Friday, April 29, 2016

A picture is worth a thousand feelings

We all know a picture is worth a thousand words.  Pictures also evoke feelings, maybe even more so than words, and this week I experienced "all the feelings" when I saw a recent picture of myself.  A couple of weeks ago my friend and workout buddy Jaclyn took photographs of our small group training session, to be used by the gym.  I didn't think much of these pictures until I saw one this week.  I was scanning through them and almost went right by this one.  I had no clue that this was even me. 

Picture taken by Jaclyn with Gaga's Portaits

I zoomed, stared and then had to pull up a "before" picture.  You see, these ladies that I see on an almost daily basis don't know me from before.  They've seen me change somewhat over the past months, but it's been gradual.  When I showed them a picture from a few years ago, it was now them who didn't recognize me.  And actually, I didn't really either. 

This before picture was taken in California at my friend's wedding.  I was having a blast and yet when I look at this picture, all I see are the feelings that were underneath.  We were trying to have a baby (my weight was part of the issue), I was between jobs and I felt like I just couldn't get control of anything.  When I look at the after picture, I see strength.  I see perseverance and confidence.  But it's still hard to believe that it's really me.

I got in the car after seeing that picture and cried.  I cried happy tears because it finally hit me that I did it.  I've achieved a goal that I've dreamed about for years.  I am still a work in progress to keep things balanced and healthy, but letting in all of those feelings was overwhelming...and necessary.  The reaction my new friends had to these pictures and my progress was humbling.  It was a wake up call too, that I have come so far.

I may not be featured in Shape Magazine anytime soon, but you better believe this picture will be hanging on our fridge.  As a reminder of what I am capable of and as motivation to never go back. 

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Why Not?

You know how kids go through the "why?" stage?  Everything you say to them is followed up with a "why?"  Well, we are in the middle of that stage right now with Aiden, except instead of "why" he says "why not?"  He means why, but for some reason always adds the not.  For example, I'll tell him we are going to go to the gym and then the grocery store and he'll say, "why not?"  Although technically wrong, I think it's cute and don't have the heart to correct him just yet.  I also started thinking about this saying and came to the conclusion that he's not wrong...he's just extremely optimistic!

As adults, we find excuses for everything.  We can't lose weight, we can't make that deadline, we can't save money, we can't pursue our true dreams.  What if we played like Aiden and instead of making excuses, asked ourselves - why not?  We encourage our kids to reach for the stars and dream big; well, why not us?  True, a lot of my dreams have already come true.  A wonderful husband, happy and healthy kids, a roof over our heads and a great support system.  But maybe it's okay to keep dreaming and asking why not?

Children have the gift of innocence and naivety.  We have lived enough now to develop fear and doubt and especially in today's world it is very easy to just give in to the negativity.  But we can't just leave the dreaming to the little ones.  I think this world could use some adult dreamers as well.  And not just daydreaming, but actually asking yourself - why not?  And going after it.

I have a few dreams/goals in mind that I am trying to treat the way Aiden would.  I want to publish a children's book.  I want to grow my writing experience because I truly love it and the way I can connect to people.  I want to be able to do a pull-up.  (Why are those so freaking hard?!)  I have other dreams of travel and experiences, but these are the ones I'm really focusing on right now.  Why can't I be an author?  Why can't I keep writing?  And why can't I pull myself up over a bar?  Well, I can.  And I will.

“Listen to the mustn'ts, child. Listen to the don'ts. Listen to the shouldn'ts, the impossibles, the won'ts. Listen to the never haves, then listen close to me... Anything can happen, child. Anything can be.” - Shel Silverstein

Happy Tuesday :)

Friday, April 22, 2016

Adding to my Wardrobe with LuLaRoe + a Giveaway!

I am so excited about today's post!  You may know how I have been slowly adding to my wardrobe since dropping 4+ sizes and I've been mainly focusing on a Capsule wardrobe.  The idea behind this was to find pieces that I love and will wear a lot.  When my friend Lauren asked me if I'd like to try LuLaRoe, I immediately checked it out to see if I could fit pieces into this plan - and I definitely could!  I've heard about LuLaRoe for awhile now, especially their "butter leggings" and since I wear leggings/workout pants pretty much everyday, I couldn't wait to try them!

