BIG News!!

I have some wonderful good news that I still can't hardly believe! Instead of just blurting out the news, I want to share some background information for anyone else who may be in a similar situation. img_4316

First some context...

I have had serious disruptive and painful GI issues for as long as I can remember, at least since age 5. That means I have been dealing with it all for 30 years now! My symptoms have progressed and gotten worse over the last 10 years. I had a CT scan and some blood work done two weeks ago. All the results came back completely normal. Basically the tests showed that all of my abdominal organs are perfectly normal and there are no markers of inflammation in my blood, even though I was still having a terrible "flare-up" at the time. This is all good news that I don't have an inflammatory bowel disease or any kind of obstruction. But that Friday night when I got the news of my results, I could not see it for the good news that it was because I had hit my breaking point of dealing with the pain for so long. I was a mess that Friday and felt so discouraged that I would continue to have this pain and there be no way to control it.

After I had my little meltdown that night, I was finally able to see the good and think more clearly. Since I did not have any obstructions or inflammatory bowel disease then I had to accept that all my symptoms must truly be from my irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). I realized that perhaps I AM more stressed than I realize. After all, I am a Type A personality, a recovering perfectionist, and high energy. Not exactly the recipe for calmness and low stress! :D

A moment of clarity

I pushed and pushed the doctors for answers to my problems because I was afraid that without a proper diagnosis they would think it was all in my head when that could not be further from the truth! But in light of these latest test results, I realized that I have to accept that my symptoms are truly from IBS. That was when it hit me. Although my symptoms are not IN my head, perhaps there are cause BY my head! Ding-ding-ding!!!! I have functioned at such a high-level of stress during numerous times in my life that I have missed the cues when I am moderately stressed. And stress plays a HUGH role in IBS symptoms.

All this got me to thinking that if stress is truly the cause of my increasing symptoms then maybe that is the only cause. About 3 and a half years ago during one of my many visits to my doctor, looking for answers and at the point of exasperation, the question of celiac disease and gluten intolerance came up. I was tested for celiac disease and that came back negative, but at that same time I went on a gluten free diet and began to feel remarkably better! Because of the drastic relief of symptoms that eating gluten free did for me, my doctor said that I probably did have celiac disease even though I had a negative test result, which does happen in a large number of cases he said. Either way, he said it was clear that I should not eat gluten. Since then I have changed family doctors and my current doctor has my diagnosis listed as gluten intolerance. He wasn't as quick about throwing around the celiac diagnosis without the positive test results.

The experiment!

Now back to two weeks ago. In light of my new acceptance that all my problems are probably related to IBS and stress, I began to question if I was truly gluten intolerant too. So two days later I began a gluten experiment on myself. Prior to this I classified myself as being highly sensitive to gluten because my symptoms were so pronounced. All my symptoms, which had improved after eliminating gluten completely in July 2012, were back again even though I was 100% GF. And the symptoms were just as bad as before I went gluten free.

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So that Sunday morning I ate a small graham cracker and nothing else for 3 hours while I monitored for symptoms and waited. Nothing. No spike in symptoms. By Sunday afternoon I was feeling more brave and ate an entire (amazing!) slice of regular pizza and half of a turkey sub. Oh, yeah! I was going all in at this point of my gluten experiment. :D My local pizza shop is authentic Italian cuisine and they know how to make their rolls! Yum!! I ate all that Sunday evening and was completely fine!! I have challenged myself more since then and I am still fine!!

I cannot hardly believe it but it seems that I'm not gluten intolerant!! This is such good news and life-altering news that I am still having trouble wrapping my head around it. Also, I am a little afraid that I will suddenly get really sick and find out that I can't eat gluten after all. It just seems too good to be true. But it is true and for now I am fine, so I will be happy with the here and now and try to not worry about the future.

But why did it help before?

I believe my symptoms were relieved when I went gluten free in 2012 because at that time my stress was really bad and my symptoms were getting worse. By taking action to try to control my symptoms by going GF, I had control over my life again and was no longer powerless. The sense of control reduced my stress and made my symptoms decrease. That would also explain why my symptoms have gradually come back to the point where they were prior to going gluten free. I've been under a tremendous amount of stress with nursing school, then beginning my career as a nurse, working odd shifts and night shift, and having my children begin school. I think it all just built up again to be too much and that is why I have been so sick again.

Does that make any sense? As my life felt like it was spiraling more and more out of my control, my symptoms increased. Then once I was forced to look at the test results with an open mind, I realized how stressed I am most of the time and had to accept that my symptoms are my body's way of reacting to the stress. I don't think I was ever gluten intolerant. I was just desperate for answers and to solve my symptoms and feel better. And that was why I felt better when I went GF. It wasn't because of the gluten, it was because I felt powerless with my symptoms and pain and I wanted a way to fix it. I am not saying that this is the answer for everyone with gluten intolerance or IBS. I am simply relating my experience and my realization of the amount of stress I was under and what that stress was doing to my body. Maybe your thing is not gluten or IBS, but we all would do well to take stock every now and then and evaluate the stress on us and its affect on our lives.

