The Friday 5 | 2/21/20

Hello and happy Friday! Welcome to the first Friday 5 of the new decade. I have a long list of blog posts planned for the not too distant future (shocker, I know!), but I wanted to start with a Friday 5 because I can just chat for a minute about what’s going on in my mind and what’s I’ve been loving or doing lately.

It’s been a week of me trying desperately to get a grip on all the things, but since I’m holding on to so many things are slipping through my fingers. We all know what that feels like. I’m just unsure how to play catch up at this point in time. It was a rougher week in terms of wanting to eat ALL the things as well, and I’m working on figuring out how to manage the pitfalls of this new year. It’s a process, I know, but I’m optimistic that I’ll be turning the corner soon, which actually leads me to my 5 things.

1.Lent 2020

I made a video just today about my plan for Lent this year and how I will be bringing the community the opportunity to do a book club together that will help guide us through our issues with food and help us grow closer to God in the process. We’ll be looking at the book Made to Crave and doing the study in a private Facebook group. If you want more info on the whole thing, my video is below.

2. The Real Dry Lip Savior

Guys, as of late I have become a believer in the one and only true winter dry lip savior of this world: Aquafor. Yes, I have all of these amazing lip masks and treatments that I still love to pieces, but for whatever reason, they’re still not enough to keep me from having flakey, uncomfortable lips, so I finally caved and bought Aquafor and BAM! All of my lip woes went away. It isn’t fancy and I don’t think it makes any special “clean” or “all-natural” lists, but it works! At this point that is all that matters.

3. Next Steps Establishing Community

Guys, this is HUGE. I have an official audition for the worship team at the church we’ve been attending. I’ve already passed the “send in a video of you singing” test and now I get to sing for them in person on Sunday. If I make this team it means that we will finally officially have a church to call home and we will finally be able to work on establishing ourselves in the church community, which means FRIENDS!!

4. Winter Blues

Is it fair to say I have a pretty rough case of the winter blues even though the sun is currently shining brightly through my window? I will say, what I’ve been told about Minnesota winters being sunnier and cheerier than Chicago is very, very true. Despite the uncharacteristically gloomy January we had, we definitely get more sun here in MN, but that comes at a cost of extreme cold and my body simply can NOT handle it. I keep comparing myself to a fly. Have you ever encountered a fly when it gets cold? It slows way down and eventually can’t fly anymore. This is 100% how I’ve been feeling lately. It’s a CMT thing for sure, so that’s life, but it’s still something I’m learning to struggle with.

5. Love is Blind

New binge-worthy trash TV alert!! I started watching Love is Blind on Netflix while I was meal prepping early this week and it quickly became a show that I just binge-watched straight through. The concept is people meet, talk, fall in love, and get engaged without ever seeing the other person’s face. Then they meet and have to do life together for 4 weeks leading up to their wedding, where they ultimately decide whether or not to stay with the person. Crazy, dramatic, and an ideal trash tv show for me. Loving it!

That’s all for this week! Also, I’m well aware I’m hitting publish on Saturday. Don’t get me started…. 🙄

January’s Life Lesson

2020 is my year for making big goals happen and making big dreams reality, but instead of starting off with a super-productive bang, 2020 sort of did the opposite, and it’s ended up teaching me some pretty stellar lessons about balance. The kicker here is that feeling like I got knocked back a little bit is turning out to be the thing I feel is propelling me forward. Let me explain.

January 1st rolled around, and of course I wasn’t at home to hit the ground running with my 2020 goals and habits that I wanted to achieve simply because of travel. We didn’t get home until the 3rd, then our anniversary was the 4th, and Monday wasn’t until the 6th. Call them nothing more than excuses, that’s fine, but it took me nearly a week into the new year to even consider sitting down, messing with planners, habits, checklists, and all of the ambitious type-a planner girl things that make me me. 

