Thursday, July 27, 2017

10 Free Ways to Up My Weight Loss

In February when I decided to join WeightWatchers and take back control over my body, I had one fear: that I would have to work-out to lose weight. Before someone thinks I hate working out, I don't. I do however have a bad habit of not doing it as much as I should. In 25 weeks, I've lost nearly 31 pounds thanks to eating healthier and being mindful of food choices. Most of my weight loss is because of the food I'm eating and nothing else. But with month 6 of my yearlong weight loss journey right around the corner, I am eager to focus on new ways to kick up my weight loss.
Each month, I financially invest in my weight-loss. I pay $44 a month to have access to online tools and weekly weigh-ins and meetings at my local WW office. With that monthly fee, I'm eager to find FREE ways to up my weight loss. Here are 10 things I want to put into practice in August, September and October. I'm looking at this as a 90 days challenge. 

1. Add veggies to every single meal. I recently had a broccoli and cheddar omelet and it was so tasty and something I never thought to make myself. Adding vegetables to my breakfast not only allows me to eat more because veggies are 0SP so I won't be using any additional points at the start of the day. 

2. Chug! Chug! Chug! Drinking water is key in weight loss. I go through spurts where I drink a ton and other times we I'll barely get in 50 ounces. I'm setting my goal at 90 ounces per day. 

3. Get more sleep. Try as I might, I cannot break myself of being a night owl. I go to bed between 11PM and midnight and wake up around 7 most days. I would love to be asleep by 11 and up at 6-7. When time falls back, I'd love to get that bedtime closer to 10. 

4. Eat the rainbow. I am aiming to try 1 new food a week. I have really branched out over the last 5 months but will fully admit I need to try harder to eat a variety of foods. With it still being Summer, I need to take full advantage of eating more seasonal fruits and veggies before I no longer have access to them. 

5. Just say no. To pizza. Y'all the struggle is real in our home. We are a pizza lovin' family like no other. We indulge once a week, sometimes twice. It's bad. While I don't have any desire to give up pizza, I think we (I!!) need to cut it back to a twice a month treat. 

6. Move it more. I want to switch up my exercise a bit, from just our morning walks, to WOD to my schedule. We recently purged our basement and I have plenty of space to work-out in. I can do this morning, noon or night, no matter what the weather or time limit I have. I'm eager to see the changes new moves bring to my body. 

7. Prepare! Meal planning is such breeze for me yet I don't do it much. I can meal prep a week full of breakfasts and lunches within an hour yet I don't then find myself starting at the fridge, wasting time.

8. Track every single day, August 1 to October 30. I track every meal with the exception for my cheat meal. I would like to start tracking those as well so that I can get an exact idea of where I stand on my caloric intake. I would like to know my daily calorie average for when I want to move from WW to something else (when that happens).  

9. Watch my sweet treat intake. I've been eating ice cream more than I care to admit. I use SmartPoints for it so it's accounted for but I'd like to try to use my "treats" in point friendly ways. Ice cream uses so many and I can get more food for less points if I was to sub ice cream for yogurt and fruit or something similar. 

10. Embrace the process. I don't know where I'll be at the end of October but I do know I'll be closer to my goal than I am today. More than anything, I want to give myself the grace to be human, to slip up, to enjoy food and to be "normal". I want my relationship with food to be less diet like and more lifestyle orientated. 

I am eager to see where I'll be at the end of October. I had additionally thought that I would be at my goal weight by the end of October but the numbers don't seem to be working out that way as of today. But with this 90-day challenge, I'm hopeful to be a bit closer to my goal. After all, I truly love the process and learning how to push my body in new, healthy ways. 

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Because Blogging Shouldn't Be Hard

36(ish). The number of times I've seriously considering never writing and publishing another blog post. I'm not being dramatic, I've been on the fence more times than not over the last 12 months. Blogging has been in my life for over 5 years. If you think about it, I was a blogger before a Momma. Which is really hard to imagine. But one thing I know is that blogging shouldn't be hard. It is sometimes and that's when I want to quit. Let me explain.


When I started blogging we had just moved from Ohio to Texas and blogging was a lifeline for me. It was a way for me to meet and mingle and create joy when I wasn't too happy with my current situation. Now don't get me wrong, I wasn't miserable: I loved my husband and son with my entire being. I just was in a new home in a never been to before state with an 8 week old baby boy and my husband was working more than ever before to support our family in a city that had a higher cost of living. Life was tricky in 2013 but blogging gave me something to pour myself into and I was hooked. I loved it and from then on, I was a mom blogger and proud of every single piece I wrote, every new follower I gained and for each new year of growth.

