Get In My Belly!

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What a difference 4 months can make!  Documenting your progress with pictures is so important, even if you are the only one that ever sees them.  You might not notice any changes over the course of a month, which might lead to discouragement or a sense of failure and disappointment.  However, when you put a picture side by side, a month apart, you might just amaze yourself!

I’m so very late with this post, I meant to post last Tuesday…but life.  Better late than never though…right? We started homeschooling my 11 year old son 2 weeks ago, and I’m still trying to figure out both our schedules, but that’s a blog post for another time.  In my blog post, Believing Is Achieving, I disclosed that one of my major goals for 2017 was to plan and prep meals more consistently and eat out less.  So far so good, but the year is young.  One of the products I purchased for myself that has been a game changer in our household – meal prep containers.

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Seriously, these cost me $20 for a pack of 20 and they have been working awesome for us.  My husband can pre-pack his lunches with either leftovers or I prep some meat and veggies for the week.  It makes it so much easier to grab something healthy for lunch or snack and resist the temptation to eat out because I’m too tired or busy to cook/make something.  I ordered mine thru Amazon, but I’m sure you could find them anywhere.  I prefer the 3 way containers, but they also come in 2.

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I can’t stress this enough.  If you remember nothing else that I ever say, remember these 2 things:

  1. Throw out your scale!  DO IT!
  2. EAT EAT EAT – stop dieting

I’m an emotional eater. I eat when I’m upset, bored, lonely, happy, angry, etc… You get the picture.  I shared with my nutritionist that I don’t actually remember the last time I was truly HUNGRY.  Dieting just made me feel deprived and angry.  Angry at what I perceived to be my failings.  Anger that I couldn’t be the kind of person to eat whatever I wanted, never exercise and stay magically thin and fit.  Anger led to binge eating, losing control and hating myself.  A vicious cycle I couldn’t seem to break.  One of the key things my nutritionist and therapist taught me was that food isn’t inherently good or bad.  It’s a mantra I live by now.

FOOD ISN’T INHERENTLY GOOD OR BAD

It’s about choices.  Some foods are better for you.  They have better benefits.  I feel better when I eat them.  Sometimes you just need that slice of cake or that piece of pie or bowl of ice cream.  My life is now a series of choices.  I know that an apple is better for me than a ding dong.  I know I need to fuel my body.  Once I changed my mindset, and food wasn’t a series of things I wasn’t ALLOWED to eat, my eating habits improved.  Improving my eating habits, filling my plate with nutritiously dense foods, fueled my body in ways that I could FEEL.  I found myself with more energy, both physical and mental.  My moods improved.  I wasn’t constantly filled with self-loathing.  I didn’t feel like a failure when I reached for the mega-stuffed Oreo.  I enjoyed the heck out of that Oreo, but I stopped at 1, instead of eating 6 or more.  I started to learn to love myself.  It’s a process, one in which I’m still evolving.  I’ve found new confidence and joy in my body and what it can do now that it couldn’t do before at almost 300 pounds.

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I’m willing to put myself out there and be vulnerable in sharing my journey.  If even one person understands that they are not alone, that I understand how they feel and that I am here to inspire, motivate or just love them through it, then putting myself out here – the good, the bad and the ugly – will have all been worth it.  My goal is health.  Healthy looks different on everyone, and I think that is beautiful.  I think YOU are beautiful.  I don’t have a goal weight.  I just have goals.  Society doesn’t dictate what beautiful means to me, I define it for myself and I embrace every scar, every stretch mark, every fabulous flaw because it’s the roadmap in my journey, in my beautiful life.

So what do I eat?

Snacks

A big part of my daily nutrition comes in the form of Shakeology by Beachbody.  I usually drink one as my afternoon snack.  The long hours between lunch and dinner are my most vulnerable.  If I’m going to reach for the Oreo or bag of Doritos, it’s during the interminable mid-afternoon.  I prefer the chocolate flavor.  It curbs my cravings, gives me a boost of energy to finish the day strong and fills me up till dinner.

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I also enjoy fruit, granola and trail mix for my snacking pleasure.  I’m a creature of habit, so I’ll typically have the same breakfast, lunch and snacks every day for weeks until I get bored, then I change things up.

BREAKFAST

This is an easy one, because I eat the same thing for breakfast every morning.

