War on Average

encouraging each other not to be satisfied with mediocre


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Stones of Rememberence 

August of 2016 marked our 15th wedding anniversary and we took a trip to Michigan in the fall to celebrate. At the same time we found ourselves beginning to grieve a loss. As we walked the beach, we began collecting these beautiful stones, which quickly became a conversation piece. As we reflected on our marriage—full of blessings for sure, but trials, uncertainty and tumultuous times as well—most of what we could remember were stones of remembrance; the times when God showed Himself good, strong and faithful. Through every hard season, we could look back and see God with us…even though while IN the season this was often hard to grasp.

If you’ve spent time with us there is a good chance you’ve heard us talk about these stones of remembrance. So where does this idea come from?
In Joshua 4, God commands Israel to set stones as monuments of reminder to all generations of the great things the Lord had done—specifically His miracles at the Red Sea and the Jordan. God, in the same way, commands us to remember His faithfulness in our life. This is for His glory and our own good as we find comfort and confidence in His steadfastness to His children through ALL generations.

Joshua 4 
21 And he said to the people of Israel, “When your children ask their fathers in times to come, ‘What do these stones mean?’ 22 then you shall let your children know, ‘Israel passed over this Jordan on dry ground.’ 23 For the Lord your God dried up the waters of the Jordan for you until you passed over, as the Lord your God did to the Red Sea, which he dried up for us until we passed over, 24 so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the hand of the Lord is mighty, that you may fear the Lord your God forever.”

Then in 1 Samuel 7, where we get the line from Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing, “Here I raise my Ebeneezer, hither by Thy help I’ve come…” it provides the account of SamuelThat we can raise up that stone and see how He had brought us through—that He who began a good work in us won’t stop until it is finished!

1 Samuel 7
12 Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen and called its name Ebenezer; for he said, “Till now the Lord has helped us.”

We also realized that on our honeymoon, we collected shells. Shells are pretty…and empty. In those early days of marriage we couldn’t possibly predict what was beyond the horizon of these first fifteen years, but now, fifteen years later we remember. We will continue to remember because unlike the investment industry phrase “past performance is no guarantee of future results,” with God his past faithfulness is absolutely assurance of future faithfulness. This is why we collect these stones. Whether it has been the need of a specific season or our GREATEST need, to be rescued from sin and living for only ourselves, God has been our provider. His faithfulness hasn’t always looked like what we’d expect or even want, but it’s always been better than our own plans and paths to provision. A faithfulness that is certainly worth remembering with an object of weight and permanence like these stones.
We walked into that anniversary trip in a hard place. To be honest, we are not out of it yet. A church plant in a community we love, where our heart and hands had been worn in service to God and the vision and people He’d placed on our hearts came to an end. A place we suspected that God was preparing us to live, serve and grow for the rest of our lives ceased to exist. But we are choosing to pick up the stones of His past faithfulness. It’s good exercise in order to be prepared to see and put in place the new stones that we are certain will come from this season.

There has been so much on social media about how 2016 has been such a horrible year and that 2017 could not start soon enough. It’s interesting how we tend to look for something to CHANGE to make our circumstances better, like something as relatively and realistically inconsequential as the “clean slate” of a new year. Maybe it’s time for us to look for something that is UNCHANGING to give us hope. Maybe it’s time to for us to rely on what has been the same yesterday, today and forever to give us this great hope we are looking for.

So as you reflect on 2016, whatever trials and joys you have encountered, I hope you can work on the discipline, along with us, of setting aside those stones of remembrance and recalling how God has been good and faithful. This is the root of hope for things to come in 2017 and for all eternity. We certainly can’t imagine living without it.

If we can encourage you in this Hope or even help you explore it for the first time we’d love to have those discussions. Sometimes we have to borrow each other’s stones of remembrance when we are struggling to find our own.

In a season where we hear and even sing so much about Peace and Hope, maybe the portion of this letter from the Apostle Paul can help guide us into a new year…

Romans 5.1-5 “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”

Happy and hopeful new year!

Ryan & Harper

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Sweet Potato Black Bean Chili

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Oh and bacon. But if you are vegetarian or vegan is it very delicious without the bacon also!

