Believing Is Achieving

“You must do the things you think you cannot do.” Eleanor Roosevelt

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I get a ton of questions daily about what I eat and what kind of exercise I do, so I thought I’d write today and share what I’ve found works for me.  I plan on making this an ongoing series, posting my workouts, meal plans and anything else I find motivational or inspirational.  I know that I love seeing other people post about their meal plans and exercise routines.  I love finding new recipes and ideas.  My idea of spicing up the kitchen is buying chicken with the skin on.  I know, I’m living life on the edge!  Be jealous.

I don’t know about you but I’d much rather think about food than politics or the state of the Union which has been filling up my social media feeds here lately.  All the scrolling to find videos of puppies and kittens and things that make me happy is exhausting lately and quite frankly should be counted as exercise. All that finger swiping has to be burning calories.  I’m going to google that…

Apparently there is an app that calculates how many tweet calories you burn.  An argument could be made that swiping, liking and commenting burns about the same amount of calories as tweeting.  The average, healthy person burns about 2.65 calories per minute.  It takes 23 seconds approximately to craft a 140 character tweet, which means that sending one tweet burns about 1.03 calories.  I don’t do math, so I’m not fact checking this information.  I can’t believe someone sat around trying to figure that out, but it came in handy today.

Anyway, I digress.  One of my major goals for 2017 is to meal plan/prep every week.  So far so good.  I’ve noticed by planning my meals each week, I’ve saved a ton of money and time.  I was literally going to the grocery story every day last year, spending roughly $30-$60 each visit.  More if I was at Target.  We also ate out more often, and I’ve been scaling that back to once a week, maybe twice at most.  Since meal planning/prepping, I’m spending about $150 per week, $600 per month on groceries, approximately.  Some weeks it’s a little higher, some a little lower.  I was spending $210 – $420 per week before.  That’s just ridiculous.  Sunday is my planning day and Monday is my shopping/prepping day.  I put little stars next to the meals that go over really well, and I have theme nights.

For example:

Meatless Mondays

Taco Tuesdays

Whimsical Wednesdays (when I try something new)

Thematic Thursdays (I look for dishes from other cultures/countries – Italian, Spanish, German, Chinese, etc…)

Fallback Fridays (old favorites, comfort foods)

Silly Saturdays (fun foods – like make your own pizza or finger foods only)

I don’t always stick to these themes, but it gives me a guidepost and makes it easier when I’m trying to plan to keep things new and different.  I usually incorporate at least one crockpot meal and I don’t cook on Sundays.

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I do not diet.  However, I do believe that what we do in the kitchen, dictates how successful we will be in creating healthier, fitter, happier versions of ourselves.  I follow the 80/20 rule.  80% of the time I follow a healthy, clean and wholesome food plan.  The 20% rule is because I love Chick Fil A, Girl Scout Cookies, Chocolate and wine and I don’t believe in deprivation.  I spent years abusing my body.  Starving.  Overeating.  Binge eating.  The word “die” is in diet for a reason.  It was literally killing me.  I’ve tried every diet out there and none of it worked long-term.  I worked with a nutritionist and therapist prior to my surgery and there is a reason they require it.  My relationship with food was detrimental to my mental, physical and emotional well-being.  I had to change the way I felt and thought about food or I would end up being another statistic.  I felt like surgery was a pretty drastic action, it wasn’t something I entered into lightly, and I didn’t want to put myself thru all of the this only to end up back where I started someday.

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I learned that food is neither inherently good nor inherently bad.  We assign values to food and it creates this unhealthy relationship.  We eat something “bad” and we beat ourselves up, feeling crappy and worthless and in my case, I’d end up just eating more “bad” food in this vicious cycle of self-loathing.  We embark on these crazy diets and fads, billions of dollars are spent every year, making the fitness/health industry one of the largest, yet we are still obese as a country on the whole and that number is rising every day.  There isn’t a magic formula or magic pill to lose weight or get fit.  If there was I definitely would have found it by now.  Losing weight also doesn’t mean losing fat.  The scale lies.  I threw out my scale and it was the best decision I ever made.

THROW OUT THE SCALE!

 You will be happier I promise.  Take your measurements, pay attention to how you feel, how your clothes feel and celebrate non-scale victories.  The scale will only make you miserable and obsessed, it is not an accurate measure of your success, failure or progress.  It doesn’t tell the whole story.  In fact, the scale tells “alternative facts”.  Cheeky I know, I went there.  Deal with it ❤

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How much do I eat?

Here is the other mistake many people (especially women) make when it comes to food and eating.  We don’t eat enough.  I KNOW!  Shocking, but true.  We are starving ourselves.  Our bodies need fuel, especially if you are working out.  I use the formula below to determine how many calories I should be consuming each day and I use the MyFitnessPal app (iPhone) to track my food.  I’m not super religious about tracking, mostly I use it to ensure I’m getting my protein each day.  I aim to get about 60+ grams of protein each day.  Then I balance out the rest of my diet with fruits/vegetables, whole grains, fats, etc.