But then why did I say I've thought about quitting over 30 times? It's simple: blogging stopped being fun and started being work. For me this started to happen in 2015. I was feeling more and more stressed over "having to work" and wasn't enjoying something that was so life giving for me. When I look back on 2015 I see why things started to get hard for me. We moved home in January 2015 and for the first time as an Ohioan, I was no longer working. I was able to spend time with friends and family more, Connor and I started attending more and more play dates, CJ stopped napping and started preschool in the Fall. 2015 brought with it a lot of baggage. When I say baggage, I mean that in the kindest of ways. For the first time as a family of 3, we had the ability to do more since James wasn't carpooling for 2.5+ hours a day. We were home and soaking up every minute of it. But I was really stuck in "blogger" mode and that started to take its toll on me, making blogging so.much.work.

Last year I worked on my blog more and more, just in smarter ways. I used social media more than ever, which was necessary to see any real growth. But Connor was also in school more so I had the chance to spend more time online while he was in class. Over the last 7 months or so, I am often torn between loving blogging and wanting to throw my laptop into incoming traffic. If you are a blogger, you'll get this. Readers, not so much. I couldn't find a balance and that sucked. I don't want to quit blogging because I am good at it. And mostly, it brings me so much joy. It's something that I've worked my tail off on. In 5 years, I've published over 1,260 posts, gained a social media following of over 15,000 and have created friendship with women that are beyond special to me. Bloggers turned friends who will forever be friends long after blogging falls to the wayside.

What prevented me from hanging up my blogging hat is that I gave myself grace. I schedule breaks for entire weeks at a time, allowing me to pack away my laptop for a solid 5-8 days. I took the week off when we went to Disney and another when we went to Mexico. I have a couple other breaks planned, too! I cut back on blogging 5 days a week and have left the need for "Pinterest worthy" posts in the dust. I've chatted with friends who have told me they feel the same way about different roles in their life and that you must give yourself grace. Give yourself a break when needed. Step back and check things out from a new point of view. I quit taking on sponsored content that came with rules and deadlines. Yes, that means I'm not making any money blogging anymore but that's never why I started blogging to begin with. I started sharing more "real life" and "life lately" posts and what do you know? I'm still getting the same amount of traffic and reader interaction. I just went back to the reason I started to blog to begin with: to document life.

I am sure that most of this sounds like rambling and it probably could have been worded better. The truth is I just wanted to get it all off my chest. Blogging doesn't have to be hard. It doesn't have to be filled with constant comparison. 5 years ago, I hit published on the most basic of posts for one reason and I may have forgotten that reason but thanks to my love of writing, the blogging community and a husband who just thinks I'm crazy, I've found my way back and can say that I'm not done blogging. Not yet anyway. That day will come and when it does, I'll be okay with it. But for now, there's more to come. For those of you who feel like this, you know... love it one minute, hate it the next, I'm here with you and I know others are too. I just challenge you to do what you love the way you love to do it. Don't try to be an "it" blogger. Don't make yourself crazy over the number game that is social media. And lastly, don't make it harder than it is. Find the joy and give yourself grace.



Friday, July 21, 2017

Favorite Faves: Soccer Camp, Dentist Visits and YouTube Kids

The last 2 weeks have been so busy for our family. Granted, I'm to blame for our busy schedule but still, it's been a busy 14 days. I've been looking towards this Friday and the weekend for quiet some time. We have plans to tackle a home improvement project, making leaving the house the last thing on our minds. Operation stay home and get things done kicks off tomorrow morning! With so much going on, here are a few highlights and random thoughts for this week.


ONE | SOCCER CAMP


Connor completed soccer camp last week and loved every single hot and humid minute of it. When asked what his favorite part of camp was, he said playing in the World Cup and having a British coach. He is so obsessed with all things English lately. Camp ran Monday through Friday for a little over an hour. Connor picked up new skills and was able to play in a mock game with other little boys in his group. What I loved about the camp most was that it was a small group of kids, just 4, giving each participant loads of one on one with the Coach James. Thanks to my partnership with US Family Guide, CJ was able to attend the camp free of cost but because of how awesome it was, we plan to sign him up again for one later this year.

TWO | WEEK AT A GLANCE


Speaking of busy weeks, I've been really struggling remembering what we have when. I know I could easily put "appointments" in my phone but I don't use my phone's calendar so I needed something that I could fill in each week and see our plans at a glance. I recalled Beth sharing a printable last year and visited her blog to print out copies of my own. Her free weekly planner is perfect. I fill it out, stick in on the fridge and BAM! I have my act together again.

