Posts in Healthy Living
The 26 Challenge - Part 1

img_3581 Yesterday I let you in on my one New Year's Resolution and introduced The 26 Challenge. Read more about it here. I'm setting myself up for a lifetime of success by tackling healthy habits two weeks at a time.

Brainstorming 26 new habits was a pretty daunting task, so I cut that in half. Like I said in my previous post, I cut that in half to 13. Again, I'm more motivated than freaked out by 6 months of big changes. I'm putting dates with them because I'm a temporal person. I like to know times and have a plan. I'm also giving myself the time and space to work on habits longer if I need to. If I'm struggling with a habit, then I'll alter my timeline and give myself a week or longer to really get it down.

Establish a morning routine (January 1 - 14) 

  • Wake up and get out of bed on time
  • Prepare a healthy breakfast
  • Give myself enough time to read, journal, and prepare for the day
  • Give myself enough time to get dressed, fix my hair, and look presentable
  • Leave for work on time or even a few minutes early

By establishing a morning routine, I'll leave my house less frantic and more prepared to make good decisions throughout the day. When I sleep as long as I can and leave myself 15 minutes to get dressed and get out the door, I'm not setting myself up for good choices.

Consistently track food, water, and emotions (January 15 - 28)

The two podcasts I listen to every week always say that the first step to a healthy lifestyle change is tracking. Tracking food and water intake and how food makes you feel as well as if you were actually hungry or eating just to eat. This is how you learn about yourself! In the past, I've used a food tracking journal, but this time I'm going to commit to using My Fitness Pal - mrsjjcampbell

Move my body every other day (January 29 - February 11)

  • Take Buddy for a walk
  • Do a Cize video, a youtube workout, or bodyweight exercises

Successfully meal plan and prep food (February 12 - 25)

  • Set aside time once a week to make a meal plan and grocery list
  • Significantly limit eating out

We all know the phrase, "if you fail to plan, you plan to fail" and I think that's totally true. I'm meal planning almost every week. I don't necessarily enjoy it, but I LOVE the results. I like knowing what I could make for dinner and that we'll have leftovers for lunch. When we did Whole 30 (almost a year ago!) that was the first time we didn't eat out. Prior to then, we ate out multiple times a week. That experience showed us that not only could we make all of our meals, but we started viewing eating out as restaurants as a special occurrence and not just a normal thing. We also liked saving the $$! Also, we all know that eating at home is not only cheaper than restaurant food but significantly healthier.

Consume dessert once a week (February 26 - March 11)

I'll be totally honest. I want dessert every day and 9 times out of 10 I indulge every day. By pushing sweets and treats to only once a week, I will significantly lower my overall calorie intake, plus all the other benefits of eating less sugar. I want to be realistic. I know that if I say, "no more desserts, ever" that will only set me up to fail. So, I'm starting out by looking forward to dessert once a week.

Order well at restaurants (March 12 - 25)

Yes, we will be eating a home significantly more, but we will still eat out. I've always had the mindset when going to restaurants that this food is special and I can have whatever I want. Basically, in my mind, that eating out is a free-for-all celebration where I could have burgers and fries just because. There are SO many healthier options that I could choose from! This is going to be a tricky one for me!

Drink Water and Coffee Only (March 26 - April 8)

I'm balancing out the difficultness of the previous week with an easy one. I'm kind of already doing this. Every now and then I'll get a half sweet, half unsweet tea (Southern girl!) or drink half a can of diet coke, but I want to totally eliminate that. Also, I put way too much sugar and creamer in my coffee, so I'm planning to decrease that as well.

Consume carbs only at dinner time (April 9 - 22) 

This is something I got from the Primal Potential Podcast. I trust Elizabeth. She's one of the voices in my head! She explains this so well. This will be another tricky one because this girl loves sandwiches at lunch and oatmeal and cereal at breakfast time. Yall pray for me!

Consistently journal and reflect (April 23 - May 6) 

  • re-focus tracking habits and morning routine
  • spend time at night reflecting on the day and write out gratitudes
  • check-in spiritually

There is a direct link in focusing on gratitude when making lifestyle changes. By this point, a lot in my life will look different. Knowing myself, I'll want to revert back to old ways, but by focusing on gratitude that will help me stay motivated!

Put effort into appearance (May 7 - 20) 

I think that by putting a little more effort into your appearance, then you're setting yourself up for success. If I stay in my pj's all day, then I'm less motivated to get up and get out. If I dress a little nicer and don't look sloppy, I'll be more productive.

Keep a tidy house (May 21 - June 3) 

Less clutter and mess = a less cluttered and frantic JJ. If the kitchen is clean, I'm more apt to prepare a meal. If the laundry is put away, I feel more put together and in charge. I really liked this blog post about clutter. 

Try new recipes and vegetables (June 4 - 17)

I can easily get into a recipe rut where I make the same thing over and over. Luke and I are pretty adventurous eaters and aren't' afraid to try new food so over these two weeks I'll challenge myself to find new recipes! Also, it's peak vegetable season, so I'll incorporate new veggies!

Consume dessert every other week (June 18 - July 1)

By this point, I'll have dessert down to once a week. What's one more week?

Start a weight lifting program (July 2 - 15) 

Yes, I could start lifting weights now. I know I don't have to wait until July to start lifting weights, but I want to get my body to a better place before going to the gym. It sounds like I'm putting it off, but I'm not. I'm not afraid of going to the gym or of lifting weights, I just want to have these other habits in place before introducing something so new.

There it is! This is part 1 of The 26 Challenge. Come along with me! You can make your own version of The Challenge 26! I'll be posting on Instagram with #the26challenge and you should totally join in with the fun!

