Challenge Accepted

Coming back from Christmas, I knew that I really wanted to get back into feeling better about myself, get a hold of the unconscious eating and start moving my body more. I spent the fall really focusing on eating when I was hungry and making better choices. I wasn’t perfect by any means but changes here and there helped out a great deal. Then the holidays hit…it’s always a rough time for me no matter how much I try to prepare or make a mental game plan.

A challenge was coming up for Tone It Up, a fitness community and program that I follow and I thought, “ok, girl. It’s time to get serious!” When I actually follow their program, I’m solid and I’ve seen real results. What I’ve come to realize is that when I focus and work hard I have great results. Duh. Like that’s big news. But when I start to see those awesome results, I usually backslide. I start to think, “oh it’s okay to have a little more of this, I’ve done so well!” or “I can skip that workout today because I did a really hard one yesterday and look how good things are going!”

Those little indulgences, if you will, add up when you do it over and over again and before you know all those good habits you’ve started to introduce just go away. In case you didn’t know, no matter how much you plan or daydream or think and wish about taking care of your body, it doesn’t do a dang thing unless you put those thoughts into action.

That’s been a big problem for me over the years; a little results, backsliding and then nothing but thinking for a long time until I’m ready to get started again. I’m really burned out on that cycle. I want to make actual changes that are sustainable.

The #loveyourbody challenge is here and I’m doing it but a little bit differently so I actually see the 8 weeks through. I have to have a realistic plan going in because if I did all the things at once I would just be setting myself up for failure.

I started with simple goals and decided to add a new element each week. One thing at a time so that I get a week to practice and get better at it. The week before the challenge, it was all about just getting up and working out, trying to find the time that works best for me. Also, just trying to change the mindset of being too tired or simply put-it-off-til-tomorrow mindset needs some serious focus and I need to actively practice that.

This last week was all about eating better and making smarter choices. Swapping out items, adding more greens, listening to when I’m hungry and when I’m not, downing the water, and trying for a few less sweets. All these things I know and I try to practice but it needs a refresh and I need to be consistent.

This week will be all about sleep. I need it and I can tell that going to be at 11:00 is not allowing me to be successful at getting up at 6. Yup, I’m an 8 hours a night gal and that last hour really does make a huge difference for me. Next week? Probably adding in the daily moves three times a week. After that, who knows, but I’m adding each one as I get better with the previous.

The point is to add in something each week, building better habits rather than trying to change things all at once. I think that was always my downfall; I’d start strong with good intentions and drop it after a couple weeks because I didn’t build in the practice so the work and habits weren’t sustainable.

If you’ve found yourself in the midst of a challenge or looking to do one, get back on track and all, maybe figure out where you can actually push yourself to better and then make that happen in a realistic way. Going all in can work for some, but not all. One step at a time still gets me there, maybe at a slower pace, but hey. It’s my pace!

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More Greens Please!

Oh yes, y’all! It’s that time of year where we see an overabundance of health club adds, active wear sales, pushes for the latest exercise craze and tons of new year diets. In short, we’re all ready to get back to some good habits after months of indulging. All I can say is pass the greens, please!

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I’m pretty proud of the fact that I didn’t go hog wild, but I definitely enjoyed every piece of fudge, little cookie, and decadent meal we had and y’all, we had many a good meal! When Janson and I got home we both couldn’t wait to get back to simple meals, veggies included, and ate oranges like they were going out of style.

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If you’re in the mood for a simple morning drink, a mid-morning pick-me-up or an afternoon snack, I’d say this isn’t half bad!

Basic Green Drink

  • 1/2 a banana

  • 1/2 cup of orange juice OR 1/2 an orange OR 2 small cuties

  • 1 large cup of spinach

  • 1 TBLSPN of peanut butter (or almond butter or protein powder)

  • Dash of cinnamon

  • 1/2 - 3/4 cup of coconut water (or plain ol’ agua)

Blend all ingredients together, add more liquid if desired and voila! One very easy green drink.

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Options:

  • Add any fruit you like. Personal favorite, mango with banana and pineapple

  • Blueberry works really well with ginger and chocolate almond milk

  • Classic strawberry and banana is always a winner, too! Add a little almond milk to make it a tad bit creamier

  • Side tip, slice up your perfectly ripened bananas and freeze them in a Tupperware to use as needed

That’s as simple as it gets. Unless you just want to eat spinach by itself, but if you ask me, this is tastier and offers a few more vitamins and nutrients as well so maybe go with what’s more appealing.

Here’s to getting our bodies back in order!

Happy healthy eating, y’all!

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Planner Party

All my planners raise their hands! Whoop whoop! I see you, I recognize you and I appreciate you! We planner folk area a tribe in and of itself, lover's of all things organized and visual people who need to see and write the word of our schedule down in order for it to happen. I get you. 

I am that lady that loves shopping for organizational tools, it just makes me feel like I've got my world together! But I actually do use these tools on a daily basis. My schedule is color coded, there's a calendar on the wall for family life, alarms on my Google calendar for major appointments and meal planning lists on the fridge. I cannot function in an online calendar world alone. Pen to paper helps me process what's happening as does seeing what's coming up and writing out the to-do's for the week, month, etc. 

