definition of beauty?

Beauty is knowing who you are, being proud of it, and rocking it. I’ve never felt more beautiful than now. There’s such happiness in being yourself unapologetically.

Knowing who you are

Need more Shelby in your life? Check her out on her blog, or on any of these social media platforms:

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All of the beautiful images in this post were right from Shelby’s site and her Facebook page (well, except for that shot of Betty White). The edits were done by little ole me.

Beauty is…climbing mountains.

I was never athletic growing up. I did beauty pagents and McDonald’s commercials. Not soccer and softball.

You know that beautiful quote, “She believed she could. So she did”? I have loved that quote for many a moon.

But today I did not believe I could. But I did.

She didn't believe she could.


We are lucky to live near several parks and recreation areas. We have bike trails out the wazoo. One such trail leads to one such park– a state park that is riddled with hills. It is where cyclists go to die. Leading into the park, there is a mountain. Ok, we are in central Missouri, so it is really more of a hill. Anyhoo, I decided today would be a good day for a nice 20 mile ride. It has been a while since I have gone that kind of distance, and I would really like to participate in a “metric century” (67 mile bike ride) in the summer. So I though today was the day to do some training. I hoped on the trail and planned to head in the direction of the big scary state park. I knew I was not quite ready for the hills therein, but I thought I could handle the road TO the park. As I happily coasted down the never-ending hill that led to the park entrance, it dawned on me. I would have to turn around at some point. I would have to go UP this beast. Not going to lie. At that point, I cussed a little.

Flash back to TWO summers ago. In another state park near us. My husband is patiently teaching me HOW TO RIDE A BIKE. Yes, ladies and gentlemen. My 30 year old booty was on a bicycle seat for the first time. I got to the point where I could go straight. But turning was out of the question. And those little pillars at the beginning of trails that indicate cars are not allowed– they were terrifying. I was sure I would crash into each one. And I did hit a few. I would walk my bike DOWN hills lest I get to going too fast and loose control. I would walk my bike UP hills because my legs just could not do that. I was a mess. Not even a hot mess. Just a mess. But I kept peddling.


Today that hill seemed to have no end. Going up it, I remember thinking at least three times, “Yeah, I can’t do this. Pull into that driveway.” But then that driveway was behind me. So I thought, “OK, at THAT sign I am going to have to stop.” But then the sign was behind me. Why wasn’t I stopping?! I literally NEVER told myself to keep going. I never said “You can do it self! Slow and steady! You got it!” There was literally NO positive self-talk. And then, I was at a flat bit. And the mother of all hills was behind me. What just happened?!

When I got home I texted my husband: “I climbed the hill outside Babler!” He expressed File_000his pride. And I realized that these physical feats mean a lot to me. I was never athletic growing up. I did beauty pageants and McDonald’s commercials. Not soccer and softball. The lessons I learned doing those things were many: Eye contact is a lost art, casting does not have time for your silly questions (for real though, don’t ask Danny Goldman what your motivation is), it feels damn good to command a stage (even if you don’t know you are doing it at the time), practice practice practice, be articulate (those interviews, man!), go to every audition no matter how “small” the part is, win gracefully, loose gracefully, and always ALWAYS thank the judges.

What I didn’t learn then is what I get to learn now– the awesome things my body CAN DO! Did you know I can run?! I got that handy “Couch to 5k” app last summer– and I ran 3 miles straight MULTIPLE TIMES! I even got the “Couch to 10K” app in my exuberance. I got up to about 5 miles STRAIGHT. But that shiz takes a long time. Now I’m back to nice little 2 milers. And I can RIDE A BIKE! Those things are crazy– just two little wheels holding you up! Like high heels, but scarier! Because stilettos can’t go 20 miles an hour. Human bums were not meant to sit on those little seats for long periods of time. But we do! Because we can!

I have spent a while saying things like, “I’m not a runner, but…” or “I’m not a cyclist, but…” I think that is toro poo-poo. Do you run? Yes? You’re a runner. Do you pedal a bike for any distance at all? You are a cyclist. I bought my bike from a second-hand bike/coffee shop. I do not have those cool, but so easy to make fun of, padded shorts. Sometimes I forget which finger to use to change my gears correctly. But I am a cyclist. Just ask that hill outside of Babler.



Beauty is…seeing YOU

I wish people wouldn’t be scared of mental illness and it wouldn’t be such a touchy topic to discuss. I want girls and boys around the world to know that they are not alone whatsoever, and mental illness is just a bump in the road.

Courtney is just like any other high school student. She gets excited about dances and cherishes time with friends. She also has her own unique set of challenges.

Courtney lives with anxiety and depression. She may struggle sometimes,  but she has learned that those things don’t define her.

I do have the power to overcome anxiety and depression, but there will be times when it comes out of nowhere and I have to deal with it.

I had the opportunity to chat with this beautiful young lady and it occurred to me: We could all learn a thing or two from Courtney.

You have had a bit of a rough road to travel these past couple of years. CanAnxiety you talk about some of the struggles you have had and where you are at now?

