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Tuesday, October 24, 2017


In the spring of 2016, I had to do the most difficult thing I have ever done in my life.  I told my son that his best friend was gone.  I held him in the hospital room while he sobbed in anguish at the sight of his “brother” lying lifeless in the bed, machines pumping blood into his organs while we awaited the transplant team.  I could not talk, could not breath, and every part of my body ached with grief.  A week later I stood in front of a church, standing room only crowd, and spoke about a beautiful child that I considered my own. As I looked out into his mother’s eyes I see the depths of her pain and I wonder, how does one survive?   When looking back on my life, this will be a moment when there will most certainly be only one set of footprints in the sand.  
This tragedy sent me on a personal journey into my purpose.  Where have I been, where will I go next, how can any of this be worth it?  My faith was tested and I then walked away from the career that I had built.  I was now an unemployed, single mother.  WHAT THE HECK???  
Re-insert FAITH!  In the midst of the chaos and grief I had the most incredible feeling, PEACE.  Peace like that only comes from one place.  I had no clue where the road would lead and knew that it could be rocky.  But strength is built with challenge.  I had the challenge to figure out what was next and the God that would carry me through it.
I had some time and God needed to work on me.  I know with every ounce of my soul that losing weight can NOT create happiness.  What it created in me is a lifestyle that is healthy.  It taught me control over that which once controlled me.  It gave me the opportunity to enjoy fitness and find new challenges without pain or limits.  It gave me emotional stability and a network of people who have similar struggles.  It has lead me to a career that I love and people I would struggle to live without. Ideal Protein at Innovative Aesthetics was a God send.  

I now feel my purpose every time I sit down with someone and hear their story, their struggle, their victory and become part of their journey.

Image result for Footprints in the sand

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Tips for Success!!

Ideal Protein can change your life when you treat it like a lifestyle change!  Phases 1-3 are all about building a strong foundation so when you get to Phase 4, you will be able to make good choices.  Today, I’m sharing with you some tips that have worked for me ~ these are the habits, routines, and beliefs that have helped me get through 2 years of Phase 1 and ready to tackle Phase 4! 

