Friday, December 25, 2015

Merry Christmas

Hello from Central Missouri!

I have to say it is a bit strange to be celebrating Christmas with the amazing weather we are having while visiting family here in Missouri. I can also assure you that we are making the most of it and are enjoying it!

Ry and Isaac were thrilled to go fishing to use all of their new fishing gear that they received over the past several celebrations this holiday season.
They were in heaven getting to go out in Papa's fishing boat on Christmas day. Ry even had success with his new lure from Uncle Doug.

Santa found us here in Missouri and was very good to the whole family! 
We have definitely been blessed this holiday season but most of all it has been wonderful to spend time (over the past few weeks) with our whole family because that is what the season is truely about.

As Christmas day is coming to a close and I am reflecting on how blessed I am, I want to wish you all a Merry Christmas. I hope that you are feeling the joy of the season like we are!

Friday, December 18, 2015

Emergency snack kit

As many of you know, I have been really working to clean up my diet over the past couple of months and I don't want the holidays to set me back and get me off track. With all of the craziness and traveling that we have going on during this holiday season I have come to realize how important it is to make sure I have some fast, on-the-go snacks to help set me up for snacking success. Traveling, parties, shopping and all of the holiday madness can derail even the best diets (and the best intentions) if you don't have a convenient and healthy snack ready when you need it. I don't always have all of these items with me but here are some of my "emergency snack kit" essentials that I try to keep on hand:

My emergency snack kit
 Having a morning and/or afternoon snack helps keep you full, balances your blood sugar and provides energy between meals. One of the biggest things for me is to make sure that I have some source of protein. Having protein as a part of my snack always helps to fill me up and keep my belly happy longer!

Here is a closer look at the items in my "emergency snack kit":

these are a couple of my favorites
Protein bars- I have been making sure to keep a protein bar in my purse so that I always have a healthy option if I need it. QuestBar and Think Thin are just a couple of my favorites.

Clementines and String Cheese- Clementines are sooo good right now and I just can't get enough of them. When traveling this past weekend I made sure to bring some along for a healthy and portable snack. I also pack a cooler when we travel and always try to pack string cheese as a great source of protein for me and my family.

Balanced Breaks-  There are several varieties to choose from but this is my favorite. My husband loves one with cashews and pepper jack cheese. Ideally, I would like more protein in my snack but this is good to tide me over.

Nuts- I love having a variety of nuts portioned out for snacking. They are perfect for throwing into my purse and are very portable.

Apple and Nut butter- This is one of my favorite snacks! I love cutting up and apple and putting almond butter on it.

Gum- I ALWAYS have gum! After a meal or snack I will pop a piece in my mouth so that I don't continue to graze. Once my mouth feels fresh and clean I don't like to mess that up.

Water bottle- My water bottle goes everywhere with me! It is almost like an extension of my body! It is very important to make sure to stay hydrated. People often make the mistake of thinking they are hungry when actually they need to be drinking more water.

Protein powder and a blender bottle- This is another fast and easy snack option for me... just add the pre-portioned protein powder to water, shake and drink. When I first started using protein powder I was very overwhelmed by all of the options. I had no idea which one to get or what to look for. Here are a couple that a trainer/friend recently recommended and that I really enjoy:

Rocky Road = YUMMY!

When I am at home and need a quick snack (post-workout or on-the-go), I love to make a smoothie using the above chocolate protein powder. Here is my favorite recipe:

1 cup almond/coconut milk
1 scoop chocolate protein powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla
1 tbsp. almond butter
couple handfuls of ice

Blend together and enjoy!

Recently, while looking for other healthy snack ideas I came across I decided to check it out because several blogs that I follow have been talking about it and have been raving about their products. I was surprised to find that, not only do they sell a variety of nuts, dried fruit and chocolates (my shopping list is in the works) but this site has lots of great information on healthy snacking. They also have recipes and ideas for quick snacks to help you stay on track all year long. I will definitely be making the no-bake granola bars in the future and can't wait to try some of their nuts and other snacks! I encourage you to check out the site to get some ideas for yourself.

I hope that sharing my go-to snacks helps you this holiday season and really all year long! I definitely find that having fast, on-the-go snacks sets me up for snacking success, even on my busiest days.

