Friday Five: Holiday Traditions

19 Dec

I haven’t done this in awhile, but today I am linking up with Courtney of Eat Pray Run, DC, Cynthia of You Signed Up for What?!? and Mar from Mar on the Run, for their Friday Five.  I fell out of practice a couple of months ago and I’m so excited to come back! These three gals are so great to host this every Friday, so I’m hoping you’ll  head over and show them some love! Today’s topic is


The Diva actually had this as her project last night for school. Her list was a little different than mine – hers was heavy on presents and cookies!  What is everyone in your families favorite holiday tradition?  Here’s mine.

Hunting for the Tree
If I had to pick one tradition I never want to end, it’s this one.  Every year since we had The Boy we’ve gone and cut down our own tree at a Tree Farm.  It’s a little “Over the river and through the woods” adventure that I just love.  Watching how the kids grow each year, how they interact, how they think about tradition – this starts off the whole holiday for me and brings me back to center.  This year for the first time, The Boy was allowed to help saw the tree.  They are getting so big and yet this tradition helps me to hold onto them as babies just a little longer.


Alone time With Santa
We don’t do lines well.  Scratch that.  I don’t deal well with lines.  So, every year we try to do an event where we can get some one-on-one time with Santa.  Some years that didn’t pan out, but this year was magical.  I believe this was the most perfect year ever – both kids still believe and the little one wasn’t afraid.  Pure MAGIC.


Family Time
Since DOC’s grandparents passed away a few years ago, we have had the tradition of hosting his very large family all for dinner at our home in a very non-traditional way.  One year DOC cooked an Asian dinner, last year I did an Italian feast and this year we’re trying our hand at New Orleans fare.  Wish us luck!


The Elf

I’ve talked before about why I love the Elf on the Shelf.  I know that this is our last year that we’re going to have two believers.  I know the time is coming fast for the kids not to believe anymore – and I cherish and hold tight to these magical moments with the Elf.  We are all so stressed every minute of the Holidays.  Allowing ourselves to laugh about where he gets placed and hearing the laughter of the kids each morning as they find him helps us to keep front of mind what is most important – the two little blessings in our own home.  Their laughter fills our home and our hearts.  Thanks Lightning for making them laugh every day.

And if we can get him to do naughty things every now and then to break the tension – we do that too.  Elf Gone Wild is one of our favorites.


Christmas Pajamas
Years ago my Aunt introduced us to the tradition of getting new pjs on Christmas Eve.  I carried this over to our kids and each year I try to find coordinating jammies for the whole family.  Now that the kids are older and very specific about what colors they will and won’t wear, this year everyone got ones that they would like.  The Elf actually had to bring them today because it was PJ day at school and The Diva has hit a growth spurt recently and none of her pjs fit in an appropriate way – I couldn’t send the kid to school in high waters and a belly shirt!  I’m not going to lie, the worst thing about cooking for the whole family for Christmas (and really, this is the only bad part – I really do love having the house filled with people, you know I show my love through cooking!) is having to get out of my Christmas pajamas.

Christmas Pjs 2010

Christmas Pjs 2010

For me, Christmas is a beginning and an ending. It is magic and memories.  It is remembrance of years gone by and the starting of a new year.  It is the celebration of another year with our babies and a hope that they stay little forever.

Happy Holidays and may your days be merry!

What are some of your favorite traditions?  Which of the other Traditions pages did you check out?

Sparkle On!


I would love to see you on FacebookTwitter and Instagram!


The One Thing I Learned in 2014

18 Dec

I promise, this isn’t one of those “Year In Review” posts that are so prevalent this time of year.

But basically this is what happened this year:  Old Friends, New House, Growing Kids, Shrinking Me, Still in Love.


2014 was also the year I learned something.

Exercise isn’t punishment.  Exercise is an act of love. 

Eating right isn’t torture.  Nourishing your body, and the bodies of your family, is an act of love. 

When you start to think of exercise and nourishment is a gift you give yourself and your family, it stops feeling like work and a torture diet and it starts to feel like an act of self love.

When I realized that my body is changing even when the scale is not.  When my jeans fit better, when I am not winded walking up ALL.THE.STAIRS.EVER. at  our new town house, when I can carry all the groceries into the house in one trip, when I can change the water jug at work – I’ve given my body a gift.  I love myself enough to give myself the gift of love.

In 2012 and 2013 I focused on the scale and the pants size.  Damn right I love how much I lost weight wise and dress size. Am I happy I lost more in 2014?  ABSOLUTELY!  Transition pictures inspire me.  But what I love most is knowing my body now to know when I’m full, when I’m happy and satisfied, when I NEED a workout because I’m about to snap.

