October 29, 2014


Welcome to Ever BeYOUtiful readers!  I'm so excited for the next season on this blog.  I will forever look back lovingly on my years as Creative Roots.  It actually helped me truly form roots as a blogger when I think about it!

But my life is moving forward.  I've found a calling and my aim is to steer my writing, research, and projects in the direction of self-love, nutrition, recovery, and fitness.  Eeek!  So excited. 

So to celebrate the start of this new season, I have a trailer I'd like to share with you. 

Hungry for Change is a documentary I found on Netflix today.  And hear me when I say... it is life changing.  With everything from why diets don't work to what's wrong with the frankenfood we consume to the obesity crisis we're facing in this country to food addiction and recovery... this film is going to change the way you see food.  It's going to open your eyes to what is wrong with the dead food we are consuming and excite you for the real, tangible, and simplistic ways we can change the way we live and eat.

Please give this trailer a look.  Then pull it up on Netflix the next free evening you have.  You WON'T be sorry. 


I have been contemplating rebranding this little space for the past couple of months.  This week I made the final decision to recreate Creative Roots into something that better fits my current life, passion, and mission.  Though saying goodbye to this space as I know it will be hard I know it is for the best. 

I am currently working with the bestie on name ideas, domain changes, and the overall feel of the blog. 

So please pardon the dust as I make the transition to a new season of blogging!

Stay strong brave ones!

October 28, 2014

...Health & Happiness: Bring in the Munchkins!...

Today I had two eye opening experiences when it came to nutrition.  The first was listening to a TED talk by Jaime Oliver.  In this speech he discusses the growing crisis among our nation's children.  Not only are they the first generation that are projected to not live as long as their parents, but they also are not being educated about food or even being provided with good food.  It's heartbreaking and I believe could drive people to action.  If you have 20 minutes, give it a listen! 

The second experience was during my last swim lesson of the night.  I was talking to my students about dinner and one told me that he'd had a hamburger and mashed potatoes for dinner.  I asked him if he had any vegetables.  He told me he had carrots.  Great!  But then the shocker, the other student simply asked "what are vegetables?"

Uhhhhh.  What?

She clarified by asking for examples of vegetables.  But still!  How is this sweet little girl not able to name vegetables!?  She even asked me if eggs were a vegetable. 

How are things like this and the things Mr. Oliver talks about happening? 

So I'm here to charge all you mom and dad readers out there.  Heck!  All you aunty, uncle, grandparent, and friend to kids readers!  It's time to get children involved with what is being served on their plates. 

I do not have children.  But as a former educator/child care provider/preschool teacher, I can tell you... kids like food.  They like to talk about it.  They like to prepare it.  They like to serve it! 
 So if you're in a position that many parents are finding themselves in these days, where you just don't know how to get your kids to eat fruit and veggies, I want to encourage you that there ARE ways to get them interested!

1.  Give them the power.  Not all of it!  But some will go a long way.  If your kiddos are involved in the meal planning process, they are more likely to eat what you prepare for them!  So make a thing of it.  One night, sit down as a family and talk about what everyone would like to eat throughout the rest of the week. Get on Pinterest, open some cookbooks, or flip through food magazines!  Maybe even create a fun family meal board where you can write out a recipe/grocery list.
2.  Take them shopping. Take your children with you to the grocery store.  Yes, yes I know this is probably a lot harder than it sounds.  But think about it.  If you take Jimmy and Suzie to the store with you, let them hold the shopping list, have them put the veggies and fruit in the cart... not only are they getting hands on experience but they are getting to participate in what they will later consume. 
3.  Educate them.  During your trip to the store, you can even talk with them about where each different food comes from.  Most children don't know where food comes from.  They think it comes from the grocery store.  They don't know that grapes grow on a vine or that potatoes grow in the dirt.  So talk with them about it and make it a fun field trip instead of a chore.
4.  Hand over the chef hat.  Get your kiddos in the KITCHEN!  Kids LOVE to cook.  My cooking/food units in my preschool teacher days were always the most popular.  The kids loved pouring ingredients into the bowl, mixing things up, and watching as everything came together.  Yes, dinner prep might take a little longer.  But, I guarantee you that those munchkins are more likely to eat a salad or roasted carrots or sauteed green beans if they help with the prep.  Even if it's just letting them wash the veggies, or add the oil, or toss them on a baking sheet. 
5.  Cut the junk.  Finally, get the crap out of the house!  I mean it.  Keeping junk food in the house is NOT helping anyone.  "But Haley, my kids will pitch a fit if we don't have X, Y, Z foods in the house."  First of all... junk food is NOT food.  If it didn't come from the ground or if it didn't have a mother, it is considered processed frankenfood!  So no one should be eating it.  There are plenty of recipes out there for healthy alternatives to the junk, you just have to look for them.  And with living in the age of Food Network, Pinterest, and healthy food blogs, there's no excuse.

