Life is Too Short

FOR DAD.

dad wedding

In an instant your whole life can change. Birth, death, pain, joy, grief. It’s all so overwhelming.

Thursday March 30th, 2017 I woke up at 6 am to the call I’ve dreaded for over 10 years. And you know what sucks? I was 2500 miles away. I hadn’t even been in Oregon a month and I was on a plane headed back to Louisiana.
GET ME TO MY FAMILY.

It was all a blur. I traveled for 8 hours and arrived. The following 2 weeks were a mixture of every emotion you can name. Dad was really gone.

I got straight to work and began cleaning out drawers and closets. I wanted to do it while I was still in shock, I guess. We planned a local memorial. We planned an out of state memorial. We traveled for a week to Texas. I saw my husband for a week while we had the services. Then it was back to reality. I’m fortunate that I was able to stay with my mom for a month after the memorials. It was difficult. Shock wears off slowly and there is a readjustment phase.

We found a free group grief recovery meeting that meets weekly. It was such a blessing that I got to go every week for a month. I realized that everything I was doing to stay busy and not validate my emotions would probably come back and bite me in the ass. I started allowing myself to grieve more. I didn’t want to keep it all bottled up, but I was also trying to stay strong.

My TO DO lists had lists. My bullet points had smaller bullet points. I wanted to get as much done for mom as I could while I was there and it was an easy way to distract myself from reality. At least it was for a while. The first 2 weeks flew by because I kept so busy. I was actually eating pretty well after we got back from Texas. I really lost sight of trying the last 10 days that I was there. I had gained almost 10 lbs in 6 weeks. NOT COOL.

It’s bad enough that I was struggling with sadness, loss, and anger, but now I had to add in guilt that I was giving in to my emotional eating. I know. I KNOW- It’s ok. It’s temporary. I’ve heard it all, both from myself, and my loved ones. I just didn’t need to add insult to injury while I was struggling.

I guess I’m lucky. I’ve only lost 1 person close to me before dad. I was a kid when all my grandparents died, so this was my first family loss. I suppose I should be grateful, but as I sit here wearing his old shirt, I don’t feel lucky. I feel sad. I feel a million miles away from my family. I feel torn between wanting to be there and wanting to be here in Oregon. I’ve been back for 2 days and I’m trying to stay busy. Since I’m unemployed, all my focus has been on things around the house and getting back into a healthy routine.

I immediately started eating clean again and I can already tell a difference in just 48 hours. I went to the gym yesterday and wanted to go full throttle on working out and after 15 minutes of weights, I found out a restorative gently yoga class was starting. I’m always a little nervous when I try a new class, or really anything new. It turned out to be great. I got out of my head, enjoyed the stretches, and felt good afterwards. I did some gardening. I cooked a healthy soup. I am trying desperately to cling to anything that makes me feel like ME.

superdad

It was incredibly hard to leave mom with dad being so sick when I moved out here in March, and again, it was incredibly hard to leave mom alone when I left the second time. Someone in the grief recovery group pointed something out to me that I hadn’t thought of before. I’m doubly grieving. I’m grieving dad, of course, and I’m grieving the idea of leaving mom and home. That’s a heavy feeling. The kind of heavy feeling that makes you want to eat a whole cake and a pint of ice cream. But I’m not going down like that. I KNOW that eating well affects my mood and why would I not give it my all to try to feel better???

It’s so weird. Time stands still, yet flies by at the same time after a life altering event.
I’m never going to see him again. I’m never going to talk to him again. I’m never going to hear his laugh or get advice again. I miss him already every day. Life is so damn short.
And while I know that the last few years of his life were of very low quality, I selfishly want him here. He was miserable and he was ready to go. That never means we are ready to lose them.

dad wedding 2

I’m also selfishly glad that the struggles it brought mom are over. Now we have a whole new level of struggle. She has been so strong and has amazed me so much. She is so grateful for all my help and I’m so thankful to have been able to do what I could while I was there. Saying “see you later” to her was incredibly difficult because of my guilt and grief, but I know she will be OK. My sister has been an amazing support to all of us and has helped so much. I would have never made it without her. My husband has also been so wonderful and I’m so fortunate to have such an understanding and patient soul to share my life with.

The name of the game is and has always been DON’T TAKE ANYTHING FOR GRANTED. I’ve said that for years. It was dad’s illness that motivated me to lose weight and try to get healthy a few years ago. I really can’t imagine having had the push in any other way. I guess if I’m going to take the silver lining approach, then that’s it. I’m only grateful for his illness for 2 reasons. Firstly because it inspired my health journey, and second because it brought my family closer together. I never want to live a life where I don’t let people know what they mean to me. I will annoy you all with my love!!!

goofy dad

Life is too damn short and I’ll be damned if I’m going to spend it feeling guilty over eating a cupcake every once in a while or feeling less than because I didn’t go to the gym every day this week. (PSSSHT- like that’s ever been a thing) I’m not going back though. I’m not going to eat crap and beat myself up. I’m also not going to be so strict that I feel like a slave to my lifestyle. There is always a balance and I’m on the journey to figuring it out. Life is funny that way. It’s a journey, as they say. I’m unsure of my path and have so many questions with no answers, but I’m trying every damn day to live my passion. I don’t have it figured out. And that’s OK. I just want to be my best ME.

It’s still very early in the grieving process and I’ve been told repeatedly that grief has no time table and no one grieves the same as anyone else. I’m taking it one day at a time just like I always have in this life. I’m going to continue to honor dad’s life and struggles by pursuing my goals and keeping him with me at all times.

Thank you to every single person who reached out to me during this time. Not a single message, text, card, gift, or kind word went unappreciated. It’s hard because I feel so isolated out here in Oregon where I only know a couple of people, but my heart is full because of all the love I’ve received from all over the world!

For you, dad, I am grateful for every single thing you ever did for me and for all the things you continue to do for me. I carry you in my heart forever.

dad shadow box

New Beginnings.

11I’m sitting here in my new home. In Oregon.

OREGON.

Wow. We have been here a month this week and it feels like a lifetime and no time at all. Leaving Louisiana was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. I’m emotionally still not equipped to analyze the feelings I’ve gone through these last 7 months, but I’m trying. Things have been crazy as you can imagine. Moving 2500 miles away from everything and everyone you’ve ever known is surreal. I take it one day at a time and here it is- a month later!

We had a helluva journey to get here. It was amazing in every way. Our dogs even seemed to enjoy themselves! We stopped in New Mexico, Arizona, and twice in California. We even checked off a visit to the Grand Canyon! BUCKET LIST!

grand canyon

After a week of on-the-road eating, I was feeling pretty sluggish and yucky. You know how that goes… You pack up healthy snacks, but you still find a reason to over indulge along the way. I have lost the 5 or so lbs of bloat/crap eating weight gain from that first 2 weeks here and immediately got back into the kitchen once everything was unpacked. (and after a stop at the Oregon Chocolate Festival, of course)

chocolate

I have picked up right where I left off with meal planning, drinking my water, and eating clean 80%. There have been a few days where I have definitely over eaten, but I’m getting there. I am pretty much unemployed at this point so I have a lot of time to play housewife and cook. I do love my new kitchen!! I have already made it my happy place. I used my spiralizer last week, and have been enjoying my vitamix once again. I have been cooking up a storm. Last week I made a spiralized vegan salad, roasted local beets, baked oatmeal, chia pudding, butternut squash chicken sausage breakfast casserole, oven fajitas, chicken cauliflower bake, homemade pesto over zoodles with asparagus and chicken, spaghetti squash with roasted broccoli, pear oatmeal muffins, fermented dill carrots and radishes, leek and potato cauliflower soup, turkey taco stuffed peppers, and crockpot peanut chicken! I’m kinda digging this housewife thing.

