Friday, April 28, 2017

Eat Good, Feel Good, Always

Hey guys, happy Friday! We made it!

I am feeling so much better lately and I know it's because I've been eating better. I have been cramming in all the fresh veggies that I can these past five days and it's really paid off. My overall mood is better and I physically feel good, too.

Eat Good = Feel Good, always.

On the first night of my new challenge, I chopped up a few different fresh vegetables that needed used up before they went bad. The forgotten vegetables of the pantry, if you will. They were the leftovers from the previous week and something needed done with them, fast. After all, I just can't stand wasting food.

I decided to use the leftover vegetables to throw together a little medley of sorts to go along with some fish we had bought for Monday's dinner. The impromptu vegetable medley worked out really well; so well that I wanted to share it with you today.

The vegetables that I had on hand for this medley were eggplant, sweet potatoes and broccoli. Had I done it all over again, I might have used some asparagus, onion or even brussels sprouts instead of the eggplant but, that's just because I'm not the biggest fan on eggplant, myself. Piper ate any remaining eggplant from my dish.

I chopped up 2 small heads of broccoli, 3 sweet potatoes and 1 small eggplant for this vegetable medley. Once all the vegetables were chopped up, I sprinkled a generous amount of salt on them and stirred in 6 tbsp of coconut oil.

My husband and I grilled the fish and the vegetables on our new grill. I didn't really pay attention to how long everything was on, but we just kept checking the vegetables until they seemed tender enough for our liking.

After all of the vegetables were off the grill, I drizzled in about 3 tablespoons of honey and stirred it all around until the vegetables were fully coated. The honey played really well off of the broccoli and the sweet potatoes -- again, I'm not the biggest fan of the eggplant so next time I make a medley, I'm going to scratch that vegetable outta there.

All in all, this week was packed with vegetables and I am feeling good! Have a great weekend, everyone! See you back here on Monday.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Never Too Late to Post the Meal Plan

I'm kind of doing things a little backwards here. The week is almost over and I'm finally ready to share with you my meal plan for the week -- haha. It's never too late to post the meal plan for the week, right? I had the plan written out all the way back on Saturday, right before I went grocery shopping with my girl P, but I just didn't find the opportunity to post it until today.
Psst. check out this cute picture of Piper as we were walking out of the grocery store on Saturday. She loves to carry around a purse like mama.

So, here's the plan for the week that's almost over; week one of my 30 by 30 challenge:

Sunday - Zuppa Toscana with Caibatta Roll
Monday - Fish with Fresh Vegetable Medley
Tuesday - Spaghetti Squash + Meatballs with Brussels Sprouts
Wednesday - Kielbasa Sausage Stir Fry with Bell Peppers + Onions
Thursday - Fish with Asparagus + Rice
Friday - Naan Pizzas

I didn't make an exercise plan for this first week of the challenge, as I wanted to focus on getting my eating habits back in order first. I have been trying and mostly succeeding at getting all of my 120 ounces of water in each day, so far. And, I am doing well at tracking all of my calories. As Piper would say, "hooray!"

I am feeling really good and it's only been four days back on track. Going to church last Sunday really helped boost my spirits and I'm so looking forward to going back on Sunday! Until then, we are going to be busy working on craft show prep for a show we're participating in this Saturday.

Readers: since it's Friday-eve, tell me, what plans are you looking forward to this weekend?

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Overcoming Gluttony with Grace Church

Nick, Piper and I went to a new church this past weekend. Well, it's kind of new to us. It was Piper's first time {outside of the womb} and, it was our second time going to our new favorite church, Grace. 

While I was pregnant with Piper, in 2014, Nick and I tried this church once and we loved it. It's further away than our home church {which is literally right down the block; less than a minute away}, so it was hard to make the switch and fully commit to driving 15 minutes away when we had a perfectly good church right around the corner.