1.      Plan, plan, plan!  Remember the old adage – “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail?”   Yes, this one is big.  Grab a meal planning form from your coach, find a fancy one from Pinterest, or just use a plain piece of notebook paper and sketch out your menu for the week.   From your menu, make your grocery list and stick to it.
2.     Prep your foods as much as possible.  When you go for your groceries and buy all those vegetables, set aside time within 24 hours to get them all cleaned up and cut up.  My weekly grocery trip usually has colored peppers, celery, and cucumbers.  I fill up my sink with cold water, dump in all the veggies, add a little vinegar and let soak for 10 minutes or so.   And then get that chopping done!  I also like to get all of my cooking done for the week at the same time.  It helps me tremendously to spend a couple of hours on Sunday and do all this work.  My go to meals include jar salads, soups, and favorite recipes from Janeva’s cookbook.  I’ll double or triple the recipes and divide everything into individual servings.  Then, I can just grab my meals and go.  Find a routine that works for you!
3.     Try new foods, recipes and cooking methods. Since I’ve begun Ideal Protein, I’ve tried so many new vegetables – and I’ve come to love them! There were even a few that I didn’t like the first time I tried them, but I gave them another shot later on. Try a new method of cooking it or find a different recipe.  This is especially true for some of the Ideal Protein foods.  At one point, I got a box of milk chocolate pudding mix; made it as a pudding and didn’t like it at all.  But, then I combined it with the pancake mix and made one of Janeva’s muffin recipes; now the milk chocolate pudding mix is a staple in my cupboard!  And don’t give up!  The first several times that I tried to make cauliflower mashed ‘potatoes’ were huge disasters (sometime, I’ll have to tell you about the finger vs immersion blender incident; needless to say – the blender won that round!)  But, I did my research online, tried other methods and finally perfected that recipe. 
4.     Invest in quality ingredients – especially when it comes to spices and olive/grapeseed oils.  I remember cringing the first time I spent extra money on good olive oil and organic spices, but you get what you pay for. I didn’t realize it at first, but a lot of the cheaper oils/seasonings have fillers in them…yuck! Once you get those quality ingredients, play with them in your recipes!  Let your nose be your guide and go with seasonings that you like and personalize them to your taste. I love to make my own taco seasoning and I like it spicy, so I always add extra red chili pepper flakes!
5.     Learn your triggers.  Many of us have triggers that fall under one of these categories:  Hunger, Anger, Loneliness, Tired and Stressed (the acronym HALTS) If you can identify why you are triggered, you can have a plan for how to deal with it. I am most tempted to overeat when I’m overtired and stressed. Those are the nights that I most want to stop at a fast food restaurant.  Fortunately, I’ve got a plan in place for those nights. If I don’t have a meal made up (see #2), then I have individual portions of already cooked chicken breast or taco meat and bags of steamer veggies in the freezer to grab and have ready in 10 minutes. 
6.     Journal – Not just your food choices and everything you eat (the food journal helps your coach in so many ways!) but an old fashioned diary type of journal.  It doesn’t have to be anything fancy or something that is shared with anyone else – it can just be a regular old notebook that you scribble your thoughts in, but documenting how you are feeling can help you cope with your triggers.  It’s also a good reminder of successes.  If you are struggling, go back and reread your journal.  It will serve as a testament that you made it through a tough time and you will make it through again. 
7.     Take pictures – when you begin and as you go along the journey.  When you get stuck, pull out those pictures and look at your progress. Take pictures from the front, the side and the back and do it often!
8.     Find your cheerleader!  You need a friend or co-worker who will get excited with you.  Pick a friend that you can go up to and say “Hey, look at me in this new outfit! I feel FABULOUS!” We’re all taught to be humble, but you deserve to brag once in a while and take pride in what you’ve accomplished. Find that friend that will help you celebrate your victories and encourage you when times get tough.
9.     Be patient.  Changing your lifestyle….your life takes time. It has moments where it is hard, scary, frustrating, and overwhelming.  You didn’t gain all the extra weight overnight; it’s not going to come off overnight.  You didn’t learn how to walk in one attempt.  This process takes time and there will be highs and lows. Learn how to accept them and give yourself the gift of grace.
10.  Celebrate every victory – especially the non-scale victories (NSV).  The scale is the measure that we tend to base our successes/failures upon, but that scale is just one method of gauging success.  Celebrate when your clothes get too big or when you notice that you have more endurance.  You are working hard and deserve to feel good about your progress!

Have a great everyone!

Thursday, September 21, 2017

These are a few of my FAVORITE things...

In order for this healthy lifestyle to work we have to keep it  FUN and interesting.  If we always kept things boring and simple it would ultimately be hard to stick to something long term.  Don't get me wrong I love chicken and broccoli, but lets be honest we need variety over time, right?! Please tell me I am not alone in this! I thought it would be fun if I shared with you some of my favorite things...these are food/drink related items you will most likely see either in my grocery cart if you see me out and about, or at the office on my desk! 

