Featured Profile: Weight Loss Success Story – Jessica Petras

 

Jessica Petras 1Jessica Petras has been an Army spouse for over five years. She and her husband have been stationed at Eglin AFB, Redstone Arsenal, and Fort Drum. They have been through one deployment and are preparing for another. They have two children. One of their passions is their local RWB. They are very active and attend several running events every year. Jessica also has her own sewing and alterations business called JP Quilts and More LLC.

Two years ago, Jessica’s health wasn’t great. She suffered from obesity, anxiety, and depression. She also had high blood pressure and weighed 250 pounds. She had to have her gall bladder removed in July of 2011. When her husband deployed, Jessica set a goal for herself and worked hard to make a big change.

Jessica Petras 2

She began to exercise daily. She changed her diet. She started using Weight Watchers and began walking 30-45 minutes a day for the first month. After she got the hang of changing her diet to roughly 1500 calories a day, she felt she no longer needed Weight Watchers. She invested in her own elliptical and metabolic reader. As she got stronger, and the weight came off (about 10 pounds each month), she increased to 60 minutes a day of cardio six times a week. Today, she works out at her local YMCA, 90 minutes a day five to six times a week doing cardio and weight training.

Jessica admits that it was hard in the beginning, but once she got to around 180 pounds, she was finally able to enjoy running. Attending running events helped motivate her . She also credits a good support system from her husband, her friends, and her family.

During her weight loss, she had a surprise pregnancy. Her second child was born via C-section. Jessica was determined to get the weight off and get back to her workout routine. She now weighs about 158 pounds and credits her weight loss success to healthy eating and regular exercise. Just recently, she competed in her first full marathon. Jessica says she overcame many obstacles in her life and wants to help others and inspire them.

photo (1)Jessica says she overcame many obstacles in her life and wants to help others and inspire them. “One day I hope my experiences will help change someone’s life for the better,” Jessica said.

Her biggest piece of advice for others struggling with weight loss is, “surround yourself around positive influences. Set one big goal, but also several small goals that lead up to it and always make new ones once you reach them.”

Jessica also advises others to get help when they need it, “I am a better mother, friend, and wife that looks forward to the future.”

 

 

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Top Ten Army Resources for Your Family

Army Resources - AshleyThis blog is extremely long and I do not apologize. I feel it so important for army families to be educated about the amazing resources that are available to us. I hope you find this blog informational and provide you with information you might have needed. I covered my favorite resources I’ve used throughout the years of being a army spouse. I’ve used them all and they are all wonderful! Please feel free to leave comments of other great resources you know of. These resources are in no special order, I just love them all.

 

 

Armed Forces YMCA

At its 31 branches and affiliates, supporting 45 of our largest military installations, the ASYMCA offers unique essential programs such as childcare, hospital assistance, spouse support services, food services, deployment support, emergency support, computer training classes, counseling, wounded warrior support, wounded family support, health and wellness services, and holiday programs that are tailored to the specific needs of the military community on the local level. In addition to these locations, the ASYMCA and its programs are implemented by partners at eleven affiliated community YMCAs, as well as seven Department of Defense affiliates worldwide, that

have large military communities and are able to benefit from ASYMCA programming.

While we were stationed at Fort Campbell I met my very first friends at a play group at the AFYMCA. They provided play groups for families, science project days and even ice cream socials. This place was just fun! They knew how to help families. I think this was one of the best kept secrets of Fort Campbell. It was a gem. Now they don’t have a building at each installation. But if you find yourself stationed at a post with one check it out!

http://www.asymca.org/

Operation Homefront

Operation Homefront assists military families during difficult financial times by providing food assistance, auto and home repair, vision care, travel and transportation, moving assistance, essential home items, and financial assistance. Wounded Warriors are a specific concern for Operation Homefront. That is why Operation Homefront has established Operation Homefront Village. The caregiver for wounded warriors also needs help and that is why we formed Hearts of Valor. Operation Homefront supports every military family member. We host a gala each year that recognizes an extraordinary military child and we host multiple Homefront Celebrations each year to show our appreciation to military spouses.