While we didn't physically go back to this church until this past weekend, I had immediately got hooked into watching Grace Church's sermons online back after our first visit in 2014. Their sermons are always something I can connect with on some level or another. I don't think I've sat through a sermon without having tears well up in my eyes, yet. I connect with their message more than I do at my home church, and for that I felt guilty for a while. So, it was hard to make the switch. I just stayed complacent for a while and we didn't end up physically going to church much at all. Instead, I just kept watching Grace's sermons online.

The convenience of watching and listening to Grace Church's sermons online was unbeatable at the time when Piper was born. It is actually one of the reasons that it took us so long to go back to church. I could just listen to their sermons during one of Piper's naps, get what I needed to feed my soul, and be done -- all within the comfort of my home.

Well, the problem with that for me is that I was doing it alone. Nick works during the day, obviously, so I can stay home with Piper, so while I would listen to the sermon and Nick rarely got the chance. Also, we have truly missed out on the full church experience that Grace has to offer by only listening to the sermons online. There's just something so powerful about worshiping with them, there in church.

So, after having a couple tough weeks recently, it was clear to me that the time to physically go back to church was here. I needed to go. I needed to be re-centered in my faith. I want Piper to have a sense of community in the church. I want us all to be apart of a church community. Nick agreed. 

Nick and I talked about it and, while it will be hard to pass our home church every Sunday to drive 15 minutes out to Grace Church, we both agreed it will be worth it. Grace Church stirs something in our hearts that hasn't been stirred in a while from our home church. We feel like we are finding a new home church in Grace.

Piper tried the nursery at the church that is only a minute down the road from us a couple times and, she never made it through an entire service in the nursery without my mom, Nick or me having to go get her or sit in there with her. 

At Grace church, Piper didn't only make it through the whole service at nursery class, she had fun, too! It helped that my little brother Evan opted out of his school-age class that morning to stay and help Piper in her two-year old class for the whole service. That calmed all of our nerves and we were really able to enjoy the service without too much worry or concern.

At Grace, I feel like we are finally finding where we belong. When we arrived this past Sunday, we found out that Grace was starting a new sermon series called "Overcomers" and the first sermon in the series was about overcoming gluttony. There couldn't have been a better sermon for me to hear than this one on that day, the day before I began my 30 by 30 challenge.

As I said, all of Grace Church's sermons can be found online. I am going to share the sermon from this past Sunday with you here below because it is a good sermon for anyone to hear. It was a sermon with a special guest speaking and, if you watch The Biggest Loser he may look familiar to you. It was Mark Cornelison from Season 13 of The Biggest Loser. It was a sermon for our first time back in church at Grace.

I hope you enjoy this sermon as much as I did. I intend to post the verses from Matthew 6:25-34 right on my snack cupboard, where I often frequent at the end of the night, when I feel anxious and tired from a long day. As Mark said, after all, he believes these chapters in Matthew were the launch of grace.

Matthew 6:25-34
For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your Heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life? And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothes himself like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will he not much more clothe you? You of little faith! Do not worry then, saying, "what will we eat?" or "what will we drink?" or "what will we wear for clothing?" for the gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your Heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. So do not worry about tomorrow for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Just Two Weeks

2 1/2 pounds gained. Days with moods in the gutter. Pain and inflammation in all of my joints. Bloating that made my newly sized-down pants (from 24 to 22) feel tight. A returning pain in my knees when going down stairs. Prolonged/irregular menstrual cycle. Difficulty getting out of bed in the morning. The overall feeling of being heavy and in poor health.

It took only two weeks, from April 10th - April 21st. Two weeks of eating poorly and not drinking nearly enough water each day. That's what caused all of those ailments to come back.

What I eat matters. It directly effects my health in the short term and long term. This is why I have started my new 30 by 30 challenge. I want to get rid of all of those ailments listed above. I want to eat better to feel better. I am ready to start working toward a solid goal again -- a new goal to lose 30 pounds before I turn 30 in February.

Rant to self: no more excuses. If I eat fresh, healthy food, I will feel fresh and healthy. If I eat over-processed, heavy foods, I will feel it. I will feel it in my joints; I will feel it in my mood; I will feel it in my the way my pants fit. I need to make better choices to feel better. I need to continue on my path of losing weight. The time between now and my 30th birthday will pass regardless, so I might as well make the time count. I want to feel good every day. I want to regain a better balance.