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And coffee.

Lots and lots of coffee.

And eggs.  I love eggs.

I vary what I put in my omelets, but I love me some eggs for breakfast.  I always add spinach, I’m not a huge vegetable lover, so I get them in however and whenever I can.  I might add turkey sausage or diced ham.  I’ll throw in some peppers and onions, a little cheese, different kinds every week.  Sometimes I add an avocado or fruit on the side.

And yes I eat the whole egg.  Yolk and all.

Lunch

Part of my meal prep for the week is grilling some chicken for easy go-to lunch choices during the week.

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A recent favorite of mine is the turkey, avocado and red pepper roll up!  So good!  And no I’m not anti-bread.  I LOVE bread.  It’s important to meet my protein goals every day, and that’s harder to do if I fill up on carbs, as lovely as they are and as much as I love them.

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Another lunch favorite is the quesadilla.  I eat this one quite a bit, it’s easy and I love a hot lunch.  I’ll add grilled chicken, spinach and peppers/onions to a whole wheat tortilla, sometimes throwing in some cheese or avocado.  The quesadilla is great because it’s a versatile choice, there are so many directions and iterations you could try to shake things up if you get bored easily with food.

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DINNER WINNER OF THE WEEK

First, I will share my list of favorite websites that I use religiously for recipes/ideas when I’m not using Pinterest.  Pinterest is pretty much my one-stop shop, but these websites are beautiful and have deliciously wonderful recipes.

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Our favorite dinner last week came from How Sweet It Is.  It wasn’t too difficult to make, I did throw in some cheats and I was able to prep most of it ahead of time to reduce actual cooking time.  It was a hit with the family, even the man-child, and he’s impossible to please these days.  It tasted even better reheated the next day.  I can’t wait to make it again!

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I mean seriously, how good does this look?  And I’m usually a Pinterest fail, so when my food (or project) comes out actually looking very similar to the fancy picture, I’m super stoked! Even admiring how pretty it looked, I was still afraid to taste it.  I would have curled in the fetal position, crying for days, if it hadn’t tasted as good as it looked.  Luckily, it did!  Here is the actual recipe.  I didn’t grill corn on the cob and shave it off, that’s too much work for me.  I just bought the Del Monte Fire Roasted Corn (yes, in the can).  I made the bacon ahead of time, crumbled it up and stored for later use.  I also kept the grease in a bowl and reheated it for cooking per the instructions.

A small serving of this tasty dish filled me up, but not in that uncomfortable food baby belly wear elastic pants kinda way.  I love it when a recipe comes together from kitchen to table like this one did for me.  It’s just the best feeling, especially when you aren’t the best cook in the world, like myself.

Anyway, I hope some or all of my suggestions work for you and your family.  Meal prepping really does help control poor eating habits and choices, not to mention all the money we’ve been saving not eating out.  It takes a bit of organization, planning and prepping but it’s so very worth it.  Try it!

It’s a game-changer, I promise ❤

So, I’m Basically Moses

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My Bible study this week has been focusing on Moses and the Exodus from Egypt.  This study couldn’t have come at a better time for me.  When God tasked Moses with liberating the Israelites, he was full of excuses about how it would NEVER work.  Moses was a bit of a whiner.  I’m not judging.  To judge Moses would be to judge myself.  Not that I think I’m ACTUALLY Moses reincarnated or anything like that (although…), just that I completely understand his fear and reticence towards the monumental task set before him.  Moses basically attempted to dissuade God in three primary ways:

  1. Moses didn’t believe in himself or think he was good enough.
  2. Moses was afraid people would doubt his authenticity or credibility.
  3. Moses believed himself to be a terrible public speaker.

I am 45 years old and still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up.  Well, that’s not exactly true.  I’ve always wanted to be a mother.  I’m not terribly ambitious.  I mean I can be super competitive, you probably don’t want to find yourself my adversary in a board or card game, but in the world of business, not so much.  I don’t have any desire to climb the corporate ladder or further my education.  I always knew I wanted children.  It’s the only life ambition I can ever recall truly wanting and craving.  Part of being a mother, meant helping to support our family, so working outside the home was a necessity.  I don’t have any regrets, but as I enter a new season in my life, I find myself floundering.

