I Thought I Was Going to Die

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This is the story of life or death. Mine. If you have a few minutes, I encourage you to read it because I think there is something you can learn from my mistakes.

Please also be sure to download my FREE Holiday Survival Plan to help you stay healthy this holiday season.

Christmas 2011

Significant because it was my oldest son’s first Christmas yes, but also significant because it was the Christmas that gave me the biggest scare of my life.

And taught me a lesson that I want to now pass on to you.

Some of you may actually remember me going through quite an ordeal leading up to that Christmas. As usual for me in December, I caught a cold. But what happened next, knocked me on my butt more than anything else ever had,.
Pneumonia. And in true Deborah fashion, I didn’t let it slow me down (at first). I kept trying to teach classes. In fact, one class I could barely breathe and I had to sit on the floor and continue to teach.I survived the holidays (barely) by medicating with Tylenol and Advil to keep down the fever. I HAD to keep going. Of course as I look back now, I have no idea why I thought that way.

I was so afraid of disappointing people…my clients, class participants, friends, family.

How often do you put yourself last while trying to take care of everyone else? And Moms, you know we are the worst offenders! One evening just before the New Year, my fever was so high I had delirium. How in the world could I take care of anyone this way?!?

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Here is my Facebook status from that year….

December 30, 2011
I’ve learned if you ever want to sit by yourself, just put on a surgical face mask. LOL. People take one look at you and will sit ANYWHERE else!

Funny yes because you should have seen people back away from me but a pneumonia that continued to get worse despite two rounds of antibiotics became no laughing matter. I spent New Year’s Day, just five days after my 38th birthday listening to a doctor tell me he was extremely concerned because he couldn’t understand why someone as young and ‘healthy’ as me was continuing to get worse.

I remember crying and thinking, for the first time ever, I was going to die and leave behind two beautiful children. How did I let this happen?!?

But it had become a theme for me in December. Getting sick just before or during the holidays became the ‘norm’ for me. I wore myself out so much that I would have been surprised if I didn’t get sick. To give you a little perspective, here are more December Facebook posts from previous years and yes, I do realize perhaps I was a little too whiny on FB. 🙂

December 7, 2010
I felt bad (sorta) that I couldn’t do more than bark instructions at tonight’s Boot Camp. I’m now super annoyed and frustrated that I can’t get rid of this cold. Let’s see if I can breathe enough tonight to get a good night’s sleep!

December 1, 2009
Still nursing both myself and a little girl back to health. Hope this clears up soon!
December 13, 2008
Catching up on two weeks worth of work …. yep, the flu knocked me out but I’m starting to feel better!!
December 3, 2008
is very sick …. may have to cancel Boot Camp tonight guys!!! Will keep you posted!
December 13, 2007
Annoyed with this newly developed head cold. Training a client this morning and thought my head was going to explode!

And you thought I was kidding.

Moms, we wear ourselves out worrying about family photos, gifts, advent calendars, decorating a Pinterest worthy house (and posting it to social media of course), gifts, Christmas concerts, piano recitals, gifts, Sunday School pageants, pics with Santa, letters to Santa, tracking Santa online, get togethers with family and friends, work functions, traveling or hosting. And don’t forget about the normal everyday stuff that still needs to be done. And we wonder why we get sick!

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Even worse, December is a time when most of us let exercise and healthy eating slide and we start cutting back on our sleep in our attempt to find more hours in a day. “I’ll start fresh in the New Year” becomes a common phrase and we start putting all our other ‘priorities’ ahead of our own health.

And our health is indeed what suffers the most.

Deb & Kids.jpg
The three most important reasons I MAKE the time to take care of myself!

Now I’m not going to say I have now found some sort of perfect balance and I never get sick anymore. I still struggle with everything on my to-do list (because some things will never change) and my kiddies still bring home sniffles and coughs that as a Mom is hard to avoid. But, I have found that I am able to recover quicker and by taking some necessary steps to eating, exercise and stress management, I’m happy to report that 2011 was the last time I had any holiday sickness to report!

So this year I want to encourage you to remember my story.

By feeding your body what it needs to function at it’s very best and by exercising and sleeping more regularly to stay strong and manage stress, you are making YOU a priority. And no, this is NOT selfish because taking care of yourself is one of the best things you can do for those around you. When you take care of yourself you put yourself in a MUCH better position to take care of those you love.

Please keep this in mind this year and for further support, I invite you to download your Holiday Survival Plan below.

Wishing you all a safe, healthy and happy holiday season.

Warm Wishes
~ Deborah

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Don’t let your summer road trips ruin all your hard work!

Yes, it can be done!

Let me show you how.