Right now, I am motivated. I know that motivation doesn't last forever but, it's a good push-start in the right direction. I believe that joining my new challenge is just the push-start I need to get back on track.

For more information on my 30 by 30 challenge, you can read here: 30 by 30.

Yesterday was my first day in my new challenge. I swear I already feel a little better just from getting all of my 120 ounces of water in and stuffing my dinner plate full of fresh vegetables. It's the little things that add up and make a big difference.

Speaking of the little things, Piper and I spent a little time yesterday morning at our local park. We made sure to stop and smell the flowers, in between running up and down the "big hill", of course. Conquering big hills is definitely one of Piper's favorite things to do.

She's a pretty cool kid, if you ask me. God blessed me so much when he chose me to be her mama. Even while I was feeling a little down toward the end of last week, this girl always light my life right back up. There's no way I can feel down for long when I have that bundle of joy by my side.

Monday, April 24, 2017

30 by 30 Challenge Intro

My husband and I are starting a new weight-loss challenge and I'm really excited to share all of the details with you today!

As you may know, my husband, Nick, and I recently wrapped up a three-month long challenge with HealthyWage. From January through March, we lost 6% of our combined body weight. Each of us lost about 15 pounds! Now that the challenge is over, Nick and I are looking for something new to challenge us. We have been talking about doing a challenge of our own, and we decided on all of the details this past weekend!

Nick and I are going to be turning 30 this winter; his birthday is at the end of December and my birthday is at the beginning of February! So, we came up with the idea of trying to lose 30 pounds before our 30th birthday. A 30 by 30 challenge!

While it was tempting to count the 15 pounds we have already lost since the start of the year through our HealthyWage challenge, we decided to start fresh and consider our most recent weigh-in from Friday, April 21st, as our starting point for the 30 by 30 challenge.

Also, while the Type-A personality in me would have loved to wait until May 1st to start this challenge, I have learned that there is no better time to start than as soon as possible/right now! 

Since we are starting now, Nick only has about 8 more months until he turns 30 to lose his 30 pounds and I have about 10 months to lose mine. So, let's not wait another day!

There are 3 essentials we will focus on in order to be successful in this challenge:

1. Set a Goal with a Deadline
- lose 30 pounds each by our 30th birthdays

2. Determine a Plan of Action to Reach our Goal
- post monthly challenge updates with our current stats
- weekly meal planning and incorporate exercise plans as time goes on
- drink half of our body weight in ounces daily
- track calories through Sparkpeople daily, the good and bad
- give ourselves grace for when things don't go according to plan
- pick each other up when we stumble and never give up

3. Set up a Reward to Work Toward for More Incentive
- if we both reach our goal, we will plan a vacation for just the two of us

Nick's Stats:

Initial Weigh-In on 4/21/17: 
222.0 lbs
Before Photos:

Nick's thoughts going in to this challenge: 
"I lost 15 pounds from January through March mainly from changing my diet alone. For this next 30 pounds, I intend to start slowly incorporating exercise and build on that with more running and lifting weights routinely. I want to lose this weight so I can drop a pant size or two, going from size 38 to size 36 or 34."

Kalyn's Stats:

Initial Weigh-In on April 21, 2017: 
240.3 lbs.

Before Photos:

(My legs and arms are so white that it's safe to say I am haunting this house)

Kalyn's thoughts going into this challenge:

"Along with Nick, I also lost about 15 pounds from January through March of this year. In doing so, I dropped one full pant size going from size 24 to size 22. In April, I started to gain a couple pounds back and so now, this is the perfect time to start a new challenge. I intend to get back to our good eating habits immediately and slowly start incorporating more exercise, too. Before the end of this challenge, I intend exercising multiple times a week to be a solid routine for me. I would like to drop two more pant sizes, going from my current size of 22 to a size 18 -- a size I haven't been in since high school, almost eleven years ago."
The challenge starts now! Wish us luck!

