Sunday, March 30, 2014

Naturally...

Yesterday in the shower, I was reflecting on some changes I have made in my life.  I had one of those (OK several) of those, "How did I not know about this sooner!?" revelations.  The parent revelation led to me ranting on Facebook. 
1. Recently, I started using baking soda to wash my scalp and apple cider vinegar to condition my hair.  My uber fine hair is easier to style and feels softer.  Before, it just felt slippery.  My scalp is less itchy (product of this lovely winter we have been experiencing).  Thinking about how did I not discover the baking soda/apple cider vinegar thing sooner; I thought about all the other more natural things I have incorporated into my life in the past two years...

2. Exercise - natural anti-depressant/high.  Why don't more sources prescribe exercise when people are feeling down?  Today, I took my dog for a run (I am training for a 5K).  I don't particularly enjoy running (OK, I dislike it), but I do love the way I feel afterwards.  I feel lighter, energized, and happy, albeit worn out.

3. Laundry detergent - I originally started out with a recipe that was borax, washing soda, and Dawn dish soap that I found on Pinterest.  I was looking for a way to improve my family's budget and laundry detergent is expensive.  I know from taking18 credit hours of Textile Sciences in college and in my career, that Tide is one of the best detergents/most popular.  I know from having babies that Dreft is best for baby's skin.  I also know that Americans use entirely too much detergent in the wash.  Hmmmmm.....  My recent recipe for liquid laundry detergent is: 3 TBSP of Borax and 3 TBSP of Washing Soda, poured into a gallon container.  Add 4 cups of HOT water.  Put a cover on the container.  Shake the container until the powders are disolved.  Add 3 TBSPs of your favorite Dr. Bronner's Castile Soap (liquid) scent (mine is lavender).  Top off the container with water.  I use 1/2 - 1 cup per load.  I started using Borax and Washing Soda for cleaning products about 2 years ago.  Each box cost me a couple of bucks. I still have plenty to last me awhile...

4. Multipurpose cleaner - White distilled vinegar and water in a spray bottle.  I add a couple drops of essential oil to make it smell pretty (you guessed it, I use lavender essential oil).

5. Heavy duty cleaner - Baking soda and white vinegar...sit back and watch it bubble and fizz.  Wipe with a damp sponge.

6. Carpet cleaner - Vinegar, dish soap, and water.

7. Body scrubs (this is my favorite) - for those of you who do not eat sugar, this is a great way to use of any sugar supply you have...Equal parts brown and white sugar mixed well.  Add Vitamin E Oil, Coconut Oil, or Extra Virgin Olive Oil in any combination you want until the sugars look moist.  Add a few drops of your favorite scent (lavender) essential oil.  Slather on your wet hands and/or feet and rinse after a minute or so...The last commercial body scrub I bought was $15 for a small container.  I used it very sparingly and only when I wanted to treat myself...

8. Foot soak - I just found this one somewhere on the interwebs.  It is the best soak I have found.  I may have modified it a bit based on my experiences...1/8 cup of epsom salt, 1/4 baking soda, 1 tbsp lemon juice, and a couple drops of essential oil (guess what I used...lavender) and fill whatever you are soaking your feet in with warm water.  Soak for at least 10 minutes.  Use a foot file or pumice stone to scrub off all the dry skin. 

9. Spa water - Slice up some fruit, cucumbers, and or mint. Add them to your glass of water.  I am enjoying strawberries and lemon right now.

10. Facial cleanser - Crap, I can't remember the recipe.  I better find it, as I am almost out....1/4 Cup Chamomile Tea (brewed), 1/4 Cup Olive Oil, Vitamin E Oil, Essential Oil (your favorite scent), couple drops of Dr. Bronner's.  Keep it in an airtight container.  I keep mine in the shower.