 Cauliflower Rice Steamers are definitely a necessity for me.  Every time I am at Wal-Mart you will most likely see me loading up on them.  I find they're the cheapest at Wal-Mart if your looking to save $$$.  If your on Phase 1 of the Ideal Protein plan, this is the one I would recommend.  You can do so much with it.  Add it to your IP soups or make a large batch of chicken fried rice or cauliflower pizza crust!  These steamers make it so convenient! I recommend taking a few to work with you and having them in the freezer, it makes for an easy lunch or side dish with your protein!  
 Zoodles, make everything better! Have you seen these "short cuts" at your local Hy-vee? If you haven't you must ask your produce person! These are such a time saver and a great pasta alternative.  I am all about convenience + they are so FUN.  Of course you can also spiralize your own zucchini or yellow squash, but when your in a time crunch and need something quick, these are a life saver. 
 Have you checked out our new Marion location? It's not only a weight loss center,  but its also a coffee shop and protein bar! I love my re-usable mug and the drink options at this location are endless.  Lately, my go to has been the IP Approved Pumpkin Spice Latte or if your in the mood for a smoothie you can't go wrong with the IP Chocolate Pudding mixed with spinach + SF (Sugar Free) Chocolate Syrup or SF Peanut Butter.  You can purchase these insulated mugs at any of our locations for $16.99!
 If your in maintenance, and your looking for a great snack idea you must try frozen grapes! I not only love how long it takes me to eat these, but they are very satisfying when craving something sweet.  Keep in mind (1) cup of grapes has 16g of carbs, so be mindful when snacking.  Make sure to portion them out, because its very easy to over eat them! You can thank me later! :) 
 Both of these goodies are constantly in my fridge.  Have you tried these Zevia drinks? So delicious! (Nikki one of my co-workers turned me on to these) My favorite flavor right now is the Ginger Root Beer.  Zevia is zero calories, NO sugar, NO artificial sweeteners, sweetened 100% by Stevia, clear in color, vegan, kosher, & gluten-FREE! This particular flavor doesn't have caffeine, but they do have caffeine options! I found these 16 oz. cans at Hy-Vee. 
Also those OH SNAP! Pickles are so perfect to throw in a cooler if your going out of town and need a healthy snack option or if your needing something quick and easy to snack on in between running errands or kids these are perfect! They have the dilly bites (see below) or also sell whole pickles.  This snack option is than 80 cents! You can find these pickles at Target, Wal-Mart, and some gas stations! 
English Cucumbers are my favorite and I try to always have some on hand.  I get it, life is busy, but being prepped and planned is so key in order for me to make good, healthy choices.  I had a meeting the other day at one of our other locations, so lunch was on the go!

I will end this blog post with a quote...

Everyday is a gift and I feel so thankful to be able to live this life. <3
Until next time, 

Sunday, September 10, 2017

My Story

Hello everyone!  I’m starting off my first contribution to our blog by telling you a little about myself and how I ended up here.

Like many people, I’ve struggled with my weight my whole life.  I was always the biggest kid in my class and as I became an adult, the weight continued to pile on.   Food and eating became my addiction ~ the one constant that I went to when I was happy, sad, bored, lonely, tired etc etc.  I tried program after program and would lose a little weight, but eventually return to bad habits, regain the weight, and then add on even more weight. 

I started Ideal Protein in September of 2015 at my all-time highest weight.  Mentally and emotionally, I was at my all-time lowest.  It’s hard to describe how scared I was to start again; I feared failure and knew that my weight was seriously impacting how I was living my life.  Before I started the program, I made a list of all things that were difficult for me, things that I couldn’t do, or wouldn’t do because of my weight and the anxiety I was feeling about social situations.  I felt hopeless. 

I started Ideal Protein thinking that maybe I would lose at least some weight to make life a bit easier.  Whenever I started a new program, I always told people “I’ll never be thin, but I’d be happy if I could lose just a little.”  I started and took it one day at time; sometimes one hour at time.  But, something amazing happened.  I was losing weight and within a couple of months, I started to believe that this plan could finally be the answer to my prayers.  I started to believe that maybe someday, I could actually be at a healthy weight.  That was a revelation!

Over the next many months, there were ups and downs.  This program is difficult, but it is worth every tear (there were lots!), every challenge, and every victory (there were lots of those too!)  It takes determination, perseverance, sacrifice, and planning; but the habits and changes you make in Phase 1 is the foundation you can build on for the rest of your life.

So, Ideal Protein and the people that I’ve met through Innovative Aesthetics and this community have changed my life.  I’ve lost over 260 pounds and I am humbled to be able to help others along their journey whether or not that person has 10, 15, or 50 pounds to lose.  We’ve all faced this same battle and I’m here to tell you that it can be overcome!

