THE POWER OF TOUCH

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So frustrated. I haven’t been feeling good, so I planned that as soon as my husband walked through the door, he was on baby duty and I was going to take a long, sweltering hot bath. So, like the good husband that he is, he scooped up Mia and fed them both dinner. I, on the other hand, began to fill my large bathtub. I started with hot water only, but then it became too hot, so I started running the cold water with it. I got distracted trying to make a good playlist and light candles that by the time I checked the temperature of my bath it was freezing cold. Furthermore, when I went to turn the hot water back on, come to find out; there was NO MORE HOT WATER! I still get upset even thinking about it. So then I tried the shower thinking that maybe I can still get a hot shower and steam up the room to relieve the pressure in my head and my congestion. Nope. No hot water there either. So, there I am, standing in my robe and shaking from my slight fever. I’m FREEZING!!! SO, with the little energy that I have left I put all my clothes back on and then some, grab some fuzzy socks, along with my slippers and fuzzy long overcoat and head to the kitchen to make my favorite tea. There I am, searching for my favorite tea only to find out that I ALREADY USED THE LAST TEABAG! At this point I did let out a little scream. I just wanted  to feel warm and for something to go right. Thats when my husband walks over to me and offers to give me a foot rub. I begin to settle down and I am reminded of how important human touch is.

I was readying an article on Livesrong.com  that gave a powerful example of infants and the need for touch. “Babies who don’t receive human contact in their first days or weeks of life often suffer from health problems related to this deprivation. They can exhibit a failure to thrive, a condition seen in orphanages among children who did not receive enough human contact when they were babies. Newborns denied physical contact with other humans can actually die from this lack of contact, even when provided with proper nutrition and shelter.”

I thought that this was very interesting, our need for touch, love, and affection. Which brought me to the conclusion that when trying to manage stress, one of the most powerful things we can do for ourselves and for the ones we love is to Love through Action. Is your significant other feeling stressed, how about a neck rub? Is your mom feeling overwhelmed, how about offering to give her a mani/pedi and throw in a hand or foot massage? If you don’t have someone who can show you love through action, how about managing stress through getting a massage or going to the mall to sit in those massage chairs. I know that personally massage can be one of the most powerful tools to help me relax. I guess my conclusion is that I am very thankful for my husband. He helped me to let go of my stress one foot run at a time. So remember today to be intentional with those around you and to seek ways to show Love to the people who are in your life!

 

 

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The Story of a Grandma

Throughout my life, and growing up I have had the opportunity to live life closely with my grandparents. Growing up, we spent a lot of time with them, and now, I live with my grandma. My grandpa passed away about 8 years ago and as my grandma has gotten up in age (87) the extra company has just made certain areas of life easier for her.

I have wanted for some time now to “interview” her about what food was like for her growing up. If you know my grandmother though, interviewing her isn’t much of an option. Let’s just say she is pretty good and easily going from one topic to another without much warning. Last night though, the opportunity presented itself to talk with my grandma about a lot of things in her life. We were able to touch on some topics about food and how it played a role in her life. Although this isn’t really one story, it’s a few stories that really gives light to the problem with food in our society (or at least what my grandma thinks it is) as of now. So grab a seat, a cup of tea (or coffee if you must) and get ready to chuckle here and there!

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a picture of my grandma with some of her grand kids

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Grandpa and the Pot of Soup

This story came from me asking the question, what was a common meal your mom would make you growing up?

“My dad (Leah’s great grandfather) grew up on a farm. It was common for him to come in from working outside and want something to eat. His mom would often put some soup on the stove and keep it there all day long. This way, whenever him or the other workers were hungry, there was something to eat. Soup became something very common for us to eat. One time, I was in the hospital and grandpa (Leah’s grandfather) decided he was going to make some soup so I could rest and feel better. He knew that I would always make soup with some sort of bone in it. So when he was done making the soup, he brought me some. Low and behold he put an entire pot roast in the soup. In his defense, there was a bone in it.”

Francis and the Chicken

I asked my grandma, Would your mom go grocery shopping once a week like mom’s do now a days or was it different?

“Back when I was growing up, you didn’t buy chicken from the store. Instead, you went down to the market and picked out a live chicken. The farmer would then chop the chickens head off and you would take it home. My mom would have me go down and do this. Once though, my best friend Francis found out that my mom would have me do this. See, Francis would have to do the same thing for her mom but couldn’t stomach it. So Francis would have me do it. We would go all the time, we would walk down to the market and Francis wouldn’t look while I picked out the chicken. Then I would bring it home for her. She didn’t like to even touch it. But the chicken sure was good. Nothing like what you get at the store anymore.”