Bonus: I had another "How did I not know this sooner!?" moment with organic not sweetened shredded coconut.  It tastes so much better than the non-organic sweetened one that is most easily found at the grocery store.  Added bonus, is that it is cheaper and I don't have to use as much :)

I am sure there are more that I use.  And you, are probably wondering is there any more natural product I have tried to make and use with out success....why yes, dishwasher detergent was an epic failure.  At first I liked it, but towards the end of the batch my dishes felt dry and dull.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Staples

Weight Watchers has had Simple Start to their arsenal of tools to help new and existing members take steps towards a healthier lifestyle. I reviewed the new plan, and thought that it is exactly what I need to reinvigorate my desire to be healthier than I was yesterday. The plan is very simple. You can either chose from a given recipe for your meal or snack or design your own by picking a food from each group of suggested foods (Protein, Carb, fruit, veggie, healthy fat/oil categories). Plus you get 7 points plus value points to use on what every you want (wine, cheese, chocolate for me ;))

Yesterday, I did my grocery shopping for the week. First, I reviewed the recommended shopping list on the back of the Simple Start booklet I received in my meeting. It got me to thinking about what staples are necessary to have on hand to make healthy cooking easy.


  1. Herbs and spices – These are essential for flavoring the food you are preparing. You can find these in the produce section or the spice section of wherever you buy food. Once, I found some in the frozen section of Costco (http://mydorot.com/). The frozen cubes of minced herbs are convenient for crockpot cooking, soups, or sauteing. I also love Gourmet Garden herbs and spices in a tube (http://na.gourmetgarden.com/us).
  2. Extracts – Another nice way to add flavor to foods. I added a teaspoon of peppermint extract to my brownie mix with out adding PPV. I saw that my local Super Target has about 5 or 6 different extracts to choose from (I remember seeing vanilla, maple, coffee, and some sort of mint).
  3. Produce – Stock up on what you love and keep it at eye level. Keeping fresh produce at eye level ensures you see it and will grab for it first. I also stock up on frozen produce for roasting. I also roast fresh produce when it starts to look no so fresh.
  4. Whole grain pastas, couscous, and quinoa – You can make a recipe on the fly with this staples. Combine with cooked veggies and a lean meat and voila you have a quick meal.
  5. Fat-free and reduced sodium broth or stock – I like to have on hand to add flavor to the foods I am cooking or to make a soup quickly. For soups I will put broth, chicken breasts, fresh/frozen and/or roasted veggies, and pasta, couscous, or quinoa into my crock pot with some herbs in the morning and will enjoy when I get home from work.
  6. Lean proteins – Fish, seafood, lean cuts of beef, chicken, turkey, and lean ground meat. The key here is to keep an eye on your portion size. A serving of meat is 2-3 oz. Many restaurants serve 8+ oz in a meal. I know that I lose more when my diet is higher in protien, but a 16 oz steak is way too much for me!
  7. Eggs – Hard boiled eggs can make an easy go-to breakfast or snack if you like them and are not allergic. Eggs are my favorite source of protein in the morning.


These are some of the things I have in my kitchen at all times. I do have things that are for the kids only. They are things I don't really care for, so it is easy for me to not eat them.  What are your staples?

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Tips and Tricks volume 1

People I have been meeting recently have a hard time believing that I used to weigh 205+ pounds.  I get asked all the time for my tips and tricks.  So, I decided that I will periodically share some of the things that have worked for me.  Feel free to share in the comments your tips for others as well.  My goal is that people come here to be inspired to lead a healthier life.  Disclaimer: this is what has worked for me.  Nothing is a quick fix - if it is, it is not going to last.

1. Find an anchor.  This is something that is going to remind you of your goals.  It could be a picture, an article of clothing, a trip, an affirmation or mantra,  a person, etc.  Mine has changed over my journey.  First, it was my children.  Then it was an affirmation of "nothing tastes as good as healthy feels".  As the compliments came pouring it, I regained my motivation.  Next, I used the tokens I received when I hit milestones through Weight Watchers.  My most recent anchors are my progression picture and my size 8 pants.
2. Classify foods as "all the time foods" and "sometimes foods".  I have a sweet tooth and and various times in my life I was treating myself more often than I should.  Sometimes multiple times in one day.  I found that swearing off cupcakes made me think of them more.  The more I thought of them, the more I wanted one or six.  Then, I couldn't control myself.  Now, if I want a cupcake I eat enough of a cupcake to satisfy the craving.