Then, to kick a girl while she’s feeling down, the Minnesota winter hit me… hard! While I’ve lived in Midwestern winters my entire life, there’s something about this one that is proving to be particularly difficult on my body. I’m constantly cold, and my CMT nerves appear to be impacted by this more than normal. The way I’ve been explaining it to people is like a dial on a radio. If my normal, everyday best-self of feeling energized and awesome is usually the dial turned all the way up to 10, then things like lack of sleep, a bad CMT day, or whatever can impact my dial accordingly. This winter feels like it’s taken my dial and jammed it so the absolute max I can feel is a 6 rather than a 10, which is a major impact. THEN take the additional things that might turn the dial down a bit and add those to the equation and you definitely have me functioning at what feels like half of my best-self on any given day.  It was (and still is) terrible. 

Obviously, I had to figure out the solution to this problem, because this is no way to live during a Minnesota winter. I had to take a serious look at what I was actually doing versus all of the things I wanted to do and figure out what had to give because something had to. 

The first thing I decided to do to lighten my load was give myself permission to sleep if sleep was honestly what I felt I needed. This simply meant I didn’t have to get up at 5:30 am with my husband anymore. Instead, I moved my wakeup time back to 6:30, and if necessary I allow myself to sleep until 7:30. Whatever it takes to ensure I get adequate sleep. You see, I realized I had two options here:

1) Be sleep deprived on top of this winter energy drain, struggle to basically accomplish anything and spend literally half of the day sitting because I have zero energy and end up feeling bad about wasting hours in my day. 

Or:

2) Surrender an hour to 90 minutes of my morning sleeping in to ensure maximum energy and productivity.

There’s no competition! The obvious answer is to spend an extra 60-90 minutes resting rather than spending 10+ hours riding the struggle bus, feeling drained, and only accomplishing half of what I want to accomplish in a day. The mathematic answer is clear, and the second I gave myself permission to rest, everything started to change. 

I suddenly have the energy necessary to workout, to run the home, and to run my business. I also find that I have the willpower and discipline to stick to my diet better, and let’s be honest, when I eat better I feel better. It’s all one big cycle that can go very right or very, very wrong. 

A few other changes I made in January that I already feel a huge impact from:

1) I am focused more on my protein goal than my daily Points goal. This was another way I loosened the reigns a bit by giving myself permission to stray outside of my Points for the sake of protein. My goal is 100g protein every day, and while that often sets me over my Points goal (more on this later. There’s still a specific balance I’m following), I’m finding the scale is going down anyway.  I’ve traded a lot of sugary and carb-heavy things for things that will pack more protein into my diet, and not only is the scale going down, but I feel amazing!

2) I added an extra rest day into my week. This means 5 days of working out instead of 6, which feels amazing. My rest days are now Sundays and Wednesdays, and as long as I still reach my movement goal in some way (I’m currently using an under the desk elliptical to keep my legs moving as I type), I don’t have to get to the gym. Not only that, but I’ve also given myself permission to not workout if my body truly needs an extra day of rest. I’ve used this once already to skip a Bodypump workout on a day I was feeling truly terrible (thanks hormones) and let me tell you, it was the right choice. 

The bottom line here is that I’ve learned 2 major life lessons in January, and they’re both game-changers.

1. Rest is just as important as work. People who sacrifice themselves to the end of their ropes and pride themselves on busyness and hard work with zero rest are out of their minds. I mean, if it works for them then that’s great, but for me personally, I find that I am exponentially more productive when I integrate regular periods of rest into my days and into my life. If I don’t rest I will fail, but if I do make the choice to actively rest regularly, I can thrive everywhere else in my life that requires my time, focus, and energy. Rest is essential, and it is OKAY to take the time to rest. 

2. Giving yourself permission is incredibly powerful. Notice how I said several times in this post that I gave myself permission to essentially be less than perfect. I gave myself permission to eat over my points for the sake of eating more protein. I gave myself permission to rest for the sake of being able to do my jobs well. I gave myself permission to take an extra day off of the gym. I gave myself permission to be someone other than the picture-perfect superwoman I’ve always envisioned myself as in my head, and it is as if a giant weight has been lifted off of my shoulders, which coincidentally gives me the power to be the superwoman I wanted to be all along. Being a superwoman doesn’t mean being perfect, but it means being your best self. For me, being my best self is somebody who knows when to work, when to rest, and how to excel at both.

