Saturday, March 16, 2013

The Best is Yet to Come

::The two most important days of your life are the day you are born, and the reason you find out why::

Hello Everyone-

Happy Saturday to you!! I hope that you are all doing well. I wanted to thank you for your support and encouragement. It means a lot to me that you read my blog, and take an interest in my passion.

I only have five school days left with my second graders, and I am very sad that my time in this school and in this classroom is coming to an end. I have learned so much, not just as an educator, but about myself as well.
Before you read on with my current realization, I want all of my fitness family and friends to know that I am by no means bashing their dreams. I am not taking away what you have achieved in this industry, but I have simply learned from it…and know that God has a different plan for me.

The past (almost) 3 years of my life have been wrapped around the inaccurate idea of what “healthy” “beautiful” and “success” are. I had the fire inside me that earning my IFBB pro card was the most important part of being the best version of me. I made incredible sacrifices, and put my body in more danger than I thought at the time. I was constantly trying to make changes to meet the criteria of others. “Sara, your legs are too big. Your upper body is too small. You aren’t lean enough. You aren’t pretty enough. You didn’t work hard enough. You have no symmetry…and the list goes on…” Those are the words I heard every time I looked in the mirror, every time I was in the gym, every time I opened up the refrigerator. I pushed loved ones away, and was in my own, lonely little world trying to change myself to meet the needs of others.
Looking at that now…I think to myself…are you kidding me? Since when do I care about what others think about me?

There is more to life than being “stage ready”. It it NOT healthy to do 3 hours of cardio a day, plus lifting, and only eat 500 calories.  I am going to be completely honest; I have no desire to compete on stage any time soon anymore. My priorities have changed, and my outlook. I want to love my body, and accept myself for who I am right now. Just because it does not meet the criteria of the NPC, does not determine my self worth or value.

Progress. Progress was a term that I was driven by in fitness…to the point where it made me sick. Every day I was so concerned on the progress I was making in my body and self image. Am I lean enough? Can you see my abs enough? Are my legs getting smaller? What kind of attitude is that? Definitely not one that I want to live by anymore.

I am not going to stop working out, or stop eating clean, because it is my lifestyle, but there is a new kind of progress I am concerned about. I care about the progress of whether or not Johnny is meeting benchmark and meeting his reading level. I care about the progress of whether or not Susie can subtract from one hundred. I care about the progress of my level of teaching and ability to meet the needs of the diverse learners in my classroom.

I truly know my purpose in life, and that is to make a difference in the lives of my students, and to inspire others with my passion for helping others.

Take it or leave it....but this is me...and I am not changing for anyone.


<3 SJ xo

Saturday, March 9, 2013

::With Brave Wings She Flies::

Hello Everyone!

I apologize for not posting anything in a while, but my life has been extremely busy. I began my long term assignment, teaching 2nd grade right before Christmas. I have put in countless hours 7 days/week for the past 13 weeks to ensure these students  are given the tools they need to be successful. I only have two more weeks to go.

This opportunity has been completely life changing for me. I always learn from my classroom experiences, not only growing as an educator, but as an individual as well. It amazes me also how many techniques and ideas I adapt from when I worked with Mrs. S last year. She is with me in my heart every day as I am teaching.

The group of students I had the pleasure of getting to know are amazing to say the least. Each one of them shines bright with talent, and beams with positivity. I know that all 30 of them are going to do great things, and I am so honored to have been a part of their life.

I have made some great connections not only with the students, but with the parents and staff in the building too. I developed lasting friendships with some incredible teachers.

Mrs. R and Ms. L

Mrs. R- You are an incredible teacher, mom, and friend. I am so thankful we both had the opportunity to sub in second grade at the same time. We are a great team, and I truly hope we have a chance to work together in the future. Never forget that you truly make a difference every day.

Mrs. VV- I am so thankful I had the guidance from an outstanding teacher like yourself. I could not have done this without you. I truly appreciate all of the help and support you have given me. I hope we have the opportunity to work together in the future. Thank you for being a wonderful friend!!!!!!!

Ms. VB- Or maybe I should have said Ms. Beastmode :) You have been an incredible mentor, and literacy coach to me. I have grown so much thanks to your guidance and support. I am looking forward to learning more from you so I can continue your practices in summer school. Thank you for sharing your passion for fitness and health with me!