3. Move more than you did yesterday.  Find some physical activity you like.  Do it for 5 minutes today.  Build it up until you are getting at least 30 minutes in a day.  Feel free to switch it up daily too.  Boredom is one of the top reasons people don't stay active.

4. Enlist a buddy.  Tell your friend your goal, exercise with your friend, and/or have the friend keep you accountable.  I didn't have this for when I went balls to the wall with WW, but I have it this time.  It makes a lot of difference.  When I want a doughnut.  She tells me to have a doughnut, but not from downstairs...make sure it is really good and worth every point ;)

5. Reward yourself (and follow through with the rewards).   Just make sure they are not food rewards (you are not a dog).  Even my dog is satisfied with a pat on the head and, "you're a good girl".  Seriously, I created a reward plan for myself that keeps my budget in mind.  Work out 5 days out of 7 - give self mani and pedi.  Reach goal weight - 60 minute massage.  Pants too big - buy new pair throw out old (I LOVE buying pants that are a size smaller - it is a high for me).  Make the rewards exciting to you.

6. Listen to your mom: "Eat your veggies".  There are a lot of good nutrients in them that fuel your body. If you like them swimming in sauces and dressings, gradually cut back.  My favorite way to have veggies is roasted with seasonings like garlic, basil, and other herbs.

7. If you fail to plan you plan to fail.  I never planned out my meals per day and time.  I planned my meals for the week. When I make my grocery list it is: 7 breakfasts, 7 lunches, 7 dinner, 14 snacks, and ad hoc stuff for the kids.  I make sure there is a variety of grab-n-go for the nights that get choatic and things that need more time to cook for when I have the time.  If something comes up Tuesday, I am not freaking out that I was going to make chicken and rice and have no back up.  It is more like, oh well, we will have chicken and rice on Wednesday and fresh fruits, veggies, and sandwiches tonight. Also, schedule exercise like you would anything else. Write it in your calendar.

8. Be kind to yourself.  There will be times you feel like a failure.  DO NOT beat yourself up over it.  Stand up, brush yourself off, and move on.  What can you do better now?  What can you learn from the set back or obstacle?  Dinner party where you had too much wine (this is what I am most guilty of) -  get back on track in the morning.

9. Acknowledge that it isn't easy.  It is a challenge.  One I believe you can overtake.

10. Be brave.  Try new things.  Start crossing stuff off your bucket list.  Live your life!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

2014 Themes

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Since January 1, 2012 I have been taking steps to improve my life.  I started with losing weight and embarking on a journey that supports a healthy lifestyle.  I worked on eliminating the toxic relationships in my life.  I worked on becoming a happier person.  2013 was a journey of divorce.   My ex and I weren't on the same page with many things in life; not even following the same book.  We tried to get to the same place in life, but we just couldn't get there. 

A few days ago I was contemplating New Year's Resolutions and a friend shared this article with me:
Why A New Year's Theme Works Better Than A Resolution.

Click on it :)  I could really relate to it.  I was about to create a bunch of goals that I did not know if I could achieve in a year.  After reading the article I decided to adapt a few themes for 2104 to help me work towards being the person I want to be.

1. Minimalism.  I think we are a culture that demands tangible things and immediate rewards.  These are two reasons I am not a big on-line shopping.  I want instant gratification.  I digress...back on topic.  I live in a small apartment.  I have stuff that has been in boxes since 2002.  Have I looked at it in the past 12 years?  No.  Why do I still have it?  How much better would I feel walking into an apartment free of clutter?  What value does all this stuff give to me?  These are questions I have been asking myself for a couple of years actually. I already started this in my kitchen.  I just cleaned out my fridge.  Two trash bags and two trips to the recycling bin later...my fridge looks pretty empty, but it contains the amount of food I can consume in a week.
(there is a pic of my cleaned fridge I have been trying to upload here - blogger isn't cooperating)