I ventured out almost immediately upon arrival and explored all the great grocery stores. So many choices for organic and fresh ingredients!They have a local Co-Op and almost every place has kombucha on tap! AM I DREAMING? I also found the farmer’s market. They have so much! I felt like I found “my people.”  I even tried raw goat’s milk- and I LOVED IT.

farmers market

I even went on my very first hike upon living here for only about a week! I met an awesome friend who took me out for a couple of hours and it was my first exercise in a while. I love living in a place where exercise coincides with natural and beautiful landscapes. We went to Table Rock 20 minutes from my house.

table rock

It was about 2.5 miles all uphill and, man, I felt so out of shape. I can see I’m losing definition in my arms from not weight lifting. I can feel the extra 10 lbs from the last 6 months just sitting in my gut. I don’t feel as good as I used to. I’m not even that mad about the extra lbs; it’s really all about how I feel. None of my clothes fit correctly because I’ve been eating wheat (a tiny bit) and dairy again. I’m staying strong the last few weeks on limiting sugars (damn you, Cadbury Egg last night), but I want to get back to where my energy levels were last summer. I know I’ll get there.

I’m not pressuring myself because I’ve basically been through a shit ton this last half year. Living apart from my spouse. Living with my parents again at 35. Not having gym time. There have been lots of reasons. I’m not calling them excuses because that isn’t fair to me. Now that I have some spare time and my life is stabilizing, I’m going to recommit to bettering myself in every way.
I’m actually about to head out to the gym! My friend here has encouraged me to join and we are going to start today! I’m excited, even if it means starting slow. They have a lot of classes I’m interested in and a great facility. I know that once I start an exercise regimen, my stress will reduce and I will start to have that energy I crave.

It has been one hell of a journey, but I’m on the other side and feeling good about it. I had so much anxiety leading up to this move. As I sit here in my new home, I realize that all my crazy planning was worth it. We have a beautiful home, a great state to explore, and all the tools for success. I always say that risks can equal great rewards. I really think this risk is going to be worth it.

I hope to blog more often and share my journey with you all. I want to bring you healthy recipes, tips, and motivation as I regroup and find my way out here in the wild, wild West.

oregon

 

Making it Work #wycwyc

So about a year and a half ago I read a book called “What You Can When You Can” given to me by one of my best friends. It was a quick and easy read (I highly recommend it) and I totally understood the message. At the time I was fully immersed in a lifestyle of “DO ALL THE THINGS: Plan a wedding, work out 6 days a week, cook for every meal, go, go, go!” Maybe I didn’t fully grasp the concept of the title of the book. I sure as hell do now!

Soooo, you all know I’m moving from Louisiana to Oregon in less than a month. HOLY CRAP. I’ve spent the last 28 years in the same place with the same people and never being more than an hour away from my family. and now I’m moving 2500 miles away. WUT?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m excited! I’ve learned that without risk in life you might not ever reap the reward that comes with taking a leap. My mental health has been far from normal and far from optimal. Living without your husband for 5 months while living on the floor on a mattress with your shit (what’s left of it) literally scattered around your parents’ house is no fun. I’m making it work. I’m pushing through. I’ve put aside my emotions for the better part of half of a year and now it’s all coming to a head. THIS IS HAPPENING.

In the meantime, I’ve been working a lot and spending a lot of time and energy on things other than my physical health. I’ve gained and lost the same 10 lbs since June. I was ABOVE WEDDING WEIGHT for a few weeks. Most people dream of getting back to their wedding day size while I swore I would never go back. The holidays were a nightmare for so many reasons. I was missing my husband; However, I was still meal prepping. I was still going to the gym on the weekends and I was walking at least a mile or two every day.

What You Can When You Can. I think I’m starting to get it…

wycwyc

I went so far off the tracks since Thanksgiving I didn’t know where or how to get back on when the new year rolled around. I found some sort of stability in attempting to focus energy on getting my diet back in control the last month, but every emotion and all my anxiety has really come to the surface now that the move is upon us.

I’m not sleeping well (and if you know me, you know I LOVE to sleep and can for 10 hours with no issue), I’m not exercising but twice a week other than walking, but my eating has been under control this last week and I’m feeling a lot better. I’ve read so much about how diet affects mood and I’m here to tell you, that shit is true. I’m not following any “rules” this time around because I’ve learned to be gentle with myself and not set myself up for failure if I eat a freakin cracker or something. I’m listening to my body and eating when I’m hungry and fueling it properly (Imagine that?? It works.)

I went to secure my job and find a place to live last week and ate everything you could possibly imagine. I came home to my clothes not fitting, my anxiety higher, and was bloated beyond control. I got my head in the game the next morning and lost 6 lbs of bloat in a week. While I am still 8 lbs higher than my lowest weight last summer, I’m giving myself a freakin break.

This year has been a freakin crazy train! When I look back at the last 6 months, my whole world has been flipped upside down. Honestly, I’m just grateful. I’m blessed to have a roof over my head, a supporting family who has taken me in, a wonderful husband who has sacrificed so much and has been alone in Oregon working so we can afford this change, and I have some of the best friends in the entire world who have been there every time my crazy ass needs guidance, support, and love.
It’s not going to be easy to transition, but I have extremely high hopes. I’m more than cautiously optimistic. I actually expect to thrive. We are going to live on an acre and a half of land where I can finally attempt to turn my brown thumb green (I have my own orchard of apricot, cherry and apple trees-WOO!), and I’m going to be so close to so much outdoor beauty that will also include my love of hiking/biking and exploring. It is such a beautiful place and I’m beyond words when it comes to how happy I am that we are given such a wonderful opportunity.

When life stabilizes on the other side of this journey, I expect to have more time to devote to my fitness and I can’t wait to share the news with you as I travel these uncharted waters.

roguerivervalley

 

Until then, just do What You Can When You Can. I know that’s my plan!

Catch ya on the flip side!

You’ve Got One Life

YOLO? Is that what the cool kids are saying? Or maybe it’s so out of date the uncool kids are saying it. I don’t know. I just know that when someone passes away I’m reminded of how precious this life is and how quickly it can be taken from us.

I can eat right. I can exercise. I can be sober. I can not be a smoker. I can do all the things that make me a healthier person. I can’t control fate. I can’t control what might happen tomorrow. We are not promised another day.

Today the world lost a beautiful soul who beamed positive rays of freakin sunshine as if it were the only way he knew how to be. He was a beacon of light in a dark and sometimes scary world. I wasn’t close to him, but you would think I was based on how I’m feeling today. He was a facebook friend and we had a hundred mutual friends. Every single post he ever wrote was nothing but pure love and positivity. From the outpouring of love I’ve seen over the last few weeks from his friends I know just how amazing he was. It makes me so eternally grateful for this life.

Every day when I wake up I may not be thrilled at life right now. I may have doubts and fears of the future. I may miss my old life before things got hard. I miss my husband who lives 2500 miles away. But I never for a second feel like my life is bad. I’m grateful. Grateful for the sun rising. Grateful for another day on this Earth because it could be the last. Perspective is everything so why not live a little?

I spent a couple of days in Disney World and let go of a lot of stress that I’d been carrying for months. I didn’t eat right, and other than walking, I didn’t exercise. In fact, I have only been to the gym 5 times in a month. I don’t even care. I want to focus on living my life. No rules. No boundaries. No fear. NO FEAR.

For so long I thought I had to eat a certain way, weigh a certain number, or work out a certain number of times a week to feel like I was “doing it right.” What the hell is doing it right?

I’ll tell you what it is. Doing it right is living each day to the fullest. Never taking a single moment for granted regardless of how you hate your boss, how you fought with your spouse, how your kids are aggravating you, how you binged on donuts, or how you feel like you let yourself down today. Today is all we got. What if tomorrow you didn’t wake up? What if you were faced with a tragedy?

Yes, I still am eating well, and yes, I still enjoy exercising because it makes me feel good. If you don’t feel good, then find what makes you energized and feel alive. Maybe it’s playing sports, maybe it’s live music, maybe it’s cooking, maybe it’s wine, maybe it’s friends, maybe it’s playing with your kids, maybe it’s volunteering in the community, maybe it’s church, maybe it’s your passion at work. Just do it with no regret. Feel your emotions. Acknowledge them and know it’s ok to feel discouraged but move on and make each day as full as you can.

