Saturday, October 31, 2015

There's NO Quick Fix

Before:  August, 2013
After:  October, 2015
While I was on the elliptical at the gym today, I saw an advertisement on the TV for some food plan that guaranteed fabulous abs in 30 days.  "Eat this special thing and follow our meal plan and you'll look great in 30 days." Thirty days?

On one of my recent sleepless nights, I saw an advertisement for some ab machine that was sponsored by a couple of champion body builders.  They both professed to use this machine and said that it was responsible for them winning their respective titles.

What a bunch of hogwash!  I seriously want to know who buys this stuff?  And who believes it?

September, 2013:  This was taken a few months before I decided to do something about my weight.  I was willing to try just about anything, but whatever I did, I wanted it to last.
If you've followed my blog, you know how I feel about Weight Watchers, but at least Weight Watchers is a sound nutritional plan.  Yes, it involves points, which I hate to count.  But you eat normal food and it takes time.  You don't buy some special pill or powder and expect instant results.

Stability ball planks:  This was my time today.  I'll tell you, it was not easy!!!  I hadn't been doing these for a while, so my time was really bad when I started doing them again.  Today I got back up to my personal record of four minutes.  Now it's time to beat that!  
Listen people, there are no quick fixes.  How long did it take you to gain the weight you have on your body?  What makes you think you're going to be able to lose the weight quickly and have fabulous abs in 30 days?  I have been at this for 22 months and I'm still working on having fabulous abs.  It takes a lot of work, patience and a "never give up" attitude.

Sure, you can probably lose a decent amount of weight in 30 days by following some fad diet.  But this is not going to give you any long term results.

Proper nutrition is key to weight loss and long term success.
The bottom line is that losing weight and keeping it off requires work.  For me, Weight Watchers did not work, but I know many people have had success with it.  What worked best for me is following flexible dieting.  I had really good results with this and it has taught me how to eat and keep the weight off.  I also lead a relatively active lifestyle.  I enjoy hiking and cycling (in warmer weather), I lift weights several times a week, and I recently started doing yoga.

The view looking straight down from the top of Mount Norwottuck.
So, do yourself a favor.  Do you want to lose weight?  Look up flexible dieting and give it a try.  Create an account on MyFitnessPal and join the community there.  Check out they have a wealth of information about nutrition and exercise, geared towards varying levels of knowledge from novice to expert.  I find myself reading their material pretty regularly.

Do you want to get in shape?  Join a gym.  Lift weights.  Sure, cardio will help you burn calories, but weight lifting will result in increased muscle mass and improved metabolism.

Not a big fan of gym selfies.  I always feel so self-conscious.  I like this picture because you can see the muscles in my arms.  This didn't happen because I subscribed to some gimmick on TV.  It took hard work and perseverance to accomplish my goals.
Don't believe any quick fix you hear or read about.  Believe in hard work and dedication.

Questions for you:  (Answer in the comment section below.)
What fun things are you doing this weekend?
What's your favorite form of exercise?

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Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Overcoming Food Guilt

Twenty-two months into this journey, I would say that I pretty much have figured out how to eat well and keep my nutrition in check.  I would even say that I can afford a "cheat day" or two here and there (sometimes called a "re-feed") to give my metabolism a kick start.  I don't understand it at all, but it works.

Somehow, I still feel guilty when I eat foods that are "bad."  Why do we even assign  the label "bad" to food?  Today was a bad day.  A whole bunch of crazy things happened at work today and I never got to eat lunch, which lead to a crazy hungry woman by the time I got home.  I had a decent snack before working out at the gym, but at 5:30, I was feeling really horrible.  I had a headache, and that dull "low carb" feeling I get. So, I ordered fish & chips from Big Y.  Not a great idea nutritionally, but I didn't really care.  I ate half of it and followed up with a small serving of Bryer's Coffee Ice Cream (I needed the carbs).

The problem is that now I feel like a stuffed sausage and I feel guilty about having a bad day nutritionally.  I get it!  It doesn't matter too much if I blow it because I've lost so much weight, one bad day is not going to put 10 lbs. on me.  So, why do I feel guilty?  On the whole, I eat well, I eat clean and I make smart choices.  I allow an occasional "treat."  But the guilt...