2. Health.  This is a continuation of the past two years.  Why?  Because it is one of my values.  I like the way I feel now much more than I felt two years ago.  I love the way I look - although, I think that is a work-in-progress.  Who doesn't love a compliment?  Who can honestly say they look better at 33 than they did at 18?  This girl!
***Part of my health theme is working towards eating cleaner (sorry deep fried cheese curds...).  I am going to be following a this plan to get me to eating real food (which I am fairly good at, but there is plenty of room for improvement)
100 Days of Real Food Pledges
I woke up this morning and went grocery shopping I stocked up on semi-in-season fruits and veggies (it is the upper Midwest after all).
***Next is to get back on the physical fitness bandwagon.  I miss it.  Why did I stop?  The reasons are pointless excuses.  I found challenges that I can do to keep my head in the game and accountable, and that is what is important.  I am debating if I want to start running again, but in order to do that I need to commit to a 5K or something...
***Eliminate unnecessary stress is the last part of this theme.  What causes me the most unnecessary stress is worrying about money.  I will be following Dave Ramsey's principles to help me reach financial freedom.  From time to time you may here me reference this in the blog.  The second, I would say is my stuff, clutter, and mess.

I really believe that being minimalist will help me support and lead the ultimate healthiest lifestyle I can lead.  What are your goals/resolutions/themes?  I am interested in your responses...now off to work out :)  Happy Sweating Peeps!

Monday, November 4, 2013

My Bravery

My inspiration today (yesterday) is a song. Music tends to get me through just about anything; happy, sad, excited, frustrated.  I have heard this song a few times, and I realized, today, (maybe yesterday depending on when I get around to posting this) that this song is what I wish and hope of everyone. 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QUQsqBqxoR4

The song didn't get me up and moving, but it got me to reflect on the last 2 months of my life, the last 6 months of my life, the past year of my life, and the past almost two years.  Since I graduated college, my life took on many significant changes, with the changes coming often and quickly.  I truly embraced change in my younger days (I know some of you will say, that I am not that old), but as time has gone on I have adapted several fears.

Yesterday, I had to deal with my fear of heights walking up some stairs.  It was very windy and I was with my two daughters.  I was shaking, but I had to be brave for my daughters.  I don't want to see them growing up with irrational fears.  I haven't always been afraid of heights, but it has gotten worse as I get older.



 Sucking it up, being brave (after all, the girls made it up the stairs before I did), and ignoring myself literally shaking in my boots I got to enjoy this view.



Here is me being really brave, and putting it out there:

In the past 10 years, I have really lost myself.  Lost touch with who I am.  I am not saying that it was 10 years ago exactly, but I changed.  It was not consciously.  I wanted to climb the corporate ladder and I was in love with a man.  At one point, I had no desire to get married and have children.  But it changed somewhere in there.  I got married.  I had children.  And, as a people pleaser, I let go of who I was to keep those around me happy.  Or so I thought it was making/keeping them happy.

In doing this I sacrificed so much of who I am.  I stopped doing the things I love and taking care of myself.   My fears evolved.  Walls went up.  I didn't recognize who I was anymore.  I believe those around me, who love me, saw the evolution as well.  No one, directly told me that I had lost myself.

I remember one of my aunts talking to me about how I didn't seem as confident as I once was.  We couldn't really put our finger on the cause.  We both chalked it up to being laid off.  But I had so much to look forward to...I had just secured a new job, and was about to get married.  I think that is the first time I felt like I had lost part of myself.  I used to be ambitious, goal oriented, happy, excitable.  Those are all the traits I want back!  What made me realize that I need to get this person back, is my peer mentor at work.  She is a former college classmate of mine.  She told me her first impression (and still holds true to her) is my passion for my industry.  She was impressed with it when we were in college, and she still sees it from when I started in June.

With the weight loss, it opened my eyes to exactly how much of myself I have lost.  It took a series of unfortunate events to make me realize, how lost I am.  I lost my zest for life.  I am sure this is the zest that the man fell in love with.

I realized there were things holding me back in life.  The unknown (which used to excite me) caused me fear.  I was scared to be healthy, to be thinner, to be truly happy again.  I am worthy of happiness (which took a lot of convincing).  But, to achieve this happiness I had to do a lot of things that held me back with fear.  What would it mean to eat healthier?  What would it do to my family if I exercised more?  What if I fail?  What if I cannot maintain? 

