In the last year, I’m been spending time with childhood friends and nourishing those bonds. I turned 43 last month and it seems, nothing grounds me like my kids and my old friends. It’s been over four years since I last wrote.

I became speechless after the breakdown of my marriage and my husband’s subsequent funeral. We never did get divorced, he passed before the process ended.

Since his passing, I have learned so much. Namely, life is for the living. Don’t waste it on the past – don’t waste it on tears- don’t waste it on daydreaming. Do. That’s what I tell my children.



A lot has happened since last I wrote- for one- I’m getting a divorce and for the other- I’ve unintentionally lost 20 lbs in the last 13 months. I’m more concerned about the latter. Not one to sit around and wait for the world to make a decision for me, I’ve taken my health into my own hands by going back to the gym, consulting with my former trainer and practicing the art of extreme self-care.

Life only hits if your letting it happen to you versus living it by your own terms. 

It all started when I looked in the  mirror this past week and realized that my two lady parts were ..ehem..missing (I’m talking about boobs). At first, I just chocked it up to breastfeeding for years on end (no, I’m not one of those moms that breastfeeds my kid when they can walk up to me and say- where’s your boob mom while their sharp teeth twinkle in the sunlight), but since I do have 3 kids – I had my fair share of being a meal. I then noticed my stomach- and the skin looked kind of defeated– like those people who lose too much weight too fast and their skin doesn’t have time to acclimate to the change. 

The great thing about being a Health Counselor is that when your health is going downhill – if you’re a self-aware person and you’re doing your job right- you’ll catch it before it’s too late.

I decided to hit the gym and consult with my old trainer- Nosa. Nosa suggested a physical assessment b/c they had my records from 2012 when I used him to lose the pregnancy weight.

He took one look at me and said, girl- you have to eat. Your stomach looks that way because you’ve lost too much weight so your body is holding on to what little fat you have and not distributing it in the right places (like my missing boobs). The good news is that my physical strength has increased since last year, the bad news is that my BMI is officially on the starvation range. In public health terms- a BMI less than 18.5% is called wasting. I’m officially wasted, but not in that fun drunk way– nope, it’s in that – WOMAN- eat a big juicy steak with blue cheese on it because you look like you’re living under famine like conditions.

After the physical assessment, we talked about the goal. I looked at my flabby skin on my stomach and said- “I want to work on this, is there hope?” Nosa replied- “yeah, if you decide to eat more and we’ll work on free weights with you. We’re not going to do cardio except for warm ups and you have to eat at least 5 times a day- 3 big meals- 2 little ones – and every 2 to 3 hours if you can remember. Mai- force yourself to eat. I know this is the last thing on your mind, but you have to eat – carbs will do you good right now- the complex kind of course.”

So- as I’ve documented many journeys- cleanses- boot camp- boredom- birthing– this is my path back to extreme self-care. My health is my life and my work so in the art of practicing what I preach- I’m going to write candidly about this (is there any other way) –so that I’m held accountable and that those 9 lbs in muscles will happen. I’ll feel so good when I have a chest that doesn’t look like a 10 year old boy. 😉 Joking aside, I can see why women get boob jobs now- but – my take on a boob job is it’s a personal decision, but I don’t like knives and I don’t like operations and I don’t like foreign objects inside me that I have to change out every 5 years. Opening up my body cavity for vanity is too high a price for me to personally pay. However, I’ve had plenty of gal pals who’ve opted for an amazing rack and their boobs really do look great – but after enduring 3 C-sections, I’ve made a vow to myself to stay clear of opening up my body cavity if I can help it.

Also, if some loser guy wants me to have a boob job, I’ll kindly ask him to get a penile enlargement. No? I didn’t think so.

Okay- for DAY 1 of my cleanse, I wrote on FB the following:

I’m going back to extreme self-care with my lifestyle – defined as loading up on greens, heading back to the gym and surrounding myself with my positive and inspirational buds. Oh- and working on much needed sleep. My bed and I have a passionate love affair – I have to renew my evening commitment of early to bed! My breakfast today – organic egg, farm fresh cabbage, garlic and mushrooms and lots of water to drink.