I know that my journey has been different, and I was not given a job right out of college, but I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason. I am also a believer that if you work hard, it will eventually pay off. I am so thankful I had the opportunity to spend a year subbing, because if I would not have done this, I would not have had the chance to meet this special group of students, and the amazing staff in the building.

Next week, I have two administrators coming into my classroom to observe me. I am really excited to be given this opportunity to show other principals what I was born to do. Please say a prayer for me that it goes well. I am not going to stress or worry, because the result is in God's hands. He already has a plan for me, and whatever is suppose to happen, will.


I have not skipped a beat in the gym, working out 6-7 days a week, even with my intense schedule. I am really proud of myself, and the gains I have made. I have been really working hard at gaining size in my upper body (to meet the symmetry of my incredibly large quads). My favorite area that I have progressed in is my back. For the first time, I know what it feels like to have a back pump. and to feel the blood pumping into my lats. I can see a lot of size in that area.  Training leads into a question I am sure many of you continue to have... "What show you are you doing next..."

I love competing. I love working towards a goal, and then demolishing it. I love the entire part of prep....but that is just that. Every season I work incredibly hard to reach a goal and then when it is over, I feel broken and empty. Unless I do consecutive shows, there is always this terrible feeling of failure at the end. I have come a long way as a competitor, and I feel that after my last experience, I realized that the most important person to beat, is yourself. The individual progress you completely up to YOU.

When I started my long term, I told myself that my #1 priority would be working towards my career as an educator, and that is exactly what I have done. Along the way, I have provided not only my students, but also staff in the building what it looks like to be healthy. The more I think about my future, I am starting to head in that direction.

Getting to the point of being on stage, is an incredible feeling, but does it define me as a person? Absolutely not. In fact, I really do not like when I am defined in that aspect. I don't want my image to be driven from the blonde girl from the gym that goes on stage in a bikini. I want my image to be driven from my passion for teaching and making a difference.

The point I am trying to make is, I really want to be happy with myself. I don't want to HAVE to be dieting for a show to feel confident or have more self worth. I want to be satisfied with myself as a strong, independent, healthy woman. This is something that I find a lot of women that compete struggle with.

If I am not prepping for a show does that mean I am slacking in the gym? No!
Does it mean I am at home eating pizza? No!
Does it mean that I am not spending hours in the kitchen, prepping my meal? No!
Does it mean that I gave up? Absolutely NOT!

Right now, I am just working on being the best version of me possible...and I am not going to lose that fire or determination. I know great things are up ahead just over the mountain I am currently climbing, and in time, God will reveal where my journey is going next.

Thank you for all of the support<3
Have a GREAT weekend....MAKE IT COUNT!!!

<3 SJ

Monday, December 31, 2012

{Dreams with Deadlines: 2012 Overview}

Hello Everyone!!!!!

Happy New Year to you! :) I hope you are all out enjoying yourselves. I chose to stay in tonight so I can get to bed early and start 2013 with a bang!

Looking back, I am so thankful for all of the opportunities 2012 has given me.

January 2012: Gold's Gym Midwest advertisement

Gold's Gym Midwest advertisement
I started off my year with a surprise. I received a phone call from a friend and they told me I was in the new's paper. As soon as I got my hands on one I was so excited. I couldn't believe it. It was exactly what I needed to kick-start my year. Last year around this time I was kind of in a fitness slump, so seeing myself in an advertisement for the gym that I worked out in was a huge honor!

As the month went on, I saw the picture on several news papers, on website banners, and even on some Gold's Gym facebook pages from clubs in MN.

February 2012: Oppermacher athletic apparel

I was contacted by an apparel company located in WI and they made clothes to represent WI sports teams. They asked me to model for them. It was very cool receive workout clothes that I could wear and represent with honor.

Sweet clothes from Oppermacher :)

(Little did I know....they would make me my own clothing line!!! Stay tuned in 2012!!!!)

Sara Jean Fitness: INSPIRE  (Stay tuned!)

March 2012: Mizz Limbo

I had the opportunity to continue my practicum placement when I began student teaching in January. I absolutely loved everything about that experience. The students were simply amazing, and I made a true friend from my cooperating teacher Mrs. S. That school will always have a special place in my heart because I learned and grew as an educator. I can't help but smile each time I think of my 22 second graders.