Friday, April 21, 2017

After We Break, We Rise

My husband has a really great way of calming me down when I get too stressed out. I am feeling much better today after spending a good two hours talking everything through with Nick the other night. We talked about everything from my large workload with the business down to how much I've been struggling with my eating habits and lack of self-control these past two weeks.

I don't do well when it comes to doing things on the fly. I mean, I am okay with it to some extent. It kind of comes with the territory when you're the parent to a toddler. Not everything goes according to plan and I get that; it's just, I struggle when there's no plan at all. 

That's basically how I've been functioning these past few weeks -- no plan Stan over here. Between getting the flu, to saying goodbye to my childhood home and helping my mom move residences, to trying to dig myself out of a lot of work at home and with my business -- I am just ready to start focusing a bit on myself and my health again!

I have been white-knuckling my way through these past few weeks, trying to do it all and do it all well, and it just finally all caught up with me the other night. I think we all have to go through those times. Where we stay strong for so long and then all of a sudden we break down. It wasn't even over something big. I guess that's how it usually works though; it's usually something little that ends up being the thing that does us in. 

The important thing though is how we handle ourselves after we break. 
After we break, we rise.

I feel very little shame in admitting that I broke down -- it doesn't mean I'm weak, it just means that I was tired after being strong for so long. It all caught up to me. After getting everything off of my chest the other night with my husband, I feel like I hit the factory reset on myself. I feel good as new, or nearly new.

My husband and I discussed some things we're going to try to do to help get us back on track with our weight loss. We were able to lose 15 pounds together from January through the end of March. Now that it's nearly the end of April, we are ready to start losing more weight again. We have come up with a new challenge for ourselves, one that we will fine-tune this weekend and I will be happy to share with you on Monday, next week!

Thursday, April 20, 2017

I Feel Defeated Today

Nobody ever wants to share when they're stressed out, anxious or just plain old down in the dumps. Well, I'm going to talk about it today. These past couple weeks have had some really high-highs and some low-lows.

The highs:
We had an amazing Easter
My mom got a new house
Piper started swim class this week!! Ah yay!!
Nick and I had an amazing date day/dinner date
The weather has been mostly nice
I'm getting a lot more outside-time
My sister is past-due with her first baby so I'm becoming an aunt any minute now

The lows:
Housework is out of control
Laundry is piled up to the max
Work {with my business} is kinda nuts -- okay, really nuts
I feel behind on everything that I usually have under control
I over-scheduled myself for the next two weeks
I've been over-indulging on unhealthy food way too much
I'm dehydrated and I've gained some weight, see: weekly weigh-in's
My sister is past-due with her first baby and she's halfway across the world, so I can't be there even though it's where my heart is right now.

I usually try to find more good points than bad but, reality is, it's not always like that in life. The important thing is how you deal with it all. Lately, I've been dealing with it by eating way too much and way too late at night. I feel out of control and I'm going to really try to get some of that control back. The first step: sharing my defeat. 

I feel defeated today and, that's okay. Not every day is going to be a win. Not every week is going to be a win. What matters most is that I stick through it, and come out on the other side. I don't necessarily even have to come out stronger. I just simply have to make it out. I will make it out to the other side.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Easter 2017

This past Easter Sunday was definitely one for the books. The weather was incredible and Piper had a wonderful time with us, as we spent the day visiting with family.

The morning started with Piper sleeping in until about 8 a.m. Nick and I were already awake, showered and sitting outside when my mom arrived with Evan and Piper's Easter basket from their house. Piper must have known, because she woke up minutes after they arrived and before we knew it, she was outside with all of us, searching for her basket, which Evan hid in her playhouse.

After they left, we gave her the basket that was left by the Easter bunny at our house. We all said a little prayer together, thanking God for all of our blessings, in which Piper ended with "In Jesus name, Amen". And boy did that warm my heart. Praying together has become one of our favorite things to do. It means so much more to me than I can even describe.

Nick and I had a lot of fun helping the Easter bunny pick out what to give Piper this year. She got a little bit of chocolate, some fun games, bubbles and big girl underwear {see yesterday's post on Potty Training}.