DAY 2 (today):

Breakfast – green smoothie comprised of blueberries, a cup of spinach, a banana, blueberries and whole yogurt with a splash of juice and a 2 tablespoons of almond butter. 

Big glass of water

2 boiled eggs.

Snack: Water and Organic Fig Bar


Huge plate of steamed broccoli with butter. Big plate of grapes. Shredded Chicken Salad with sunflower seeds, shredded cheese, red onion, lettuce from my CSA and olive oil and balsamic vinegar. 

Snack- cheese stick and clementine.

That’s what I’ve got so far. I plan to do a guided meditation tonight, continue with my gratitude journal where I write 3 things I’m grateful for that happened today and go to sleep early (before 11 PM). Your body does the most healing between 11 PM and 2 AM.

Did you know sleep also helps cleanse detoxifies your brain? 

Here’s the article:


As for other areas in my life- I’m getting situated in the role of Single Sassy Mom (SSM). Sure, is it ideal to have a mommy and daddy in one household- yes- but is it less ideal if they want to rip each other’s heads off- yes. So, I’ve just joined the 50% of Americans that ran screaming. In the process, I’ve met some really cool new people and have discovered who I was before the wedding ring.

What I’ve discovered is– there is a lot of fun to be had ….but first- eat, sleep and drink my water. 

My favorite T-shirt that I own says the following: “Living Life Begins with Me”.




Mai promoting Mai Fruit Smoothies

Mai's brood

The Jouberts

It’s been a million years since I wrote last. Probably when I was 36. I’m now 38. Time flies when you’re outnumbered by little people. I’m cutting and pasting my holiday letter so you all know what I”ve been up to lately.

December 2012

Written from the perspective of Jacob Joubert age 17 months:

Dear Family, Friends and their Pets,

My mom is telling me that if I don’t dictate the holiday letter this year, I’m not eating anymore chocolates so I’m being sweet tooth blackmailed to give a full report on my family’s quirks.

First, being a freshly dubbed toddler- I want to focus all the attention on me. As you can imagine, being the last of the Mohicans (as my mother affectionately calls me aka the very last baby that will grace my parents’ house aside from future grandchildren) – all eyes are on me- ALWAYS. Aside from being the shortest in the family, the pitter patter of my little feet serves as a warning siren to my two older sisters (Anais-age 6 ¾ and Estelle- age 3 ½) that I might be breaking their toys or eating a marker or two – but really- it’s because I’m prone to jumping on the dining room table to dance an Irish jig and kick the glasses off the table. My other favorite pastime is pulling fragile Christmas ornaments off the tree and watching them shatter into a thousand pieces while my mommy frantically decides on whether to sweep the broken glass from the living room or the dining room first. Now that it’s the holiday season, I’m thinking of all of my favorite things. To be honest, it’s a tie between trying to squeeze small metal objects into various electric sockets or my many failed attempts of flinging mommy’s lab top off the dining room table. Choices, choices, there are so many dangerous things to choose from this year.

In other news, 2012 marked an epic summer road trip from Virginia to Sarasota, Florida where we spent 10 days soaking up the sun and visiting my beloved Great Uncle Chris and Great Auntie Thao. The highlight of my trip was being stuck in our mini-van for 17 hours while mommy bribed me with organic snacks.

In the event of the preposterous chance that the world might end before 2013 (misinterpretation of Mayan legend)- my parents have decided to haul us back in the mini-van and drive us to kid paradise- Dutch Wonderland in Amish country (Lancaster, PA). If a giant asteroid should unexpectedly hit us- we’ll have the option to jump on a horse and buggy and fill our tummies with Amish cheese.

Aside from car trip adventures, 2012 marked an active year for both of my two older siblings. Anais started competitive swimming this summer through the Alexandria Wahoos. She’s still in ballet, Angel Choir, Daisy Scouts, afterschool math club, swim stroke clinic and she tried her hand at piano this year. Estelle participated in nature class and entered pre-school two days a week at Tauxemont Cooperative Preschool where it is not uncommon to see a chicken wearing a diaper & roaming around freely to provide a strong sense of nature and a love of animals.