This huge lesson the beginning of 2020 has taught me guarantees that I will thrive for the rest of the year. Now that February is here I am feeling strong, motivated, energized, and ready to kick my goal-getting into high gear. I won’t be perfect, but I guarantee there will be progress. I won’t be killing myself for the sake of the job, but I will share with you how I have learned to rest and balance my life a little bit better. This will allow me to show up as a better content creator, a better wife to my husband, and a better advocate for myself. 

Get ready, world. I’m coming in hot and ready. But first, I’m going to take a 10-minute break 🙂

I’m a lot of things, but..

Clearly I am NOT a daily blogger…

That just is what it is I guess. I learned a while back that rather than try to change who I am, I need to learn to work with who I’m hardwired to be. This became apparent when I decided to retake Gretchen Rubin’s 4 tendencies quiz. The first time I took it I was designated as an Upholder, and in my mind as the perfectionist firstborn child, that is exactly what I am supposed to be.

We all know just because you feel you’re supposed to be some specific way or have some personality trait doesn’t necessarily mean you do. After spending way too much time in denial about which of the 4 tendencies I really was, I took the quiz again and rather than answering for the person I wanted to be, I answered for who I really was at that moment.

I am an Obliger.

This means that I am great at upholding my commitments made to other people, but when it comes to keeping promises to myself and reaching goals, I still need external accountability even if it’s a personal goal. I decided to accept that about myself and my life changed.

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Day 7-8 of 90

Monday was the first of what will be many snow days. Rather than type it all out for you, I will post my vlogmas vlog here for your viewing pleasure. What you need to know is I ended the day with 32/27 Points, using 5 weeklies due to cookie consumption.

Tuesday I decided to venture out into the below zero temperatures (with many, many layers of clothes on) to go to a Bodypump class. It was a new (to me) instructor who mentioned a Christmas specific workout later in the week. I was curious so I struck up a conversation. Long story short, I bonded with this woman over our shared faith in Jesus, and this class on Thursday would be faith-based. Cool!! Hopefully, the weather cooperates so I can attend.

I got a Bodypump workout in and some steps on the elliptical before heading to Sam’s Club to get meat and reluctantly pump gas. Then it transformed into work day and was pretty business-as-usual.

Breakfast: Healthy Eating OTG Bar (5)

Lunch: Sam’s Club soft pretzel. I know, I know…I caved. Want to know the worst part? Jordan was right and they’re freaking amazing! $0.99 and the best soft pretzel ever. This is not good. Counted as 10 pp

Second lunch: Smoked salmon (3) and Cheetos (4)

Dinner: Velveeta Shells and Cheese 2% cup (5) and broccoli (0)

Treats: Too many cookies (10) and too many Lindt Truffles (6)

Total for the day: 43/27 (used 16 weeklies and have 13 remaining for the week)

Weekend Update | Day 4-6 of 90

Happy Monday, my friends! Okay, so clearly daily blogging doesn’t work for me, but here’s what I’m learning about myself. I don’t want to do work on weekends. Quite frankly, since I am in complete control of my work hours, I have officially decided that I don’t work on the weekends. End of story.

Since our move to MN, my weekends have become such a sacred time for my husband and I. Sometimes our weekends are just housework and chilling in front of the TV. Sometimes it’s crazy errands, a fun date night out, or some sort of adventure. Whatever the case may be, I don’t reach for social media or my vlogging camera nearly as much as I would during the week, and I rarely sit down at my computer or even go in my office, simply because I don’t even want to. I’ve finally decided it’s okay, and my weekends are now whatever level of work I feel like doing with no real obligation to do so. That being said, daily updates won’t happen on the weekends. You’ll just get a weekend update on Monday.

Friday

Sadly, I don’t have many photos to share because of the whole not picking up cameras thing, but I tracked every bite this weekend, so that’s something.