What you’ll need:
1 yellow pepper (or orange)
1 onion (yellow or whatever you have)
6-7 pieces of cooked bacon (nitrate free) (optional)
3-5 medium Sweet Potatoes
4 cloves minced garlic
2 TB chili powder
2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp Kosher salt
2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (or more to your liking)
2-3 cups broth
1 can diced tomatoes
2-3 cups cooked black beans (or 2 14 oz cans)
Olive oil
Avocado (not pictured but awesome)
Sour Cream

What to do:
If using, cook bacon (I use the oven*)
Put olive oil in a large pot
Sauté onion and pepper and sweet potatoes till onion is soft
Add spices and garlic
Add broth, beans,  and tomatoes
Chop bacon into bits and put 1/2 into the pot
Simmer for 20-30 minutes based on how soft you like the sweet potatoes

Garnish with bacon bits, avocado and sour cream.

 

 

*To cook bacon in the oven, line a cookie sheet with foil (if the cookie sheet does not have sides, create sides with foil). Place bacon on foil in oven and turn on to 400. Check after 15 min and then leave in until desired crispness.

 


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Finding Health and Passion in a Busy Life

CropperBy Christine Cropper

 

In June of 2013, I found myself as a busy mom (of three small children, one a newborn) who had been on medication for my acid reflux disease for the past 12 years. I needed energy, needed to lose weight from my having my third baby, and I knew that I wanted better health for our family!

Another mom from preschool was so kind to help me in the drop-off line each morning. We became fast friends and in the process she shared with me how she had found energy, had lost weight and began creating a healthy life for her family. The company she partnered with was Shaklee, a company that I found to have history, integrity, and high quality products that I could trust.

I started with my own health, using what we call the Vitalizing Plan, one meal replacement per day and my Vitalizer strip of vitamins. I had so much healing by just using this kit that I was eager to learn more about natural solutions to our entire family’s health. After using the kit for almost three months, I had lost 15 lbs, my cholesterol had gone down almost 30 points, and my acid reflux disease was gone! I came off Prilosec and I wanted to learn how to help my kids. My then four-year-old daughter got stomach aches every time she would eat and she also had eczema all over her legs. I listened to a health stories conference call and listened to some Wellness Webinars. That education led me to start her on our Incredivites (children’s multi), Chewable C, and Optiflora probiotic. Within a couple of weeks, her eczema was disappearing and her stomach aches had become much less frequent. I was elated! About six months to a year later, my then one-year-old son was experiencing respiratory issues every time he would get a cold or virus. The doctors called it “reactive airway” and wanted to put him on a daily steroid. I absolutely did not want to do this, so I looked to Shaklee for a better, safer solution. I added our chewable omega 3, called Mighty Smarts, into his daily regimen along with Incredivites, Chewable C, and Optiflora. It worked!!! He has gone a year and a half now without any respiratory issues whenever he gets a cold or another virus! Also around this time, my husband started using Optiflora probiotic and noticed a large change in his digestive health. His family has a long history of colon cancer and he was excited to start approaching his health in a preventative way. He fell in love with the quality and integrity of Shaklee products and the company. We know that all of our children and ourselves now have a stronger immune system because of Shaklee. We love our non toxic cleaning products, we love our skin care products (vitamins for your skin), we love our Life Shake, supplements and basically everything that Shaklee produces is fantastic, safe, and works incredibly well.

Then in April of 2015, my husband and I were invited to a large Shaklee event. We felt compelled to learn more about how we could share the health that we had found with Shaklee with others. We definitely knew that we always wanted Shaklee to be a part of our family’s lives to keep us healthy. We are both teachers, so we thought, ‘why wouldn’t we want to educate others on how to have better health? What if we could build a business and help make other people’s lives better? After all, it is our passion to serve others.’ It made complete sense to us that we would build a business with the Shaklee opportunity. However, there was always a reason why it wasn’t the “right time”. We were just so busy and overwhelmed with daily life and taking care of our three little ones. Also at this point I was eight months pregnant with our fourth child and I could barely do the laundry, let alone think about starting a business, so I waited. Then our fourth baby came on June 12! We knew that we wanted to start our business some time soon, and we knew that it would probably never feel like the “right time” because life will always have a lot going on. So we took a leap and started our business on July 1, 2015. We are so glad that we did! We earned our initial investment back in the first month!