What is your gender? Your Score: 1 or less – 1,200 – 1,499 calories
Female +1 2 – 1,500 – 1,799 calories
Male +2 3 – 1,800 – 2,099 calories
4 – 2,100 – 2,399 calories
What is your weight? 5 – 2,400 – 2,699 calories
130 lbs or less +1 6 – 2,700 – 2,999 calories
131-160 lbs +2 7 – 3,000 – 3,299 calories
161-180 lbs +3 8 or more – 3,300 – 3,599 calories
181 – 200 lbs +4
201 – 220 lbs +5
221 lbs + +6
What is your current activity level?
Inactive (desk job) -1
Moderate (server in a restaurant) 0
Very Active (construction worker) +1
What is your goal?
Lean out -2
Maintain Weight 0
Build Muscle +1
Total Score

You are wondering how I know how much I weigh if I threw out my scale.  Well, I still have to go to the doctor and they make me stand on it.  You’ll have some idea of how much you weigh, even if you don’t have a scale.

Make sure you are eating enough!

Exercise – I work out 4-6 days per week, depending on what is going on that week.  Never fewer than 4 days and never on Sunday.  What I do each day depends on my mood and how I feel.  Typically, I walk 4-5 days per week, 1-3 miles.  Currently, I am doing the T25 program thru Beachbody, which are 25 minutes in length and vary each day in terms of what is focused on (i.e. lower body, total body, cardio).  I also work to hit at least 10,000 steps per day.

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I don’t love exercise, and I won’t pretend that I do.  I do it because I do love how it is changing my body and how strong it makes me feel.  I do it because I don’t want to gain the weight back, and I still have inches I want to lose.  I do it because I know how bad not doing it makes me feel.  I can’t and won’t go back there.  I wish there was another way, an easier way.  But there is not.  You have to move your body and fuel it with wholesome and nutritious foods.  It takes so much longer to take it off than it does to put it on, which is horribly unfair.  Alas, it’s the way it is and that won’t change.  Find what motivates and inspires you.  Make exercise a daily task or to-do on your list, schedule it on your calendar. Whatever you need to do to make working out and YOU a priority.  You deserve it.  You need it.  You’ll be a better person for it.

I promise.

I’m here for you.  We can do this together.  We’ve totally got this!

Next time, I’ll share meal prep ideas, meal plans and recipes.  Let me know if there is anything I can do to help you, inspire you, motivate you.

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 ❤ 

The Scale: A Love/Hate Relationship

Use Your Words

“Permanence, perseverance and persistence in spite of all obstacles, discouragements, and impossibilities: It is this, that in all things distinguishes the strong soul from the weak.” Thomas Carlyle

Today’s post is a writing challenge. This is how it works: participating bloggers picked 4 – 6 words or short phrases for someone else to craft into a post. All words must be used at least once and all the posts will be unique as each writer has received their own set of words. That’s the challenge, here’s a fun twist; no one who’s participating knows who got their words and in what direction the writer will take them. Until now.

My words are:

flowers ~ showers ~ puddles ~ kittens ~ apples and bananas

They were submitted by: http://spatulasonparade.blogspot.com

At the end of this post you’ll find links to the other blogs featuring this challenge. Check them all out, see what words they got and how they used them.

My weight loss update is a week late this month.  I debated talking about it at all.  When I last checked in, I weighed 208lbs.  I purposefully only weigh once per month.  I don’t want to be a slave to my scale like I’ve been in the past, allowing the number seen there to determine my course on that particular day.  If I was a pound down, I’d celebrate by being lax on my diet or exercise.  If I was up a pound, I’d be filled with self-loathing and soothe myself with poor food choices.  Things I knew I shouldn’t eat, telling myself it didn’t matter anyway.  Allowing myself to spiral out of control which fed the negative internal dialogue running day and night through my mind, on a loop.  It was a vicious cycle that destroyed my self-confidence, gave credence to all the bad things I felt about myself and sabotaged any progress I might have made up to that point.  I knew it was one of the many behaviors/habits that I would have to change after my surgery.

Before I stepped on the scale on April 5th, I was so excited!  I just knew I was finally going to be entering the promise land.  I was going, for the first time in over 10 years, to be under 200lbs.  I was giddy.  My stomach filled with nerves and the butterflies of excitement.  I stripped down naked that morning and practically jumped on the scale, squeezing my eyes shut, counting to 10 before prying one eye open and glancing down.

WHAT!?!?!??!?!  NOOOOOOOOOO!  THAT CAN’T BE RIGHT!  Oh, I forgot to take my ponytail holder out of my hair, that is clearly the explanation.  Stepping off the scale, I rip that black rubber monstrosity out of my hair, and move towards the scale again.  Wait!  Maybe I need to pee.  I mean I already went, but there could be some more hanging out there in my bladder.  Right?  Seems legit.  I took my wedding rings off too, just to be safe.

I gently step on the scale again, closing my eyes tight.  I send up a quick prayer.  I wasn’t being greedy, I would have been ecstatic for a 199 lbs. I just wanted to be in ONEDERLAND! I’d also like to weigh less than my husband, but when he tops out at a buck fifty soaking wet, well… If he had been there, I probably would have punched him in the face.  Misdirected rage to be sure, but I might have felt better.  A little.  For a bit.  Maybe.  I’m already feeling a tad better just thinking about it…in slow motion, over and over.  Amazing what imagining a little physical violence can do for a girl. I can handle that number, whatever it is.  Come what may, I open my eyes and look down.

Spittin’ kittens.  That’s how mad I was when I looked down for the second time.  I never really understood that phrase, but it works here, so I’m going with it.

201 lbs

When I started this journey, I knew it wouldn’t be all flowers, rainbows and unicorn showers.  I knew the surgery wasn’t a miracle cure or a quick fix.  I knew I’d have to work hard, and it would take time and perseverance.  I knew that my attitude about my success and failures would determine the ultimate outcome and that I’d have to change the behaviors that brought me to 287 pounds in the first place.  I’ve lost a total of

86 pounds!

