Workout: Legs

I rarely use machines, but I decided to switch it up for this workout!

1 - Smith Machine Lunges

2 - Single Leg Extensions

3 - Seated Hamstring Curls

Love Your Mom Bod

28 Weeks Pregnant vs Now

28 Weeks Pregnant vs Now

I can’t believe I’m sharing these pictures with you. Not even my own MOTHER… not even my SON’S FATHER… not even my BEST GIRLFRIEND has seen these maternity pictures… because I hated the way I looked in them and honestly, couldn’t believe I even let my photographer talk me into shooting them in the first place! 

But I choose to be vulnerable and share ALL of my story with you because I don’t ever want you to think it was EASY for me or that I have it all figured out. It’s important to me that you see the success story, but that you also know that I FAILED… HUNDREDS OF TIMES before I succeeded. 

A question I hear often: WILL MY BODY EVER BE THE SAME AFTER I HAVE A BABY? Truth be told… every woman’s experience is SO different. 

Have you ever seen those adorable pregnant women who have cute little basketball bellies, and if they turned their back to you, you wouldn’t even know they were 37 weeks pregnant?! They seemingly “bounce right back” to their formerly fit selves before they even check out of the hospital, without leaving a trace of evidence that a tiny human was living inside of them for the past nine months. GOD BLESS THESE WOMEN! 

Before I got pregnant, I used to see these ladies and think, “I CAN’T WAIT to be pregnant and adorable like them!” 

Then I got pregnant. And this was SOOO NOT MY EXPERIENCE… 

I was already 175 pounds when I found out I was expecting and then proceeded to gain another 70 POUNDS in 9 MONTHS. 

For the record… Tye was only 8 lbs, 9 oz at birth! The other 61 pounds I attribute to Pizza Luce, Ben & Jerry’s and Wendy’s drive-thru. 

I did not have a cute little basketball belly. I looked like I was having twins or triplets, and I used to get stopped in the skyways of Minneapolis by other women who would say things like, “Any day now, huh?!” when I was only in my second trimester. 

GOD HELP ME. 

I was pregnant EVERYWHERE. My knees were pregnant. My nose was pregnant. And my butt was just as round as my belly and stuck out equally as far on the backside of my body. 

I have stretch marks EVERYWHERE. My breasts. My hips. My butt. The backs of my KNEES. My calves. I have loose skin. And after 24 hours of back labor and two failed epidurals, I had to have a c-section, which means I have the infamous scar and pooch on my lower abdomen, that no matter how lean I get, never seems to go away completely. 

BUT… I am HEALTHIER and STRONGER than I have ever been. And I have learned to love my body, imperfections and all, because, I MADE A FREAKING HUMAN, you guys! A handsome, smart, kind, hilarious little boy who loves LEGOS and reading Captain Underpants and shooting hoops and superheroes… 

And I would gain and lose the weight all over again in a HEARTBEAT because my life means nothing without that little boy. 

Workouts: Battle Ropes

There’s the F word… the S word… the H word… the A word… and at the very beginning of my weight loss journey… when I weighed 245 pounds… the VERY WORST SWEAR of them all… was THE C WORD. Yep. CARDIO.

I ABSOLUTELY DESPISE RUNNING. Like… HATE it. Like… would rather clean toilets than go for a run. You know how people talk about getting a “runner’s high” after a long distance excursion? Yeah… that’s never happened to me.

You will never find me on a treadmill or elliptical machine… and if you ever see me running along the side of the road, you better run, too because something is chasing me.

Now… before you click UNFOLLOW and list all of the reasons I should take up running in the comments… I want to make myself crystal clear… If YOU love to run - I think that is AWESOME! TOTALLY AMAZING! And I’m THRILLED that you have found a form of exercise you enjoy and look forward to each day! Because THAT, my friends, is the key to long-term success.

With that being said… I knew I needed to implement SOME form of cardio in addition to strength training to maximize my results. And in order to be consistent, I needed to find something I ENJOYED!

Enter… the BATTLE ROPES! I freaking LOOOOOVE these things. They increase my heart rate, give me a great shoulder burn and there are a million variations to try. Here are a few of my favorites!

1 Singles

2 Doubles

3 Outward Circles

4 Jumping Jacks

5 Double/Burpee

B United: Melissa Dixon, US Air Force

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YOU GUYS. THIS WOMAN. I don’t have enough words to describe how incredible she is. She’s currently deployed overseas with the United States Air Force. She’s a MOM to an ADORABLE three-year-old little boy named Elijah. Her amazing husband, Dex, is ALSO in the Air Force! And she’s probably one of the most polite (she says, “yes, m'am!”) grateful human beings I have ever seen. Everyone, MEET MELISSA DIXON!

