Friday, June 29, 2012

This one's a fighter

I woke up Tuesday morning and went to the gym, just like a normal day.

And then I wrote the date on my workout chart.


Yeah, just waking up in the morning in the be well
Quite honest with ya I ain't really sleep well
You ever feel like your train of thoughts been derailed
That's when you press on, Lee Nails

It took my breath away. I hadn't even remembered when I woke up. But suddenly it was staring me in the face.


3 years since I married Isaac.

So what did I do, standing there in my gym, staring at that date? Did I cry?  Go home and curl up in a ball on my couch?  Go to the bathroom and take a few deep breaths?

No.  I got on the treadmill and I ran.

Until the referee rings the bell

Until both your eyes start to swell
Until the crowd goes home
What we gonna do ya'll?

I worked out.  I lifted and I squatted and I crunched and then all of the sudden - the sadness was gone.

Yes, some days you have to be sad.  But some days you just have to fight through the sad stuff - because fighting makes you stronger.

Give 'em hell, turn their heads
Gonna live life 'til we're dead
Give me scars, give me pain
Then they'll say to me, say to me, say to me
There goes a fighter, there goes a fighter
Here comes a fighter
That's what they'll say to me, say to me, say to me

This one's a fighter

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Thirsty Thursday

Last week when I wrote about the "must do" and "can't do" things in my healthy living journey, I missed one of the biggest things!!


If you open my fridge on any given day, this is what you'll find for drinks:
Unsweetened Coconut Milk
Organic Skim Milk
Unsweetened Mango Pineapple Green Tea (brewed at home)
Wine (yes, there are 2 bottles in there!)

What do you not see?
Sweetened Teas

It's really, really easy to ingest hundreds of extra calories each day just in your beverage choices.  

Why drink more water?
1.  Water maintains fluid balance.  Your body is more than half fluids.  It's important to maintain the right balance to help our body function correctly.
2.  Water helps energize muscles.  According to the Mayo Clinic, "Cells that don't maintain their balance of fluids and electrolytes shrivel, which can result in muscle fatigue."
3.  Water helps your skin look good!  Dehydration is bad for your body, no question, but it is also bad for your skin!  Ever noticed how your skin looks better after you've put on moisturizer?  Tired looking skin is dry skin!
4.  Water helps with..ahem..bodily functions.  Your kidneys and your digestive system need fluids to function properly.  And we all want those things to function properly, right??

Why drink less soda/sugary beverages?
1.  SUGAR.  The recommended amount of sugar daily is 6 tsp for women and 9 tsp for me.  12 ounces (1 can) of regular soda contains EIGHT TEASPOONS of sugar.  You've blown your whole daily allotment of sugar in ONE drink.
2.  Diabetes.  According to a Harvard study, drinking just 1 can of soda (diet or regular) can increase your chances of developing Type 2 Diabetes by almost 15%. 
3.  Calories.  A typical can of regular soda is 150-170 calories.  I know people who drink 3 or more of these a day.  That's 500+ calories just in your beverages.  If you're trying to lose weight, and eating around 1200-1500 calories a day, there is no room for those calories!
4.  Artificial Sweeteners.  This stuff is bad for you.  Here's an article about it.

What about things like Vitamin Water?  In my opinion, they're still a "no".  The "vitamin water" type beverages are just sugar water with extra vitamins added, really.  They still contain either a ton of sugar or artificial sweeteners.  

Instead, go for waters that use natural essences instead of artificial stuff.  You can find fruit flavors, mint, I've even seen flavors like cinnamon - all for 0 calories and no artificial stuff.  Or - dress up your own water by tossing mint leaves and/or sliced citrus fruit into a pitcher of water!

Feeling thirsty yet?  

