Friday, January 20, 2017

Friday Favorites

Oh this's been a bit of a long one.  We've all been sick with sinus/cold/cough yuck (for what seems like months), which meant no school for Audrey on Wednesday and not enough gym time for me.  That may sound petty, but that is my time to recharge and de-stress and I'm feeling it today.  But anyway...we have to all feel better eventually...right? :)

There have been some highlights this week.  Last Sunday I decided to plan ahead for the week and meal prep my lunches.  Lunch is tough for me because we are often out or what I make for the kids isn't really the best option for me (it's probably not the best option for them either, but that's another post, another time).  So I roasted veggies and chicken thighs and had this for lunch 3 days this week.  It was great!  I will say the third day was a little tough for me....I was over the food and I get funny about eating leftovers, but I'm glad I got healthy lunches in for so many days.

I recently used some Christmas money to do a little shopping.  I wear workout clothes more than anything else, so I added a few pieces.  This outfit is from GAP and was 50% off!  The shirt is open some in the back, and can be worn with a lot of things!

This kid is all about imaginative play right now and I love it.  He set this up and then pretend played with all of the trains and trucks, giving them voices and making up stories.  I wish I had filmed it! 

While Audrey being sick and neither of us getting any sleep are NOT favorites...the extra snuggles I get sure are.  The unexpected one-on-one time Wednesday morning was good for both of us. 

New shoes! I feel a bit like a hypocrite here because I haven't been a huge fan of the black gym shoe trend.  But, they do happen to match most outfits (not that gym shoes have to match, but...) and these are VERY comfy.  We have a big trip coming up at the end of February (think a certain mouse at a certain castle) and I know I need comfortable walking shoes.  I think I found a winner!

I saw this quote this week and love it so much.  It definitely applies to so many things in my life, but especially my mom's journey right now.  We are trying to focus on the baby steps and when I look back to 7 and a half weeks ago...they've definitely added up.

This guy in the morning (or really any time), is so cuddly!  He loves to be on my lap and is all about getting a blanket so we can snuggle. 

Another favorite fashion find...also 50% off right now at Loft! This shirt is super soft and versatile.  It will be difficult to not wear it every day. 

We have to leave the house today for a work thing, so please send patience and good health vibes our way!  We also have some fun things planned this weekend, so here's to hopefully moving past this yuck TODAY!  Happy Friday everyone :). 

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Celebrating Ten Years and Two Years

January 12th.  A day that means quite a bit in my life.  Today will be a little trip down memory lane, but I think spending this time to reflect can help me appreciate the blessings of today.

Ten years ago, I went to a birthday party of a family friend.  (See the very brown picture below, haha.)  It was at this party that my future husband, Andrew, noticed me.  Admittedly, I had noticed him for quite awhile, but never made a move.  Well, Andrew - being the "sly" guy that he is - approached our mutual family friend and asked who I was.  As fate would have it, my mom happened to be standing right there.  Long story short, a business card was given, an email sent, phone calls made, dates happened...the rest, as they say, is history.  January 12th will always go down as the day I "met" the love of my life.

This was taken a few weeks after we started dating.  We look so young.  And rested. 

Fast forward 8 years and in 2015, I went in for my second open-heart surgery to replace my aortic valve.  If you've followed me for awhile, you know this story and you know how much has changed these last two years. 

Within a week of my surgery, I was walking outside.  I carried my heart pillow as comfort and because it hurt like crazy to cough.  I could walk from my house, past about two houses, turned around and came back.  Then I needed a nap.

I kept at it.  I ordered this shirt and took this picture soon after surgery.  I changed my outlook on health, food and fitness.  I looked at my family and knew I wanted to do better.  To BE better.  It was the ultimate motivation.

Two years later...

I write a lot about my progress.  Maybe you're annoyed, inspired, motivated or just happy for me.  Maybe a little of each :).  But I need to do this for me.  I need to see where I started and remind myself why I am doing it.  This all has new meaning now since my mom is now on her own recovery journey - much more difficult than mine was.  She is one of my biggest supporters and I plan on doing the same for her.

So happy 10th anniversary, Andrew.  Ten years ago you changed my life and you've been by my side.  I love you.

And happy 2nd anniversary to my made it possible to change my path and feel what living really is.  

January 12th...a day to celebrate. 

Monday, January 9, 2017

New Year, New Workout

One of my goals when I set out to change my lifestyle was to allow myself options.  By options, I mean shopping in any store I choose, not worrying about the weight limit on a water ride and having the ability to attempt most any physical challenge.  Basically, I didn't want my body to keep me from doing something.  I've mentioned before that I felt like a physical/active person, trapped in a body that didn't allow it.  Well, that's no longer the case.

For the past two years, I've been pretty consistent with the types of workouts I've been doing.  They are mostly at the gym and involve pre-set circuits, with strength and cardio mixed together.  I also take a "dance" class from time to time and attempt running, but my knee isn't a fan.  I love my routine, and the people who are a part of it, but with the new year I wanted to try something different.  I also wanted to push myself.  Enter ELMNTL Fitness!

My friend Kathryn (A TWO-TIME Ironman!) has been telling me about ELMNTL for awhile now, but I was honestly too nervous to try it.  I mean, she has completed the hardest physical challenge possible, so I assumed the others involved were of the same caliber.  Here's the thing I've realized - and this is for those of you who are nervous to try something new - those leading and participating in these workouts want you there.  They want to include you, inspire you and challenge you - and they will make it work for YOU.  I've learned this lesson at my gym and I learned it at ELMNTL.