I have always struggled with insecurity in myself, my life, the ones around me, and the world. I used to be so uneasy with who I was. I didn’t know when a panic attack would arise, and I began to feel so out of control. I would starve myself because that’s the only control I felt like I had in my life. I would think about ending things because everyday seemed to be less and less “real.” But the depression, eating disorder, and anxiety was more real than anything. I actually became so comfortable with my mental illness, I didn’t want it to go. I would run away from things that made me feel loved or worthy because all I knew at that time was hurtful words about myself. Sometimes still today, I just get so lost in my own thoughts that I feel like I lose track of reality. I used to get so frustrated with who I was becoming and why the anxious thoughts would never go away. Still today, anxiety is my go-to…but it’s different. I hear what anxiety or depression has to say. I will admit that sometimes it does overcome me, and I start to panic and I feel like the world is collapsing. But nowadays, there is so many more good days than bad ones. I have been able to see anxiety as separate from myself, me and anxiety are no longer the same person. Anxiety is not a part of me whatsoever. Instead of seeing mental illness as the enemy, I see it as bittersweet sometimes. It can really hurt me and the ones around me, but I have become so much stronger in who I am as a person and what I want to do in my life. Without all of the struggling years, I don’t think I would be who I was made to be.

What gets you through the rough days?

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Last April, I got “saved” which is basically saying that I surrendered my life to The Lord. He has worked through and in me so much, exposing me to so many different seasons of life. I hold all of my hope and trust in Him on my bad days, with the peace that He is always at work in my life.

Also, without my mom I don’t think I would be the woman I am today. She has never given up on me, she provides me with the love that I sometimes cannot give to myself. She can see all of my flaws and insecurities, and still let me know that I mean so much to this world. She has shown me what I want to become some day, completely selfless and loving with the knowledge that I might not be loved in return. She has shown me what hope and love really is; she is the fighter, not me.

When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up? Now what are your plans?

When I was little, I wanted to be a scientist. Now, I want to work with psychology.

What is the best song to sing in the shower?

The best song to sing in the shower would be “Brand New” by Ben Rector.

What is the best piece of advice you have heard? What was the worst?happiness (1)

The best advice that I have been given is “stop looking for happiness in the same place you lost it.” This piece of advice has changed my point of view on a lot of things. For some strange reason, I keep going back to the same thing or person hoping that this time around it will be different, but it never is. Looking for happiness in something that stole it from you will never suddenly change.

The worst advice I have been given is “just try to ignore it.” Whether “it” be anxiety, depression, or an eating disorder, telling someone to ignore it will only make the thoughts become bigger and stronger; you should never ignore what you’re afraid of.

It is Mental Health Awareness month. What is something you wish people understood about you and your journey?

I wish people wouldn’t be scared of mental illness and it wouldn’t be such a touchy topic to discuss. Today mental illness is more popular than ever. I want the world to be open to talking about it for what it is, a disorder, not some sickening disease. I want girls and boys around the world to know that they are not alone whatsoever, and mental illness is just a bump in the road. Personally, I wish people would understand that sometimes I can’t be like them. Some days I just can’t go up to a new person and say hello, and sometimes I just have to be quiet. I want people to understand what people suffering with mental illness go through, and understand that some days they just can’t do some things, and that’s okay. You might be laughing at one moment, then crying in the next, but you’re not a freak for that happening. I do have the power to overcome anxiety and depression, but there will be times when it comes out of nowhere and I have to deal with it. I want mental illness to no longer have the stigma of being weak or “walking on eggshells.” People need to treat someone with mental illness the same, but with the knowledge that they can’t do everything perfectly.

If you could have coffee with any woman, past or present, who would it be and what one question would you ask?

If I could have coffee with one woman, I would have it with a woman who I met in my IOP treatment. She was a lot older than me, and she did suffer from anxiety and depression, but she would always look at me and tell me that I have so much ahead of me. I saw her a few months after I graduated the program, and she just smiled at me because she was so proud of where I was. I didn’t get to know her that much, but I want to know what she’s been through and how she got through everything.

Who is your favorite Disney princess?

I’m not a huge Disney fan, so I asked my friend (who loves Disney stuff) which princess I would be most like. She said Merida from Brave, so I decided to look her up and see what she’s like. Merida is described as “impetuous girl who wants to take control of her own destiny.” It also says that she is “stubborn” and “does not fit the stereotypical princess role.” Just these three descriptions make me think of myself, because I sure am stubborn and I seem to feel like an outcast a lot of the time. I’ve noticed that people tend to glance over the ones that are “outcasts” or “different,” and I have been that one the whole time. But, it is honestly really cool that Disney would take the time to make a character similar to someone like me. Merida is a princess who doesn’t look like a typical princess, and I think she would be my favorite because she reminds me of myself.

What is your definition of beauty? Or, when do you feel most beautiful?

I think beauty is when someone can hold confidence in themselves and who they are as a person. Whenever I see beautiful girls, I look at them with so much jealousy and desire, and I end up feeling less of a person than them. Telling yourself that you are less than someone else is not going to get you anywhere except to a place of insecurity and self-hatred. Still today, I struggle with feeling beautiful in my own skin. I look at other girls and I start to become incredibly negative. Beauty doesn’t mean that you have to love what you see when you look in the mirror, but it is when you realize that you’re not what those girls look like, but you are something. Personally, the last time I felt truly beautiful was on a late night car ride with the music loud and my friends beside me. Although I was not looking in the mirror at the time, I felt alive and happy. I was so happy in that moment, and I never wanted it to end because everything around me was so perfect. Beauty isn’t always loving what you see in the mirror; it’s being able to look in the mirror and just see YOU.