I’ve accomplished so much already.  I know logically I have so much to be proud of and I am proud of myself and how far I’ve come.  I don’t think I’m alone in judging my success or failure based on that stupid number on the scale.  I hate that I can’t seem to find a way to celebrate my successes without beating myself up with the things I didn’t do or accomplish.  Sometimes all I can see are the things I failed to do. I find it at times paralyzing and blinding, eclipsing the positive, dimming my joy.  I can’t see the 7 pound loss.  I just see those 2 pounds keeping me from 199.

It was a rough week.  I just want all this excess weight to fall off into puddles around my feet, so I can kick it all away, never to be seen again. In the past, I would have let this disappointment control me.  I would have chosen the cookies and pizza over the apples and bananas.  I would have sunk into despair, beating myself up.

I was angry.

I was disappointed.

I allowed myself to feel everything I was feeling.  I didn’t bottle it up.  I didn’t use food to self-medicate.  I didn’t throw myself on the couch, binge watching Netflix, hooked up to a chocolate IV with a jug of wine at my side.  I was pissed.  I felt cheated.

I got over it.  It took a few days, I won’t lie.  Things got a bit dark.  It was actually anger over something else and a lesson at church that delivered me out of my funk.  I was at church.  I hadn’t had breakfast, and I was starving, so I grabbed a blueberry donut, then I went to make myself a cup of coffee.  I’m standing in the little kitchenette juggling my donut, trying to pour myself a cup, when these two women came in.  I don’t know them.  They are having a conversation about shoes or something.  Then the one lady looks over at me, and says,

“At least I managed to avoid the donuts today…”

The tiny bite I had taken turned to ash in my mouth.  I just stood there, as they continued to talk around me about eating healthy.  I blinked my eyes quickly to stop the tears building up.  I don’t think she meant to food shame me, but everything I’d been feeling throughout the week, just bubbled up and hit me all at once.  I felt once again like that 287 pound girl, guilty and ashamed.  I hate that feeling.  I never want to feel that way again.  Ever.  I threw that donut away and walked to my Sunday School class.  Angry.  Frustrated.

Our lesson that day was about how God is always with you, and an analogy from the movie “The Bear” was used.  It’s a movie about an orphan bear cub that gets adopted by an adult male bear and follows their adventures, it came out in 1988.  There was a scene where the baby bear runs into this mountain cat that wants to eat him and he raises himself up and lets out this tiny baby bear growl.  The mountain cat hunches down and slinks away.  Baby bear is feeling all proud of himself.  What he can’t see is his friend, the ginormous adult male bear, standing behind him, raised up and roaring, scaring the cat away.  We are the baby cubs and God is always behind us, helping us fight our demons, our battles, chasing them away with his strength and power, awe and might.  We don’t always see Him, and we think we are alone, and we forget to lean on Him, trust in Him.  We try to take control and handle things ourselves, forgetting that He’s always behind us, ready to push us or catch us.  Always meeting us where we are with what we need.

I’d forgotten.  I’d allowed myself to wallow in self-pity.  I’ve lost 86 pounds!  86 pounds! I’ve already done more than I ever imagined I could do.  I didn’t do it alone.  Not only has God been beside me, behind me and in front of me, but He sent friends.  All of you people that cheer me on, encourage me, love on me and pray for me.  I couldn’t do any of this without you.  Thank you.  Thank you for believing in me when I couldn’t believe in myself. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

It was the encouragement I needed at the exact time I needed it.  My mood lifted.  The sun came out.  7 more pounds down.  I patted myself on the back.  I’ll get to ONEDERLAND.  It will be glorious, all the more so not in spite of the hard work, ups and downs, successes and failures, but because of them.

“Patience and perseverance have a magical effect before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish.” John Quincy Adams

Links to the other “Use Your Words” posts:

 

http://bakinginatornado.com

http://www.southernbellecharm.com

http://notthatsarahmichelle.blogspot.com

http://spatulasonparade.blogspot.com

http://www.angrivatedmom.wordpress.com

http://www.thediaryofanalzheimerscaregiver.com/

http://dinoheromommy.com/

http://www.someoneelsesgenius.com

http://thethreegerbers.blogspot.ch

http://batteredhope.blogspot.com

http://climaxedtheblog.blogspot.com

http://berghamchronicles.blogspot.com

 

Wishful Shrinking

“The beauty of a woman must be seen from in her eyes, because that is the doorway to her heart, the place where love resides.” Audrey Hepburn

The other morning, leaning over to reach into my dresser, I felt something brush against my upper thigh, which quite startled me.  I looked down expecting to see some terrifying rabid rodent with ginormous teeth, but no…  It was just my boob.  A dose of humility is always a great way to start the day.

Another month has come and gone since I last updated my weight loss progress.  Here is the first set of pictures I took in January:

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and current pictures:

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I thought the towel turban was a nice touch this time.  I have a thigh gap!  You might need a magnifying glass and a little imagination but it’s there!  I have a mental picture now of everyone leaning into the screen scrutinizing the area around my crotch trying to find my minuscule thigh gap.  I’m feeling super awkward.  Ok, you can stop staring now.  Trust me, it’s there.

My current weight is:

208 lbs

I’m down another 5.7 lbs bringing my total weight loss to:

79.5 lbs

I’m so close to “ONEderland” that I can taste it, and it tastes good!