Our three girls are out of the house, adapting and thriving in a world outside of our little bubble.  We couldn’t be more proud of them.  Our son is only 10 and still living at home.  I don’t know where we went wrong with him.  I keep encouraging him to get a job and be a contributor in life, but he’s full of excuses (just like Moses).  Apparently, he’s under the impression that 10 is too young to work or drive.  I tell him he’s just not trying hard enough.

Obviously, I’m joking.

Or am I?

But seriously, most of the time, it’s just me and little man hanging out.  My husband (in addition to working 2 jobs) is in Seminary, completing his Masters of Divinity degree.  Unfortunately, we don’t see him as much as we’d like (never thought I’d say that!)  I’ve taken the last year off from working outside the home, choosing instead to focus on little man, my health, my faith, my husband and my girls.  We’ve focused these last few months on simplifying our lives.  We will be downsizing from 3600 square feet to 1300 square feet of living space in a few short weeks.  I feel like we are either selling or giving away our entire life and history, it’s both terrifying and exhilarating.  Like many people, we have entirely too much STUFF.

I’ve been looking into part-time jobs and opportunities, not having much luck or finding anything I’m truly excited about.  I feel lost and a little dejected if I’m being honest.  I’ve been channeling my inner Moses and whining to God about it.  I don’t do many things well, but I do think I’m a competent writer.  I haven’t figured out how to make money doing what I love, second only to motherhood.  I do feel I have a story to tell, and God has impressed this feeling onto my heart.  It’s scary to put yourself out there, metaphorically naked and under a spotlight.  I don’t like feeling vulnerable.  I’m embarrassed when I get complimented or even noticed.  I both crave and cringe that spotlight.  Maybe if I could keep my clothes on…?

As I read about Moses this week, I’m struck by his three excuses to God.  Why?  Because they sound so familiar!  Those same three excuses have been stuck on a loop in my head for months.

  1. I worry I’m not good enough
  2. I worry that people won’t like me or that I’ll annoy them
  3. I worry that I won’t be able to speak (write) confidently or authentically, that I will fall short and be judged harshly and found lacking

In short, I’m worried I will fail.

If you’ve followed my Instagram or Facebook posts lately, you’ll notice I’ve been posting more about my health and fitness journey. In my quiet moments of prayer and reflection, I feel like it’s this part of my journey that God wants me to share.  I keep making excuses and trying to ignore that little voice but it’s not going away.  I feel like there are so many people out there that have struggled with weight, poor self-image, terrible self-confidence and low self-esteem.  People who look at themselves in the mirror and feel shame, even hatred for the person looking back.  People who feel like they have tried EVERYTHING and nothing works.  People who have just given up, thrown in the towel, trying to convince themselves and others that it doesn’t matter anymore, that they don’t care.  People who are tired of failing.  Tired of feeling ashamed and judged.  People who find themselves spectators in their life instead of active participants.  People who just don’t feel good enough or that they measure up against the ideals of others, stuck in the perpetual cycle of despair and recrimination.

The other day, I shared my 21 day challenge group with all of you.  How it gave me new energy and focus, a sense of purpose and excitement.  My accountability group is comprised of an amazing group of women, who are motivated simply by helping and encouraging others.  I shared how in 21 days, I lost 3.5 inches overall.  I spoke briefly of how excited I am for my next challenge group to start.  In some ways, this group has given me a sense of belonging I didn’t even realize I was missing, a sense of purpose.

Over the last month, I’ve been reflecting and praying, listening hard for an answer.  What I didn’t realize was that it’s been in front of me all along, but I, like Moses, gave God a million excuses why I was the wrong person, at the wrong time, in the wrong place.  I will fail.  I can’t do it.  No one will listen.  No one will like me or relate to me.  I won’t find the words.  I’ll suck.  It will just be another thing in a long line of things that I’ve attempted to do that I’ve failed or given up on.  This time, I’ll fail publicly and spectacularly.  I’ll withdraw into myself again, gain all the weight back and feed on self-loathing, self-pity and cupcakes.

WOW.

For real though, this is the rabbit hole I find myself diving into, time and again.  I’ve worked so hard to change my thoughts.  Changing my thoughts has changed my behaviors.  Changing my behaviors has changed my perspective.  Changing my perspective has changed my life.

So I took the leap.