Beauty is seeing you




Motivation Monday: Listen to your body

Get out of social media and mainstream news and start experimenting with what works for your body and your lifestyle. Here’s a simple plan to help you Define Your Fit…


Let’s start with a little background: You are currently helping women (and men) find strength and balance in their lives. Tell me a bit about what led you to where are now. What challenges have you faced along the way?

I’ve been in the health and fitness industry for close to a dozen years. I knew it was my passion when I was in a cadaver lab in college and saw the inside of a healthy body that died of natural causes and an unhealthy body that died prematurely from a heart attack side by side. I got to feel the difference in the organs of someone who exercised and ate healthy versus someone who drank and smoked all their life. The difference was incredible and jaw dropping. That image has inspired me to educate women (and men) on the importance of leading a healthy lifestyle.

I consider it a privilege to work with people to help them understand how the body moves and how to move it pain free. It’s a privilege to be invited along on someone’s health and fitness journey. I feel the most alive when I get to see those changes happen right before my eyes.

For so long I would train the man or woman who just wanted to look good (which I’m sure is most of us). I helped them to lose weight and fit into their little black dress but, I started to realize that something was missing. For me, that missing link was digging deeper and helping them to gain strength from the inside out. In my life, that inner strength comes from God. So, after many years in this industry I have finally found that my niche is Christian woman and teaching them what the Bible says about their bodies and where their strength comes from before they learn it in the gym.

The biggest challenge for me was identifying my ideal demographic or niche. Originally I just wanted to help everybody (kids, elderly, athletes, cardiac patients, moms etc). I got as many certifications as I could and marketed myself as a trainer to anyone who needed one. That was actually a disservice to my clients because I couldn’t be everything to everyone. There are very few trainers who can be amazing at training the entire population. You eventually find that you are better at relating to a specific group of people and you can serve them the best.

When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?

When I was little I wanted to be an astronaut. Then I went on my first plane ride and realized I was terrified of flying (not to mention I am also horrible at math). The only other thing I wanted to be was a mom and today I’m blessed to have adopted 4 beautiful children!


You mention on your site that you are a “recovering perfectionist.” Tell me a bit about that– what habits were you in and how were they affecting you? How did you move from perfectionism to acceptance?

I’ve always been very driven by success. Unfortunately my personal definition of success was “to never do anything wrong.” That often left me either feeling like a failure all the time or it left me doing nothing at all for the fear of failing.

That type of thought process produced anxiety and depression in my life that I couldn’t get rid of on my own. Once I started building a relationship with Jesus and understanding what the Bible says about who we are in His image, I truly realized that I don’t need to be perfect because I never will be. I don’t need to try harder to be accepted, I need to accept God’s love before I try anything at all.

What is the best song to sing in the shower?

LOL. I have to honestly say that I don’t think I ever sing in the shower. I will have to give it a try. Maybe your readers can leave me suggestions and I will follow up with how it goes 🙂

What is the best piece of advice you have heard? What was the worst?Self talk

The best piece of advice I have ever heard is described like this: When you change your self talk from ‘I have to’ into ‘I get to or I choose to’ you can change your whole life.

The worst piece of advice I have ever heard is “Everything will be ok because God doesn’t give you more than you can handle.” That’s bologna. We are given things on a daily basis that are bigger than we can handle. Chronic stress is the result of things bigger than we can handle. The truth is that God doesn’t give us things bigger than HE can handle. When we trust in Him and what His word says, it helps us to understand what the “handling” process looks like.

How do you spend your down time? Favorite books, shows, movies?

I probably spend way too much time on Facebook. I love to read too many books at one time and I always have to have a highlighter with me when I’m reading. My favorite types of books are non-fiction. I love reading anything Christian based, self-improvement, leadership or business type books. My husband and I end our nights by snuggling on the couch with a few Netflix shows. If it’s his night to pick it’s a boring documentary. If it’s my night to pick it’s a romantic comedy or cooking show.

If you could have coffee with any woman, past or present, who would it be and what one question would you ask?

My great grandma Ida. I only knew her when I was a young girl and it was well before I came to know the Lord. My grandma (her daughter) always tells me how proud she would be of the Christian woman I have become. She told me that my great-grandma read through the Bible several times in her life. I would love to have coffee with her and ask her to tell me about her faith journey.


What is your definition of beauty?

I think we’ve all heard the quote that “beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” I believe that beauty is in the eye of the Creator. In my life, the Creator is God and He specifically tells us that everything He made is beautiful. I believe that with all my heart. You’re beautiful and I’m beautiful and no one can tell us any different nor can anyone take that away from us. And, don’t you ever forget that someone else’s beauty doesn’t make you any less beautiful. We get too caught up in comparing ourselves with each other and forget that there is enough room in this world for everyone to be beautiful.

someone else's beauty

Your list of certifications and continued education pursuits is impressive to say the least. What motivates you to keep learning more?

Like I mentioned earlier, part of it had to do with my unattainable strive for perfection and success. Part of me thought that the more knowledge I had, the more successful I could be. I struggled with feeling like I wasn’t ever “enough.” So, I poured my energy into education. I don’t regret anything I’ve learned, but I do regret the reasons why I pursued education so relentlessly.

Since my masters is in education I obviously have a love for learning. I don’t think we should ever stop learning and I hope to always be a student in some sort of capacity. What I have come to appreciate now is that being a student and learning something new doesn’t need to come with extra initials after your name. 🙂

What did you have for breakfast this morning? What is your guilty pleasure?