The other thing I’ve learned is, I love changing lives.  I am more inspired by the people in my accountability groups than any people I’ve ever known.  I need to brag on my girls for a minute. We have women who are fighting depression, one who is getting separated after 25 years of marriage, one who has had open heart surgery and just ran her first 5k, one who is using fitness to not let multiple sclerosis stand in her way to getting fit and one who is getting in the best shape of her life after getting a kidney transplant! Heart surgery, kidney transplants, debilitating diseases, major life changes!! Talk about team NO EXCUSES! I am SO PROUD of these woman and humbled by their commitment to their own wellness: body mind and spirit. I am just a leader of this group – these ladies are doing the work to change their own lives!

In 2015 I hope that I can keep moving forward in my healthy journey.  Of course I have a weight loss goal.  Of course I have a running goal.  But what I hope for most is that I can keep changing lives, starting with Just Us 4 Carters – DOC, The Boy, The Diva and me – we’re so in love and have a chance to be healthier, happier and stronger than ever in 2015.  We got this.  YOU GOT THIS.  Team No Excuses!

You With Us? If you want to join an accountability group with me, please just comment below and I’ll send you a message.  If you want to get on a fitness plan and need some help, check out my facebook, pinterest, or BeachBody Pages.  I’m there to help you – to start you on a wellness path to love yourself!

Let’s make 2015 our year. The year we get off the couch. The year we quit being the mom that sits at the playground. The year we love ourselves enough to move and nourish and BELIEVE we deserve the best.




I would love to see you on FacebookTwitter and Instagram!

Disclaimer: This post contains some affiliate links.  While I earn commission or rewards if you purchase something, the links do not affect the price you pay. Thanks for supporting Us 4 Carters! 

Dream Gym

17 Dec

Lately I’ve been working out with the Focus T 25 videos, and I LOVE THEM!  Shaun T is amazing and is getting me motivated in ways that other workout dvds never have.  I’m mixing in some running, although my training for the 1/2 marathon doesn’t start until January, and playground workouts to build up my endurance before I really throw myself into training in January.  It’s working for me and I’m sticking to portion control, lower carb meals and my weekly meal plans, in the face of all of the holiday treats, I’ve been pretty good. Not perfect, but mostly good.


If I had one complaint in life right now, it’s that I miss the gym.  A friend gave me a free VIP pass to go with her to some classes for this week, just to really focus on my goals this week before Christmas and I didn’t realize how much I missed the spirit and feeling and how much I miss the unlimited access to some pretty cool apparatus.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m getting in a great workout with Focus T 25 and playground equipment, but the real deal was invented because it just works.

If I had a million dollars and could build a gym in our basement I’d want just three pieces of equipment that I can add to the yoga mat and dumbbells I already own.

A TRX system.  This system of crazy looking cords works every single muscle group you have using suspension training.  It works your core and your balance and stability while working your muscles.  It is my favorite piece of strength training equipment.  I don’t need heavy weights, I have a heavy body.  This apparatus helps me use my heavy body as a piece of equipment!

IMG_4819[1] trx

A bosu ball.  This little baby can do everything. This is the piece of equipment that made me fall for Tabata.  You can do anything for 40 seconds – especially when it’s this fun!


Dynamax Balls (like medicine balls but more functional).

I don’t know why.  I just love the dynamax balls more than kettle bells or weights for a full body workout.  I think it’s because I can slam them on the floor or the wall and get out all of my aggression.

I know I can do amazing things without these pieces of equipment.  My eyes are squarely on kicking this training up a notch in January with the Insanity Max 30. But sometimes a girl has got to dream.


What about you?  Do you have a favorite piece of gym equipment you’d love to have in your home?

I would love to see you on FacebookTwitter and Instagram!

Disclaimer: This post contains some affiliate links.  While I earn commission or rewards if you purchase something, the links do not affect the price you pay. Thanks for supporting Us 4 Carters! 


9 Dec

It’s going down. I’m yelling Timber.

Yea.  This is happening.


Thanks to 13 AMAZING donors I raised $590 for the National MS Society as part of my Finish MS Campaign.  I needed to raise $550 to be guaranteed a spot in the Pittsburgh 1/2 Marathon.  I hope that I end up raising at least $1,300 to celebrate the 13.1 miles I’m going to run.

And how am I going to get there?

I’m going to be following this eighteen-week training plan and incorporating strength and endurance training.  I know it seems like a lot.  But 13 people gave me money.  And two million people worldwide are living with MS.  And I AM TURNING FORTY.  That’s a lot of people who deserve my commitment.

