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January Favorites

A few days ago Luke and I celebrated our 3 year anniversary. YAY!! I can hardly believe 3 years have come and gone. So much has changed, yet so much has stayed the same (all in the best ways!). When we were trying to decide what restaurant we wanted to go to celebrate I posed the question, "what was our favorite restaurant in 2014? What about 2015? What about 2016?" We could easily answer 2016, but for the past two years, we were coming up with blanks. Later on, I started thinking of other favorite things from those years and I just couldn't remember. So now, I want to do a better job at recording the small details of our life because I love our life. I know it won't always look the way it does now. So every month, I'm going to take a little time and think about things I love and what's present in our day to day life.

Current Obsession

We've started off 2017 with a bang! On the 2nd day of the year, we knocked a big item off our home to do list. We painted our dining room! When we closed on our house back in 2015, all the walls were painted a nice gray. Gray walls aren't necessarily in my design aesthetic, so I've been wanting to paint every room white. Yes, I'm a white walls girl. I also knew that I didn't want one room to be white. I wanted to go bold in the dining room. We painted it the most beautiful shade of green. Well, it's more green-blue and it's pure magic.

This is my current obsession because every morning when I walk down the hall and into the kitchen / dining room, my heart skips a beat. The room is so beautiful and so different. We're spending more and more time in here every day!

Every Day

Part of Luke's morning routine is making coffee. Over the past 2 years, he's taken a huge interest in the science behind coffee and brewing methods. It works out well for me because I'm not that great at making coffee and I like having my own personal barista. He just acquired an Aeropress so he's been having fun figuring out everything you can do with it. I'm benefitting by getting homemade vanilla lattes!


We get on kicks with the food we make at home. For example, we'll try lots of different ways to make buddha bowls. I'm not sure what our favorite January food will be this year, but I have a feeling it's going to be complicated tacos. (A complicated taco - new seasonings on the meat, homemade slaws, creamy element like a crema, a pickled something, etc)


Right now we're watching Arrested Development. One of our faves!

Something Memorable

We celebrated our 3 year anniversary! 

Anything else?

We had a "Snowed in" weekend early in January. We had a Lord of The Rings Marathon and watched all three extended editions. It was amazing. We're wanting to do a Harry Potter watch-a-thon next!


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?

Whole 30 Week 1

I've completed my first week of Whole 30!! I'm really proud of myself for sticking to the program and not cheating! I'll be honest, the week went by really really slow. Did this have anything to do with Whole30? I'm not sure. Maybe? I definitely underestimated how much food we'd need for the week. I'm used to buying what I thought was a lot and then hitting a few restaurants here and there. Having to have something prepared for every meal was a real eye opener. We had to run to the grocery store a couple of times to have enough food!

I want to share a detailed account of what we ate this week so I can remember what I liked and how we ate it.


  • Breakfast: Black Coffee & an Apple Pie Larabar Sundays are our busiest mornings. We're at church from 6ish-1:00ish. #churchstafflife. I have a really bad snacking habit on Sunday mornings. It's going to be a big habit to break.
  • Mid morning snack: Lemon Bar Larabar If eating two Larabars keeps me away from the Donuts and out of the snack baskets, so be it.
  • Lunch: Dry Salad (hadn't figured out salad dressing at that point) with chicken (cooked in olive oil and seasoned with salt, pepper, and garlic powder) and bell peppers, Surprisingly delicious even without salad dressing.
  • Afternoon Snack: Pineapples and Strawberries
  • Dinner: Pan seared prime rib (cooked in olive oil and seasoned with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder), roasted sweet potatoes, and roasted broccoli.


  • Breakfast: Coffee with a scoop of coconut milk (unsweetened) and Sweet Potato Breakfast Hash
  • Mid Morning Snack: Pineapples and Strawberries
  • Lunch: Dry Salad (still hadn't made salad dressing #facepalm) with chicken, bell peppers, and leftover roasted broccoli
  • Dinner: Burrito bowls with Fajita Chicken and bell peppers for Luke and Ground Turkey Taco Meat for me. I used this homemade taco seasoning mix and this Cilantro Lime Cauli-rice recipe. Delish!