It’s 10:30am right now and I haven’t had breakfast yet. I’ve had 2 cups of organic coffee with stevia and I’m finally starting to feel hungry. If I wake up and I’m not hungry, I won’t eat. Some days I love a big breakfast and other times I enjoy what’s called Intermittent Fasting. I listen to my body more than following any type of plan.

My guilty pleasure is anything with dark chocolate.


It is National Fitness Month. What do you want people to know about health and fitness. How can someone get motivated to make healthy changes?

Everyone is a health and fitness expert these days. You can’t log onto the internet or walk through a grocery store magazine aisle without being told what to eat and how to workout. The information overload is insane and leads people to just not doing anything because they don’t know where to start.

What I want everyone to know is that YOU are in complete control of creating your own definition of health and fitness. Health and fitness for me is a meat & veggie heavy, lower carb lifestyle with some high intensity kettlebell or barbell training 3-4 days per week. I feel really good at 18% body fat and feel sluggish when I get up over 23%. This is what makes me feel my best. I know I need to change things up when I’ve had too many processed carbs (or glasses of wine), when my joints ache and when I feel groggy in the morning. I don’t do well with dairy, coconut or almonds. This type of plan won’t work for the runner or the mom who just gave birth or the 75 year old with arthritis or the vegetarian who loves yoga.

Get out of social media and mainstream news and start experimenting with what works for your body and your lifestyle. Here’s a simple plan to help you Define Your Fit:

Define your fit

  1. Define your whatwhat is it that you want to change with your health? Is it your weight, your dress size, your strength, your endurance or maybe your doctor has said if you don’t change anything you will have a heart attack in the near future.

  2. Define your whywhy do you want it? Your why will keep you going when the going gets tough. Dig deep and don’t be afraid to get emotional with this one.

  3. Define your how how are you going to make this happen? Will it require a nutrition overhaul? Will it require 3 days of exercise per week or more than that? Do you need to purchase a gym membership or equipment for your home? Maybe you can just start with bodyweight exercises.

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All of the images I used in this post are right from Kristen’s website. Aren’t they gorgeous?!

 (the edit in that last picture is mine)

#WCW: Lessons From Mom

Mother’s Day is behind us and we have all moved on from the cards, flowers, and brunches. But I still have a couple of things to say about my mom.




My #WCW this week was easy. Mother’s Day is behind us and we have all moved on from the cards, flowers, and brunches. But I still have a couple of things to say about my mom.

I last saw my mom in March. Before that it had been two years since I had seen that smile. Maybe it’s because I am a bit older, maybe it is because I am a bit wiser, but with every conversation and with every visit, I am becoming more and more aware of the lessons my mom has taught me and is continuing to teach me.


Here are a few things I learned from her on her last visit:

Take Care of Yourself. The very first stop we made after I picked her up from the airport was to Sally Beauty Supply. We got hair “masks” and face masks. She had brought 16 bottles of nail polish. We may have looked a fright with those masks on, but we had one heck of a time sitting around the table, putting each other’s masks on and meandering around YouTube looking for cute designs to put on our nails. We laughed at videos and marveled at some of the designs these ladies were doing. We took our time. We did things that served absolutely no one but ourselves. And that is ok.

Put your phone down. My mom works mostly from home, so being close to her phone and her laptop is a necessity. Nevertheless, there would be times her phone would ring and she would NOT run to answer it. That little device did not control her life. She was engaged with the people in front of her. The phone could wait.

Labels have only the power you give them. We hear that words are not supposed to hurt us. The truth, though, is that they do. If someone puts a label on you that you would not put on yourself, I do think it is healthy to examine it. Am I selfish? Am I rude? But as you examine it you cannot let it consume you. Be aware of your actions. Be conscious of how your actions affect others. But, ultimately, if the label does not describe the person you actually are– the person that people who love you see– let it go. Do not give the label (and the person doing the labeling) power over your life and your actions. Or, in other words:

Graffiti in St Louis. “Make no harm. Take no shit.”



Feng Shui. The second day she was here, my mom re-did the girls’ room, had them get IMG_1195 (1)rid of 20-something items, and sketched out the different areas of our apartment according to Feung Shui. She made a list of what items and elements needed to be in each section of the house. She swept our front stoop and put coins under our doormat. We painted some rocks gold and cleared everything out from in front of the windows. We put the toilet lids down. We went and got a couple of Feung Shui books. We have a lot of work still to do, but it felt good to de-clutter a bit and make a little room for some good chi.

Get a bigger purse. We were getting ready to head out the door, when my oldest daughter asked me to put something of hers in my purse. She was holding her own purse when she asked, so I told her to put it in there. She responded that her purse wasn’t big enough, to which my mom and I both replied, “Get a bigger purse!” Sometimes we look to others to solve our problems, but if we take a step back the solution is actually quite simple. I wonder how many of the world’s problems could be solved if we only carried a slightly bigger purse…

Pause. Think. Then verbalize (The classic, “If you don’t have anything nice to say….”). We have all heard it a million times, and for good reason. This one was directed at my often-quarreling daughters. They bicker about the most ridiculous things. My first inclination is to remind them of the big picture–my own version of “Eat your Brussels sprouts because there are starving children in Africa.” My mom went a different route: Think Before You Speak. Is this worth fighting over? Are my words helping the situation? Can I find a solution, rather than just complain about the problem?