The thing I’ve learned this past year is that I deserve my best.  I deserve to be loved by me.  I am worth it to feed my body right and give myself at least thirty minutes a day of love in the form of fitness. I deserve my best commitment.

self love

When I love myself amazing things happen.

August - December

                  August     –    December

When you love yourself enough amazing things will happen.

Are you ready for 2015?  Are you going to give yourself your max effort?  Care to join me in training for a run (any run! it doesn’t have to be a half-marathon!) or in doing Insanity Max 30?

Tell me your plans!  I’d love to hear them!

I would love to see you on FacebookTwitter and Instagram!

Disclaimer: This post contains some affiliate links.  While I earn commission or rewards if you purchase something, the links do not affect the price you pay. Thanks for supporting Us 4 Carters! 

Shop Them All

25 Nov

Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Giving Tuesday.   Shop Them All, but this year I encourage you to give the gift of health.  Despite what the television commercials are telling you, nobody NOBODY needs another gift from Zales, or Best Buy, a Pandora Charm or a Flat Screen TV.  Here are some choices that I hope you’ll agree we all really really need for our minds, body and spirit. A NEW WORKOUT! Yes, yes, yes!  There is a HUGE sale at Beachbody on some of the older workouts 10408824_10152563531322659_5969627236116436378_n OR, if you’re a beginner – someone who is starting at the very beginning, the very best program that I can recommend for you is PIYo!  PiYo is low impact, yet high intensity PLUS the base kit requires no equipment! Using your body weight, you’ll perform low-impact, high-intensity movements inspired by Pilates and yoga. The result? Long, lean muscles, a firmer booty, and you might start to see some abs. With PiYo, you’ll work every single muscle to stabilize, stretch, and strengthen every inch of your body. Here’s a quick video on what you get in that challenge pack. The Kickstart package that includes Shakeology and a 3 day refresh is $180 and the Challenge Pack that includes Shakeology is $140.  I know this is a pretty expensive gift to give yourself!  You can order it today to give yourself a jump start on those New Years resolutions and help you get through the holidays healthy! If you aren’t a beginner and you’re looking for more of a challenge for the new year, I’d love for you to contact me about Insanity Max 30. If you follow me on social media you know I love Shaun T and his workouts.  Insanity Max 30 is coming out in December and looks AMAZING. 30 minutes of intense workouts.  Sign up with me as your coach and we’ll do this one together starting January 6th and earn prizes!  (If you order this by December 15th, you’ll have it in time for Christmas!  The sale will start on December 9th!)  NEW WORKOUT CLOTHES! Look good, feel good, do good.  AmIRight? Here are just a few of my favorites that I have my eye on THIS Taffy Activewear jacket is great for plus size gals on the go.  The pockets are perfect for running, they zip up to hold my phone and keys.


The Taffy Essential Jacket Aimee50 to save 50% and FREE shipping off your order!

Some LOUD pants.  See, maybe I’d start making you some videos of my own if I had some loud pants! Seriously, the Fabletics capris are some of the best I’ve ever owned.  They have MAX compression, stay up, are well made and despite the MAX compression, don’t cut into you and cut off your circulation.  If you haven’t tried Fabletics yet, this is a great gift of health that can come once a month if you’re signed up as a VIP member (and you can skip any month too!) pants And of course a stocking full of Clip N’ Bands (cybermonday for 25% off) and Soxy Feet who both have deals going on today (use code soxyfriends)!

A LITTLE BIT OF TLC! My winter hands are so very dry and with the fanatical need to wash them all winter to keep away the flu germs, I insist on using my BeautiControl Instant Manicure (on sale now!).  Just leave a comment below if you’d like for me to contact you about ordering any BeautiControl products.  The Instant Manicure mini sets make great teacher gifts!

Contact me to purchase any BeautiControl item!

Contact me to purchase any BeautiControl item!

A NICE COCKTAIL! Isn’t the holiday season the perfect time to perfect a nice cocktail recipe?  We are obsessed with Moscow Mules and there is nothing better than the ginger beer, lime and vodka (we love Titos!) in a good copper mug. Hey, get two, one for you and one for your loved one! It’s not nice to drink alone. 2014-09-08 20.23.28 And a gift of love.   As you may know, this year I will be running the Pittsburgh 1/2 Marathon in honor of friends and family living with Multiple Sclerosis.  I’d love your support this year on #GivingTuesday!  Make a donation here on or before Giving Tuesday and be entered to win a $25 Amazon Gift Card from me! marathon What’s on your Gift of Health holiday shopping list this year?  I’d love to hear! Sparkle On!  Happy Thanksgiving and enjoy the shopping this weekend! Aimee

I would love to hear from you on FacebookTwitter and  Instagram!

