Friday, April 15, 2016

How to Stay Healthy Without Losing Your Mind

I haven't posted since last week when I announced the 7-day cleanse I was starting, but I'm a bit embarrassed to say it didn't last. I gave up after just two days. That's me up there having my matcha green tea because I couldn't have coffee. Although it was just two days, I had zero energy. I was falling asleep at my desk at work. I couldn't find it in me to work out when I got home. I went three whole days without doing much moving at all. I felt like the life had been sucked out of me. Once I started eating meat again, drinking my 3 cups of coffee in the morning and having yogurt or cereal for breakfast, I regained that energy and strength, and my days were much more comfortable.

But just because I quit the cleanse doesn't mean I went back to an unhealthy lifestyle.

Being forced - if only for two days - to eat nothing but fruits and vegetables gave me the push I needed to experiment a little more in the kitchen. To be more adventurous. To add color to my dishes. And the fact that DJ would kill me if I let all the vegetables go to waste helped a lot too. But most importantly, I discovered how much more I can do with lunch and dinner. Breakfast is still pretty simple. I'm a big granola/cereal person. I can also eat a yogurt and be satisfied for hours. But lunch and dinner seemed to constantly stump me. I found it was difficult to find decent pairings for the things I wanted to cook. I haven't the slightest idea why, but it made dinners so boring. I was cooking from boxes and throwing the most unhealthy meals together.

Luckily, I realized - and pretty quickly, at that - just how easy it is to be healthy without completely losing it. I've found I have more fun in the kitchen, and best of all, my fiance has been loving dinnertime (and him eating healthy without complaining is a major plus).

So how do you train your mind to stop thinking eating healthy has to be a headache? For starters, make olive oil and garlic your new best friends. I haven't used butter or cheese in about a week because of these two superstars. Olive oil is a healthy fat that is great for sauteing vegetables and cooking various meats and seafood. Garlic gives you the flavor you need. I also like to add Italian seasoning and/or sliced lemon to add a little more.

Last night I made a 1-pan salmon and veggie bake. It was so simple, and so incredibly savory. I used the following:

Salmon fillets
Grape tomatoes
1 medium onion
Broccoli florets
1 small lemon
Olive oil
Italian seasoning
Salt + pepper to taste

I crowded my pan without really meaning to, but it actually worked out. That salmon was the juiciest I'd ever had. In a nutshell, I drizzled olive oil in the bottom of the pan, along with the garlic and Italian seasoning. I evenly spaced the salmon fillets in the pan and topped them with olive oil, garlic, and Italian seasoning as well. Then I chopped all the veggies and spread them around. I sliced that small lemon and squeezed each slice over the salmon before dropping them in the pan as well.

It took roughly a half hour in the oven at 425 degrees. The entire house smelled heavenly.

DJ suggested getting rid of a loaf of bread he'd gotten at the Food Lion bakery last weekend, so I made some garlic bread with it. I hate buying frozen garlic bread with a passion, and making your own is so easy, there's no reason to buy it in the box anyway. Just slice the bread, and brush each side with a mixture of olive oil and garlic. Bake until toasted. Yum!

Wednesday was also a successful dinner night. I had some leftover mashed cauliflower with squash, mushrooms, and chopped onion to work with, so we decided to add some chicken and sauteed veggies to that. I chose zucchini and grape tomatoes to saute, and I put some chicken tenderloin in a skillet of olive oil and covered each side with garlic powder and Italian seasoning (I also added a few lemon slices to the pan for flavor). What resulted was delicious breaded chicken on a bed of veggies.

What started blandly for lunch during my cleanse,

...became a flavor-packed dinner after the cleanse.

Waste nothing, I say!

Again, the guys were satisfied. And I find that most important because I don't want to have to feed them unhealthy meals just to make them happy. DJ is all about the flavor. If it has none, he doesn't enjoy it. I have to remind myself he's from the deep south, where everything comes covered in some sort of Cajun seasoning. And Brennan, well, he's just a picky vegetable eater (although he ate around all of the mushrooms in this meal, he claimed it was delicious).

But what do I do about lunch?

Honestly, I could eat a salad every day at lunchtime. I'm not picky. And the healthiest way to enjoy a salad involves [yet again] olive oil and a vinegar of your choice. I love red wine vinegar. So much flavor! I will add croutons once in a while, but if it's filled with protein-packed veggies, I'm happy.