Summer is on it’s way (finally) and that means there are more people on the road. Unfortunately “traveling” is the number one excuse I hear when someone falls off the healthy eating wagon.

It doesn’t have to be that way! I’ve got some great ideas to help you stay on track while on the road. And be sure to check out the recipe below for a great high protein snack to take with you!

Here are five ways to make it all work!

1. Coolers or Cooler Bags will become your new best friend.

Cooler Bag

Seriously. Take it EVERYWHERE you go!

My favourite bag was given to me as a gift after I gushed over it. It’s one of my favourite items I own and my whole family has taken advantage of it! Yours doesn’t have to be this fancy. Just find a size that works for what you need and use it! If we are packing the vehicle anyway, one more bag is easy peasy. The most important thing after getting the cooler is filling it with healthy foods.

2. Get to know the foods that travel well. You would be amazed at how many healthy foods are easy to take on a road trip. Here is just a quick list of some easy healthy travel ideas. And don’t forget to check out the recipe at the end of this newsletter for a high protein on-the-road treat!

  • Load up on fresh-cut vegetables and fruit. Easy to carry fruits like apples, pears, bananas, plums, peaches, etc… make it easy to grab something healthy on he road.
  • Water!
  • Plain Greek yogurt mixed with berries and homemade granola.
  • Individually wrapped portions of cheese can be kept in the cooler with the fruit and vegetables.
  • Baked whole grain crackers or pita chips and hummus.
  • You can also pack sandwiches or wraps made with whole grain or Ezekiel bread. Natural butters or lean meats can give you the protein boost you need. Keep these in the cooler, too. If you like veggies on your sandwiches, wrap those separately and add when you are ready to eat to keep the sandwich from getting mushy.
  • Nuts such as almonds, cashews, and walnuts are easy to take on a trip.
  • Home made protein bars, granola bars or my yummy Chocolate Coconut Treats are great choices to have on the go.

3. Equip your hotel room. This one should be done as soon as you book your reservation. Many hotels have a fridge and microwave they can place in your room – you just have to ask! If you arrive by vehicle, you are able to bring a lot of your food with you but if not, make sure to get to your nearest supermarket to pick up some healthy food to have in your room, such as…

  • Lemons
  • 3 1-Litre Bottles of Water (that’s for one day remember)
  • Coconut water for smoothies
  • Cucumber, Baby Carrots, Cherry Tomatoes
  • Bananas, apples, pears
  • Be sure to check out the fresh local fruits and vegetables during harvest season
  • Oatmeal
  • Protein powder
  • Raw nuts, trail mix, raisins or other dried fruits
  • Crackers
  • Cheese (such as Babybel) or cottage cheese
  • Greek Yogurt
  • Pre-bagged, pre-washed greens
  • Hardboiled eggs (can usually find them in a little pack of two in the deli section

Extra tip: As soon as you get to the hotel, ask for a spoon, fork, knife, steak knife (sharper) to keep in your hotel room for preparing and eating your own foods. And yes, I have been known to bring my blender!

4. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you need at restaurants. You are at the hotel restaurant (or any restaurant) and you are not sure what to order? Your safest choice is to always remember the 2Ps: Protein & Produce. The best part about hotel restaurants is that they are in the business of making travelers happy. Some restaurants will actually say, “Our kitchen is your kitchen. Tell us what you want”. So if your usual breakfast is a 4-egg white omelet with peppers and a small bowl oatmeal with berries…you may be able to get it. Seriously, don’t be afraid to ask!

5. Use your surroundings to exercise. You have two feet, go for a walk and see the sights. Do some research before you go, is there a hiking trail close by? Perhaps there is a park that rents bikes (I did that in NYC and toured Central Park – bigger than I thought but a great experience.) If all else fails and you are stuck in your room, always make sure to throw an exercise band in your suitcase or download an interval timer on your phone and get moving. I have plenty of exercises that you can do in a 4×4 sq ft space so if you are stuck for ideas, please let me know!

Keep these few tips in your mind when you plan your next road trip. Avoid the junk food stops and you’ll be healthier because of it! Keep scrolling for my favourite high protein snack recipe!

Wishing you health and happiness.

~ Deborah


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mexicansoupSoup is one of my go-to meals that I can make ahead of time and heat whenever I need something hearty and healthy. My favourite is using a small cup for an afternoon snack. I get bored FAST of the “veggies and hummus” typical snack so I like that a soup can provide me with the vegetable and protein I need and will make me feel like I’ve eaten something with substance. A great way to get me through until dinner time! Here is a soup that was sent to me by a member of my online group. I would eliminate or greatly reduce the rice and corn when trying to limit starches.