My New Year's Resolution

fullsizerender New Years is such a special time! In the past, it's not gotten too much attention from me because I was always swept up in Christmas. This year, I was still totally swept up in Christmas, but I've been able to focus and chart a course for 2017 that will result in a dramatically healthier lifestyle.

I've got one big resolution for 2017 and I think I'm finally ready to tackle it ----

Be the person I want to be, not settle for the person my bad habits turned me into.

For far too long I've let bad habits dictate my life and how I feel about myself. This year, and from here on out, I'm working to push myself in new ways breaking off my relationship with lazy, bad for me, and unhealthy habits. This is a big deal! Part of me always knew that the habits I was letting myself fall into would bring destruction, but I kept pushing them off for future JJ to deal with. Well, Future JJ is here and she's dealing with them now!

For the first time, I'm learning how to set goals for myself and am ready to make lasting changes. What it's all going to come down to is habit change. I'm giving myself time to break old, familiar, and comfortable habits and form new and challenging habits and I've got a plan!

There are 52 Weeks in a year. If I give myself 2 weeks to work on one habit to form, then I'll need 26 new habits. Brainstorming 26 new habits was kind of daunting, so I split that in half to 13. 13 new habits to work on from now until July. Thinking this far ahead is something brand new to me and I can honestly say that I'm excited about it! I'm not stressed out by all the changes that I'm planning to make but energized and motivated at what all I could accomplish if I really stick to the habit change strategy.

My first 2-week challenge is establishing a morning routine. This includes waking up on time, preparing a healthy breakfast, enjoying my cup of coffee, helping Luke take care of our dog, getting dressed, putting on makeup, fixing my hair, and leaving for work on time.

I'm calling this The 26 Challenge and I'd love for you to come along this journey with me! I'm writing a detailed post of my first 13 and I'll share them tomorrow. 2017 just feels different than 2016 doesn't it? I'm charged up and ready to go!

Habits to Break. Habits to Start.
Habit. Such a weird word and kind of fun to say. The word "habit" has a negative connotation in my mind. Until now I've only seen a habit as something to break like biting my nails or in my case breaking my food habits. Well, they're both my case. I'm a life-long nail biter.

Yes, there are a lot of habits in my life to break, but I want to re-wire my brain to get excited about creating healthy habits like eating a fat loss friendly breakfast every day.

I've identified the habits I'd like to change in my daily routine as well as new habits I'd like to create. I'm giving myself a week to form new habits and replace the old and unhealthy ones.

Habits to Break:

  • skipping breakfast
  • sleeping in / not setting an alarm /
  • late night snacking
  • indulging in dessert every day
  • procrastinating
  • sitting down 95% of my day

Habits to Form:

  • Eating a fat-loss friendly breakfast every day, not just weekdays.
  • Waking up early / setting an alarm / not lying in bed looking at my phone
  • Healthy Swaps
    • whole wheat bread > white bread
    • whole wheat pasta or zoodles > white pasta
    • lean meat > red meat
    • corn tortillas > flour tortillas
    • Halo Top > Häagen-Dazs
  • Eliminating late night snacking
    • This one is more of a mindset than something physical to do, but I've got ideas on how to curb my late night cravings.
  • Indulging with dessert once a week.
  • Making a list of things I need to do and want to do and working through them in a timely manner.
  • Incorporating moving throughout the day.
    • This one will take some work. I drive 25 - 30 minutes to work, sit at a desk or table, and then I come home and sit and crochet. There's not even a flight of stairs in my daily routine!
    • I'm going to have to get creative when incorporating movement during the day, but I believe I'll start with walking around the building every hour or so.

Yikes! That's a big list of habits to change as well as habits to form! I really want to take my time and cement these new lifestyle habits. Who knows how long it'll take, but I'm up for the challenge.

Do you have any habits you're ready to swap out?

Creating Routines

11893745_10205126757230395_8888856255148790787_o The idea of creating a routine is something new to me. In the past I've just fallen into a routine, never really thinking through it or working to create one.

How do you create a routine? First, figure out the purpose of the routine? Is it to start the day in a healthy way? Is it to set healthy boundaries and guidelines? For me, it's both! The first routine I want to set is "relaxed weekend morning." Has a nice ring to it right?

Because Luke and I both work at our church, we have the same schedule. We're off on Fridays as well as Saturdays and we religiously guard our weekend downtime. We go through busy seasons, but sometimes there are weekends where we have absolutely nothing planned. Those are the days that I want to focus on.

I'm thinking my Relaxed Weekend Morning routine will include coffee with Luke, a light breakfast, and extra Bible reading / journaling time. Maybe spending an hour and a half or 2 hours reading, writing, sipping coffee, making lists, etc. I want my routines to set me up for success, even if that success means resting and relaxing well.

I'd also like to include a breakfast date out once a month. I think that would be just lovely! Some of my favorite breakfast spots are the Gathering at Livingston, Broadstreet Bakery and Cafe, and Chick-fil-a. 946275_10200489912352171_426901272_n

Waffles always win.

My next routine to set will be Weekday Working Mornings. Do you have any routines you'd like to create?

Halfway through Whole30
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We completed our Whole30 over a week ago. Luke and I have been working on a lot of outside projects lately and unfortunately my blog had to take a backseat. I wrote this up when we hit the halfway mark. Even though it's a few weeks late, my thoughts still apply! Here it goes! A few days ago, we hit the halfway mark on our Whole30. My first few thoughts were, "Yay! Halfway there!" followed up by a "Wait... we're only halfway through?" The days are long, but the weeks are short. I wanted to take some time to sit and reflect on the changes we're making that are forming themselves into habits and routines.