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So where do I go from here?

The big thing is I need to do is to work harder on realizing when I am feeling stress, doing things to relieve the stress, and putting structure in place to prevent some of the stress in the first place. For me, the answer lies in consistent yoga practice, practicing mindfulness, living with intention, and creating structure in my life. Also I should really add that I need to cultivate respect from myself for the boundaries and organization I create. Too many times in the past I have organized my time to get the important things done when I have a lot going on then I completely ignore that schedule and run around taking on way too many things and not accomplishing half of what I truly wanted to accomplish. I know I can't be the only person who does this. Why do we do this? Why does the adult side of me recognize the need for a schedule then as soon as the schedule is created, the kid in me tears it up and runs around screaming? :D The key is to practice mindfulness in all areas of my life and to allow what I have learned through my yoga practice to spread even further through my life.

I am excited for the future and all the wonderful possibilities of 2016! There are some exciting things in the works for next year that I will share with you when the time is right. For now, I can't wait to get back into the kitchen and create even more recipes redesigned to be healthier!

 

Time Flies When You're Having Fun?

We've all heard the expression "time flies when you're having fun." Now that I am an adult living a busy life raising a family, working and meeting obligations, I have realized that this statement isn't completely accurate. I think the statement should actually say,

"Time flies, so make sure you're having fun."

Whether we want to think about it or not, time marches quickly on. It is up to us how we use the time as it passes by. Working as a nurse and seeing so many people limited by their chronic diseases and seeing people die, I've been force to look at mortality and the rapid passing of time in the face. And as a parent, it is hard to accept or acknowledge the rapid passage of time when you have little children growing up before your very eyes. But working in the nursing profession has made me unable to ignore time anymore. 

I used to not want to think about how fast time was moving because invariably then I would start think about all that I had not accomplished yet, all that I still wanted to do, all the memories that I still wanted to make with my family, my family and parents aging, and how soon my children would be all grown up. So I used to push down those feelings of time rapidly passing whenever they would crop up.

But not anymore. I have grown to accept the passage of time as a unchanging fact of life. And when I reached that acceptance, I was able to see the reality that time flies by whether we are spending it having fun or not. The days march on, with or without our participation. Realizing that makes one stop and really think about their choices and actions.

  • Am I living each day fully?
  • Am I living how I want to live or am I being influenced by how other's think I should live?
  • Am I living each day taking actions or am I being reactionary?
  • Am I living life on my terms or am I living my life based of the emotions of those around me?
  • Am I embracing each day, the good and the bad, knowing that the present moment is all that is guaranteed? Or am I just getting through the day, living for another day?

So, how do we live life embracing the rapid passage of time instead of running from it? First, we have to accept the fact that time waits for no man or woman. Next, we need to choose to be present and live our lives in the moment with the ones who are important to us. Sure, we still need to plan ahead, but we need to stop putting off the important things because we feel like we should do something else first. It is important to take stock of one's life and assess if where it is and where it is headed is where you personally want it to go. And if it's not, figure what is stopping you from living the life you want and make a plan to course correct. Lastly, we need to stop wishing and start living.

I encourage you today to take stock of your life and see if you are having fun as time is flying by or if fly is simply flying by.

Source

March Vlog

Here is my vlog for March. Can't believe March is over already?! Watch the video to see how I did on my monthly challenge for March and to find out what my challenge is for April. What is your monthly challenge for April? I'd love to hear it. [embed]https://youtu.be/vcB1UiysyxI[/embed]

Here's the link to the cleaning schedule I'm going to use: Schedule. I'm adding Fridays to the schedule for myself and on Fridays, I will cleaning the family room in our basement and take care of paperwork (bills, sort mail, sort school papers, ect.).

"No Longer Beautiful" Post

I was honored to have PositivelyPositive.com publish my post called "No Longer Beautiful" on Friday, March 13th. It was a positive experience interacting with their readers as they read and shared my words. It was a wonderful opportunity to reach a wider audience with my writing and it gave me a chance to make a positive impact on more people's lives. I am so grateful to Positively Positive for giving me this opportunity. If you haven't seen the post yet, be sure to go to their site and check it out. I will include an excerpt below, as well as the video I recorded talking about the experience. Thank you to everyone who read and shared my post!

Perhaps it is time for a change in our thinking. Perhaps lasting self-love actually comes from a place of gratitude instead. As long as my self-love is coming from a place that requires me to view my body as beautiful, then I am at risk of not loving myself when I don’t feel beautiful. Maybe self-love that comes from gratitude is what we actually need to be working toward. Being grateful for what my body does, how it functions, what it enables me to do in life, how it plays a role in me doing things that make me love life; these are all so much more than a fleeting feeling of beauty. (Read more here.)

