Weight Loss and Body Image

Earlier this year I lost around 35 pounds and I’ve kept it off.

(Side note: I am pregnant and now gaining pregnancy-related weight)

But this isn’t a post about weight loss and how great it is. It’s a post about how I never had any body image issues until I lost the weight.

If you’re wondering how I did it, my response is always, “we’ve been trying to eat healthier.” Which is true. We cut a lot of carbs and drank a lot of protein shakes. But there’s more to it than that.

I stopped taking my anti-depressants, a side-effect of which can be weight gain. But feeling mentally well is worth a few extra pounds.

I ate a lot less. Arguably an unhealthy amount less. I felt terrible all the time and when people commented on it, I felt even worse. But once I started losing the weight I felt guilty about everything I did eat.

I took appetite suppressants. Again, not really healthy.

I DID NOT work out more. In fact, I probably worked out less. Prior to dieting, I was playing a lot of soccer and trying to run regularly. But shortly after we started dieting, I sustained an injury and stopped playing. That alone caused me to lose a lot of weight, mostly muscle mass.

But let me tell you some more not-so-great things that happened when I started to lose weight:

I didn’t like my body anymore. I felt like I looked saggy. I had no butt. And my clothes started hanging off of me, which caused me to lose a lot of confidence.

Why not buy new clothes? Because I kept losing weight and wasn’t sure what size I’d end up at...or if I’d gain the weight back.

I started to feel really bad about how I looked before...because of other people. I NEVER had any body issues. I couldn’t really tell you why I started dieting in the first place. I think I was hoping to maybe lose a couple pounds, not 35. But people started making comments. They were trying to be nice, but often ended up just making me feel bad. Close family members would say, “wow, you just look so fantastic.” And then inevitably follow it up with a comment about how I looked before. Well, it’s hard to hear you look fantastic when you feel terrible because you’re starving yourself. And all I could think was..."what was wrong with how I looked before?” I even asked a few people that very question and they’d generally respond with something that made me feel even worse, like..."you just looked...”

To this day, it’s very rare that I receive a compliment on my weight that doesn’t come with some sort of back-handed comment on my weight before. Which again, I didn’t have an issue with. And either did my doctor. Sure, sometimes I wished my pants weren’t so tight, but doesn’t everybody?

And now I feel this enormous pressure to either keep losing weight or to weigh myself every day to make sure I haven’t gained an ounce. Even if it means having terrible stomach issues or feeling guilty every time I eat. Because I now see the judgement that people had towards me when I was heavier. Judgement I hadn’t realized was there.

So I’m going to leave you with this...

If you feel the need to comment on someone’s weight loss, just say “you look great.” That’s it. Don’t comment on how much weight they’ve lost or on how they looked before.

Weight is not necessarily an indicator of how in shape someone is. I was a much better athlete when I was 35lbs heavier. And to be honest with you, I hate how skinny my legs have gotten. I don’t have the same soccer player muscles that I prided myself on when I was playing.

Don’t ever make someone feel bad about their weight. You have no idea if they have a health condition, or take a medication that causes weight gain, or how they feel about their own body.

I want parents, boyfriends, girlfriends and spouses to hear this one particularly loud: weight is not what makes up the character of a human being and shouldn’t define how much you love them. I have always viewed myself as a smart, sporty, funny woman. And that’s whether I’m 100 lbs or 200 lbs. And I HOPE that every woman and girl out there feels that same way about themselves, too. It’s what inside that defines you. And you are BEAUTIFUL.

Reflecting on 2018

2018 was one of the best years of my life.


I started a brand new position at my company as a Human Resources Business Partner. That was a big change for me since up until that point, my career had always been focused on corporate training. 

The new position was a lot of learning and also afforded me the opportunity to understand the operations side of the business in a way I never had before.

I grew a lot as a professional in 2018 and for the first time in my professional life, understood where my calling and strengths are, and where I want my next steps to be.


I rang in the new year engaged to my love.

I already knew this was the person I wanted to spend the rest of my life with, and our engagement reinforced that.

Even after spending years together and living with somebody, you don't think about things the same as you do when you've made a life-long commitment to them. How we wanted to handle money, kids, family, where we want to live, the career choices we want to make and the kind of life we wanted to establish for ourselves all started to come to fruition. It was wonderful!

After nearly a year of planning, we had the wedding of our dreams in Mexico.

The amount of love and support that we had from our friends and family was incredible. We are so blessed to have our community.


We became chicken farmers this year, which was so much fun!

We adopted six chicks, made some rookie mistakes, and have since become experts in raising hens.

Our neighbors and family love those eggs!