I know it’s been a rough year. It has been for almost every single person I know. I can’t say I disagree when I’m like “peace the fuck out, 2016.” I know this coming year will be difficult in its own way, but never take it for granted. Spread love wherever you go and not just because it’s the holidays, but because it feels good for you and the recipient. Hug your friends and family and tell them how much they mean to you. Never hold back because it might be your last chance.

Life is a precious thing and in a flash it could be over. Whether you live to 100 or not, “life moves pretty fast and if you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

Hey, and if you made it all the way to the end of this post, I LOVE YOU. Spread some positive energy and love today and everyday. Go hug your kids, dog, cat, spouse, or just give yourself some self love.

Hell, eat a cookie. It’s all good.

Find Motivation Where You Can

It’s been a roller coaster lately. I’ve been battling the same 5 lbs up and down for almost a year (more or less). I’ve recently removed all grains to see if I could jump start anything. Well, as it turns out, if you eat a couple hershey kisses a day, it doesn’t matter that you avoid rice and oats. HAHAHAHA

But seriously. I’m having trouble finding the motivation I once had. I don’t want to be that vain person and say I had a lot of motivation leading up to my wedding, but I sure can admit that I lost the umph after the big day. Yesterday was our 1 year anniversary and I realized that I’ve been at this 5 lb up and down plateau for a year!

It’s not that I have given up. Actually, I haven’t given up at all. I’ve been very lenient on myself as far as the 80/20 rule. I used to be more 90/10. Now my work schedule doesn’t allow for really any gym time. I’m working 50+ hours a week. I spend my weekends meal prepping, doing chores, and trying to keep my sanity. I go workout when I can. I walk several miles a day just to keep moving. I miss the gym. I miss endorphins. I miss feeling like I am getting stronger.

So what am I doing?!

I never want to feel deprived. I know this attempt at grain free isn’t forever. It’s not realistic. Let’s be real, I have been trying to do it for 2 weeks and have been successful maybe 5 of those days. If I can really commit to it and I see results, is it going to give me the loss I wanted or am I just going to gain it right back after I reintroduce rice again? I don’t ever want to be on a “diet.” I just want to find what works for me where I don’t feel hungry, I don’t feel like I’m missing out, and I don’t have low energy. Although I have been trying to be dairy free, I’ve been eating goat cheese. I’m basically addicted. DAMN YOU, COSTCO, FOR HAVING IT SO CHEAP. Otherwise, I’m still on track.

It’s basic science, right? calorie deficit is how you lose weight. In a Facebook group I’m in that is not weight related, someone asked what is a good way to lose weight. I obviously chimed in with my two cents. Someone responded that “it doesn’t matter what you eat as long as it’s blah blah blah less calories, check out the twinkie diet.” I was like “WTF? don’t ever tell someone to basically eat junk but not very much of it to lose weight!” Her retort was “it’s efficient and she asked how. I didn’t say it was healthy.” UGH. I really hope the girl that asked doesn’t take that advice. It saddened me. I guess my point is that I found some semblance of motivation through her question and that response that lit a fire under my ass. I remembered how I have so much more knowledge that a lot of people because of what I’ve accomplished. I HAVE the tools. I KNOW what needs to be done. I CAN DO THIS. I often forget that when I started I had no clue what I was doing just like that girl. (I swear I never thought eating only twinkies was a good idea though.) I have learned an immense amount of information over the years. I’m not done learning, but I have to utilize all the knowledge I have.

I want to help others. I want to shout it from the rooftops and tell people what worked for me. In all honesty, it might not work for you. That’s what weight loss and getting healthy is all about- finding what works for you. Yes, calories in…calories out… yada yada yada. But most importantly, being healthy is the goal! Food as fuel. Eat to live. You are what you eat. All those cliches. Getting started is the biggest step you can take. Finding it deep within yourself and saying “I deserve this. I want to live a long and happy life for myself, my family, my dreams.” If you want it badly enough,  you will stop finding excuses. I’m not saying any of it is easy. My winning combination comes from meal prep, determination, consistency, and the feeling of buying new smaller clothes! Those things work for me.

As much as my crazy life has gotten in the way of me making any headway on my path to my goal, I’m still stumbling down the lane. Slowly but surely, I’m still here. I’m still sticking to my guns *just maybe only 75% of the time.* (AND THAT’S OK!)

Live your life. Enjoy celebrations. Eat cheese. Eat ice cream. Just remember that you can have those things, but you have to be realistic about your goals when you do. And for the love of all things holy, SAVOR THEM. Everyone will tell you about Moderation. “Eat peanut butter with Moderation.” WHO IS THIS MODERATION AND WHY DO I HAVE TO EAT WITH HER? It’s true though. I definitely have had my days lately where I give in to emotion. Eating is my drug of choice when I need to find comfort. I just handle it differently now. Instead of ice cream, I’ll eat dried fruit. It won’t happen overnight. You’ll find yourself questioning the very reason why you are even trying. and you’ll keep going. and that’s where you find success. Days turn into weeks. Weeks into months. Months into years. And then you’re there. Maybe it won’t even take you that long. Maybe you just want to eat better and don’t care about the scale. Find the motivation that brings you to your knees and begs you to make that change. Whether you want the energy to play with your kids or a long and happy marriage, you have to believe that you can do anything you want.

I believe in me. I believe that I can keep going despite the difficulties and craziness that is my life. I want to be someone’s motivation again. I want to feel like I’m helping not only myself, but others as well. I hope you will all join me in saying “I’m worth it!”

 

Struggles and Finding Balance

So yeah. A lot of shit has happened since July. Like A LOT. Trying to stay on track and eat right and exercise has gone out the window more or less.

After I broke my tailbone in early July, we went on a wonderful 10 day vacation where I gained almost 10 lbs. I got right back to eating well after the trip and lost 8 of it pretty quickly.
I had a small surgery in early August and knew I wouldn’t be able to exercise for a couple of weeks, but I planned on getting back to the gym. I started taking 2 mile walks every morning at work (before it got deathly hot.)
A week after my surgery my life changed forever.
Louisiana had historic flooding that devastated thousands of homes and many families. We had 6 feet of water in our neighborhood and about 3 ft came inside. We lost all our furniture, our place to live, *luckily we were renters* and I lost a good bit of my priceless photos.

Photo trash:

photos

We were fortunate enough that we were able to salvage our clothes, some kitchen stuff, and a lot of our wedding things/gifts. We waded out in chest high water with only a backpack of clothes and our dogs. After about 2 miles, we were picked up at a grocery store by my mom. We are beyond blessed that her house was in the 10% of our town that didn’t flood and that the small mile long stretch of road from her house to that store was open. We lost our car. We lost… our sanity.

My city:

denham

The next week is a blur. After 48 hours the water receded and we were able to get back in and get out what we could. The waiting was the hardest part. My dad had to be airlifted out in a coast guard helicopter for emergency dialysis. No words will ever accurately describe the emotions I felt watching him being taken away in that helicopter. I’m forever grateful to my friends, family, and the coast guard for coordinating that.

cajun_navy_2
Our local community of Baton Rouge came together unlike anything I’ve ever seen. People from all over the state and even from out of state were driving in with their boats to rescue thousands of people who were stranded in their homes or on top of their homes. The “Cajun Navy” was born. These kind hearted people didn’t have to come. They didn’t have to work day and night to save these people, but they did. It was truly remarkable.

cajun-navy-2

I must also say a heart felt thank you to the LSU Fieldhouse Medical Shelter that was put in place and took care of my mom and dad while we coordinated his dialysis. It was such a blessing in a difficult time.

The shelter:

lsu

My friends were my salvation during that week. Money was raised to help us, donations were sent, care packages were created, and even more. I’m overwhelmed with gratitude for these people and their enormous hearts. I seriously could have broken down and given up that week without their support.