One of the biggest changes I've made so far is putting an emphasis on breakfast. In the past when I've tried to eat healthy I would make a smoothie, greek yogurt with cereal (in my defense, I measured our my cereal for correct portion sizes), or turkey sausage on a light english muffin. When healthy eating wasn't on my radar, I would eat yogurt + cereal or scavenge around the office and eat something processed or worse... Sunday morning Donuts. Confession -- there were some Sundays were I would eat 3-4 donuts throughout the morning. I'm not proud of it, but I did it for months. 

For the past few weeks I've made it a point to make myself breakfast in the mornings, mostly a sweet potato hash with chicken apple sausage. I've subbed in bell peppers, apples, and kale in the hash! I haven't made a good breakfast every morning though. I can definitely tell a difference between the days when I eat breakfast vs the days I don't. I'm much more snackier throughout the day when I don't eat breakfast.

Preparing a good breakfast for myself is something that I'll definitely carry over.

Something else that I'm seeing the benefits of is the way my body is reacting to not eating grains / gluten. I love bread and pasta and I definitely miss it, but what I don't miss is having a tomato red face and a rash on my arms. I've read a lot into celiac disease and the symptoms. I'm not self diagnosing myself with it, but I think I have a slight gluten intolerance.

I'm trying to think through how I will eat and what I will eat once my Whole30 is over. I think I will limit grains and bread to maybe one meal a week. A special weekend indulgence, maybe?

One of the major differences after these past two week is my overall sense of purpose and organization. I feel like I have a better handle on my life. Is that crazy?? Even though making a thorough meal plan is difficult for me, but I like knowing that we have and what we're going to eat. Also, we're doing 100% more dish washing and our kitchen is clean all the time!

Whole30 is bringing a lot of balance to my life and I really like that. I'm more in control and it's spilling over into other areas.

Those are the major things that I've realized at this place so far. Here's to the other half! - JJ

Whole 30 Week 2

2 WEEKS OF WHOLE30 completed! We're halfway there, folks and it feels amazing! I We survived a trip to my parents' house and a concert! Initially I was nervous about traveling because in the past, traveling meant free-for-all. When I'm traveling, even just the hour and a half drive to my home town, all good eating rules fly out the window. Not this time! I acknowledged the treats, but then moved past them onto my strawberries.

Here's what was on the menu this past week:

SUNDAY

  • Breakfast: Cherry Pie Larabar
  • Lunch: Pork Loin, Roasted Potatoes, Roasted Broccoli, and fruit for dessert
  • Dinner: this Apple Salad with Cinnamon Tahini dressing. YUM.

MONDAY

TUESDAY

  • Breakfast: Sausage and fruit I have to brag for a second. This morning we had an All Staff meeting for the church we work at. People brought Chick-fil-a biscuits, donuts, juice, and a fruit tray. I didn't deviate from my plan! I ate the sausage I brought and a nice plate of fruit. I even brought my own coffee creamer.
  • Lunch: Leftover Pecan Crusted Chicken, potatoes, and green beans mahi
  • Dinner: Blackened Mahi Mahi, Brussel Sprouts with Bacon
  • Snack: Apple and Almond Butter

WEDNESDAY

  • Breakfast: Sausage. I burned my sweet potatoes in my breakfast hash, so I had to throw them out.
  • Lunch: Salad with leftover Mahi Mahi and bell peppers salad
  • Snack: Strawberries
  • Dinner: Coconut Chicken Curry with yellow bell peppers and zucchini and pan roasted sweet potato cubes

THURSDAY

  • Breakfast: Coffee. Skipped breakfast, which I realize is a no-no, but we were traveling and I just wasn't hungry. In fact, I wasn't hungry until 12:30ish. IMG_0690
  • Lunch: Leftover Chicken Curry
  • Dinner: Roasted Broccoli with Carnitas.  This was the very first time I've ever made anything with pork. Because I knew we were going to be traveling, I planned ahead and made a big crock pot full of carnitas! I packed a big bag full of food to bring with us to my parents' house. I used this recipe. I really like mixing together my own spices and rubs!

FRIDAY

  • Breakfast: Big cup of black coffee. Yes, BLACK COFFEE and I didn't hate it.  Historically I'm a heavy sugar and creamer user, but I'm working on needing less and less.
  • Lunch: Carnita Meat in the skillet with sautéed sweet potato cubes and broccoli. I added a little chili powder to my sweet potatoes and I'm never going back! The extra spice is super welcome! steak
  • Dinner: Ribeye steak, baked sweet potato, and roasted broccoli. There's something you need to know about my family. Steak is reverred and my dad is an excellent grill man. This was without a doubt the best steak of my life. Also, I went through all the seasonings he uses and make sure they were all Whole30 compliant!

SATURDAY

  • Breakfast: Larabar
  • Lunch: Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Grilled chicken from my parents' house
  • Dinner: Coconut Curry with bell peppers and zucchini with mashed potatoes. Yes, I make curry all the time. No, I'm not tired of it. Give me more!

saenger

This is the venue where Luke played with our friends Oh, Jeremiah. Their first record is coming out soon! They're SO GOOD! The Saenger is a beautiful old theater. It's a real treasure!

Here's to looking forward to week 3! It will be a much more normal week with no traveling. Let's hang out!

Sweet Potato Breakfast Hash

13112818_10206592935923946_7146748421109807011_o I've made this breakfast hash a couple of time this week and I'm obsessed! It's simple, filling, delicious, and Whole 30 compliant. Ingredients: 1 tbsp Coconut Oil 2 Cups of diced Sweet Potato 1 Apple Aidells Chicken and Apple Sausage or any other Whole 30 approved sausage. We found Aidells at our local Kroger.