I definitely see the results in my face.  At my heaviest (287 lbs), I remember catching my reflection in a mirror and being shocked at the person staring back at me.  Feeling trapped inside yourself is the worst feeling ever.  Viewing yourself under the distorted lens of disgust, shame and embarrassment is a burden far heavier than the actual weight you carry.  I felt like me, but when I would see myself in a reflective surface, I experienced a moment of confusion trying to work out who the person was looking back at me.

That can’t be me.

I don’t look like that.

Do I?

I do.  I did.

Recently, the cover choice of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition made news featuring the 1st ever “plus-size” model, Ashley Graham.  According to Google, Ms. Graham is 5 ft and 9 in tall and weighs 201 lbs.  Her BMI is 29.7. Her measurements are 42-30-46.  I don’t know how often she works out or what she eats.  I don’t know her cholesterol or blood pressure.  I can’t really draw any conclusions about her overall health or physical condition, nor do I want to.

Is she beautiful?  Absolutely.

Is she healthy?  I don’t know.

Did my husband think I was beautiful at 287 lbs?  Absolutely.

Was I healthy?  Absolutely not.

Beauty comes in all sizes, shapes and colors.  Beauty can’t be measured by a number on the scale.  Beauty is subjective. Inner beauty eclipses physical beauty.  We were all made in God’s image.  We are all beautifully unique.  Differences should be celebrated. Beauty should be discovered in the things we do, the actions we take for one another or on behalf of one another. We allow social industry to define what is beautiful and then judge ourselves and others harshly when we don’t live up to these ideals.  We create buzz words like “fat shaming” or “skinny shaming” to condemn others and ourselves for accepting an image we all helped create and perpetuate. Beauty can be found in unexpected places and people.  A smile.  A laugh.  A sunset.  A kind word.  A kind deed.

Every person is distinctly beautiful with qualities, elements and attributes that make them uniquely diverse.  Diversity is beautiful.

Can you be overweight/underweight and healthy?  That is a different question entirely.  One that perhaps cannot be judged from the outside looking in, but still an important distinction.

Health can be measured.

Being overweight or obese creates a greater risk for heart disease, high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes, stroke, sleep apnea, reproductive issues, and more.

Being underweight creates a greater risk of a weakened immune system, fragile bones, anemia, fertility issues and more.

Health is important.  We treat the question of beauty and health as if they are mutually exclusive.  My husband told me daily I was beautiful, but he worried for my health, because of my weight.  He believed me to be beautiful but he also knew my weight was unhealthy. Weight isn’t the only factor in determining health either.  There is emotional health, physical health and spiritual health.  Many factors influence how healthy we are in all aspects and areas of our life.  These are things that can’t always be judged or measured by just looking at someone.

I feel guilty that even though I treated my body like a toxic waste dump, I stayed surprisingly healthy.  I think of those that eat right, exercise, do all the things they are supposed to do and then walk away from a doctor’s appointment with a dreaded life altering diagnosis.  In my mind, I imagine them sitting next to me at a restaurant.  How they must look at me.  How I would have looked at me.  Why does she get to walk around healthy, treating her body so poorly and shamefully?

My health is a gift.  A gift I took for granted.  A gift I abused.  I’m blessed to have been given the chance to change my outcome.  I don’t want to screw this up, which is why I blog about it.  To hold myself accountable.

God gave us this incredible vessel and it’s our responsibility to care for it, to the best of our ability.  I failed to do this and I’ve suffered for it.  Those around me have suffered for it.  My children have suffered for it.  I’ve passed down a legacy of poor self-image, self-doubt and shame. What do they see when they look in the mirror?  How much have I contributed to the lens they each use to view themselves, both positive and negative thoughts and does one outweigh the other and which one?  These thoughts keep me up at night.  They are my biggest cheerleaders and support system outside of my husband.  I’m not fighting to be thin or a certain size or shape.  I am fighting to be healthy.  I want to be an integral part and active participant of their whole lives and the lives of their children and grandchildren and God willing, great-grandchildren.

I haven’t always gotten it right. I don’t pretend any differently with my children.  When I screw up, I say I screwed up.  I apologize.  I make it right.  I hope that while they will never see perfection, they will see someone who never gave up.  Someone who learned from her mistakes and wasn’t too proud or ashamed to ask for forgiveness, admit to being wrong, seek to repair and rebuild.  I want them to know how much I love them, not just in word but in deed.  I want them to know that I learned to love myself.  Not just the good parts either.  I want them to know that I became someone who looked in the mirror, and liked what she saw.  Loved, even.  I want them to be proud of me and to know that I’m proud of myself.  I haven’t always handled my struggles and failures with grace.  In some ways, I hope to serve as a cautionary tale to my children.  Time is short.  Time is precious.  Don’t be afraid to take on life’s challenges.  Learn from your mistakes and move on.  Be unique.  Be special.  Just be you.  Above all, I hope they always know how much they are loved. Forever and always.

