About: Kristen is a 42-year-old woman who a few years back decided she was going to lose weight — and she was going to do so by running and blogging about it. She lost 50 pounds, and along the way discovered that far from hating running like she assumed she would, she actually loved it...and hiking, and yoga, and much, much more. Her blog posts are full of inspiration, simple tips and tricks for making healthier choices, healthy recipes, fitness and personal musings.

Let’s go back to the beginning. I was always thin-ish. From my skinny teenage years to “just a healthy weight” college years, I was always thin-ish. Like I maybe topped 130lbs by the age of 21. Like most of you may know, Mark and I started dating at 14, got married at 20, started a business at 22 and then graduated college by 23. By the time we graduated college, we had somehow managed to build a legit company… APF, Inc. What literally began as Mark’s desire to be self-employed combined with his amazing gift of self-taught construction skills and my marketing “abilities”, quickly went from a backyard hobby to a full fledged stone countertop company. He spent his junior year of college fabricating granite in my Uncle’s backyard with a $2,500 saw loan from my uncle, a rope and a truck to maneuver the slabs along with a big humongous dream. This is going somewhere I promise ;-). He took Tuesday/Thursday classes and worked Monday, Wednesday and Fridays fabricating in the ole’ backyard. I was answering client e-mails and returning client calls between classes and at night while we worked at a local restaurant on the weekends. By our senior year, our company had grown just enough to afford for us to lease our own fabrication facility and that’s when life started to officially get CRAZY. It was amazing but it was absolutely INSANE. Once Mark graduated in December 2004, he was able to devote his full attention to the company and then I joined him when I graduated in May 2005. Upon my graduation in 2005, we had just moved to a much larger fabrication location, had approximately 11 additional employees and we were opening up a separate showroom location in downtown Monroe, GA. As exciting and wonderful as it all was, it was a stress that I cannot put into words. We had both worked so hard to grow the company yet didn’t quite realize what we were getting ourselves into. As two 23 year olds “self-thrust” into suddenly owning a company, we started to truly bring the phrase “Work Hard, Play Hard” to reality. Well as much fun as it was at times, the stress was intense. From managing employees to handling customers and issues and bills and everything in between, I got to a point where I started taking anxiety medication. Biggest mistake EVER.
And that’s not just the junk food sabotaging your diet, or the time suckers keeping you from working out. We’re also talking about the fad diets, fitness trends and questionable studies that have made reaching and maintaining a healthy weight more confusing than ever by promising this superfood or that super intense workout is the quick fix to tip the scale in your favor. (They’ve also spawned a $66 billion weight loss market.)
If you are looking for a satisfying and delicious meat-free Bolognese sauce, you must add this Hearty Vegetable Bolognese sauce to your dinner menu this week! 🍝 This recipe gets its meaty texture from walnuts (inspired by @livingkitchen — a local #CLT-area fav!) and is a healthy and filling vegetarian dish we LOVE in our house!⠀⠀ ⠀⠀ INGREDIENTS ⠀⠀ ⠀⠀ 2 cups peeled, chopped carrots ⠀⠀ ½ cup chopped bell peppers⠀⠀ 8 ounces fresh mushrooms⠀⠀ 2 small yellow onions⠀⠀ ¼ cup kalamata olives⠀⠀ ¼ cup Cabernet Sauvignon ⠀⠀ 3 garlic cloves, peeled⠀⠀ 1 cup walnuts ⠀⠀ 1½ teaspoons Italian seasoning ⠀⠀ 1 teaspoon sea salt ⠀⠀ 1 25-ounce jar marinara sauce⠀⠀ ⠀⠀ DIRECTIONS ⠀⠀ ⠀⠀ In a food processor, shred the carrots, bell peppers, olives, mushrooms, onions and garlic until they are shredded into very fine pieces.⠀⠀ Drizzle a large, deep nonstick skillet with olive oil and heat to a medium-high heat. Add the shredded vegetables and allow them to cook down, as the water sweats out and they reduce in volume for about 5 minutes. Add the wine, reduce the heat and allow to simmer longer (approximately 7-10 minutes), until almost all of the liquid is gone.⠀⠀ While the vegetables are cooking, place the walnuts, Italian seasonings and sea salt into the food processor and grind into a course meal, taking care not to over grind, as a paste will form.⠀⠀ Add the walnuts to the skillet and stir.⠀⠀ Add the marinara sauce and stir to combine. Simmer on medium-low heat for another 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.⠀⠀ Serve on top of whole wheat spaghetti, zucchini noodles, spaghetti squash or your favorite pasta and enjoy!⠀⠀
If you ever feel like switching things up and viewing a man’s weight loss journey rather than reading it, then Jess “TooBig” has the perfect vlog for you. Jess started his YouTube channel, TooBig.net, to hold himself accountable and document his mission to lose over 200 pounds. He’s already down 70, going from 534 pounds down to 453 and counting. His videos give him the perfect venue to put it all out there, including weekly weigh-ins, exercise routines, food choices and the day-to-day struggles he goes through.
People hear turkey and automatically think lean and healthy, but depending on the type of ground turkey and toppings used, one of these poultry patties can be every bit as fatty and caloric as a beef burger. Sirloin, on the other hand, is one of the leanest cuts of meat available, which makes for an incredibly satisfying, protein-enriched meal that will keep you feeling fuller, longer.