I've also been wanting to try zoodles (noodles made from zucchinis - you can also use any other solid veggie!) with mixed veggies, olive oil and garlic. My sister made a delicious concoction the other day using almond butter, mmm.

Regardless, I tend to scour Pinterest for most of my healthy meals. I love trying new things, and even more so when  know they're good for me.

What have you been eating lately?

Thursday, April 7, 2016

How to Find Your Motivation and Keep It

Do you struggle with finding motivation to work out and get healthy? I did. Until I realized that my goals were more important than my excuses.

Perhaps the most difficult part of getting healthy and fit is the very beginning. Finding the motivation to start, and to keep going. Because let's face it. We're not going to get that bikini-ready body without pushing ourselves and making fitness a habit.

I've gotten to the point where I finally crave that evening workout. I sit at a desk all day and it literally hurts my body now. I am known to get up out of my seat and walk in place for a few minutes at a time. I'll stretch or do a few yoga moves. Anything to get me moving. And when I get home, if I am interrupted or something is preventing me from that workout, I get a little frustrated. Although maybe I need to work on my temper, it has become a good thing that I've made working out a part of my lifestyle. I've lost a few pounds and my clothes are fitting better.

But how did I get here?

First and foremost, you need to figure out what you want, and WHY you want it. Maybe you want to look good in that new bikini at the beach this summer, or maybe you're just tired of feeling sluggish. Maybe you're not overweight but would like to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Whatever it is, you need to figure it out and focus on it. 

This also applies to those pesky negative wants. Maybe you're fighting with your significant other, or you're like me and you just came home from day job and now you have a TON of work to do for your side business. Sometimes it's easy to skip the workout because those things have taken over in our minds. But you get what you give. You skip your workout one day, and it's easier to skip it the next day. What you get is a bunch of excuses and a flabby butt, whereas if you just suck it up and do that workout, you'll reap the benefits of a toned body and and easier workout the next day.

It's called a habit. Something you do over and over, often without even thinking about it. And it takes roughly 21 days to form said habit, so do you want to form a negative one, or a positive one?

I had to think long and hard about this when I went through my closet and organized my bedroom - something I need to do yet again since life has been so crazy! I realized I'd gained weight when I had to get rid of things I no longer fit in. Yes, I had a huge pile of clothes that were too big, but the majority were too small, and it hit me like a ton of bricks. I didn't like the person I saw in the mirror. And I knew I needed to do something about it. That day, I found my motivation, and it really hasn't left me yet. I figured out what I wanted and why. I wanted to lose weight. Why? Because I felt unhealthy. I felt embarrassed by my weight gain. I wanted to be happy and feel good in my own skin. I started working out right away, and after two months, I've still only managed to miss two days per week. I feel better, I have more energy, and I am actually encouraging a lot of my friends to do the same, which is such a good feeling.

If you're struggling to find your motivation, my advice to you is to take a good hard look at your life. How desperately do you want to lose weight, get healthy, have more energy, fit in your wedding dress, feel good about yourself, etc.? If you want it bad enough, you'll get up and do something about it.

Check out Christina Carlyle's blog post about finding motivation. It's truly inspiring. And tell me about your journey! I would love to hear!

Friday, April 1, 2016

That Time We Decided to Raise Chickens

You read that right. We've decided to raise chickens and brought the chicks home last night. They're quite happy in their little wooden box in the carport outside for now, and their daddy is hard at work on the plans for their comfy little coop. We can't wait to watch them grow. And better yet, we can't wait to start collecting big, brown eggs.

When I brought them home the cats weren't too thrilled. Shadow was scared of them - even though he viciously attacks the mice in our house every summer - and Tigger seemed indifferent. Eventually they became more curious. Tigger couldn't keep his paws out of the box we'd brought them home in. Shadow jumped up and peered at them hesitantly. And once we moved them to a larger bin, they were on the floor beside them, both chicks and cats taunting one another through the plastic all night long. It was love.

We decided to raise chickens because it's not a terribly expensive thing to do, and we both thought it would be nice to have fresh eggs. Me personally? I'm excited to try something new and prepare myself for our move to Mississippi in late 2017. Yes, I plan on being that crazy lady with the chickens in the back of her Jeep for 14 hours.

I'm not kidding.