  • Breakfast: Sweet Potato Hash and a cup of coffee with a scoop of unsweetened coconut milk
  • Mid Morning Snack: Pineapples and Strawberries
  • Lunch: Salad with chicken, bell peppers, and a homemade balsamic vinaigrette
  • Dinner: Leftover Burrio Bowls


  • Breakfast: Sweet Potato Hash with a few bites of cinnamon bananas and a cup of coffee with a scoop of unsweetened coconut milk
  • Lunch: Chicken, green beans, and roasted sweet potatoes
  • Snack: Apple with a scoop of Almond Butter
  • Dinner: My new obsession - Coconut Curry. I used this recipe and I want to eat it every day.


  • Breakfast: Key Lime Pie Larabar
  • Lunch: Salad with chicken, bell peppers, strawberries, blueberries, and homemade balsamic viniagrette
  • Dinner: Leftover Coconut Curry
  • Snack: Apple Bake - Apples, cinnamon, almond butter, ghee, and pecans. YUM.


  • Breakfast: Lemon Bar Larabar and Coffee
  • Mid Morning Snack: Small Apple
  • Lunch: Taco meat with homemade seasoning and diced zucchini
  • Dinner: Coconut Chicken Curry with yellow bell pepper, pan roasted red potatoes, roasted broccoli, and cauli-rice. I mixed everything together in a big bowl and it was amazing. Yep. I made curry again and it was phenomenal. 

This night was the first night I wasn't craving something sweet after dinner!


  • Breakfast: Sweet Potato Hash with Bacon (Whole30 approved) and green bell pepper
  • Mid Morning Snack: one plum
  • Lunch: Leftover taco meat with diced zucchini and a spinach salad with strawberries, pineapples, and blueberries.
  • Snack: Pecan Pie Larabar
  • Dinner: Leftover Coconut Chicken Curry with roasted broccoli and cauli-rice.

Whew! That's a lot of food!! That was a lot of time spent in the kitchen! I love to cook, but I can honestly say that this past week was the most time I've ever spent at the stove. I felt like a modern day pioneer woman making every meal and not relying on restaurants.

Here's to week two! I'll take more pictures this week- JJ

My Theme for 2016

2518_10205734036051986_8441422646814371297_n Do you have a word for the year? This is something my mother-in-law (who's awesome) turned me onto a few years ago. I've never really stuck to it before, but I've always liked the idea. This is the year that I commit!

After thought, prayer, and consideration, my word for the year is "Effort."

Yeah, it's not that fancy, but completely sums up what I need to focus on.

Originally I thought of "discipline" (which tried to be my word last year, but that lasted like a month) or "self control," but that wasn't the root issue. Deep down at the bottom was the underlying question of "do I want to put for the effort?" In 2016 my answer will be yes.

Yes, I want to put forth effort. Effort in everything.

I want to get out and walk Buddy every day. I want to spend a little more time meal prepping so I don't eat out for lunch. I want to make a grocery list every week!

Everything needs effort. I can't just skate by on charm and a loud laugh. Easy choices don't get you anywhere. Doing the bare minimum just to skate by, what's the point!? I don't want to be like that anymore.

I think every month I'll write a little update on how my effort is going.

Do you have a word for 2016? I'd love to know it! - JJ

#DreamBig621 with Amanda Matthews

Today is the first of what I hope will be a recurring theme here on my blog. I'm excited to share a guest post from on of my biggest inspirations, my friend, Amanda Matthews. image2

Hello! First off a big THANK YOU to JJ for asking me to write a post about the most transformational season in my life. I’m thrilled to share my story with each of you and my prayer is that you are inspired and encouraged by my story. But FIRST, let me introduce myself.