Grandma and the Long Walk to Work

This story came from me asking my grandma if she and her friends/sisters every purposely exercised.

“Well, you see we didn’t always have enough cars for everyone. To get to work I had to walk a mile, then take 2 buses and a street car. By the time I got home from work I had walked two miles and I was way to tired to exercise. Plus, there weren’t a bunch of half naked ladies all over the place on bill boards to show you what you weren’t. And all of you girls now a days want to get back to something or other that you were before you had a baby. Back in my day, we just had babies, and if we were a little softer after, well that was ok. That was just part of life.”

Earl and the White Castle

This story came about after I asked Grandma what she thinks the reason is for so much obesity in our society.

“Back in my day, you didn’t just go up to a hamburger joint every day. White castle was the first hamburger place around and you just got a slider, not a quarter pounder. And when we did get a slider, it was a big treat. My brother Earl and I would walk up to a White Castle every once in a while and we would get enough sliders for everyone in the family to have one. Sometimes, we would get enough fries so that we would share. Maybe 2 or 3 people per order of fries. Now a days, you guys just go up to McDonalds one day and order a burger, fries and a pop and then the next day you go to Burger King and get a Big Mac (she’s 87, she can call a Whopper a Big Mac and get away with it), some onion rings and another pop. You know Leah, it’s no wonder everyone is so fat!”

Home Economics and the Egg Cup Recipe

I don’t know how this story came about, as I said she is quick to switch topics… but I thought it was good non the less.

“One time, for just a year my family lived on a farm. It was the stupidest decision my father ever made and I thought my mom was going to kill him a few times for it. That year, I was at a school that had home economics. That year I made a really nice flannel night gown and then we made a really fun recipe. We took a cupcake baking dish, and placed one piece of slightly cooked bacon n the bottom of it. Then we would crack an egg in each cup, then just bake it. See, back then, we didn’t have T.V. telling us that we shouldn’t eat eggs or bacon, we just ate whatever food was around.”

My grandma is a trip, she is the sassiest, funniest and most concerned 80-something year old I have ever met. When we were all done talking last night she said to me, “Leah, I know why you asked me those questions… don’t worry about being soft for your wedding. You know sometimes it’s better for the groom to get the worst before the better as far as “for better or for worst’ is concerned.” I honestly don’t know what to make of that comment and I’m ok leaving it at that!

All of these Saturday stories are to show you a new perspective on food and fitness. There are so many people in this world who look at health in so many different ways. Remember that if you are struggling with your weight, health or physically feeling good that you most definitely are not alone.  Maybe if we start asking more questions, we can learn a thing or two from other people about our own health, food and fitness.

If you have enjoyed this “story”, check out the past Saturday stories. Here is Amy’s story about how she has lost weight, Coop’s about how food is different outside of America, and mine on how food has taken shape in my life.

My (Leah’s) Story

It’s amazing to me how early in life food becomes something more than fuel for some people. For me, it was in 6th grade. I remember my friend Nicole and I deciding the summer after 6th grade that we were going to go on a diet. We gathered up all the money we could find and walked up to CVS. I believe it was slimfast bars that we bought, and the plan was that every day we exercised, we would indulge in a meal replacement bar for dinner or dessert, or something absurd. Nothing happened, we didn’t follow through and I don’t think we cared, but the fact that as, 6th graders we though this was appropriate and/or necessary behavior, blows me away.

Fast forward a year later and I was very conscious of my weight and body shape. I would attempt to eat only parts of my lunch or cut out certain food groups, or even insist on walking to and from school because I knew it burned calories. I remember being called into school counseling one time because my friends said that I had an “eating disorder”. I definitely didn’t, but I guess that incident just proves that 7th and 8th graders are not emotionally or mentally mature enough to have beliefs about food and body image.

By 9th grade, I was looking for ways to be more active, I would walk 3 miles after school 4-ish times a week. I would do light weight lifting (I’m talking bicep curls and squats) in my basement while I would be down there watching T.V., and I had some favorite workout DVDs. I would attempt to eat salads for lunch as well as at any family events that I would go to. The scale became my friend and my waist was not. Over all, I think my early life in terms of health was pretty normal. I heard the whispers from society about how I should look and I gave them my attention. I don’t think I did it in some inappropriate way, in fact I think I responded well for my age. As I said, I know that I wasn’t mentally or emotionally mature enough to have the beliefs, views and opinions about health at that age that I did. Never the less, I did and my perspective was in no way perfect.