THREE | TEETH OBSESSED

In last week's Little Letters I mentioned that I've been obsessing over my dental hygiene routine. Here is why: I've always had good teeth. I never braces as a kid and have had just one small cavity the year after C was born. Last year I had to have a dental procedure done to help fill in my teeth because I was grinding the down, creating valleys. Fast forward to this Spring and I had the same procedure done on the other side. But during both cleanings I was told that I had a lot of plaque. That Connor had some as well and it's often hereditary. I am not a fan of any type of dental work so I've been on high alert with my teeth since then. I brush 3 times a day, floss twice and use mouthwash every morning. One of my favorite toothpastes is Himalaya Botanique Toothpaste.


Their toothpastes combine Neem leaf – which cleans teeth and gives the formulation its sparkle, pomegranate – an astringent fruit that extract that supports healthy looking gums, Triphala – a traditional detox formula in ancient Ayurveda composed of the three myrobalan fruits for clean teeth and a radiant smile, and Xylitol – a tooth-friendly sweetener that has been clinically-studied to support good oral hygiene. Himalaya Botanique Whitening Complete Care Toothpaste also contains Papain and Bromelain, the enzymes from papaya and pineapple to help remove surface stains.

I tried the Whitening Complete Care toothpaste that is supposed to whiten teeth, freshen breath and help remove plaque (my biggest concern). My first impression of the toothpaste is that it tasted and smelled exactly like the products used at my dentists office. I'm eager to use it more and see if my teeth whiten and if my plaque issue is better at my next cleaning in October. This line of toothpaste doesn't have fluoride but at each check-up I have a fluoride treatment done and we drink tap water so I think I'm set there. 

If anyone is curious about this brand, their website offers free samples, or you can get 25% off on Amazon with the code F8DETJQL. Himalaya Botanique Toothpaste is also available at Whole Foods, Sprouts, Natural Grocers, and Vitamin Cottage as well as regional health food stores including PCC Natural Markets, Central Market, Mother’s Market, Earth Origins, King Soopers, etc.

For More Info on Himalaya Botanique Toothpaste:

FOUR | WILL & GRACE ENCORE


This isn't new news but I can't tell you how excited I am for Will & Grace this Fall. It's coming back to TV on Thursdays on NBC, the same channel that rips my heart out every week with This Is Us. Since I finished Brothers and Sisters, I am now moving onto W&G. I've watched a lot of the episodes but mostly the last 3 seasons. There are 8 seasons total so I have from now till September 28th to watch seasons 1-8 in their entirety and then start fresh with season 9. Which is a little over 190 episodes! Challenge accepted! Who will be watching the encore with me this Fall?

FIVE | YOUTUBE KIDS


I mentioned earlier this week that Connor was grounded from YouTube Kids. Here's the deal... I use computer time to keep Connor busy while I work on blog tasks. I try to keep it to an hour at a time and only once a day. This habit started out harmless but then he would have his iPad for hours on end whenever we needed him to be preoccupied. While this isn't the best parenting technique, sometimes you do what you have to do. Connor started watching videos of families living life, going on vacation, throwing birthday parties along with watching a gamer play videos. So instead of playing with the 1.1 million toys he has, Connor would prefer to watch other kids live life. That alone was annoying enough. But then Connor's behavior started going downhill. James and I finally connected the dots and took YouTube away. That was about 5 months ago. Things improved and he was given YouTube rights again. However, the behavior started again and he became obsessed with his iPad. He would choice it over any and everything. All he wanted to talk about where this YouTube personality or this family or what they had and what he needed because someone on YouTube had. He even went as far as to say that if he didn't get something that insert any kid from any YouTube family had then he didn't want to do it at all. He was under the impression that these kids were living normal lives and his expectations were ridiculous. It's now been a little over a month since he has last watched it and if we have it our way, he won't ever have access to it. To sum it all up, it was like Connor was hanging out with the "bad kids" at school and was picking up their less than desirable behaviors. That doesn't fly with us so removed the negative source and since then, the tantrums and bad attitude have nearly disappeared. Anyone else HATE YouTube Kids?


This weekend we are tackling our basement and I am eager to get started on it and purge, purge, purge! But before we do, Saturday morning we are treating CJ to a trip to the donut shop. Needless to say, I'm eager for tomorrow morning and starting the weekend off with a donut filled sugar high!

Happy weekend, friends!
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