We’ve got 55 days until January 1st hits which, wow, that’s really not that far away! That’s 55 days to hunt down a new planner for the next year and maybe you’re wanting to switch it up a bit. With so many planners out there, you have an infinite amount to choose from ranging from the grocery store finds to the customized exquisite design. I assume people have heard of all the more niche products but in case you haven't, here ya go:

Top Five Planners for a Planner Lover

1. There's the Erin Condren, a beautiful custom designed option, made to your specifications for her Life Planner. There are many, many designs to choose from and you can adjust the layout to fit your hourly or weekly desires. She has so many additional doodads to choose from, it feels like scrapbooking for your life. I wouldn't mind trying one, but I worry the bulkiness of the planner would frustrate me after a time. She does offer petite journals for meal planning, baby information and more as well as wedding planners, teacher planners, academic calendars and just monthly calendars plus so much more! In short, I'd give it a whirl someday and I always go back and look at it each year as an option.  

2. Emily Ley is another one that I like and one I'd be interested in switching to when there is a bigger shift in my life set-up. The Simplified Planner is refined, elegant and chic with a few pops of fun here are there. Where Erin Condren is bright and colorful, this one tends to fall under a more mature feel and color scheme. Bound or spiral, you can find a daily or weekly set-up that fits your style. Her daily only goes to 9 pm which is a bummer for me as so many things go past that time like rehearsals or shows or auditions. Emily is very much into simply tracking and keeping up with your life and to me, it seems like a great fit for mom's who need to coordinate so much. It's definitely a planner to look at someday, but maybe just not yet for me. 

3. May Designs is one I found through a podcast series. I heard an interview with Mica May on the Jess Lively show a couple years back and I was so fascinated by her story I went to check out her products. They are fantastic! May Designs has journals and planners that are all customizable and pretty to boot! She has a ton of options to pick from and there are several designs to choose for setting up the calendar that you want. I personally am interested in just getting one of her journals to have on hand, but my journal collection is currently out of control. She also offers leather folios for the journals and tumblers, screen designs and more. I still shop frequently through her merchandise though! 

4. Day Designer is another popular brand of planners designed by Whitney English. If you are wanting something similar to the Simplified Planner, this is your stop! Day designs runs January to December and she also offers academic planners as well. Unlike some of the others, there is an option to have a leather planner with refills, a la Franklin Covey if you were a fan of that back in the day. I still have my grapefruit pink planner case from Covey--it's too pretty to pass on! It's a daily planner to really help you get your life on track with intentional planning and if you're someone who is trying to hit big goals or make daily habits, this may be the planner for you! 

5. Over the last four years I've been a faithful Passion Planner consumer. A good friend showed me the website when she stumbled upon it the very first year it opened and just… wow. It's truly built around following your passion. The road maps to making your goals was very helpful in starting a year out right. In truth, I've used them less in the last couple years as life has been a bit of rollercoaster but I found that the format really gave me what I desired. A weekly layout with a monthly insert and each week offered a way to divvy up personal and work to-do's nicely. I set an intention every day and thank goodness, the hours go past 9 pm! I am in love with the set-up and how it keeps me accountable. 

BONUS: Last summer I tried out a six month run of the Cultivate What Matters  Goal Planner. This is not so much a planner for weekly and daily life but a planner that helps you set intentions with how you want to spend your time. In short, it's what helps assist your planner.  I loved using it so much that I bought a yearly one last November and have loved using it each month! It's taught how to break down my bigger goals for the year, for the month, the week, and the day. I've learned a ton about what is attainable and what is not. Turns out you can't save the world and cook dinner all in one day, but I can make a step towards my goals and have a date night with my husband if I prioritize well.

Far left is a 6 months one I started with first back in 2017 then did the full year for 2018 and my 2019 just came in!

Far left is a 6 months one I started with first back in 2017 then did the full year for 2018 and my 2019 just came in!

The Cultivate What Matters Goal Planner focuses on finding the balance in what you need in relationships like family and friends, work, health, finances, spiritual and recreational needs. I'm not going to lie, I have a hard time balancing all of these things and this book really helped me figure out how to do that better without stressing. At the beginning of each month, it's listing out everything you want to accomplish and then there is a heart and brain dump essentially. I write out all that's on my mind or weighing heavy on my heart and its very cathartic. I can clear away the clutter and get focused on what can be done and break it down in bits that I can handle. From there, it's a matter of passing that information on to my every day planner and it's helped me immensely! 

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I know, two life planners seems like a lot especially with my love for the Passion Planner. For me it's been the best to help me balance all the things I want to do and all the worries I have about time being split. Since I love journaling so much, this is a joy to spend some quiet time doing that in addition to planning out the month. 

What is your favorite planner to use? 

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Meal Prep Help

I always feel really accomplished when I set myself up for a successful and less stressful week. Meal prepping has been all the rage for a while and there's tons of articles out there to help you, sometimes it gets overwhelming.