My heart pours out for this organization, the amount they give and the love they share is beyond amazing. I’m always telling my friends and family non military to give to this organization because they give to our community so much. They provide book bags full of school supplies to military children; this helps parents so much every year. My second pregnancy was crazy and I didn’t know if I would have a shower or not. They laid down the red carpet for this momma and other momma soon to be it. It was amazing to feel pampered and loved and feel the joy and excitement this new baby would bring. They provided furnished apartments for wounded warriors to stay in free or charge during their treatments! They love and support our community and they provided FREE HOMES! I’m telling you go check them out!!!

http://www.operationhomefront.net/

Military One Source

Military OneSource is a confidential Department of Defense-funded program providing comprehensive information on every aspect of military life at no cost to active duty, National Guard, and reserve members, and their families. Information includes, but is not limited to, deployment, reunion, relationships, grief, spouse employment and education, parenting and childhood services. It is a virtual extension to installation services.

Did you know they provide Free Counseling! Face-to-face — Through either Military OneSource or the MFLC program, you can see a licensed counselor or therapist in your local community. Visit Military OneSource or call 800-342-9647 for more information. You can also ask the installation’s Army Community Service! Sometimes you just need to talk it out and what a great resource to help you.

Do you need some tips on moving they got it! Need some deployment resources they got it! Have some question about your child’s development it’s on there. This online resource is a mighty tool packed with information.

http://www.militaryonesource.mil/

National Military Family Association

Founded in 1969, the National Military Family Association is the leading non-profit organization focusing on issues important to military families. We believe that all military families deserve comprehensive child care, accessible health care, spouse employment options, great schools, caring communities, a secure retirement, and support for widows and widowers.

Ever wonder who is fighting for us in Washington? Who’s got our back when Washington wants to cut military family programs? This is the organization that fights for us and sticks up for us. Through their continued advocacy on behalf of military families, they anticipate, listen, and react to the needs of military families through:

  • Awarded more than $2.5 million in scholarships and have awarded over 3,000 military spouses with these scholarship funds.
  • Sending 45,000 children to Operation Purple® summer camp, a free program for children coping with the absence of their deployed parent(s).
  • Organizing retreats to help military families reconnect after dealing with a war-related injury or after long separations.
  • Conducting research to assess the ever-changing military environment and its effect on families.

They also have the link to one of my favorite resources: http://www.militaryonesource.mil/12038/MOS/ResourceGuides/ArmySpouseGuide.pdf

This is a complete guide for Army Spouses I also recommend printing it out or downloading it to your desktop.

http://www.militaryfamily.org/

Child and Youth Services

Child, Youth and School (CYS) Services recognizes the challenges of our Soldiers and their Families. By offering quality programs for children, youth and students, CYS supports the Army Family Covenant by reducing the conflict between mission readiness and parental responsibility.
Child, Youth & School Services (CYSS) are a wide range of quality programs to help Army Families meet their parental challenges and maintain their mission readiness. Whenever you need it and wherever you are, CYSS is prepared to make life better for Army Families. Programs include daycare programs at your garrison and in your local community, school-age services and online tutoring programs. CYSS also has teen programs, in-home childcare, youth sports and more.

This is one of my first stops when we land at a new post. I don’t even know what my children will be participating it but I register them anyway. This allows for easy sign up when you do want to participate in a CYSS activity. My children have done Dance, T-Ball, Gymnastics and even went to daycare on post.

Army One Source

Army one Source compiles important, credible and up-to-date information in a single location for Army Soldiers and Family members to access at any time of day, regardless of component or physical location.

