Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Pasta, Bagels and Bread - Oh My

If you go peaking around my blog, it won't take you very long to find that I am a bit of a foodie. In fact, before having a child, there was a time when I had more pictures of food on my phone than people. Who can relate? I just really appreciate good food, and even more so, I appreciate good food that is good for you. That's why I am so excited to share a little bit about my new obsession: ThinSlim Foods.




ThinSlim Foods crafts, ounce per ounce, the lowest calories, lowest carb, lowest Smart Point breads, bagels, pasta, muffins, brownies and squares while using the highest quality ingredients (like olive oil, oat fiber, etc.) and it all tastes so, so good. 

ThinSlim Foods are so good that I'm actually putting the *ThinSlim Sampler Pack on my Christmas list this year. 

*For a limited time, the entire ThinSlim's Sampler Pack is 50% OFF if you use my special affiliate link: ThinSlim Sampler Pack



(source)

Sometime last week, my first ever ThinSlim Foods Starter Pack arrived at my door and since then, my mind has been forever changed about what "low carb" and "low calorie" food tastes like.

The first item I tried from the starter pack was the bread because, well, I love bread. Also, I make my own bread and thus I feel like I am somewhat of a bread connoisseur. (Ha-ha)




I decided to have two slices of the bread as a mid-morning snack, un-toasted, just so I could really taste all that it was, in it's natural form. I was so surprised at how fresh and homemade this bread tasted, that I actually took a second look at the nutritional facts and ingredients.




ThinSlim's bread is only 50 calories a slice and with only 7 grams of carbs, it's a miracle. The bread tastes fresh and homemade, which is my favorite kind of bread. Getting the homemade taste of bread without going through all of the trouble of making it, was a real win for me.

Despite how much I loved the bread, I think I fell even more in love with the bagels. As of late, my husband and I have been buying bagels that come out to about 280 calories per bagel. Since the calorie count is so high for our store-bought bagels, I would only end up eating half a bagel with my breakfast. (This is a really sad story, I know. Don't worry though, it has a happy ending.)




The other morning, the unimaginable happened. I had an entire ThinSlim bagel for only 100 calories. You guys, did you read that last sentence? ThinSlim Foods' bagels are ONLY 100 CALORIES, and they taste great! Can I get an Amen?




I love bagels and since ThinSlim's bagels are so low calorie, I can actually eat an entire bagel with my breakfast without feeling guilty! I am going to be a regular ThinSlim bagel girl from here on out.

Last but not least, let me tell you about the pasta. Pasta is another thing that I often make homemade because, let's be real, not much can beat the taste of fresh, homemade pasta. However, ThinSlim's "Impastable Low Carb Pasta" can no doubt bring a nutritional value that I can't compete with on my own.





One (2 oz.) serving of ThinSlim's fettuccine is only 65 calories and has 8 grams of carbs. Can I also add, the amount of fiber that ThinSlim is putting in their products is seriously unbelievable (in the best way). Just from eating a portion of their pasta, I ate more fiber in one meal than I had the previous day in all. No wonder this pasta is so filling!


{click here for 50% OFF}


ThinSlim's Starter Pack was such a good find for me. Not only does starter pack have pasta, bagels and bread but there are a lot of sweet treats in the pack, as well. I'll share all about what I thought of those sweet treats, tomorrow.

Disclosure: I received the ThinSlim's Starter Pack as part of an affiliate collaboration. As always, all opinions here are my own.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

First Snow of the Season

Before Nick and I left for our weekend getaway last weekend, I caught a few pictures of Piper experiencing her first snow of the 2016 - 2017 season. 

Words can't explain how joyful she was about it, so I'll let the pictures do all the talking:










In a matter of about 48 hours, from Friday to Sunday, we went from playing outside in 70 degree weather, to a yard full of snow.






Thanksgiving is in a couple of days and I finally feel like the weather is catching up to the season. The next time you'll hear from me will likely be after the holiday. We are looking forward to catching up with family and friends! 

Have a Happy Thanksgiving, all.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Our 13th Date-iversary

This past weekend was... amazing. 

My husband and I went out of town, just the two of us, to celebrate 13 years of sharing our life together. We stayed within a couple hours from home, in a little place called Legacy Village.