  1. Peel and cut sweet potatoes. We try to do all of our major food prep like washing and cutting vegetables on Sunday afternoons or evenings. It's helpful to cut what you can ahead of time. I didn't cut the apple ahead of time because they brown so quickly. 
  2. Heat one tbsp of coconut oil over med-high heat. Once it's warm, throw in your sweet potatoes and season with salt.
  3. Cut your chicken sausage and add it to the pan. Luke makes his own breakfast scramble (I'm not an egg eater) so we split one Aidells sausage. They're pretty big! You can add as much or little sausage as you like.
  4. Dice your apple and add it to the hash. I used a small lunchbox size apple. I don't aim to cook the apple, just warm it up and incorporate the other flavors.
  5. Enjoy!

I've also made a variation with chopped up bell peppers instead of apples. Equally delicious!

You can make a big batch and keep it in the fridge, but I like making it fresh every morning. Whatever works for you! Also, I'd totally eat this for any other meal, not just breakfast. Try it out and let me know if you like it as much as I do! - JJ

My Whole 30 Expectations
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Yesterday Luke and I started our very first Whole 30! Since we returned from our mini beach vacay  we've been making plans, researching recipes, reading It Starts with Food. and trying to put together a complete Whole 30 meal plan for a week. Y'all, I've dabbled in meal planning before, but this is takes it to a whole different level. Originally we were going to start on May 2nd because Sundays are kind of crazy for us (we both work at the same church), but we decided to go ahead and start our Whole 3o and have it correspond with the calendar days. 181859_3449503078162_1237190368_n13116046_10206557408995795_4610597390418085369_o

 

Saturday afternoon as we were sitting in our backyard watching Buddy chase bugs and squirrels, we started talking about what we want to get out of our Whole 30 experience. If you are unfamiliar with the inns and outs of Whole 30, go read their website. FASCINATING.

What I don't want to happen is to revert back to destructive habits on May 31st. I want this month to catapult me into habits that support a healthy lifestyle and I think it can! Here's what I'm expecting / wanting to happen / working toward over the next month:

  • Developing a healthy relationship with food again. Enjoying what I eat, yes, but not eating for pleasure, to cope with emotions, or out of boredom. This is something I went through when I did Ideal Protein last year. I'm confident I can learn again.
  • Becoming a somewhat more organized person. Organization is not high on the list in my personality characteristics, and that's okay, but as I'm getting older and having to be more responsible, I could definitely benefit from organization. The food prep and meal planning alone is helping me want to be more organized in my house!
  • Feeling better. I haven't been listening to my body only my food feelings eating whatever I wanted when I wanted it even if it was at midnight. Just like having a healthy relationship with food, I've done this before. I've experienced how good it feels to cut out certain food groups. I'm excited to feel that again!
  • Dropping a few pounds and inches. I'm doing what they recommend in taking measurements and weighing myself at the beginning and the end, not during the process. This will be weird for me. I'm a weigh myself every day type of person.
  • Trying new food and cooking techniques. I've already fallen in love with coconut oil.
  • Continuing on a clean eating / paleo lifestyle after the 30 days.

I want a lot out of my life and it's time that my actions back up my dreams and ideals. Luke and I want a family and a big life. We can't have what we want when we're living irresponsibly with our health.

It's going to be a big month! Y'all help me hang in there! - JJ

You can follow along with my Whole 30 journey on instagram - @mrsjjcampbell 

Whole 30
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I think I'm ready to take the Whole 30 challenge. After an overwhelmingly beautiful response to my post about dealing with regret, (thank you for all the comments and support!) doing a Whole 30 was suggested more than any other option. I'm planning to start in the next couple of weeks! I'm giving myself plenty of time to research and prepare for the next 30 days.

When I did Ideal Protein last year, it was basically one step further than a Whole 30. I was supposed to only eat protein and certain vegetables along with their products. That worked for me for a little while, but honestly, I couldn't handle the strict restriction. Whole 30 is a little less rigorous. Since I've already done a very restrictive plan for longer than 30 days, I think I'm up to the challenge of the Whole 30!

If you have any tips, advice, recipes, meal ideas, or stories about Whole 30, I would LOVE to hear them! I always appreciate feedback! There are so many resources about Whole 30 out there, I need help figuring out which one is the best one.

If anyone else wants to do Whole 30 along with me, that would be great! I'm planning to start on May 2nd. Let me know and we can form a private Facebook group or something! - JJ

Healthy Habits: Move More

FullSizeRender I recently came to the realization that I don't move much. I'm not talking about physically moving houses (already did that this year!), but when it comes to moving vs sitting, sitting definitely wins. I was an active kid, teenager, and college student (playing tennis almost every day, being in show choir, walking around campus, etc) and sometimes I think that because I used to be active, I'm still considered "active." That's not the way it works.There's not even a set of stairs in my life anymore.

My movement level has gone down to almost nothing over the past few years. The job I had right out of college there was a long walk uphill from the parking lot to the office, then my office was a 4 floor walk up. My second job had a decent parking lot to office distance. My current place of work had a couple of sets of stairs, then I moved offices. The apartment we lived in for a year and a half was a 2 story, our home is a one story.

I take full responsibility for my lack of movement. It's not my workplace's fault that there's a short distance from the parking lot to my desk. It's my fault for sitting for long periods of time without getting out of my chair.

2016 for me is all about getting healthy habits into my daily routine. Now that I've recognized my lack of movement, moving is front row center in my mind.