I use self-deprecation and humor to address issues I find painful or difficult.  I’ve turned making fun of myself into an art form.  I don’t love my loose skin, cellulite or stretch marks.  I probably never will.  I cope by using humor.  I’ll make fun of myself, beat everyone else to the punch.  Internal dialogue is much harder to change than physical appearance.  My body is less a wonderland and more like a carnival, complete with fun house mirrors, sideshow acts and sketchy rides.  My boobs might droop to the ground but at least they don’t rest on my stomach any longer.  Progress!  I can see my feet again without having to suck in while bending forward.  See what I mean!  Poking fun of myself has become as natural as breathing.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished.  I can’t believe I’ve lost the equivalent of a 6th grader when it comes to weight.  While I do want to change how I see myself, I love that I don’t take myself too seriously.  I enjoy my sense of humor and make myself laugh all the time.  Sometimes at myself, but that’s ok.  The weight signified some serious emotional baggage, and I’m working thru it.  Perfection is not the goal.  Humor isn’t a mask I wear anymore, it comes from a genuine place of joy.  Joy in the space I now find myself.  Joy in how far I’ve come.  Joy in the little things I took for granted.  Joy in the big things I failed to see but now find opened before me.  Joy in the faith I thought I’d lost forever.  Joy in the fact that God never gave up on me. Joy in the fact that my husband and kids didn’t give up on me. Joy in the fact that I didn’t give up on myself.

I can’t change my mistakes or the errors in judgment I’ve made over the years.  I haven’t always been the mother my children deserved.  Or the wife my husband deserved. Or the faithful servant God wanted me to be.  I’ve found unspeakable beauty in the power of forgiveness.  In forgiving myself. In being forgiven.  In forgiving others. I took the path of most resistance.  It was mostly uphill.  In the snow. And darkness.  I might have also been naked…

However, I feel like I’m standing in the sun now, and the view is beautiful.

ONEDERLAND HERE I COME!  

“There is a kind of beauty in imperfection.” Conrad Hall   

Please, Don’t Pass The Chocolate…

“Today is Valentine’s Day, or as men like to call it, Extortion Day.” Jay Leno

I’ve mentioned in previous blog posts that my husband and I don’t really “do” Valentine’s Day.  We usually get something for the kids, a small box of chocolates or an inexpensive gift.  As a rule, I love any excuse to holiday and buy gifts.  Valentine’s Day is just not a holiday I’ve ever been able to get behind or support.  Truth be told, it kinda makes me rage.

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So why am I writing a blog post about it?  Good question.  Call me a masochist I suppose (I’ve been binge watching Criminal Minds, and as a result have found myself interjecting profiling terms in every day conversation…I caught myself using narcissistic the other day, and no, I wasn’t talking about my husband 😉 ).

Today’s post is a part of a series from “Blog With Friends”, which is a collaborative effort.  Each month, a group of bloggers publish a project based upon a specific theme or idea.  The projects are diverse, special and unique to each blogger, every month is different. The theme for February is Romance.  You can find the links to the other bloggers and their projects listed at end of this post.

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Initially, I wanted to write a book review.  Reading is a major hobby of mine, but I had a difficult time finding the “perfect” book and then worried that even if I found it, I wouldn’t have enough time to read it.

I was running out of time.

I’m not particularly crafty.  I can’t cook or bake.  I can’t even sew on a button.  But as I mentioned before, I do like to holiday and buy gifts.  An idea was born…  Gifts!  Gift ideas for Valentine’s Day, specifically non-food related.  I can do this!

If you’ve read previous blog posts, then you know that I have lost almost 80 pounds and looking to lose about 70 more pounds.  Holidays and times of celebration are difficult for me because they usually center around food.  Valentine’s Day is certainly no exception.

Here are some fun Valentine’s Day facts for you (courtesy of stvalentinesday.org):

  • More than 36 million heart-shaped boxes of chocolate are sold for Valentine’s Day each year
  • Approximately 8 billion candy hearts will be produced
  • On average, men spend $130 each on candy, cards, flowers, dates and jewelry.  That is more than double what women spend.
  • About 1 billion Valentine’s Day cards are exchanged each year, 2nd only to Christmas
  • Worldwide, over 50 million roses are given each year (most will be imported from South America)

Between Super Bowl Sunday and Valentine’s Day, I would venture to guess that most New Year Resolutions are broken or severed, nothing but a mere memory until next December 31st.

Speaking of broke, at this point, we are still recovering from Christmas. The thought of spending an average of $130 per person on gifts for Valentine’s Day just seems ridiculous to me.  Personally, I think there are a thousand FREE ways to show someone you love them throughout the year, and will probably mean much more to your significant other than a box of chocolates or a dozen red roses on a big business designed and fabricated holiday.

However, I promised non-food gift ideas, so non-food gift ideas you shall receive.  I did not say they would be good ideas though, so reader beware.

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According to the History Channel, Valentine’s Day may attribute its beginning roots to the Pagan Festival “Lupercalia”.  During this fertility festival, goats would be sacrificed (along with dogs for purification) by the priests.  The hides of the goats were made into strips and dipped in blood.  These bloody goat hide strips would be taken to the streets and used to gently slap women.  The women of this time believed that the touch of the goat hides would make them more fertile in the coming year.

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I wouldn’t recommend slapping your significant other with bloody goat hide strips but there are several organizations, like heifer.org where you could gift a goat in the name of your beloved, these donations help feed children, empower women and families or provide goods and services, like medical supplies or education.  The gift would have historical significance and practical application, a gift that truly keeps on giving.  Not as romantic perhaps as having a star named after you, but the impact such a gift makes on the lives of others is worthy of consideration.