We sorted through what could be saved and basically took over my mom’s garage with storing our salvaged stuff. We are fortunate that Justin’s job at the hotel allowed him to live in a room free of charge so that he could still work. I am beyond blessed that my job gave me a paid week off to get things in order over here. My mom and I had to go to Mississippi to get a rental car while we waited for insurance to settle on our flooded car. In the weeks that past, things started to normalize. A bit. I was more or less on “the katrina diet” which consists of eating when you remember to and never sitting down longer than a few minutes at a time.

This is my normal:

street

disaster

However, once I had healthy groceries and a little more time to cook, I still couldn’t get to the gym. I was in a lot of pain post op from surgery, my tailbone, and just stress. I couldn’t find a routine. And I don’t blame myself. I learned a lot about what I’m capable of in the face of a tragedy.
It’s funny; I don’t feel like I was one of the ones who lost everything. I feel grateful. Grateful that we got out what we could. Grateful that we have a place to live. Grateful that we can still work. Grateful that we got a great settlement on our car. Grateful that we were able to finance a brand new car that is incredibly affordable.

car

Grateful that my parents were spared; they are saving our lives right now.
My perspective is definitely a positive one only because I know how much worse it could be. I was a renter and was able to walk away and not have to think about rebuilding like the thousands of other families.
This tragedy is bringing a sense of freedom. There is something incredibly refreshing about a new start.
Now that the dust has settled 6 weeks later, there are many large changes happening. We are starting a new chapter in our lives. We aren’t staying in Louisiana. We are saving to relocate. In the meantime, I’m going to focus my energy on getting myself back on track physically because I know how bad I feel mentally when I don’t care for my body properly.

We decided to go get a good dose of New Orleans last week when we thought about how much we would miss the food and lifestyle down here. We ATE ALL THE THINGS. It was awesome. My amazing husband had just kicked so much ass in the last 2 months. He lost 25 lbs in 8 weeks! It was also his birthday, So we celebrated by eating pretty much whatever we wanted that day. About a year ago or even 6 months ago, I would have beat myself up relentlessly about making bad decisions. Even though we walked 5 miles that day, I was still up a bit on the scale afterwards. It’s totally ok. It is more than alright to live life and not feel guilt. There is no “good” or “bad” when eating. It is simply food. Some of it just isn’t as nourishing as other choices. You are not less than because of what you ate even when you are trying to lose weight. I’ve said it before, but your self worth is not defined by a number. You hear a lot about the 80/20 rule. That 20% is important. You don’t have to be perfect. We are human. We NEED to be able to enjoy the things that bring us small bits of joy in dark days. Even if it is beignets in New Orleans!

beignets

I got to the gym a few times last week. I went to my first two classes in almost 3 months. It felt good. I felt like I challenged myself and actually needed to prove to myself that I wasn’t completely lost on my track to better health.

crazy-eyes

I may or may not have eaten way too much yesterday, but again, I’m not less than because I gained a few pounds.

It sounds silly that I used to think I didn’t deserve a cookie or a dessert when I was so committed to losing weight. It’s not that I had a skewed version of myself or my goal, it’s just that I wanted to achieve something so badly I was losing sight of the BALANCE that is life. I’ve learned a lot about priorities over the last 2 months. I’ve learned what really matters and what doesn’t. My family is my priority. My health is a priority and I know that when I don’t treat my body well that I don’t feel as good.

So, moving forward and leading to the big changes in my life, I will honor myself enough to know that I need exercise to feel good and to have high energy. I will decide to keep up with my healthy meal planning and commit to cooking and prepping so that I set myself up for success every week. I will look at each day as a challenge while still looking at the big picture. I will take the struggles I’ve been dealt and turn them into positives.

This will not be an easy time emotionally, but I know I’m tough as nails and can pretty much do anything when I really put my heart into it. I deserve to give myself that much credit. I’m going back to no dairy, no sugar, no wheat and we will see how much my body will allow at the gym. I hope to start blogging more regularly so that I can use this as a platform to motivate myself and not just others.

Adversity can do two things: It can cripple you and diminish your spirit or it can motivate you to challenge yourself and tackle the unimaginable. I know which one I choose.

BRING IT ON, LIFE. You ain’t got nuthin on me.

bring-it-on

A Dose of Reality

Just when you think you are back on track…

I had another big milestone last month. 110 lbs lost total. I really had kicked it up a notch and was fighting for every ounce lost. My head was in the game and I was feeling so good about my choices. I was going to exercise classes, eating clean, and my energy was high. By the end of June I had slacked a little and gained a couple of lbs back. No big deal. I can still get to my summer time goal before my big road trip in mid July. Some more less than ideal choices and I had gained 5 lbs back. Ouch.

I know. It doesn’t diminish the fact that I’ve lost 105 lbs. I am still a success. I just know how hard every single pound is to lose from this point on. My metabolism is slow as molasses. I injured my shoulder about a month ago and haven’t lifted weights since. I was getting back on track last week and went to the gym five days. Even though the weight wasn’t coming off I was still feeling pretty good.

Flash forward to 2 days ago. I fell down some stairs and fractured my tailbone.

fallen.jpg

ARE YOU FREAKIN KIDDING ME??? I am leaving in 3 days for a 36 hour road trip to Washington. That’s a lot of time in the car on a broken butt. The pain has been pretty bad and it’s just been 2.5 days. The worst part is there is really nothing I can do about it. I’ve rested it, iced it, gotten an inflatable donut pillow, taken meds, and tried to remain positive.

I’m pretty frustrated. We have been planning this trip since February. We didn’t have a honeymoon and now we are celebrating my birthday on this trip, so there is no way I’m not going. People think I’m ignorant, stupid, or stubborn for not canceling, but they don’t understand that I NEED this vacation. I’ve saved, sacrificed, and worked hard to make it a reality. Regardless of the discomfort I’m going to make this trip a memorable one.

So you’re saying I can’t work out for how long? OH SNAP. 8 week minimum recovery time and it may never quite feel normal again. I bruised it once as a kid 25 years ago too, so this is just the cherry on top of the shit sundae. It’s actually less painful when I’m up and walking as long as I’m not bending or twisting or getting up and down from sitting. That doesn’t bode well for any exercises I like to do other than walking…

Did I forget to mention that in 4 weeks I’m also having an unrelated surgery? yeah, AGAIN. I had this same surgery last summer and who knows how many more times over the course of my lifetime I will need it. It’s just a one day type of thing if they don’t find anything more pressing once I’m in there. There is a no exercise for 2 weeks after rule too. And I bloat and gain like a crazy person afterwards because of all the air they inflate into my abdomen to put the scope in. Siiiigh. I’m not looking forward to it. Precedence dictates that it will be fine and I’ll be back to normal in about 5 to 10 days.

The real thing that bothers me about all this is really not the lack of exercise as much as the stress that this all brings. My entire life I have coped with stress using food. As soon as I get bad news or feel the stress of some negativity, I want crap food.

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Before I even got injured I was eating things out of the ordinary for me. As soon as I found out my tailbone was fractured I went and got an ice cream from Sonic. I haven’t done that in 5 years!
I know. It’s ok. But I tend to let one bad decision lead to another and I don’t like the feeling that comes with being out of control. It’s like I got a flat tire and slashed the other 3 just because. I wanted to lose more weight before the trip because I always gain when I travel. As it turns out I’ve gained before the trip has even begun. Feeling sorry for myself will get me no where. I just have to realize that it’s ok to feel these emotions, but feeding my body junk just makes it worse. I feel worse, cause more inflammation, slow healing time, and it emotionally makes me angry at myself. I can do better.

you can do eeet.jpg

I’ve slipped on my no dairy, no wheat, and no sugar for the last 2 weeks and I know this trip will lead to more similar choices, but I’m trying to balance my food choices. It’s a 10 day trip. 4 days in the car on the way up, 2.5 days camping there, and then the drive back. On all our other road trips in the past during my weight loss I’ve always brought healthy choices to lessen the likelihood of fast food debacles. If I can’t exercise for 2 months, I need to focus 100% on my eating choices. Of course I’m still going to indulge- it’s VACATION!