Here are some ideas of how I'm going to be incorporating regular movement into my every day routine:

  • Walking Buddy. Having an inside dog really does increase movement. We take him out for short walks multiple times a day and one long walk every afternoon. We also stand up and play with him, get on the floor and play with him, and run around the house while he chases us!
  • Getting out of my chair every hour. When I get in the work zone, I lose track of time and get lost in my project, like a lot of people! I can stand up and take a lap around the office (avoiding the snack baskets of course) every hour.
  • Actually using my Fitbit. I got a fitbit for Christmas! I was getting used to having it on, then I needed to charge it and I've forgotten to put it back on. I fully plan on having it on by the time this post is published.

I think just being mindful of the issue is a big deal. Now we have to do something about it! I'll keep you updated on my movement progress.

 

Navigate Change. Stay Consistent.
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That title is an oxymoron, but totally sums up my current season of life. A lot of change is happening and I have to figure out how to navigate those changes, but stay consistent and on plan.

Change is good. We have to adapt to what's going on around us and come out with a positive attitude. A couple of months ago, a whole Sunday at Vertical was dedicated to the subject of change -- Growing People Change. Definitely worth a listen.  We discussed how change is the fuel for growth in our lives. I really track with that.

I can't expect my circumstances to stay the same. If I want to grow, I have to expect change. I've navigated this concept pretty well in most areas of my life except one. The Ideal Protein protocol / eating well / being healthy. For too many weighs in than I'd like to admit, I've cried in Brittany's office and told her that when I started Ideal Protein ______ wasn't going on, ___________ wasn't as stressful, ____________ was different.

Basically, life happened. Things are different in my life than they were this summer. I'm busier and have a few more things added to my plate. Some good, some not ideal. I adapted in every area, but food. I threw my hands in the air and quit. I didn't have my controlled environment like I had when I started and wasn't able to handle the pressure of dealing with life's circumstances and practicing self control when it came to what I was choosing to eat and how much I ate.

This again revealed how weak I am in the area of self control. It proved that I need God's grace and strength more than ever. Instead of rising to the occasion, I crumbled. I shrunk back.

Sometimes I feel like stressful situations give me a free pass to eat how much of whatever I want, whenever I want. That's simply not true. That mindset gets me in more trouble than anything else.

Who am I to think that life will be perfect? That stressful situations won't rise up? That changes will happen whether I like it or not?

Navigate Change. Stay Consistent.

I'm repeating that statement over and over. I want to stay consistent in my eating and planning when there's more on my plate than usual. It may not be the funnest, most convenient, and easiest thing to do, but I know that I can succeed and ultimately I know that it's worth it.

Here are some things I want to start doing to be consistent:

Plan. Plan. Plan.

I want to spend time at the beginning of the week, Sunday afternoons maybe, thinking through what I have going on every day. I really want to think through when / where I'll be eating, what I'll be cooking, and if I'll be eating out. My personality type likes preparation and making a plan, but doesn't really like sticking to the plan. I'm going to try to figure out how I can make a plan that I like, and actually stick to it!

Think Long.

Lately I've had trouble seeing past the food decision at the moment. I haven't been able to rationalize and look at the big picture. I haven't been able to pause and tell myself that I really don't need that snack right now, that I'm eating because I'm bored, or the cheeseburger is only going to taste good for moment.

This phrase is helpful, "What you do today can improve all of your tomorrows."

Set Myself up for Success.

When I am prepared in all of the different categories of my life, it will result in good decisions. When I keep putting things off and choose to have a Netflix marathon, I'm setting myself up for failure and laziness. Rest is good, yes, but I don't need to "rest" all afternoon / evening after work.

Setting myself up for success includes basic things like making a grocery list, waking up on time, spending time reading the Bible, preparing lunches ahead of time so I won't have to eat out, etc. SO  many things! So many things worth doing for the big reward.

I know that I can be consistent in self control. I know that I can make good decisions through stressful times. Now, it's just time to want to do it. I'm taking it day by day, week by week. The goals are fresh and the motivation is there. Let's kill it this week. - JJ

My Talk on Shame
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This past Saturday I had the opportunity to share my story at a Womens' Event at my church. My talking theme was Shame. In true blogger fashion, I wrote out my whole talk. I thought I'd share it with you on here.

This is my official follow up to a post I wrote a few months ago. The post I'm referencing is something I wrote and I titled Shame is Not Motivation. In this post I shared a story that brought on years of shame and how God has redeemed a particular story.

After I published that post something happened.

Now, I’m not bragging on my blog or my writing by any means, I’m bragging on God and how he can redeem anything.

That blog post, one I didn’t want to write, was read 10 times more than any other post I’ve written. After I shared that story, I received comments in person, online, and in private messages from people who were deeply affected by that story and sharing with me their own stories of shame.

I hit a nerve when I openly shared my shame story. I pressed my finger on an issue that was affecting people from every walk of life. That response told me something about people.

Shame is a huge subject and people are having a hard time letting go of shame and letting God redeem it. I am fully confident, I’m living proof, that God can take our stories of shame and redeem them to something beautiful.

Maybe you’re replaying your shame moment or moments right now? It might look nothing like my story. We’re all different and struggle with different sins.

Maybe your shame story is a secret buried so deep down that you would never dream about sharing it with anyone?

Maybe you don't’ even talk to God about your shame because that means you have to dwell on it and deal with it?

What do we know about shame from the Bible? My mind immediately goes to the fruit of the spirit. Galatians 5:22 tell us that, "the Fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control."

Thing thing I most love when thinking about the Fruit of the Spirit is pointing out that the fruits are not individual. We don’t get to pick and choose which fruits we want like in the grocery store.

They come in a bundle. They come as 1. It’s Fruit singular. Not Fruits plural. We have them all. Once we accept Jesus’ gift of salvation, we receive the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is our Helper. They were not originally there within us. This isn’t like the toy that comes with the batteries already included.