The best part is that we never felt like we had to do anything alone as we began our business. Our leaders helped us every step of the way, as well as many other people on our team. Even in the midst of the chaos of my postpartum life, I was always supported. Our leader allowed us to host our launch event at her home and she was always willing to get together to help us with skills and planning. The community that we have the opportunity to work with is truly phenomenal! There is so much support on our team! You are never alone and any answer is just a phone call or text message away. We have tons of resources and did I mention the free training that we receive? When I was teaching I had to pay for my training, now I receive free training every week. All in all, joining the business has been one of the best decisions for me and my family. We became business leaders within three months and we are now looking to build a team of our own! What a rewarding and exciting field to be a part of! Our country needs to move towards prevention and Shaklee is going to lead the way. When we take small steps that lead to big results, this is called the Shaklee Effect. We feel empowered to be a part of this revolutionary company!

 

For more information on the products Christine mentioned or about the Shaklee opportunity, contact the Shaklee distributor that sent you this blog link.


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Christmas Cards

“Balance. It’s like a unicorn; we’ve heard about it, everyone talks about it and makes airbrushed T-shirts celebrating it, it seems super rad, but we haven’t actually seen one. I’m beginning to think it isn’t a thing.”
Jen Hatmaker, For the Love

I hope I have never given the impression that I balance it all. I don’t. I think that’s why I am so moved by the first chapter of this book the above quote is from, “For the Love.” Christmas cards are a great example of this. I had written this post in my head but was so thankful to read this chapter before I had a chance to type it.

CCards
IF I was sending a Christmas card, it would include this picture. And I would use that cute template that says, “All is not calm, but all is bright.”
(Photography: Robb Davidson Photography)

First, I love mail. I love sending real cards with stamps. I love receiving mail. I love cards and letters and stationary. I love getting Christmas cards. I love a picture I can hold and put up on my wall and connections with people and a mailbox full of joy.

Here is the background on the Christmas cards
(skip to “Where I’m At Now” if you’d like).

I longingly waited until we had a cute little face to put on Christmas cards. I had special pictures taken and addressed and stamped lovingly all my Christmas cards. I did this for one year. In 2011 we moved into a new house in December and then had my sister’s wedding. I sent New Year’s cards. Then in 2012 we had a baby in the fall and because I had just sent birth announcements, I thought, ‘I’ll skip Christmas cards this year.’ That’s not really true. My husband said, “Are you crazy? You have a new baby, a growing business, a toddler and you just sent out birth announcements that had a family picture on it. Let’s skip them this year.” I said, “But of course!” No, not true again. But, I did thankfully (eventually and begrudgingly) follow the wisdom of my husband and said to myself, ‘Well, years we have babies and send birth announcements I just won’t send Christmas cards.’

Then in 2013, I just couldn’t get it together. I know that I’ve been taken off other people’s card lists because I have not sent one. I know. I’m okay with that. But something had to give. In 2014, we had another baby. And guess what? I didn’t even send a birth announcement. And now it’s 2015 and I’m here again, but this year, I have come to grips with my life.

Where I’m At Now
Some things have to give. I just can’t do it all. And I have to be okay with that.

I am choosing to be wise with my time and my energy. This year I am sadly putting aside this time-honored tradition that I love and focusing on the things that God has put front and center. We have a lot going on with ministry, business, and of course, three little wonderful people.

This is sad for me, but I know that I will be less stressed, less busy, and more focused this season if I let this one go.

I hope you still do a Christmas card this year (but it’s okay if your policy is to only send one to those who send one too). I don’t share this to say anything negative about how you spend your time or energy. I love getting your cards and I am thankful that you can still do this (I hope to again one day). We all have to have different stories and a different balancing act.

I only share this to say that this is something that I, sadly, am giving up. I am freeing myself from feeling like I have failed because I can’t do it all. I am sharing that I am not letting myself feel judged because I didn’t send one again this year. I am freeing myself from the “well I will next year” lie and just letting it go.