Happy snacking!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Christmas celebration no. 1

The hustle and the bustle of the holiday season has definitely begun for my family. As last week came to an end, it found us busy finishing some last minute shopping and packing to head out of town for our first Christmas celebration of 2015. After the boys got off to school on Friday morning I had a list a mile long of things to get done and it didn't take long before I felt completely overwhelmed. So, I did as any runner would do when they feel overwhelmed... I decided to head out for a quick run!
I clipped my orange (Fiercely United) Fellow Flower into my hair and headed off for a 4 mile run. Watch for an upcoming post where I will share some exciting news regarding Fellow Flowers!

Feeling refreshed and ready to tackle that to-do list!


Happy legs!
post-run stretching/yoga

Taking that time for myself put me a bit behind on my to-do list but it turned out that the run and post-run stretching/yoga was just what I needed to help refocus myself. I actually got everything done right on time and we were even ahead of schedule getting on our way.
We made it to the hotel and met up with my mom who arrived shortly after us. My brother and his family would also be joining us but would arrive much later. We spent the night hanging out with mom and the boys got a new movie that they ended up watching on her laptop.
Saturday morning we all met up for breakfast and decided on our plan for the day. My brother and sister-in-law needed to run a quick errand. The older girls needed to work on homework and the other kids were begging to go swimming. It was decided that the older girls would do their homework and the other kids would get ready to go swimming while Doug & Liz ran their errands. Tim and I decided that was our window to also head out for a quick run. The kids got ready to swim and hung out in Grandma's room until everyone else was ready to go.
Our hotel was located near the mall and other shopping so we were worried about all of the holiday shopping traffic and weren't sure where to go. We stopped by the hotel desk and asked where he would recommend we go. Dave was AMAZING!! He told us where all of the locals run which would require a short drive but I knew that wasn't an option because The Ugly Sweater 5K was going on in that area. We then asked about a route directly from the hotel. He told us a route that he thought would be good and then pulled up Google Maps and had us come around the desk to check it out. He even zoomed in and verified that there was a sidewalk for us which would make it the safest route. The only problem with said route was the MONSTER hill that we would have to tackle. We knew that route was our best bet so we headed out and took the challenge head on. Our pace slowed a bit but we beat that hill and had a great run! 

When we got back the kids were eager to get in the pool.

I think they all (big and little) had fun!
 After spending a good amount of time in the pool we decided it was time to take over the breakfast area in the lobby. We had hoped to use the conference room but it was booked for the day so the hotel said it was ok for us to use this space. This space would be used for meals, crafts, and gift opening... basically our whole Christmas celebration.

 For lunch we planned to have soups and sandwiches then we planned to order pizza for dinner. Once we got the food all set out it was very clear that there was plenty of food for lunch, snacks, AND dinner.

we were NOT going to starve
In my last post I talked about how I was feeling anxious about meals while we celebrate Christmas. I felt like I did pretty good given the above situation! I watched my portions and tried to make the best choices that I could. The only problem was the dill pickle dip and pretzel thins! That stuff should be locked up!

After everyone got their bellies full it was game and crafting time!

craft table
A picture of the girls crafting was posted on Facebook that afternoon and one of the comments was asking about the guys. The above picture was taken at that time as they were all outside checking out the weather and talking. I didn't get any pictures but they did all participate in the games and helped with some of the crafts.
games with cousins
After we cleaned up from the crafts it was time for presents! We decided to have a little fun in the process and to honor Grandma Betty. Mom brought Grandma Betty's BINGO game along so it was decided that we would play BINGO to open the gifts. The first person to get a single BINGO would be the first to open their gift. Then we continued to play and the next person to BINGO was the next to open their gift. We did this until everyone was able to open their gift. After you opened your gift you continued to play to try to get a "black out" and that person won $5.

It turned out to be a very fun way to make the gift opening more organized and to last longer. Once the gifts were opened we cleaned up and hung out watching some Christmas movies that were playing on TV.
Sunday morning we all enjoyed breakfast together before saying our goodbyes and heading back home.
Grandma Jane and her Grandkids

The whole family
 Before leaving Dubuque we stopped to do a little shopping and had some fun in the process! I love these sillies more than chocolate!

Isaac wearing a singing/flashing Santa hat

Riley the elf

Aidan wearing the singing/flashing Santa hat- it moved so much it made his whole head shake

my three crazies getting into the Christmas spirit

Overall, Christmas celebration number 1 was a big success! We all had a lot of fun and made some wonderful memories.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015


How is it almost Christmas? Wasn't this just last week?