Our dogs, Eleanor and Boyfriend, are happy as ever. Boyfriend turned 11 and has been diagnosed with Congestive Heart Failure, which is hard and scary, but he's happy as can be just enjoying the time he has left with us.

What's Next

Brandon and I made the decision to start growing our family!

In late spring of 2019, we will we welcoming a little boy into the world.

We have a few pre-baby trips planned, including a trip back to Florida to reunite with my friends from when I did the Disney College Program. But the majority of our time will be anxiously awaiting the arrival of our son, and then doting over him every second after he is born.

I am so looking forward to 2019!

It's a Boy!

Brandon and I had an early ultrasound at 17 weeks to make sure Baby Novak was developing correctly.

We were so lucky to find that everything looked good. But we also got to find out that we're having a little BOY!

(Well...the doctors won't say for sure, because there's always a small percentage that they misinterpreted what they saw during the ultrasound, but she was pretty confident it's a boy)

The appointment was really cool. The last time we saw Baby Novak was at 11 weeks and he looked like a tiny little gummy bear. Seeing him look much more baby-like and moving around was a bit of a shock. At 17 weeks I still hadn't felt him move at all and was barely starting to show, so it was hard for me to believe that Baby had grown so big!

While the appointment brought some assurance, it also brought some stress. Results aren't given to you immediately and waiting the 3 days to hear how he was measuring was a bit stressful. I didn't realize how many soft and hard markers for diseases doctors look for in those appointments.

We don't have a name yet and at this rate, likely won't have one until he makes his debut. Choosing a name is HARD!

Stay tuned for more updates!

A Holiday Reminder

As we sit here in the midst of the holidays, I wanted to give you a little reminder...Smile!

I've been reading How to Win Friends and Influence People. It's one of those "must read" business books that was published decades ago, and it is speaking to me!

One of the chapters is about smiling. It ends with a poem that fit this time of year so well, I had to share it:

The Value of a Smile at Christmas

It costs nothing, but creates so much.
It enriches those who receive, without impoverishing those who give.
It happens in a flash and the memory of it sometimes lasts forever.
None are so rich they can get along without it, and none so poor but are richer for its benefits.
It creates happiness in the home, fosters good will in a business, and is the countersign of friends.
It is rest to the weary, daylight to the discouraged, sunshine to the sad, and Nature's best antidote for trouble.
Yet it cannot be bought, begged, borrowed, or stolen for it is something that is no earthly good to anybody till it is given away.
And if in the last-minute rush of Christmas buying some of our salespeople should be too tired to give you a smile, may we ask you to leave one of yours?
For nobody needs a smile so much as those who have none left to give!

There are so many good messages about a smile in this poem...

It costs nothing.

The memory of it sometimes lasts forever.

No earthly good to anybody till it is given away.

Giving a smile to some, or to many, this holiday season, is the easiest, most inexpensive gift you can give. And there are a lot of people who need one.

So when you're "in the last-minute rush of Christmas buying" and your salespeople "should be too tired to give you a smile, may we ask you leave one of yours?" We all know that the holidays are stressful. If you've ever worked in retail, you know it especially well.

You don't need one in return, and what a difference a simple smile can make. You never know when you may need one yourself...

Our Next Great Adventure: Parenthood

First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes...

Baby Novak! ...ETA May 15.

As you may recall, Brandon propped the question last Christmas, and we were married in Mexico in November.

We knew we wanted to have kids right away, so a few months before our wedding, we met with the doctor to talk about trying to conceive. Shortly after....BAM! We're pregnant!

Finding Out

Finding out was the most exciting day of my life.

We found out very early, at four weeks. The amount of happiness and relief I felt was incredible. My husband was also over-the-moon.

As we started to learn more about what it meant to be pregnant, we decided to keep the surprise to ourselves. For one, the risk of miscarriage is so high in the first trimester. But in addition to that, our families were busy focusing on the last-minute details that went into planning and traveling to our upcoming wedding in Mexico.

Breaking the News

We finally told our families and close friends at 13 weeks. We had already had two doctor's appointments confirming that all was well and it seemed appropriate.

Many people were shocked, but for the most part, happy. And it felt really good to finally talk openly about it.

We slowly began telling other friends and family and the more people we told, the more relaxed I felt.

I was most nervous to tell my employer. Many women report being treated different at work, that their employers don't think they're as dedicated to the job, etc. I was also concerned for what it meant for my coworkers who would have to cover my work while I was out on leave after having the child.

I wanted to get ahead of telling at least my boss and close teammates before I started to show and it became obvious.

It's still scary putting it out there. I hear a lot of pregnancy horror stories. I am also constantly in fear of something being wrong at my next doctor's appointment. The other mothers I know tell me that fear never goes away, even after the baby is born.