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New Blog Schedule Starting March 2015!!

March 2015 calendarIf you watched my vlog, "February Challenge" then you already had a sneak preview about the changes that are coming to this blog starting March 1st. I am really excited about the direction that I am taking this blog in and can't wait to dive in! I have been busy preparing for this "relaunch" of the blog last month and this month and shifting from working full time as a nurse to part time. Now that we are half way through February, I would like to give you a preview of things to come. First of all, I have finally nailed down into a simple statement my purpose of this blog. My mission statement:

To educate and encourage others to live a life that promotes health, happiness and balance by sharing my knowledge and personal experiences in an open and honest way. 

To achieve my mission statement, I will be publishing specific content on a weekly schedule. And here is the schedule. Drumroll, please. ;)

  • Mondays: Life blog post- a variety of topics including healthy living, striving for balance, struggles, and triumphs.
  • Thursdays: Recipe post with video- easy and healthy recipes made with simple and nutritious ingredients.
  • Fridays: Weekly menu- a 5 day menu of dinners for the next week. (Coming soon.)
  • Saturdays: Health News Roundup- a post with links to a variety of interesting health news from that week.
  • 1st of every month: Food ideas- eating ideas for breakfasts, lunches, busy schedules or odd shift schedules.
  • Last of every month: Monthly vlog- review of the month, next month's challenge and random personal stories.

As you can see, that is A LOT of content every week! I have so many ideas and things I can't wait to share with you all. As I commit to expanding the content of this blog as well as blogging on a consistent schedule, I hope to grow this blog to reach many more readers. You can help me with this by sharing this blog with your friends and family. Thank you to all of you who already follow and support this blog. I greatly appreciate it!! :)

 

Burnout??

As I sit here late Friday night, or early Saturday morning rather, I ponder the question that has been quietly lurking in the back of my mind for a few weeks. "Am I burning out?" I just finished up my last shift for this week. So relieved to have the weekend off. I need a couple of days off to try to recover from this week. But this question is growing louder and louder and I have to finally confront it, however scary it may be.

What if I am burning out? And if I am burning out, what do I do to stop it? Can I stop it? Or are we nurses working at an unsustainable pace? I have seen my own feelings of frustration, fatigue and being overwhelmed in the faces of my coworkers.

I used to wonder what exactly 'nurse burnout' was. Now I know because I have felt it. But I naively thought that burnout only happened to seasoned nurses who have worked for many years. But here I am only 6 months into my nursing career and feeling burned out.

It is a hard winter this year with so many people sick, even management has said that it is busier than it has been in the recent winter months. So maybe it is just fatigue we are all feeling or maybe it's not. Perhaps it has taken the complete immersion into caring for so many sick people for me to be reminded of the kind of nurse I want to be.

Sometimes all it takes to make things become clearer is to go full force into one direction. Then once the action is taken to chose a path and pour one's self into it, it often becomes clear that is the direction you should go in or that is not the direction you should go in. A lot of the decisions that we get so stuck on making are difficult to make because actually both choices are good choices.

We can get eternally stuck on trying to make the "right decision" and never make any decision. Or we can chose one of the good choices and make that the right decision. Worst case scenario? You make a choice and realize that it actually wasn't a good choice for you after all and that the other choice was the way to go. Either way you end up taking action, learning something and moving forward toward your dreams. It is the agnozing over decision-making that is the biggest hurdle to our dreams, not making an incorrect choice that keeps us from our dreams.

This is what feeling burned out has reminded me of. Nursing is a good choice. Starting off and gaining experience as a new nurse on a medical-surgical floor is a good choice. But it is not the best choice for me. While I do enjoy interacting and caring for my patients, I did not get into nursing primarily to care for sick people. I actually got into nursing because I wanted to help people not get sick. I want to help people be their best healthy selves. That is why I got into nursing. And that is why after 6 months on a med-surg floor I am burning out.

(Note: I sat on this post a couple of weeks before publishing it. It is a high personal, honest and raw post. But ultimately I decided to publish it because I think that there are other people out there who may be able to relate to what I am saying and be encouraged that they are not alone.)

So long, 2014!!