Last Saturday I headed over to Lauren's open house where she had all of her pieces on display.  It really was like shopping in a boutique!  Each fashion consultant gets a collection when they begin, so there is a wide variety to choose from. If you've seen a pattern or piece that you like, but they don't have it, the consultant can try and track it down for you!  I came with two items already in mind after checking out LuLaRoe's site - the leggings and the "Julia" dress. I knew I would get a lot of wear out the leggings and I've been looking for a versatile, casual dress...that flatters my new shape ;).

Let's talk about the leggings first.  I would consider myself an expert in the legging department, I prefer them over jeans most days.  My days are spent at the gym, running errands, playing with the kids and working from home, so leggings are ideal.  I can honestly say these are the MOST comfortable pants I have ever put on.  In fact, I could hardly tell I was wearing anything at all (in a good way, ha!).  They really do feel like butter (again, in a good way) and even after wearing them for two four days in a row, they held their shape.  (Before you think I'm gross, keep in mind I only wore them for a few hours each day!)  I got the "TC" size, AKA Tall and Curvy.  The leggings also come in "OS," which is One Size.  Sizing is different for each item, but Lauren and LuLaRoe have great ways to help figure out what will work for you!

Now on to the "Julia."  I originally gravitated toward more neutral patterns, a stripe and a polka-dot, but ended up going with this...

and I LOVE it!  It is perfect for summer and it is much more versatile than I imagined.  I already have a few options of ways to wear it using items from my own closet, but I'm sure I'll be on the look out for other ways as well.  The fit is definitely closer to your body (you may need specific undergarments, hint hint) but it's surprisingly forgiving.  I picked this out Saturday morning and had Andrew take us to dinner at a Mexican restaurant that night because the pattern just screamed margaritas and salsa.  It also screams Hawaii, but that may have to wait a bit ;).  

I wore it with flat sandals, so I didn't feel overdressed, but it could also be dressed up.  I liked it with wedges I already have and a pair of nude heels.  I tried on both a Large and an X-Large and ended up going with the XL because it was a bit more flattering.  So according to the size charts on this one, I technically sized up one.  

So have you tried LuLaRoe yet?  Lauren was nice enough to let me try the leggings and now she is giving one of my readers the same opportunity!  You can win one of their signature "butter leggings" in black (TC or OS)! 

Trust me, you will never want to take them off.  All you have to do to enter is follow Lauren on Facebook!  Head over there and link up with her (LuLaRoe Lauren Rasor), then head back here and comment that you did it.  Feel free to let me know if you've tried this innovative brand yet - I think you'll be impressed!  The contest will run until next Thursday 4/28 at 11:59 pm EST and a winner will be announced on Friday the 29th!  If you'd like to host a Facebook party or a Pop-Up Boutique, or if you have any questions at all about LuLaRoe, here is Lauren's info!

Thanks for stopping by today and have a wonderful weekend!

Monday, April 18, 2016

Monday Motivation

The unfortunate part of a weight loss journey is that it is never over.  If you've struggled with weight, you know that it is very hard to not think about it a lot, and at times constantly.  As sad as it sounds, I can honestly say that there has not been a single day in the past 20+ years that I have not thought about my weight in some capacity.  BUT...I will say that my thoughts and outlook have changed over the years.  My thoughts are now on how I am feeling, my fitness, healthy eating and creating a balance that allows me to not feel deprived, rather than focusing on the way I look and how much I weigh.  This is definitely a healthy change, but it still frustrates me that I think about it so often.

It dawned on me recently that there are people in my life now who didn't know me 75 pounds ago.  They didn't know me when I was feeling depressed, tired and negative about life.  Some are surprised when I share my journey and why it began and they are even more surprised when they see my "before" pictures.  I look at those pictures now and I have a mixture of emotions - pride, relief and also fear and sadness.  I am afraid of going back to that place and leaving behind the way I feel right now and I am sad that I wasted time feeling that way.  

But, in a way, I don't regret it at all and I wouldn't change the path it took to get me here.  I am stronger because of the teasing I endured as a kid. I am also more compassionate.  I am confident now because I wasn't then; I had to learn that it comes from within.  I have such a great perspective and understanding of self-esteem and health that I am now able to share with my kids.  But I know that they will have their own paths when it comes to health and confidence and I will have to allow them to learn it for themselves.

On Mondays, my Instagram feed is filled with "Monday Motivation."  Quotes, stories and pictures to help start the week off right.  I have always loved reading about other's stories and have found inspiration in other's strength.  I have had people tell me that I am an inspiration, which makes me a little uncomfortable and VERY humbled.  I do hope that I can inspire people to strive to feel their very best, in whatever way works for them.  Life is too short and too precious to live your own life standing on the sidelines, wishing things were different.  My weight loss has pushed me to put myself out there in other ways and it's created new challenges and new opportunities that have filled my life with joy.  The unexpected can sometimes be the most rewarding.