About: She had us with her name, but diving a little deeper, Shawn’s creativity really sinks the hooks in. Her “about” section is written like a sad (and playful) fairytale, but it’s her very real struggle that also touches a nerve. Shawn’s always been a hard worker, but her pursuit of education and a career took a toll on her body — causing weight gain and a deep depression. Shawn started Shrederella as a way to take back her life and chronicle the journey, and she’s done one heck of a job. Follow her for an authentic person with real struggles that you will surely relate to — plus a host of delicious, healthy recipes and fitness tricks.
I’ll be honest, I have a love/hate relationship with sponsored posts. Yes a blogger can make decent money from them but often I feel like sponsored posts are more of a headache than they’re worth.  Typically, they come with a contract and more rules than I care to follow since working for myself. More often than not you need to submit a draft for approval and that is usually a royal pain. However, some bloggers love working with brands.
When you pull up this blog and take a look at the photos of Mary, it’ll be hard to ever imagine her as someone who struggled with weight. A personal trainer, coach and figure competitor, Mary has quite an impressive resumé. But it wasn’t always that way. Over 6 years ago, Mary lost over 40 pounds, and has been on a journey to keep it off ever since. She ditched the unhealthy habits, started running and began blogging as a way to share her daily musings and thoughts with others. 
We all want a toned, flat stomach. No surprise there. But since many women are still relying on crunches to get it, we want to make one thing clear: Crunching is not the most effective abs workout. "Crunches work only the muscles on the front and sides of your abdomen, but it's important to target all the muscles of the core to get more defined abs—including lower back, hips, and upper thighs," says Lou Schuler, co-author of The New Rules of Lifting for Abs. (Also try these 20 tricks for engaging your core and getting a sneaky abs workout.)

Forgive yourself. So you were going to have one cracker with spray cheese on it and the next thing you know the can's pumping air and the box is empty? Drink some water, brush your teeth, and move on. Everyone who's ever tried to lose weight has found it challenging. When you slip up, the best idea is to get right back on track and don't look back.
Have Protein at Every Meal and Snack. Adding a source of lean or low-fat protein to each meal and snack will help keep you feeling full longer so you're less likely to overeat. Try low-fat yogurt, small portion of nuts, peanut butter, eggs, beans, or lean meats. Experts also recommend eating small, frequent meals and snacks (every 3-4 hours), to keep your blood sugar levels steady and to avoid overindulging.
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