  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 small white onion, diced
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp. dried oregano
  • 1 tsp. dried cumin
  • 1 – 28 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 tsp. worcestershire sauce
  • 1 quart vegetable or chicken stock
  • 1 cup cooked lentils
  • **2 ears corn, kernels removed
  • **1 cup cooked brown rice
  • Juice of two limes
  • salt
  • Greek yogurt, fresh cilantro, or avocado for garnishing
**Reduce these ingredients if limiting your starches.


  1. In a large stock pot, heat olive oil over medium heat.
  2. Add onion, carrots, and celery. Saute until soft about 5 minutes.
  3. Add jalapeno, garlic, dried oregano, and cumin. Cook for an additional 2 minutes.
  4. Add diced tomatoes with their juices, worcestershire sauce, and chicken stock.
  5. Bring to a simmer and cook 20 minutes.
  6. Add lentils, corn, and cooked rice.
  7. Cook for 3-5 minutes just to heat lentil and rice through. Add lime juice and season with salt.
  8. Garnish with cilantro, diced avocado, and a scoop of sour cream or Greek yogurt.
Makes 10-12 Servings

Let’s Cook! My journey heats up!

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So the conversation went something like this…

Friend: What are your plans for today?
Me: Cooking.
Friend: Seriously?
Me: Seriously. Cooking. All day.
Friend:  Ok, good luck with that.

I will admit, the idea of cooking my entire monthly meals in one day seemed scary and daunting to me at first too and I won’t say it was an easy day but once I had my head wrapped around what I was about to do, it just took shape and it actually felt good to start pulling off the dishes. And I’ll be honest, I’m not sure I could or would have done this without the step by step process that Once a Month Meals provided me. Perhaps it wouldn’t have been too bad if I was doing my tried and true recipes that I can whip out with my eyes closed (I did include a couple) but when trying new recipes, the steps were very helpful. And because I had all the prepping done the day before, I was able to dive right into the cooking. Here’s what my cooking instructions looked like.

cooking instructions

I printed this off and had the recipes on my computer so they were both within easy reach. Remember my comment from yesterday on my “list” addiction? Well I liked having this in a printed version for the same reason, that satisfaction of checking off each step as it was done. 

Tomatoes, kale and sausage getting ready for the pasta bake. I loved the colours.

Little bit by little bit, things started to come together and one by one, the meals were being completed and ready for the freezer.

A couple words of warning and/or tips for cooking day….

1. Your house is going to get very warm so be prepared with fans, air conditioners and LOTS of water!

2. If you have little ones, whatever you do, DON’T look around the corner when all is quiet. You just don’t know what you might find. It isn’t worth it I promise.mess

3. Also, one thing that would have been very useful here would be to have a helper, especially a great dish washer because you end up using your measuring cups, pots, etc… over and over again. Which reminds me, don’t plan to do your cooking day when your 10-year-old AWESOME kitchen helper is away at summer camp …. cause that would just be dumb. Really dumb. Achem.

Sausage Pasta Bake ready for the freezer.

I think because of the busy-ness of my two little boys and the lack of ‘kitchen’ help, it did take me a little longer than I would have liked but really, in the scheme of things, when I think about how much time it will save in the month ahead, it really wasn’t too bad. I started at about 11am and finished up about 7pm that evening (I was probably most productive between 2-4pm – you guessed it – nap time!). And I was right. It was a VERY long day. Both my feet and back were sore by the end of the day but to see my freezer FULL of food was so extremely rewarding.

Another thing I liked was the labels the website provided. You just cut them out and paste them to the dish. There is a space to include your “freezer date” as well as re-heating instruction.


So, in a nutshell, the day was long but successful. In addition to the tips above, I did make note of a few things that would have made the process a little easier and I’ll be back again tomorrow to share more of those tips with you, along with the most important question we’ve all been wondering. How will it taste?!? 

Chipotle Chicken & Rice, which I decided at the last minute to turn into burritos for quick and easy lunches.
Chipotle Chicken & Rice, which I decided at the last minute to turn into burritos for quick and easy lunches.

If you are just joining me, you can check out my other posts in this series by clicking the links below or visit the Once a Month Meal website by clicking the photo below.

Day 1 – Returning to the Blogging World with Once a Month Meal planning!

Day 2 – Making a Plan

Day 3 – Getting Organized and Groceries

Day 4 – Prep Day


Prep Day – My Journey with Once a Month Meals Continues

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Before I begin today’s post, I must first apologize to those who have been following this series. I know there has been quite a gap in posts but our entire family was systematically taken down, youngest to oldest, by a Norovirus type illness that was unknowingly (until it was too late) bought by a house guest and things were NOT getting done as per usual. Luckily, I did finish my Once a Month Meal cooking day (just not the blog writing) and let’s just say that having those meals in my freezer, ready to be warmed were more helpful than I could have imagined!