Although I got the most expensive chicks available at Tractor Supply, I got them solely because I didn't want to chance getting a rooster, and the folks at TS couldn't sex the chicks for us. They're not the most pleasant animals, and I figure for just starting out, we don't need one. Maybe later, when I want to start hatching eggs (roosters help fertilize eggs), but six pullets is enough for me right now.

In total, we spent a little under $100 on everything, including the chicks and even antibiotics to start feeding them in the next week or so to prevent future illnesses. I also learned we can add garlic to their feed to strengthen their immune systems.

They should start feathering soon and by 6 weeks they'll move into their coop. Luckily, We have most of the materials to make it already. We're very DIY with old items, so this coop will be made of mostly old crates. Pinterest is giving me some great ideas, too. This whole thing is a very exciting new challenge.

Like most things, I'm researching every little thing in order to care for them properly. I'm not that person that jumps into something - especially if it involves other living things - without knowing how to do it the right way. I print articles, make spreadsheets, calculate costs, etc. I mean, look at those faces! They may be farm animals but they deserve the best. Especially if we want the eggs. Chickens produce the most eggs when they're happy in their environment, meaning they're comfortable (not too hot/cold), well fed, and full of energy. Some people actually even go as far as training their chickens, giving them special treats, and building food-related toys to keep them entertained. A bored chicken will start pecking at other chickens in the winter, for example, so making a veggie garland, filling a plastic bottle with sunflower seeds, etc. really helps keep them busy.

I'm learning so much, and I can't wait to share more on this journey!

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Why I'm Going All Natural

You probably don't know this about me, but I'm a huge Young Living Essential Oils fan. I use them for everything, from my eczema to my anxiety. I joined the member rewards program in order to get the most benefits and value, and I'm trying my hardest to spread the word of how amazing they are. I mean, they have seriously changed my life.

But they've also helped me change so much more.

I am currently in the process of erasing the toxins in our home. I'm tired of them. They're everywhere! They're in our cleaners, our toothpaste, our shampoos and body washes. It's insane. I don't particularly enjoy knowing that some of the same ingredients in dish soap are also in my body wash. That's just not cool.

So why am I going all natural?

I want to feel better from the inside out. I am so tired of having a reaction to nearly everything that touches my skin or goes inside my body. I have terribly sensitive skin, and a bad case of eczema to top it off. Those bottles marked "For Sensitive Skin" don't always work, either. And I'm even more so tired of my body reacting to certain foods I eat. I can't even enjoy a beer anymore without paying for it later. I want to eat more wholesome and I want to use natural products on my body.

I want to feel good about the health of my family. We have two cats and a roommate (my sister's boyfriend) in our home, and I want to feel good about the cleanliness of our house, and the food I cook. I'm tired of feeding us boxed meals. I'm tired of cleaning our house with toxic chemicals.

I want to appear healthier. Our body is a temple, and direct proof of what we put in it. The healthier we eat, the more we exercise and take care of ourselves, the more obvious it becomes. We lose the stress, the acne, and the excess weight, and we gain so much more, like energy, happiness, and good health. Plus, who doesn't want to glow with great health at the beach this summer?

I used to be one of those skeptical people. "Eating healthy is too expensive," I said, like so many others. But that's not always the case. And I look forward to incorporating more of my new healthy choices to this blog, just to prove it to you. Everything from my essential oils to making my own cleaning and bathroom supplies (did you know you can even make your own deodorant and shampoo?), recipes, and so much more.

Also, stay tuned for a special post about our first step to a healthy, natural life - we're getting chickens tonight! Fresh eggs, anybody??

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

A Little Update

A lot of things lately have been keeping me from blogging. In my post What I Learned From Over 10 Failed Blogs, I urge readers to keep consistent. Well, I failed again. And why? Well, life happened. And it took priority over this blog.

Sometimes we do get into a rut, and that's okay. Not blogging for a while without some kind of explanation could lose us readers. But we never want to overwork ourselves. It becomes unhealthy. And it's a terrible excuse for me to give you, but that's exactly why I allowed my blog to suffer.

I had sessions and clients to tend to. We had some bad weather - Virginia got hit by some crazy tornadoes that left people dead and homeless. (If I was at all curious about Mississippi weather, I got a taste of it then.)

But I recently signed up for Elite Blogging Academy. And I'm ready to take this blog thing seriously. Are you with me?

To start off, here's an update.

I got some new glasses!

