Category Archives: Health

Avoiding the “Freshman Fifteen”

Ok, I’m not actually a freshman, but last month I went back to school (Texas State) as a transfer student. Interestingly, it has actually allowed me MORE opportunity and motivation to work out. How is that possible, you ask?

First, I have a 1.3 mile walk from my parking lot of choice to my 1st class. I COULD use the shuttle service, but I’ve found it is faster to walk than wait for the shuttle. Oh, and it smells nicer, too. (All those bodies on one tiny shuttle: woah!) So, I choose walking. And it’s not a straight, even path either. There are LOTS of steps, both up and down, as the campus flows with the natural hill country landscape.
Second, I’m taking advantage of the fact that my tuition includes a membership to the campus rec center. It is amazing! There are plenty of cardio and weight machines, a nice free weight area, basketball courts, racquetball courts, even a couple foosball tables. They also offer group fitness classes like yoga, cycle fit, guts & glutes, TRX, 30/20/10, Zumba, bootcamp, etc. So far, my schedule has only allowed me to use the main gym area (free weights and cardio and weight machines) and to participate in the yoga classes, but I’m hoping I can get in the 30/20/10 class at least a couple times this semester. 30/20/10 consists of 30 minutes of cardio, 20 minutes of strength, and 10 minutes of abs and stretching. My gym routine has been 3 days a week, 2 of which I am focusing on lower body with this 12 week program that I found on Pinterest. I like it because it combines heavy weight/low rep with light weight/high rep to get the best of both worlds. The middle day, I have been doing upper body weight training, but I have not yet found one “routine” that I like the best, so I’ve just been switching it up.

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Some of the exercises in my lower body program

The final thing I have been implementing is moderation in my eating. Sure, I occasionally get a Starbuck or add waffle fries to my Chic-fil-a Salad or Cool Wrap. But I don’t go crazy about it. My favorite breakfast lately has been a container of Noosa Yoghurt and 2 of Jamie Eason’s Carrot Cake Protein Bars. If you haven’t tried Noosa and you like yoghurt (or yogurt), I highly recommend it!

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That Strawberry Rhubarb! YUM!

So, 5 weeks in, how is this new schedule and routine working? I’d say quite well. The first week, I didn’t lose any weight, but for the next 3 weeks I consistently lost 0.4 pounds per week. I’m not necessarily looking to lose weight as much as I am looking to build more muscle and lose a little of the extra fat that I had gained from being more sedentary than I used to be. I’m not sure on any weight loss for this week as I don’t weigh myself every day. I won’t be upset if I didn’t loose anything as this week I have not made it into the gym or yoga due to studying for 4 tests (2 down, 2 to go). I have continued to eat in moderation, which has helped me avoid stress eating, which I can sometimes be prone to.

 

So, to sum it all up, here is my personal solution for avoiding what many experience as the “freshman 15.”

1. Walk or use steps when you have the option.

2. Exercise. It doesn’t matter if you can do a little or a lot, just use your body and you will get stronger.

3. Make healthy eating choices; eat in moderation. A treat here and there is not going to sabotage you. In fact, it may keep the binging tendencies at bay if you are prone to them.

 

Now I’m off to continue to study for the 2 tests I have next week. Wish me luck! 🙂

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My Big “Fat” Secret

I haven’t posted in a LONG time, I know! Life this summer has been super busy.

The kiddos have been randomly participating in the Super Smash Bros Brawl tournament that is put on each summer by the Austin Public Library. ‘A’ has made it 3 rounds in once and the other 2 have both lost in the first round each time so far. They are troupers though, and keep going back for more.

We are also planning a move in the next couple weeks. Currently, my husband is driving from Austin to San Antonio every day. Depending on how light or heavy traffic is he has anywhere from a 90 minute drive to a 3 hour drive, one way. That’s a LOT of driving. In the fall, I will be attending Texas State University to work on a Bachelor’s degree in Family and Child Development. So, we will be moving to a small town in between his workplace and my school. The house we have chosen is amazing! The details are still being worked out, so I will post more on that when it is a done deal.

Oh, and we just got back from vacation! We spent the first (and largest) part of in in the Outer Banks of North Carolina for my in-laws’ 35th Anniversary. (We also spent a day and a half in our beloved city, New Orleans.) It was the first time in 5 years that the whole family was able to get together. We had a blast! I’m pretty sure my favorite (and the scariest) part was crab hunting on the beach at night. So fun!