My name is Amanda Mathews. I’m a Mississippi girl, that found my way to Texas almost 5 years ago. I’m 27 years old and a lover of Jesus, people, and all things creative. My full time occupation is a Speech-Language Pathologist and Director ofRehabilitation at a retirement community and rehab center. I also run a small business of calligraphy and design which I absolutely adore… but lets cut to the chase! I’m here to talk about the last two years of my life, my journey to health and fitness.


On January 1, 2014, I was sitting at my kitchen table writing out my goals for the new year and at the top of the list (as always) was "GET HEALTHY." As I pondered that resolution tears filled my eyes and I cried out to God asking "WHY WHY WHY is get healthy/lose weight always on my list year after year and why can’t I win this battle?" In the sweetest, most wonderful way, God spoke directly to my heart and said “My dear, you have forgotten who your creator is and how you were created!”

He lead me to Psalm 139:13-15 “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I AM FEARFULLY AND WONDERFULLY MADE; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you whenI was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.”

WOW. Suddenly this revelation of identity broke through every wall of shame and worthlessness. My heart and mind were renewed in the revelation that I was a daughter of the Most High King and I was worth it!

After this moment, I went straight to the gym. That minute. I already had a membership to the gym that I was not using, but I knew I had to start. I didn’t know what or how, but that day a grace fell on me and my journey started. I decided to simply commit to 5 days a week and eating clean. I had a little knowledge of what clean eating was, and this blog helped me so much! I highly encourage anyone who is starting this journey to start here.

As the first week went by I decided to give myself a goal of -50 pounds lost by my birthday (June 21st) and -25 pounds by week 12. I exceeded both of those goals! During that first six months, all I did was Zumba or elliptical cardio for 30-60 minutes 5 days a week and eat clean.

That’s it.

After the first 6 months, I decided to start with a personal trainer. I continued cardio, but learned so much about strength training, its importance, and how to move forward into the next phase. I did hit a bit of a plateau the last 6 months of the year. I was still seeing some changes, but the weight and scale moved much slower and I lost 15 pounds the rest of the year.


In 2015, I kicked off the year with a Whole30. Another resource I recommend is the book It Starts with Food. You will be amazed by how much of our illnesses and issues can be healed if we just feed ourselves the right foods! Additionally, in 2015 I tried Smart Barre classes (LOVE!) and some fun Beachbody workouts. I lost another 15 pounds in 2015, but in the fall I hit a bit of a “rough patch” in life and gained about 10 pounds from September to December.

2016 has brought a restored hope and the word “completion” from the Lord. I don’t know that a healthy journey is ever complete, but I’m hopeful that with 50 more pounds gone, I will be at a place where maintaining is my goal rather than losing!


I wish I could tell you that there is one quick fix, but what I have learned on this journey is that a renewed mindset is key! And there are so many different ways to get healthy! Choose one that you enjoy and keep at it!

Love, Amanda #dreambig621

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.


Resolutions #2-#6

image In my last post, I shared my number big number one major New Years Resolution. It's the baseline for all of my other resolutions, so think about that as you're reading through this list of things I want to do in 2016.

#2. Exercise regularly. I think I'll start with walking consistently. There is a lake behind my house and walking from my driveway and making a loop around the lake is just a little over a mile. I like walking around that lake. There are always ducks and geese swimming around.

I want to incorporate strength training. Anybody want to be my trainer? I can't pay you, but I'll crochet you something.

#3. Play keys for Sunday morning worship. Luke, my husband, leads worship every Sunday morning at our church. I sing in worship, but would like to play an instrument! Hopefully by the summer I'll be confident enough to be able to play a few songs. Kicking myself every day for quitting piano lessons in the 4th grade.

#4. Learn Calligraphy. I've played around with hand lettering here and there. I've done a couple of wedding programs, save the dates, etc when Luke needed something scripty for a client. Now, don't misread me, I've only got one little font I can somewhat do. I enjoy doing it and I'd like to get into it.