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

What I Ate + A Recipe

Yesterday, I took pictures of everything I ate throughout the day so I could share it with you!  This is a fairly typical day.  Usually I do the Green Monster for breakfast, but I was attending a Boot Camp class and wanted the extra protein from the eggs before and the smoothie after.  I made enough of my lunch to have leftovers for today, and it's a recipe easy enough to double for a large batch that would last me a week.  Dinner is pretty typical - fish, veggies, whole grains.  More dinner ideas can be found in this blog from last summer!

What I Ate Monday:
1 egg + 3 whites scrambled with a cup of zucchini
1 slice of Ezekiel toast with a teaspoon of butter
1 cup of cherries and blueberries (frozen organic)

Post-workout snack:
Green Monster
1 cup unsweetened coconut milk
1 big handful spinach
1 tbsp peanut butter
1 tbsp raw cacao powder
1/2 scoop Designer Whey 100 calorie protein powder

Farro Black Bean Toss (recipe at the end)

Mid-afternoon snack:
1 cup raspberries
green tea with honey

Sauteed stir-fry veggies (Cascadian Farms frozen organic)
 5 oz sockeye salmon, marinated w/ soy sauce, honey, garlic, and lime juice
"Fried" Rice (brown rice, sauteed w/ cooking spray, onion, low sodium soy sauce, and an egg)

I also had 3 pieces of this "healthy" chocolate/pb fudge.  I make it in a 9x9 baking dish and chop it into about 40 pieces (then they are about 50-60 calories a piece)

Farro Black Bean "Salad"
2/3 cup dry farro - prepare as directed on the package
1 can black beans (rinsed and drained)
1 large tomato, chopped
1 summer squash, chopped
1/2-1/4 of an onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, pressed
1/4 cup feta cheese
Finely chopped fresh herbs (I used rosemary, thyme, and basil)
salt, pepper to taste (optional)
  1. Cook the farro according to the package directions.  While this is cooking, chop up you veggies.
  2. Saute the squash, onion, and garlic using olive oil or cooking spray until soft.
  3. Add the tomatoes and cook until hot.
  4. Toss the veggies with the farro, beans, fresh herbs, and feta.
  5. Enjoy!

Find more food fun at these blogs!

Beauty and Bedlam

Friday, June 22, 2012

That. Part 2.

In yesterday's post, I talked about letting go of "that".  In my case, "that" is food. When it comes to losing weight, in order to really be successful and healthy - there are life changes that have to be made.  There are things you just have to do, and things you just can't do anymore. So, here's a few of those things for me:

The MUST do list:
1.  Exercise.  I know lots of people who say that once they start exercising regularly, they learn to love it.  I am not one of those people.  I've been exercising consistently for a year and I still don't love it.  But I do LOVE the way it makes me feel.  I love the way it's changing my body.  I have to do it.  You just MUST EXERCISE if you want to be healthy.  

2.  Eat well.  What does well mean?  Fruits, veggies, whole grains, and lean proteins.  I don't follow any kind of diet or plan.  I just eat those 4 basic groups.  I like to follow a rule Jillian Michaels said in one of her books - "If it didn't grow from the ground or have a mother - don't eat it."  Simple enough, right?

3.  Sleep.  This is easier said than done, I know!  But it's so important!  Your body can't function properly without enough sleep.  When you're sleep deprived, you don't want to exercise and you want to eat crap - and that's not good!  So turn of the TV, put away the iPad, silence your iPhone - get a good book and read for a few minutes in bed.  It helps you unwind and I promise you'll sleep better!

The CANNOT do list:
1.  Fast Food.  I'll be honest, just the thought of a McDonald's burger makes my stomach turn now.  I never thought I'd see that day!  But - fast food is a non-negotiable.  You just cannot go to a fast food restaurant and order a burger and fries when you're trying to lose weight.  I know there's the "everything in moderation" mantra, but fast food like that is CRAP.  Order the salad. Go to a healthier place like Chipotle (my fave!) or Subway.  There is just no room for crappy fast food burgers in a healthy lifestyle.