When I look back at pictures of myself when I was younger… I don’t think I was fat; I think that I am build like much of my family is. I have my dad’s nice strong broad shoulders (these bad boys are linebacker material) and thanks to my grandmother, I’m a bit vertically challenged. I am my mothers daughter in terms of curves and all in all my features are feminine. So why does all of this matter? Because it’s the beginning of my story. My introduction to the world of nutrition, health and wellness.

I don’t exactly have the best genes when it comes to my weight… in fact, I don’t have a single female cousin who does not struggle with her weight. We have all been on quick fix diets for prom, weddings, milestone birthdays and we are the type who dishes out the moolah to make it happen. We have done diets with each other, making it a family affair, we have worked out with one another and even indulged with one another.

I once had my chiropractor tell me that perhaps, I though the problem was nature, but in fact it’s actually nurture. That maybe my idea and ways in which I pursue health are the reason’s I struggle with my weight and maybe that’s why I can’t reach my goals. I don’t buy it… my mom NEVER gave us two sandwiches for lunch and getting something that resembled a fruit snack was as difficult as remembering to change your oil every three months. Possible? Yes. Likely? No.

Currently, I live with my grandmother – who raised my mom and her sibling, who raised my cousins and myself… she knows I attempt to eat healthy and live well. She will often make dinner and when  say I’m not going to eat it because I need to eat as healthy as possible, she responds with…. this is healthy. To her, a breaded pork chop, corn on the cob and bread topped with butter is healthy. So what do I expect? This way of living and eating is normal to my family. This way of eating and living was almost normal to me.

Every day is a struggle for me… I have to make a decision in the morning to eat healthy. Not just for the sake of my weight, but for the sake of my health. Leaving things such as dairy, yeast and main stream wheat out of my diet is no fun. However, I’d rather be without broken out and swollen skin, headaches, indigestion and bloating. It’s also a daily decision for me to exercise every day. For me personally, once I get into the swing of things… I really enjoy it. But that doesn’t mean it’s always easy.

I think my main struggle is learning to  enjoy people and life without going “over-board”. For me, events, parties and get togethers are a lot about the food. I often feel like I either indulge and feel guilty about that, or I don’t indulge however spend much of the time thinking about what I could be eating. This is something I am really re-training my mind concerning. And honestly, lately… I’ve been realizing that food isn’t worth this. It isn’t worth the mental energy that I give it that could be doing greater and better things. It definitely isn’t worth the stress and it isn’t worth not enjoying the life that is in front of me and happening.

Since the new year, I have been running 3 miles a day whenever I can… and if I can’t, I have been exercising in other ways. As far as food goes, I’ve been enjoying it. I L-O-V-E juicing, so I have been juicing. Not at specific times of the day or everyday but when I feel like having a juice in stead of one of my meals. I’ve been craving warm things like soup and hot sandwiches… so I’ve been eating them, just half though, with a small side salad and trying to make sure I’m eating slowly. Guess what? I’ve lost 3.5 pounds… no diets, no stress, no spent money. I feel better, have more energy and am enjoying the people and life that’s around me. Except I’m not enjoying this wedding planning nonsense…. but I have a feeling that their isn’t a lack of or enough food in the world that would help me enjoy this.

I’m not the prettiest, the heaviest, the smartest, the thinnest, the ugliest, the most fortunate, the least fortunate, the funniest (although I kind of think I am), or the most daring. I’m just a girl… trying to live a healthy life and trying to convince other people to do so with me. I write this blog because I think you can benefit from the hours I spend reading, researching and trying new things. I don’t have it all together, I make mistakes and I hope I never “arrive” because I don’t ever want to stop trying.

I’m just like you… living in a world whose priorities are a little off. I’m trying and I really believe that that is what counts.

American Eats

For a long time now, I have had some suspicions about our country and food. The statistics confirm my assumptions that we, here in America, view food very differently than the rest of the world. If this wasn’t the case, then we wouldn’t be the fattest and most miserable country and society in the world. When I took a class for my nutrition major, and had to do a project on how to make eating healthy look appealing to an individuals social life, well… I was positive at this point that I society has really messed up the idea of food and all of us are just following along.

It is to all of your great benefit that the man I am marrying was not born here in this place called America. Ok, well actually it isn’t any benefit to you other than the fact I was able to take his memories of life in Eastern Europe and translate (not really) them into a bit of a lesson for us here today!