Nick and I have been visiting Legacy Village since we could drive, which was shortly after we started dating. As fate would have it, the view outside our hotel window showed the year the village was built; the same year that we started dating in 2003.




Legacy Village is such a special place. It has a little bit of everything. There are some traditional retail stores, along with the cutest little boutiques you'll ever step foot in. There are plenty of different restaurants to choose from, all within walking distance from the hotel that we stayed overnight.

We checked in to our hotel as the first snow of the season began to fall. There is just something so magical about the first snow fall of the season. It made for a truly beautiful night.




Nick and I bundled up and held on tight to each other as we walked around the village, in the snow. We visited some of our favorite shops before settling in at the Cheesecake Factory for dinner. 




The Cheesecake Factory was one of the main reasons for choosing Legacy Village as our weekend-getaway destination. The food at the Cheesecake Factory is some of our favorite and the atmosphere in the dining hall is very dimly lit and romantic. Plus, there's cheesecake, so there's that.




We spent a lot of our time at dinner, and over the course of our getaway, talking about how happy we are with what we've done with our life. Even though Piper wasn't there with us, we gushed about how blessed we are to have her along for the ride. 




Nick and I couldn't be more thankful for these past 13 years together, and we are looking forward to the future, and all the fun we have planned, to come.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Floating Through the Holidays

For when things don't go according to plan...




This has been a weird week. I've been trying to get myself back on track but, I haven't made it through a day under my calorie range for the majority of this week. Eating out for dinner 3 out of the 5 days this week definitely didn't help, but, it was a lot of fun to spend that time out together.






My new morning routine is helping me get through the days a little better but, things just keep popping up. I have a nice anniversary dinner planned with my husband coming up soon, and a girls night dinner planned for tonight. Then I think, "since Thanksgiving is next week, why should I even try to stay on track". 

That's the kind of self-talk and excuses I'm dealing with internally this week. I know better, though. This happens a lot this time each year. The excuses came out big time this week, but I'm going to try and keep myself in check.

If you were to picture a person drowning in an ocean, just know that I'm not there quite yet. I feel like I'm just taking a break from "swimming" to float for a bit, right now. I am going to float my way through this upcoming holiday week and make sure that I keep with my morning routine in hope to end each day well.

Here's an article from Andie Mitchell that is fairly similar to what I'm talking about: Mini Diet Vacations, except I don't like to refer to my healthy living journey as a "diet", because it promotes the all or nothing mentality, which I am definitely trying to stay far, far away from.

And as for weighing in, that isn't going to happen for a while. My lowest weight of the month was 243 lbs. I know that sweet number isn't going to greet me on the scale anytime soon, that is, until I start "swimming" again. For now, I'm floating, and I'll get back to swimming, soon.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Start Right End Right

It's been a while since I've had a hand cramp from writing out my blog posts with a pen and paper but, that's the process I've been going with these past couple of days.

I bought myself a notebook and instead of plugging into a machine, I've been staying disconnected in the mornings, putting pen to paper and letting my thoughts flow.

This morning, I'm writing to you while sitting in my favorite spot in the house. I'm drinking my coffee in the chair next to the window in our back room. I'm watching the sunrise through the almost-bare trees in my back yard; watching the reflection of the sun-rise dance on the water in our pond. This is a much better way to start the day when compared to staring at a computer screen.

By now, of course, I'm typing all of this out at my computer, but, in the early morning light, my thoughts, these thoughts, flowed out from my mind and through ink in such a therapeutic and relaxing way.

If you read my post from yesterday, you may understand a little better my sudden need to change my process of writing. I guess you could say that I'm trying to find a more calming and positive way to start the day. In a nutshell, I believe that balancing my screen time and essentially changing the way that I start my day will help me to better deal with whatever comes my way in a typical day.




Between writing in my favorite spot as the sun comes up, or reading the Bible by candle light first thing in the morning, I have been noticing a change in my stress levels, already. When my stress levels go down, the chances of me stress-eating also go down, naturally. I'm fighting my night-time stress eating first thing in the morning. 

If I start the day right, I'll have a better chance at ending the day right.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

On Leaving Facebook

I've gotten myself into a stressful morning routine, which is ironic because this routine was disguised as one that would be stress-relieving but, it was actually turning out to be stress-provoking, instead.