 Children are incredible. We love them.  We want the best for them.  So why not provide the best we can for them in even the simplest things.  I know some will think that I can't demand that all you parents do all these things because I don't have children and I don't understand what comes with being a parent. 

You're right.  I don't FULLY understand.  But I know what we as adults are capable of.  I know how much parents love their children.  I know how much parents do/would sacrifice for their littles too.  So is it really that crazy?

Think about it.

Stay strong brave ones!

October 24, 2014

...Awesome Awkward Friday...

Hope y'all have had a fantastic week!  I myself have been overcoming a cold (booo) and busy with swim testing and too much to do at work.  But hey, it's Friday!  Which means, I'm happy, happy, happy!  Pretty sure that October is my absolute favorite and I'm so sad to see it coming to an end so quickly. 

*Pushy people.  Y'all just need to chill, ok? OK? Great.
*My endless battle with baggy pants.
*The way Ramona lays on the floor, flat on her back, and stares at me while I workout.  Like... "Yeah human. Go ahead and sweat and work your butt off while I just lie here like the cutest lazy butt on the planet."
*Having to buy just two spoons and two forks at goodwill to use in my halloween costume.  The checkout ladies must see such funny purchases!
*The slight panic I experienced yesterday drinking my last Shakeology packet while praying that my new bag would arrive in the mail that afternoon. 
*Forgetting to wear deodorant to the gym.

*October. I'm in love.
*Hiking Starved Rock last weekend.  (the cold I got afterwards was well worth it)
*70 lbs gone forever!!
*Having neighbors that cooperate with your grandma sleep schedule when you're sick and turn their music down when asked. 
*The mentorship group I'm a part of with Beachbody.  Such an amazing group of women who keep me inspired and encourage me to never quit striving for my dream.
*Indian food with Amanda today!
*Banana ice cream made with chocolate shakeology instead of cocoa powder.  Holy healthy amazing dessert batman!
*Recent increase in kitty snuggles I've been getting from Mona face lately.  Pretty sure someone's finally gotten jealous of Binx!

October 18, 2014

Starved Rock 2014

Spent an amazing day in God's creation with friends today.  Starved rock is about an hour and half from Bloomington.  It was a cool, breezy day and boy did we have fun!

I downloaded some video software.  Little did I know that the free trial would stick ugly red words all over my video.   Boooo.  But still a fun look at what we experienced today.  If only these photos showed half the beauty we experienced! 


October 15, 2014

...Health & Happiness: The Click...

Recently, I have been asked several times, a very thought provoking question.

"Haley, what finally clicked for you?"

After giving my typical wordy, "I don't know" kind of answer, I decided I needed to sit down and actually think about and write out the answer. I started this post last weekend and am finally getting around to finishing it. 

When I really reflect back, I don't know that it was really one thing that particularly clicked in me.  Only, that I'd had enough. 

In May of 2012 I stood up in a wedding for one of my beautiful friends.  Though looking back at that day, I remember fun, good conversations, beautiful surroundings, and lots and lots and lots of joy... when I finally got to see the photos from the day, all I could think was.  "How?"  How had I not seen how far I'd let myself slip?  How?  It was that day that I called my dad and asked him to sign me up for my first Big Shoulders race.   Shortly after that race I fell right off the wagon.  Then New Years Eve.  December 31st, 2012 was when it all changed.

My bestie hosted a new year's party and I was fortunate to run into an old college roommate of mine.  She'd struggled with weight in college due to a thyroid condition and had managed to overcome it.  Seeing her was the kick in the pants I needed.  It was my "enough is enough" moment. 

The next morning I started a weight loss journal and began down the road towards better health.  Over the past (almost) two years I got moving, changed my eating habits, got the help I needed to overcome emotional and mental health issues, and have lost almost 70 lbs. 

I can honestly say that I am in the best shape of my life. I'm the happiest I've ever been. I have gained my health. I have gained countless followers/cheerleaders. I have met amazing men and women in the fitness industry.  I've made friends in the form of other weight loss warriors through weight watchers.  I have run races, swam countless miles, and even been inspired to pursue a career in health/fitness.