I put more effort into packing and prepping food for this trip than I have camping gear and clothes.

road trip.jpg

Here’s the game plan:

  • I precooked a large batch of healthy dirty rice. It’s so easy. I used jalapeno chicken sausage instead of pork. I froze it in 2 large containers and will bring one and have one to come home to when the fridge is barren post vacation. Dirty Rice Recipe
  • justin made an amazing pastalaya too. Think jambalaya but made with noodles. I won’t be eating any of it though. It’s more for him and our friends (it has tomatoes, and I’m allergic, and a shit ton of pork)
  • I’m bringing a lentil salad. I know, I know… that’s not really road trip food and neither is dirty rice. These are more for when we are actually camping. It’s a lebanese spiced dish and it’s nutrient dense, filling and delicious. Lentil Salad Recipe
  • I’m making a bottle of green smoothie. My go to green drink x 4 to fill a large juice container. It’s kale, lemon, ginger, pineapple, parsley, chia and hemp seeds, and cucumber. It will only last the first 3 days before it gets “spicy.” I did it last year for our trip and it was a great way to feel refreshed and get my nutrients in when I eat stuff on the road.
  • Tortillas and bread with turkey and cheese (and good ole PB and J for standby)
  • Bacon and eggs for cooking on the camp stove

Snacks:

  • stinky boiled eggs
  • string cheese
  • homemade granola made from steel cut oats, walnuts, sunflower seeds, cashews, honey, raisins, and coconut oil. recipe here
  • celery and carrot sticks, cucumber slices and a big ole tub of hummus
  • homemade cranberry oatmeal muffins sweetened with applesauce and a touch of peanut butter (easy breakfast too)
  • Beef jerky
  • homemade larabars (dates, walnuts, apricots, goji berries, and lemon zest in a food processor and individually wrapped) recipe here
  • Kind bars (with nuts, fruits, and seeds)
  • apples, cuties, grapes, and dried fruit (apricots and a few fruit leathers *healthy fruit roll ups!
  • almonds
  • and as a special treat- teddy grahams!

I always go waaaay overboard on the food for trips, but it’s always worth it in the end! I’m eagerly anticipating this exciting adventure and regardless of how the obstacles are stacking up (thanks ovarian cyst rupture today), I’m certain this trip will be one for the books!

No matter what obstacles come my way this summer, I’m going to keep on this path because I’ve come too damn far to go back now. I may be feeling a little defeated, but it’s temporary and perspective is everything. It’s just a few pounds, and it’s most certainly not the end of the world. What’s life without a little cheese, ice cream, and deep fried deliciousness??

I may not get back to the gym until September, but I know that when I do it’ll be great and it gives me something to look forward to. Until then, I’m going to focus on giving my body what it needs to heal (including rest) and I will be back in the groove in no time!

Now I just need all your butt vibes and prayers as I’m NOT looking forward to the car ride!

It will all be worth it when i see this:

gorge

 

 

 

 

Easy and Healthy Recipes (that are also delicious!)

not a diet

I figured it was about time that I delve into the treasure trove that is my recipe arsenal and share some with you! I have amassed quite a lot of go-to recipes in the last few years as well as many I’ve tried at least once and would recommend. I am allergic to a lot of things, but I will include some recipes with those ingredients as well.

I’ve touched on breakfast ideas in previous posts (baked oatmeal, overnight oats, chia pudding, mini crustless egg quiches, etc), so I will mostly be sticking to healthy salad and dinner ideas in this post.

First of all, some of these will require a spiralizer (turns vegetables into noodles), and I am obsessed with mine. You can get a decent one on amazon for $25!  Some of these recipes will require baking spaghetti squash (again, vegetables in the place of noodles.) These are the types of substitutions that have helped me lose weight. You’ll never know how delicious these can be unless you try. If my husband tolerates it- anyone can!

VEGETARIAN SALADS:

Balsamic fresh green bean, parmesan, and basil salad This one is undeniably one of my favorites! If you like fresh basil (*it has a strong flavor), then you will love this one!

Cauliflower “potato” salad I only made this one once, but it was delicious! It has all the flavor of potato salad without the carbs/calories of potatoes.

Three Bean Wild Rice Salad This one is great as a meal! Protein packed and keeps you full for a long time!

Quinoa Tabouleh All the delicious flavor of tabouleh without the wheat! This one is great.

Spiralized Cucumber Carrot sweet and spicy salad with chickpeas If I had to pick my favorite spiralized salad, this one is either tied for 1st place or takes the gold medal! It does require a lot of chopping, but it is so worth it!! It’s great as a lunch too!

Sweet Potato and Chickpea Salad You’d never even think “hey- I’m eating vegan” with this one because it’s so satisfying!

Brussel Sprout, Apple and Pine Nut salad  This one ranks right up at the top! I never even knew I liked cooked brussel sprouts until this year let alone raw ones! If you are feeling adventurous and think you might enjoy this deliciously refreshing raw salad, you won’t regret it!

Broccoli Slaw with raisins and a light dressing THIS IS MY JAM! It’s just so damn good. I bet you’d like this and you’d get addicted too!

Asian Zoodle Salad So this is the other contender for favorite spiralizer salad. There’s just something about these flavors and eating raw just gives you the best energy and it’s filling!!

Sweet Potato Brussels Sprouts Quinoa Salad This one really has it all! Complex carbs, protein from the quinoa, cruciferous veggies, a little sweet from the cranberries, and a crunch from the almonds!

Hearty Lebanese Lentil Salad This one is meal worthy, lunch or dinner! It has a wonderful flavor and lentils are so nutrient dense!

Spicy Kale Quinoa Black Bean Mexican salad This one is new to me and I’m trying it this weekend! It should be good as a meal as it has everything you need to stay full for a while!

Peanut Sauce Kale Salad I can’t wait to try this one! Peanut sauce is my weakness!

Goat Cheese Asparagus Quinoa Salad Talk about delicious and indulgent! Creamy goat cheese makes me mellllllt

GRAIN FREE / PALEO DINNERS:

Chicken and Broccoli over Zoodles I don’t know about you, but I love the flavor of Chinese food, so if I can get my fix in a healthy way, I’m all about it!

Turkey and Sweet Potato Meat loaf Made this one this week (husband approved!)

Chicken Sausage with roasted vegetables and sweet potato This one is in the regular rotation (having it this week!) We love it and it makes great leftovers!

Oven Chicken Fajitas This one is also in the top rotation! We use olive oil and add green chiles, cilantro, and green onions! I don’t eat them with tortillas; I just pile it on the plate!

Cauliflower Fried “Rice” If you haven’t delved into the world of cauliflower rice, I recommend starting with this recipe! You can pretty much add whatever veggies you want in addition to these./ I love water chestnuts and a little sriracha!

Chicken Zoodles with Red Peppers and Sugar Snap Peas This is one of those that is so good you wish you didn’t have to share (maybe you don’t!)

Turkey (or beef) Sweet Potato Chili Need that chili flavor, but not the unhealthy calories? THIS!

Turkey Taco Lettuce Wraps No explanation needed! Add any toppings you like!

Chicken Or Turkey Sausage Sweet Potato Kale Soup This one is quickly becoming one of my favorites! We used ground chicken sausage (loose not links) and when we ran out of kale, we used spinach and it was still delicious!

Honey Garlic Shrimp and Broccoli Need that flava flavvvv? This one has you covered!

Sriracha Lime Salmon with Brussels Sprouts I haven’t tried this, but it sounds AHMAAAZING

Tuscan Chicken Skillet All I know is I’m damning my tomato allergy straight to hell right now!!

Spaghetti Squash Primavera Again, DAMN YOU ALLERGY!!