Do you recognize what isn’t there on that list? In the fruit bundle? Shame.

Shame is not on that list. Shame comes from our flesh. Our flesh is who we were before Christ, before we become believers. Our shame can be redeemed. God is in the redeeming business.

He makes old into new. He makes sin into grace.

One of my favorite truths to cling to when shame starts to rise up in me is in 1 John 1:9. "When we confess our sin, he is faithful and just to forgive us of our sin and cleanse us from all unrighteousness."

Another favorite truth that I find myself repeating over and over over in times of distress is from Romans 8:38-39 "For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."

You know what else can’t separate us from God’s love? Our feelings. Or the way we look. Or the things we’ve done.

These scripture verses all together: the fruit of the spirit, how he is faithful to forgive, and knowing that nothing can separate us from God’s love, should move us to stamp out the shame in our lives.

I’ve got some ideas on how we can prune out the shame that keeps us from being the confident women of Christ that we are called to be.

Our confidence doesn’t come from us, it stems from Christ within us. Shame hinders our confidence. Shame snuffs out truth. Shame brings out feelings of inadequacy. Let's move beyond it!

1. Address the situation internally.

Feel your feelings. Replay the memory no matter how hard it is. Let yourself feel. Don’t stuff it down. The worst thing you can do is ignore it.  It’s like knowing there are month old leftovers in your fridge and you don’t clean out the tupperware.

Go through it in your mind and ask God to remind you of his truth. Remind yourself that you have the fruit of the spirit and shame isn’t one of them.

Remind yourself of the way God forgives.

Remind yourself that nothing can separate you from God’s love and acceptance.

Open up that tupperware and deal with it!

2. Get it out.

Now, you don’t have to write a public blog post like I did, although you could. It was very cathartic. Saying the shame out loud -- no matter how bad you think it is or the flip side of how insignificant you think it is - gets it out of your head.

Now, I’m only 27, but I know that the longer things rolls around in my brain the wilder they spin out of control. Once the secret is out it loses its power.

Talk to a trusted friend, pastor, church leader, counselor, family member, literally anyone who cares about you.

3. Rinse and Repeat

Getting it out there is a healthy and important step to allow God to redeem your shame, but it doesn’t mean that you’ll never feel it again. It doesn’t mean that the feelings are automatically gone or the memory stops replaying.

Rinse and repeat in the way of when the shame feelings rise up, let it happen. Feel the feelings. Remind yourself of the 3 powerful truths 1. Fruit of the Spirit. 2. The way God forgives. 3. Nothing can separate you from God’s love and acceptance.

You may have to say it over and over and over again, but there is mighty power in Jesus’ name and word.

In my experience, when I’ve allowed myself to feel the feelings and ask God to rescue my thoughts, he does. Over time, the feelings don’t rise up anymore.

I want to leave you with this. Don’t let shame hold you back. Don’t let it be the thing that's keeping you from God’s purpose in your life. If you have the Holy Spirit, then you are capable of overcoming shame no matter what it may be.

Sin is all equal to God. And we have All Sinned. We are the ones who grade sin from not so bad to terrible. Deal with your issues.

We are living in a culture where no one wants to feel anything and we distract ourselves with something pretty.

Let’s be different. Let’s be strong enough to recognize that God wants best for us and doesn’t want us covered in shame. We are free. Live like it!

The Importance of Creative Outlets
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Do something creative every day. I think that's a great idea!

As I'm growing up I'm truly learning the value of having creative outlets and how being creative in a few areas helps me in my every day life. When I spend a little time crocheting, scrapbooking, or dreaming / planning out home decor ideas, vs times when I lazily sit around and watch Gilmore Girls, I'm generally a more pleasant person. Anybody else feel like this?

Not only am I more pleasant to be around, but my mind doesn't drift off to food. Food isn't bad, but when you eat because you're bored and not when you're hungry, that's when it becomes a problem. I've been a bored eater for years.

I've noticed a drastic difference between the times where I'm doing something creative or just sitting around.

Today, I want to share with you guys my favorite creative outlet: CROCHET!

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This is my all time favorite hobby. It keeps my hands busy and out of the cereal box. It keeps my mind focused on counting or watching for what stitch comes next instead of what I could be eating at the moment.

There are a TON of different reasons why I love crochet, but in this season of my life those 2 reasons listed above are my favorite.

I don't just crochet to crochet. I crochet with a purpose. I want my handmade goodies to go to good homes. So far this season I've been at 1 one market in my hometown and am signed up for 2 markets in the town I'm currently living in.

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Come see me at the Olde Towne Market on October 10th and November 14th!

I hope that you have a hobby you love. Pick up crochet. Or anything you think is cool. You'll never know if you love something if you don't try it out. - JJ

It's Easier Being Overweight

It's easier being overweight. It's easier to eat fast food / take out / restaurant food.

It's easier to cook starchy / carby foods.

It's easier to throw caution to the win and give into every temptation.

It's easier to let yourself have whatever you want and do or not do whatever you want.

It's easier to not try.

Sometimes I wish I wasn't doing Ideal Protein.

Sometimes I wish I wasn't trying to change and make better choices.

Sometimes I wish I was still ignoring my weight.

These are my real feelings. Every day I contemplate easy vs hard and combat these feelings. Some days I overcome. Some days I fail, but now that I've started trying and can physically see and feel the benefits of self control, I can never go back.

If you're just beginning or in the middle of life change (whether it's weight loss or not, we all struggle with something), then you've probably had the same feelings. I want to encourage all of us with the thought of "easy doesn't equal better." Just because it's easy, it doesn't mean that's what we're supposed to do.