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Charles, the Duke of Orleans, wrote a poem to his wife in 1415 while he was imprisoned in the Tower of London.  It’s credited with being the 1st hand written valentine.  I think love letters or poems make excellent gifts.  I wouldn’t model the poem Charles wrote for his wife, it was a bit dark and melancholy, might not quite set the romantic tone, I mean he was imprisoned at the time.  There is no cost to this gift idea.  It’s a great way to celebrate all the things you love, respect and admire about your beloved and a gift they will keep forever, passing down to future generations, a time capsule of your relationship. There are some very famous love letters if you need inspiration:

  • Napoleon to Josephine
  • Richard Burton to Elizabeth Taylor
  • Elizabeth Barrett to Robert Browning
  • Beethoven to his Immortal Beloved
  • Winston Churchill to Clementine
  • Oscar Wilde to Lord Alfred Douglas
  • Johnny Cash to June Carter Cash
  • Abigail Adams to John Adams
  • Gerald Ford to Betty Ford

Just to name a few…

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It is considered lucky to be woken on Valentine’s Day with a kiss.  You could surprise your beloved with a day of pampering.  His/her massages and/or pedicures.  Fill a bathtub with coconut oil and drops of lavender, light some candles, play some music.  Use this day to remind you both that relationships must be intentionally cultivated.  Set aside time for quiet togetherness, reading or watching a movie you’ve both wanted to see.  Play a game.  Sometimes the best gifts are the ones that are shared.  Shared experiences create memories which last a lifetime.

You could make a video valentine for your love, like this one:

Screams romance doesn’t it?  Or something…  Seriously though, I love those Snapchat filters, they provide hours of entertainment for me.  I’m not sure my husband would agree though…

You could explore how other countries celebrate Valentine’s Day.  Use their traditions or customs to make your own.  Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to mean romantic love, you could include kids, family and/or friends.

My motto this year is “The Family That Works Out Together, Stays Together.”  There are St. Valentines themed races in almost every major city, spend the day as a family walking/running a 5k or a 10k if you’re feeling ambitious.  Take a walk or hike, explore nature.  Ice skating is a fun family activity if nature is still hidden under snow in your neck of the woods. Check out local events in your area, most cities have plenty of weekend ideas and activities for the whole family, friends and couples.  Many museums have Valentine’s Day themed art exhibits.  Many of these events are offered free of charge to the general public.

My favorite products are the ones you can buy that benefit charities, for example:

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  • MiiR BPA free water bottles – $1 from every bottle purchased provides one person in need with clean drinking water for one year.
  • UNICEF Market sells a variety of gifts, clothing, jewelry and more to benefit children in need.
  • Stone & Cloth sells totes, backpacks, iPad cases and journals supporting education for children living in impoverished conditions.
  • Shopping For A Change is a global marketplace that benefits the artisans themselves, mostly women from economically disadvantaged regions.
  • Peacekeeper Cause-Metics donates all distributable profits to women’s rights and health issues.
  • Kiehl’s gives back to local communities and charities that fund HIV/AIDS education and research, well-being of children and environmental stewardship.

There are so many philanthropic companies out there producing and selling a variety of products, home goods and services, I can’t possibly list them all here.  With a little research, I’m sure the perfect gift could be found with the added benefit of helping others.

Being thoughtful and romantic doesn’t have to cost money, and I don’t know about you, but it’s usually the gifts my kids and husband made for me that are the most memorable and treasured.

If Valentine’s Day is something you celebrate and gifts are expected, be creative, be thoughtful, be romantic.  Decide what those aspects mean to you and your significant other and plan accordingly.  Roses, candy and a card might be traditional and customary, but this year try and think outside the box (of chocolates), really think about what your significant other would enjoy.  Maybe it’s as simple as a clean house, a quiet day or an extra hour of sleep.  Valentine’s Day is the perfect day to show your beloved that you pay attention, that you listen and whatever you decide to do or give should reflect that knowledge and awareness.

DISCLAIMER FOR MEN:  Just because she says she wants to work out more, doesn’t mean you go out and buy her a fitbit or gym membership, unless she EXPRESSLY asks for it.  Don’t buy her a mop because you noticed the other one is ratty and torn.  Don’t buy her kitchenware unless she specifically requested such an item.  These examples are NOT the kind of knowledge and awareness I’m talking about.  If all else fails, call in reinforcements and ask for help.   Or it could be a very dark and melancholy Valentine’s Day indeed.

DISCLAIMER FOR WOMEN:  Just kidding, we don’t need disclaimers 😛

I tried to keep my ideas gender neutral, applicable to both men and women.  This is probably the worst gift guide ever but hopefully I inspired at least some of you, if not inspired then perhaps you learned something you didn’t know before.

“If you only have one smile in you give it to the people you love.” Maya Angelou

Hug someone you love today ❤

The theme is romance, enjoy my other blogger friends and their individual projects.

Baking In A Tornado

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Someone Else’s Genius

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Spatulas On Parade

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The Lieber Family

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Cluttered Genius

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Home on Deranged

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Highway to Health

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“You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face… You must do the thing you think you cannot do.” Eleanor Roosevelt

My biggest fear is fear of failure.

My weight was never about the number on the scale or what size clothes I wore or trying to conform to a cultural ideal.  My weight was an outward representation of how I felt on the inside.

My weight became my excuse.

My excuse to withdraw from life, to hide.

The worse I felt about myself, my circumstances, the more weight I put on, which made me feel even worse, creating this pattern of cyclical despair.  I felt sorry for myself and every pound represented that self-pity.  I wasn’t just physically unhealthy, I was emotionally unhealthy.  I felt abandoned in my self-imposed exile.