1.   Name:  Melissa Dixon

2.   Age:  29

3.   Hometown:  Compton, CA

4.   Family (significant other, children and their ages, fur babies, etc):  

My husband, Dex & son Elijah, (3 years old)

5.   Branch:  United States Air Force

6.   Job Title:  Equal Opportunity Director

7.   Job Description:  Prevention of unlawful discrimination and harassment.

8.   Enlist Date:  March 2010

9.   What motivated you to join the military?

The opportunity to travel, go to college, and serve our country. 

10.Are or were any of your family members in the military? If so, who and what branch?   

No immediate family in the military. I am the first person in the USAF and have family now looking to join when they graduate high school.

11.Why did you choose this branch?  

The way of life that is lived within the USAF and the mission. 

12.Tell me a little about your time in boot camp.  

Bootcamp was a memorable experience to say the least. The days were long, but the time flew by. It taught me patience, showed me how strong I really was physically/mentally, and to pay attention to detail- no matter how big or small. 

13.Where have you traveled to while in the service?

I have traveled to CA, FL, AR, LA, TX, Afghanistan, and a few of other places in the Middle East. 

14.What are some things you miss most about home when you are deployed?

My husband and son- they are my number one priority. I miss taking real showers (without having to cut the water on and off as you wash and rinse, lol), the food, and sleeping in my bed. There is so much people take for granted and when you’re deployed you learn to grow appreciation for all the small things in life.

15.Which medals or citations are you most proud to have earned and why? 

My first Commendation medal. This meant the most because as a Senior Airman, it is not common for an Airman to receive anything outside of an Achievement medal. This was the year I worked as supply in a maintenance unit and ended up winning the Airman of the year award for the entire group, which helped me achieve that Commendation medal that not many Airman get to receive. It showed me that hard work does pay off and I am just so proud!

16.What rank are you most proud to have earned and why?

I am most proud to have earned the rank of Technical Sergeant because they say it’s the hardest to make, so this was a huge milestone for me. 

17.What are some of the biggest challenges of being a woman in the military?

Some people still feel that women should not serve or that women are not capable of doing the same jobs as men, BUT we are here to show them otherwise. 

18.Tell me about some of the special people you have met.

I have met so many people, but the most special people I have met are now my extended “fr-amily.” There are so many of us that get stationed so far from family, that when you build those bonds with other military families, those friends become family forever and always “understand” what you go through being in the military. I truly LOVE and appreciate all of them. 

19.Do you plan to retire in the military? Or what are your post-military plans? 

I would love to retire one day, but it all depends on how often my husband and I have to go away. Being mil to mil can have its moments where you have to choose between your career and your family. Post-military, I want to work in the clinical psychology field to help others. 

20.How has your service and experiences affected your life? 

I have a greater appreciation for the small things in life and quality time with family. I am grateful for that of the places I have been able to visit, personal/professional goals I have been able to meet, my paid education, and the unlimited opportunities, and the extended family that has continued to grow over the years. I would go back and do it all over again!

21.What do you like to do for fun? 

I love spending time with family, working out, and shopping. 

22.How do you stay in shape?

I stay in shape by watching my portion sizes, keeping an active lifestyle that fits my schedule, and swapping out candy for protein bars. 

23.What makes you feel strong?

My husband and family. They are the best support system and help me stay on track to being the best me possible. Working out and taking time to breathe help me keep a strong mental focus and also help me pass my PT test, lol!

24.Favorite part of your job:  

Helping people! I love helping people overcome things.                                   

Workouts: Legs

It’s LEG DAY! Check out some of my favorite exercise to grow your quads, glutes and hamstrings!

1️⃣Split Squats

2️⃣High Hip Deadlifts

3️⃣Pause Squats

What I Eat: Tye's Healthy Tuna

My 6-year-old little boy (Tye) LOOOOOVES tuna! But I didn’t want him eating copious amounts of mayonnaise! So I made up a simple, healthy recipe that he can make almost entirely by himself.

After I dice the celery, he helps use the vegetable chopper to cut the celery into finer pieces. Then he dumps the celery, tuna and yogurt into a glass bowl and mixes it all together with a wooden spoon.

He’s learning a valuable skill (meal prep) and he is SO PROUD that he helped make his own lunch! Give it a try and let us know what you think!

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TYE’S HEALTHY TUNA

Ingredients:

5 oz can of Albacore tuna - Solid White - No Salt Added - In Water

5.3 oz container of Non-fat Plain Greek Yogurt

1-2 medium sticks of celery

Pepper to taste

Directions: 

-Pour tuna and yogurt into a glass bowl

-Chop celery sticks finely and add to bowl

-Add 1-2 grinds of pepper

-Mix all ingredients together

-Eat alone, in a lettuce leaf wrap or on a whole wheat tortilla or piece of toast

Workouts: Shoulders

Today I’m training SHOULDERS!  Here are a few of my favorite exercises to work my front, medial and rear deltoids. 