Of course I chose the coldest day EVER (felt like -1) to try this out, but the temperature really wasn't a factor.  Now the layers were a bit restricting and the monkey bars were icy, but besides that, it was fun working out in the snow!  The group was super friendly and welcoming and the owner, Kevin, made sure I felt comfortable (yet challenged).  The setting was beautiful and despite the sore muscles, I truly enjoyed myself.  The workout included a lot of what I do in the gym, but outside and using elements of nature - hence the name :).  

Losing 97 pounds has been life-changing.  But possibly the biggest change has been my attitude.  My confidence.  It's something I've never fully embraced, but now feel ready to take on so much more than before.  Maybe it's not trying a challenging outdoor workout (although, I highly recommend it!), maybe it's just walking into a gym.  Or maybe it's asking for a raise, standing up to a bully, or reaching out to a long-lost friend.  Whatever your hurdle is, run straight for it and jump.  You may stumble, you may even fall flat on your face.  But what if you don't?  What if you realize that trying is half the battle, and it'll only get you closer to your goal? 

Happy Monday, friends :). 

Friday, January 6, 2017

Friday Favorites - A Few Go-To "Recipes"

Happy Friday everyone! Is it just me, or has this felt like the longest week ever?  The kids went back to school on Wednesday (but they only go Mon/Wed), we've all been sick in some way and it just feels like a struggle to get out of this funk.  But, we press on...

While I mostly stuck to healthy choices over the holidays, I definitely indulged a little more than normal.  I started January just feeling FULL.  So I've been cleansing my meal rotation a bit, in hopes of feeling better and more energetic.  I am a firm believer in using food as fuel and I enjoy the challenge of finding healthy options that I truly want to eat.  Maybe you'll enjoy these too!

I try to eat more food in the morning and taper throughout the day.  It helps my metabolism and I'm even used to going to bed a little hungry, which is okay! This combo is a common breakfast or lunch for me.  I love Dave's Killer Bread - I toast it, spread avocado on top with salt & pepper, sometimes I'll add an egg.  The smoothie is frozen strawberries and bananas, 1 scoop vanilla protein powder, splash of juice, chia seeds, spinach and water.  I usually add plain greek yogurt, but I was out :). 

Another common breakfast - scrambled eggs with spinach (an easy way to sneak veggies into breakfast), yogurt with granola and blueberries.  I love Chobani strawberry and KIND granola.  By keeping it in the yogurt container, it helps with portion control - and no dirty dishes! 

This is on of my favorite snacks and it comes from my friend Ashley from NaturallyNati.  These "Almost Cookie Dough Bites" are the perfect cure for a sweet tooth.  I even got my kids to try them!

I save this breakfast for days when I have a big workout.  It's more carbs than I typically eat in one meal, but that's a good thing to fuel up for a workout.  The same yogurt combo as before, plus a waffle with peanut butter. 

I made this soup for the first time yesterday and I think it'll be a once a month recipe for me.  It's called a "Cleansing Soup" and it is FILLED with good stuff for your body.  And it tastes pretty good, too!  It has an asian flair with ginger and cinnamon.  It was a little labor intensive, but it makes a ton and I'll have it for several meals the next few days. 

My favorite healthy indulgence - Banana Chocolate Chip Bread.  Made with greek yogurt and dark chocolate chips, it is very filling and yummy.  I used coconut sugar instead of brown this time and I always use whole wheat flour.  Turned out great!

And one last sweet treat.  Skinny Pop popcorn with a piece of peppermint white chocolate bark (thanks, Alicia!).  Because I obviously can't quit Christmas...

Hopefully this gives you some inspiration for eating healthy in the new year, without feeling deprived!  Have a wonderful weekend :). 

Monday, January 2, 2017

A word...and a few thoughts... for 2017

A new year, a new start.  Even when you want to just treat January 1st as any old day, there's always a part of you that feels the need to start fresh and look ahead to the possibilities of a new year.  I usually make some sort of resolutions (read my post from last year here), but this year I am trying something a little different.  A friend (thanks, Whitney!) posted an idea that I fell in love with...choose a word for the year.  A word that you can always come back to and strive to achieve.  While it's not an easy task, now that I've chosen it, I already feel more focused.  So this is what I've come up with...


Life can be stressful, hectic, frustrating and crazy.  That is not going to change.  But the way I handle it CAN change.  I want to do less yelling, put less pressure on myself and spend less time doing five things at once.  For the record, it's okay to just do one thing at a time.  The other day I realized I was switching laundry, checking my email and talking to the same time. That's not okay and it's not necessary.  

I love that this word can truly apply to every aspect of my life.  It does not imply that bad things won't happen, but it describes how I wish to deal with them.  It also reflects my wish for our country and our world.  

Beyond this word of 2017, a few other thoughts I've had...

Play more.  With my kids, with my husband, with my friends.  Laugh, smile and feel joy.

Build strength.  In many ways...physically, emotionally and mentally.

Be flexible.  Let go of "perfect" and see how wonderful things can truly be.

Appreciate time.  Life is short, we know this.  Today could be it...look at this as a gift, not a threat.

I am no where near perfect.  My life is no where near perfect.  When I write these thoughts, they are from my heart and are what I wish to achieve, but that doesn't mean I know how to live life any better than anyone else.  I simply hope that by sharing this, I may touch your heart as well.

Happy New Year...wishing you peace in 2017.