My recommendation to you is to embrace this journey whole heartedly.  Embrace the challenges, push yourself to try new things, and explore your beliefs and attitudes towards food and the role it plays in your life.  Figure out what a balanced, healthy lifestyle looks like to you and make it happen!

Laura Elsbernd
Ideal Protein Consultant
Innovative Aesthetics

Monday, August 28, 2017

Healthy Living... 

What is healthy mean to you? Think about that for a minute! Has your mind changed as you have gotten older? Are you a hypocrite when it comes to healthy living? Do you live a healthy lifestyle? Is it important to you?  What will it take for you to make some healthy lifestyle changes? 

These are all questions I asked myself and knew that if I WANTED to make a change I had to actually walk the walk. I have worked here at Innovative Aesthetics for almost 7 years and it has been a roller coaster of a ride. Personally my views on healthy living has changed drastically! Originally, I was very vein about what healthy living was. I made lots of judgments of health on how someone looked or how I felt others may see me. I was honestly living a lie, almost 2 different lifestyles. I painted a very pretty picture. Behind closed doors I was fueling my body with unhealthy foods and beverages. 
I was put in my place by someone near and dear to my heart and I'm very thankful. I woke up one day and adjusted my priorities and haven't looked back. 
Now, healthy living to me involves healthy nutrients, physical activity, laughter, yoga, meditation, faith, family, balance, sleep and enjoying EVERY day I have here on earth. 
I challenge you to take a step back and do a little self reflection and see if how your living is what you really want? If it is great, if not, make a change. The choice is yours! 

~Dusty Swehla

Thursday, August 17, 2017


I am a Christian, I am a mother, ​I am an Ideal Protein coach, I am an elite athlete, I am a food addict!

I think that people assume things about others.  Yes, I am an ideal protein coach and I workout daily, sometimes twice a day.  I love being healthy and I love eating.  Everyday is a struggle to make good choices.  I used to be the person that would hide food.  I would buy it and eat it in the car or sneak it into my room.  I took the back stairs out of the kitchen if I heard someone coming down the front stairs or from the living room.  I would order food at work and justify it by explaining that my job was stressful and I went to the gym this morning.  I spent at least 50% of my day living in secret and feeling guilt.  My social life seemed great and I would meet friends for drinks and appetizers weekly.  I can't remember most of what we discussed because it was really all about what I was ordering and where did the server go, my drink is empty, I need more ranch.  This is normal, right??? There is nothing wrong with me, everyone eats in secret??? NO!
I know how to lose weight.  It is all about what you put in your mouth.  I have done a ton of diets and meal planning and exercise programs.  I have lost about 400 pounds in my adult life.  It was just the same 40 over and over again.  The bottom line is, I AM A FOOD ADDICT and I always let the food win! I feel that this addiction is a unique struggle because you MUST eat to live.  Other addictions can be eliminated (I am not minimizing the struggle of any addiction) from a person completely.  For instance, if I were addicted  to cocaine and attended a treatment program, I never need cocaine again to live my life.  But food is necessary for life and our society revolves around eating.  "Hey, its your birthday, lets eat and drink."  "Hey, you got a new job, lets eat and drink."  "Hey, I had a horrible week, lets eat and drink."  AND healthy food is expensive.
So how does a food addict overcome?????
1. Find your WHY!  Why is it important for you to be healthy? As a mom I have always put my child's needs above my own.  I run around wondering and worrying if he has what he needs and can he get to where he needs to go.  I spend my evenings in bleachers eating popcorn, hamburgers, nachos, and always a diet soda.  There is nothing I enjoy more than my son.  
Then why have I let him down by not taking care of my health?  He is my why!  I want to always be able to be an active participant in his life.  I want to be able and active when he is married and has his own children. I want him to model my healthy life.  
2. Be ACCOUNTABLE!  Ideal Protein at Innovative Aesthetics was my accountability.  I was/am extremely independent and controlling.  When I stepped out and asked for help from my coach I was forced to let go of some control.  IT FELT AMAZING!  I wasn't alone.  There are others with my struggle and they overcame it, so can I.  We are here for you for the rest of your life!  That's a long time and got even longer since I lost 75 pounds and am living a healthy lifestyle.  
3. SHIFT your mind!  I eat out all the time.  I still have social outings with friends but now they are about the friends.  I know more about their jobs and families.  I order healthy options and I am not afraid to ask for something made special.  Lets face it, I am paying for it and I deserve special treatment.  I also tip big!  I actually went through Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, The Superbowl, and Easter on phase 1.  I can honestly say that I enjoyed my family more this past year then I ever have in thpast.  It was not about stuffing my face with as much food as possible.  I absorbed the time and really enjoyed the socialization.  It felt amazing!
4.CELEBRATE YOUR VICTORIES!  No not by eating and drinking.  Go to the store and try on smaller clothes.  I was so ecstatic the first time I went shopping and did not have to go into the PLUS section.  I sometimes just try on certain sizes because I can, and it feels good.  Trying on the clothes made it real for me.  I really am in that size... OMG!  Go get a massage or take an sunny afternoon off work and spend it outside fishing or walking. 