Nick's dad came over that morning to give Piper an Easter basket from his house and Piper had some fun playing outside for a bit before we all had to leave.

Around noon, Nick and I took Piper over to my dad's house for Easter brunch, where Piper had a great time playing with her Aunts {Maria and Anna} and her Uncle Nicholas.

Around 2:00, on the ride home from my dad's, Piper fell asleep in the car. Nick dropped me off at my mom's new house so I could hide some Easter eggs for a little Easter egg hunt that afternoon. Piper woke up just in time for me to finish hiding the eggs and to get home to make green bean casserole for our family dinner.

My mom's Easter dinner started at 4 p.m. and it was a beautiful evening spent at their new house. Evan and Piper had a blast searching for their Easter eggs, which were filled with chocolate, coins and dollar bills.

I have been meaning to get this post up for days now and I'm still running out of time here to type it up so, I will leave you with some more pictures from the week leading up to Easter. The pictures below are from when we got together with Nick's mom's side of the family to color Easter eggs {our annual tradition}.

Piper's third Easter {p.s. she's still only two} came and went in a flash. We had the best time with her! We're constantly reminded how blessed we are with her in our lives. God is so good.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Potty Training - The First Three Days

Remember how my blog is about me "losing weight while living life"? Well, this post is more about the living life part -- with a toddler! Reader beware. Potty training has kind-of begun in our household!

We aren't super consistent with the potty training right now so, please don't expect this to be one of those posts where I tell you my toddler got potty trained in a very intensive potty-training-boot-camp weekend type thing. Not like there's anything wrong with that, we just don't have any need to rush things over here.

After all, along with training Piper to actually use the potty chair, I am trying to train myself to remember to ask her if she needs to go potty, too. Instead of forcing it with either one of us, things have been pretty laid back for these first three days.

Here's how it all started...

On Good Friday, April 14th, Piper randomly asked to go on the potty. Her potty chair had been sitting out in our bathroom a couple times before, just to get her use to it being around, but it has been in the basement for about a little over a month now.

I put the potty chair away when she started teething hard on her two-year molars. Piper didn't need any extra pressure during that time. Just recently, like within the past week, her two year molars came in fully and so, her asking for the potty chair to come back was really in perfect timing. I decided to act on it right away. I brought the chair up from the basement and she sat on it for a little while. Nothing happened that morning but, she was happy to be a big girl sitting on a potty for a couple minutes.

Later on, right after her nap, I decided to ask her if she wanted to try to use the potty again. She was very excited and said "okay potty yeah". So, Nick and I both took her downstairs and sat in the bathroom with her for a little bit. 

First, she wanted mama to sit on the big potty too, and then it was daddy's turn. After a few minutes, I told Piper to try and go toot on the potty. I figured she didn't know what it meant to go pee or go poop since I don't acknowledge when she does those things {since she's still in a diaper}, but every time I hear her toot, I tell her "Oh you tooted, say excuse me". So, she definitely knows when she toots and how to do it.

She tried to go toot on the potty, as I asked, and instantly she started peeing on the potty. I was sitting next to her on the floor when I heard her start to pee; I looked at her excitedly and she looked at me with fear in her eyes. I told her, "Yay! You're going pee on the potty! Good girl! Yay!" She said "Yay" in an unsure tone and got up to see what she had done. She looked in and looked back at me worried and said "Mess! Oh mess!" {Haha} I told her, "It's a good mess! Yay!" and she repeated me, "Good mess!"

I had Piper wipe and flush her potty. I told her she could have a sticker some ice cream for going "toot" {pee} on the potty! She said "Horray, ice cream!" and we all celebrating with some afternoon ice cream!

The next day, I asked her a few times if she wanted to go on the potty and it was a firm "NO, I NOT". I didn't push it, and I said that was okay. On Easter Sunday, I asked even less often {because we were running around, visiting family} but, again, it was a firm "No" from Piper. She didn't even want to try and sit on it.