So, I've been considering the root cause and I think I may get it.

When I was fat, I ate to provide myself with comfort.  I rarely made any smart choices about food.  So when I ate ice cream, pizza, fast food, fried food, or too much food - I always felt some level of "Awwww, there you go," which was followed by a guilty nagging voice in my head.  "You're fat and look at what you're eating.  You'll always be fat.  You are out of control."

Now...I'm not fat, and I don't seek food as a source of comfort.  I know when I am truly hungry.  Since today was a bad day at work, followed by some nutritional volcanoes, I think the guilt is  kind of like Pavlov's is a learned response.

So, to my friends who battle with weight.  Here's my advice to you.  If you feel guilty about food or nutritional choices, look deeply at what you are associating with the guilt.  Why do you feel guilty about food?  If you are on the road to a healthy lifestyle, you do NOT have to feel guilty about making an occasional poor choice for a meal, or having an cheat day from time to time.

Stop thinking that you had a "bad day" or that you were "bad."  Food does not carry moral characteristics, so you shouldn't associate good and bad with it!

When you fall off the wagon, get back on!  Don't let one day of poor choices derail your efforts.  The discouragement that goes along with that can set you back too far.

DO allow yourself an occasional treat.  You can have one treat without having an entire cheat day.  If you're on vacation, you can make smart food choices overall and allow yourself dessert.  Limiting what you eat all the time will prevent you from having long term success.

I realized today this is something with which I will continue to struggle.  I am not free from the battle with food.  As long as I feel guilty about eating something pleasurable, this will continue to be an area to address.

So, my friends, fight the good fight.  Be encouraged!  Be strong!  Keep at it.  Remember your goals.  Remember WHY you wanted to do this in the first place.

"Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God."
1 Corinthians 10:31

Twenty-two months ago, I weighed 232 lbs.  It took me seven months for the motivation to kick in and another six months of doing things my own way before I finally gave up and took Dimitriy's advice.  That was an entire year of trial and error, but I never gave up.  Stick with it!  You CAN do it!

Fight the good fight!
Question for you... (Answer in the comment section below)
What did you have for dinner tonight?
What's your one biggest food weakness?

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Saturday, October 24, 2015


Look in the mirror.  Are you beautiful?  Many people lack the confidence to say, "Yes, I am beautiful!"  Two years ago, I was a medical time bomb.  My weight was on the rise, I had about three pairs of pants that fit, pain was my constant companion.  I did not like the way I looked or felt, but I didn't really care enough to do anything.  My depression prevented me from taking action and every excuse under the sun got in my way.  The last thing I thought was that I was beautiful.

When I look in the mirror today, I see lines in my face where there were none before, but I don't see the tired, sad face that used to stare back at me.  Even still, it's hard to say, "Yes, I am beautiful."  Unless I look at the word differently.

Beauty is a word I've always regarded as an internal quality.  A person can be very physically attractive, but so ugly on the inside, that I would never regard him or her as "beautiful."  What is beautiful?

Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes.  Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight.
1 Peter 3:3-4

Beautiful is being able to laugh when your student says, "Miss, is that you in that picture?  You were mad chubby there."

Beautiful is spending your day outside, hiking or cycling, breathing in the fresh air versus spending day after day watching countless hours of TV.

Beautiful is getting excited about a sale on baby spinach versus stocking up my carriage with the sale on Friendly's ice cream cups.

Beautiful is eating a donut because you have lots of extra carbs to eat versus "I don't have anything good for breakfast, so I'm going to have one, no two, ummm make it three donuts."

Beautiful is killing it at the gym when you really wanted to stay in bed versus staying in bed and feeling guilty because you hate the way you feel.

Beautiful is putting together a new workout playlist to motivate you.

Beautiful is when your overweight student comes and says, "Miss, what's wrong with the adults in this building?" and goes on to tell how she felt when a teacher called her fat ...  and being able to really talk to her about what that felt like AND offer her some support if she wants to do something about her weight.  "Miss, I didn't know you were heavy.  You're mad skinny, I mean you are skinny.  I never would have thought."

Beautiful is seeing the world and being happy to be alive.

I did not set out on this journey to be beautiful.  I really just wanted to feel better.

Life is beautiful.

Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.
1 Samuel 16:7b

Questions for you... (Answer in the comment section below)
What is beautiful to you?
What's your favorite song on your playlist?

New:  Subscribe to new posts!  When a new post is added, you will receive an email notice so you can check it out.  I promise:  no SPAM and I won't share your email address with anyone.  Look at the top right side of the page to subscribe.  

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Sunday, October 18, 2015


So, I did it!!!  I wrote my final paper, did my last presentation and went to my last class for my CAGS (that's a fancy way of saying 2nd Master's Degree).  The only thing I have to do is start my stupid journal and log my hours for my field experience.  Part of me feels like just starting from scratch because going back since July 1 to write about everything I've done the past four months seems daunting.
After class, I went out with my classmates, Cyndi and Abbie.

That said, in spite of being done with my coursework, I am not feeling inspired.  I was writing two - three posts per week - my last post was over a week ago.  I just don't know what to write about.  My posts are inspired by something I'm experiencing, an encounter with someone, an obstacle I overcome, or a conversation with Dmitriy.  (Dmitriy is probably responsible for a good number of these posts.)

A couple weeks ago, I wrote about being at a Crossroads and the challenge it is presenting me, which was followed by Back to Basics, where I wrote about the new goals I'm contemplating for my fitness routine. 

I battle with anxiety, which sometimes turns itself upside down.  If you've have or suffer from anxiety, you know exactly what I mean.  Lately my anxiety has been through the roof, which has been zapping both my motivation and inspiration.  The best way to describe it is that I often feel like I'm being strangled, like my chest is in a vice grip.  Add to that, I have had several sleepless nights, so fatigue compounds the problem.
If I wake up really early, I'll go to the gym and do a CORE workout.  I did that last Tuesday.  Thursday I woke up again and could not sleep, but I was not going to the gym at 5:00 a.m. twice in one week.  Instead, I did got my yoga mat out and did my own CORE workout with my stability ball and weights.  Two CORE workouts in one week left my sides sore.  I just wish it would tire me out enough to be able to sleep!
I wish I had a solution.  In the past, I would drown my anxiety with food.  Buckets of ice cream with chocolate sauce were my best way to feel better.  When I got like this, I did not feel like cooking, so we ate a lot of take out.  Pizza or Chinese food was always the best pick.  Now, my best resolution is to try to keep myself busy.  If I tire myself out, the strangling feeling goes away.  I had a glass of wine the other night, which made me instantly realize how self-medicating leads to alcoholism.  Yeah, I'll stay away from that trap.

Had a celebratory glass of Cabernet Sauvignon.  My favorite red.  Just one glass, thank you very much!
Since I'm lacking in inspiration and don't have much to say, I thought I'd share with you what I've been up to lately.

HIKING - my 2nd favorite outdoor activity
Skinner State Park
Last weekend was GORGEOUS!  My son, Joey and I really enjoy hiking together.  We typically go to the same places over and over, so we decided to venture out and hit some new trails.  Last week we climbed to the Summit House at Skinner State Park.  It was a breathtaking view.  A pretty rigorous climb, too.  There were some narrow areas on the trail that had pretty steep cut offs.  If you lost your footing, you'd slide right down the mountain. 
CYCLING - my favorite outdoor activity
It was gorgeous all week last week.  I wish I had gotten more cycling in, but I had that paper to write, so I stayed home.  Friday night I went out for a spin.  It was amazing.  Hadn't been out for two weeks.  I was surprised I did so well.
More hiking...headed to Monument Mountain
This was our view on Saturday!

See those rocks?  They went out a few feet, but then there was a drop off all the way down.  I was very happy to stay away from the edge.  Joey was a little more adventurous.  I was having a bit of a panic attack.  I said, "Joey, that's it for me.  I'm going down to lower ground.  I feel like I'm going to throw up."
It really was breathtaking there.  This was about as close to the edge as I would get.  On the other side of that rock was nothing.  Straight down to the bottom of the mountain.
I love hiking.  The sunlight is so good for the soul. The cool, crisp air, the smell of the leaves, the peaceful quiet.  It's exhilarating.