Disclaimer: This post contains some affiliate links.  While I earn commission or rewards if you purchase something, the links do not affect the price you pay. Thanks for supporting Us 4 Carters! 

Squash The Stuffing

10 Nov

I’m getting ready for the holidays at the home of Us 4 Carters.

We survived Halloween.

15449_10152517655402659_7002970838131741732_nDOC and Gram (my mom) passed out the beverages to the neighborhood (this drink recipe for an Apple Cider Margarita made us very popular with the parents out trick or treating.)

And we have been having fun transitioning from the end of football season, where I was working out twice a week running bleachers at the high school, to working out at home.  The Girl has been awesome at doing Focus T25 with me and having me chase her as she rides her scooter.  Y’all don’t know a tough personal trainer until you’ve been bossed around by this chick.

10675530_10152522818317659_3653425555818990184_nAs we head into some colder weather and towards the holidays, I’m running a challenge group to “Squash The Stuffing.”  This group is an accountability group to help each other stick to 30 minutes or more a day of sweating (whatever YOU want to do, but I’m going to restart Focus T 25 for anyone that wants to join me! and running three days a week). 

‘d also love to share some tips!  I asked my group how THEY stay focused and stop the holiday slide and I’ve compiled their responses here.  These folks are so dang smart!  

1. IS IT WORTH IT?  – There are going to be a lot of options when it comes to food. Some of these options will be things you love and just can’t live without. I LOVE my moms Thanksgiving Stuffing.  I eat it cold the next day.  That is a dish that is worth it to me.  Once.  Not the leftovers the next day.  I’ll chose to eat that dish but pass on the mashed potatoes that I can get anytime. Think about it before you put it on your plate.  If you take a bite and it’s not OMG BEST FOOD EVER don’t finish it.  (Jillian Michaels says ruin it.  Drop it on the floor, throw it in the trash, dump salt on that bite. Whatever it takes not to finish it.) 

2. Don’t Get Hungry –  Whether you are the chef or the guest, letting yourself get hungry isn’t helping your plan.  Eat a nice leafy salad with some protein before you go to a party or as the cook leave a plate of fresh vegetables within your reach so you’ll pick the broccoli over the spare roll.  If you don’t get hungry you’re less likely to graze on the hors d’oeuvres and over indulge at the meal. When you are the cook and need to taste test, use a small spoon or have someone else taste test for you!  

3. EAT ALL THE COLORS – I mean all of the FRESH colors, not the dyed colors.  Skip the painted holiday cookies and enjoy the beautiful veggie displays, winter squash dishes, pomegranates and apples.  Have you tried purple sweet potatoes?  Try putting those on the table instead of the white potatoes! In fact – unless it’s cauliflower, parsnips or turnips – skip all white food.  

4. Sign up for a Holiday-Related Race – There’s the Turkey Trot. the Tacky Light run in Richmond, a Jingle Bell run in our area – so I know there must be one where you live!  Search your local paper for a fun run near you! Or start a new family tradition of going for a long walk or run on Thanksgiving morning and on Black Friday. I used to love to stay in my jammies all day until the meal is ready but now I’m more excited about a 5K on Thanksgiving morning!  I can record the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and skip through all the commercials that make the kids think they need everything.  WIN-WIN!  It will make you more conscious all day of your eating choices and for me, it helps me not graze.  This MIGHT sound crazy, but I also like to cook in my workout clothes and leave my heart rate monitor watch on.  The workout top and watch are reminders of how hard I workout so don’t give into temptations.

5. Beware the Buffet – One small salad plate, not heaping high.  Stick to fresh salads with leafy greens, vegetable dishes not loaded down with creamy soups (I’m looking at you green bean casserole) or piled high with marshmallows (sweet potato casserole) and lean meats. When picking your side dishes go with root vegetables like sweet potatoes, parsnips, turnips and leave the chips, crackers, breads and baked goods on the buffet. 

6. Offer to bring a dish It is awful to show up to an event and not see a fresh food or la healthy protein. (Pizza parties, fried chicken, fried turkey, you are killing me!)  Offer to take a dish that everyone can enjoy and that you know you can count on filling you up.

7.  Allow a little indulging!  – Split that dessert with a friend.  Enjoy a cocktail.  Have a plan in advance and know that you can enjoy the holidays and all your favorite dishes in moderation and a small treat! 

I’ve heard time and time again “it’s just one day, indulge a little” or “can’t you take a cheat day” one too many times.  For me, a single day of over indulgence leads to two, to a bender to me finishing a bag of potato chips with my pants unbuttoned.  I love the holidays, I love showing my love for people with food.  But I want to get through this next few weeks without feeling like I’m back at square zero on New Year’s Day.  