So here we go…

1. If you had to describe food in Albania in 3 words or less how would you do so?

Fresh and Homegrown

2. If you had to do the same but for America how would you do so?

Fake and Steroids

3. What is the biggest difference concerning nutrition between Albania and America?

There are more options and easier access to food (fast food, restaurants) in America. The definition of fresh in both places differs greatly.

4. How about health?

The people in America are more health conscious, however there is a safety net in America concerning health, due to all of the medical abilities. In Albania that isn’t the case which results in more individual responsibility about health.

5. How about exercise?

Much more exercise in Albania, there is a lack of transportation therefore walking was your primary source of transportation. The definition of exercise in America is part of the definition of living in Albania.

6. What was an average meal in Albania like?

A lot of grains such as wheat, a lot of vegetables, however not much meat because it was so expensive.

7. Now as a single male living on your own, what does an average meal look like to you hear in America?

Frozen dinners, fast food and occasionally a homemade meal.

8. Did you ever have any education (formally or informally) about nutrition in Albania?

“oh God no!”

9. How about America?

Yes, in school and from You (me Leah).

10. What is your personal motto to live a healthy live.

Exercise more, wise decision making concerning food and carving out more time to actually prepare real food.

11. Does the Albanian media portray health the same way the American media does?

No, in the Albanian media, all sizes are accepted and appreciated. In some villages and communities, what America would consider to be thick or chunky on females is actually considered more attractive. This is because for so long food was scarce so a female that has a little meat on her bones must come from a wealthy or at least financially stable family.

12. Does Albania have gyms (as in Planet Fitness, Lifetime Fitness etc.)?

Some have popped up but only in the large cities, such as the capital. Gym memberships are expensive and only the wealthy have them.

13. What does the average dinner experience look like?

There are no courses, families sit down and just eat. Everything is set out at once and it is common to eat the same thing over and over for a few days.

14. You said there is a lot of personal responsibility concerning nutrition and food. What are common things that the average family would grow/raise in their back yard to be used as a food source?

Cattle, Vegetables (Tomatoes, Cucumbers, Onions, Zucchini, Peppers, Peas), Chickens, Grapes, Corn, Wheat, Sheep, Milk from Cows for drinking, yogurt and cheese, Goat, Watermelon, Berries.

** There was little access to refrigerators and/or freezers, therefore food had to be consumed quickly. There were no preservatives or artificial flavoring, food just simply had to be consumed before it went bad.**

15. In the winter, you had weather similar to Michigan, how did these conditions effect your food supply?

The weather would be used to our advantage… I remember my dad and uncles drying and freezing meat similarly to what jerky is in America. We would go without fruits and vegetables in the winter and have more starches (wheat, potatoes and rice).

16. What is the equivalent in America, to a grocery store in Albania?

We had markets (kind of like what you would imagine they had in biblical times) and there was no promise of consistency in products. Whatever the community had, they had and that was all that was available besides what your family grew/raised.

 

Even though I know this, it is still surprising to me when I hear this from him. I often think about how most of those in our society would respond to this type of environment. I also wonder if we haven’t traded in a lot of good in our society (less focus on food, more on relationships and community) for accessibility. For thousands of years, we have survived without options concerning our food, has this possibly negatively effected us? Has the ability to go to the store and buy anything you can imagine overwhelmed your senses and caused you no longer be able to make wise decisions? I guess this is just something to consider, but definitely consider this the next time you are in the grocery store.

 

Monday Check In

The first full week of the new year starts now! How are planning on making it unforgettable or at least foundational?

I am starting a weight loss challenge today with some cousins and it is lasting 6 months long. In this post, I said that my goal was to be consistent in my eating and exercising… I have thought about that a lot and how it is going to play out this year and I have decided to take an approach that I would now have chosen in the past. Starting today (although I did follow this last week) I will be focusing on my running… 3 miles every day. I will be following a rule I heard Bob Harper use on the biggest loser…

3-1-365

I really don’t intend on putting much more thought or planning into my exercise routine at this time. I did make a workout (found at the bottom of this post) and will be using this to aid my running at least for this week. I did something similar to what is below this last week and really enjoyed it. I will just simply be focusing on getting my 3 miles in…on or off the treadmill and improving my speed for at least the next month.

In terms of eating, I am taking things slow and steady. I have already received text and facebook posts from people who have lost anywhere from 2-4 lbs., and although I am very happy for them, this is not my intent. I want to lose weight at a slow (1 lb. a week) and steady rate. In the past, when I have lost weight at a rapid pace (more than 1 lb. a week), I gain at a rapid pace. Six months is a long stretch and it is plenty of time to fall off the band wagon. I want to prevent falling off in a drastic way and I feel this is the best way for me to do so.