I am selfishly using this "Monday Motivation" post to refocus and prioritize my own thoughts.  Hopefully it gives you a little push to do the same!  Have a beautiful week :).

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Random Act of Posting

I'm sure someone else has used this "clever" title in a blog before, but I do admit to giving myself a little pat on the back for thinking of it.  Then I got up to get Aiden milk, stepped on a small construction cone, and realized I'm not so cool after all ;).  Basically, this is going to be a little rambling, a few recipes and some random thoughts I've had recently.  (AKA I have a bit of writer's block.)

On our way back from Hocking Hills a couple weeks ago, Andrew and I stopped at the outlet mall for a little shopping.  The Under Armour store was my favorite stop and I could've gone crazy.  I stuck to one outfit and had to ask about 2,456 times to make sure it didn't look stupid (you can kind of see through the shirt).  After seeing this picture in my time hop though, I'd say I'm pretty happy with how it looks!

I made this Roasted Vegetable and Feta Quinoa last night and it was delicious!  Filled with protein and veggies, it was very filling and I could even pull parts out (beans and quinoa) for the kids.  They don't do well with casserole type recipes.  

Aiden saw a Disney World commercial the other day and was mesmerized.  He's always loved Mickey, but this was his first recognition of where Mickey lives.  He turned to me when it was over and said in his sweet little voice, "Mommy, I want to go to Disney World and hug Mickey Mouse!"  And that, my friends, is how Disney makes their money.  Oh, and Audrey loves him too. 

It makes me so happy that I have discovered this passion for writing and have been able to find time to do it.  Aside from this blog, I've been writing for Cincinnati Parent Magazine and its affiliate cities.  I LOVE it, it's been a great challenge but yet feels so natural.  It only took me 33 years, but I think I finally found something I enjoy and am (hopefully) good at!

We have been remodeling our basement for years, literally.  The last piece was completing the bathroom and it is finally finished!!  I've taken a few showers in this bad boy and WOW...the DIY paid off.  Kudos to my husband, dad and father-in-law for their hard work.  It's exactly what we envisioned (those years ago ;)).

Finally, Aiden and Audrey have been playing with each other a lot more recently and they love when I join the party. We were being silly yesterday and I snapped this action shot.  It perfectly captures the moment and thankfully didn't capture the tears a few minutes later when Aiden accidentally stepped on Audrey :).

Thanks for reading (or maybe just scanning) through my randomness.  Aiden is on Spring Break this week, so along with the beer pong and wet t-shirt contests (oh wait), we are hitting up the indoor pool, a park or two and the zoo!  I hope you are all having a great week!

Friday, April 8, 2016

When Life is Unfair

This thought has been weighing heavily on my heart this week.  In this age of Facebook and other social media, we often see friends, family and acquaintances share sad news.  Unfortunately, this week my newsfeed was particularly filled with these posts and my heart is aching for those going through hard times.  I tend to feel what others are going through, no matter how well I know them, and I'm always very affected when these things hit close to home.  It is a reminder that life is not fair and life can change, or end, in a matter of minutes.  BUT...what I've also noticed this week is how these people have handled it.  And it has been downright inspirational. 

The one year anniversary of the passing of Lauren Hill is coming up.  If you aren't familiar with her story, you can read more about her here.  I remember very clearly the day she died last year because it was the same day everything bloomed.  It was like she was telling the world that she was on to better things and everything would be okay.  When we hear of a father passing away, leaving his young family behind, or the story of a child fighting cancer or of a newborn baby found abandoned, it is natural to question why and wonder how will those involved will ever move on.  But somehow, they do.  And that is what we all need to remember.

Whenever I face something scary in my life, I think about how others have gotten through it and thrived.  The pain is always there and the hard times are never forgotten, but we go on.  Someone once told me that you don't move on, you go on.  You wake up, you live, you smile and you go on, while keeping hold of those memories and even the pain, because that is the reminder of what once was. 