My friend, mentor, and cooperating teacher, Mrs. S

To this day, some of my second graders, who are now in third grade still call me up and write me letters to see how I am doing. It makes me so happy to know that I made a difference for them.

April 2012: Showdown

I was excited for to compete in the showdown because it is always nice to see all of my friends again. A year ago I met 3 amazing women who are now very close to me. Every show I have competed in, I have taken something away from the experience. The Fox Cities Showdown always holds a special place because it is here in 2010 where I saw my brother, Josh compete for the first time, and I was motivated to change my life and pursue a passion for fitness.

1 Year Anniversary :)
 Even though I did the worse at this competition, I will never forget what it taught me, and the fire it ignited for what was to come.

Bikini Barbies <3

Post Showdown Sushi with my favorite girls!!!! :)))

May 2012: UWSP Graduation

May 2012 UWSP college graduate!!
  Woot! Woot! It took 5 years, but I did it :) I was so proud to graduate from college. I loved everything about being in Stevens Point. It was an amazing place to grow into the woman I am today. I learned so much about myself, and have come a long ways in every aspect of my life.

June 2012: MN State Championships: BIKINI B Winner!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Bikini B Winner! Goal; Accomplished

This will always be one of my most memorable events from 2012. Ever since I started competing in the NPC, it was always a goal of mine to win my class. I was very unhappy with how I looked at the Showdown, so I knew I had to make a change. I called a good friend, Laura Gutilla, after the Showdown, and she talked to me and agreed to coach me for MN State. I was never more determined in my whole life. I worked so incredibly hard and put countless hours in, striving for perfection. My friend Lori Schopf was also an amazing support during this time. She helped me with the most important details to ensure I was ready to rock the day of the show.

Lori and Baby biggest fans and supporters

I love the feeling of being on stage. I can feel myself beaming. It is like I have finally found where I belong and what I am truly good at. That moment when I was on stage, as the announcer called out the 5 top winners, and gave out trophies one by one...I could not believe when it was down to the final two. When they said "Minnesota State Champion Bikini B Winner Sara Jean" tears filled my eyes and so many emotions ran through my body. I did it! I did it! I was so incredibly proud.

Even though I did not win the overall, it was still an amazing experience to be on that stage. That will be a goal for next year! This show was unforgettable. I am so thankful for the friends I was able to share the day with, and all of the new ones I made that special day.

July 2012: Summer

My first classroom!

I really enjoyed my summer and made the most of it. I had the opportunity to teach summer school in an amazing school district. I was so first official classroom...even if I was going to be teaching math to 5 different grade (for those of you that know we well...math is not my strong point!)

Ready for another adventure

I also took every opportunity I had to go back to Point, and visit Mrs. S. We some good miles on the kayaks. I will never forget the stories she told me, and the lessons I learned from her. She is an amazing woman, and I am so thankful to have her in my life. She will always be one of my closest friends.

Barlean's Organic Oils

I also was offered my first sponsorship, Barlean's Organic Oils chose me to be a brand ambassador for their amazing company. It is such an honor to be working with them. I love their products, and they are truly helping me on my fitness journey!

August: FitPro Milk Sponsorship

FitPro Milk
 I was so honored to accept a sponsorship with a new and growing company, FitPro. I love love love FitPro. It is gluten free and lactose free and made with all natural ingredients. I have the opportunity to do demos at the gyms in WI. It is a lot of fun promoting this amazing product. It is a phenomenal company, and big things are sure to come in 2013! Stay tuned!

September:My Little Princesses

I was not hired full time for my own classroom for fall, but that is okay. I was very thankful for all of the extra time I had to spend with my sister and nieces. I am very close with my family, and after being away at college for so many years, it was nice to have the opportunity to make an impact on their lives again.

I love my little princesses :)
I had the opportunity to volunteer in my nieces classroom, and attend one of her field trips. It was a lot of fun. I love spending time with my little princesses.

October: Mizz Limbo is back!

Halloween in 2nd Grade: Clay and Mini Clay :)

I received a phone call from Mrs. S, and she asked me to take over her classroom immediately because she had to take a leave of absence. She told me she believes in me, and if anyone can do it, its me. I was thrilled to have the opportunity to go back into that classroom were so many memories were made. My former second graders were thrilled to have me back in the school, and some of my former students had siblings in my current class. It was so nice to see so many familiar faces.