Photo Credit: Paula Payne at http://inpayne-paula.blogspot.com/

Photo Credit: Paula Payne at http://inpayne-paula.blogspot.com/

 

The pictures taken that day are part of my reason for posting this blog today. And I’m sorry to say, it’s not exactly a fun one. You see, another picture that was taken that day, and has recently been added to Facebook was one of my husband and I.

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Photo Credit: Paula Payne

I seriously wanted to cry when I saw this picture. At the time when I first looked at it, all I thought was “look at how FAT I have become!” Now, you may be saying “Are you crazy? You’re beautiful! You’re in a beautiful place with a man who loves you.” And you’d be right. Those things are true. But to me, in that moment, that wasn’t MY truth. My truth was that over the past couple years I have gained about 20 pounds and have “let myself go” so to speak.

The problem was, I did a mental flashback and compared this picture to one from 5 years ago. Then, I actually placed a real picture from 5 years ago next to this recent one. This was the result:

July 2009 vs July 2014

July 2009 vs July 2014

The thing is though, I had to remind myself that in that picture from 5 years ago, there is a LOT that is not seen. What you can’t see here is that I was silently suffering from an undiagnosed eating disorder, depression, and anxiety. I had starved and overworked my body to the point that I had to supplement my baby with formula because my body didn’t have enough fuel to make enough breastmilk to feed him. What you can’t see here is that in the picture on the left, I thought I was so FAT and GROSS when I looked at myself naked in front of the mirror before stepping into the shower. The woman on the right sees her image as curvy and feminine and beautiful. That girl on the left gave into those demons that whispered lies about her body and her worth. The woman on the right knows she is worth so much more; she believes that she is full of strength and dignity (Proverbs 31:25) no matter what the camera might reflect.

A little over a year ago, I came across a blogger named Amber. She had posted a blog called Cellulite: It’s Time We All Just Get the Hell Over It. Everything she wrote really resonated with me. I read some more on her site, Go Kaleo (Kaleo being a joke about Kale and Paleo diets) and joined a Facebook group that she started called Eating The Food (ETF) that was kind of like a support group for people who were dealing with eating disorders and body image issues or were just trying to quit the diet-cycle and needed encouragement. I have learned so much over the last 16 months of trying, succeeding, failing, and trying again at ETF.

One big thing I learned was that I was not eating enough. I went here and calculated my BMR (basal metabolic rate) and my TDEE (total daily energy expenditure) based on my age, height, weight, and daily activities. BMR is basically the number of calories that your body would need daily if you were in a coma. TDEE takes into account all of the activities you do each day (exercise, housework, walking from place to place, etc.) and the amount of calories needed to fuel that amount of activity. My BMR is currently 1,367 calories. Honestly, 5 years ago my goal was to be UNDER 1,200 calories a day AND I was working out for at LEAST an hour each day, usually more like 2 hours. No wonder I was in such a mess psychologically!

I probably do a lot more that this daily, but this gives a pretty good idea.

I probably do a lot more that this daily, but this gives a pretty good idea.

Another thing I have gained from ETF is a heck of a lot of body positivity. That group is amazing! I don’t post a lot (cause I’ve got 3 kids who keep me super busy and away from Facebook), but when I do they are always so encouraging. For example, this morning I posted about my body-image dilemma about how my body has changed over the last 2 years, and especially compared with pictures from 5 years ago. Here’s some of what they wrote to me:

 

I’m going to be totally honest, you are smoking. Your figure is HOT. I know it’s hard for you to see, I’m the same way with my old pictures, but you look amazing now. You’ll get to that happy place, it just takes time.

 

Jen, I know I’m looking through different eyes, but you look great in that photo. You are also standing with a man that you love in a beautiful area. 

 

When I get into these moments, getting active somehow is the best way for me to break out of the negative ED headspace. Your body does amazing things! Taking a walk, doing a little yoga, etc., reminds me of that, somehow reconnects mind and body to work together 🙂

 

I don’t particularly like my picture taken, but something another member of this group said on someone else’s similar post has really stuck with me: when you try to take a picture of the moon with a camera, do you notice how different it looks than in real life with your own eyes? The moon never looks as beautiful in the digital representation so I’m taking the same view. I will never look as good in photos as I do in real life where my awesomeness aura can be measured on the Richter scale!