Spaghetti Squash with parmesan, spinach, bacon, and pine nuts Think you don’t like spaghetti Squash? This will change your mind!! BAAAACONNNN

Eggroll In A Bowl Want all the flavor of an eggroll but not the deep fried fatty feeling? This is awesome! Any ground meat will do. I’ve used turkey or chicken sausage and both were great. I add water chestnuts diced, a lot of garlic and fresh ginger, and a boat load of sriracha or red pepper flakes because I love spice!

Shredded Buffalo Chicken (crockpot) Lettuce Wraps Hi, I’m Sarah and I’m obsessed with this. I don’t even use blue cheese or any toppings except sliced celery and carrot and I can’t get enough!!

Crockpot Chicken Enchilada Soup This is one of those recipes that you just keep going back to because it’s that good!

Italian Sausage, Kale, White Bean Soup In some circles, (*thanks, Letty) this is called “Sarah Soup.”  I use turkey or chicken sausage (buy ground or in the link and remove from casing) and it is one of our staple soups (especially when it’s cold outside!)

Cauliflower Chowder Another one that is SO easy and good especially in the winter! Filling and nutritious!

Artichoke Mushroom Chicken Breasts I absolutely love these flavors! You could serve this over rice.

Lemon Asparagus Chicken Stir Fry This is one of those flavor packed meals that takes absolutely no time at all! Serve with quinoa or rice if desired. We love this one!

White Bean Chicken Chili We could all use more fiber and protein and this is an excellent and delicious way to get it! Another easy and filling recipe with leftovers for lunch!

Shrimp and Sausage with Veggies Skillet 20 minute one pot meal! This one could get your kids to eat some veggies!

Jerk Shrimp Stew with Cauliflower Rice Those lil jerk shrimps, am I right? Actually, this one will take you to Jamaica, MON!

Turkey (or beef) with Butternut Squash I absolutely love this one! I just tried it a few weeks ago and I will be making it again!

Thai Ground Turkey with peppers and basil I made quinoa  and mixed it in with this and increased the spices to stretch it farther, but you totally don’t need it! Flavor country!

These recipes include a wide variety of things including grains *still most do not include wheat*, dairy, some lean meat and some vegetarian, and complex carbohydrates for a balanced meal

OTHER MEAL IDEAS:

Ground Turkey and Potatoes with Peas The rice is overkill as it already has potatoes as a starch.

Quinoa Taco Stuffed Bell Peppers You could add ground meat to these and add taco seasoning to it to make this recipe stretch further. I also have used rice instead of quinoa. You can add any toppings you want (salsa, avocado, cilantro, sour cream, etc) and you can also kick it up a notch with jalapenos.

One Pan Roasted Chicken Sausage, Green Beans, and Sweet Potatoes This is in the rotation fo sho! The cumin gives it such a nice flavor. I really love this one and it’s so easy!

Savory Black Eyed Peas and Bacon We’ve used this recipe to kind of make our own version of this. This has to be in my husband’s top 10! It’s that good. We use all the same vegetables and beans, but we use italian seasoning and homemade broth. We usually do a double batch and use the ENTIRE package of bacon! mmmmmm

One Pan Honey Garlic Chicken Breasts and Veggies Easy and delicious! The potatoes are just divine with this flavor!

Amazing Chicken and Cauliflower Casserole I dare you to try this and tell me you still don’t like cauliflower. This one is decadently delicious and it’s so easy to use a rotisserie chicken to make this a little easier or pre bake some chicken. Great way to get vegetables into your picky eater! I seriously would fight for these leftovers.

Spicy Honey Chicken and Bell Peppers We make this one pretty often as it is pretty easy with minimal ingredients but packs a heck of a flavor. Served with rice and it’s an easy week night meal.

Vegetarian Curried Quinoa This one is a winner! I love to make this on the weekend and have it all week for lunches. If you are looking to cut back meat, but not sacrifice flavor or satisfaction after eating- try this! I add all kinds of vegetables in it! spice it up with some cayenne if you want!

Cauliflower, Leek, and Potato Soup This blended creamy soup is so satisfying you won’t realize that there isn’t any heavy cream weighing it down! Roast some red peppers and puree for a topping-it’s a must with this soup. We love this one on a cold day!

Easy One Pan Shrimp, Rice, and Peas Haven’t had this, but it looks easy and delicious! If you try it, let me know!

Easy 30 Minute Salmon and Potato Foil Pack What could be simpler?? But only 2 servings so no leftovers!

Zoodle Spaghetti with Meat Sauce I swear if you try it instead of pasta you will be surprised at how much you like it!

Easy Chicken, Potato, and Carrot One Pan Meal The dijon mustard really makes this recipe a winner! Another easy week night meal!

I’ve dedicated a lot of my free time to cooking. I get a lot done on the weekends which makes the week days a lot easier. It’s a tag team effort at my house. My husband really makes it all come together when I’m working late or busy running around to an exercise class or an errand. Find a way to make it work for you. It’s a game changer.

cooking

So there ya go! Just a small sampling of the many recipes I’ve grown to love over the last few years. I’m so happy to share these with you and hope you will try them. Be adventurous in your kitchen! Make things you’ve never tried before. I amaze myself every week when I try a new recipe (it’s fun to try a new one once a week just to see if it’s worth adding into the arsenal.) Let me know if you tried them and what you think.

Most, if not all, of these recipes follow the guidelines for clean eating. Just a few reminders  of what that entails:

clean eat

clean eat 2

 

As always, if you have any questions or want help you know you can always message me and we can chat! I’m happy to help! I’ve said it before and I’ll keep saying it- If I can make decisions for a healthier life and lose over 100 lbs, what’s stopping you from making the commitment you and your body deserve?? You are worth it. Make yourself and your family’s health a priority.

healthy

Much Love.

 

 

Creating Healthy Habits

 

When I finally decided to commit to a lifestyle change FOR GOOD I needed to change more than just what I ate and how much I ate. Yes, that was a start, but in the grand scheme of things in my life, more than that needed to change. These changes added up over time and helped contribute to my success so far. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I started out by changing just my food intake (no fast, fried, or junk food) and then I eventually made other changes to aid my progress.

I subscribe to the “too much too soon” rule. If someone told you to stop smoking, stop drinking, start exercising, don’t eat fast food, drink more water, and eat more vegetables ALL STARTING RIGHT NOW, you would probably be like “HELLLL NAAAW, get outta my face!” You can’t expect to make so many drastic changes and stick with them. You have to be realistic when you make changes. If you choose just one of those things and can stick to it long enough to make it a habit, then you can incorporate new ones in and you have a better (in my opinion) chance for success. This is for two reasons- I think that you feel a sense of confidence after maintaining a new change in your lifestyle, whether it be you didn’t smoke for a couple of weeks or you only drank a glass of wine when you went out to dinner and not every night. Second, I think your chance of success is higher because you didn’t do too much too quickly and set yourself up for backlash or feeling too much pressure to quit or give in.

most of the time

When I lost my initial 40 lbs from diet alone (even though I would eventually gain 25 back), I felt a sense of confidence that I could change other things that would help me on my ultimate journey to get healthy. I had become successful at exerting some sort of will power over food for the first time in my life and I was nearly 30 years old. It was more than enough for me to realize that maybe I could start exercising. GASP! I started out in our old apartment gym on an elliptical. I’m not lying when I said I only made it 5 minutes. At 220 lbs with no resistance and no incline I only made it 5 minutes. Well…It was a start. If only I could build on that. So I did. I eventually got up to about 20 minutes within 2 weeks. I hadn’t been introduced to the world of Interval training or HIIT (high intensity interval training), so I did what I could. Unfortunately, at this exact time I started suffering from sciatica and my Dr told me no exercise other than my physical therapy. There was a bonus! I learned some awesome stretches that I still use to this day when my sciatica flares (*which is right now-OWWWW.) Double unfortunately, I had to have unrelated surgery at that time and it caused me to be down for the count for almost 3 months. All at the same time that this was happening, we decided to move an hour back to my home town. Upon moving back and healing, I gained back 25 lbs because of depression, pain, feeling sorry for myself, being out of work, etc. It wasn’t a good time.