This is another great tool to look up information. If you want to volunteer on post and not sure where to start they have a volunteer section of positions available on your post. You will also use this website to log your volunteer hours. So please keep track of your hours and log them!!

http://www.armymwr.com/family/childandyouth/

Army Community Service

  • Army Emergency Relief
  • AER is the Army’s own emergency financial assistance organization and is dedicated to “Helping the Army Take Care of Its Own.” AER provides commanders a valuable asset in accomplishing their basic command responsibility for the morale and welfare of soldiers.
  • AER funds are made available to commanders having AER Sections to provide emergency financial assistance to soldiers – active & retired – and their dependents when there is a valid need.
  • AER funds made available to commanders are not limited and are constrained only by the requirement of valid need.
  • For these reasons, the AER assistance program is conducted within the Army structure by major commanders and their installation/organization commanders through AER sections and other related organizations.

http://www.aerhq.org/dnn563/

 

  • Army Family Team Building

Army Family Team Building empowers individuals, maximizing their personal growth and professional development through specialized training, transforming our community into a resilient and strong foundation meeting today’s military mission.

What is Army Family Team Building (AFTB)?

Army Family Team Building is a series of training modules taught through your local Army Community Service or Family Program’s office that cover topics such as basic information about the Army, personal growth skills and leadership skills.  AFTB improves personal and Family preparedness which enhances overall Army readiness and helps America’s Army adapt to a changing world.

Why Should I Attend AFTB?

AFTB helps you to not just cope with, but enjoy the military lifestyle.  Many of the courses can be applied toward resume’ and career building, self-development and leadership skills.  AFTB provides the knowledge and self-confidence to take responsibility for yourself and your Family.  The training is available to Soldiers, Family members of all Soldiers, Department of Defense civilians and volunteers.

****I cannot begin to tell you how much I love this program! I mean I’m in love with it. This program taught me everything I need to know and everything I didn’t want to know but glad I learned it. If you take one thing from reading my blog is this please please please attend an Army Family Team Building Class. It changed my life so much!!****

https://www.myarmyonesource.com/familyprogramsandservices/familyprograms/armyfamilyteambuilding/default.aspx

  • Family Advocacy Program

The US Army Family Advocacy Program is dedicated to the prevention, education, prompt reporting, investigation, intervention and treatment of spouse and child abuse. The program provides a variety of services to soldiers and families to enhance their relationship skills and improve their quality of life. This mission is accomplished through a variety of groups, seminars, workshops and counseling and intervention services.

I had some great times with these programs. I took classes on scream free parenting to the five love languages. I loved them all. They are a great resource!!!

https://www.myarmyonesource.com/FamilyProgramsandServices/FamilyPrograms/FamilyAdvocacyProgram/default.aspx

  • New Parent Support Program

The Army’s New Parent Support Program is a key secondary prevention program within the Family Advocacy Program which falls under the umbrella of Army Community Service. Established in 1995, this voluntary participation program helps Soldiers and Family members who are expecting a child, or have a child or children up to 3 years of age, to build strong, healthy military families. Through a variety of supportive services including home visits, support groups and parenting classes, the NPSP helps Soldiers and Families learn to cope with stress, isolation, post-deployment reunions and the everyday demands of parenthood.

**** What is great about this program is the home visits! I was 19 pregnant with my first child and had no idea what to do or how to do it. I was no way near home and needed someone to help me. My nurse was amazing answered any questioned I had and even showed me some tricks to calm down my newborn. It felt so great to have someone on my side supporting me.****

https://www.myarmyonesource.com/FamilyProgramsandServices/FamilyPrograms/NewParentSupportProgram/Default.aspx

Oh last but not least Army Wife Network

We have tons of resources for families and don’t forget to check out the field exercises. That’s where I first learned about a lot of these resources. This has been a go to resource for me the past 6 years. I enjoy reading all the helping hints and blogs from other army wives just like me! Tara taught me about Flat Daddy and showed me how to find resources. Tune into the weekly radio show I’ve learned something new every time I have listened. Please add these resources to your tool belt! Never know when they will come in handy.