A quick refresh of what I’ve covered so far. Day 1 was decision making day where I decided that I would take the leap to not only plan my meals for the month, but actually prepare and in some cases COOK all my meals for the month of August. I decided to obtain a membership through Once a Month Meals, a website dedicated to helping you organize your meal prepping like nothing you’ve done before! I purchased the “Pro” membership in order to have the capability of swapping meals. Day 2 my husband and I made our list of meals that interested us and I organized my calendar, chose my meals and on Day 3, headed to the grocery store with a very well organized list in hand. So far, I’m impressed!

So today is the Prep Day! prepping1Now before you think you can forgo the prep stage and just prep as you go along on cooking day, let me just say one thing….DON’T! There is a lot of chopping and there are some things that need to be cooked and cooled so I HIGHLY recommend that you take their advice and take a day to prep everything. You will be very happy you did because it makes cooking day go so much smoother.

Printing off the “Prep Instructions” provided, I went through my list to make sure I had everything I needed, just in case I missed something and then one by one, started following the instructions. I will say that I did leave the chicken until the very end because I am kind of weird about cross contamination and there was just SO MUCH that needed to be done I was afraid I would miss something. But because it needed to be cooked, I really could have cut that first and got the crock pot going before I did everything else. Didn’t really affect me much as it just ended up meaning that I let the chicken cook overnight instead of during the day and it just gave me a little piece of mind.

Here’s a little glimpse of what you will see on your prep day instruction sheet (the chopping list was MUCH longer). It really did make it fool-proof.

prep screen shot

Confession…I’m a lister. Like a SERIOUS lister. I have to-do lists for everything. I’m one of those people that when I do something that is not on my list, I will put it on my list and then check it off as done. Yep. That’s me. There was quite a lot of satisfaction in actually checking off all the items on the list. I mean, everything….in one day!! Only listers will understand how absolutely giddy this made me feel! I felt very proud of myself at the end of it all to know that I had completed everything on the list and was ready to start cooking the next day!

prepping2So there you have it. Prep day was easy peasy and I’m ready for what I know will be the biggest challenge yet, Cooking 24 meals in one day! So I’ll be back tomorrow with the details of cooking day and on Wednesday, I’ll finish off the series with some handy tips I learned along the way to make your own adventure go even smoother. Wish me luck! 

If you are just joining me, you can check out my other posts in this series by clicking the links below or visit the Once a Month Meal website by clicking the photo below.

Day 1 – Returning to the Blogging World with Once a Month Meal planning!

Day 2 – Making a Plan

Day 3 – Getting Organized and Groceries



Can I really plan my meals for a full month?

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“If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” ~ Benjamin Franklin.  I’ve seen this a million times and I’m sure I say it, in some variation, to my clients on a weekly basis. I believe, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that if you are trying to lose weight, better your health, get stronger, build muscle or create a toned physique, then you absolutely must make a plan! Plan your workouts and most certainly, plan out your meals.

Think about it for a second. You start a “diet” – I hate that word but we’ll use it for this example. Whether it is something you purchased or something you came up with on your own, you made a decision that you want to lose weight. You buy some healthy food (some of it you don’t even like but it’s for the cause right?) and you are determined to stop eating the junk. The first couple of days go pretty well. You’re making healthier choices, you’ve exercised and are limping around because your muscles have NO IDEA what you’ve done to them but overall you’re feeling pretty proud of what you’ve accomplished so far. But then something happens. You get busy, the kids get sick, you forget to take something out of the freezer, you have to work late … and you not ready. What do you do? At least half of us will grab something at a fast food restaurant on the way home, another big percentage will dig out whatever they can from the fridge or pantry and try to put something together (usually consists of less than ideal options), while a small group will simply just be hungry because they are determined to stick to their goals and being hungry is better than eating crap right? Oh my.


The first thing I try to get my clients to do is start planning a day in advance. Look at their schedule, plan when they can eat and when they can exercise, and then add that to their schedule! This is a huge first step for people who generally fly by the seat of their pants. You should see the eye rolls I get when I tell them now they need to prep as much food as they can ahead of time! Yes, writing it down on paper is not where it ends (or my to-do list would be my masterpiece!). You actually have to DO THE WORK! Once people master the planning the day in advance, I try to get them to start planning a few days or even a week. Sometimes, if you’re like me, just planning the evening meals will make the biggest impact.