The past four weeks have been whirlwind crazy and I’m still four weeks away from having a “normal” week, i.e. nights where I’m home before 8:00 something at night. I’ve definitely been relying on my Sunday’s to prepare my food needs for work and for home, not unsurprisingly since a lot of people do it! While it can take a bit of time and elbow grease, I have to say, it’s been an absolute lifesaver!

Five Favorite All Week Meals

  1. Soup’s Up! I’m a huge fan of soup when I’m in the throws of a busy week like a show week. I’ll make a huge pot and fill up several containers for lunches and boom! I’ve got lunch for every day that week. Just a sleeve of crackers or some fresh french bread and I’m good. Throw a side salad with it or a half a sandwich and the meals seems fresh and new on day four.

    My personal favorite soup recipe is the Spicy Chicken Soup from Real Girl’s Kitchen and yes, that is Haylie Duff’s cookbook. No judgement, she’s got some pretty good ones!

  2. BBQ Pulled Pork Take 2. OK, so it’s easy to throw some pulled pork together, 1 can of soda and a bottle of BBQ sauce, large crockpot on low for 8 hours and ta-da! A great meal is ready for you! You can put it on a bun or on a baked potato or just eat on it’s own with a salad or delicious sautéed veggies.

    Here’s a new one though, slap some of that BBQ between to tortillas, add some cheese, cilantro, and a squeeze of lime juice and you’ve got yourself some delicious BBQ quesadillas.

  3. White Chicken Chili for days! I wish I could take credit for this, but good ol’ Pinterest to the rescue. Here is THE best white chicken chili and I promise you won’t get sick of this one! Add tortilla chips or pair with a light green salad to stretch it out and shake it up.

  4. Tray Bakes for the win! Roast up a few chicken breasts in the oven with a separate tray of your favorite veggies and that’s an easy full meal with tons of nutrition packed in. I like to use brussel sprouts, asparagus or zucchini with sweet potatoes or purple potatoes and a bit of chopped onion. A little olive oil and some sea salt and you’re good to go. Other spices are fine, but I like the simple flavor come out through the roasting.

  5. Muffins, man. I know, bad pun, but still funny. I whipped up a batch of Oatmeal Apple Cinnamon Muffins since I was hankering something delicious warm and fall flavored. Definite success although this particular recipe calls for a pretty good amount of sugar. I’m wondering if I could pair that down or trade out with a different type of sugar. Either way, I’ve got delicious breakfast muffins to pair with scrambled eggs and some fresh fruit.

The trick is to make it all at once and divvy everything up, a plate or bowl for each day of the week. I cart all these bowls to work and leave them in my office fridge prepped and ready to heat up. I’m a leftovers fan so this type of eating isn’t too tricky for me and if you’re looking for something other than a frozen meal for lunch or another sandwich, these might perk up your meals for the week!

Happy meal prepping, y’all!

The Real Girls Spicy Chicken Soup.

The Real Girls Spicy Chicken Soup.

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Favorite Bath Bombs

I jumped on the bath bomb bandwagon a little late having only really discovered them a couple years ago. It all started off in this cute shop in downtown Rockwall, TX that sells their own and I really loved them--they smelled wonderful and it was a perfect treat when I wanted a night to sit, soak, and relax. But that's not the place that sells my favorite. 

Of course, if you've shopped at Lush, their bath bombs are equally divine and definitely designed with the body in mind using materials guaranteed not to cause infection or irritation to the skin. I love them, too, but I my favorite bath bomb doesn't come from this chain either. I actually found them totally by accident--isn't that how all great finds work though? 

On our trip to Charleston last year, we stopped through the Historic Charleston Market to shop and see all the local finds when I happened upon a booth with the most heavenly scent. This shop, Old Whaling Company had all sorts of scrubs, soaps and you guessed it, bath bombs. I immediately started picking up and inhaling each one, loving everything I touched. I ended up with about four or five to purchase and savored them over the next couple of months. 

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After the last one was gone, I couldn't help but pine for more. Fortunately they ship (Duh, Julie, it's 2018--everyone ships!) so I hopped on their Etsy site just recently to order more and I can't wait to dive into my stash! 

I was so pumped to receive my fragrant shipment! Seriously, the box smelled like a spa, clean and relaxing. I wish our screens were scratch and sniff so you could smell this, too! They send you samples of soap to try and I'm excited to see how I like these two; One is bergamot and grapefruit and then magnolia is the other. 

This company really does keep health in mind when they craft their products, try reading their story here of how the founder got into making their products. Finding a company that really is conscious of what goes into their products makes me feel like a cared for consumer and honestly, the last thing I want to do while I'm soaking is worry about what the heck is floating in my water. 

Penny just about went crazy with all the different smells! 

Penny just about went crazy with all the different smells! 

If you're like me, a bath bomb enthusiast, you really should check out Old Whaling Company! You can mix and match the scents in a bundle or try a few at a time. Shipping is quick and you're sure to get a hand written note and samples included as well--how thoughtful! 

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The only real question now is which one do I start with first? 

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Alright, time to share!

Bath bombs or bath salts? Floral or clean? What's your favorite scent for a soak? 

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