I decided to become a coach, a fitness consultant for Beachbody, run my own challenge groups, be a part of an amazing team,  and see if I can’t reach the people who struggle just like me, need the encouragement and motivation of someone who understands.  Someone who gets how hard it is.  Someone who has to fight for every pound or inch lost.  I’m living proof that perfection is not required, just a willingness to do the work, to show up, every single day.  Celebrating both scale and non-scale victories is sweeter when done with people who truly want the best results for you.  I love my challenge group because it’s not just about physical change.  There is a heart change, a mind change, a willingness to believe in yourself because other people believe in you and are walking alongside you, cheering you on.  Where I saw failure, I now see opportunity.  I’m excited to embark on my new journey, this new stage in my life.  I’m scared to share it.  I’m terrified of not living up to my own expectations.  I’m even more terrified of letting my team down. I feel I’ve found a beautiful way to share my journey, help others while doing what I love most, writing about it.  I will still write about other things, participate in my writing challenge groups, share my thoughts and insights, but I’m focusing my energies primarily on my health and fitness journey.  Even giving my blog and social media accounts a bit of a face lift, revitalizing my writing and sharing space with a new look and a new name.

I struggle with this concept that I could possibly know or understand what God wants for my life.  I know that in those quiet moments of prayer and reflection, this direction, this path feels right.  I feel God is telling me that I am the right person.  This is the right time.  And I’m in the right place.  ❤

If you are interested in hearing more about my next challenge group, please don’t hesitate to message me!  We have another one starting on November 14th (prep week starting on November 7th) and it’s going to be fantastic.  I’m beyond excited and I don’t get excited about exercise or eating healthy!  So you know it must be good.

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I hope I’m the mouse, not the frog 😛

HAPPY FRIYAY!  ENJOY THE WEEKEND ❤ 

Wickedly Fit – A Halloween Challenge

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“Take care of your body.  It’s the only place you have to live.” Jim Rohn

On Halloween, I completed day 21 of a fitness challenge I joined called “Wickedly Fit.”  I’m all about the packaging, and the title of this fitness challenge group was just too cute to pass up!

My health and fitness goals have been stagnate for awhile now.  I hadn’t gained any weight, but I hadn’t lost any either.  I could see the old patterns of behavior, poor eating choices and a sedentary lifestyle sneaking back into my daily life.

It scared me.

But not enough to take action.  Yet.

I’d been creeping on this one girl’s Instagram account.   I didn’t know her.  I’m not even sure how I ended up following her to be honest.  I loved reading her posts and seeing her photos.  She’s adorable, motivational and inspirational.  I wanted to be a part of whatever she was doing.  It took me 4 months to get up the courage to message her.  Our stories are vastly different, but one thing I’ve learned is that unhealthy means different things to different people and it isn’t always just a reflection of the number on the scale.  In fact, I don’t even have a goal weight anymore and I’m seriously considering throwing out my scale altogether, especially after seeing the results of this latest fitness challenge.

I finally found the courage to message her.  She immediately responded.  Her excitement and enthusiasm were contagious.  Before I even knew what happened, I was signing up for her fitness challenge. For the first time in months, I was thrilled about the prospect of working out and overhauling our pantry and fridge.  I know.  It was crazy.  I didn’t even recognize myself.

I’m not one to get excited about healthy eating or exercise.  Ever.  The only thing working out has ever made me want to do is nap.  I get endorphins for chocolate or Chick Fil A but not from exercise.  It had been just over a year since my Gastric Sleeve surgery.  The surgery had taken me as far as it could, the rest was going to be up to me.

I knew this.

I just didn’t want to know I knew this.

My highest weight recorded was 297 pounds.  I’ve never told anyone that number.  It took me 6 months to lose 10 pounds and that’s when I decided to look into Gastric Sleeve surgery.  When I decided to go in for surgery, I was down to 287.5 pounds.  The date was July 21, 2015.  My surgery date was August 19, 2015.  By January 2016, I was down to 216 pounds.  I lost 71.5 pounds in 6 months.  Unfortunately, there were side effects.  My hair thinned out, at an alarming rate.  I lost muscle and I found myself feeling low on energy and motivation.  My periods, while much improved, were still bad and irregular.  I lost another 10 pounds over the next few months, but by May of 2016, I had stalled out.  I didn’t exercise over the summer and I was starting to panic that I was going to eventually put all the weight back on.  Gastric sleeve surgery gave me an internal control over portion size, but I was filling up on all the wrong things and wasn’t getting the vitamins and nutrients my body needed.  I felt run down and worn out.  Not to mention, disgusted with myself.  Did I really put myself through all this only to quit, to fail?