 

Try not to look at it as heavier = worse. Heavier can also be just a different version of yourself. Not better or worse, just different. You know how sometimes we enjoy changing up our hair color or playing with different styles? You are right now enjoying the experience of being this size instead of that size. You are still you underneath and are, as always, beautiful!

 

Jen, a lot of us have been through what you’re experiencing right now. 

What I like to tell people is to take more pictures!!!! For a while, I was taking pictures of myself daily. Then study the pictures – post them here if you want – study them and find all the POSITIVE things in the pictures. Soon, you’ll see pictures of yourself the way we see pictures of you. You’ll see the beauty and health and happiness first.

 

Both bodies are good bodies and I think you are already making progress in recognizing the state of mind you were in for the left photo. 

 

Seriously, how great are these people! They also have a TON of experience in all kinds of fitness from running to yoga to crossfit to you name it.

 

So there it is. I’m posting it out there for everyone on the internet to see. My big “fat” secret. I’m posting it because I don’t want to be ashamed of how I used to treat my body. And I don’t want to feel ashamed for my now healthier, properly fueled body. I’m also posting this as encouragement for anyone out there who is currently dealing with an eating disorder and/or body image issues. It does get better, if you let it. Yep, there are times when those urges attack at full force, but my hunger for life (and delicious food) gives me the strength to just say “no” to ED and say “yes” to ETF.

Today I have learned to look at this picture this way:

'Smiling on the Outside, Dying on the Inside' vs 'Smiling on the Outside, Joyful on the Inside'

‘Smiling on the Outside, Dying on the Inside’ vs ‘Smiling on the Outside, Joyful on the Inside’

The woman on the right looks different, not only on the outside, but also on the inside. And that change on the inside is the most important change of all.

 

Be blessed, my friends.


End of School Year Business Part 2

Phew! So, are you ready to find out what else my family and I have been up to this past month? Well, here it is! [If you havent read part 2 from yesterday, check it out here!]

 

On Memorial Day, the LBJ Library and Museum was free to the public. So, the hubs, kids, and I headed out to check it out. I didn’t really take many pictures because I was too busy reading and explaining to my younger 2 children about all that “old” stuff (from the 60s!) that they had no clue about. I know I wasn’t alive back then either, but it is crazy to me how much of that stuff was still around when I was a kid (in the 80s and 90s) but is almost unrecognizable to my children today. They were very excited to learn that my grandma still has a rotary telephone that works. They plan on calling their daddy on his cell phone next time we go up for a visit. We really have made some incredible advances in technology in recent years.

Here are a couple pictures that I did take though:

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The other thing that kept me busy for a few days was our Beagle, Katie. About 6 weeks ago she had a random seizure that freaked me out and I took her to the vet immediately (thankfully it happened at noon). I didn’t really think to take a video at the time that it happened, so I just had to try to explain what I saw to the vet. She agreed that it sounded like a seizure and they did a few tests. All tests came back normal and I was instructed to get it on video if it happened again. Well, it did happen again, 34 days later. I was able to get it on video this time. It happened at 9:30 pm and Katie was back to normal very shortly after it was over, so I took her to the vet the next day. They watched the video and reviewed her test results from the previous visit and diagnosed her with Epileptic Seizures. No medication is required at this time because the seizures are mild and more than a month apart. If that changes, medication will probably be necessary to prevent them from occurring. Other than the seizures though, Katie is a healthy, happy dog. She loves our family and is adequately spoiled.

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I also just completed a 6 week Early Childhood Education class with my little guy, N. The class was 2 1/2 hours on Tuesday and Thursday mornings. It focused on teaching parents how to help their preschool aged children be successful in school. Here is the breakdown of all 12 classes:

Class 1

Introduction. What should I do before my child starts kindergarten? Ready for School Checklist

project: dream catchers

 

Class 2

Social and Emotional Preparation

project: feeling faces

 

Class 3

Phonological Awareness

projects: rhyming memory game and hearts

 

Classes 4 & 5

Letter Knowledge

projects: ABC visual, ABC visual (mixed up), name book, vowels book, name tree, ABC Bingo

 

Class 6

Narrative Skills

projects: 3 little piggies, sequences, story book dice

 

Classes 7 & 8

Math Skills – Numbers, Colors, and Shapes, Math in Our World

projects: math visual, counters, number book, shapes activity, bean numbers, number Bingo