My sneaky way of getting some Halloween photos on here that never seemed to make it:)
Really it doesn't feel like Halloween was already over a month ago!

The calendar says December, but it sure hasn't felt like it here in Wisconsin. It is hard to get into the Christmas spirit with no snow and temperatures in the 40's.

photo courtesy of WKBT News 8

Don't get me wrong... I am not complaining! I LOVE the weather that we are having! It definitely helped me stay on track this past weekend with some good outdoor runs.

Saturday afternoon run with my hubby

Sunday afternoon run with my hubby

Another post-Sunday run... and just because it is a decent picture that I am not ashamed off:)
I really wish this weather would stick around all winter!

Even if it isn't feeling like Christmas, the hustle and bustle has begun. We "hunted" for our tree and after 3 days or so we finally got it decorated.

Look at those adorable Santas!

New tradition: an ornament from vacation or that represents our year.
We need to find a Virginia one since we decided on this new tradition after that trip!

traditional photos in front of the tree... some serious and some silly
Gifts are being purchased and some are even wrapped. The holiday celebrations are also already starting. We have our first celebration this weekend! And another next weekend. And another the weekend after that! It is a busy but wonderful time of year!

I have to admit that I am starting to get a bit anxious about my fitness and nutrition over the next several weeks! We will be doing a lot of traveling and I won't exactly be in control of my food options and my daily routine (which I am learning are keys to MY success). It is going to be about balance for me... making sure to watch portion sizes while making the best choices possible and getting in daily exercise. I will keep in mind my goals and focus on those while making my choices.

In my last post I talked about getting my mind-set and intentions in the right place with my workouts and nutrition. I also said that all of my hard work would eventually lead to results and how I often sabotage myself just when that starts to happen. I don't want that to happen again but I also want to enjoy the holidays! This is a tough time of year but I know it is possible to stay on track!

Over the past 4-6 weeks I have focused in and it is starting to pay off. I have seen some results on the scale (down 4-5 pounds). What is even more exciting is the NSV (non scale victory- which I am really working on believing is MOST important) that I had today when doing measurements again... I am down 6.5 inches overall! Every measurement was down at least 1/4 inch... that is super exciting! That tells me that even if I am not seeing it on the scale, what I am doing is working!

My trainer/friend posted this today on her Facebook page and I LOVE it!
I am also really working on paying attention to "how I feel" and using that as a marker of success. I have to say that I am feeling pretty good! I am feeling less bloated and am feeling so much stronger. I am really enjoying getting back to strength training and love the feeling of pushing myself again.

If you remember back in early November, I did some soul searching and decided to make a change at work and it has been wonderful! I am so happy that I decided to make that change. It was a tough decision and I really miss working with some people but everyday I feel like it was the right decision for me and my family.

I have to say that all of these things together have really helped me get back to a better place! I am finally feeling like ME again! I am starting to believe in myself again and get back to my positive way of thinking. I know I have a long way to go on this journey but I am making progress and am happy with where I am at.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

New month...

Are you ready?
 I am! Let's do this!!
I got this month off to a strong start with an amazing workout this morning- 15 minutes of rowing (and I don't take it easy when on the rower) followed by my favorite yoga class. I decided that I hadn't had enough (and I knew tonight wasn't going to allow for my strength training workout) so I headed back up to the wellness center for a lower body strength workout that left my legs feeling pretty shaky!  After doing upper body last night and lower body today I am feeling it! I am gonna be sore tomorrow and probably even the next day but it is all good because it means I am putting in the work and getting stronger.
It is a good thing that I work the next two days because I think I am going to need a couple of rest days. I put it all out there in my workouts the past couple of days and have really refocused my diet. I feel like my mind-set and intentions are finally in the right place with my workouts and I am making progress with my nutrition. Now, I just need to believe that all of this hard work will lead to new results. But this is one area that I continue to struggle... believing in myself. Through this journey I have learned that I have a bad habit of self-sabotage when I start to make progress and see results. I have made the conscious decision that I am not going to let that happen this time! I want to see the rewards of all of my hard work and I want to believe in myself.
As I head out to get Aidan to his first night of basketball (5:30-6:30 at one school), Riley to jazz band practice (6:00-7:30 at a different school), and then Isaac to basketball practice (6:45-8:15 back at school one), I leave you (and myself) with this very cute message...