If you want the other lists of things I have had to let go, I’m happy to share. I often sing “If I had a million hours…” to the tune of BNL’s “If I had a million dollars..” But I don’t. God generously gave me 24 hours (and a need for sleep) and seven days in a week. Learning to let things go that I feel I “should” do is a process of trusting Him and His plan for me. I don’t know what you need freedom from this year, but I hope there is some encouragement in this.

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And this is the pile of personal, specific notes still on my to-do pile—some of which have been sitting there for eight weeks, one is my very best friend’s birthday card (three weeks ago). I have some other things I need to get to first.

 

 

 

And I love you all and Merry Christmas and Happy Chanukah and thank you and everything else.

 


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A Company I Can Trust

Post 10.2Over the years, many people have asked me WHY Shaklee? What makes Shaklee different from other companies?

When I was looking for non-toxic cleaner, bio-available vitamins and skin care that was safe, I found Shaklee. And what stood out to me wasn’t the products as much at first, but the company. This company had HISTORY. And this company had INTEGRITY.

What has always stood out to me is the Shaklee Difference. Shaklee is committed to purity, potency, and proof.

And it’s not surprising…Post 7.3

Shaklee is a leading global natural nutrition company. They are the ONLY company in the world with PROOF of the long-term health benefits of its products.

They are committed to creating the highest quality of natural products to keep you and your family healthy. Shaklee guarantees that every product is 100% safe and the proof is in their clinical research. Shaklee has published 125 scientific papers and presentations, 90 of which are in peer-reviewed publications medical journals.  The Chairman & CEO of Shaklee is Roger Barnett.

So the integrity is not only in the science, but in the business. From the top, through the field, there is a level of commitment to doing the right thing for people. Read Forbes’ interview with Roger Barnett to learn more about his values and commitment to doing the right thing.

And if that isn’t enough, the bigger picture of Shaklee is seen in what they have done for the world–far outside the marketplace.

This is just a brief look at why I trust Shaklee for my family, my friends, and the people that I am a health and business advocate for.


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Nutty Banana Snack

IMG_1282Healthy snacks take thought–especially when there are so many unhealthy snacks at our fingertips. I try to incorporate protein, vegetables or ideally, both into a snack for me and my kids. Now where this can get tricky is the little ones. We lean towards a baby-led-weaning-ish style and give our children the foods we eat. But snacks without teeth or major chewing function is harder. AND in those first two years especially, I like to incorporate as much healthy fat as possible. (We don’t give our kids milk, so I make up for the fat elsewhere).

My go-to for the bigger kids when I have nothing else and no creativity is nuts and dried cranberries or raisins. Alas, baby with no teeth cannot chop on almonds (or even cashews at this point). When they are on sale and ripe, avocados make a great snack for all ages. My mother-in-law calls them “Nature’s Fast Food.”

But when I tend to always have is bananas. (Seriously, our grocery store was OUT OF bananas tonight? If I had a banana tree and an avocado tree in my backyard I’d be set.) So my brilliant sister-in-law came up with this great idea to take bananas and make them a protein-rich snack.

First, I took almonds, pecans, and cashews and ground them in the coffee grinder. (Don’t grind too much or you’ll end up with some nut butter). Then I chopped up the bananas into bite-size pieces, coated them in the nut dust and it was a BIG HIT. My little guy (and my two older girls actually) loved the snack and it was a great addition to our little routine. Hope it helps your pre-chewing, healthy snack adventure!


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Change Your Health and Change Your Life: Janeen’s Story

Post 33.1

Health is more than health. When I share that, I share many stories. I share Amber & Lenna-Grace’s story, but I also often share Janeen & Dan’s story. I have the privilege here to document their story for you. Janeen and Dan didn’t just lose weight—they got their health back and in the process gave their daughter and son a whole new health as well.

Here is a short video to introduce you the Dan and Janeen.

 

Recently, I sat on my back porch with Janeen and she shared her story with me:

Our healthy journey started when my husband, Dan, came home from healthy visit and it was anything but healthy (this was almost three years ago). He was close to diabetes, high blood pressure and they wanted to put him on all these medications. But the doctor gave him three months to lose weight before he started the medications.