As far as specifics are concerned, I am really enjoying getting a juice or a smoothie in for breakfast. There is something about the morning juice/smoothie that really just wakes me up and the effortlessness of it seems to actually give me a bit of a boost of energy. Dinners have been clean, high in protein and very green. I’ve come to the realization that I enjoy a light and fresh dinner and I’m embracing it. A lot of lime, lemon, dill, garlic and parsley seem to keep me satisfied and full.

I can’t seem to get enough of green beans, I seem to be eating them every other day and I don’t intent on slowing this down. They are very healthy and are a great source of fiber. I also have been loving fizzy waters this last week. They seem to really hit the spot and seem to keep my water intake interesting enough to ward off any cravings. I am also currently working on a light chicken marsala recipe which I expect to be finished with this week!

Guys… I beyond love my fitbit! It is wonderful and gives me great realistic goals as well as hard facts to monitor myself with everyday. I currently am *slightly* tracking my food and just simply focusing on my 10,000 step and 5 miles a day goal. I am using myfitnesspal.com to track my food (it connects directly to my fitbit) and although I am not being precise about it, I am making sure to get a good idea of the macro nutrients I am consuming as well as making sure that I am creating a calorie deficiency.

Here is this weeks workout, it is definitely a beginner workout but can easily be adjusted for any level of fitness. I hope you enjoy it and please let me know below how you have done this last week as well as what your plans are for this coming week.

Beginner Endurance Training

I also very quickly want to touch on my other goals that I have set for this year, as health is not only about the physical. As I guessed it would be, my effort to be more patient is difficult to keep up… I catch myself annoyed with Mollie (Coop’s dog) and say a quick prayer asking God to help me. Here is to hoping that being more aware of this is the first step!

In the books department I am killing things, which isn’t very surprising. I am also focusing on a year long bible reading plan and am genuinely enjoying what I am learning. Supplementation is also going well, my liquid iron as usual taste terrible, however life goes on. I am also loving the effects of using this magnesium lotion on my feet nightly. Magnesium deficiency is an issue for me so this really helps. I think one of the greatest effects I see from it is that I sleep unbelievably well when I am using it regularly!

Finally… the shift bar, guys this one might be a lost cause and unlike my other goals, I honestly don’t know where to start with this one. This is going to sound crazy but… do any of you have shift bar issues? If so, please let me know, I am feeling very alone and lost concerning this. I think I probably should have tried harder in my 12th grade (hello procrastinating teenage Leah, I’m pretty sure you are supposed to take this class much younger) typing class.

Ella’s Story

Happy Saturday! I (Leah) am so excited that it is Saturday… this year I am going to be having guest posts on Saturdays. I have lined up quite a few stories about people who have a unique journey concerning food and health. All ages, males and females, people who are sick and those who are healthy, more or less… if they have a story, they will be telling it here.

The reason I find this to be so important is because I honestly believe that we can learn from each other. I think that if we are honest about our mistakes, we can help others not make those same mistakes. If we are honest about what it has taken up to accomplish our goals, we can help one another get to our goals faster. I also love the idea of being able to encourage one another, to be able to see pictures, here about accomplishments and also pit falls. I think that a sense of community, actually… I know that a sense of community will help all of us along our health journey.

Today’s guest post comes from a lady who I am so close with, that we have one another tattooed on our wrist. I’d like to introduce you to my sister Amy, but we should all call her Ella. A little over 2 years ago, my sister and I got tattoos that say “Sorella” (sister in Italian) on our wrists, our relationship really has never been the same and I am so thankful for that. This girl is a really special person, she has a killer sense of humor, is stunningly beautiful and one of the most sensitive and caring people I know. She has fought a hard fight to get to where she is and I know she isn’t finished.

Growing up in a big Italian family was great. I had a mom who loved to cook and we were always surrounded by food. With not much money to spare, my parents often had to figure out how to feed 6 mouths with whatever they could find. We were always active kids, playing outside was one of our favorite things to do, but afterwards we would run back into the house for a pasta dinner.

I grew up feeling the way that I thought most people felt. I mean, it wasn’t normal to feel good right? Nausea and sickness was a part of my daily life. I struggled while growing up with several colds, sinus infections, and daily stomach aches. I didn’t think anything of it and I just figured that the way I felt was normal.

Despite my sickness’s I loved food and when I would feel the shame of eating one of my favorite meals (which most of the time consisted of chicken strips and french fries) I would tell myself that I would rather be happy and fat, than miserable and thin. By the time I graduated high school my weight was averaging around 270 pounds. I told myself and doctors that I was no bigger than 230 and prayed that they wouldn’t weigh me when I came in for my appointment.