Rear Delt Flyes

Seated Shoulder Press

Lateral Raises

Front Raise/Upright Row

B United - Jori Wiskow, US Army

I am SO EXCITED to share this beautiful, intelligent, and STRONG woman’s story. She has more wisdom, life experience and class at age 22 than some gain in a lifetime. I had the pleasure of meeting her mother over social media - and after we met for coffee and I learned that her daughter, Jori, was deployed overseas, I put one of my healthy care packages in the mail to her and asked if I could feature her in my B United project!

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1.    Name: Jori Wiskow

2.    Age: 22    

3. Hometown: Prior Lake, MN

4.    Family: Oh goodness, are you ready for this? Dad (Mike), Step mom (Nicole), Mom (Kari), Step dad (Matt), my sisters Kaci (who is the mom of the CUTEST soon-to-be 1 year old girl), Cami, and Lexi. Step siblings Bri, Jordan (step bro with the same name, how lovely), Ali, and Brando. My boyfriend and his daughter have also been an amazing support system while I have been overseas.

5.    Branch: Army

6.    Job Title: Human Resources Specialist (42A)

7.    Job Description: I work with personnel files and information. Including things like birth certificates, marriage certs, transcripts, awards, advancements and promotions, flags (which is what we call it when someone does something wrong and it goes it their record). I also track the movement of personnel in Afghanistan and throughout the Middle East. I have a Secret Security Clearance which allows me to access different sites in order to do this. 

8.    Enlist Date: 20 August, 2014

9.    What motivated you to join the military? The dad and my grandpa inspired me. My dad served in the Army during the first Gulf War in the early 90’s. He was stationed in Germany for the majority of his career. My grandpa was a Marine, and he never let anyone forget it. The kindest soul I knew but also probably the biggest badass up until he passed away last March. 

10.Why did you choose this branch? I chose the Army because I felt I could make the biggest impact here. I felt that, though I knew it would be difficult, the challenge would teach me a lot of myself and breaking through those limits you subconsciously make for yourself. 

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11.Tell me a little about your time in boot camp. Well, basic training sucked… I’ll just be blunt with you. I always say “It was the most fun I would never want to have again,” and that pretty much sums it up.  I got to experience things at 18, though, that many people won’t experience throughout their entire life. When we first got there, we were issued our weapons and it was the first time I had ever held an M16. The first two weeks were the worst. Basically the Drill Sergeants are awful because they’re weeding out the weak. They break you down so they rebuild you into a Solider. The advice I was given by my dad was if the Drills don’t know who you are, that’s a good thing. Unfortunately, or fortunately, that didn’t last very long for me. I was the only female throughout my cycle to score a perfect 300 on the Physical Fitness test. My Senior Drill Sergeant quickly noticed the leadership potential in me and referred to me as the Super Soldier for pretty much the whole cycle. I was names the guidon bearer for our Platoon, and held the honor up until we graduated. The most challenging part of the whole thing for me was the ruck march at the very end of the 11 weeks. We had spent a week in the field, no showers or bathing other than the baby wipes and water bottles we had brought along with us, and had to march back 12 miles in the middle of the night. During the march I kept saying to myself, “Remember why you’re here,” over and over again. Those words, and the thought that I would be seeing my family again in a week or so, kept me going and helped to make it all worthwhile.

12.Where have you traveled to while in the service? The Army brought me from Minnesota to Arizona, where my Guard unit mobilized to Afghanistan through Ft Bliss, TX. I was also sent to school at Fort Jackson, SC, which is where my basic training and AIT took place as well, just before our mobilization last summer. I’ve been through Germany and Kuwait before finally getting to Afghanistan.

13.What are some things you miss most about home when you are deployed? The hardest part of being deployed for me is missing my usual routine and having to establish a new normal. The time change is tough, being about 11 hours ahead of everyone you love isn’t easy and makes communication a real challenge. I miss my niece more than anything. She turns one on Feb 11thand I’ve missed quite a few milestones since I’ve been away. My sister sends me lots of pictures and videos of her, but it still doesn’t equate to being there and holding her and watching her big blue eyes take in the world with wonder. I can’t wait to kiss her squishy face when I get home!

14.Which medals or citations are you most proud to have earned and why? Because of my ability to take charge, I was awarded an Army Achievement Medal at the end of basic training. It was a great feeling knowing my hard work had been recognized and acknowledged. 