And even more hiking...this time to Mount Norwottuck
Today it was really COLD!  Stopped and got coffee to bring on the way up.  It helped a lot.
By the time we got to the top of the mountain, I had a good sweat going.  It was pretty windy, so I was cold!
The view DOWN.  This looks steep, but Monument Mountain was a sheer cliff down.  My heart was in my throat the whole time.  Today, I was like, "Cool!" and I sat right down on the edge. 
Exploring the rocks

Between those rocks was the trail.  Yes, we had to climb down through the rocks.
The way down was colder!!!  Had to bundle up.  We had so much fun climbing through the rocks.
The trails were marked VERY clearly, which made it easy to get through.  Someone must have been bored and put faces on our markers.  :-) 
Taking care of me... 
I started this Bible study.  When I wake up at 2 or 3 a.m. and can't go back to sleep, my plan is to do one chapter of this Bible study.  Interesting quote from the book:  "The origin of the word worry when it first appeared in Old English meant 'to strangle.' ... Eventually the word was understood as 'to harass or vex.'" 
WOW, does that describe my anxiety perfectly!!!
A friend of mine suggested I read this book.  I haven't read more than the introduction yet.  Basically, the point is to start seeing God's hand in the details of life.  This is something I need right now to help me get through...
Speaking of seeing God in the details.  On our way out to Mount Norwottuck this afternoon, I noticed some hawks flying over our neighbor's house.  I stopped and counted.  There were SIX of them!!!  I tried to capture them on my camera so you could see, but the most I got were three.  SIX hawks hovering over my neighbor's house.  I wonder what that meant?  I'm trying to listen God's voice right see Him at work.  I just need to be quiet enough to hear him.
Listening to music... 
Forever (LIVE) by Kari Jobe
We sang this song in church last Sunday.  
Tears poured down my cheeks.   The chorus gives me shivers, every time I hear it.
Now death, there is no sting. 
Our resurrected King has rendered you defeated.
Forever He is glorified.
Forever He is lifted high.
Forever He is risen.
He is alive.  He is alive.
If you are brave enough to click on the YouTube video and listen to the song, listen to the whole thing.  At minute 6:45, Pastor Isaac Wimberley recites his poem, "Jesus Is Forever."  This one portion of the song has spoken to me and given me peace more than anything else.  It's well worth the few minutes.  Trust me.
I also added at least 10 new songs to my workout playlist.  My three new favorites are ...
"Cool for the Summer" by Demi Lovato
"We R Who We R" by Ke$ha
"Lean On" by Major Lazer, featuring MØ & DJ Snake
What else have I been up to? 
I was missing my son, Mitch, so much last weekend.  My heart felt empty, so I took a drive out to visit him in college and took him out for a late breakfast.  I didn't take any pictures (wish I had) to share with you of that visit.  I just needed to see him.  Being around my family helps to deal with the unsettled feeling.
Working out.  Been hitting the gym as much as possible.  Today I gave it everything I had and left feeling half dead.  That's the best kind of workout.  (Since I'm not a big fan of gym selfies, I don't have any pictures to share.  That said, I actually appreciate other people's gym selfies, but I am uncomfortable taking pictures of myself in the gym. I feel like everyone's looking at me like, "Who does she think she is?"  That said, I do take them occasionally, but not very often.)
 Trying new recipes.  I've been experimenting with recipes, trying to make them healthier.  I've been making flour out of steel cut oats and using it to make various goodies.  I made some protein chocolate chip cookies that ended up being blonde brownies.  I made some protein pancakes (these actually were healthy).  I made an apple cake, substituting 1/2 applesauce and 1/2 coconut oil for the vegetable oil.  The problem with the baked goods is that they call for sugar, which pretty much makes them unhealthy.  Sugar makes everything taste good, but throws the calories and carbs off the chart.  It's all good.  I'm having fun and learning to be self-disciplined with the stuff in the house.  If I log it into MyFitnessPal AND have the calories and macros to eat it, I don't have to feel guilty.  Trick is sticking to one or two servings, which is HARD!
I'm trying to look at this phase I'm going through as an opportunity.  I know that sounds a bit crazy, but ... I've been through times like this before and I used to eat, watch countless hours of TV and feel basically paralyzed.  I'm a new me now, so I'm using what I've learned to help me through this time.  Instead of eating and feeling paralyzed, I'm taking steps to take care of me as best I can.
I'll close with this Bible verse I'm trying to memorize from my Bible study...
That they may know from the rising of the sun to its setting that there is none besides Me.  I am the Lord, and there is no other.  I form the light and create the darkness, I make peace and create calamity; I, the Lord, do all these things.
Isaiah 45:6-7
Questions for you... (Answer in the comment section below)
Do you have anxiety?  If so, how do you deal with it?
What fun things did you do this weekend?
New:  Subscribe to new posts!  When a new post is added, you will receive an email notice so you can check it out.  I promise:  no SPAM and I won't share your email address with anyone.  Look at the top right side of the page to subscribe.  