{My Team}

 This was a very challenging assignment, but I am very, very proud of what I accomplished while I was with those 23 second graders.I had students that would not even open a book or stay at their seat when it was time to work, and at the end of my 6 week placement, they were writing and illustrating stories, reading chapter books, and participating in discussions. It was an amazing transformation.

<3 I'll never forget the memories that happened through those doors <3
I never thought I could become so attached to not only a classroom of students, but an entire school. Tears filled my eyes on my last day of this subbing assignment. These students will forever be in my heart.

This was a very special time for me in other aspects as well. Mrs. S and her husband invited me to live them while I taught in her class. It was so nice to have more time together to laugh and make memories. Their home will always be like a second home for me.

Home Sweet Home
For those of you that know me, you will also know the relationship I have with my college gym, and everything that makes it special. That gym built me into the strong, independent woman I am today. The people in there are some of my closest friends, and it made me so happy to see them again. Thank you for making a difference :) {You meat heads all know who you are ;) }

November: Building the Future with Miss Amelia

If you knew this little girl, you would dedicate a month to her too. She is one of my former second graders. She is the most amazing, sweetest, most down to earth little girl I have ever met. When I moved back to Point, she was so happy. She contacted me all summer long when I was back home, and asked me every week if I got a job.

Every weekend while I worked as a long term sub in my classroom, we would go on little adventures. I introduced her to sushi, and we would go hiking in the woods, and she even came to my favorite gym with me once. We can all learn a lot from little Amelia. 1. Appreciate the Little Things. 2. Smile Everyday 3. Everywhere you go, SHINE

December: Never Ending Opportunities

My new classroom for the next 16 weeks :))
I started my 16 week long term sub job in a second grade class in the same district I taught summer school in. I am so thankful for this opportunity, and I am loving every minute of it. I have never worked in such a supportive, kind, encouraging work environment. It is simply amazing. I cannot wait to see where this journey takes me. I am looking forward to working with my 25 second graders these next upcoming months!

I never thought so many amazing things could happen in one year, but I truly believe 2013 is my year to shine. Many have asked what my "resolution" is for 2013. I do not believe in resolutions because they give you an option to give up, and that my friends is not an option for me. I do not have resolutions, I have dreams with deadlines, and I cannot wait to see what is in store for me next!!

Thank you everyone for your never ending support!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Happy New Year!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
<3 SJ xo

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

{Inner Strength}

Hello Everyone!!

It has been a long time since I have written, and I apologize. Life has been a bit crazy, and I am finally overcoming my struggles. The last time I wrote, it was the end of summer, and I did not get hired for the school year to have my own classroom. Even though that was unfortunate, I am really enjoying all of the opportunities I have experienced while subbing. It was really great to go back to Point for a while, and teach in the second grade room I completed my student teaching assignment in. I was given responsibility of 23 second graders for 6 weeks. Those kids were great, and I really miss them. It was amazing where they started, and how far they came in the time I was their teacher. It was one of the most rewarding experiences I have ever had. That school will always have a special place in my heart, because it is where I was able to learn and grow as an educator. Being in Point will always have a sentimental value to me as well. There is just something about that town, the gym, and the people there that always make me happy. It is, and always will be a second home for me.

I am back home now, and I have been subbing in a great district here. I am going to begin another long term assignment any day now. I am going to start any day now...just waiting for the teacher to have her baby. I have met the students a few times, and I am so excited to have 12 weeks with this group of 28 second graders. I am sure I will have lots of stories to share :) In the mean time, I have had the opportunity to sub in a wide range of grades in a few other schools in the district. My fingers are crossed that it turns into a full time job for fall :))) Please keep your fingers crossed as well!!! Thanks!!