Sunrise (but not over the Smokey Mountains)

Until you have seen the sun rise over the Great Smokey Mountains, you haven’t lived. My mom describes herself as a gypsy. And, having lived in multiple states and traveled to a ton of countries, she has walked the walk. As my husband and I are getting older, and our girls are getting less high maintenance, our wanderlust is beginning to grow. There are so many places we want to see, but so little time. We have set some goals (with the guidance of my mama) and we are checking off our list. The bottom line here: Get. Out.


Just because you have the right to say something, doesn’t mean you should. This one was directed at the girls as well. I have tried to be open with them, and have made a real effort to not answer their “But WHY..?!?!?!” with an equally annoying “Because I said so!!!” I haven’t demanded they blindly obey me. In fact, I try to encourage them to formulate their arguments and be able to articulate their point of view. I want them to be able to stand up for themselves. I am afraid of them being victimized (now or in the future) because they have learned that they must do what they are told to do by an authority figure, regardless of how they feel about it. The down side of this is that I get A LOT of backtalk. I mean A LOT. Hearing my kids argue with me was almost too much for my southern mama. She wants them to be able to stand up for themselves, too, but she showed me that they really don’t need to be standing up for themselves so often…against ME! Yes they have the right to express themselves in ways children of past generations never did. But when it comes to things like brushing their teeth and making their beds, just because they have the right to argue does not mean they should.

IMG_1196Vision boards. We talked about having goals for the year, and about writing those goals down. We created vision boards to help us stay focused. I love planning, so the act of writing down some very specific things I want to get done this year and then creating a vision board out of those goals was very cathartic for me. The girls got into it, too. Now, when they are bored, I ask them if they have been working towards anything on their vision boards!


My mom has been through a lot in her life. She has lost loves, survived abuse, and has raised me mostly on her own. Though there are countless lessons she has taught me, one of the biggest is to WORK. You want that job? Work. You want that vacation? Work. You want that house on the hill? Work. No one can look out for you all the time, so you have to take that responsibility on yourself. It sounds a little sad at first, to say that there will not always be someone there to take care of you. But if you think about it, it is really empowering. It means you are in control of your life, your future, your happiness. It means you get to decide what you will do today that serves you. It means you get to learn about you– what makes you feel fulfilled and satisfied and whole. It means the world is at your feet. But it also means:

you better work

Thanks, mom.

Beauty is…treasuring yourself

May is National Fitness Month, so all month we will be talking to women who inspire health and happiness #MotivationMonday

 Lauren was bullied growing up, sexually assaulted when she was 16, and fought an eating disorder through her high school and college years. Her road to self-acceptance has been long and hard, but now she is dedicated to helping others pave their own road.

Lauren is the entrepreneur behind the WhatIsPerfection blog, a self-improvement blog for “the imperfect girl everywhere.” Her mission is to help women find happiness, feel beautiful, and be confident in who they are. “We all deserve to be happy, and we all deserve to be the best version of us. And we are truly capable of getting there. Because Perfection is Impossible. Happiness isn’t.”



Let’s start with some background. Where are you from? What was your favorite thing to do as a kid?

Hi! I am Lauren Eliz, of the What is Perfection Blog. I grew up in Long Island with my two sisters and larger than life Italian parents. Growing up was definitely an adventure for me. I lived on a block with a bunch of kids my age. Most of us, including me, went to Catholic School. Our classes were really small and I was basically with the same group of 50 kids from kindergarten through eighth grade. I was bullied a lot and didn’t really have a solid group of close friends. Then in high school I went to an even bigger Catholic school — and had over an hour long bus ride each day! I didn’t really like going to a private school. I hated wearing a uniform and learning about morality in a way that tried to make everyone be the same, act the same, and have little unique opinions about life. There weren’t many outlets for being creative or expressing your individuality. And being a creative person, that was really tough. I loved performing and spent much of my teenage free time performing in small theater shows around Long Island. And writing. I was always always writing: Music, Songs, Poems, Short stories – Anything and Everything. I guess my childhood is really what made creativity so important to me. It was what made me ME and allowed me to stand out in a world where everything was supposed to be plain and simple.

Take me through your typical day.

My Typical Day has changed over the last few months since starting the What is Perfecton blog. The five years before What is Perfection launched, I was a television producer for CBS News, and my typical day was chasing national stories, editing video all over the world and spending late nights getting important stories on television. But as exciting as that sounds, my typical day now is even more exciting! I get started working on blog projects from the minute I wake up till I head off to bed. I fill my days with photography shoots, brainstorming new ideas for stories and connecting with amazing women all over the world. I am still telling stories that matter, but with these stories, I somehow feel like I am making more of a difference in the world. My typical day is now spent being creative, expressive and allowing myself to be vulnerable. And I love that.

When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I’m pretty sure I always knew I wanted a creative life… and I am almost certain I always dreamed of being a writer. It was just in my soul from the moment I started living. Then when I got older and went to high school, I was set on being  Broadway star. I used to take classes in Manhattan every weekend to perfect my singing voice and auditioned for colleges across the country. But then once I got there, it didn’t feel right to me. I grew up, and realized I didn’t want to just recite someone else’s writing… I wanted to tell my own stories.

On your site, you talk about going from feeling like you were never good enough to embracing your imperfections. Tell me a little bit about that journey. Was it a gradual ‘awakening’? Or did you just wake up one day and say “OK, that’s enough of that!” Were/Are there any rituals or mantras or habits you have gotten into to help you get from where you were to where you are?