I don't mean for this to be a depressing post, in fact, I hope it is the opposite.  For those going through a painful time right now, know that you are inspiring.  You show us that we are capable of handling more than we realize and when we are faced with a mountain to climb, you have paved the way to the top.  One of Aiden's favorite books right now is a follow up to The Little Engine that Could, called I Knew You Could!  It has some great quotes in it, but this is my favorite: 

You'll go through tunnels, surrounded by dark,
And you'll wish for a light or even a spark.
You might get scared or a little bit sad,
Wondering if maybe your track has gone bad.
So here's some advice to help ease your doubt,
The track you took in must also go out.
So steady yourself and just keep on going-
Before you know it, some light will be showing.
And then you'll be out, heading to a new place.
You'll be ready for the next tunnel you face.

Here's to the light at the end of your tunnel and for life to go on. 

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

The Perfect Getaway

My husband and I have been talking about getting away for the past three years.  Naturally, our son just turned three in February... go figure ;).  Three years, two kids, one open heart surgery and about 5 total hours of sleep later, we finally decided to just go with it.  A few things had been holding us back - not wanting to spend the money, physically not being able to go and leaving our parents to deal with the sleepless nights with our kids were our main concerns.  But we realized that time away just the two of us is SO important and we were desperate for that time to reconnect.  

We set off for our little trip with no agenda whatsoever.  We had a cabin booked in Hocking Hills, but beyond that we seriously had no other plans.  We are both planners and list makers, so this was challenging (maybe just for me) but it felt so good.  We took the scenic route, made random stops, held hands, talked, got lost (note to self - bring a real map when you lose cell service!) and did whatever we felt like doing.  I can't remember the last time life felt like that.

We needed to slow down for so many reasons.  Before we had kids, I admittedly used to think the parents who said they needed a "break" from their kids for a couple's getaway were crazy.  You chose to be parents, you need to be there.  Okay, true.  BUT... we do need that break.  Individually we get some time to ourselves from time to time, but we very rarely have that time with just the two of us.  With my evening work schedule and our inconsistent sleepers, we don't even get much time day to day when we are together without the kids.  Can you tell I'm justifying our trip?  I guess that mom guilt never fully goes away.

It was a wonderful weekend.  It was casual, we got a lot of fresh air and we both left feeling so appreciative of this life we lead.  I'll have more of a trip report on the area coming up on Cincinnati Moms Blog, so stay tuned for that :).  And go plan a trip with your partner!  Even if it's just one night, putting your marriage first is one of the best things you can do for your family. 

Friday, April 1, 2016

Friday Favorites

Today may just be my favorite Friday I've had in a LONG time because my husband and I are off for a weekend away....just the two of us! So grateful to my parents and his parents for watching the kids. We've been wanting to do this for a long time and we finally decided to just plan it and go.  We're not going far, but it's just what we need!

This week has had it's ups and downs...Audrey was sick, I was a little under the weather.  It was nice out and then it rained.  Just one of those weeks.  But overall, it was a great week for many reasons, some of which are part of my Friday Favorites!

I reached a HUGE goal this week.  I may do a longer post all about my numbers and weight loss, but as of this week I officially weigh less than 200 pounds!!  Now, I am 6 feet tall and carry my weight all over my body, so most people think I weigh much less than I actually do.  My own mother was shocked when I told her.  But I have been over 200 for many many years and even over 300 when I was pregnant with Aiden.  So to see that scale start with a 1, well, it made me cry.  A lot.  

I received a special surprise in the mail this week from the mother of one of my best friend's from college.  She sent me this hat that her husband received at a golf tournament and it made her think of me and my journey.  I was so touched by this note and gesture!  More tears and more gratefulness to have such wonderful people in my life.

SLEEP!!   Believe it or not, we not only got a night of BOTH kids sleeping through the night, but I also took a 2.5 hour nap on Wednesday!!  I wasn't feeling great, so while Audrey slept, Aiden and I curled up in our bed and we both fell fast asleep.  Until 5:30.  Whoops!  It was as amazing as it sounds.  But I'll stop bragging now, because I know some of you are sleep deprived and hate me right now ;).  

Now on to a few less serious favorites... this jacket!  It was an addition to my capsule wardrobe and it's perfect.  I ordered a tall and since it's technically cropped, it is the perfect length.  

I mentioned that I wasn't feeling great this week.  I started drinking this juice whenever I feel something coming on and I swear it works.  I can't take most cold medicines with another medication I'm on, so I am now in search of anything "natural" to help me fight this yuck off.

And last but not least...the country.  We spent a lot of time out in the country last weekend and I love it.  It's made us seriously consider our next move and where we want to continue to raise our family.  Any country residents out there?  There are pros and cons of course, so we'll see. 

I hope you all have a fabulous weekend!  GO REDS!!