2.  Processed Food.  See #2 in the "Must Do List" - watch the documentary "Food, Inc" - it'll change your life.  Check out this list of reasons not to eat processed foods. Read the ingredients on your food.  If it contains a lot of things you can't pronounce, the words "high fructose corn syrup", artificial sweeteners, or dyes - PUT IT DOWN.  No good will come of eating a Twinkie, I promise.

Do I break these rules?  Sometimes.  But here's my theory with that - if I'm going to break a rule, it better be worth it.  Is a Hostess cupcake purchased from a gas station convenience store "worth it"? Heck no.  But a white chocolate raspberry cupcake from the local bakery?  Worth it.  But not every day!  I've had 4 cupcakes in the past year.  Yes, I know how many.  I can even tell you what kind - because they were planned splurges and not everyday occurrences.  It makes the cupcake that much more special.  I can enjoy the cupcake rather than eating in my car and then hiding the wrapper (don't judge).

Some splurges that are worth it to me:  a good steak from Smokey Bones (not a cheap burger), a craft beer (not a Miller Lite), good wine (not Arbor Mist), real ice cream (not fat free, sugar free stuff).

Anything you think I should add to my "don't" or "do" lists that has worked for you?


Thursday, June 21, 2012

What's your THAT?

In a recent message at my church, the pastor delivering the message asked this question: "Do you love Christ more than THAT?"

What do I mean by THAT?  Let's look at Matthew 19.  Verses 16-30 tell the story of "the rich man".  This rich man comes to Jesus and asks him what he has to do to have eternal life.  He and Jesus have this conversation where Jesus ends up telling him "If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” (v. 21)  In this case, THAT is the rich man's possessions.  

We all have a "that" - a thing that we hold onto and don't want to let go, no matter what.  It's the security blanket of our life.  It's the thing that we drag around behind us, that we're reluctant to let go of because we think it's of great value.  But, it can also be the thing that keeps us from living the free, abundant life that God intended for us.

This idea applies to weight loss, too.  For many of us, myself included, food is our "that".

In Made to Crave (also known as "the book that changed my life"), Lysa Terkeurst refers to this same passage of Scripture.  She says "He’s just like people today who refuse healthier breakfast options like egg whites and fruit so they can fill themselves up with candy-sprinkled, chocolate-frosted doughnuts. Even when their sugar high crashes and they complain of splitting headaches, they steadfastly refuse to consider giving up their doughnuts."

Lysa continues to discuss this passage in my favorite part of Made to Crave.  This is the highlight I keep coming back to, I keep reminding myself of.  "I imagine Jesus looked straight into this young man’s soul and said, “I want you to give up the one thing you crave more than me. Then come, follow me.” Piercing thought, isn’t it? Suddenly, Jesus isn’t just staring at the rich young man; He’s also staring at me—the inside me. The part I can’t cover up with excuses and makeup. When Jesus says, “Follow me,” it’s not an invitation to drag our divided heart alongside us as we attempt to follow hard after God. When Jesus wants us to follow Him—really follow Him—it’s serious business."

I even see this in the secular world.  In Bob Harper's new book, The Skinny Rules, he says this:
"But if you want to be right-sized in body, you've got to get rid of the supersize way of life. Whether you want to lose 20 pounds or 200, what the contestants on The Biggest Loser have learned— and taught me— holds true: you've got to make a break. You’ve got to divorce yourself from the past and find a different way of living. And you can never go back. Once you accept that, and realize there is no finish line, then you've got a better chance of succeeding."

Do you see that part I emphasized?  FIND A DIFFERENT WAY OF LIVING.  To really "get it" and start living a healthier life, you have to LIVE DIFFERENTLY.  You have to let go of THAT.  There are things that you MUST do and things that you CANNOT do.  Tomorrow I'll share what things fit in those categories for me.  Come back, ok?

Listen to the whole message by Keith Walker from LCBC here.  (you should at least watch the first minute, which is an ironic video clip about donuts)

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The Sneaker Saga

Around the beginning of April, I was about 3 pounds away from hitting 40 pounds lost.  I decided that my reward for hitting this milestone would be a new pair of sneakers.  I'd been wearing the same sneakers for over a year, and they were worn out!