There was no specific Ah-ha moment for me…. no time in my life where the lightbulb turned on and I was like.. OH NO I AM LIVING WRONG! But looking back at my life I can definitely pinpoint the moments where my journey took serious turns off course to bring me where I am today. For those of you who don’t know my imperfection story, I can sum itLaurenEatingDisorder up for you: I was lost in insecurity my whole life. I was bullied growing up, and became obsessed with my body image. I suffered an eating disorder, sexual assault, a suicide attempt and a few other traumatizing things that really shaped my low self image. But my life has completely changed since then. I have found an amazing happiness and self confidence I never thought possible. I guess the big turning point for me was when I got divorced and lost my whole “perfect” life that I thought I finally had. That was really what pushed me over the edge and really forced me to do some serious soul searching. The three years after that I adapted some new habits that really turned my life around. I started reading self help books and tried to educate myself about all the emotional qualities I was missing in my life. I realized that no one else can shape my destiny but me. And if I didn’t start loving myself, I would never be confident enough to live a happy life being true to who I was and accepting myself for me. Journaling was really the ritual that allowed me to grow. I got really into it during my moments of self discovery. I’d ask myself things like, “What does the perfect life look like to me?” and “What is Happiness?” Writing all of those things out really forced me to look deeply at what I wanted, who I was, and where I wanted my life to take me. I also found means of meditation — like running, and coloring therapy. Those things really helped too.

Who is your favorite Power Ranger? Or Disney Princess? Or character?

I wasn’t ever really into power rangers.. And Disney princesses were cool and all, don’t get me wrong. But I was definitely a “different” kid. I was Mighty Mouse one year for Halloween.. and Beast from Beauty and the Beast another year. My favorite character though was always Simba. I guess I liked the idea of transforming your identity and finding happiness – even at a young age.

What was the best piece of advice you have received? What was the worst?Be true to yourself

The best piece of advice I ever got was to always be true to myself. No matter what. The worst piece of advice? Well… I’ve been told to  just trying a fit in, or to just let go of the past, or things like, “stop being so dramatic.” Those are bad things to tell anyone. You should never try to be someone for someone else… or just try to please other people. And that advice can make for some serious pretend living that is just incredibly unhealthy. I  am me. No one should ever try and change that.

You get into a packed elevator. Which way do you face?

If I ever got stuck in a elevator with a group of people, I’d probably be the one organizing some fun game to pass the time. So I would make everyone sit in a circle and share their deep dark secrets so we could all become best friends.

What is your ideal state? (In a perfect world, what are you doing? Where are you living? Who is surrounding you?) How will you get there?

This is my perfect ideal state. I am living my dream, I am surrounded by people who love me. Where I am living doesn’t matter. I am happy. And that is the only thing I need.

What is the best song to sing in the shower?

Anything Broadway!

What is your definition of beauty?

Beauty is something internal. It is not how you look or what you wear. To me, beautiful is something that happens when you connect with who you are and live true to yourself every single day. It shines through you. It radiates. You live life treasuring yourself and the people you love.. and that makes beauty.

Beauty is...Lauren Eliz


All images from (edits my own)

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Beauty is…doing things for others

First grade teacher by day, pit bull rescuer and Challenger baseball organizer by night. My #WCW is one beautiful lady!

It is Teacher Appreciation Week, and I am excited to feature one of the most beautiful teachers I know! Not only does she dedicate her time to helping each of her students reach their full potential, she spends her “extra” time giving even more– from pit bull rescue to Challenger Baseball, this lady is spreading love and beauty all over the place!

Who you are: Maureen Smith

What you do: First Grade Teacher by profession, giving my time and money to great causes by choice!

Where you do it: Rockwood School District


You are a first grade teacher by day, pit bull rescuer and Challenger challenger-baseballbaseball organizer by night. Tell me a bit about what led you to where are now. What challenges have you faced along the way?

St. Louis Challenger Baseball started on the 2nd date I had with my (now husband), Buck.  He talked about the league he started here in St. Louis and I was happy to come see what it was all about.  After the first summer of watching from the sidelines, I jumped right in to be a coach the following summer and have been for 12 years now.

Pit Bull Rescuing came a little later, after my husband and I were married and adopted our first rescued pit bull, Sally, in 2009.  We were hooked and can’t imagine our lives without her.  I work locally with Even Chance Pit Bull Rescue, Stray Rescue (walking dogs when I can), the HumaneEvenChance Society of the United States as an Animal Rescue Volunteer.  I have been deployed with them 5X to Florida and Tennessee to volunteer taking care of pit bulls who have been in dog fighting situations.

Challenges for all of these are TIME!  I always wish I had more of it.  Space in our home is getting to be a little more complex with Challenger and fostering puppies for Even Chance…there is always a lot of stuff.

It is National Teacher Appreciation Week. What do you want people to know about the real life of teachers?

We only want what is best for every single student in our classrooms and beyond. We are only one person and we try our best to meet every need for every child, every day.

When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I think I always wanted to perform.  I know in 6th grade I had a teacher who totally understood my passion, maybe because of his own love of the stage (he had a Bluegrass band). He was always asking me and my friends to “rehearse” our latest skit, and he let us “perform” in front of the class many times that year. We even had costumes for our performances.  My favorite was dressing like Pinky Tuscadero and the Pinkettes from Happy Days!  I was hooked!  I also babysat a lot and that probably molded my decision to “act” in front of kids.

You have “Drama Queen” signs all over your room. But you are probably the least “drama” filled person I have met. Am I missing something??