On Monday, I decided to ask again. In the morning I asked twice and both times she said, "No, I not". I told her, "Okay, but let's say 'not right now' or 'maybe later', instead". So, when later came, right after lunch, I searched YouTube for a potty training song, and played it for Piper without saying a word about the potty. She asked to watch the potty song a few times again before I suggested watching the song while sitting on the potty, just like the video showed. She was a little reluctant, but nothing like she was before, so I decided to make it as fun as possible and she went for it.

I swear, we watched the potty song with her sitting on the potty about 20 times. No exaggeration. It was about 30 minutes into sitting with her when I decided to bring out the bribe: chocolate. I said that she could have some chocolate if she went "toot" on the potty. She was really excited. She wanted some chocolate, so she started to try and push. Nothing happened.

I went and got her a sippy cup of water and a book to read. I put the chocolate on the counter, where she could see it and told her "You can have this chocolate when you toot on potty". I asked her if she wanted me to still sit there with her or go, and she said "go sit on couch". So, I sat outside of the open door of the bathroom, out of sight, and waited. 

I told her "Just yell 'mama I tooted' when you go toots and you can have chocolate". It was less than 5 minutes later when I hear her happily exclaim "MAMA, I TOOTED!" I was so excited for her, and she was so excited too! She peed on the potty for the second time in three days! I said "YAY! YOU TOOTED!" and immediately gave her the chocolate.

I know that potty training is a really long process so, I'm not putting a deadline on anything. I also didn't do any research on the topic before we started potty training, which is kind of unlike me. Piper prompted this potty training adventure and I've been going off of my gut instinct and her ques naturally, ever since. With that being said, I am always open to advice so please, share any tips you may have with me! 

I can't be certain but, I have a feeling we're in it for the long haul here. I think the potty chair is out to stay. I don't have any intentions of making Piper potty train before she's ready; there's really no need. But, I do want to keep Piper as interested in the potty chair as I can since we got the ball rolling. 

Here's to the next stage in toddler-hood! I'm going to try and help make this as stress-free on all of us as I can by being patient, not setting any deadlines and just letting her call the shots.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Need to Flush It Out with Water

Happy Monday!

First of all, I hope you all had a wonderful Easter weekend. As for here in Pennsylvania, the weather on Easter Sunday was absolutely gorgeous. We couldn't have asked for a more beautiful day! I'll get more into Easter and all of the fun we had in another post this week. Today, I have a fun announcement to make!

Last week, I shared my review and hosted a giveaway for Good Food Made Simple

Thirteen (13) people entered the giveaway and I used to pick the winner.

Congratulations to Cathy B. -- you won free product coupons from Good Food Made Simple!

Thank you to everyone who entered the giveaway and, a special thanks to Good Food Made Simple for sharing this giveaway with us all!

I am still enjoying my Good Food Made Simple entrees! They kind of saved lunch-time multiple times last week. Eating those entrees for my lunches was probably the only good-for-me meals I ate all week.

Last week was crazy! My mom, stepdad and little brother closed on a new house and, last week was moving week. Any spare time, and every single night, was spent over at my mom's new house; helping them move in and get settled. 

My mom treated us to dinner multiple times last week, which was a mix between McDonalds, take-out pizza, wings, etc. Then, on Saturday, Nick and I got to go out for a date and had dinner at Texas Roadhouse. Of course, Sunday was Easter, so we had brunch at my dads and dinner at my moms. Looking back, I think I only cooked dinner for my family once last week. 

Let's just say, last week was rough. I didn't have any balance in the food that I ate; it was mostly all bad and, I didn't track any of it, either. To make matters worse, I didn't drink much water during all of this craziness and I can feel the inflammation in my joints already. Bad food choices and lack of water will do that to me.

I am so happy today is Monday. I know every day is a new day for a fresh start, but; now that the craziness of last week is over and the newness of this week is upon me, I feel ready to get back on track! 

My main goal for today is to drink 120 ounces of water to flush out all of the inflammation in my body! Baby steps as I get back on track.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Easter Greeting 2017

I can't believe Easter weekend is here, already! 