15.What rank are you most proud to have earned and why? I know it’s hard to believe, but getting my time in service and time in grade waived during my basic training days to be pinned E3 was probably the most memorable advancement to me. Ask me the same question once I get pinned E5, though; I’m sure the answer will change.

16.What are some of the biggest challenges of being a woman in the military? Being a woman in a primarily male dominated profession is always a challenge, but being a female in an Infantry Battalion is a whole different story. In a Battalion of almost 400 people, we have less than 20 females, all of which are either medics, admin personnel (like myself), or intel workers. The spotlight is always on us in some shape or form, which has both its benefits and its drawbacks. For the most part, though, we’re like a big family. We all take care of each other like brothers and sisters, because we are all each other have while we’re overseas.

17.Tell me about some of the special people you have met.The military has brought me lifelong friends. I still keep in contact with people from basic training and the school I was sent to before we deployed. My friends Anna and Jasmine who I met in basic and AIT are both still in the military. Jasmine, who lives in Idaho, went OCS and is now a 2ndLieutenant, and Anna is in the Kentucky National Guard. The friends I met in training before mobilizing are doing various things: some are deployed to Iraq or did a quick tour in Kuwait, and some are back at their units in the States. A few of the marines I trained with are stationed in Okinawa and hearing about how their experiences differ from mine is pretty cool.

18.Do you plan to retire in the military? Or what are your post-military plans? I plan on staying in for as long as I can. The military has great benefits that pretty much get better the longer you stay in. I plan on finishing my Communications degree online when I get home, and have been fortunate enough to have gotten invited to attend an awesome Police Academy in Arizona. 

19.How has your service and experiences affected your life? The military has taught me to work hard for everything I want and that nothing comes easy. It has motivated me to become a harder worker and an all-around stronger person. The part about the military members don’t usually talk about is who they’ve lost along the way. A few of my friends from basic have passed away over the last four years, and one of the marines I trained with before my deployment was killed this past fall. Losing friends is a part of what we signed up for. It’s part of fighting for this country and you have to be able to recognize and accept that some of your friends might not make it home from their tour. You also have to recognize and accept that you, yourself, may not get home either. I think the most surreal experience I have had throughout my military career was sitting down with my mom before I deployed and talking to her about the wishes I have for my funeral if I were to be killed. That’s not usually something a 22 year old sits down with their mother to talk about. 

20.What do you like to do for fun? For fun at home, you can find me hiking in upstate Arizona, going out with my girlfriends in Oldtown Scottsdale, or spending time with my boyfriend. I love to go on weekend trips to visit my sister, niece, and brother in law in San Diego. Here, I occupy what little free time I do have with going to the gym, finding new series on Netflix, or reading. Right now I am in the middle of the book 13 Hours.

21.How do you stay in shape? I am at the gym at least 6 days a week here in Afghanistan; at home it’s more like 5 days a week. I train legs 2-3 times per week, and work upper body in some shape or form the rest of the days. I run at least 4 days a week, anywhere from 3-4 miles. I just began training for a half marathon, however, so my running routine is about to become much more tedious. My diet consists of pretty much a little bit of everything. I don’t like to restrict myself from eating certain things; I believe everything is okay in moderation.  

22.What makes you feel strong? Being in Afghanistan is kind of like the movie Groundhog’s Day. Every day is the same (with the exception of a few things). When you get into a routine like that, it often times feels like what you’re doing doesn’t have an impact. Sometimes I have to sit back and remind myself that this is a field only 1-2% of the American population works in. I have to remind myself that not many women can do this job or live this lifestyle. This is uncommon. This is unique. I am uncommon and unique. That makes me feel strong. That makes me feel like I’m making an impact not only in my Unit, but in the lives of people back home. 

23.Favorite part of your job: The best part of being a Human Resources Specialist in the Army for me is watching career progression in Soldiers. We quality check promotion packets each year and getting to see people move up in this field is awesome for me. I love helping people and being that person they go to for questions about certain things. I get calls from 1stSergeants and Commanders asking me questions and for my advice on who should be given the chance to promote and who, by regulation, should maybe wait another year. It’s a great feeling knowing you’re appreciated and get to be there for the battalion at the same time. 

Workouts: Back & Biceps

BACK & BICEPS today! Here’s a sneak peak at part of my workout!

3 Sets of 12 Reps per variation
Wide Grip Overhand Lat Pull Downs
Narrow Grip Underhand Lat Pull Downs
Narrow Grip Overhand Lat Pull Downs

3 Sets of 8 Repetitions per variation
Incline Seated Bicep Curls (together)
Incline Seated Bicep Curls (alternating)
Seated Bicep Curls (alternating)

3 Sets of 15 Repetitions per arm
Single Arm Cable Lat Pulls (right)
Single Arm Cable Lat Pulls (left)