Accomplishment isn't supposed to come easy. You're supposed to work! If we don't work and struggle, then we don't appreciate the things we have. Maybe that's just me, but the more I struggle and overcome temptations, the more proud of myself I become. We can all stand to be a little more proud of ourselves and like ourselves a little bit more, right?

We can't be perfect, but we can always try harder. I want to try hard! I want to earn every pound lost. I want to work for every step towards overall health. I don't want it to just be handed to me because I'll probably put every pound back on.

It's good to remind myself of these things. It feels good to release these feelings.  I hope this encourages you to work hard, be honest with yourself, and motivate yourself! I'm motivated!! Let's work hard!

Let's face the hard choices with a positive attitude!

Let's tackle the temptations!

Let's enjoy hard work!!

I've realize that this post has now turned into a pep rally and I'm okay with that!

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Cauliflower "Fried Rice"

You guys. I've found the recipe. Definitely my most favorite healthy recipe I've made so far and I'm sharing it with you today! One of my favorite meals in the whole world is Fried Rice. I love going to hibachi restaurants. Ask my husband, it's my favorite kind of food.

My Fitness Pal told me that 1 cup of hibachi chicken, rice, and vegetables was over 500 calories. Who only eats one cup of this goodness? Certainly not me. Because I could eat hibachi rice, vegetables, and chicken any / all of the time, I knew that I needed a substitute.

Hello Cauliflower "Fried Rice"!

I looked at a few different recipes before I really found what I wanted. I don't have them linked, but search for it on Pinterest and click the first few recipes that pop up.

Here's what you need:  1 Head of Cauliflower Chicken Breast (I had 2 large chicken breasts) Lite Soy Sauce Olive Oil Sesame Oil 2 Eggs Minced Garlic Salt + Pepper Zucchini + Mushrooms (or broccoli, or any combination of vegetables

Here's what you do: Rice cauliflower in food processor. Set aside. If you don't have a food processor you can grate it on a cheese grater or chop it up really fine. Either way works. Chop vegetables, set aside Beat 2 eggs, set aside. Cut Chicken into 1 inch pieces, set aside Heat a drizzle of olive oil + 1/2 tsp sesame oil in a nonstick pan or wok on medium high heat Season chicken with salt + pepper. Cook the chicken in the oil until it's cooked through. Remove the chicken and set aside. Add a drizzle of olive oil back into the pan and throw in vegetables. Stir Fry vegetables until they are warm, but still firm. Add in 2 Tbsp soy sauce, or how much you need to taste it. Remove vegetables from pan and set aside. Add in a drizzle of olive oil + 1.5 tsp of sesame oil Throw in the riced cauliflower. Stir Fry the cauli until it's tender. This is where your experience of going to hibachi restaurants will kick in. I had a wooden spoon in each hand! This took me probably 10 minutes. Once the cauliflower is tender, push the cauliflower to the sides of the pan clearing a space in the middle. Scramble the eggs in the middle of the pan, then incorporate into the cauliflower. Stir Fry the eggs and cauliflower until they are well mixed, then add in 5 Tbsp of soy sauce, or how much you need to taste it. Throw the chicken back into the mix. ENJOY!

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It seems like a lot of work, but it's totally worth it! In all, this probably took me 30 minutes to make. I will definitely be making it again. Probably once a week. That's how much I loved it! This recipe made enough for dinner one night and left overs the next night.

I wish I had photos along the way as I was preparing this dish. I'm working on my food photography!

Let me know if you try it! - JJ

*you could probably do this without the sesame oil if you want to. I don't think sesame oil is completely Ideal Protein friendly. Because it's such a small amount, I thought it was okay. It just gives it that extra little something that I need in my hibachi. 

Try This: Rutabaga Fries

IMG_6541 I don't think I've ever spelled Rutabaga correctly before. Thank God for spell check.

I first tried Rutabaga Fries a few weeks ago. I mean they aren't real french fries, but they're definitely a great low carb substitute.

I've also tried jicama fries. I like them both. I think I like Rutabaga fries better because they're a little cheaper than rutabagas. Just my preference!

Let's dive in! I've adapted my recipe from this recipe from food.com.

  1. Preheat oven to 475 degrees
  2. Peel and cut the Rutabagas like you would a potato
  3. Place cut rutabagas into a bowl and coat with olive oil
  4. Line baking sheets with foil
  5. Line up the rutabagas in a single layer and season fries with your choice of seasonings. I mixed sea salt and Mrs. Dash herb + garlic and then sprinkled it over the fries. 
  6. Bake for 30-40 minutes
  7. E N J O Y.

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(This was Luke's plate from our lunch. He's not following Ideal Protein so he got to eat sweet potatoes... hah!)

Let me know if you try them! - JJ

Try This: Jicama Fries
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Has anyone ever tried Jicama fries? Better question. Has anyone ever heard of Jicama? I'd never even heard of it until a month or so ago. Now I see Jicama fries floating around Pinterest and I spotted my first jicama at the grocery store last week!

This week I decided to be daring and make them!

I followed this good looking recipe from Healthy Recipes.

I'm happy to report that they were easy to make, a little time consuming to definitley start on them before anything else (15 minutes in the microwave + 45 minutes in the oven), and yummy!

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They kind of tasted like a sweet potato french fry. Now, don't get in your mind that these are going to taste like fast food french fries. They definitely aren't, but they feel that french fry void.