Somehow along the way, my morning routine began starting with me checking the monitor to see if Piper was awake, followed by scrolling social media on my iPhone. This routine has been put in place after a few months of doing so. As of late though, I'm beginning to realize that scrolling Facebook (particularly first thing in the morning) is more stress-provoking than ever before.

I don't know about you, but prior to and now after the election, my Facebook feed has been more negative than ever before. It's sad to see my friends and family be so negative with one another. 

Now, while I have thought about leaving Facebook all-together, I just couldn't bring myself to do that. I'm a firm believer that the good will always outweigh the bad, and that good always wins. I couldn't bring myself to miss out on the happy and positive aspects of social media.

Living in an era when you can connect with people near and far is really a blessing, even with all this extra negativity floating around out there. Since I'm connected to Facebook, I am able see family pictures of long-distance friends; pictures that use to be reserved for only those who were able to see them on your wall at home. I think it's easy to take for granted the access we're provided though social media, and it can also be easy to let negativity and hate win. 

I choose to let love win.

While I can't control what people on Facebook are posting, I can control how often I check in and when I check in. I don't want to give up Facebook for good, but I am giving up on checking it first thing in the morning. Too often, after checking in on Facebook my mood is made for me before I even get out of bed. I'm making a change and I'm starting a new morning routine that will allow me to set the mood for my day. I'll share more on my new morning routine, tomorrow.

(source)

For now, I leave you with the challenge to spread some positivity. If you're on Facebook, share a positive quote or something that could uplift others today. 

Thursday, November 10, 2016

The Day That I Grieve

Yesterday was the day. It's the day that I grieve.

Today's post is unapologetically raw, written without any restraint, and written directly from a broken heart. I allow myself this one post a year, to write from a place of grief. It's therapeutic for me to write this way, if not but once a year, about one of the hardest days of my life.




November 9th is a date on the calendar that makes my heart hurt. It's a date when grief revisits me. Grief, as it is, ebbs and flows. 

I don't think I will ever be "done" grieving the loss of my first baby; the grief is always there, just far under the surface. However, around this time of year, my grief resurfaces, and I've learned to accept that it will and embrace it for what it is.

I wasn't very far along in my first pregnancy when I miscarried and so, there are times when I feel like I don't have the right to be this sad about losing my baby. There are even times when I think I should call it "losing a pregnancy", because "baby" may be too strong of a word. After all, we all know someone, if not personally, who has lost far more. 

But then, as I think back to the days when I knew her heart was beating inside of me, and when I take the time to picture all the events that lead up to my miscarriage, that's when I remember; she was a baby, she was my baby, and we lost her. I have a right to grieve what I have lost, even if it is myself who sometimes needs the convincing.

I have found great comfort in believing that we lost our first baby for a reason. Some people don't like to believe that there is a reason in such circumstances, but, that's the beauty of us all; we're all different. I respect differences in everyone.

I had a strong feeling come over me on the day when the sonogram technician was finding her heartbeat on the monitor. I remember so vividly those moments in that dimly lit room. It was so dark and quiet, you could have heard a pin drop. My husband was there, holding my hand beside me as the sonogram technician took pictures, in effort to tell the doctors something more.

In that dark quiet room, I felt the word "messenger" come over me, and cover me like a blanket. I don't know how else to describe it other than to say that I felt the word. It was a very personal experience. Have you ever closed your eyes and visualized a word, or heard a word come to mind, in your inner voice? It happened to me in that sonogram room, only it was so strong that I felt it in my soul. That was when I knew she was not mine to keep, even before the doctor told me so, I knew she was a messenger.

Before my miscarriage, I was fairly certain that I was unable to conceive a child. I had gone years without conceiving a child, and I even have medical reasons why I shouldn't be able to conceive a child, and yet, I did. Twice. Praise be to God.

I was fairly certain that God had good things in store for me, even during the darkest days of my miscarriage; I felt hope.

The day after I miscarried, I wrote these words: "I feel so empty now but full in knowing that she was sent for a reason. She was sent as a messenger and is already with our God. Her message was that we can conceive and there is hope for our future."