I made changes slowly, so I could more easily support my healthy lifestyle.  I made over my kitchen, my schedule, and who I surrounded myself with.

I hit my goal weight.  I started spending time with someone who didn't live by the same health guidelines as I had been.  But, because of who I am - I gave up on myself again to try to make my new friend happier (which I failed at miserably)...I gained some of the weight back.  And the friendship is in flux.

I have come to the realization that with out passion, you there isn't much depth to life.  I am now sitting here, wondering what is it exactly that I am passionate about...Seeing my kids grow up.  But what outside of that!?  My career with a company I love.  But there has to be more to life than that, right?  What is going to get me out of bed when the girls are grown and out of the house and it is a Saturday?  My goals, my hopes, my dreams and aspirations and becoming the April I was several years ago.

Two random things: today, my co-worker and Weight Watchers buddy called me her "Weight Watchers Godmother", because I am always there guiding her through the program.  When she told me that, I realized that now that I am "out there" with my weight loss how I am afraid to fail at this, and let the people I inspire down...(although she did say she would not judge me if she saw me holding a donut...unless it was from the cafeteria downstairs).

Brave is beyond saying what you want to say.  It goes beyond to doing what you want to do.  Most of the time, the hardest part is taking the first step.  You don't have to take a big first step.  You can dip your toe in.  Whatever you say or do, I want to see you be brave.  Do something today that scares you.  I have done a lot that scares me in the past 2 years.  In the last few months I have really put myself out there...more so than I did the previous 10 years.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Improvement is Inspiring

This week I decided to train to run a 5K.  I thought Thanksgiving morning would be adequate enough target.  Still looking for a race, though.  I narrowed it down from three to two...

Three running work outs, and I am already seeing improvements.
Week 1 Day 1:













Week 1 Day 2:


Week 1 Day 3:


It really helps me stay inspired to see how my results are improving.  Keep in mind this includes warm up and cool down.  The walk/run ratio is 1.5:1.   I am doing it on the treadmill, so I can control my speed.  I try to go up .1 from the previous training. 

My running partner is getting old, so I don't want to tax her too much.  I can tell she is starting to get stiff in her back hips, but she does not let on that it is bothering her.  She recently turned 10 and refuses to act her age.  She is hyper and anxious, and usually happy to be on a leash next to me...except when she sees a rabbit or another dog...


Monday, September 23, 2013

Recap Update Repeat


Recap: 5/23/2013 - I hit a major milestone in my adult life.  I hit my goal weight.  This is the smallest I have been in my adult life.  I weighed in at 150.

Update: Fast forward to now.  I have gained 10 pounds.  Life threw me for a loop in the past 4ish months.  So many things changed for me in the past three and a half months. I thought it would be easier at my "goal weight" to navigate through all the changes - a move, a new job (longer commute, different hours), and other major life changes. What I really learned, is you need to keep with it.  You can't abandon what is working for you and expect nothing to change.  You don't suddenly become an expert or resilient to weight gain, because you have reached your goal weight.  You still have to work your new lifestyle.  You still have to plan in your new lifestyle.  You still have to accept failure in your new lifestyle.

So here I am, standing up, and brushing myself off.  Here is me putting one foot in front of the other and changing the way I have lived for the past 3 months.  Here is me getting back in-touch with good habits I abandoned.

Today, I tracked food and exercise for the first time in a long time ( I would say a coon's age, but I don't know if everyone knows what that means...or I could say since way back in the day...but it really hasn't been that long).
Today, I exercised for the first time in 4 months.
Today, I set goals for myself.
  1. I will run a 5K around Thanksgiving.  (Readers, any suggestions on how to pick a race?  There are three in the running.  They are all at the same time, so it is not like I can say...I am going to do all three.)
  2. I will lose 20 pounds by 1/1/2014. (Thanks to a dear friend for thinking and encouraging me to try to lose 10 more beyond my original goal).
  3.  I will track my food and exercise everyday this week.
  4. Weekly, I will plan my meals. (No more using convenience as a reason to not pack a lunch or cook dinner at home!)
I will do my best to keep you updated and me accountable.