In April of 2013 I got that familiar ache in my throat which could only mean one thing. I looked in my throat often and showed just about everyone in my family what I saw and I knew I had to go see a doctor. Yep, white spots covered my tonsils. Even now, I don’t think weighing in is necessary for a simple case of strep but that is why I’m not a doctor. I dreaded stepping on the scale and was almost in tears when I saw the number. 301. I couldn’t believe it. I had never felt such shame and self-loathing. My doctor ran the typical tests and had a heart to heart with me where she shared with me just what my high blood pressure meant. It was scary! She also warned me about the concern of diabetes. I was terrified! I was only 21 years old and there was no way I was going to let myself get to the point of diabetes because of my weight.

I decided to make a change. My diet started on April 30th, a Tuesday. I woke up that morning and ate an apple before finding a secluded road where no one would see my pathetic attempt to run and jiggled my way 2 miles with mostly a brisk walk and running for the occasional 15 seconds. I began eating a low carb diet packed with protein. Giving up the pasta, bread and rice was hard but I knew it would be even harder to live a life with diabetes. I worked hard. I was determined to show my family and friends that I could drop the weight without surgery or a program that I really didn’t feel like following. It was just plain and simple exercise and healthy food.

I gave myself one week with no weigh in, and you can imagine my surprise when I stepped on the scale 7 days later and was 11 pounds lighter. I’d be lying if I said there weren’t tears in my eyes. I now knew I could do it, and a simple 11 pounds gave me the motivation that I needed to get the ball rolling.

Running became easier and I found myself craving it. It was my chance to get some fresh air and have some “me” time. I also found that if I woke up and started my day with a good run, it motivated me to eat healthy that day! This became my habit and watching the scale drop daily gave me the strength to keep going. Only 4 months later I was down 50 pounds, but still not feeling good. Breathing became hard and I was starting to get light headed while working out. I immediately saw my doctor and it was determined that my tonsils were so large, they were blocking my air way.

Two weeks, and thirteen pounds later I was recovered from my tonsillectomy and ready to start back on my journey. Now down 63 pounds I was convinced nothing could stop me…that was until my weight loss slowed down. I wasn’t losing the way I should and I still didn’t feel good. After several scans, tests, and a few awesome doctors it was determined that my life long nausea was from a bad gallbladder. After having it removed we realized that functioning at only 20% wasn’t the only problem. My gallbladder was over twice the size of a normal one and ready to burst.

Amy

So here I am, now down 80 pounds in 8 months and feeling better than ever. The nausea has gone away and although I am less than 2 months into recovery I am slowly getting back into the swing of things.

The best feeling in the world through this entire experience has honestly been the confidence I have gained. I have always been very outgoing, but never felt beautiful. After losing the weight that I have, one of the greatest rewards has been seeing the reactions of the people who never thought I could do it, especially the reaction of my best friend who has always been somewhat of a health “freak”. I surprised him and stayed away for the first 6 months, not telling him about my weight loss and the moment he saw me was the first time I felt truly beautiful. I still have about 70 pounds to lose and saying no to my favorite foods has been hard, but I know that a healthier lifestyle and looking great is well worth counting my carbs.

I plan on sticking to low carb and beginning to incorporate more things like all natural smoothies and juicing into my diet. I am exploring different flavors and foods that I always swore looked too gross to try and learning how to cook them so they are not only tolerable, but tasty. If I could only do one thing to keep the weight off I would choose eating healthier. Exercise is extremely important but I believe that the food we put into our bodies has the power to make or break us, and if I could give one tip to those trying to lose weight, it is to stay positive! There were so many times that I broke down in tears because of hard work that didn’t seem to be paying off in that moment, but I have been blessed enough to have a strong support system surrounding me to help me stay motivated through those tough times.

Another tip to remember is to use your resources! Through this journey Pinterest has been one of my best friends. Once I decided to explore other workout routines without the money to go to a fancy gym, Pinterest was the first place I looked. Below I’m going to share with you my favorite healthy dinner and workout routine:

Turkey Burgers:

Ingredients:

  • 1 Pound of ground turkey
  • ½ of a small onion
  • 1 tsp. of garlic
  • 1 ½ tbsp. seasoned bread crumbs
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ tsp. salt.
  • Just a pinch of pepper

Directions:

  1. Use just a drizzle of olive oil and start to heat up your pan
  2. Mix ingredients together in a large mixing bowl
  3. Form mixture into patties
  4. Cook 5-10 minutes on each side

I love to turn my turkey burgers into a lettuce wrap and usually pair it with a side of steamed mixed veggies!