Last Monday morning I came into work and decided to wash my wire Ray Ban frames for the first time in perhaps a year. Well, that turned into a bad idea when a nose piece snapped off and nearly fell down the drain. But since I'd had that pair since practically high school, I decided I needed to finally replace them. The problem, however, was that my eye doctor charges a fortune. So I went to America's Best instead. And I am telling everyone I know to use them now.

I got the works. Designer frames (Armani Exchange), and thinned, smudge-free, anti-glare, transition lenses. And my total was under $315! I highly recommend giving them a try if you're on a budget but desperately need new eyeglasses. They sell designer frames and popular brands like Ray Ban. And their prices for contacts were impressive, too. I spent over $300 on just a 6-month supply at my eye doctor's office. At America's best, I can spend $250 for the same brand for a whole year's supply!

I am also on my third week straight of working out almost every day.

I only allow myself one or two skip days. But on those days I am strict about what I eat. The days I work out, I eat normal. I am a strong believer in working out in order to eat a normal diet rather than a strict one that leaves me starving. As long as I control my portions, I'm okay. I'm not sitting on the couch plowing through an entire bag of potato chips. So I'm pretty satisfied with how things are going so far. And the best part is that my clothes are fitting better. Win!

In addition to keeping up with my work and improving my health, I've been saving a lot of money recently. I've been using the Ibotta app (I made $52 from mid-January to mid-February) and selling my clothes to (I made $56 on one bag alone), and I've been setting aside a lot of what's leftover after bills lately to savings accounts neither one of us can touch. I make sure we have enough food in the house for at least a week or two, and I put whatever's left in a place we don't see every day, and it's helped a lot. My goal this year is to pay off our motorcycle and go on a trip to Mississippi to visit DJ's family. It'll only work if we're strict, and we have definitely been strict lately.

I look forward to coming back with some new material for you guys! I hope you're enjoying the start of spring!

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Weekly Cleaning Schedule - Free Printable!

Today, I'll keep it short and simple. I've got a lot going on, and I'm sure you do too.

With all my decluttering and closet organizing and bedroom touring (for which I still owe a part 2!), I realized I need to actually stick to a cleaning schedule in order to never let that mess happen again. Nothing major - of course, I live in a trailer, so it shouldn't be that hard to keep it clean. Just a few daily tasks, along with a group of weekly chores thrown in there. I listed the ones that work for me, but you can really make it your own with this free printable

You can also add monthly tasks. This could include things like cleaning out/organizing the fridge (and wiping it down), or taking inventory of pantry items to better plan meals for the next month. You can do whatever you want with it.

Sticking to a simple cleaning schedule like this helps prevent future headaches like mine. So do yourself a favor, download this free printable, and get started!

Monday, February 8, 2016

Bedroom Tour: Part 1

As promised, I took some nice photos of the newly organized and decluttered bedroom and have posted them here for your viewing pleasure. Like I said, I'm not 100% finished, but I feel confident with what's completed so far. My desk area, bookshelf, dressers, and jewelry are all organized, and I have a fully functional closet (not pictured yet, but soon!).

The thing I spent the most time organizing was my bookshelf. It drove me crazy trying to think of which ones to get rid of. But I promised my fiance (and myself) that I wouldn't hoard books anywhere else, so I ended up getting rid of three large boxes of them. It felt difficult in the moment, but now that I've gotten rid of them I don't miss them.

And my shelves look gorgeous. Everything is organized by non-fiction, regular fiction, and the classics.

Another goal of mine was to get my record player and vinyls displayed somehow. I had everything buried underneath my desk where my desk chair was supposed to be, and what fun is that? Putting on a record for the first time in months yesterday felt so great.

I have these adorable little gold votive holders, too. I bought them at Michael's before Christmas and had meant to do some holiday decorating with them but never got around to it due to the mess. But they look great in my bedroom. I have two of them on my jewelry dresser, along with an adorable jewelry holder gifted to me by my friend Helen.

Another neat thing I was able to do yesterday was make some art. It's funny how bogged down my messy room made me feel. I had no creative energy before I sorted through the mess. And thanks to a little extra time yesterday, I was able to make this:

I love anything fleur de lis related. DJ is from Mississippi and has family in Louisiana. Our favorite football team is the Saints. And we both have French in our blood. I really love it. And thanks to my grandfather, I have it framed perfectly.

Overall I am very happy with how everything looks so far. Even though we aren't living in the most ideal of living spaces, we are able to make do with what we've got until we find our dream house, which will hopefully be soon.

Stay tuned for part 2!