Never though, have I considered planning a full MONTH in advance…until now. I’ve heard people talk about only shopping once per month, planning out a month’s worth of dinners, etc… but to think about doing one big shopping trip, planning out a month’s worth of meals and actually PREPARING those meals!! At first it seems daunting. But the thought of having a meal ready, with just a little heating required on those crazy busy afternoons, sounds like heaven. So….here I go!

As I mentioned in Saturday’s post. I acquired a Homemaker’s Bundle back in the spring and included in that was a complimentary one-month membership to Once a Month Meals, a website dedicated to helping you plan out and prepare your meals only once per month. This is what started my path and what I am going to use (for the most part) in my planning.

So how does Once a Month Meals works?100-days-october-ad5

My first job was to go through the website and the ‘start-up’ emails that come through when you first sign up. I’ll admit I didn’t make it through all the emails because I like to just dive in head first. Good idea? Who knows. There is also a chat option where you can speak to an admin live and ask any questions you have. The first thing you’ll see on the Home page is a variety of menu types including Traditional Menu, Whole Food, Diet, Paleo, Gluten Free, Vegetarian and even Baby! For variety, there is a new menu each month for each of these menu types and with a basic membership you have access to all of these menus and any past menus. You’ll also receive  shopping lists, prep and cooking day instructions, labels and heating instructions. You can also adjust the number of servings based on the size of your family. This is a perfect option for you if you want to take the guesswork out of ‘what to make’ and you’re not a picky eater. But if you’re like me and surrounded by a bunch of (wonderful) people who try new foods very cautiously, when you upgrade to the Pro membership, you are given the ability to create and save your own menu, including swapping out meals. The good news? There is a huge variety of meals to choose from. The bad news? There is a HUGE variety of meals to choose from! I felt a little overwhelmed so I started by opening the basic “Whole Food” meal plan and then starting swapping out any meals that I knew wouldn’t appeal to my family.

This is when I thought it was a good idea to bring my husband on board because if I was going to plan out a whole month of meals, I thought it was very important that he had a say in what we were eating. This has three benefits…

  1. I am making meals that interests and pleases my husband,
  2. He understands that I value his input and opinion, and
  3. If it isn’t a good meal, he knows that he had a say in it! LOL.

I asked him go through the recipes and write down any that appealed to him. Score! I had a starting point and takes me up to where I am now. A blank August calendar, my smart phone with all our activities and a page full of meal options. Time to start getting organized!!

Come back tomorrow when I talk about the planning process, how I decided on the meals and a sneak peek at my shopping list! Until then, I wish you an organized, blessed and healthy day!

See how this I started this journey – Day 1 – Returning to the Blogging World!

Join me for Day 3 – Getting Organized and Filling My Cart

Must blog – must blog – I’m back!

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Do you know how many times I stop in the middle of a day and think “oh, this would make a great blog post”?!? I have so much I want to share and I’m honestly not sure what keeps me from doing so. Laziness? Unorganized? Too freaking busy?!? Maybe a little of all of the above. Because I run an online program, I know that the best way to reach my potential clients is through blogging, online advertising and social media. I want people to get to know me and I want you to know that I understand what it is like to be busy, what it is like to get tired of exercising and eating healthy and I want you to know that I’m WITH YOU in your struggles.

We are in this together and I can’t think of a better way to start up my blogging again with a potentially fun…potentially successful….potentially hilariously disastrous series this week! Just keeping it real. LOL.

I’ve heard a lot about once a month shopping, once a month meal planning and once a month cooking. From a girl who many times, flies by the seat of her pants, this scares the daylights out of me! BUT I also know, as a personal trainer and nutrition & wellness specialist, just how important planning and prepping can be. So here I go…diving head first into the world of Once a Month Meals. I came across this “Once a Month Meals” WEBSITE HERE a couple of months ago and was really intrigued by what I saw but that’s about as far as it went. Then I was offered a free month’s subscription through a Homemaker’s Bundle I acquired and knew I had to take a closer look (because I love anything free).

For the last hour (my smaller kiddies nap time) I’ve been sitting on my back deck going through the recipes and I have to admit, they all look great! But I have a fear that this will be more work than it is worth and that making these meals ahead of time and freezing them won’t produce the quality my family is use to. *Please note I’m NOT saying I’m a good cook. I just know what my family likes and I stick with what I know! Well, there is no way to know for sure what I am capable of unless I try, so my plan today is to choose my meals and start the planning process.

Come back tomorrow when I’ll go through more of what the program offers and the recipes I’ve chosen! Make it a great day everyone!!

Day 2 – Making a Plan!

Day 3 – Getting Organized and Filling My Cart