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Was I going to be THAT girl again?

I hope not.

No, I definitely did not want to fail (nor did I want to see my chins having chins)!

So I gathered my courage and messaged this girl to find out what this Wickedly Fit program was all about.

I received access to a Facebook accountability group (my favorite part).  This group of women kept me going day after day.  They were positive and encouraging.  They were open and honest about their struggles and challenges.  We celebrated non-scale victories, participated in daily challenge questions/activities and posted all sorts of wonderful food porn (the clean and healthy kind).  I wasn’t intimidated by this group at all.  Quite the opposite in fact. I found myself sharing and opening up about my own struggles and daily challenges and even victories.  I found myself bolstered and encouraged and being a part of this special group of ladies gave me the motivation I needed to complete this 21 day challenge.

I also received a 30 day supply of Shakeology and the 21 Day Fix workout program and eating plan, complete with portion control containers.  This whole program is facilitated by Beachbody.  I was familiar with their programs, and had used them to bounce back in shape after my youngest daughter was born.  I knew they worked.  I knew it wasn’t a quick fix.  I knew it would take hard work and dedication on my part.

I was ready.

Sort of.

I mean, I paid for it.  So I’d better be ready.  I was nervous though…

Failure.  My biggest fear.  Always hovering over me like the Grim Reaper.  Whispering negative words of discouragement in my ear, making me doubt myself.  This particular demon has always plagued me, but I was learning to fight back.  I was learning to stifle and smother those negative thoughts and feelings.  I have good days and bad days.  Days when I see all that I have accomplished and days when I only see the ways in which I have failed. Before my surgery, I would binge eat those feelings.  Now, I binge watch Netflix.  Not quite the trade I should be making.  I know.  But still…a slight improvement.

The “before” picture was taken on Day 1 of the challenge and the “after” picture taken on the last day of the challenge.  21 days total.  I lost 3 1/2 inches overall.  I can definitely see subtle changes and I hope you see them too.  Naturally, I lost the most inches in my chest. Just proving that my boobs are the first thing to go when I lose weight.  Actually, despite losing 3 1/2 inches, I gained 3 pounds.  I weighed before I measured and I was devastated.  I almost didn’t even take my measurements, but I’m so glad I did.  I’ve never been one to record my measurements, but this 21 day challenge made a believer out of me.  I could see noticeable differences in how my clothes fit and how I felt that just wasn’t reflected on the scale.

It was a dark moment, and one that in the past I would have responded to by raiding the pantry.  Instead, I chose to reach out to my challenge group through Facebook.  Post my results and reveal what I considered to be a failure, the gaining of 3 pounds.  I’ve since adjusted my perceptions and I’m super proud of the 3 1/2 inches I lost.  I can’t wait for my next challenge group to start!  Despite what my scale would have me believe, I am transforming my body, making positive changes, gaining strength and confidence.

I’ve got this!

Today.

Tomorrow might be a different story.  But I’ll deal with tomorrow…tomorrow.

The last year of my life was about losing the weight and finding myself.  This next year, I want to focus on living a healthy lifestyle, strengthening my body, mind and soul in new and different ways.  Yes, I still have weight I want to lose, but I want to focus less on the scale and more on building strength and flexibility, pushing my body in ways I never imagined I’d be able to do again.  I want to transform myself physically, mentally and spiritually.  I want to develop attainable goals and then smash through them.  I want to redefine what beauty and success mean to me, not measured by what others think or believe, but about what works for me.

One day at a time.

I want to share my journey and experiences with others.  I draw strength from putting myself out there, as terrifying as it can be.  I hope that maybe someone reading this will be inspired or encouraged, reach out either to me or someone else.  I hope that maybe they won’t feel alone or afraid.  Our goals might be different.  Our struggles, challenges and motivations might be different.  At the end of the day, we all want to be the best versions of ourselves.  We all have desires, wants and needs.  Things we want to accomplish.  Let’s do it together ❤