Now onto my workout: I got this from Pinterest and I love it because it pushes me with a mix of cardio and strength training to burn the maximum amount of calories and fat!

  • 40 Jumping Jacks
  • :30 Jog in place
  • 5 Burpees
  • :30 High knee kicks
  • :40 Butt kicks
  • :45 Jog in place
  • 50 Jumping jacks
  • 10 Jumping squats
  • 1 Burpee
  • 30 Mountain climbers
  • 5 Jumping squats
  • :30 Jog in place
  • Rest for 1 minute-Do this 3x

If you would like to contact Ella to encourage her, ask her questions or just keep up with her health journey you can do so here…

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2014 Goals

Hi friends, technically I am two days late with this post. I have pondered this year probably more than I needed to. I have looked over goals, written them down and then erased them. I have considered breaking my goals up into categories… then realized I don’t want my goals for this year to be so systematic. That’s when I decided to set my brain to the side and show up here, ready to write. I figure the things that are important to me, the things that are in my heart rather than in my head, those are the things that will end up in this post. Those are the things that I will still want to be working towards come my birthday in March, family time in June, my honeymoon in September, and Christmas vacation 12 months from now. So here I go…

2014 Goals

1. Consistency – I want to be more consistent in life… I wrote about this before, and I have honestly been much more thoughtful of this character trait. However, I really desire to bring it to the next level. Specifically in my health journey…  I want this year to be a year in which I am consistent in my eating and exercising. Whether this means I consistently lose weight and tone up, or I consistently maintain my weight. I just want to stop the dramatic and some times compulsive habits I sometimes find myself partaking in. In terms of exercising, I want to really pursue running. My biggest issue with running is the treadmill and Michigan’s slightly bi-polar weather. Therefore, for this one I am going to have to confront my mind and push through mental running challenges. Yesterday I ran 2 miles outside and today I ran 2 miles on the treadmill. Slowly but surely, as long as I am consistent, I know I will see great improvements this year.

2. Patience – I am not patient… not with others, not with myself, most of the times not even with children. This year I am making great effort to confront this area of my life and not just mentally, but truly live it out in all areas of life. I intend to tackle this issue spiritually and I expect it to be more difficult than learning to enjoy running on a treadmill. However, I know this is possible if I keep my eyes and heart focused on honoring God through this process and I am sure that despite my lack of faithfulness, His faithfulness will lead me to become a more patient person if I act obediently.

3. Creativity – I do no consider myself a creative person. I wish I was one and I strongly believe that creativity is a state of heart. In my opinion we are all gifted with creativity; which is why I intend to take on different projects, participate in various events, and try out different forms of art, in hopes to bring out the creative side of me.

4. Reading – I truly enjoy reading books and I believe I have enjoyed reading them ever since I can remember. This year, my goal is to read at least 15 different books. Last year I was able to accomplish my goal of reading 10 books and I cannot wait until I meet my new goal of 15 books. A few books that are on this years list are:

  • The Daniel Plan by Rick Warren
  • My Story by Elizabeth Smart
  • The Witness Wore Read by Rebecca Musser
  • The Unhealthy Truth by Robyn O’brien
  • Wheat Belly by William Davis.

If you have read any of these books or plan on reading them, please comment so we can discuss these together.

5. Supplementation – In previous years I have gone to all extremes in regards to supplementation. At times I haven’t even taken a multivitamin because of the various theories that I have heard on them to taking 20 different supplements a day. In the last few weeks, I have done my research and have been able to narrow down all of the supplementation that my body needs along with the help of a medical professional. This year I will be focusing on balancing my hormones and maintaining my iron levels where they need to be with the help of supplementation. I have decided to allow all other talk and recommendation go wayward and instead focus on the things I KNOW that my body needs.

6. The Shift Bar – It is no secret that I lack technical and grammatical elegance. In fact, I am so bad at these two life skills that Coop and my sister spend just about as much time working on this blog as I do. I often call Coop almost in tears asking how I manage myself on this space machine that is a computer, and my sister MUST read all my posts before I publish them if there is any hope of my sentences making any sense. I am so unbelievably grateful to them however I am going to have to start making effort in managing my self in these areas if I ever want to live life independent from these two individuals (in all honest though, I don’t know that I actually want to). Anyways… I have this issue in which I hold the shift bar down about an eighth of a second to long which results in almost every first work of every sentence I write having not only the first letter capitalized but also the second. I then have to go back and un-capitalize about 20 letters in my blog. It’s really nonsense… this year, I will over come it. Actually this is the one thing on my list that I’m not sure I will successfully do, but I am ready to pull my hair out and I really want long hair for my wedding so I am praying and hoping and begging that this issue will somehow get resolved.