If you are one who is looking for that click, I hope this will help direct you towards it.  I am so thankful to Jesus for the opportunity to help others meet their goals or even get started down the long road and encourage them along the way. 

"What if it's hard?"  "What if I fail?" "What if I mess up?"

It's not easy.  I'm not going to sugar coat it.  It takes a while to gain weight or damage your health.  It's going to take a while to get your health back.  But it is SO WORTH IT.  When you can look back at conquered goals and see what you've accomplished and overcome... there is no feeling like it in the world. You're going to have days where you slip.  But I can tell you this...

If this is something you want.  If better health, more confidence, stronger muscles, more energy, insert your goal here, is what you want.  Like REALLY want, you will do it.  You will!!  Once you put in your mind what you want, NOTHING can stop you.  You may be hindered by doubt or want to beat yourself up when you slip, but I'm here to tell you that it's ok.  We're human.  Sometimes all I want is a slice (or two or three) of pizza or to sleep in instead of putting on my gym shoes.  But it's ok. 

As my girl, Anne Shirley once said "Tomorrow is always fresh with no mistakes in it." 

So don't let those negative thoughts stop you.  You can do ANYTHING you put your mind to.

Be strong, brave ones. 

October 1, 2014

...Health & Happiness: The Power of Comparison...

Happy Wednesday Brave Ones! 

I wanted to share something that happened this morning with all of you.  I've been feeling kind of off the past two days.  Just really overwhelmed by all the changes happening in my life mixed with frustration that I'm not where I want to be yet.  Don't get me wrong, all the changes are GREAT ones.  But it can be a bit much for someone who loves to bask in their comfort zone. 

So needless to say, I was really looking forward to my Insanity class this morning.  Just a good hour of sweating, jumping, muscle pumping craziness.  Before class started, I looked to my right and got a glimpse of myself in the mirror.  I smiled thinking: "Dang, I'm lookin' pretty good!"  It kind of pumped me up a bit.  Then I looked to my right and saw the TINY woman next to me.  I mean... tiny.  Probably 5'1" and maybe 105 lbs.  I then made a big mistake.

I turned back to my right and looked at my reflection next to hers. 

Immediately that pumped up feeling left my body and I was filled with a sense of defeat and overwhelming gloom. 

What happened in those 10 seconds?  Where did that happy, proud, strong woman go?

I'll tell you where.  She was beaten down by the ugly monster that is COMPARISON.
(my dear friend, Crystal: -60lbs)
As human beings (and especially women) we fall into the trap of comparing ourselves to others around us. We're kind of forced to, unfortunately.  Our society is packed full of images telling us how we should look, dress, walk, act, and what shape we should have. For people who struggle with their weight or struggle with food problems, this is detrimental.
(Sharee of Funeral for my Fat: -118lbs)
I'm slowly learning that despite the fact that my body is getting smaller and I am feeling more confident and happy about how I look in my clothes, that "fat kid" mentality is always lingering in the back of my mind, waiting for the next opportunity to poke it's mean little face through.  This happens when situations like this morning occur.  
(Andie of Can You Stay for Dinner?:- 135lbs)
You see, weight loss and a journey to better health are more than just learning to eat right or getting your butt moving.  It's a complete mental shift!  It's an undoing of years and sometimes decades, of self mental abuse, negative self talk, comparison, and previous failure.  It is a choice to deal with those issues.  Confront them face to face and tell them: You do not have a place here anymore!  It is a choice to love yourself as you are in this moment.
As I did this morning, I often get side tracked and brought down by the thoughts of how far I have left to go or by the things I don't like about my body.  The remaining pounds, the loose skin, the stretch marks, my body structure, what ever!  But when I do that, I'm only hurting myself and preventing myself from moving forward.   And it's going to happen!  I have to be prepared to combat those moments with every pound I've lost, every benefit I've gained, and with the support of my army of warriors!