 

Class 9

Pre-Kindergarten Science – Physical Science, Life Science, Earth & Space Science, Physical Safety & Health

projects: color wheel, popping pepper, weather chart, sink or float

 

Class 10

Vocabulary Skills

project: new words dictionary

 

Class 11

Print Motivation and Fine Motor Skills, Developing Writing Skills

projects: play-doh exercises, lace-up apple

 

Class 12

Review

projects:graduation picture frames and graduation caps

 

At the end of the class we had a little party/graduation to show off all the projects that we had completed over the 6 weeks. Each of the participating parents had to get up and talk about 2 projects, the child’s favorite and the parent’s favorite. It was a fun class to take and I really enjoyed making and playing with the projects with not only N, but his older siblings as well.

Here are some pictures of my spread of projects. It really was a lot of work over that 6 week period.

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My next post will be about awards ceremonies, my boys’ graduations as well as school year before and after pics.


Workout Journal – April 18

I’m posting this a day late. I dropped the ball on typing it up. Sorry! I’ve been pretty busy with my children’s activities, so I’ve only been doing 1 type of workout per day (as opposed to running in the morning and P90X in the afternoon). I would like to have time to do two workouts a day again, but not at the cost of spending time with my family. Saturdays and Sundays will pretty much always be one workout kind of days because my children are home all day, but the weekdays have been pretty busy for us as well. So for now, one a day is how it needs to be.
Here’s what I did:

Saturday, April 12 – P90X Legs & Back

Sunday, April 13 – P90X Kenpo-X

Monday, April 14 – P90X X-Stretch

Tuesday, April 15 – Rest Day.  I picked up our van, which is now transmission fluid leak-free, and my 1st grade daughter had her first school concert in the evening. She had a speaking part that she was very nervous about.  Her daddy and I went over her line with her over and over again. She did a fantastic job! She was completely adorable, too!
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Wednesday, April 16 – P90X Chest, Shoulders, & Triceps.

Thursday, April 17 – I attempted a 3 mile run plus intervals. At the 2 mile mark I was at an average pace of 9:55 minutes per mile and then I had my first asthma attack in 2 years. So disappointing and scary. I was able to recover and walk slowly home. I’ve been drinking Breathe Easy tea and Nettle tea to help with the chest congestion and allergies.

Friday, April 18 – P90X Back & Biceps

So there’s my week, nothing too exciting workout-wise, but I got in some type of physical exercise 6 days, so I’m choosing to be content with that. Hopefully my lungs will clear up so that I can get in a few more runs next week.

How have you been exercising this week?


Workout Journal – April 11

This week I had a small family emergency Monday evening. Because of the work involved with dealing with the emergency,  I didn’t workout at all on Tuesday or Wednesday. Also, my GPS hasn’t been working correctly, so all that progress I thought I was making so quickly wasn’t quite accurate. I was a bit discouraged, but I’m not going to let it get me down. I’m back on track now, but my workout journal is a little light this week. Here is what I did:

Saturday, April 5 – P90X Back & Biceps

Sunday, April 6 – P90X Yoga-X

Monday, April 7 – 4 mile run / walk

Tuesday, April 8 – Rest Day

Wednesday, April 9 – Rest Day

Thursday, April 10 – 2 mile run / walk plus 3 20-second interval sets

Friday, April 11 – 5 mile run / walk

Even though my workout schedule was a bit light this week, I still lost 1.3 pounds, 1 1/2 inches off my hips, and 1/2 inch off each of my thighs since my last weigh-in and measurements. And I had a margarita with a burger and fries on Thursday night while watching a friend’s band play. I know there’s that meme out there that says, “You can’t out-exercise a bad diet.” But I say: A “good diet” can’t do for you what exercise and moderation together can do for you.

Here’s a couple pictures from our night at The Oasis on Lake Travis Thursday night.

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My friend Ashlee and I with our Margaritas (hers was mango, mine was sangria).

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The beautiful view we had.

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Such a gorgeous sunset!

Go ahead and share what you did to move your body in a healthy way this week in the comments.


Workout Journal – April 4, 2014

Happy Friday!

It’s time for my weekly workout journal, so I’m just going to get right to it.