Have you noticed how it seems to be the "cool" thing to not make new year's resolutions? It seems like nearly every article I read this week that was talking about the coming new year started off with the statement that "I don't do new year resolutions." or something to that effect. I understand all the statistics that say that only a small number of resolutions are actually kept for longer than 2 weeks and that resolutions can set people up to feel like failures. Impossible to Live quote JK RowlingBut, what will we accomplish if we don't create any goals for ourselves? Sure, we could (and should) reevaluate our goals and create new ones all throughout the year, not only on New Year's Day. But sometimes we are so busy that we don't take the time to stop and evaluate our lives and create goals. That is what is so wonderful about new year resolutions! It is a set time every year that reminds us to take stock of the previous year, looking at our success and our failures. And a set time to look ahead and spend some time thinking about what things we want to accomplish in the coming year.

only those who risk quoteThis year I was so busy with the last semester of nursing school and with starting my first nursing job that I never took the time to set concrete goals for myself for 2014. And not surprisingly, I didn't accomplish some of the things I had hoped to accomplish this year. I had a few ideas of things I wanted to accomplish this year; but because I never took the time to list those ideas as goals with achievable steps, I did not accomplish as much as I wanted to. That is the most important step in setting yourself up for success, write down your goals.

So this year as 2014 is ending I am spending some time reflecting over the year and formulating my goals/resolutions for 2015. I work tonight and the rest of the week so my first goal for 2015 is to have my goals focused and written down by the end of Saturday, Jan. 3rd, instead of by the end of Jan. 1st. Because that is the other important aspect of successful goals, set a goal that is achievable in your life and situation.

Aiming too low quoteThen when my goals are set I will check back to them at the beginning of every month to see how I am coming along in meeting my goals. It is important to keep goals forefront in our minds and include them in our decision making process. If it is important enough for you to state as a goal for yourself, then it is important enough to be considered as a factor in making decision. That is the last and possibly the most important step in meeting goals, take your goals serious and keep those goals forefront in your life. If it was important enough to state as a goal then don't set yourself up for failure by ignoring what is important to you.

With those thoughts in mind, I want to encourage you to not worry about if it is "cool" or not to make New Year's resolutions and to take time this week to think about your life and what you want to accomplish with it. Then write those goals down and respect yourself by making choices that push you in the direction of your dreams.

never too old quote

Just Playing "Winnie the Pooh"

Influenza A, respiratory viruses and other seasonal illnesses have hit BIG time here. And that's on top of all the "usual" illnesses and diseases that we treat every day, like COPD, diabetes, and Congested Heart Failure, just to name a few. The hospital is nearly filled to 100% capacity throughout all the medical-surgical units, intermediate intensive care unit, and intensive care unit. To put it simply, we are busy, very busy. Last night I had 6 patients under my care the whole shift. PA is not one of the states that has determined that it would be prudent and safe to set a limit on the patient to nurse ratio as some other states have done. But that's a different post for another time. Back to me and 6 ill patients last night. I had 2 hours and 15 minutes from the end of getting report from the day shift RN until 18:00 to get all my assessments done on all 6 patients, calibrate the telemetry (heart monitor) strips on 4 patients, check blood sugars on 3 patients, dispense med for all 6 patients- oral meds, IV antibiotics, insulin, pain meds and some additional afternoon meds that the day shift RN ran out of time to do, plus answer call bells when my aide was busy with other patients, talk to family members in person and on the phone about their family member's health, and update the patients who had questions about their plan of care, which meant spending some time deciphering the hospitalists' and specialists' notes from the day. All of this I needed to get done by 18:00 if I was going to be on time. On a typical day with 4 patients, it is reasonable to get it all done on time. On a busy day with 6 patients? That was quite a feat. But, I did manage to get it all done by 18:00. I was quite proud of myself!

I was standing in the hallway with my computer catching up on all my charting when a couple walked by to visit a patient. I greeted them as I do everyone that passes me in the hallway. After they were done visiting, they passed me again as I was still charting on my computer, trying to finish up so that I could squeeze in my own supper before the next round of antibiotics, evening meds, blood sugar checks, insulin administration and pain med administration was due. As the couple passed me, I started to wish them a "good evening" when the husband turned to his wife and said, "Look, she must be playing a Winnie the Pooh game on there or something. She still standing in the same exact spot."... 8O Yes, I'm playing a Winnie the Pooh game, that's exactly what I am doing.

After I picked my jaw up off the floor, I simply replied, "Yeah, or something..." :roll:

Winnie the Pooh Quote

The Alarm Clock

It is easy to get caught up in seeing people through only one lens. Sometimes it is the way others present themselves; sometimes it is assumptions we make. Even when we think we understand what someone is going through, it can be hard to truly understand what they are experiencing unless we get a chance to walk a mile in their shoes or see the world through their eyes. In nursing we sometimes assume that we truly understand what our patients are going through. And to a certain extent, we do. We understand their disease process more than most and we have cared for patients with cases similar to theirs before. But even then we truly do not full comprehend what it is like to be them, to live their lives, to endure their trials.

I had a patient recently who taught me to not be so quick to make judgements. This patient had been in the hospital for a lengthy time, a recent double below the knee amputee. And while she had every reason to be miserable and depressed, it got to be trying dealing with her day in and day out. To be perfectly honest, my sympathy was wearing thin. Afterall, I had cared for other patients even sicker than her who managed to have positive attitudes and were a joy to care for. It was hard to deal with her, until one day I saw something that opened my eyes...an alarm clock.

