My name is Jessica and I am here to share my story, and my family’s story.
I became a step-mom “unofficially” in early 2012 and then very officially on June 27, 2013 when I married the love of my life. I brought with me my young son from my first marriage and my husband brought with him his two young children from his first marriage. Together we have a baby, who we’ve affectionately dubbed our “blender baby”.
I came into this blended family life fully aware that remarriage with young children would have certain complexities and unique dynamics that would require extra care and effort to overcome. I subscribed to the “Step-Mom” pages online and despite on-going custody disputes between my husband his ex, we both believed that any problems we faced could be overcome simply because we were madly in love and we were determined and dedicated. We didn’t fight or bicker and we tended to bring out the best in one another.
Fast-forward to January of 2014. My husband filed for full custody 8 days into the new year for reasons I will not get into here, but suffice it to say, our sense of control over anything quickly went out the window. And fast. My husband’s difficulties trying to co-parent with his ex went from an ongoing problem that we had dealt with together as a team, without letting it impact our intimacy and relationship, to a full-blown nightmare that has yet to end. Honestly, I’m not here to share any details about fathers’ rights, the on-going custody battle that is draining us of everything we have, or much personal information about our amazing and wonderful children … what I am here to share is how we have made “self-care” a true priority for ourselves as a blended family as we go through this experience. I want to document, journal and share how we not only survive, but learn how to thrive and beat the odds that are stacked against us.
Four months after my husband filed for custody, the case still hadn’t even been up in front of a Judge for a preliminary hearing and it had instead been continued or rescheduled multiple times by the court. As we waited and our bill with our attorney grew seemingly exponentially, we started to fight and bicker much to our dismay. We had a few not so “shining” moments as a couple before we had our “ah-ha” moment. All of my “Step-Mom” and blended family resources had been preaching “self-care” for years, but I didn’t know what it meant exactly and honestly, I used to scoff at the concept … until my sister (a personal trainer and nutritionist) convinced me that I needed to be healthy and strong if I ever expected my marriage to be healthy and strong.
On May 16th of this year, I began my first Beachbody program, “Slim in 6”, and I started drinking Shakeology every single day. I’ve been learning how to eat healthier and prepare healthier meals for my kids and I’ve stuck with it and am now doing p90x3 with my husband.
As of August 30, 2014, I’ve lose 23 pounds and gone down 2 pants sizes! My husband has trimmed his stomach and started to build muscle and a physique that he never though he could ever have as an ex-smoker and always the “skinny kid”.
My husband and I have learned that through practicing “self-care” together we are closer than ever, we handle stress better and we’ve fallen deeper in love … all while we still were waiting for the court to evaluate his custody case and we were slowly drowning in legal bills. Due to that last part, we each became coaches with Beachbody to enjoy a 25% discount on our fitness programs and nutritional products. For me, however, coaching has become an unbelievable opportunity to change not only my own life, but many others as well. The experience in the past 3 months has taken my life by storm in a way that goes far beyond any discount and that is part of why I’m here, putting myself out there.
There are so many things in blended family life that influence us as parents and spouses and these are often things that we do not have much control over. It can make us feel frustrated, helpless, overwhelmed, unappreciated and doubtful about our future as a family.
Exercising and taking charge of our health, however, is something that we can have control over and the most amazing side effects of practicing “self-care” typically follow. It is like a domino effect of positivism.
We become happier, more energetic and better at time and stress management. Our children see us making healthy choices and we lead them to follow our examples, rather than preach to them about what they should or should not do. As our waistlines shrink, we grow into better people. I have an avid desire and drive to share our journey to blended family success with as many people as I can!