Breakfast: Quaker weight control oatmeal (4) with PEScience Protein 4 Oats (literally protein powder meant to go in oatmeal) (2) with microwaved apple pieces (0) and 2tsp real brown sugar (0). Total 6/27

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It’s A New Day! | Day 3 of 90

Guys, I slept for 8.5 hours last night and I felt like a new woman. My cold symptoms are gone, my period is no longer wreaking havoc on my system, and I actually had the energy required to do this Thursday some justice.

Praise Jesus!

Since I didn’t go to my normally scheduled doubleheader of Pound class followed by Bodypump yesterday, I looked up what classes were available today, and it turned out there was one at 9:30 am at the gym location that’s easier for me to get to. Truth be told, while I enjoy my doubleheaders on Wednesday, I don’t feel like I enjoy them enough to make them worth trecking out the other Y location. Not to mention having my 2 classes at 11 and noon really messes up my day. A lot! I might end up changing my schedule up a bit to try and find what might work a little bit better for me.

Today, this class worked well. It was jam-packed with people, which is less than ideal, but I really enjoy the teacher, so it’s worth it. The other issue was there is a “woo” guy in this class. Some man ends up doing a crazy “WOO!” Every time things get a little harder in class. It’s a weight lifting class…the whole thing is supposed to be hard. During one track this guy “WOO’d!” Six times. SIX! and that was just during 1 track. There are 9 working tracks in Bodypump. I wanted to knock him out with my weight. I couldn’t actually figure out which guy it was, but that’s probably for the best. We’ll see if “Woo guy” is there next week…

Anyway, after Pump I spent about an hour on various elliptical machines (one standing, one seated) and got to 10,000 steps. Only 7.5 more to reach my Power goal on my Step Bet.

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Well…That Sucked… | Day 2 of 90

Well, for as amazing as things went on day 1 of my magical journey to the best shape of my life, day 2 went to the same level in the completely opposite direction. 😫😖

Allow me to elaborate with a bunch of excuses.

First, I had to get up early to take my husband to the bus for work so he wouldn’t have to bring his car since he was headed straight from the office to the airport. Usually, getting up at 5:20 am isn’t a problem and is close to my new normal wakeup time, however, since we got back from Thanksgiving vacation I’ve been trying to get my body to feel normal, and usually, that means more sleep. Well, I don’t know how it got to be so late, but it turns out I ended up getting 4 and a half hours of sleep. This girl needs at least 6.5 to even consider functioning. Awesome.

Then, to top it all off, the day I have been anxiously awaiting finally came and I got my period. 🩸(why yes, I did just use the blood drop emoji). My natural cycle always, without fail, comes a day or two after my app actually says it will. Well, this month was an extra special month and while PMS and all of its glorious symptoms came right on schedule, the event that comes to relieve me of said symptoms came especially late and hit me like a brick wall.

I was beyond exhausted. A trip to Target and to my PO box took literally all of the energy I had in me. I managed to get to my step goal by discovering a new season of Younger on Hulu and told myself I could watch it only if I was stepping. I ended up binge-watching the entire season!! Yes, I got to my 14.5k steps, by I also sat on my butt a lot. I didn’t vlog, I didn’t write up this blog post, heck I didn’t even go upstairs more than twice the entire day because my legs were so tired. UGH!

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Here We Go! Day 1 of 90

Date: 12/3/19

Well, here we go. Day 1 of this whole laser-focused effort on getting into the best mental and physical shape of my life. Yes, mental plays a huge part in this, and while I have definitely made some huge strides even in recent months, consistency of mental strength and health in this journey is equally as important as the consistency of tracking and working out. Thus, I am focused on both.

I wrote my intro post this morning, but I want to go into more detail now. Today I took new before photos and measurements. Oof that felt like a wakeup call. I give myself major kudos for deciding to take pictures and measurements in the height of my PMS symptoms, which guarantees I bloat up like a balloon. Oh well, it means there will be a better looking transformation, right??

Here are my starting measurements (in inches):

  • Smallest part of waist, just below ribs: 33.5
  • Belly Button: 36.5
  • Love Handles: 40.5
  • Hips: 44
  • Right Thigh: 25
  • Left Thigh: 25
  • Right Arm: 12.5
  • Left Arm: 13 (seriously? Couldn’t keep it symmetrical??)