I walked into her room one day and saw the alarm clock on the table next to her bed. I learned that she had a child starting middle school and even though she was stuck in a hospital bed, she wanted to be a part of her child's life experiences. She set the clock every night so that she could call her child in the morning and wake the child for school. She may have been physically absent, but she was doing everything she could to be there for her child as the child transition into middle school.

Suddenly I saw a true glimpse of this patient. She wasn't just a patient; she was a mother who was just trying to be a part of her child's life in whatever way she could. No wonder she had been depressed. On top of all her health issues, she was also missing out on her child's life. I could only imagine the pull toward home that she must have been feeling while laying in that hospital bed. Every time I walked into her hospital room I felt a pang in my heart when I looked at her alarm clock. I finally saw her for more than a patient who could be difficult. She was a mother, separated from her child, who was still trying to parent, even from a distance.

We truly don't know what anyone is going through. The best we can do is to not judge anyone, regardless of how they may be acting. And if we keep our eyes open, we might see something that helps us understand just a little of what the other person is going through.

"Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle."- Ian Maclaren

1st Tears

I cried at work for the first time. And I'm sure it won't be the last time either. A dear man that I had been caring for for the last couple of days got the results back from a biopsy and found out that he had cancer...again... As we stood there with the man and his wife, watching the tears form in his eyes and seeing her silent tears fall, my heart ached for them both. They have faced this road twice before and are not sure that they can stand to walk it again. There are no right words to say in a time like this. Anything you say feels trite. I fight back the tears, swallowing hard for as long as I can. Then they are falling and there is no stopping them. The three of us share a box of tissues. There are still no words that seem right. Maybe that's okay. Maybe being present and sharing their pain is all that I can do in this moment.

Then I step out into the hallway and prepare to join morning rounds. Life keeps going. There are more patients that need my care and I have to keep going.

Summer Reset- Day 10

Happy 4th of July! I knew today was going to be different than my usual days because of the holiday. We had plans to go to a grill out at my parent's. It was a fun time; most of my family was able to be there. We talked, played some games, ate dinner together and had homemade ice cream. Yummy!! Because of the change in the routine, I was sure to fit in my exercising in the morning because I wasn't sure if I would have time or energy to do it in the evening. I did forget to take some food pictures though. Oh well, there will be days like this. :) Here's what I ate today:

Breakfast: Several years ago, I made a Flag Cake for the July 4th get together with my family. I made it two or three times over the  years. The cake was always a big hit! It was a delicious cake; it would have to be with the amount of butter that was in the cake and in the frosting, along with the large amount of cream cheese too! My kids remember the cake too because of the fun flag design on the top of the cake made out of fruit. I didn't want to make such a rich dessert again, but I liked the idea of using the fruit flag design still since that always looked so festive and it was my kids' favorite part. So I decided to make pancakes and top them with strawberries, blueberries and bananas in a flag design on each one. It was a success. Not only did the pancakes look good, but they tasted great too!

Snack: We had a later breakfast and had plans to eat an earlier dinner with my family later so I wasn't too hungry at lunch time and didn't want to fill up too much either. I decided on a plain Greek yogurt with some fresh blueberries stirred in. It was exactly what I needed to tie me over from breakfast to dinner.

Dinner: This was an All-America type of dinner. I had a grilled hotdog (gluten free dog and bun, of course) and potato salad. Then for dessert, I had 2 bowls of homemade vanilla ice cream topped with a little chocolate syrup and whipped cream and some strawberries individually topped with whip cream and a blueberry on top. I even pour a little chocolate syrup into where the core had been removed from the strawberry then topped it with whipped cream and the blueberries. Delicious way to end the day!

Flag Pancakes

 

Here's how I exercised today:

Today was Friday- a Tone It Up day. I tried their Love Your Body HIIT Routine. That was a lot of fun! I really enjoyed it. It wasn't complete repetition like some HIIT routines, which kept me from getting bored, tired and wondering when the workout would end. Instead, the workout time just flew by and I had a great workout and fun doing it in the process. Check out that routine here: Love Your Body™ with HIIT! High Intensity Interval Training 

Summer Reset- Day 9

Today was one of those days that I had to practice rolling with the punches. I babysat 3 of my friend's children again today while they moved into their new home. I offered to picked them up right after breakfast so I knew I would not have time to exercise in the morning. I would have to make time for it later. The kids all had a good time but there were some touchy moments. My son was overly tired and a bit out of sorts all day. Her children were tired out too from the busy last month they spent remodeling and running back and forth between their old and new home. And to top it all off, it had been a really hot all week. The kind of hot that just sucks the energy right out of you. But in spite of all of that, everyone had a good time overall. I didn't eat like I would have liked to; I did a lot of quickly grabbing food. And I had too much sugar, which left me feeling a bit jittery and icky by dinner time. I have a dominate sweet tooth and I have been trying to gain control over it during this Summer Reset. I realized today after eating a lot more sugar than I have in 9 days just how it affects my body. I just hadn't noticed because I was regularly eating a lot of sugar. I was glad for the chance to see this. It reinforces for me how much I need to keep the added sugar in check.  