I guess now look at the answer to question #2.  I LOVE being on stage and performing, either in plays or musicals or choirs.  I have always been a ham, had the gift of gab (my mom is from Ireland) and find teaching the best place to perform improv on a daily basis.  One day I hope to be performing in a Broadway show…

Talk about multi-tasking! 


What is the best piece of advice you have heard?

giveMy husband always says: never pass up a chance to give.  He is right.  We live our lives that way. That is definitely why we started Got Your Back Pack in Rockwood.

What was the worst? Do not major in musical theater in college, that is a waste! Choose Accounting.

If you could have coffee with any woman, past or present, who would it be and what one question would you ask?

Princess Diana. I would ask,  “Have you always had the passion and drive to help others or did someone influence you to make that your legacy as a member of the royal family?”

What is your definition of beauty? When do you feel the most beautiful?

Doing things for others…I wish outer beauty was not so much of our daily lives, but sadly it is.  I feel the most beautiful when I sing and hit the right harmony and notes.

Beauty is...doing things for others

Beauty is…radiant authenticity

May is National Fitness Month, so all month we will be talking to women who inspire health and happiness #MotivationMonday

According to her site, Shauna is a nerd, a jock, and a hip-hoppin’ yogi.

She holds degrees from Stanford, UCLA, and Johns Hopkins.

She is an athlete who is sponsored by Under Armour and teaches fitness classes all over the bay area.

She is also a scholar, with a PhD in Public Health.

In June, Shauna will be in Arizona speaking at the Girls For Progress conference, an even that was created by a 12 year old girl to inspire girls to change the world.

Now that is beautiful.

Photo by Dana’s Eye Photography



Can you share one of your favorite memories from growing up? When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Favorite memory growing up was the day I got into Stanford. When I was little, if you asked me what I wanted to be, I would’ve said, “I want to go to Stanford.” Clearly, not the answer to the question, but that’s all I could focus on.

On your site you describe yourself as a jock AND a nerd. What were your most challenging experiences in each arena? What got you through them?

Photo by Matt Roy Photography


Physically [aka as a jock] the most challenging things have been in body acceptance, which I struggled with more when I was younger, but is still a constant challenge now and dealing with injury. I don’t know that I’ll ever “get through” the body image thing, but I definitely get better at letting it go. I focus more on what my body can do, rather than what it looks like and that has been game changing for me. Dealing with an injury as an athlete is always traumatizing, often more mentally and emotionally than anything else. Again, it’s about refocusing attention from the fact that I can’t do something to what I actually CAN do and how amazing the body is at healing.

On the nerd side, the most challenging was very distinguishably my PhD. By far, it was the hardest thing I have ever done, but it taught me the most about my ability, work ethic, mental and emotional strength, relentlessness, and endurance. It’s a lengthy process with tons of steps along the way. Looking too far ahead was incredibly overwhelming, so I had to be present with where I was, put my head down, ignore any doubts and just work my ass off. Those are all things that I continue to apply now.

You are a health and nutrition expert. What is your guilty pleasure?

I don’t allow guilt around food, so I don’t have one. I am ok with eating whatever in moderation and with consciousness.

What was the best piece of advice you have received? What was the worst?

Best: Write your own rules. Worst: I don’t remember probably because I just stopped listening!

Pepsi or Coke?

No, thanks. 😉

What is the best song to sing to in the shower or when you are alone in the car?

Anything 90’s rap.

Photo by Matt Roy Photography

What is your ideal state? (In a perfect world, what are you doing? Where are you living? Who is surrounding you?) How will you get there?

I am currently living in my perfect world for me at this moment. That may change in the future, but this is where I’m supposed to be right now and this is what I’m supposed to be doing, so it’s perfect for me!

Just about everyone has something they want to improve about their health or physical state. How do you recommend they get started?

Find something that you like or that piques your curiosity. If you don’t like it, you won’t do it. Period.

What is your definition of beauty?

I think there’s beauty in authenticity. There’s something about when the inner heart and soul comes shining out to the rest of the world that is magnetic and magic. It’s when you wear your inner you on your physical body. It’s radiant authenticity.

Beauty is... radiant authenticity
Photo by TRX Training. (Edits mine)



#WCW: The Ladies of Eureka High School Robotics Team

When I was in high school I was worrying about who to go to Prom with and if I would ever get my toe-touch (I never did).
These ladies are building. frickin. robots.

 When I was in high school I was worrying about who to go to Prom with and if I would ever get my toe-touch (I never did).

These ladies are building. frickin. robots.

Who you are: Catherine Colletti and Joey Schmaltz

What you do: members of the FTC Robotics team, The Quarks 3591

Where you do it: Eureka High School


What drew you to robotics? What do you love about it and what are the biggest challenges?

Catherine: I thought robotics would be a lot of fun and I would get a chance to learn a lot about engineering, plus I have been doing robotics of some sort since I was in 4th grade and I wanted to continue in high school. I love it because I get to apply what I learn in class about engineering to a real purpose. It is super exciting and there are so many different things we can do when we design our robot. The biggest challenge would be when the robot or the programming or the wiring is not working the way it is supposed to. Also, since this is a team effort, we have to make sure we work together well and consider the ideas of all team members.