Okay, there’s a starting point. My last weigh-in, was 173.0 so I’m going with that as my starting weight, but again, I won’t actually weigh in until my PMS has gotten under control and my bloating reduces a bit simply because I don’t need that kind of negativity in my life.

Food

Of course, the day I actually planned ahead was the day my eating didn’t go as planned in the best way possible. I ended up skipping lunch entirely. I’m not sure if it was because my breakfast was so filling or if the dose of decongestant I needed caused me to lose my appetite, but all of a sudden it was 3:30 and the only thing I had was an extra cup of coffee. Hooray!

Breakfast:

1 egg (2pp), 9 Tbsp liquid egg whites (1pp), a crap ton of kale (0pp), seasonings (0), Thomas’ Cranberry English Muffin (4pp), I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter (1pp) Total: 8pp/27

Dinner:

My original plan was to have the Trader Joe’s chicken potstickers (5pp for 7), but because I skipped lunch I added in 7 of TJ’s mini chicken cilantro wontons as well (2pp). The bowl is all cauliflower rice (0pp) and I used 3 different sauces: Reduced sodium soy (2 tbsp for 0pp), 2 tbsp Coconut Aminos (1pp), and 1 tbsp Soyaki (1pp). 9pp total. Daily Total: 17/27

Treats:

10 Points left for dessert. TEN!! I don’t remember the last time that has happened. I used it as the perfect excuse to dive into a sweet (literally) package from a subscriber who sent me a whole box of Canadian goodies to try. I’ve been waiting to film a taste testing video with my husband, but this was the perfect opportunity to try a treat, so I ate a Mars bar, as they came 2 in the package. 1 bar was 5pp, so I still had 5 to spare

This is how I used them. The sugar cookie Yasso bars are BOMB! They have real cookie dough bits in them and everything. 3pp

I ended the night with a Lindt truffle in the mint chocolate cookie holiday flavor. It’s perfect. 2pp. Daily total: 27/27

Not a single weekly used!!! That hasn’t happened in a really long time. I’m proud.

Fitness

The step goal is a bit tougher today, as I’ve been sitting at my desk working a lot. If it were a normal day, I’d have my step goal all done, but since I am in the middle of a Step Bet, I need at least 14,500 steps to not cost me my rest day. I still have 2,000 to go…it’s 9:21pm. Yikes.

I did end up doing a 20 minute Turbo Fire workout on Beachbody on Demand, so at least I did an official workout, but now I’m going to go make my herbal tea (apple cider flavor), turn on The Star (the movie about the little donkey who goes to the Nativity scene. Haven’t seen it yet and have heard good things), and get the rest of my steps in by walking in place.

Overall, it was a good day, and I am pleased with how this turned out. Day one is in the books. Only 89 to go!

Cheers!

BLOGmas 2019? | The Beginning of a New Journey

BLOGmas?! Yes, Blogmas!

I already knew I was going to start a new series on here (more on that in a second), but then I saw a blogger and Youtuber I’ve followed for years, Pretty Neat Living, post about Blogmas and I decided that was the just the thing I needed to help get this little project of mine started.

What’s the project? Oh just a little something fun: Going all-in on getting into the best shape of my life!

Okay, so it isn’t a “little” project at all, but that’s what I’m here for. I stumbled across a youtube video by another creator who I followed years ago but has sort of fallen off of my regular viewing, Cassey from Blogilates. She recently did a full video update on the results of her 90-day journey of getting into the best shape of her life both physically and mentally, and the results were great. Not only did her results catch my attention, but the way she did it is what inspired me. She went back to her blog, which she had lost touch with, and documented the entire thing every single day like a diary. How is that for accountability??

I loved the idea so much that I am here to do the very same thing. I need that extra push; that extra missing piece to really get this thing moving in the right direction, and this might be just the ticket. I think it’s a combination of the fact that I feel absolutely no obligation to stick to some set of rules set by the general public for fear of feedback (Quite frankly while I do value constructive feedback, I have gotten to the point in my life where truly, other people’s opinions of how I choose to conduct my life really don’t bother me anymore. If you have a problem with me, that’s YOUR problem, not mine.) paired with the fact that this journal will be visible to the public is empowering me to be bold, honest, and laser-focused on this 90-day journey.