Follow me on Instagram:  @tracoleman99

Saturday, October 10, 2015


What's your Achille's heel?  Do you go for salty or sweet?  Is it nachos you crave or cookies and ice cream?  In this post, I will share some tips for dealing with food cravings.  How I deal with food cravings has somewhat changed now that my goal is maintenance, not weight loss.  But the principles are the same.

Before I begin, I will tell you, most of it is discipline, which takes work.  It's hard to stick to your nutritional program if you don't practice self-discipline.  You do have to learn to say, "No."  To make healthy choices.

My Achille's heel is sugar.  I am addicted to cake, cookies, candy and ICE CREAM!  When I started watching my nutrition, I drastically cut back on my sugar intake because I could see what the sugar did to my carbs for the day.  I also realized that the sugary foods left me hungry, so it wasn't worth wasting my calories on ice cream or cookies.

When Dmitriy ordered a re-feed in July, I had to eat 3,000 calories each day.  I thought it would be hard, but I was able to do it. I made myself an ice cream sundae with bananas, peanut butter and chocolate sauce (top right).  The next day I ate a Friendly's ice cream sundae cup. 
Tip #1:  Keep track of everything!  Log your calories and pay attention to your macros.

When I first started training with Dmitriy, he said, "If you to you lose weight, you have to track your food.  Otherwise, I can't help you."

Are you serious?  You can't help me?  Or you won't help me?  I wasn't clear about that, so I agreed to do it for one week.  I was surprised at how easy it actually was.  By that time, I had lost 34 lbs., which meant  I had basic skills and some good habits already established.  The difference was that I was now keeping track of my food and limiting how much I ate and the kinds of food I ate.  After one week, I told him it wasn't that hard, where I was having difficulty and he gave me some suggestions, which I followed.

It worked.  I lost 13 lbs. at my first weigh-in in January (and that was right after the holidays).  After seeing the success, I was addicted.  It not only was easy for me, it became a way of life for me.  A day rarely goes by when I don't track my food.

Tip #2:  Don't let yourself get hungry!
Since I typically crave sugary sweet things and can't stop with just one serving, the trick is to keep myself from getting hungry.  I eat breakfast and lunch every day.  I also plan morning and afternoon snacks to keep my metabolism going and to fend off hunger between meals.  A Greek yogurt with granola, Chia seeds, or a side of fruit is a perfect mid-morning snack.  In the afternoon, I typically have a handful of almonds, a protein bar, or a banana.

I plan for breakfast, lunch and snacks every day!!!  This keeps me from being hungry and over indulging.
Tip #3:  Prohibit easy access!
This may sound obvious, but I don't buy the foods that tempt me most.  I live in a house with three men.

They want cookies, so I buy them Oreos. (I could care less about Oreos.)

Ice cream?  I buy Skinny Cows and I keep them in the freezer downstairs.  If I really have a hankering for ice cream, I have to walk all the way to the basement to get myself a Skinny Cow.  They are only 150 calories (pretty much all carbs, but that's okay) and they stave off my desire to binge on ice cream.

Tip #4:  Protein, protein, protein!
My macros have changed as my nutritional goals and metabolism has changed, but when I was in serious weight loss mode, 35% of my calories were allocated to protein.  This was hard for me at first, but I've learned a lot of tips and secrets.  (Read more here:  Protein and A Calorie is Not a Calorie.)

Eating enough protein helps me to NOT be hungry, which makes it less likely to give into cravings.