The reason I have been MIA for a while is due to some obstacles I  have overcome. Now I am not trying to be the Taylor Swift of my blog, but I was seriously in the worse relationship of my life. I have never met anyone so controlling, manipulative, and emotionally abusive. I am not saying this to bash that specific person, or to ask for sympathy, but I am really blown away knowing how many women are in relationships like these, and suffer the same wrath. It is really unfortunate. No one should be telling you how to live your life. It is YOUR life. You only get one...make it amazing.If you are in a relationship like this, walk away, and never look back. It is seriously the biggest weight off your shoulders, and it feels amazing to be able to breath again. I was literally forced to do everything under his command...and if I did not was not good. I was controlled in every aspect of my life from who I talked to, to if I was allowed to do cardio after my workout, to the food I ate. It was absolutely ridiculous. I cannot believe I put up with it for as long as did, but I honestly felt trapt. It was the worse feeling ever. Never let someone control you. Never let someone abuse you in any form. It is completely 100% unacceptable for anyone to treat another person that way. Most people see me as being positive and happy every day for for the first time in a long time, I walked around with a giant cloud over my head and could not get past it.

I am still trying to rebuild myself. Every day gets better, and I am feeling better about life. Now that I don't have someone holding me back, I am giving 110% in the gym, and leaving satisfied every time. I really focus every movement and isolate my muscles. I feel like I have really taken my training to a whole new level ever since I competed at MN State. I feel so much more connected to everything I am doing. I feel like when I first started training, I loved it regardless, but I didn't really take full advantage of what could be accomplished during a workout. I am really proud of how far I have come, and looking forward to the changes I can make for the 2013 season.

 I started doing cardio post workout back in October to help keep my "off season" under control. I was doing incline on the treadmill or intervals on the stairs. I decided (perfect timing now that its freezing and there is ice and snow ha) but I decided to start running outside again. It feels so amazing to do it. I forgot how much I love that free feeling I get when I am out there. I throw on my hoodie and head out in the dark. At first it is hard to breath because the cold air chokes you, but then I just get use to it by the time the first mile passes.  It is the second best feeling to being in the gym. I love being alone with the pavement in the dark. The snow reflects light and guides me every step of the way. I decided every day I am going to go outside and run, and if it snows, and the sidewalks and roads are covered, well then I will just shovel my heart out :) I owe this to myself. I deserve to be healthy and to take every opportunity I get to capitalize on it.
I am really looking forward to the opportunities 2013 has for me. Every year on my journey, life gets better and better. I cannot wait to see what in store for me next :)

Thanks again for all of the support, and remember, you deserve the BEST.

Have a great night-
SJ xo

Monday, August 27, 2012

Never Give Up

Hello Everyone-

It has been a while since I have written, and I apologize for that. Life has been pretty hectic with summer coming to an end, along with the job search for a teaching position.  I applied to over 100 districts from here to MN, and I have not had luck-yet.

Last week I was very excited to have a phone call to come to Point and interview for a second grade opening. Happy tears filled my eyes when this opportunity came along, and I truly believed this was it. After spending my entire practicum and student teacher assignment in second grade in that very district, I thought for sure my time had finally come. One of my second graders had been in contact with me all summer, calling me and asking about training and my job search. She was so excited I had an interview in Point she said she would transfer schools and redo second grade again just to spend another year with me. I went to the interview confident, and prepared. There was a lot of competition within the candidates, and the job was given to someone with more experience. I had great feedback, and was told I had nothing to improve on. Those very words were not as difficult to hear as it was when I called my second grader, and had to break the news to her. We both cried on the phone, and she assured me something better was to come.

I look at my life, and the obstacles I have overcome. My dad walking out on my family when I was in high school, the struggles I faced in college, hitting rock bottom and living out of my car, and the pain I felt when I did not place where I wanted to at 2012 Fox Cities Showdown. I think about how I felt...and then what I did to overcome the pain. For example, after Fox, I sacrificed all I had, and worked harder than I ever did in my entire life to reach my goal and winning at MN State. Not everything in life is easy...not everything in life will be handed to you.

I will watch my friends and peers filled with excitement as they share stories about their very own classroom...and their first year teaching. I am truly happy for all of them, but it hurts knowing I have to sit this one out. I am going to work harder than ever before, and gain as much experience as I can subbing in districts. It is going to be a challenging year, but I truly believe if I give it my all {like I always do}, when the right moment comes, I will be rewarded.