My weight was a way to keep everyone at a distance.  I felt shame.

Shame that I allowed myself to spin so far out of control.  The more shame I felt, the higher the walls I built around myself.  Every pound was a virtual brick, shame the mortar holding it all together, higher and higher the wall grew almost with a life of its own.  I felt trapped by my own inadequacy to make impactful change.  I felt paralyzed by fear.

Fear of failure.

Every diet or exercise program I attempted ended with me gaining more weight.  The weight gain or failure to lose pounds fueled my negative internal dialogue.  It was simply a matter of self-control, of which I clearly had none.  Why keep trying?  I can’t do it. I’ve tried.  I’m tired of failing. The biggest lie of all that I told myself, “I can learn to be happy at this weight”.  Why should I try to live up to some unrealistic societal expectation?  Look at so and so, she’s fat but rich, famous and seemingly happy.  I don’t care what I look like or how much I weigh.  It doesn’t matter.  It’s just a number on a scale.  Why am I putting so much emphasis and importance on it.  Let it go.

My walls appeared to be constructed out of indifference and self-deprecation but truly they were born out of depression, fear and loneliness.  I lost my faith, my way…myself.

I was a spectator of my own life, not an active participant.

I can’t pinpoint exactly when I flipped the script.  I know the decision to have Gastric Sleeve surgery was the beginning.

Every pound lost is a huge victory for me, emotionally and physically.  I haven’t gained any weight since my surgery, but I certainly have had weeks when I didn’t lose any.  I feel disappointment, but instead of letting that spiral into feelings of failure and seeking comfort in the pantry or fridge, I’ve learned to accept, adapt and let go.

However, whoever said nothing tastes as good as being thin feels must never have tried the Honey Butter Chicken Biscuit from Whataburger. I have a love/hate relationship with food.  I’ll never strictly view food as a source of nutrition or fuel, for me it’s also about comfort and solace.  I eat when bored, upset and/or angry.  Food and I are frenemies.  At times it’s my best friend, other times my mortal enemy.  Food and I will never have a normal relationship, my success is dependent on recognizing this fact and learning alternative methods to deal with my emotions, both positive and negative.  I have good days and bad days.  Days where I struggle and find myself standing in the pantry waging this internal war.  Some days I win.  Other days I lose.  Every day is a new day.  I don’t beat myself up anymore, instead I’ve learned to celebrate every victory, no matter how small.

I have learned to appreciate views like these on my hikes –

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I’m an active participant in my life again, and it feels glorious.  I celebrate getting to experience days like these with my children –

We laughed so hard, I nearly peed myself.  Actually, I might have a little…

LIFE IS GOOD!

I started this journey at 287.5 pounds.  My BMI was 49.34.

Last month, I checked in at 220.2 pounds.

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Today, I weighed in at 213.4 pounds. My current BMI is 36.6.

Over the last month, I’ve lost 6.8 pounds.

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I can’t really see the 6.8 pounds lost in these photos, but I can feel it, in how my clothes fit and in how I feel.  Every pound I lose gives me more energy and more encouragement.  I’m still kicking myself that I didn’t take pics before my surgery.  Oh well.  I may not remember what I looked like, but I’ll never forget how I felt and I never want to feel that way again.  Plus, I’ve kept my size 26 pants.  I put them on occasionally, and I can still remember those days when they felt tight.  I smile at how far I’ve come.

Total pounds lost:  74.1

My BMI dropped 12.74.  I’ve added years to my life, both in quantity and quality.

I learn something new about myself every day.  I am constantly looking for new ways to challenge myself.  I’ve come such a long way and it feels great to say that I’m super proud of myself.  My journey is far from over and I’d be lying if I said I can’t wait to hit “ONEderland.”  I don’t remember the last time I weighed in the 100’s.  I’ll have another update for you in a month!

“The most authentic thing about us is our capacity to create, to overcome, to endure, to transform, to love and to be greater than our suffering.” Ben Okri

Just Keep Cooking…

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My second objective in 2016:

FOOD 

Specifically, eating healthier, cooking more and eating out less, trying new things.  I know I sound like millions of other New Year hopefuls.  I’ve certainly made this pledge/resolution many times before, with little or no success.  My surgery last year was a game changer for me, but the second half of my weight loss journey is going to be harder than the first half, I know this and I’m prepared.  I’ve already made so many positive changes, but as I’ve mentioned before, I’m an emotional eater.  Eating is hardly ever about hunger for me.  I wish I was the kind of person that could go out to eat and order from the “skinny” menu, but I’m not.  I wish I was the type of person that could bypass the chocolate and pick up the apple instead, but I’m not.  Now, I might dip the apple in chocolate…does that count?  What if it’s dark chocolate?  Mmm chocolate covered strawberries or those Dove dark chocolates with sea salt and caramel or ice cream topped with chocolate fudge magic shell…  The point is I love food.  I love eating.  However, I do not love cooking.

Digging back through my archives, I found these two little gems, which I think accurately depict my love/hate relationship with cooking.

http://mybrainonkids.net/2012/09/03/french-cooking-with-a-redneck-twist/

http://mybrainonkids.net/2010/03/11/the-skinny-on-the-french/

I want to love it, I truly do.  I want my avocados to look like this on my plate after I slice them:

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Instead, they look like this:

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I mean seriously.  I post my food pics to Instagram with the hashtag “foodporn”, but honestly it’s a horror show, and I should probably use the hashtag “myfoodpicsmakeyouwanttonevereatagain”.  Also, I suck at hashtags.