Can you see the hole by the toes where there is just mesh and no layer underneath?  These suckers were sad.

So, I announced this goal to one of the trainers at my gym.  I promised myself that I wouldn't buy new sneakers until the scale said the magic number.

And then I hit a plateau.

For the next 8 weeks, I laced up those worn out old sneakers at least 3 times a week.  I walked into the gym every Thursday and Kris, the trainer, looked at my feet and I'd tell her "I lost 2 tenths" or "I gained a pound".  But I was still wearing the same darn sneakers.

This plateau wasn't that frustrating, because I knew what was causing it.  ME!  I was still working out consistently, but I wasn't working out as hard.  I was still making smarter food choices, but I wasn't doing it all the time.

Finally, last week I hit the big 4-0.  Once school ended, my mindset got right back into "kick some @$$" mode.  And yesterday, I bought my new shoes.

What's my next goal?  50.  And the reward?  It's not nearly as fun as new shoes, but I am in serious need of some new sports bras.  Exciting, huh?


Monday, June 18, 2012

Strong Enough

Allow me to share with you one of my favorite workout songs...which also happens to be a favorite with 12 year olds.  But I'm okay with that.

Yes, that's right - it's Justin Bieber.  Before you dismiss this song and think "I hate Justin Bieber, no way am I listening to that." - read some of the lyrics.

The song is more than just a teeny bopper jam.  The song is about not giving up - not quitting.  It talks about when you reach "the point of no return" and you have no choice but to fight.  It talks about doubting your own strength and abilities, and realizing that when your back is against the wall - it turns out you're stronger than you think.

"I never thought that I could feel this power

I never thought that I could feel this free

I'm strong enough to climb the highest tower

And I'm fast enough to run across the sea"

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Some days, I'm still sad.

Most of the time I am happy.  Really happy.  There have been so many moments lately that I've just looked around and smiled at the way life has been this past year.  There are so many words of praise and thanksgiving in my journal for the things God has done in my life.

But then there are moments like now...moments where my heart is so sad and the "missing him" is so strong that I can't get it out of my mind.

And since this blog is a place of journey, where I have shared with you the happiness, the sadness, the frustration, the triumph of these past few years, I will write through this particular spell of sadness.

I don't even know really what caused this.  It's Father's Day.  I remember the first holiday after Isaac died, Mother's Day, when I cried and cried.  I've been through so many holidays that would seemingly be "the hard ones", and yet - Father's Day and Mother's Day have reduced me to tears.  Perhaps it's in someway the mourning of losing something I'll never have with Isaac.  Perhaps it's just the loneliness that comes when you are at the age where all of your friends are new fathers or grandfathers, and you hear the celebrations and special surprises they're having - and you go home to an empty house and a picture frame of a man you never even had the chance to get a cheesy "Happy Father's Day from the cats" card for.

I guess I just have to remind myself sometimes that it's okay to still be sad.  844 days have passed since Isaac died.  I've probably felt 844 different emotions in that time, and I find that sadness is the first emotion I push aside and try to replace with something "better".  But sometimes, I have to stop and just allow myself to feel that sadness.

I share this because, if you know me "in real life", you don't often get to see or hear this part of me - and I don't want my laughter or my smiles or my wisecracks to make anyone think that there aren't still really hard days.  But, with each day, I am stronger and happier.  Life really is good, and more importantly - God is good.


Wednesday, June 13, 2012

A picture is worth 1,000 words.

I posted this picture on Facebook this weekend. It's my pal Bethany and I, and we're actually waiting in line for a port-a-potty at a concert festival. Clearly, there is nothing glamorous about that!

But then, I got this text message from one of my closest friends: "Ok I see you almost everyday 10 months out of the year, and just passed your picture up on Facebook at first because I didn't recognize you at first. You are looking great. Very healthy and happy."