If you’re with me and need a little extra support and motivation over the next few weeks join me on the Focus T 25 challenge starting November 17th or in the Squash The Stuffing group on facebook.

What are some of your tips to get through the holidays?

Sparkle on,


I would love to hear from you on FacebookTwitter and  Instagram!

Disclaimer: This post contains some affiliate links.  While I earn commission or rewards if you purchase something,
the links do not affect the price you pay. 
Thanks for supporting Us 4 Carters! 

Shake It Off

30 Oct

Hi, My name is Aimee and I was a hater.  I couldn’t stand that little Taylor Swift and her pseudo-country songs and just all things Taylor.  I proclaimed my disdain for her, her ways, her making a bad impression on young girls with all her casual dating.

And dang if “Shake It Off” hasn’t become an anthem in our house.

Taylor, I’m sorry for being a hater.  You’re helping me be a better mom and person.  I’m learning to shake it off.

You see, the world has been speaking to me a lot this week.  Someone in one of my accountability groups shared that she didn’t feel “worth it” to put in the hard work of taking care of her health.  And then I saw two different posts that spoke on similar issues of feeling “worth it” (On exercising out of Self Love and knowing your own Weight Loss Motivation). Then I read the most beautiful writing I’ve read in quite sometime on Drowning out your Inner Critic.

You see, sometime the Hater is YOU.  You are your own worst hater!  You allow the voices of the other haters to STAY. To Stick.  To hurt.

Don’t you remember, sticks and stones may break my bones but names, they never hurt me?  Why’d you quit being so immune?  Why’d you let the haters take up residence in your brain, your heart and soul?

Shake it off. Shake it off.  Hoo hoo.  Shake it off. Shake it off.

You see, I have been there! It is such a hard hole to pull yourself up out of. A hole of not loving yourself enough. In fact, of hating yourself and what you see in the mirror. I didn’t feel like I was worth it to put in the hard work. I had started and stopped working out so many times.  My elementary school thunder thighs and chubby belly were just going to be who I was.  I kept letting myself get bigger and bigger because I didn’t feel worth it to be anything else.

Throwback Thursday Halloween 2009

Throwback Thursday ~ Halloween 2009

So I found something else that IS worth it – our babies. I didn’t want to let THEM DOWN. I saw our beautiful daughter and knew I needed to run with her.  I saw our beautiful son who wants so desperately to be an athlete that he needed me to run and throw with him.  Get off the porch momma and come play with us.  And so I just started to move. Little by little. Inch by inch. Step by step.  Taking the first step was hard and not stopping when I heard the haters in my head saying “you can’t”, “why are you doing this”,  “don’t you ever take a cheat day”, “you’re so smart, how did you let yourself end up like this”, I kept moving. 

“But I keep cruising
Can’t stop, won’t stop grooving
It’s like I got this music
In my mind
Saying, “It’s gonna be alright.” ~Taylor Swift

When I started to become strong enough for the kids, I started to feel worth it for myself.  I felt self-worth. I started to feel confident.  I started to care about myself.  I started to love myself.

The three tips I want to give you today are:

1.)  Find your motivation.  I hope that your motivation to get on a wellness journey is one of self-love, but if it’s not quite there today, where you can find your strength – is it your kids, is it your Faith? I know that God made you to love you. You are worthy of His love and you are SO WORTHY of YOUR OWN SELF-LOVE.

2.) Love yourself enough and block out the haters to give yourself 30 minutes of self-love a day with a nice slow walk or a stretching session.

3.) Plan your meals like you have a special guest coming over – you’d NEVER have a guest stand up to eat or shame eat some fast food or a candy bar in the car — be your own special guest! Treat yourself the way you treat the people you’d invite into your own home and you’ll start to feel special about yourself.

and 4.) If you’re so inclined, join me on Facebook or put a comment on this post if you’d like for me to coach you.  I want to help!  If you don’t feel like you even know where to start, let me help you get started!  

I’m not asking you to be perfect or never eat or workout a million hours a day.  I’m just asking you to love yourself enough to start giving yourself the life you deserve.

My wellness journey isn’t JUST about the weight loss or getting into smaller pants – It is a gift to me from me that I can play with my kids now and can run with them and buckle my seat belt on an airplane and sit on plastic patio furniture without it breaking (seriously, they need a sign on those things with a weight limit), and a million other little non scale victories.

Celebrate those small victories, even if it’s today I loved myself and smiled at the person in the mirror because I love her.

Please be kind to yourself. Love yourself first.




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