One of my objectives for this year is to try new foods.  I’m infamously picky.  For some people, trying new foods may sound exotic or exciting, but I’m over here like “hey, I’ve never eaten a Mango.”

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Alaskan Cod with Jasmine Rice and mango-ginger-mint salsa

Also, my foods are always from the same color family.  But hey!  Now I’ve had mango.  I wasn’t impressed.  Sorry mango.  It’s not you, it’s me.  I overcooked the fish too.  I didn’t have an exact recipe for this, and apparently not all fish cooks the same, and I can’t just wing it.  I need specific, detailed cooking instructions complete with pics.  Even then, it’s touch and go.  The odds are never in my favor.

I’m also an extremely lazy cook.  I look for recipes that have the least number of steps, which is why I love my crockpot or recipes where I can use cheats.  It’s been really cold here the last week or so, a good time for soup.  I wanted something a little heartier than Campbell’s chicken noodle soup.  Thank goodness for Pinterest!  Those who can’t…Pin.  I could waste spend a whole day Pinteresting.  This recipe was easy, very few steps and I could use my favorite cheats.

Cheat #1: Onions and Celery

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They sell them already chopped and diced!  Granted much more expensive than buying a small onion and 2 celery stalks and chopping it myself, but I save like 5 minutes or more and a finger!  FIVE MINUTES!  Do you know how much Bill Gates earns in 5 minutes?  $34,200!!!  Give or take.  He makes about $114 per second.  I mean, I don’t make Bill Gates money obviously, but that’s not the point.  FIVE MINUTES SAVED!  And a finger.

Cheat #2: Garlic

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You can buy it already minced or chopped!  I assume that 1 clove minced is equal to 1 teaspoon, I’ve never actually measured it out and if I’m wrong, please don’t tell me.  Ignorance is indeed bliss.  The recipe called for 2 cloves, minced, so 2 teaspoons it is!

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This recipe was great because it said that I needed to sauté the onions and celery (and carrots, but I don’t like carrots so…) for 7 minutes.  I literally set my timer for 7 minutes.  Also, I recently learned that this pot (that I call the spaghetti sauce pot) is also known as a “dutch oven.”  I used to use a skillet when the recipe called for a dutch oven, because I didn’t know I had one.  I thought a dutch oven would look more like a toaster oven, except more…dutch?  I don’t know.  I wasn’t exaggerating my lack of kitchen prowess.  I received a cookbook as a wedding present.  It was titled “How To Boil An Egg.”  I was offended until I realized…wait, how do you boil an egg?  I still have to google it, I can never remember for how long (you can also buy eggs already hard-boiled in the grocery store fyi).  You are all probably feeling pretty sorry for my husband and kids about now.  They could tell you some cooking horror stories to be sure.

Anyway, then you add the garlic and cook for an additional minute. Again, I set the timer.  Add 1/3 cup flour, cook for another minute (with timer).  It suggested I sprinkle the flour over the mixture gradually…who’s got time for that?  I just dumped it in.  Well, I did stir while I was dumping it in.  It’s now time to add the broth, 8 cups worth, bring to a boil and then simmer for 10-15 minutes.  I hate the range.  Honestly, just pick one.  Is it 10 or is it 15 minutes?  Sigh.  I usually just split the difference.

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Cheat #3

The recipe calls for “3 cups cooked shredded chicken”.

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If I won’t even dice up an onion then I’m certainly not going to cook and shred a chicken.  Lucky for me, I didn’t need to do it!  I find this in the frozen section, and it’s great for soups, salads, crock pot recipes, etc…

At this point all remaining ingredients are added:

2 cups of uncooked egg noodles

12 oz of Evaporated Skim Milk

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp dried oregano and ground black pepper

1/4 tsp dried thyme

Cook for an additional 10 minutes or until noodles are al dente.

Voila!

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It was quite tasty.

So, this year the goal is to cook at least 4-5 nights per week.  We eat leftovers 1-2 nights per week, which still leaves us 1 day to splurge and go out.  Quite a big change from a year ago when we were eating out 4-5 nights per week.  I’ve been really good about cooking at home since my surgery.  My portion size is still very small, so eating out at most places is a waste of money unless I can split with someone or order an appetizer as my main dish.

In the spirit of trying new things, I will be attempting to cook different types of cuisine throughout the year.  Here is my list:

  1. Thai Cuisine
  2. Lebanese Cuisine
  3. Spanish Cuisine
  4. German Cuisine
  5. Korean Cuisine
  6. South African Cuisine
  7. Caribbean Cuisine
  8. Greek Cuisine
  9. Filipino Cuisine
  10. Indian Cuisine
  11. Indonesian Cuisine
  12. Brazilian Cuisine

Don’t worry husband, I have all our favorite delivery restaurants on speed dial.  Is speed dial even a thing anymore?  I’ll be posting my failures and successes (lol).  Trying new things and making healthy choices will continue to be challenging for me, but I think I’m up for it, plus I have all of you to keep me accountable!

Please feel free to share your favorite recipe from the above listed cuisines or cheats/lifehacks for cooking, or you can just come over and cook for me 😀  You can find me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Google+.  The icons are on the side or bottom, depending on what device you are using.  You can also e-mail me @ mybrainonkids4@gmail.com or leave a comment!

Have a great week ❤