Her message was very clear to me back on that day, her message was that we were able to conceive, and that I had work to do to prepare my body for a healthy pregnancy, one day. Without my first little messenger, I might not have ever been prepared to carry and give birth to my Piper Grace.

Without my faith, I don't know where I'd be after such a traumatic event. So today, I pray. I pray for anyone who is going through a hard time with infertility or loss. I pray that you find your peace, and I pray that you allow yourself to grieve in whatever is the healthiest way for you to do so. 

For me, the healthiest way for me to grieve is to share my loss, and my hope with others. I find comfort in looking back on those dark days and at the light that followed thereafter.

Past in-memoriam posts:

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

NSV - A Happy Wake Up Call

Today I want to talk to you about non-scale victories, otherwise referred to as NSV.

I have been maintaining my weight around 243-244 lbs for over two weeks now, and that's due mostly in part from me not counting my calories for a few days in a row.

Despite all that, I had a NSV yesterday. I put on some pants that I haven't worn in a few weeks and was pleasantly surprised to find that they felt much more loose than they did a few weeks ago. I tried on another pair of pants (just to make sure it wasn't a fluke) and those pants were also wearing more comfortably than before. I did a little happy dance in my newly loose pants, and started my day out right, counting calories, like a good girl.

I think this NSV was just the thing I needed to get out of my funk, and to not go another day without counting my calories. It was a wake up call, a good and happy one, at that.




Yesterday, Piper and I ran a couple errands together. Piper helped me vote, and she was real happy that they gave her a sticker. 




After voting, we went to the mall to get Piper some new boots (thanks Nina) and to walk around. 




We spent a couple hours at the mall since there was so much to do. There are a couple places for kids to play in our mall and we had a blast! 




Piper and I played until lunch time, and ate Subway together in the food court. I was proud of myself for picking Subway over the other less-healthy choices, too.

Today, I'm going to work on staying within my calories for the second day in a row. I am going to have my husband hide the scale from me again until Sunday, this time. I am going to bask in my non-scale victory until then.

Readers, what are some non-scale victories that you've experienced?

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Fall Family Photos - 2016

In case you weren't sure, let me tell you, getting family pictures done with a toddler is a lot of work. I went into this mini photo shoot thinking that I'll be happy if Piper is just looking at the camera. Well, that barely even happened and all I can do is laugh about it.



























Don't get me wrong. These pictures are still so sweet and special to me. They capture where we're currently at in this time of life. We have a toddler that wants to do what she wants to do and although that can be challenging in a lot of different circumstances, I ultimately think it's super cute and funny, too.



























We had my mom and Nick's mom behind the camera, trying to get Piper to look and she knew what they wanted, and did the exact opposite. So, the pictures where Piper is actually looking, were done with some minor trickery on all of our parts.



























Last year, we did our Fall Family Photos at the same spot, in my mother-in-laws back yard, and we took a lot longer during the photo shoot. It probably lasted the better half of an hour, and we even shot a couple different locations that day. 

This year, Piper is older and wiser and she knows that she doesn't want to be stuck in front of a camera for very long; especially when she could be running around, chasing kitties, instead. I knew all of this going into the photo shoot, so this year's shoot lasted the better half of ten minutes and what we got is still pretty wonderful to me.





























I'm so glad that we captured this age and the stage that we're in right now. The Fall is my favorite time to take family pictures because of the changing scenery and the reminder that the seasons' change brings to my heart. Piper is constantly changing with each month as she grows and I just want to remember how fun and funny our life is, right now, as we are.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Spaghetti Squash and Meatballs

I'm curious. How often do you eat spaghetti and meatballs? My husband and I, we don't make it very often for ourselves. I'd have to say that we might have spaghetti and meatballs once or twice a year. The reason mostly being that it's a high calorie meal when you factor in the pasta, and then even more when you add the second helping because, well, it's pasta and I just can't stop when it comes to pasta!

Recently, I found a recipe on Facebook for Spaghetti Squash and Meatballs. I gave the recipe a try and I'm so glad that I did! The spaghetti squash and meatball dish was just as good as the tradition pasta version, however, this "spaghetti" and meatball dish is one where I can actually go back for seconds, without feeling bad on the calorie front.