If you need a good cake recipe for your Easter get-together, here's the one I made for when we got together with Nick's family to color Easter Eggs earlier this week: Fluffy Homemade Vanilla Cake. It turned out wonderfully.

I'm so grateful, Nick has off work today for Good Friday. Let family time and the long Easter weekend commence!

From my family to yours, Happy Easter. Praise God, He is Risen.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

My Weight-Loss Secrets

Recently, I was asked by someone "what is your weight-loss secret?" I had to think about it and I don't think there's much of a secret here.

As I was on my journey of losing 15 pounds these past few months, I just tried my best to stay the course, even when I didn't see the results. When I would gain a little weight, I wouldn't give up. I pressed on until I saw the results I wanted to see. I guess my weight-loss secret is to just keep going, through the good and the bad. 

Most importantly, I made sure not to make any changes that I couldn't keep up with for life. For example, I can't go the rest of my life without eating carbs; so I found a way to lose weight with carbs in my diet. {I also can't go the rest of my life without chocolate, so I give myself a little bit of chocolate every day.}

The truth is, I don't know if there is a universal weight-loss secret for us all. In my own personal journey, there's been a lot of trial and error to find what works best for me. The thing is, everybody is different and more importantly, everyone's body is different. For example, I have a problem with binge eating, so I stay away from depriving myself of anything in particular. Allowing myself to have a little bit of everything keeps me on track, and helps me to avoid binge-eating. That's just me!

If there was a weight-loss secret out there, I would have to say it's only something you can find for yourself through trial and error. Perhaps there is a special weight-loss secret for us all. Personally, I know that when I gain weight from an over-indulgent weekend, I can just drink a ton of water and stay within calories for a couple days after and the excess weight will {usually} disappear from the scale. It's my own little secret that I have found works for me.

Readers, what is a weight-loss "secret" that works for you? Please share!

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Grace Not Perfection by Emily Ley

{psst. I have a giveaway going on NOW through April 15th. 
Check it out here: GFMS Giveaway}

This past winter, I found a lot of joy in reading. Sometimes, I read fiction books but, mostly I have been reading books about life and how others are navigating it. One of my favorite reads from this winter has been "Grace Not Perfection" by Emily Ley.

Emily Ley is a creative, who designed The Simplified Planner. She works from home, and she has twins around the same age as Piper. I have some things in common with Emily Ley, so this was a really great read for me.

There were some quotes from the book that I just had to write down for myself to look back on. I figured I would share my favorite quotes with you here, too. Every quote I'm referencing here stirred something in my heart, brought a tear to my eye or, gave me an "ah-hah" moment; as if those were the exact words trying to come out from my heart.