I believe God has a plan...and everything happens for a reason. Maybe something great is just around the corner. In the meantime, I am going  to take advantage of not having the stress of the full time job, and focus my energy into what I love. When I am not subbing or volunteering in the schools, I will work towards my fitness goals. I can look as this as an opportunity to excel in that area. I can put time and dedication into my physique, so when nationals comes along, I am prepared and ready to go. I can also put time into my wonderful sponsor, FitPro Milk, and grow within the company.

Check out FitPro at

As far as the competing side of my life goes...I always struggle with post-contest depression. Every show I do...I know its coming, and I am never prepared to handle what this does to my physically and emotionally. After MN State, I continued to deprive myself from the nutrients I need in order to progress and grow, and I made poor decisions. I cut carbs out of my diet completely, and when I did eat them, I made poor food choices and my physique suffered. I got my head together, and figured out what my body really needs during this time. I feel a lot better. Many of you continue to ask if I will be competing this fall, and the answer is "No". I cannot go through the emotional and psychological changes dieting for a show does to me. I need to find a weight that I can be happy with, that is healthy, and maintain there. I am already qualified for nationals, so I need to focus on the bigger picture instead of short term goals. It is important to take care of your body, and love it at every stage it is at.

Stay tuned...and remember to make it COUNT!!!!!

<3 SJ xo

Sunday, July 22, 2012

::Sword Countdown::

Good Morning Everyone :)

I hope you are all doing well. This summer is flying by, and I cannot believe it is almost August. I am officially done teaching summer school math. I am so thankful for the experiences I gained during those four weeks. It was very rewarding, and I was able to learn and grow as an educator. Math was always my most challenging subject, so after not only teaching it for 4 weeks, but teaching it to multiple grades with a wide range of abilities, I am now ready for anything. I also made a great friend and mentor out of the experience, my supervisor and principal, Kristin.  (Thank you for your never ending support and for believing in me!!) During summer school, I was observed by a district administrator a couple of times, and I did a great job so I get to move onto the next round: the interview round. Please keep your fingers crossed and say a prayer for me. A full time teaching job for the fall would be a dream come true for me. You can cross your toes that it ends up being a second grade job ;) {wishful thinking}

Summer has been great so far. I am really happy that my brother and I both moved home for the summer. We are able to spend a lot of time bonding in the gym, and in the kitchen. My younger brother, Josh, got me started two short years ago, and I will forever be thankful. He is one of my best friends, and his support means the world to me.

I had a wonderful opportunity come my way, and I am now a brand ambassador for Barlean's Organic Oils. I am very thankful, and I am proud to represent a wonderful company that aligns with my fitness goals and beliefs. Stay tuned!!!!

This past month I have taken sometime to recharge and live my life a little bit. I took a break from being completely restricted, and allowed my body to heal. I had the opportunity to spend  week bonding with Mrs S back in Point, and covering some serious miles on the WI River kayaking. I took time off from two a days, and allowed myself to eat the foods I have been depriving myself from for the past 6 months.

However...I function off of high level of activity and structure, and I need a goal to work towards, so it is time to kick it back into high gear, and get ready for the next item on the list.

Ever since I started competing, I made a goal to win overall in an NPC show. I want to be the best...and I also think it would be extremely bad ass to win a sword :) After I reach that goal, I will feel ready to hit the national stage.  I had the opportunity to compete in the overall bikini at MN State Championships, but ended up in second place. One goal at a time though...that show was my accomplishment to win my class, and I am still very proud.

After recharging this month, I know that I want to go back into  ::bikini beastmode:: and meet some new goals. My mind, body, and soul are geared up, and ready to meet any obstacles that come in my way. I will work harder than ever before, making new sacrifices, and breaking through the impossible. I want to make changes from MN State, and bring my best package yet to this show.

I went to bed last night knowing that today was the day. I woke up, did my morning cardio, ate my egg whites, and know that from here on out, once again, every decision I make will impact my goal. I'm ready!!! :)

Shout Out-----I'd like to say Good Luck to my Coach, LAURA GUTILLA who is competing in USA'S this weekend!!! She is amazing in every way possible, and I am so proud of her accomplishments. Watch out world....after next weekend....she's going to be IFBB Physique Pro Laura Gutilla ;)  GO GET IT!!! IT'S YOURS!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Coach rockin' it at CO State where she won overall and best poser :) GO LAURA!!!!

Make every day COUNT!!!!!!!!!!!!!
<3 SJ xo