My mom can be found with her nose in an academic journal. She is currently enrolled at George Mason University to earn a Master’s in Science in Global Health Sciences. She anticipates graduating in spring 2015. In addition to night classes, my mommy continues to help people become healthier and happier through her corporate wellness business, Mai Health Now LLC. Her passion is helping people kick the icky soda habit and she has also expanded her corporate seminars to not only nutrition topics, but smoking cessation classes and women’s health issues as well.  Before your eyes glaze over with all this health chatter, I’d like to cover my daddy too.

My daddy is blushing from all this attention. Daddy spearheaded our BIG MOVE this past August. We moved next door from 500 to 502 Gibbon St. Despite the short distance, it was not without drama. Our movers failed to show up, but due to strategic screaming – another crew came at 6:30 pm in evening- as you might suspect, this was not the ideal time to haul massive furniture. Though we are settled in our new place, we have yet to beautify our surroundings. This could be due to the fact that I like breaking glass on a daily basis so mommy spends countless hours sweeping after me instead of combing through the pages of House Beautiful for ideas. Let’s face it, mommy says she’s no Martha Stewart, but she will gladly point you to a nutrient dense vegetable or two.

As for my daddy – he enjoys taking me on long jogs and can be seen grabbing me by the ankle as I manage to get tangled and hang upside down from the ladder on my sisters’ bunk bed.

We hope you enjoy our seemingly serene holiday photos taken by the very talented Christine Zinner. My mom likes the whole fantasy aspect of it all because photo shoots never quite capture all of my siblings running in 3 different directions or my failed attempt to dash towards moving traffic. My favorite story of 2012 is when I took my diaper off in the middle of the night after going number 2 and smearing my smelly by-product all over my sleeping mommy and daddy. Who needs an alarm clock when you have a keen sense of smell?

On that note, we wish you a very jolly holiday

season and a joyful 2013 ahead. As you can see, we don’t take ourselves too seriously and hope that 2013 will mark a year where we can see more of you and share tales of laughter, health tips (my dad’s eyes are rolling now) and cherished memories together. Thank you for being such a meaningful part of our lives. We look forward to seeing you in the New Year!


Jacob, Mai, Jacobus, Anais, Estelle and Piglet (our 16 year old cat)


Mai’s Fave Recipe:

Mai’s Asian Baked Kale Chips (small children approved)

Directions: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Rip stems off a bag of fresh Kale. Tear Kale in small pieces. Throw stems away. Drizzle sesame oil on foiled baking pan. Place kale pieces on pan. Drizzle sesame oil and Braggs Amino Acid (naturally fermented soy sauce- a little goes a long way) on kale pieces. Mix sauce and kale with hand so that kale is evenly covered. Bake for 8 to 12 minutes depending on your preference of crunchiness. Serve and eat!

More recipes on:


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36 here I come!

In 6 days, I turn 36! Wow. I’ve been grappling with the idea of middle age. When I look in the mirror- I still see 20 something- maybe on the later side. However, when I open my mind- I live up to my age.

I feel every inch an adult. What does that mean to me? It means – responsibility, being grounded and having a firm grasp on the tactile world around me.

It’s been a strange chapter – as all segments of my life become year after year. My mid-30s have been punctuated with drama/trauma from messy births and a lot of sleep deprivation coupled with nauseatingly sweet hallmark moments of nose rubs with my newborns and wholehearted hugs as these little beings grow up.

I’ve had a break here and there from the label of mother. Most of all, the dawn of 36 marks looking at the world clearer and more precise without excuses for myself or others.

I work a lot more efficiently and effectively. I walk with more purpose. I dream a larger vision that encompasses more than a passing adventure, but an indelible mark on the world- “mai” world.

Through the years, I still stick to the motto that I can have it all, but not all at once- step by step, moment by moment and most importantly, when I’m in the thick of things- whether it be colorful or sad- to savor life- because it passes so darn fast.

36 is a year of wisdom.

It’s Wednesday and this is the last week of Sarge. I’m experiencing an epic cold with coughs and bouts of insomnia, hence my late night typing. It’s 2 minutes until midnight so instead of coughing into my pillow, I thought I’d be productive and write about it.