Christmas Adam!

Happy CHristmas Adam – you know because Adam came before Eve in creation and it’s the day before Christmas Eve.

Anyways… This week will be little about food (I think). I have some really exciting news for you all and I will be sharing after the 1st of the year. In the mean time, I have been working behind the scenes to make some changes for this community. I cannot wait to share will all of you what will be happening in the new year and I cannot wait to hear what you have to say about it.

Coop came home for Christmas last Thursday so I have been practically attached to his hip.We will be heading back down to Nashville on this Thursday and have decided to do a pretty mean cleanse style diet while I am there. I cannot wait for what is coming and I hope you all are excited to.

Enjoy your loved ones over this Christmas week! I will attempt to check back in before Christmas but can’t make any promises.

Consequenses

There has been some recent news about a little something called Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy. It is a disease that is the result of brain injury. The thing is thouis, that pro-athlete’s are the individuals making the news concerning this disease. Between Pro-Football players and Pro-Baseball players, a whole lot of talk is happening about what many are calling C.T.E.

All in all, this disease is extremely unfortunate and definitely needs the attention it is getting. If you would like to read more on it you can do so here and here. I think that parents of high schoolers especially and coaches need to pay much more attention to this topic as well as that of concussions.

All of this is to say that I think something else can come from this new information. Time and time again, we are seeing that disease is linked to actions. Take for instance H.I.V., this disease is directly linked to actions and by this I mean I cannot get it by just simply being around someone who has it. Or how about Type II Diabetes? You cannot be born with Type II Diabetes and definitely cannot catch it. No, instead Type II Diabetes comes from individual actions.

Please understand that I am not suggesting ALL disease comes form actions as that definitely isn’t the case for diseases such as A.L.S., Muscular Dystrophy, Cystic Fibrosis and many more.

However, so many are. So many diseases are coming about without a cure but a direct link to personal choices in terms of health. We have a choice.. we have a choice to say yes to extra portions, poor micro-nutrient foods and drinks that are full of sugar.

I don’t say any of this in a condemning way, because this truly is an area of struggle for me. Honestly, I feel like I can’t talk about it because I’m supposed to be “good” at this. After all, I have a blog about healthy living. A few days ago however, I read another blog in which the author spoke about the appreciation of genuinity. It inspired me to speak honestly with each of you in hopes that I can perhaps help anyone who might also be feeling the same way as I am.

I have chronic headaches and I have had them for years. I also have a food allergy to yeast as well as sensitivities to wheat (not gluten) and dairy. My chronic headaches are definitely linked to my food – sometimes it seems to be linked to sugar. The point of all of his is to say that I like food, some foods reek havoc on my body and I yet somehow still struggle to get them out of my diet for good.

The other night I was watching a documentary on nutrition, and this popped into my head.

denial 2

I’m not perfect at this healthy living thing, and part of me is thankful for that. I want to be a voice that says “I’m not there but, I’m still trying” and “I’m not perfect but that’s ok”.

Deep down, when I put my pride aside… I think I need to be more vocal about my struggles with all of you. And not so very deep down inside, I think be more vocal about my struggles will help all of you.

Thank you for being such compassionate and kind readers, and I genuinely look forward to a more open relationship with all of you.

Weekend Recap

This weekend was such a refreshing break for me. Coop (my fiance) came in to town and had a bit of a surprise for me (I will share with you all later). He brought his sweet puppy Mollie with him and we really enjoyed our time together with family.

  Santa's Little Helpers

On Sunday we headed over to my parents for a Christmas movie night that we have every year. It was also my mom’s birthday on Thursday of last week so we were able to make it a bit special for her too.

HB Nana

My brother and sister-in-law were there with my cutie-pie of a niece and we had so much fun.

Happy Girl

Papa and Livi

They also brought their dog Rupert which made for a very exciting  trip home on Mollies part!

Rup and Mol

Coop is mainly in town for work which means it’s a short visit but I’ll take whatever I can get these days.

Love Us

I had a really great recipe for you this week with plenty of pictures except that my phone died on Thursday (last week was a terrible week) and I lost all the pictures. I was slightly devastated. I’m hoping that the photo-dump was enough for today. I know looking at all of these sweet faces does it for me at least.