Tip #5:  Nuts and nut butters!
This is counter-intuitive to most, people, but nuts are an awesome value for their calories and fat.  Do you remember the days of the food pyramid?  Nuts and peanut butter were always at the tip of the food pyramid, grouped with foods to eat sparingly.  If you were on Weight Watchers, nuts and nut butters use up a lot of your points, so they are often discouraged (not from WW themselves, but the group).

In the afternoon, a handful of nuts will keep me going either until I get to the gym or until dinner.

That said, peanut butter, almonds, pistachios and other nuts DO use up a lot of calories and they DO use up a considerable amount of your fat for the day.  But they satisfy my hunger in a way nothing else can.  I often have a protein smoothies for breakfast.  They are easy to make and taste good.  Before I added 1 tbsp. of peanut butter to it, I was hungry by 8:30 a.m.  It took some getting used to the taste and consistency, but the 1 tbsp. of peanut butter kept me satisfied a lot longer.

Sometimes I'll just eat a spoonful of peanut butter.  Just because....
(I have a peanut butter problem:  ALL of these jars are open!)

Tip #6:  Keep your refrigerator stocked with healthy options!
This is what my refrigerator looks like:

Top shelf is just about all yogurt.  You can't see my produce drawer, which has mixed greens, carrots, celery and some apples. (The white container with the blue lid is left-over squash soup.)   I try to have things available for everyone in the family.
Tip #7:  Don't be afraid of fat!
Choose HEALTHY fats.  It's the saturated fats you want to limit.

Salmon is high is Omega-3's
Read about the benefits of Omega-3's and learn which foods are high in Omega-3's.

Coconut oil:  I've almost entirely cut out cream in my coffee, substituting coconut oil instead.  It's still just as many calories and fat, but the fats in coconut oil are easier to metabolize.  (You have to put it in a blender before you drink it.)  I also use it for baking and cooking.

Tip #8:  Stay hydrated!!!
Drink LOTS of water.  Don't be afraid of green tea.  There are lots of health benefits to green tea.
If you feel hungry, it could be that you are thirsty.  Staying properly hydrated will keep your hunger down, making it easier to resist cravings.

Drink LOTS of water every day!

In the cooler weather, I drink at least two-three cups of green tea every day.  I used to put honey in my tea, but I cut that out.  Instead, I add an extra flavored tea bag to give it more flavor.
Tip #9:  Finally, and this is not a tip, it's more practical advice.  If you cheat on your diet and give into your need for Doritos, nachos or ice cream, do yourself a favor and LOG the food.  Keep track of it.  Okay, so you ate an entire plateful of chili cheese fries, followed by a triple hot fudge sundae.  Enter it into your food journal.  Keep track of it.  This way, you can directly see how it affects your nutrition and subsequent weight loss / gain.  I only weigh myself once / week, so a treat on Saturday does not affect my weight on Thursday.  It's the bigger picture that counts.  Your overall nutrition, not a snapshot of what you eat on one day.

I don't care what I eat...if it's healthy or not.  I log everything.  As you can see, I'm not super strict with my nutrition anymore.  (I don't really have to be.)  But every day is not this picture.  I weigh myself once / week and I aim for 2,100 calories every day.  If I consistently go higher and see an increase in the scale, I know I have to lower my calories.  But I'm in maintenance mode right now.  If you are trying to lose weight, you want to aim to keep your calories within your limit as often as possible.  You can't have a cheat day every day and expect to see results.  The trick is discipline.
Now that my goal is to maintain my weight, not to lose weight, I allow myself more treats.  I am careful to measure everything at home and to log everything in my food journal.  Everything.

Pumpkin Beer!!!!!!!  with a cinnamon sugar rimmed glass.
206 calories, added to my food journal
Olive Garden Tiramisu, I shared with my husband... 235 calories.
Log EVERYTHING!!!  Even when you cheat!
My weight has stayed steady and for that, I am pleased.  I know I can't go hog wild, indulging in donuts, Tiramisu or chili cheese fries every day, but I can treat myself from time to time.  It's called balance.

New:  Subscribe to new posts!  When a new post is added, you will receive an email notice so you can check it out.  I promise:  no SPAM and I won't share your email address with anyone.  Look at the top right side of the page to subscribe.  

Follow me on Instagram:  @tracoleman99

Questions for you:  (Answer in the comment section below)
Salty or sweet?
What's the ONE food you crave the most?