 

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AWTR Show 494: Making Care Easier – Caring for Aging Parents

Army Wife Network Core Team Presents: 

“Army Wife Talk Radio”

Army Wife Talk Radio is the leading internet talk radio show for Army wives, by Army wives. AWTR is hosted by the Army Wife Network Core Team – www.ArmyWifeNetwork.com. AWTR guests bring exciting, relevant topics and resources to the attention of our military families. 

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Seeing America Differently Part II

IMG_2017Last month, I wrote about returning to the United States after spending almost five years overseas and the little things I missed.  Being away from home for so long makes you appreciate little, random things like not having to check your pizza for corn as well as big things like being surrounded by people that, for the most part, speak the same language as you.  We’ve been back stateside for close to two years now and I’m growing used to my little Americanisms and not noticing and appreciating them as much.  However, my family and I are getting a chance to experience America through new eyes all over again this year.

At the end of July, my husband saw an article in the Ft Knox newspaper looking for host families for international exchange students.  Growing up, I had always wanted to be an exchange student or host an exchange student but it was never within my family’s means to do so.  One of my best friends in high school was an exchange student from Colombia.  So when my husband mentioned the article to me, I immediately said yes and began working on the long, laborious process to get an exchange student approved to not only live with us for a year but to attend the on-post DODEA high school here at Ft Knox.

Part of the reason I was so eager to jump at the opportunity to host an exchange student was the fact that we will more than likely never have another overseas assignment.  My husband just hit 20 years this past March and we will be lucky to get one more stateside PCS in before his retirement.  Given the fiscal cutbacks the Army has been making this past year, the chances of them approving moving our family of eight somewhere overseas grows even slimmer.  So if we couldn’t take our kids to another culture, we decided to bring another culture to us.

Having Jorn here has definitely brought some of the German culture to our family but it’s had an even bigger, unexpected impact on our household.  It’s allowed us to see America through his eyes, to notice things that we see every day or have grown up with and take for granted.  He is fascinated by all the big trucks and SUVs here.  He loves (with a capital L) American doughnuts. He asks for them every time I go to the commissary.  This fall, we have attended all the home football games for the Fort Knox High School as a family.  My daughters that are in high school aren’t into sports and had no interest in attending the games before but they jumped at the chance to expose Jorn to something so uniquely American and it’s been great fun for our whole family these past few weeks.

Jorn is on the cross country team for the high school.  He loves running, loves the practice races through Fort Knox, loves telling me about the different animals he sees while he’s running, like turkeys and foxes and deer, that they don’t have in Germany.  But the thing he loves most about running cross country is the people who attend their meets, the parents and coaches and friends who come out to support their students.  Jorn tells me often that America is great and how much he loves Americans.  Germany, he says, is so focused on schooling and performance in the classroom that they don’t make time for sports.  They don’t hold large sporting events for students and the parents wouldn’t attend if they did.

Yesterday, we carved jack o’lanterns together as a family.  It’s the first time in years that everybody in the family has participated in this.  Partly because there was nowhere to display jack o’lanterns in our tiny Korean apartment and partly because my kids are growing too old for this kind of thing (or so they tell me).  But Jorn had never carved a jack o’lantern before so everyone was eager to show him and help him.  My kids are more excited for the upcoming holidays than they’ve been in years, and not just the getting presents part.  They’re excited to share these experiences with Jorn, to watch his face light up or his look of surprise and confusion and to hear him say “you REALLY do that here?”

My kids are getting older.  My oldest daughter is a junior in high school and my next oldest, a sophomore.  I see the days when they begin leaving home rapidly approaching.  I know that our time together as a whole family, having everyone living together under the same roof, is rapidly dwindling.  Having an exchange student here, some one new to share our family traditions with, has given me the chance to appreciate and soak up all these tiny, shared moments that I fear we would otherwise not have or that I would be too busy or stressed or harried to notice and appreciate.  And for that, I am very thankful.

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