Saturday, March 29 –  I was planning on having today be a rest day because my legs were a little sore on Friday. However, after playing at the park and flying kites with the kiddos, I felt really good. So I decided to go ahead and do P90X Legs & Back.

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Fun flying kites!

Sunday, March 30 – 2.01 miles at a pace of 10:35 minutes/mile. I had planned on doing Kenpo-X later in the day, but my husband found a van online and we went to check it out. It took longer than expected, but we bought it. Yay!

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New van!

Afterward, my husband and I played some Frisbee Golf for 9 holes, so that was some active entertainment. The Frisbee MAY have gotten stuck in a tree for a moment or two, but we had a lot of fun together.

Monday, March 31 – P90X Kenpo-X

Tuesday, April 1 – Rest Day. I was planning on my 5 miles today, but then I found out about Breakfast with the Easter Bunny at Whole Foods. I just had to take my youngest, so that left no time for an a.m. run. My scheduled P90X workput was X-Stretch and I knew I’d want to do that one after my 5 miles, so I took the rest day that my body needed anyway. Plus, how cute is this kid?!
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Wednesday, April 2 – I ran/walked 5.03 miles at a 10:26 min/mile pace. I ran all but the last two big uphill sections. My goal was to get it in under an 11 min/mile pace, so I am very pleased! I also did P90X X-Stretch and it felt REALLY good after that run.

Thursday, April 3 – I did 3 miles, plus 3 20-second interval sets. My total distance was 3.38 miles at an average 11:03 min/mile pace. It wasn’t my best, but I got it done. I also did P90X Chest, Shoulders, & Triceps. It’s still pretty hard for me. I’m working on increasing my wrist strength and flexibility so all those pushup variations will be a little bit easier.

Friday, April 4 – I didn’t get a run in this morning because my husband is away working so I couldn’t leave my little guy alone in the morning. I did do P90X Plyometrics though. That’s a rough one for me sometimes. I have to modify many of the moves so I don’t wreck my fragile knees, especially with all the running I’m doing now. Even with the modifications though, it’s still an intense workout!

I’d love to read what you’ve been doing this week to exercise your body. Feel free to leave a comment about it.

Have a fun and healthy weekend, friends!


Homemade Toothpaste DIY Beauty Tuesday

For the next few months, I’m going to be posting a DIY beauty recipe or trick that I use on the first Tuesday of the month. I love homemade products because they have fewer ingredients and are generally cheaper.

I’m starting out my first DIY Beauty Tuesday with a recipe I get asked about often: toothpaste.

I’ve been making my own toothpaste for a while now. I have read so many mixed studies about fluoride that I’m not really sure how to feel about it. Therefore, I’d rather be safe than sorry,  so I make my own homemade toothpaste without the fluoride.  It is super easy to make and lasts a LONG time because you don’t need to use much of it. The basic ingredients are coconut oil and baking soda. I add raw calcium powder to help remineralize. I also use my doTERRA essential oils to add flavor. Some people use xylitol to sweeten theirs up, but I don’t really feel that is necessary with the essential oils. I’ve been tweaking this recipe for a while now (because it lasts so long), and I have finally found what is, to me, the perfect formula. Please, feel free to use this recipe as a general guideline. What works for me may not work for you and what tastes great for me may taste terrible to you.

Oh, and be prepared. When you use this regularly, you may end up getting compliments on how white your teeth are, like I did last week. It was super flatteting and sweet to hear, especially since I don’t use any whitening products on my teeth anymore.

Here is the recipe I use:

DIY Homemade Toothpaste
1 TBSP (15 capsules) Calcium Powder (optional)
2 TBSP Baking Soda
2-4 TBSP Coconut Oil, melted
30 DROPS Trace Minerals (optional)
Essential Oils (to taste)
Stevia or Xylitol (optional, I don’t use)

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Mix calcium powder and baking soda (and optional stevia or xylitol) together. Add trace minerals and then coconut oil, one TBSP at a time until desired consistency is achieved. Add essential oils to desired flavor (10-15 drops total should be enough).

Essential oils I used this time: 10 drops On Guard and 5 drops Peppermint.
(If you are interested in doTERRA essential oils,  check them out here.)

Because of the calcium powder I use, my toothpaste ends up brown, so it doesn’t exactly look pretty:

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To use it, I just run my toothbrush under hot water (the heat helps melt the coconut oil) and then scoop a little onto rhe bristles and brush as usual.