Flash forward to Fall 2014 when I had set my wedding date and it lit a fire under my ass. I was up to 235 lbs and wanted to by 175 within a year. (I actually surpassed that goal! YAY) My now husband and I had joined a gym about a year prior so I had been going to water aerobics, and using the elliptical on occasion, but I was not challenging myself. I got my eating under control and started cooking more. I discovered pinterest (for the wedding at first) and it changed the game! I had a plethora of healthy recipes and I wanted to try them all! I realized there really wasn’t a vegetable I didn’t like! I realized I don’t need to eat beef and pork (I miss you sometimes, bacon. Ok, a lot of the time.)

bacon

I was on my way!

Healthy Habits I incorporated:

  1. I started drinking raw apple cider vinegar (2-4 tablespoons) in an 8 oz glass of warm lemon water first thing in the morning to aid digestion. It also has proven weight loss capabilities due to its ability to reduce the rate at which glucose (sugar) enters the blood thereby lowering blood sugar levels. I’ve been doing this every single day for 2 years and it is officially part of my morning routine. The grocery store clerks always ask me if I’m making lemonade because I buy so many lemons a week.
  2. I was (and need to get back) a gym rat. I started going a minimum of 4 days a week, but a lot of the time it was 5 or 6. I stepped outside my comfort zone and took a zumba class and enjoyed it! I started weight lifting.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            kettlebells                                                                                                                          As a woman, I cannot tell you how important this was to my success. Not only does it boost your metabolism, burn more fat, build lean muscle, and help you lose inches, but it makes you a badass at the gym. I got over my fear of lifting in front of the gym jocks. I started on the machines and then read about how free weights (done safely and correctly) are more effective. I began a routine that I made up comprised of moves I’d found and put together on pinterest or through videos. I started with 8 lb hand weights and now use 12s and 15s. I eventually became brave enough to use kettlebells. I do 30 lb kettle swings, squats, and whatever they call those other things where you jerk them up over your shoulder.                                 kettles                                                                                                            In my mind, I’m a badass when I lift weights. I even got some fancy gloves. I’ve kinda fallen off the wagon of being consistent with it, but so it goes… I’ll get back. I also started HIIT training on the ARC trainer which is a stepper elliptical combo. It only takes 20 minutes of HIIT to make a difference. You burn calories long after you are done when you do intervals. So, 60 minutes at an average pace on an average resistance is really not doing you any favors. Well, some favors I suppose.                                                                                            hiit                                                                                                                                                                      I have since added PIYO (think fast cardio yoga) and maaaan, it kicks my butt, but I CAN FREAKIN DO IT! I’m so proud of myself for stepping out of my comfort zone and challenging myself this last month to try something new. I’ve done cardio fusion a bit too. I really haven’t been going to the gym as much, but it’s ok because I know that my success comes from 80% diet. I do the exercise for the mental health, the endorphins, the strength and muscle building, and the heart health. The weight loss comes from the kitchen.
  3. Meal planning. I may sound like a crazy person, but it really helps me when I devote a few hours of my weekend to cooking and prepping. I’ve written at length about it in my previous posts. It is crucial to my success at this point. I’m not so rigid that I don’t allow wiggle room. I aborted the plan last night in favor of a calzone for my hubby and a grilled chicken salad last night at a local Italian place. No worries. I just like having healthy lunch options during the week so it is worth it to me to spend an hour the week before picking recipes for the weekend and then 3 or 4 dinners for the upcoming week. I make the shopping list, buy the stuff, and my awesome husband helps execute when I work late. We make a great team.
  4. No processed foods. It’s not really a healthy habit as much as it is a commitment to not eating fake crap. It’s that simple. I don’t want bullshit. I want real, whole food. If it comes from a bag, box, or drive thru, I don’t eat it. Easy.
  5. I started drinking an insane amount of water. I am now up to 16 cups or 1 gallon a day. I basically drink all day (and go to the bathroom an equal amount.) I have a 32 oz nalgene and drink 4 a day plus my glass in the morning. It helps me to realize I’m not hungry, but rather thirsty throughout the day in between meals. I don’t force myself to drink, but I find that I am that thirsty. Some days I only drink 12 cups.                           pee
  6. No alcohol. This is pretty much a very specific habit for me, but an easy one to maintain. I’ve never been a drinker. When I read about it exacerbating endometriosis, the occasional glass of wine ceased. It turns out a lot of people I know can dramatically lose weight by cutting alcohol consumption. (especially beer.) Don’t remove it completely if it’s your favorite thing, just think about reduction. mmmmm, Wine reduction over a nice steak…
  7. Stretching daily/yoga. There is something about taking time out of your day to be fully present with yourself without labeling it as meditation. About 2 years ago I started a regimen of stretching that I would do every morning for 20-30 minutes. Now I’ve expanded this routine to include a few ab exercises, a plank, and yoga. I’m fortunate at my job that I get some time to myself during the day to take a break and do this. Even if you don’t do it at work, you can find time in the early morning (or if you’re me- HELL NO) or in the evening. When I don’t do it at work, I will do it before weights/cardio at the gym. I even filmed my routine about 2 years ago and put it on YouTube as “stretching with Sarah.” I really hope it’s lost in the black hole of the internet. I find I’m energized, reinvigorated, and in a better mood after I do this routine. Sometimes I’ll do it to music, but other times I just enjoy the silence. Silence is so rare in our lives these days. It’s important to focus on your breathing and be fully present. You can burn calories just stretching! Plus, tai chi and other things I have incorporated are proven to help with flexibility and longevity. I also bought a foam roller! This thing is bad ass. It really helps my sciatica and is great for any kind of muscle pain or soreness. I need to use it more.                                                                        foam roll
  8. Meditation/Mindfulness. I’m working on this one. I don’t try hard enough. I want to make this part of the routine like everything else in this list, but I haven’t quite mastered it yet. I struggle with turning off my mind. I know everyone tells me it takes practice, but I am making every excuse I can think of to give up before I even try. I’m also trying to be more mindful of everything, not just my eating. I’m definitely very in tune with my body and how it feels good or doesn’t feel good so I’m trying to extend that into other aspects of my life. This is the one thing I really want to focus more energy on in the future. I learned about the practice of QiGong recently and it is a way to harness the Chi (life energy) within you and clear energy pathways throughout your body that contribute to both physical and emotional pain. Here are some easy exercises that are a lot like mindfulness/meditation: 15 minute Qi Gong Exercises
  9. Walking/biking. When you can’t get to the gym or you don’t belong to a gym, find something that you can do that will help you be more active. When I started out losing the bulk of my weight, I was the nanny for a wonderful 2 year old and every day we would take a 30 minute walk (even if I knew I was going to work out later.) I made it part of our daily routine. Now at my current job, I have incorporated either a 30 minute walk or a 30 minute bike ride (toting that kid trailer is NO JOKE) every day. Regardless of whether I think I will get to the gym, I still do this. It’s like my stretching; it energizes me and helps clear my head. So if you have time on a lunch break or in the evening with the kids, jump on the bike, roll out the stroller, or go alone-just get moving!                                                                                                                                move it
  10. Loving myself at this exact point in time. This is a big one! Healthy habits include your mental health. I’m not perfect, nor will I ever be perfect. I struggle. I beat myself up for no reason. I obsess. I hold on to feelings that I should let go. I try too hard. I don’t try hard enough. I’m HUMAN. It’s so very important for me to reflect on where I started, what I’ve been through, and where I am at this exact moment. I am grateful and overjoyed to be able to express how happy it makes me that I can inspire just one of my friends or a reader. I’ve been told many times how I’ve helped others make small changes and that really puts it into perspective for me. The abundance that comes from having an open heart and an ever expanding mind for learning new things and stepping out of my comfort zone has shown me that this journey has been worth it not just for the physical aspects alone, but for the person I’ve grown to become.

focus and effort

I’ve come a long way, baby! This journey isn’t over. I’m going to keep challenging myself and loving myself every step of the way. Whether you want to lose 10 lbs or 100 lbs or just build muscle, look within and believe in yourself. YOU ARE WORTH IT. So, what are you waiting for? Message me. Reach out. I can be your accountability buddy, add you to an accountability group, show you some exercises you don’t need a gym or equipment for, or help design a meal plan you can stick to.