#5. Incorporate healthy habits. Examples include: bring lunch to work at least 4 days, allow 1 dessert / treat per week, avoid carbs on the weekdays, fall in love with salads. The biggest part is keeping up with the habits after the weight comes off.

I've got to get mentally ready, again, to put the work in and use the self control that I know is there.

#6. Prepare a meal with foods from my garden. I actually stole this one from Luke.  I've proven to myself that I can keep my indoor plants alive. I'm ready for the next phase, gardening! I know absolutely nothing about planting a garden, but I'm excited to learn about it.

Growing up, my grandfather had a huge garden behind his house. I remember my mom (forcing) me to go out and pick peas and string beans (I think. I was young. Memories are cloudy). We'd bring the big buckets back in a shell the peas and snap the beans. I liked the shelling, not so much the picking. I didn't fully appreciate the cool-ness of having a big family garden, but again I was a kid and only wanted to jump on the trampoline and play with my Barbies.

I'm thinking up resolutions as I go. Maybe I'll think of more! I'm not limiting myself. Time to go for it! Have you started writing down your resolutions? - JJ

Half Size Me Podcast

A couple of weeks ago my friend, Dakota, told me about this podcast called Half Size Me. I'd never heard of it before, so I was definitely intrigued. I love listening to podcasts (my favorite is the Relevant Podcast)! I immediately found the podcast on my iphone app and listened as I drove to and from lunch that day. I'M OBSESSED.

The episodes are so helpful and encouraging! If you love listening to other people's stories and getting key insight on losing weight and keeping it off, then I highly recommend listening in.

The podcast host, Heather, is a fellow traveler who lost a significant amount of weight and has kept it off!  A true inspiration.

I just wanted to share this info like Dakota shared it with me! I hope you enjoy it as much as I do! - JJ

Let's Get Motivated!

A couple of weeks ago my friend Emily shared some really inspiring quotes and graphics with me over Pinterest. That got me thinking, "I need a motivation board." I want a special place to look to when I'm not feeling very motivated that's not filled up with recipes or crochet patterns. Processed with VSCOcam with g3 preset

Then, I had the idea to create a group board so that we could all have a part in motivating each other! This is just an informal thing and, in my opinion, a fun way to spur each other on to make good choices!

If you'd like to join in on the Group Board you can follow me on Pinterest, then contact me by commenting on this blog or through sending me a pin on Pinterest. Again, this is really informal and just for fun!


Let's all help each other to stay motivated! - JJ

Pin Guidelines:

  • Pins must be clean - no profanity or immodestly dressed people 
  • Pins must be positive - we don't want to shame ourselves into motivation
  • Pins must link back to reputable / non-sketchy sites
The Starting Line


On Wednesday June 3rd I took a life altering step. I started Ideal Protein.

What is Ideal Protein? 

Ideal Protein is a comprehensive weight loss method. It takes the guess work out of what to eat and how much and provides you with a plan that you can stick to. (You can read more specifics on their website!) I consume 3 Ideal Products every day and eat a meal of protein and vegetables on my own.

The Backstory

I've struggled with my weight for as long as I can remember. Growing up in the South meant the tea was sweet, everything was buttered, and there was always dessert. I never mastered the skill of eating in moderation. I also never got the hang of portion control. 

Food made me happy. Food comforted me when I was sad. Food was there when I was bored. Food was there to celebrate. I used food for more than body fuel. Overeating was a way of life. A comfortable, doughy, wrong way to live.

To be completely honest, I've never tried to lose weight. I just kept watching the numbers go up, on the scale and pants size, hoping that it would just level out one day. That I would stop gaining weight without making any changes. How crazy is that?!

It's taken me a while to get mentally and spiritually prepared for this 180 lifestyle, but I'm ready for it.


So now I see myself at the Starting Line. I'm ready to not quit before I see progress or talk myself out of doing something challenging. The time for change is now. It's time to start the race.

I'm excited to write about my journey here on this blog. I'm writing this for me, to keep me accountable and to chronicle milestones. I hope that you are encouraged by my experiences, words, and journey to health! - JJ