His dad has his first heart attack at 51 and then he had five more and lived unhealthy and unhappy. Dan was 43 at this point. I didn’t want him to have that story.

My friend, Pam, had been calling me, interested in my health. I said, “It’s time to call her.” I met her for coffee, we sat and talked. I signed up with the Shaklee180. In the first month, I lost 17 lbs and Dan lost a ton of weight too.

1044659_10200726385540335_24547869_nSix months after we started our Shaklee, we were at a Black Crows concert and Dan fainted because his blood pressure was so low! Six months earlier they had wanted to put him on medication for high blood pressure.

Dan and I continued our healthy journey of losing weight, eating healthy and enjoying our new lifestyle.

To date I (Janeen) have lost 70 lbs and Dan has also lost 70 lbs. He is now off all medications. His numbers are perfect. His diabetic numbers are all normal.

He is off his sleep apena machine. That has been great for our marriage. I couldn’t sleep with the snoring and the machine. He sounded like he was choking. I forgot about that!

 

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It is a great feeling to feel GOOD and to feel more attractive to my husband. We both feel more confident.

But we as women are our own worst critics, so my health and feeling more secure has made me a better wife too. But I know that his weight loss has given him more confidence in himself and I sure think he’s sexier!

When you are healthy you feel more confident and secure in all areas. When you are insecure you are never good at anything.

I was afraid to walk into a place and maybe someone would make a comment and I would be ready to respond with a joke. When you are worrying about yourself, you can’t be as good of a mom. It is liberating to feel this way! I know this health change has made me a better mom.

11209357_10205382947071463_4816147408517183531_nI have so much more energy with my kids, I could run around with them all day. I couldn’t do that before. We have done three 5ks together as a family.

Then my daughter, Payton, at age 11, saw the success that Dan and I were having, and wanted to try it too. She lost 30 lbs, slower, in about eight months with a shake a day and a boost in the morning and a healthy lunch.

She had great success with the program. Her swimming improved and she was able to preform better as an athlete, which is what she wanted. She made it to regionals for the first time in six years with swimming.

In that first month I started the Shaklee 180 program, I also shared with friends and clients and ended up finding 17 other people who wanted to go through the same transformation and it turned into a successful business! I have been on all-expenses paid trips to California, Nashville and even Paris because I shared my own story!

 

12178260_10156150943535263_1901743968_n (1)Then I thought what else does Shaklee have? We had just been so focused on the 180 program that we had not looked at much else. But then I was just so into feeling good I had to see what else was out there!

 

We all decided to try the Vitalizer. After we were on the Vitalizer, I noticed how much better my son Chase was doing. He has ADHD and Autism. He also has a learning disability.

Before Shaklee, he stuttered, he was nervous. He’s a non-reader. He is in sixth grade and was reading at second grade level. He didn’t have a lot of energy. He was a couch potato. Very introverted. He didn’t have any friendships. Literally none.

Life at school—he couldn’t concentrate, he was teased, he wasn’t assertive. The teachers used to call us all the time—he wasn’t concentrating, couldn’t pack his bag, couldn’t listen. Simple tasks that every kid does, seemed like Chase had a struggle with.

We had made huge changes in our whole family’s diet. We had gradually removed all dyes (and you’d be surprised what all has dye in it). Removed almost all processed food. We used to go through seven 12-packs of pop in a week and now we have none. We have also removed a lot of dairy.

Chase was a carb freak, so we have significantly reduced his carbs, especially wheat.

 

11150350_10205041666059651_1815019911466889176_nFirst we just did Vitalizer strip. Then we had a meeting with our Shaklee Nutritionist. We were so amazed with how Chase was doing that we needed to ask more questions!

He was thinking clearer. He seemed less frustrated. He seemed to be able to concentrate better. That intrigued us to try other things to see what else was possible.

So after that meeting, we added GLA and extra OmegaGuard for his brain. We also added extra B-Complex. And we gave him Gentle Sleep Complex before bed to help him calm down before bed.

Then he continued to improve. His brain definitely seemed to think clearer with the increased Omegas. It just seemed like everything kept improving.