When you are in maintenance you can enjoy some of your favorites again, but eat for enjoyment and NEVER emotion.  If you are thinking about eating for emotion, go for a walk or do something else physical.  If you can slip away from people spend five minutes in silence thinking about your WHY!​
If I am at a party and there is cake I eat my piece right before I'm ready to leave, then I can't go back for more. If it doesn't taste as good as I thought it would, I immediately throw it away.  DON'T finish it just to be polite! It is not rude to value your health.  Your friends are not going to be there tomorrow when you feel like crap because you ate it anyway. 
When eating out be prepared.  Look up the menu before you go and decide what to eat.  Don't let the server give you and menu and order first.  then you can't change your mind because something looked good or someone else ordered something that sounds good.  ENJOY the company!

I will struggle with food addiction for the rest of my life BUT it will no longer win!

Friday, August 11, 2017

My Ideal Protein Story
I first started the Ideal Protein protocol in December of 2014. People thought I was crazy to start such a restricted plan right before the holidays, but I was mentally ready.  My clothes weren't fitting.  I wasn't comfortable in my skin.  One day, I was out shopping and I saw myself in a window.  I had to stop and do a double take. I thought, "That's me?!?" My husband was skeptical because I had tried many "diets" in the past, but I needed to do this for me.  

My eating habits before Ideal Protein were TERRIBLE. I was an equal opportunity carb-eater.  I loved all carbs, sweet, salty, it did't matter what it was.  I remember during my senior year in high school, I would have a Mountain Dew and a pack of Suzy Q's every morning during study hall.  If I was still hungry after that, I would eat a bag of doritos (not Dorados! :)  ). 

My first few days on plan were rough.  I had a horrible headache and felt sick to my stomach.  I wasn't much of a caffeine drinker, so my headache was sugar detox!  Dusty had warned me that this could happen, and since she told me that it would be temporary, I was able to push through.  By 2pm on day 4 I was feeling great!  I lost 7.2 pounds my first week.  So exciting!!  I got through Christmas, New Years Eve, and Super bowl party with no cheats! I reached my goal weight in March.  I was very proud of myself and felt so much better!  My clothes were fitting again, and my confidence was back!

I have been able to maintain since March of 2015.  I have had some struggles.  My weight has gone up a few times, but it's nice to know that I can go back to Phase 1 when I need to take a few pounds off.  I do phase one every few months for a week or 2 so that I can cleanse.  I am also much more careful about what I eat, because I know that if I go back to my old habits, I will not be able to maintain my healthy weight. 

Amy Carey
Ideal Protein Consultant
Innovative Aesthetics