Here's a breakdown of what I ate today:

Breakfast: I was in a hurry and just gobbled down a gluten free flaxseed waffle with too much jam. It was very tasty, just too much jam.

Lunch: This was spread out over the afternoon. I made Chex Mix and Muddy Buddies for all the kids because I was low on snack and lunch options because I really needed to go to the grocery store the day before but didn't because we had really strong thunderstorms so I stayed home instead. I tasted a handful of Chex Mix then I had a small bowlful of Muddie Buddies. I also had some cherries and just to get some quick protein in there, I had a hardboiled egg too. Later in the afternoon I had a second very full small bowl of Muddy Buddies.

Dinner: After the kids went home, I took my 2 kids and we went grocery shopping. By the time we got home and got everything put away, it was dinnertime. The perfect dinner solution tonight was a frozen Udi's gluten free pizza with sugar snap peas from the mother in law's garden and leftover coleslaw.

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How I exercised today:

Tonight I did one of my favorite Yoga with Adriene videos: Freedom Flow. This is a repetitive video that gives you the chance to move from pose to pose with ease and to "find what feels good". Try it out and let me know what you think. You can find it here: Freedom Flow! I was feeling so good after doing this routine that I decided to challenge myself and try some yoga moves that I have been aspiring to do. With Ron spotting me, I was able to do a Forearm Stand! And then one my own I did a Wheel Pose with my back completely arched up! I was so excited!! Last time I tried the Wheel Pose I only could get my body half way up. So it was quite exhilarating to get it all the way up this time. And as for the Forearm Stand, that felt so amazing! I hope to one day do that completely on my own. Trying these moves encouraged me to keep practicing my yoga. Even when I feel like I'm not making any advances in my practice, I really am. Slow but surely my body is stretching and strengthening. Just have to keep going. :)

 

Summer Reset- Day 8

I made an interesting discovery today. It isn't just good enough to exercise; our mindset while we exercise is vitally important. And along with that, the trainers that we follow along with, or the people that we exercise with, play a big role in influencing our mindset while we exercise. For my Summer Reset, I have been exercising exclusively with Yoga with Adriene and Tone It Up. All of these girls are so positive on their videos and they have an appreciation for what the body can do. Their respect of their own bodies shines through the screen and impacts the individual exercising with them. Not only do I feel amazing and upbeat right after exercising with their videos, but their positivity is having a long term affect on me too. As I was working in the kitchen this evening, I caught a glimpse of my profile reflection in the oven door and thought, "I love my curves. And I love how strong my muscles are getting under my curves." Wow, that's huge! For the first time in a long time, I really looked at myself and didn't say, "Ugh! I really don't like (insert whatever body part was offending me the most in that moment)." And I don't know if I ever said that I loved my curves. This is a big deal. It is a mindset shift and I know that I owe a great deal of that shift to the positivity of the trainers that I have been exercising with. If I had been following someone who presented exercise almost as a punish for the body, like "let's do squats to get rid of that jiggly booty!", I know that I wouldn't have had the same reaction to seeing my reflection. So keep that in mind when you exercise. Are the trainers or your exercise buddies feeding your mind with positive body-image or negative body-image? Something to think about.  

So here's what I ate today:

For breakfast I revealed my Southern roots a bit. My mother in law gave us a jar of her freezer strawberry jam the night before. Her jam is the best! I already knew the night before that I wanted toast and jam for breakfast the next day. I knew that I need more than toast though. So I made oatmeal with a fried egg and salt and pepper to go along with the jam and toast. And just like that, it took me back to summer mornings as a kid. Eating a yummy breakfast just like this then running outside barefoot, the grass still wet from the dew and the sun already hot. It's funny how food is tied into our memories so intrinsically.

For lunch I decided on a bowl of vanilla Greek yogurt topped with walnuts, raisins and chopped dates with a side of guacamole and carrots to dip in the guac.

Then for dinner I tried my hand at making coleslaw with the fresh cabbage head from my mother in law's garden. I never made coleslaw before, even though I love it. Not sure why I never tried to make it before. I got a little carried away with grating carrots to add and ended up with a orange-tinted slaw. Oh well, it still tastes great. :) Along with the slaw, I had some delicious steak that my husband, Ron grilled and some peas on the side.