But I also hear a lot of great advice. And it's really wonderful to be able to talk about some of the weird symptoms I experience and learn that they're normal. The amount of love and support we have in our network is remarkable.

Where We Are Now

I am happy to report that we are at 16 weeks. Another successful doctor's appointment is in the books and while it provides some temporary relief, I'm sure my anxiety will rebuild before the next doctor's appointment.

We're going through the mental planning that every new parent does....how much money do we need to be making? How much is childcare? How long does the baby sleep in our room? What is Butt Paste? Will the child look like me or you?

It's a lot of fun. Scary, yes. Crazy, yes. And fun.

Maya Ruins: Coba

After our wedding in Mexico, my husband and I spent some time away from the resort and took advantage of the opportunity to visit some Maya ruins.

Going into the trip, I really had my heart set on Tulum. I had heard so many wonderful things about it, and the photos looked beautiful! Chichen Itza was another option I had considered.

After doing some research, we landed on Coba instead. The primary reason being that Coba, unlike the other ruins in the Yucatan Peninsula, still has a temple that you can climb.

You used to be able to climb Tulum, but the option to do that was discontinued years ago, and likely will be with Coba as well. In fact, Coba was closed off for climbing for a period of time.

The experience was truly incredible. Not just for the climb, which is a bit unsafe (and because of that, a bit of a thrill), but because of the rich history.

For example, a road that is over 62 miles long leading to a location near Chichen Itza. A completely flat, wide road made of limestone and used for trade between different areas.
Or the ancient Maya's use of the wheel. Old artifacts show that they knew about the functionality of the wheel, as demonstrated in some children's toys. But it doesn't appear that the wheel was used as a tool or means to transport items. The Mayas found value in hard work and manual labor.

What was most fascinating to me was how much of these large cities are still hidden by jungle. I couldn't quite wrap my head around how that was possible until I stepped foot into Coba. We'd be walking through some ruins and some large hills covered in trees and moss and our tour guide pointed out that the land was flat. If we saw anything that looked like a hill, it was an old structure that hadn't been uncovered.

I was blown away. I was walking right through these uncovered structures and would never have known they were anything but jungle.

Interesting fact: National Geographic wrote an article just this year on a Maya "megapolis" just discovered in Guatemala.

Sometimes they're not uncovered because of the lack of funding that goes towards it. But other times the structures aren't full uncovered because it would mean sacrificing the integrity of the structure. They're so old and trees and other plants have gotten so deeply rooted in them, that taking away those plants would cause the buildings to crumble to the ground.

It was so wonderful to see and experience such a rich culture. The local Mayas run and work the site, so you will see a cooperative where you can buy souvenirs, restaurants, or some of the locals driving petty cabs to take tourists around the site.

The experience was worthwhile, and here are some tips:

  • Hire a tour guide

    • The experience won't be the same if you don't have somebody to talk you through the significance of each building and give you some basic Mayan history.

  • Bring sunblock and bug spray

    • Most of the tour is through jungle, so you're mostly protected from the sun, but maybe not the bugs. When you get to the main temple, Nohoch Mul, you will be directly in the sun, especially if you decide to climb it.

  • Bring lots of water

    • It's hot and humid. And it gets hot FAST as you get to climbing that big temple.

  • If you're scared to climb the temple, don't do it

    • As I mentioned before, it's not the safest endeavor. The rocks are worn down from so many climbers and aside from a large rope in the middle, there are no safety measures there to protect you if you fall.
    • The top is a long way up, so if you're afraid you will experience vertigo, you probably will.
    • The experience is still wonderful, even if you don't make the climb.

  • Not all of the locals speak Spanish (or English)
    • Mayas are raised and educated in their own language, Mayan. So while many of the locals speak Spanish, it is not their first language, and some of them never learned Spanish at all. With a little creativity and patience, though, you will have no problem communicating.

Our Wedding Video

Adventure Photos was there not only to take our wedding photos, but also to put together a video of special moments at our wedding.

The wedding was at Now Jade Riviera Cancun in Puerto Morelos, Mexico.

The videographer was there to capture the ceremony as well as some moments during the photo session with our photographer after.

I was blown away by the video. Our videographer added music, including the song we danced our first dance to, Etta James' "At Last." Instead of putting the entire ceremony in the video, he included the most special parts.

I didn't know what to expect from a video and going into the wedding, I wasn't sure we needed one. But after seeing the video, I am so happy we had a videographer there. If you weren't already planning on it, I would recommend hiring one for your special day as well.

So here it is, our wedding video...