Quotes from Grace Not Perfection by Emily Ley: 
"Looking back, I can see God orchestrating every failure, and milestone into a song of daily surrender and joy."
"The good life is rich, slow, real and flawed."
"Here's the thing about doing it all, even if you can do it all, no one can do it all well."
"The truth is, if we take care of ourselves the same way we're nurturing everyone else, we'll find all sorts of joy and be better for everyone we love."
"What good are we when we are overwhelmed, overbooked and over committed? We need care, rest nutrients and full hearts to be able to speak life into the people we love.
Our hearts are moving, loving, organic things. You might say our hearts are wells-deep and wide. If our well is not fed by a freshwater spring, where it can be replenished and refilled, we have no water to give to the ones we love. If our well is fed by a stream of comparison, anxiety, and stress, guess what we have to give to our families? Sharp words, headaches and impatience will brim at the top. Nothing good comes out of a poisoned well. But what would we have if we let our wells be filled with things like, rest, laughter, confidence, good tea, hugs and adventure? I want to overflow with that sweet water."
"Somewhere, some time ago, someone told you that you had to do it all -- and you had to do it all by yourself. Instead of saying no, paring down, and embracing quality of life over quantity of commitments, you allowed your life to spin out of control, And it's left you without half a second to take a deep breath."
"I hadn't realized that worry, anxiety, the need for control and the chase of perfection zap the life, energy and health from our bodies."
"Give yourself permission to slow down. In fact, give yourself permission to just stop. Press pause on as much as possible, and take inventory of your life. What are your commitments and responsibilities? What can go? What are your priorities? What can you say no to?"
"What would your life look like if you let your well be filled even five minutes a day, with the things that make you feel deeply alive?"
"Our time with little ones is so fleeting. It is both the fastest and slowest time of our lives. And for many of us, beginning motherhood coincides with a lot of other important life milestones. Our careers may be taking off. Our parents are getting older. We have big responsibilities and so many things beeping and buzzing to notify us that we're needed. Our minds are consumed with bills, to-do lists, behavior issues, comparisons, and attempts at doing everything just right. And all while, our little ones are growing another quarter of an inch. Their chubby thighs are slimming. Their wobbly walks are steadying. If we don't purposefully and intentionally slow down, free our hands, walk away and say no, this precious messy season of life will pass us by."
"I've realized that I have to manage my expectations and be realistic about how much I can participate in during this season of my life. We can't stay late when we take the whole family somewhere. That's just life right now. And that's okay. This is a season that will be gone all too soon. When I have this type of perspective, it helps me approach life -- and other -- a little more graciously when things don't go as planned."
"You don't have to be the best at everything. Allow your weaknesses to be someone else's strengths. That's what community is for. There is nothing wrong with stepping aside for sanity's sake. Instead of stretching yourself too thin, create margin and manage your expectations about what you can handle right now. Once you stop beating yourself up for what you're not doing, you're able to be more gracious with the people you love. And you give someone else the chance to shine in the role you couldn't take on."
"We live in a society of more, faster and extra. So we feel like we need to respond more, faster and extra. But that's a useless exercise. So much joy can be found in slowing down. I fight against my fast-paced, overachieving nature every single day. I fight the urge to take on anything and everything. Remember, you have a max capacity. Identify those areas of your life that are overflowing and distracting you, and do something about them. Unsubscribe. Quit. Uncommit. Slow down. Be still, Make revisiting these tasks a monthly routine in your life."
"After everything, one of the best lessons I've learned is this: everyone has a story about how they started out. Every dream began in somebody's garage or at someone's kitchen table or over two pretty average cups of coffee. Every successful person was new once and had to ask a lot of questions to figure out the way. Every person you admire has accepted help and advice from others and has fallen on his or her face countless times. Show me a self-made success story and I'll show you someone who's tell you a fib. No matter what your passions are in this life or what road you're traveling or what goal you're chasing, know this: it's okay to get dirty. It's okay to try one thing, mess up and try something else. It's also okay to keep trying to climb that same tree, evening if you fall down ten times. The difference between people who achieve their goals and people who don't is their ability to dust themselves off and wear their dirty outfit proudly."
"Your desire for a better life has to be stronger than your fear of what it may take to get there. It's as simple as that. Don't put off creating the life you dream of because you're afraid you can't do it perfectly."
"Comparison is truly the thief of joy. And we've established a standard of perfection in our work and our families based on what? Social media highlight reels? Perfect people? {I'm telling you -- they're like unicorns. They don't exist.} Being a woman with many loves and responsibilities will test your patience, stretch your will and make you love more fiercely than you ever thought possible -- because time is your most precious commodity."
"What will your legacy be? How often have you considered that the perspective you have will be passed on to your children? The way you let go of mommy anxiety will be handed down to your daughter. The love you give away to the world will be reflected on your children, and their children, and their children after them."
"Be still and listen. Let God's truth resonate in your life just as it is. Not one day when your house is clean. Not one day when all the laundry is put away. Not when the time is right. But right now."
Those are most of my favorite quotes from the book, Grace Not Perfection by Emily Ley. The entire book is filled with treasures of advice. It's a book that I will keep in my collection, knowing that I will go back and read it again. It's just that good.

Right now is a great time to get "Grace Not Perfection" by Emily Ley as it is currently ON SALE! Get your copy now {affiliate link}:

Readers, have you read Grace Not Perfection? What is a book you'd recommend that I read next?