For a snack I had a second brownie (had the 1st one while they were hot out of the oven). I was so happy with how these brownies turned out. I have tried to make my own recipe of gluten free brownies several times and they never turned out like I remember my favorite (pre-gluten free days) brownies tasting. I have tried several gluten free brownie mixes too and was never happy with the results. But today, I tried again after not trying for a long time and I finally nailed it. Watch for the recipe! I'll make them again so I can get some pictures and then I'll post the recipe.

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Here's how I exercised today:

I did a new Tone It Up video called Love Your Total Body! This was a really fun video. It was another circuit style video. I like circuit training because it gives me a chance to learn the moves quicker and I can usually do them better the 2nd or 3rd time around. But I don't like circuit training when the circuits are repeated more than 3 times though. That can get monotonous for me and I begin to dread some of the harder moves as my muscles are fatigue and I'm tire out. For this routine, two circuits was perfect, plus they add some great ab moves at the end too. You can check it out here: Love Your Total Body!

Summer Reset- Day 7

Today I saw a great video and I want to share it with you. You may have seen it already. The video has gone viral since it was posted. Today was the first time I saw it. Check out this video here: Always #LikeAGirl. I saw this commercial on my friend's Facebook page and I just loved it. It made me feel proud to be a girl. This was my favorite line from the video. I love how the girl says it so strongly too.

"I mean, yes! I kick like a girl, and I swim like a girl, and I walk like a girl, and I wake up in the morning like a girl...Because I am a girl. And that is not something that I should be ashamed of, so I'm going to do it anyway."

I wish we all, girls and boys alike, could feel proud of who we are and feel like we don't have to be ashamed of the quirks or mannerism that make us who we are. To accept one's self is the biggest gift we can give ourselves. With that positive thought, on to how my day went.

 

Here's what I ate today:

Breakfast: Blueberry pancakes made with fresh blueberries topped with a little butter and maple syrup. Delicious start to the day.

Lunch: I had a little taco meat leftover that I wanted to use up and since my taco dip yesterday was so tasty, I decided to repeat the same thing for lunch. Today I added a side of red grapes.

Dinner: We had a classic summer sandwich of BLT's. I love these sandwiches. We don't have them often but boy, are they amazing. We'll have to make them again later in the summer when we have our own tomatoes from our garden. It was a gorgeous evening so we sat outside on the patio for dinner. I think our dog Maverick was hoping I would drop some of my bacon :D

Snack: The perfect end to the day was a scoop of chocolate ice cream!

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How I exercised today:

Today is a yoga day and I chose Detox Yoga | 20 Minute Yoga Flow for Detox and Digestion by Yoga with Adriene. I have done this video several times and really enjoy it. You can click here to try it: Detox Yoga | 20 Minute Yoga Flow for Detox and Digestion.

Summer Reset- Day 6

After making my husband his green smoothie to take to work with him, I decided that if he could drink a green smoothie several days a week then I could start drinking it at least one day a week. He has been drinking them for about 6 months now and has the recipe perfected. But it has taken me a while to get on board with the green smoothie. I know that they are incredibly good for me but the thickness of the smoothie was difficult for me to adjust to. We finally replaced our nearly 15 year old blender that kept limping along, refusing to just die already! And we were pleasantly surprised by how much blenders have improved in 15 years. :D Our new blender blends the food really smoothly, so I decide it was time for me to try the green smoothie again. I was quite surprised by how good it actually was. It's not as quite as tasty as the fruit smoothies I usually make, but it is still a great way to start off the day with a healthy boost of kale. You can get the recipe for this Green Smoothie here: Green Smoothie  

Here's what I ate today:

Breakfast: Green smoothie with an Udi's Gluten Free Cinnamon Raisin Bagel with cream cheese.

Lunch: Layered Taco dip with tortilla chips and a good book. I layered leftover taco meat, a sliced of cheddar cheese, salsa, a mini pack of Wholly Guacamole, and a dollop of sour cream. This is one of my favorite lunches.

Dinner: Cold pasta salad. I cooked Barilla Gluten Free Penne pasta and let it cool. Then I stirred in leftover cold grilled chicken, peas, and grilled onion. Then I stirred in a handful of grape tomatoes that I quartered, added a little dried basil, salt and freshly ground black pepper. It was a really quick, delicious and filling dinner for a hot summer evening.