In all honesty, with the death of my step-dad coupled by this awful cold and a heavy load of work in the pipeline- Sarge has turned into a distant dream. I vaguely recall sweating and panting at 5 a.m., but I will not be renewing my subscription to the drill sergeant mode of exercise.

What I learned:

boot camp is great for toned arms, but terrible for sleep.

go with a gal pal, she will call you out of bed- literally.

Finally, death of a loved one in conjunction with a cold leads to a no go on Sarge.

Next week, assuming this cold is over, I’m hitting the gym, my spin class and pilates.


Sweet Dreams and good-bye Drill Sargent!


 Week 3 of the Sarge Program proved to be fruitless because I was horribly ill with a cold. The photo to the left illustrates how I felt. This is a nifty contraption of a wearable pillow so you can rest your head on any flat service- provided you lie back and not forward.

My friend, Meg, would call everyday at 5 am and I would cough over the phone.

Copious amounts of mucous and green phlegm do not go well with cardio of any kind.

The only exercise I got this week was the path of least resistance to my bed- and back.

It’s already week 2 of the Sarge Program and I’m continuing to wake up at 5 A.M. for class. Full disclosure, it’s Thursday and I’ve only been to Sarge on Monday and today this week. With that being said, I’ve also had a cold for Tuesday and Wednesday. Today was upper body- meaning free weights and relays.

As I panted from one exercise to the other, my mind was grumbling about how much I loathe to exercise at this ungodly time. However, I do see a difference in my flabby arms. It’s less jello like.

Tomorrow is my favorite day- track. However, the instructor said that regardless of rain- we run. Since I’m still sniffling and I don’t have rain gear- I don’t run in rain recovering from a cold. No need to go towards the path of pnemonia.

Seeing that I’ve had a taste of hard core cardio for 2 solid weeks now- I am now revising my original plan of attending 5 days a week to 3 days.

Last Friday was “Hill” day. I almost keeled over and fainted. This comprised of lunging and squatting up a huge hill and then back again for at least 30 sets and then sprinting for 2 1/2 miles. I skipped the sprint and left 15 minutes early.  Not my idea of fun in any kind of mind frame. I have vowed NEVER to do hill day again.

This is a group activity so if you liked high school gym class, Sarge should bring you back to teen nostalgia. For me, high school gym was a nightmare. I was small and one of those girls who developed very late in life. I didn’t develop hips until age 22 and that was post- college and let’s not even talk about breast- I got those after giving birth and lactating.

In my high school, we had mandatory swimming class and to add insult to injury, the school gave us uniform bathing suits designated by color. Blue was for the underdeveloped short girls, green was for the standard body and red were for the bigger, more curvaceous ladies. Red also was see through so I counted myself lucky to be in blue. Some girls got smart and started wearing two red bathing suits to cover their lady bits.

Needless to say, fond memories of high school gym to doesn’t leave me with any kind of warm and gushy feelings so it’s to my utter dismay, that at the dawn of 36 years old, I am PAYING for the priviledge of group jumping jacks and a P.E. teacher at 5:45 A.M. Life is ironic, but fighting the flab is more powerful than pain.

Until tomorrow (if it’s dry).


It didn't go off!

As I’ve panted my way through crunches, bar bells and jumping jack this week, something was going to give and today, it was my sleep. I had every intention of waking up at the designated hour of 5 am, but when I looked at the clock, it was 6 am and my alarm never went off.

Monday, we worked on upper body strength which meant a variety of exercises with free weights. Unfortunately, Monday night, I managed to get 2 hours of sleep, which led to a no-show for Tuesday. On Wednesday, it was track day (my favorite day)- where we jogged around the field. My friend, Meg, has blown out knees so I happily speed walked with her. Oddly, her speed walking was the equivalent to a jog for me. This should give you a clear indication of the state of my cardio, which is, sad.
Today, I wanted to be up and running and out the door by 5:20 AM. However, I was snoring and shaken awake with that sinking feeling that I had missed class. Tomorrow is hills.
I do have an excuse for my lame attempt to pump iron this morning. My step-dad, who raised me, died unexpectedly Wednesday morning. He was visiting from Asia and I was supposed to have dinner with him Wednesday night. Needless to say, death can kill any planned dinner party.
I’m in a funk right now so exercising is the last thing on my mind, but the first thing I should do to feel better. I plan to conquer the hills tomorrow.
Stay tuned.