If you're not very adventurous when it comes to trying new things in the kitchen, please don't let that be the reason you don't give this recipe a try. This recipe has it all; it tastes amazing, it's low on calories and it's super easy to make. And when I say easy to make, I'm talking, three-ingredient kind of easy to make.

Here's what you'll need and how you do it.

Ingredients:
1 - large spaghetti squash (or two small)
1 - jar of your favorite spaghetti sauce
3 - cups of frozen meatballs

Directions:

Wash your spaghetti squash and cut it in half (I used two small squashes for our meal).




Scoop out all of the seeds from the center then put the squash in the crock pot, cut side down.




Add your frozen meatballs to the crock pot, along with your jar of sauce.




Cook on high for 3 hours OR on low for 5 hours. Use tongs to remove squash from crock pot. Pull out insides with a fork. Dress the squash with the sauce and meatballs from the crock pot and enjoy!




Now with this spaghetti squash recipe, I think we're about to become one of those families that has "spaghetti" and meatballs for dinner once a week, instead of our usual once a year. 




It's just that good!

Friday, November 4, 2016

When It's Time to Stop Calling It Baby Weight

This Fall, I started to think about how my daughter is going to turn TWO in January and I realized that it's probably time to stop calling my extra weight baby weight. After all, the excess weight I'm carrying around isn't even from my pregnancy, anymore.




A year ago, I wrote a blog post about my post-pregnancy weight gain, titled "Nine Months Postpartum - Brutal Honesty". In that post, I broke down my weight loss and weight gain, in timeline form. 

Here's a more updated timeline, now that a year has passed.

- pre-pregnancy: 233 lbs (April 1, 2014)
- nine months pregnant: 271 lbs (January 21, 2015)
- ten days postpartum: 233 lbs (January 31, 2015)
- nine months postpartum: 248 lbs (November 1, 2015)
- twenty-one months postpartum: 243 lbs (November 1, 2016)

This time last year, I was 15 pounds above my pre-pregnancy weight. Right now, I am only 10 pounds above my pre-pregnancy weight. Even though an entire year has passed, and there is only a 5 pound difference on the scale, I have to say that there is an even bigger difference in my heart.

Last year, I shared that I was motivated to make a change, and I did make some changes at that time. However, I feel like I was working on losing weight with motivation alone. Motivation is great, but it fades after a while. That's where discipline comes in, and that's what I'm working more on, now.

Being disciplined doesn't happen over night. Discipline happens little by little. As I look back on some of the posts I wrote last month, I can see myself using my motivation to cultivate discipline. Being disciplined lasts longer than being motivated. Motivation is more like a roller-coaster ride, and discipline helps you stay more consistent in your weight-loss journey. Here are the posts that I'm talking about:

(2) Practicing Discipline Without A Scale
(3) Little by Little, Staying Consistent
(4) Positive Changes to Keep My "House" in Order
(5) Planning Ahead for a Happy Life with a Healthy Lifestyle
(6) Evaluate Your Success and Continue On, The 7 Day Streak

If you've read all of those posts, thanks for still sticking around. Sometimes looking back helps me to move forward. 

Something else that helps me to move forward in my goal of losing weight is to remind myself exactly why I want to lose weight so badly. Aside from my ultimate goal, which is to have good health and wellness, so I can stick around longer for my family; I also have some other daily reminders of why I need to lose this excess weight.

Daily Reminders -- Why I MUST Lose This Weight:
- My feet hurt if I'm not wearing arch-supportive shoes, I can't even attempt to go a full day in heels like I once did when I worked outside of the home.
- Trying to go down the stairs, especially in the middle of the night or early morning, is a painful experience. I have to hold on to the rail for dear life sometimes, because of the pressure on my joints.
- My back is constantly going out because of the excess weight I'm carrying in my gut.
- My knees have taken a beating, the excess weight may have caused irreversible damage, but that's not going to keep me from trying to reverse it by losing the weight.

I need to lose weight like my future mobility depends on it, because in reality, it really does. I see people twice my age moving around easier than I am now at 28 years old. Now is the time to lose the weight, I can't wait any longer. This excess weight is aging my body prematurely, and it's up to me to fix it. No excuses, just solutions, from here on out.