If we’re being honest, this is probably the absolute worst time of year to be starting a project like this because things are so up in the air with various travel obligations that many things will not be consistent, but I’ve decided because of that very fact, there is no better day to begin than right now. There will always be some sort of excuse for me to try and justify why now is simply not the right time and I will do it after our next trip or interruption of everyday life. I’m married to my husband….there will always be a trip or interruption of my everyday life. That’s the point. If I can’t figure out how to work around them, I won’t succeed in staying in the best shape of my life. Weight maintenance will be just an impossible dream that many long for but few achieve. I refuse to be held down anymore. It’s time to get serious.

Another reason to start now is simply that I am a deadline and reward-driven person, and the end of this challenge will put me finishing right when a fancy cruise to Mexico is set to happen. If I succeed, I’ll have even more energy and strength for excursions as well as a bit more confidence to rock some super cute summer clothes after the Minnesota winter has had me bundled up in 50 layers for so long. It’s a solid short-term “why” to help motivate me to get moving. We paid the balance on our trip yesterday, so it’s happening. How I show up for it a few months from now is determined by my actions from this point forward. Bring it ON.

So, here’s the plan: I am not going to set specific weight goals or anything just yet because this is simply an intro to my ultimate 2020 goal of being in the best shape of my life anyway, so more details on what that means will come with time. Right now, my goal is to basically log my day on here every single day. What I’m eating, how I’m feeling, etc. This website is going to be my diary for a while, and if any of you are choosing to come along for the ride, welcome! While this journey is for no one other than myself, my hope is that maybe one of you finds what you need out of my openness about this. Typically, my hope with every piece of content I put out is one person being impacted in some way. It means I did my job. Since this particular string of content is just for me, it will be an added bonus if this Blogmas/90 day adventure has any impact.

My last weigh-in was 173 lbs. I plan on weighing in every day that it’s possible (not sure of the availability of a scale on Christmas vacation, etc) but I’m waiting until my monthly friend shows up before hopping on the scale, because I just don’t need that sort of negativity in my life today, and I will take measurements a bit later today.

I have no idea what’s going to happen or what this will look like, but something major needs to happen, so here we go!

iTrackBites Thanksgiving Cheat Sheet

The holiday season is here! It’s time for joy, merriment, and food. Lots and LOTS of food. While this time of year is in fact (in my opinion) the most wonderful time of the year, the reality is the holiday season can strike fear into the hearts of anyone trying to lose weight. I am here to tell you that all it takes to make it through our holiday meals is a little bit of planning ahead. My friends, just because you’re on a diet does not mean you can’t have your favorite holiday dishes. I firmly believe in “everything in moderation.” The first major day of eating is right around the corner, and we need to get our hearts, minds, and plans ready to embrace the day feeling empowered to stay on track.

One of the most important things you can do is to have an idea of the Bites values of what you’re eating. Today I have a Thanksgiving cheat sheet for you which gives you the general Bites values for some Thanksgiving dinner table staples.

This next part is important: The values presented below are general guidelines and might not be completely accurate to the specific recipe that you are consuming. Obviously, if you want the most accurate representation of your Thanksgiving feast it is your job to plug in the recipes to the iTrackBites recipe builder, use the nutrition information from your specific ingredients, and measure your servings. If that’s what you want to do, that’s wonderful. Go for it! I do know for many people, the thought of putting so much work into tracking their Thanksgiving meal is pretty much the last thing they want to do. That’s where my cheat sheet comes in handy. While it might not be accurate down to the Bite for your dishes, having a generalized idea about the Bites values of your food gives you a much larger advantage than having no idea at all.

Using the list below you can roughly plan out your plate, add things to your tracker, and at least put a solid effort into staying on track this Thanksgiving. I firmly truly that some effort will always be better than no effort at all, so take a look, track accordingly, and have a healthy, balanced, and enjoyable Thanksgiving meal.

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