I learned that there are 20 neurotransmitters in the gut and they communicate with your brain and when they are clogged up it’s not transmitting. So the diet changes and the probiotics made a huge difference as well.

Besides cleaning out his gut, MindWorks was the biggest transformation.

Last summer MindWorks came out. Every summer he has tutoring and every summer he has the same tutor. Nothing else had changed.

Every kid in Special Ed needs to catch up when the school year begins. But instead of catching up, this year he jumped six reading levels (which is one grade level)—he had been on MindWorks for one month.

He made the flier at school:
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IMG_6430In the beginning of school year there was a math test and he got a 31% after MindWorks for a month. Retested in December and got an 81%. His teacher wrote this note, “Have Chase tell you the big news!”

Today he came home with all A’s on his report card for the first time ever!

He is assertive now. Now he is not afraid to go engage people. His teachers say: “He has a lot of friends at school, he just doesn’t know how to take it home.” He is doing great in the classroom with the other kids. We are still fine-tuning his social skills but at least he will go up and talk to someone!

But his personality and family issues have improved too. We used to have to go to therapy as a family to help with Chase’s affection related to his autsim. He would want to give his sisters 20 hugs a day. My daughter would send him to grab her something from the basement and he would do it to get another hug. We had to work with him and teach him how to manage his affection. And now, without any more therapy, MindWorks has helped with those issues. He has begun to realize what affection is proper for him just with adding the MindWorks.

He is being more assertive and true to how he feels with his family and other people. He never would have been like that before. He has more confidence because he is reading better and fitting in.

 

IMG_8690This has changed my life as a mom in incredible ways. When a kid can sit there and do their own homework, you can spend more time on the other kids—there are three and I wasn’t able to spread myself among them. The other kids would feel like I was always with Chase because he needed to so much more help. And that’s a terrible feeling. I didn’t like giving one more attention to the other, but he needed it. I feel like now I am able to divide myself up more evenly and that feels so good.

Between all of those things, there is more peace in our home.

Even today, I got a text from a friend. She was at her wit’s end with her son being out of control and thinking he needed medication. He could not focus. So she tried MindWorks. Today she texted me “Hey that MindWorks is awesome. He forgot to take it today and that was all the proof I needed. It took him twice as long to do his homework and I had to stand next to him the whole time. It was a night and day difference.” That is a gift to her whole family.

Sometimes I wish I would have never started medication so I could see these kind of results. He just recently went off the rest of his medication!

10421642_10202873020924878_61004060619376664_nSo it’s not just my marriage or just me as a mom, I feel like my whole entire life is different.

I feel like I am a better mom because I have my health. I feel like I am a better mom because of finding health. I enjoy cooking more. I feel like I understand HOW to give my kids health too.

And honestly, there is much more to Shaklee than just great products. Those prodcuts and the edication I have received from Shaklee has been life-changing, but so has the opportunity to share that with other people. And not just cause I got to go to Paris!

 

 

11707376_10205772575091920_1241050275853214261_nMy full-time job is coloring hair and I love it. I don’t ever plan on quitting. My Shaklee business is not to replace it, it is to enhance it. Most of my business is at the salon. The rest is facebook because I am sharing these amazing results with our family’s health—because that it was is exciting in the life of my family!

I think feeling good goes with feeling healthy. I always loved making people feel pretty on the outside and now I get to help them also feel pretty on the inside by helping them with their health. This business makes me feel good because I want other people to feel the way my family feels—and help them know there are solutions out there.

We used to always feel awful. We just didn’t know we felt awful.

I am passionate about this business because of how it’s changed my life and the way I feel. It’s contagious! I want everyone to feel like this. I want people to know I can help them and that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. I want people to know that health can change your life.

 

This is what I want to leave you with:
It’s never too late to start a healthy journey.

Never say you are going on a diet, change your habits then change your health. It’s not like I’ll never eat a canoli again, but I don’t eat them like I used to!

Don’t get frustrated, baby steps lead to big steps. It’s not always a quick fix, it’s a process. If you’re not seeing the results you want, tweak something to make it the right process for you.

–Janeen Nufer