Waking up at 5 AM takes mental adjustment. It’s 8:11 am and I’ve been up for 3 hours. By 5:45 AM this morning, I was sprinting and doing lunges around a high school track field. My husband is still wondering who is this woman who is motivated enough to go to bed at 10 PM and rise at 5 AM.

Vanity and self-preservation are two huge motivators to get my legs running and my heart thumping. One thing I’ve learned about my mid-30s is that if you don’t start doing physical maintenance, everything goes down– your ass, your face, your smile, and of course, your thighs. In my 20s, I could drink 5 shots of vodka, eat 3 cheeseburgers (to aid with the hangover) and then wash (my mouth), repeat (the evening) and replay (my mistakes).

In my 30s, much-needed sleep and watching my body fight gravity is at the forefront of my mind. The copious amounts of gin martinis is a thing of the past. Who has the energy or the liver to handle that kind of abuse? Not as exciting, I know, but it’s a precarious tipping point between getting lazy with your looks and finding yourself surrounded by 20 empty Dunkin Donut boxes. It helps that my job is health and my livelihood depends on my over all energy, appearance and fitness.

So, DAY 1– I finally found my boot camp group. I showed up yesterday in the pouring rain to an empty tennis court. Little did I know, they have a yucky weather location that the operator failed to tell me about over the phone. Anyway, the good Lord had some pity on me because Friday is cardio day and more laid back then the rest of the week.  We ran around the track for an hour. It was a good way for me to ease into the program. As smooth as it sounds, I was the one participant that was panting like a pig. Cardio isn’t my strong point. I like Yoga- the relaxing kind. I stay away from the sweaty yoga that looks really hard.

However, my husband and I have a pact, namely, we are not allowed to let ourselves go. What single people don’t fully grasp is that marriage is the most conditional love you can sign up for in modern times. Essentially, if my tush droops down to my ankles, my husband is not going to see me as his loving wife- nor will there be any love.  Likewise, if Kobus’ ponch extends to the tip of his toes, he can start cooking his own dinner and start thinking about sleeping in the bathroom.

Needless to say, there’s a lot riding on my fitness. Nothing inspires as much as fear of losing something dear.

This morning was just a taste of the next month of 5 am wake-ups and 5:45 AM work outs. When I first got there, I was trying to scan the group for signs of another flabby thin mom. Sadly, the only figures I saw were athletic. The group composed of two women and two men (including the instructor). All of the above were attractive and professionals in their mid-30s. Well, at least I fit the age group. One guy was training for a marathon, the other was already buff. The instructor brought her friend who was equally as fit.

My instructor, Emily, looked like a machine. The week prior, she had run 100 MILES!! Blonde, perky and incredibly fit, she looked like Madonna’s trainer. She told me to not be fooled by cardio day, on Monday, we’d have a full body work out and I should be prepared. Translation- I will be sore for an indefinite amount of time.

Emily and her gal pal ran together, the marathon guy ran at his own pace, the buff guy spoke to me for a while, but I had the itching feeling that I was keeping him from his real workout so I told him if he had to get in the zone, I would be fine. As soon as he sprinted, I was free to collapse. Okay, so I didn’t fall to the ground into a fetal position, but don’t think that the thought didn’t cross my mind. I occupied myself by running at a snail’s pace.

The weekend is off days where I intend to sleep in!!

I’m turning 36 on Nov. 4th (feel free to send lavish gifts). The 30s have been calmer and full of better choices. The impetus to my fitness kick is to synchronize my mental acuity with my physical being.

I’ll be keeping you posted on my daily trudge towards optimal fitness. Okay, I need to leave on a funny note. The motto to the Sarge program www.sarge.com is “Be all you USED to be”.



Flickr Photos

June 2018
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