Joey: My entire family is made up of engineers and I felt like joining something that would give me an opportunity to be around things where the main focus is engineering would just bring me closer to my family as well as to some of my friends that were already on the team when I joined. I love the team aspect of robotics, we (all 13 of us) act like a BIG family and we may have some “sibling” bickering and not getting along just like a real family does but we all love each other at the end of the day. The biggest challenge was probably the communication within the team. The team has one large group chat with everyone plus some in it and that can get out of hand sometimes and then there is also the face to face communication that didn’t always happen or if it did hardly anyone was participating in the discussion.

What accomplishment (within robotics or otherwise) are you most proud of?

Catherine: The Quarks received the Think Award, the award for the top engineering notebook, at the Missouri State Competition this year. This then qualified us to compete at the North Super Regionals, which was a really cool opportunity.

Joey: I was really proud of our team making it to super regionals, especially since this was my first year in robotics it was just awesome! Personal wise, I had brain surgery in 2013 so that’s kinda cool that I’m better now.

What are your plans for the future?

Catherine: First, I want to finish high school. 🙂 After that, I am looking to go to college for engineering, most likely Materials Engineering.

Joey: 100% honest here- I’ve no idea, but I’ve got a while to figure that one out

If you could have coffee with any woman, historical or living, who would it be and why?marie-curie-850

Catherine: I would talk to Marie Curie because I love chemistry and would be interested in her discoveries of two elements.


the-c3b4earlier-versionc3b5-as-the-portr-ait-of-lisa-del-giocondo_1021_html_m12df3fddJoey: The inspiration for the Mona Lisa, so that I could ask her what her name is and who does her eyebrows so that I can arrest them for theft

Fun question: M&Ms– plain or peanut? (or pretzel, or crispy, or peanut butter…)

Catherine: The original M&Ms, or peanut butter. Both are amazing.

Joey: Pretzel, is there even any other kind?

What is the best song to sing to in the shower or when you are alone in the car?

Catherine: I don’t really have a favorite. It’s generally whatever song I have stuck in my head at the moment or is on the radio.

Joey: I’m really bad at remembering lyrics to usually I just hum the tune of what ever song is stuck in my head and it mixed with 4 other songs and until you can no longer tell what genre it was even from to begin with

What was the best piece of advice you have received? What was the worst?

Catherine: The best two pieces of advice I have received are to (1) not worry about other people and do what makes you happy, and (2) aim high because even if you don’t do what you aim to, you’ll still end up doing something great. The worst piece of advice I have received is “just do what everyone else is doing”

Joey: The best was only you can take away your happiness, and the worst was when my uncle told me that doing a belly flop off a diving board wouldn’t hurt at all

What books or TV shows do you think everyone needs to read/watch, like, right now?

lord-of-the-rings-booksCatherine: The Lord of the Rings trilogy is a must-read.

Joey: It depends on what you like, but if you really wanted a recommendation list, I have one about a mile long (which is not as long as my to-read list)

What is your definition of beauty? When/where do you feel most beautiful?

Catherine: A person who is beautiful is someone who has a presence that just seems to glow because you can tell that they are happy and confident and they seem to spread that happiness wherever they go. I feel the most beautiful when I am around my family or friends doing something I enjoy.

Beauty is...glowing (1)

Joey: Beauty is something that someone achieves when they are completely immersed in whatever they enjoy doing the most or when they feel the most loved or confident. I feel beautiful when I’m reading or drawing, or surrounded by people that love me for who I am, not who they want me to be, like my family and friends.

Beauty is...immersion

SHEro Code 004:




SHEro004 (1)

 She was born a slave, but was so shielded and lived so comfortably, that she wrote “I was born a slave; but I never knew till six years of happy childhood had passed away.” Her mother died when Harriet was only 6, and she was sent to live with her mother’s mistress, who taught her to read, write, and sew. Harriet was sold to a physician when she was 11, and, after loosing her father as well, Harriet became deeply unhappy. The doctor made Harriet miserable with his unwanted advances. The doctor’s wife was vindictive and jealous. To Harriet’s knowledge, the doctor had fathered nearly a dozen children to slave mothers. Harriet would not be one of them.

The doctor refused to let Harriet marry a freed black carpenter, and she soon began a relationship with a white lawyer with whom she would have two children. Meanwhile, the doctor was fed up with Harriet, and she was moved to his brother’s plantation. When Harriet heard of plans for her children to be sent to join her on the plantation, she immediately began making plans to escape. If she was gone, the children would stay with Harriet’s grandmother, and be spared life as plantation slaves.

“Whatever slavery might do to me,” she wrote, “it could not shackle my children. If I fell a sacrifice, my little ones were saved.”

 So she escaped to friends homes, then eventually to her grandmother’s home. She hid in a small space above a store room. It was seven feet wide, nine feet long, and only three feet high. She could not even stand up in it, but there she stayed for seven years. She was able to hear and see glimpses of her children. The father of her children finally purchased them, as well as Harriet’s brother, with the promise to free them. She and her children eventually made their way to New York, where a sympathetic friend bought Harriet in order to set her free once and for all.

She began writing Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl in 1853. When efforts to publish the book failed, she had it published “for the author” in 1861. The book was published in Britain the following year.


 Harriet went on to teach, nurse troops, and run a boarding house. She died on March 7, 1897.

What most impresses me about Harriet Ann Jacobs is her resilience. She remained in hiding for seven years– in a space where she could not even stand up! During that entire time, she never revealed herself to her children. When she finally did gain her freedom, she did not waste it. She served others and shared her story.

And that makes her one heck of a SHEro.

Learn more about Harriet Ann Jacobs here