And if I could sum up the last year of my life, I think that text would fit perfectly.

Friday, June 8, 2012


Today I'm doing a "Five Minute Friday" with Lisa-Jo!  The rule is: she gives a topic, and you write for 5 minutes - stream of consciousness, no editing, no backtracking - just writing.  The "Five Minute Friday" word of the week is - EXPECTATION.

This morning, I sat outside in my favorite spot - underneath the shade of the one tree in my city backyard, with the sounds of the birds chirping mingled with the sounds of the train across the block and the cars at the traffic light out front.  I opened my journal, where I began journaling prayers in April, and started looking through the pages at what I'd been praying for.

I saw a pattern - I was praying for God to work  a situation out in my life in a way that only He could. This was something I thought I had only prayed once or twice.  But, as I looked back at this journal, I realized that I had been praying for this specific thing almost every day for 6 weeks.  How did I miss that?  I prayed with the EXPECTATION that God would do it.  I just expected it to happen.

And it did.

I didn't even really realize it.  But, now that I looked back through those journals I saw my words - heavy with the expectation that this was something God had to orchestrate, I realize I had complete confidence - without really trying - in His ability to grant me this answer to prayer.

And He did.

Not only did He kinda answer it, but He gave me THE BEST.  Isn't that what we should always expect from God when we pray?  Shouldn't we always just assume that as we pray for God to work in our lives, that He will always give us THE BEST.  It's hard to pray with that expectation.  It's hard to not to say "I want ____ God, but I understand if You don't answer it."  It's hard to pray "I want ____ God, and I expect Your best."

Have high expectations for God.  Pray believing, wholeheartedly, that God will give you the best.  He is big enough to meet, and EXCEED your expectations!


Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Easy Fruit Tart

Easy & Elegant Fruit Tart
This fruit tart is SO EASY, but it looks super impressive!  I'm not sure where the recipe originally came from.  My mom shared it with me, and she says she got it from "one of the food magazines" - which doesn't narrow it down much in our family!  
I've made it now with just raspberries (shown), a berry combo, and just strawberries.  My mom has also made it with peaches.  And in the Fall - how about apples with a caramel drizzle?!?!? YUM!!

1.  Mix cream cheese, cornstarch, powdered sugar, and egg yolk with an electric mixer.

2.  Gently toss berries with cornstarch, sugar, and vanilla.

3.  Unroll pie crust.

4.  Spread crust with cream cheese mixture.

5.  Spread berries on top!

6.  Fold up the edges of the crust.  Brush with egg white and sprinkle with sugar if desired!
7.  Bake at 400* for 30 minutes.

Easy & Elegant Fruit Tart (the non-picture directions!)
1.  Mix cream cheese, cornstarch, powdered sugar, and egg yolk with an electric mixer.
2.  Gently toss berries with cornstarch, sugar, and vanilla.
3.  Unroll pie crust.
4.  Spread crust with cream cheese mixture.

5.  Spread berries on top.
6.  Fold up the edges of the crust.  Brush with egg white and sprinkle with sugar if desired!
7.  Bake at 400* for 30 minutes.

That time when I disappeared...

Wow! Has it really been more than a month since I blogged???

Well - good news - it is SUMMER! That means more time for cooking and crafting - and blogging about it!

The "to-do list" for the summer includes some small projects (minor redecorating, some sewing, paint touch ups, etc) and one big project (painting the kitchen cabinets). I can't wait to get started - and to share it with you!

In the meantime, here are some pictures things I've done in the past month!

{went wine tasting with my college roommates for my 31st birthday weekend}

{caught up with some friends over cupcakes and coffee}

{scoped out the summer reading options at Target}

{spent a day in NYC with the Student Ministry from my church}

{helped narrate stories at the first baptism service at LCBC York}

{made pasta with my mom}

{did lots of fun end-of-the-year activities with my teaching team}

Can't wait to start getting to work on some of the blogs I've been thinking about over the past month, that I'll now actually have time to write!  Hooray!