(My good friend and fellow WW, Michelle: Before and Now)

Something that I want other women to know, understand, believe, and breathe is this:
You don't have to look like that tiny woman at the gym, or that fitness expert on TV, or your best friend, or that airbrushed model in your favorite magazine.  You only have to look like YOU.  And believe me, this IS something I have to work on.  I accept that I will never have a "womanly figure".  I have narrow hips and that won't change.  I'm not going to post pictures of Victoria Secret models on my fridge because my bone structure will NEVER be that way.  And that's OK!!!  
(My rockstar of a friend, Heather: -210lbs)
So try this... only compare yourself to YOU. Don't compare the body you have to one that you want, but belongs to someone else. Instead, picture yourself; your body at a smaller size. Visualize your bone structure, your face, your body and slowly peel the pounds away in your mind. Engrain that image in your mind. Now go out and do what you can to get there.  Everyone is going to have "fat days" where you feel like nothing works, and/or you have so far to go, and/or are discouraged.  But don't give in.  You want to achieve those goals.  So achieve them.  You are strong enough.  You are beautiful.  You are enough.

September 30, 2014

Change is Coming

Or if you know me, you'll know it's already here.  I'm pleased to announce, that as of yesterday I am officially a Team Beachbody coach!

Over the next few weeks, I'll be working with my awesome coach and a group of wonderful women and prepare to start on my own.  I'm excited to be able to share this with all of you as I learn more and more!  Basically, I will be networking with others in the fitness/health field and promoting Beachbody products.  Some of you may be familiar with things like Shakeology, Insanity, PiYo, and Brazilian Butt Lift. (Yep, those are all BB creations!)  Coaches are not fitness experts, but just people who like the products, like to live healthy lifestyles, and want to pay it forward. 
Basically, I am a part of Jaime's team, Team Fight to Finish.  I met Jaime through Instagram last month and have been getting to know her and some of her other coaches.  This girl is real, genuine, and so positive and motivating.  I'm thankful to have met her.  Never did she pressure me to purchase BB products.  Never did she try  to "rope me" into anything.  She was just real with me.  She encouraged me.  She listened to my story and gave me advice when I asked for it.  If I asked for nutrition or supplement ideas, she of course referred to Shakeology and other BB products.  But never once did I ever feel pressured by her!  So, honestly that's one of the reasons I wanted to jump on the opportunity to be a part of her latest group of new coaches. 
As I've shared recently, I am aiming for a career in the health/fitness field.  In 2010, when I lost my first teaching job, I was devistated. And then for the next 5 years I was miserable, unhealthy, and had no idea what I wanted to do with my still very young life.  I realized yesterday, that if I hadn't lost that job, as hard as that was, it's very likely that I would still be obese and even possibly on medication for diabetes, cholesterol, or blood pressure!  If I were teaching, I'd never have had the time or motivation to get moving and turn my life around. Everything happens for a reason.  Everything.
When I had the revelation a couple weeks ago that this is the field I'm called to be a part of, I was so overwhelmed.  I felt unqualified and had no idea where to even start.  The field of health, fitness, and nutrition is so vast. But, it's a field that is not going away as we face the largest obesity crisis in history.  So where would I even start?  How?  I thought, ok.  I'll finish my journey.  Then maybe I'll get certified or go back to school. 
But through a series of very fortunate events, I was given an opportunity now!  Jaime pointed out that my story and continuing life transformation is going to be so relatable to others.  It was actually very  humbling.  But I realized that there's truth in it.  I think of how inspired I was by Danni Allen on the Biggest Loser or the contestants on Extreme Weightloss.  They're just like me.  So why not me? 
I have been given an opportunity to work with some amazing people, inspire others, help others, continue to transform, and network with others in the fitness community.  It's so incredible! 
Two years ago, I never thought I'd be here.  Happy, healthier, and on my way to a completely different life than I ever envisioned for myself.  I'm not doing what I thought I would, but maybe there is a huge blessing in that.  I am stronger than I ever thought I could be.  I'm happy and full of faith that God really does know what He's doing.  He shows his faithfulness to me more and more.  He is using the new people in my life to heal me and make me a better version of myself.  That is one of the best gifts I would never have thought to ask for.  Have a great week, brave ones! 


September 26, 2014

...Awkward Awesome Friday...

Happy Friday!!!  Oh Friday, Friday... love, love, love you.  Hope you all have lots of fun things planned for this first official Fall weekend! 

*Loading my salad up with grape tomatoes on Monday only to realize that I only care for grape tomatoes when they are cooked. 
*Trying to look behind you at the sunrise as you're running.  Now do I run or enjoy the sky that appears to be on FIRE right now?  Decisions, decisions.
*Swim students who don't pay attention, then are asked to pay attention and they respond:
"I am." 
"Really?" I ask, " What did I just ask you to do?"
*Walking into the home of people you barely know for the first time. 
*Group hugs.