You know what they say:

easy

How Sarah Got Her Groove Back

motivation

Finding motivation is tough. Getting started is rough. Sticking with it is hard. Am I right? Whether you want to make a change, are in the thick of it, or stuck on a plateau, it can be really difficult to find motivation. This is one of the main reasons diets fail or why we don’t ever even start. I’m here to tell you that after 6 months of self loathing at this plateau, I’m back, baby! And I’m going to tell you what changed and inspired me and how I will keep this momentum.

groove

In less than two weeks I’ve lost almost 8 lbs. I know that’s a lot. I know that is not a realistic goal to maintain every week. I didn’t starve myself, I didn’t spend hours at the gym, nor did I take any crazy pills or supplements. I made changes to my food intake. (“Diet” sounds so blaaaaaah.)

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts about how I lost all my weight, I’m part of an amazing facebook community of Biggest Losers. They are my squad. I started out with them 2 years ago (13 rounds!), but haven’t always competed. I sat out during the fall and winter once I hit my wedding goal weight. Then a few pounds came back. I wasn’t exercising. I was eating everything that made me feel sluggish like sugar and wheat. As you may have read in my previous posts, I tried not to beat myself up too much about my choices, but I was struggling. Even when I started this blog I was not “in it to win it.” So, a new round of Biggest Loser started almost 2 weeks ago and I decided to really make some changes. I decided it was time to really see if I could break out of this plateau and stop with the yo yo scale changes. As I’ve said before, I suffer with endometriosis. I decided to really help my body by eliminating (I have had a tiiiiiiny bit) dairy which contributes to estrogen (bad news bears for endo). WHOA. I LOVE CHEESE AND DON’T YOU TRY TO TAKE IT FROM ME. I already don’t drink milk, but removing yogurt and cheese has been REALLY FREAKIN HARD. The first couple of days I wanted to cave so badly, but I didn’t.

At the same time that I went hard core on no dairy I also went back to no wheat. I don’t have intolerance and I don’t have Celiac disease, but I hate the way it makes me feel. I get bloated and feel gross so I choose to avoid it.  I went for TRIPLE elimination and committed to no refined sugar again. This seems crazy and impossible, right? Totally doable, but you have to be determined, goal oriented, and realize that every single choice adds up. On day 2 I was ready to throat punch people.

throat punch

At work I’m surrounded by temptation. IT’S EVERYWHERE.  On day 3 I was still craving sugar, but it was getting better. On day 7 I was down 5.8 lbs! HOLY CANOLI! (Dammit, now I want a canoli.)

So here I am- day 12 and I went off the rails on Saturday. I totally ate wheat, deep fried pork, and beef. But you know what? I lost weight! (what’s this magic sorcery I speak of?!) Well, It was because I planned around the indulgences I knew I would partake in at this festival. I ate eggs for breakfast and a green drink and brussel sprout salad for lunch so that I would be able to have the delicious food later. It’s OK to have what you want if you take into account the rest of your intake that day and then get right back on track the next day. I sound so hardcore and it seems like something you think you might not be able to do and I understand, but the whole point of this blog is to show you that you CAN do this. I’m down another almost 2 lbs in 4 more days. I’m proof in the pudding. (why do all these expressions make me want fooooood??)

live yo life

Ok. So when you are thinking about making a change what is one thing you think you can eliminate? It probably won’t be dairy or wheat or even alcohol right off the bat. That can come later, or not at all because your journey is not mine. Everyone is unique and what works for me might not work for you. It’s trial and error. You figure out YOU. I’m here to answer questions, be a resource, act as a motivator, and provide you with delicious recipes that will help you get to your goal.

Carbonated drinks/sodas. If you drink them, start here. Reduction and then elimination. My husband and I were both coca cola junkies only 5 years ago. Wean down per day and then per week. Start with a substitute like flavored sparkling water and I guarantee you that you will lose a couple of pounds within the first 2 weeks. Make water your bff.

Processed foods. Let’s be real, our grandparents didn’t eat shit out of a box and we really shouldn’t either. Convenience and time management have consumed our lives to the point we don’t even know what we are eating or giving our kids. If you can cut out a few things from your pantry like pre packaged rice/pasta/potato boxes, that’s a great start.

Fast Food. Think about how often you actually eat it. Once a day? Twice a day? Only a couple of times a week? Whatever that number is try to reduce it. Eventually it will be easy to choose something else.

Alcohol. I know, I know. It really will help you lose weight if you cut back. There are so many calories in beer. Mixed drinks with tonic water are your best bet. The problem is that no one likes tonic water. That’s where the sugar comes in. The Mixer. I’ve never been a big drinker, but I know a lot of people who have cut back or eliminated drinking (only drink in social situations once in a while) and they have lost a lot of weight just by doing that!

alcohol

This is where I would start.

Cutting sugar is a demon to be wrangled with. If you aren’t there yet I wouldn’t worry, but know that ultimately sugar and junk food is sabotaging every attempt you make to lose weight. When I cut sugar I feel more energized, less achy in these old bones, and it actually improves my mood. Even though honey is very high in glucose I will allow myself that in my sweet treats to curb cravings.  If I could afford a vat of maple syrup, I would choose that as the glycemic index is lower. I avoid things like Agave and coconut sugar because it is very processed. I like dat reeeeeal shit.

sugar

When you get started and create a habit within a matter of a week or so it becomes more manageable. It isn’t always easy. Temptation is always there, but if you go into it thinking you are doing yourself a world of good and fueling your body to fight illness you will keep going. Your head has to be in the game and for so long mine wasn’t anywhere close. Dedication. Persistance. Commitment. Start over and over again if you have to, Lord knows I did.

I’m not even back into the swing of regular exercise yet. I don’t have a lot of time, but I need to make time when I can. I will go here and there and still love to challenge myself.

When you decide it is time to make a change, take your measurements around your body and have someone you trust take before pictures from all four sides (in your underoos), and take a picture of the scale. The number on the scale isn’t the end all be all to your success. How you feel and how your clothes fit are good indicators of change. This is how you will see results. Check your measurements every 6-8 weeks after you are really dedicated. When you see the results, it makes you want to keep going. When you keep going, you get more results. See what I’m getting at here? Have an accountability partner or group. Use tools like DietBet and bet against yourself to lose a certain amount in a certain time and win your own money back and more! Join my accountability group if you need support! Join Weight Watchers. Reach out! Track your food on My Fitness Pal and get a fitness tracker and have a goal # of steps per day. Take a walk if the weather is nice in the evening. Plan a weekend activity that involves moving around more. If you have the means, get a personal trainer, join a gym, take classes, and subscribe to meal prep services. I can help you meal plan with my services. WHATEVER IT TAKES TO GET YOU TO BE THE HEALTHIEST YOU.

Join me and BREAK ON THROUGH TO THE OTHER SIDE! It was farrrr too long that I got complacent with my journey to health. I am now less than 20 lbs to a normal and healthy BMI. I don’t put too much stock in that scale, but it feels good to know it’s attainable.

ingredient swaps

When it gets hard just know that I’m here! I promise to help you in any way I can to remind you that you are worth it. Your family wants you to be here a long time and feel your best. Help them feel that way too. I’m beyond grateful for the support I receive on a daily basis from my clan. Going it alone is never easy. I read books about people with similar journeys as my own, I am always on Pinterest looking up new recipes, and I love that I can go online to my support community when I struggle.

Start thinking about what you can change. Maybe it’s a salad at lunch. Maybe it’s no more coca cola. Maybe it’s laying off the bread at dinner. Find your motivation and you will find success. I know it.