Sandy, 2014. Santa Clara, Glamour Portrait Photo Session

Many of you know that I have embarked on a health and fitness journey for no other reason that to be just that...healthy and fit.

And part of what inspired this journey are women like the lovely Sandy.

I had met Sandy through Total Woman Gym + Spa, a gym and day spa dedicated to helping women achieve their health, fitness and wellness goals. Sandy's photo session too place on an afternoon that was as sunny as the bright smile she wore when she walked into the studio. Her joyous laugh and conversation flowed through the studio as she got styled and prepared for her shoot by the talented Kathleen Tinney. No doubt this was going to be a fun shoot!

In our initial correspondence, I learned that Sandy is a wife, mother, and woman who made a decision to change her habits to reflect a healthier lifestyle. For most of us, especially us women living in an image-laden world, I know it is not easy to be so honest with strangers and simply say that you made a decision to get healthy because high-blood pressure, or unintended weight gain could lead to something worse down the road. But honest is exactly what Sandy was as she detailed to me her reasons for wanting to be make her health a priority, to be fit, to be strong. (It was shortly thereafter that I began working with a trainer, too, to push and challenge me - one of the best decisions inspired by her story!)

Sandy, I am incredibly honored to have been able to participate in this celebration of you - a celebration of your life, your health, your beauty. Thank you for sharing everything you are and most of all for inspiring me to push myself to new challenges in my own health and be unafraid to work with a trainer who can help keep me accountable.

Here's to inspiring women everywhere to get healthy!

A heartfelt thanks to the talented Kathleen Tinney of A-List Makeup for Sandy's beautiful hair and make up!

"Kindness, compassion, humor, creativity, love.  I think that all shows on a person's face, and more importantly, the people in my life whom I think are beautiful are the ones that make me feel beautiful, too."

"I don't think there is just one definition of beauty. There are so many different kinds of people in the world and so many ways to be beautiful. I mean, obviously there are things that are considered aesthetically pleasing - smooth skin, symmetrical face, fit body, youthfulness - but I really feel that it's what one puts out into the world that makes one beautiful." 

"I was not confident about much when I was 18. But life teaches you so much. I'm more confident in what I believe, and what I don't believe now than when I was 18. I'm much more comfortable with who I am. It would have been difficult for me to say that I liked myself back then. 

I wanted to be someone different, someone fabulous. I do like who I am now, not to say that there isn't room for improvement, but I do like myself. I have recently rediscovered that I do have a strong body and that makes me more confident in what I can physically do. I also appreciate that, in general, I'm in good health and shouldn't take it for granted."

"If I put it in the context of giving advice to my daughters, I would say take care of yourself. Take care of your body, take care of your mind, take care of your spirit. That's where beauty is."

"I've been lucky so far and have had no major illnesses or injuries. Part of the reason for gettingin shape is that I need to stop pushing my luck! 18 year olds think they will live forever - 48 year olds know better!"

"Practice acceptance. Accept your shortcomings and imperfections and be accepting of others as well. Don't ever be afraid to ask for help. I couldn't have made the progress I've made in the last few months without the help of my fabulous trainer, Leily. I will be eternally grateful to her."