*The sunrise yesterday.
*Dinner with the Mikes next door.  Walking into their house might have been awkward at first, but man did Katie and I have fun!
*Ordered 21 Day Fix this week.  Come onnnnn Onederland!
*Get to babysit Al my pal tomorrow night!  Can't wait to get one of the world's best hugs!
*The feeling of victory and empowerment.
*That moment when a very attractive man tells you you're beautiful and that when your transformation is complete you'll be beating 'em off with sticks.  *insert beet red face and uncontrollable grinning*
*Ben Howard has a new album coming out next month!  As if October needed another reason to be awesome.

September 24, 2014

...Health & Happiness: Find Your Support Team...

Happy Wednesday homies!  Hope you are all having a fantastic week and enjoying the awesome sleeping weather we've been having.  (aka, being able to sleep under the covers comfortably with the window open)  Fall is officially here and as nature gets ready for its yearly nap, I'm feeling more alive than ever!

In this series, Health & Happiness I'm addressing different areas that go along with living a healthy and fit lifestyle.  Last time I talked about getting started and some of the things that can help one get moving and make small changes towards a healthier life. 

This week:
Health & Happiness: Find Your Support Team
I've discovered over the past 18+ months that having a support team behind you when you ware working towards a healthier existence is VITAL.  In the beginning, back in January of 2013, I was very much on my own.  I lived with a roommate that didn't care much for healthy eating or activity.  Many of my closest friends had my back, but they themselves weren't working towards the same goals. 
Now, nearly 2 years later, I have the BEST support team I could ask for!  So how does one create a support team?  Lots of trial and error!  Ha.  But once you get it right, your goals will be more and more achievable. 

1.  Make your home a safe zone.  Home is where your heart is.  (hey there, Ms. Corny) It's where you go to recover, relax, and rest.  Home should be a safe place.  If you live with people who help make it a safe place, you are more likely to have success with your health/fitness goals.  I now have a roommate that may not always enjoy a good run, but who motivates and encourages me with every small victory and who is conscious to keep the kitchen a safe zone.  She did Whole 30 with me last month and continues to encourage good choices.  If you happen to live alone, this may be harder.  I lived alone for almost an entire year during this journey.  It was hard!  There was no one to see what I was buying at the store or what I was eating for dinner.  That's where the next part comes in.

 2.  Find people that make you feel powerful.  I am a part of an amazing group of ladies at Weight Watchers here in Bloomington-Normal.  I've had buddies to work out with, run my first 10K with, and keep me accountable on my food choices and challenges.  These women make me feel like I can do anything.  They were who I leaned on when I lived alone to keep me accountable.  I knew that if I made bad choices throughout the week, I'd answer for them on the scale on Saturday morning.  I also knew I'd have understanding faces to listen to me when I was struggling.  This part of your support team can come from anywhere.  Weight Watchers has really helped me, but it could be a group of like-minded people from your church or work place too.  There are others out there!  And it is important to find them to fight off that nagging feeling of  "I'm alone and NO ONE gets this!"
3.  Find people that have similar goals/interests.  This can come in many different forms.  I happen to love swimming.  So my Masters swim team in Bloomington is a huge motivator!  My Dad falls in there too with his love of swimming.  I can talk to them candidly about fitness goals and get advice for how to achieve some of them.  (I happen to swim with a few triathletes!)  I've also recently found that social media can be a huge catalyst in creating your support team.  By using those silly little hashtags, people find you!  They reach out to you!  And you can reach out to them!  I met my Team Beachbody coach on Instagram.  She then helped me meet other likeminded women that have similar health goals as me.  She's also been a big supporter in my goal of becoming a fitness instructor/health coach.  There are so many people out there just like you!  You just have to find them.
4.  Creating a support team can have its challenges.  Sometimes we have people in our lives that do not understand.  And, even if we have all of the above in place, that can still hurt and be challenging.  Right?  This is something that you're PASSIONATE about, and you want others to love it and go for it too!  But the truth of the matter is, not everyone will.  I'm fortunate to have family, friends, and supporters behind me.  And though I have them, it can still be hard when others aren't.  My counselor (also part of my support team) pointed out a very motivating idea.  "If you have all these different groups of people that are behind you and rooting for you, why do you need those other people to care?"  The truth is, I don't! 
Creating a healthy lifestyle is about YOU!  It's just you and your body.  The work is yours.  The choices are yours.  So if you have that great support under you, everything else shouldn't matter.  By God's grace, I've come as far as I have.  By His grace, I've found amazing people to back me up.  And, I am SO grateful!
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