I challenge you to make these little guys for a nice surprise on your plate. Let me know how it goes! Have a great weekend!- JJ

All Images are not my own. Attribution: Healthy Recipes

Little Changes Along the Way
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Alongside seeing the numbers on the scale change, I've also noticed a few other changes in my attitude, appearance, and overall well being. 1. More Energy

Once I cut out carbs, dairy, and sugar I noticed that I wasn't dying for a nap in the afternoon or fighting back yawns. Just a couple of months ago my energy was zapped by like 3:00. I'd go to bed early and sleep in as late as I could still feeling sluggish. Now, I wake up much easier, Luke might say otherwise, and have significantly more energy throughout the day.

2. No More Red Face

Now, I'm not a scientist, and this could be totally unrelated to diet changes, but I'm willing to bet that it's related. Maybe a year ago I noticed that my cheeks were always flushed. Like bright red. I just thought it was age or not washing my face properly. The redness is almost gone! Better looking skin is never a bad deal. Also, the increase in water helps the skin look healthy and clear as well.

3. No More Stomach Cramps

I've had a fight with my stomach since my senior year of college. I couldn't really process dark leafy greens or lettuce. Stomach cramps and pain had become the norm in my life, just something I was destined to deal with. Not anymore! I didn't know that I didn't feel well. I didn't know that I could feel better!

4. Better Time Management / Task Organization

Okay, this one isn't because of the foods I'm eating, but a result of better planning on my part. To successfully eat healthy and lose weight, you must make a plan and stick to it. Because I've had to spend a little more time planning my week and meals, I've carried that into other areas of my life where that was lacking. I know it was all in my attitude. When I wasn't treating my health as a priority, I generally had a "don't care" attitude towards a lot of things. Becoming more self disciplined in food has helped me become self disciplined in pretty much every area  of my life.

5. Closer to God

Kind of piggybacking off of number 4, I've become more self disciplined in my spiritual walk. In my "don't care" attitude my intentional time with God (reading the Bible and spending time talking to God) fell by the wayside far too many times. There wasn't much drive in my life, but now, I wake up hungry for my time with God.

Another way I've come alive spiritually is that I've constantly been asking the Lord for self control. The self control means that I don't look to food to satisfy me. Instead, God is doing that. It's what He's wanted all along, I just haven't realized it. So instead of turning food into an idol to be worshipped, eating is now a way that I can worship God.

I can honestly say that feeling better on the inside shines bright to the outside. More confidence, more energy, more GOOD! I encourage you to notice non number related changes or non scale victories and share them in the comments! Rooting for you today! - JJ

Recipe Review: Maple Mustard Chicken
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Hi Friends! Today I wanted to share a recipe with you that I recently tried and LOVED. Don't you just love it when a random recipe you find on Pinterest turns out to be really good? This is one of those recipes.

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My mother-in-law shared this recipe with me over Pinterest and I'm so glad that she did! The chicken and vegetables are covered with this sweet mustardy (but not too mustardy) glaze giving it the perfect tangy flavor. It really amps up the chicken breast!

This was also really simple to make! The original recipe from the Andover Diet Clinic can be found here. This is my version of the recipe.

INGREDIENTS 6 Thin Chicken Breasts 1 tsp salt 1/2 tsp pepper 2 Tbsp Walden Farms Pancake Syrup 1 Tbsp dijon mustard 1 Tbsp whole grain mustard 1/2 tsp salt 1/4 tsp pepper 2 Tbsp olive oil 2-3 cups broccoli, chopped

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Pat the chicken with paper towels or a dish towel and sprinkle with the salt and pepper.
  3. Roast in the oven at 375 degrees for 20-30 minutes until the skin is beginning to turn a light golden color. (If your chicken breasts are thick, let them go 30-40 minutes.
  4. In a small bowl, mix the Walden Farms Pancake Syrup, mustards, salt, and pepper. Brush this mixture over the entire chicken, leaving 1-2 Tbsp of the mustard mix for the vegetables.
  5. Put the coated chicken back in the oven and roast for another 20-25 minutes or until the juices run clear if you pierce the chicken.
  6. Take the chicken out of the oven and let it rest while you cook the vegetables.
  7. Place the chopped broccoli and in a bowl and stir in the last few spoonfuls of the mustard mixture. Roast for another 15 minutes.
  8. Place on top of the vegetable mixture.
  9. Put back into the oven for 10-15 minutes until the veggies are tender and the chicken is hot. ENJOY!

You can add in any other IP approved vegetable along with the broccoli, just adjust the roasting time.

Hope you like it as much as we did! - JJ

*the picture above is from the Andover Diet Center's website. I didn't take a pic of my version. 

Visual Motivation
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Question. When you see a blank wall do you either: A. Want to leave it alone and enjoy the blank-ness? B. Hang one small framed something in the middle? C. Fill it up with as many things as possible?

I choose C every time. If it were up to me every inch wall of our apartment would have a framed something on it. I love a full wall of color and fun!

Currently in our apartment I have an old window hanging in our downstairs hallway that I tape fun notes, random pictures, save the dates, and letters we get in the mail onto. It's so random and fun. I smile every time I look at it and can't wait to fill it up!

That got me thinking about creating some kind of visual motivation board for my weight loss. If you can't tell, I'm a very visual person who likes to tape things random things together and put them on display. Why not display motivation and progress?

I've been looking around Pinterest, duh, for the perfect inspiration for my project. Don't you just love planning for a project?! I'm nerd-ing out here, bear with me. This is probably one of the best representations of what I want to make:

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I like the idea of writing down each number so I can cross it off as I get to it. I also love having different motivational quotes beside the chart. I think I'll make 3 different charts. I have 3 BIG goals. Stay tuned for more details on my goal setting.

I can't wait to make my chart and start crossing off numbers!

Here is a great blog post with more fun ideas.

Do you have any ideas for Visual Motivation? Are you currently using a visual motivation board? Would love to hear what's working for you! - JJ