Snack: a handful of dark chocolate chips. Because sometimes you just need a little chocolate. :)

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Here is how I exercised today:

Today I did one of my favorite Tone It Up Routines- Bikini Body Routine! This is IT! BIKINI SERIES 2014 ☀. This is such a fun routine. It is a circuit of about 6 exercises that are repeated 3 times then there are about 4-5 fine toning exercises added to the end of the circuit, including the "Bikini Walkout". This is such a fun, albeit hardworking move! You'll have to try it and let me know if you love it as much as I do. You can try this routine here: Bikini Body Routine! This is IT! BIKINI SERIES 2014 ☀

Summer Reset- Day 5

Today was a really busy day. Or as my 6 year old son put it, "We went SEVEN places today!!" :D We were out from midmorning into the mid-afternoon. We knew we were going to be out over lunch time and would have a late lunch. So we packed a water bottle for everyone and threw a few Larabars and KIND bars into a lunch bag with an ice pack to keep them from getting melty in the hot car. And we were ready to hit the road! I love keeping plenty of variety of the Larabars and KIND bars on hand for a quick go to or on-the-go snack. Being prepared saves you from making food choices that you wouldn't normally make when hunger strikes and you're away from home. Another good quick on-the-go snack is a baggie of mixed nuts and dried fruit with a little chocolate chips if you'd like too. And water; don't forget to take water with you, especially if you are going to be away from home for a couple of hours. Here's the rundown of what I ate today:

Breakfast: Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free Oats topped with fresh strawberries, blueberries and cherries. The fruit was so sweet that I didn't even need to sweeten my oatmeal. Sometimes I do, sometimes I don't. It all depends how sweet the fruit is. It's a good idea to taste test first before adding the sugar. You may be surprised to find that you don't always need the added sugar.

Noon snack: Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Larabar. Yummy!! If you've never tried a Larabar or you want to introduce your kids to them, this is the one to start with. There are a lot of tasty Larabars but this one is one of my favorites for sure.

3PM snack: At this point, I really didn't want to ruin my appetite for dinner. So I chose a hardboiled egg and a container of Greek yogurt. A high protein snack was perfect for holding me over until dinner but not filling me up too much before dinner time.

Dinner: My husband tried grilling tuna steaks on the grill for the first time. If you never tried this, you have to try it! The tuna was so amazing that I don't think we will ever make it any other way! Along with the grilled tuna we made Jasmine Rice (leftover the the other evening), grilled onion, steamed asparagus and fresh pineapple. It was such a perfect dinner. Grilled tuna is going on the menu again for next week!

Evening snack: After the kids went to bed, I decided to sit outside for a little, hovering around my citronella candle for safety. ;) For a snack I picked a pack of Dole Banana Dippers with Almonds and a glass of homemade iced tea. I love these Dippers. They are so good at satisfying my ice cream and chocolate cravings. Now Dole makes Strawberry Dippers too. I thought I'd like those the best since I love strawberries. But actually I love the banana dippers the best. The frozen bananas are so creamy; they really satisfy the taste buds. Have you tried the Dippers yet? What do you think about them?

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How I exercised today:

Today I chose to exercise before bedtime because that was the best time I could fit it in. Since it was almost bedtime, I wanted a gentle yoga routine. And since I had a bellyache, I picked Yoga for Digestion by Yoga with Adriene. This was the perfect gentle routine for my belly and for the lateness of the hour. I went to bed feeling calmer and stretched. Good end to the weekend. You can find this yoga routine here: http://youtu.be/0MNiHTHkyyc

 

Summer Reset- Day 4

Here's what I ate today: Breakfast was a quick blend of a smoothie before taking the kids to their Jiu Jitsu class. I blended together 1 banana, 3/4 c. frozen blueberries, 1/2 c. frozen strawberries, 1 tbsp. natural creamy peanut butter, 2 scoops of Jarrow Formulas Hemp Protein Powder, about 1/2 c. reduced sugar plain almond milk and about 1/2 c. chocolate almond milk. Blend up until smooth and enjoy! It is a super tasty way to start the day. We have tried a couple of hemp protein powders and really like the Jarrow Formulas brand. It blends well into smoothies without too strong of a taste and no grittiness like some hemp protein powders have. We purchase ours from Amazon. Here is a link to it on amazon.com: http://amzn.com/B001GKXT24.

Lunch was a GF ham sandwich topped with spinach, dijon mustard and a little mayonnaise with a side of caprese salad and sliced nectarines with fresh blueberries.  Caprese salad is a simple summer salad. It is typically made up of fresh tomatoes, fresh basil and fresh mozzarella dressed with a little salt and olive oil. Our fresh basil was not quite ready to eat yet and we didn't have fresh mozzarella. We improvised and used dried basil and sliced up a mozzarella cheese stick. It may have not been the most tradition, but it was still quite tasty. You can't be afraid to improvise in the kitchen; go with what you have and make it work. You may just be pleasantly surprised. :)

For dinner we had grilled chicken breast, the rest of the leftover green and yellow beans with carrots, a side of jasmine rice and deviled eggs. Deviled eggs can be a wonderful side dish. They don't need as much mayo as you might think. Equal parts of mustard (I love them mixed with dijon mustard.) and mayo, and a dash of salt. Mix until smooth and you have delicious deviled eggs.

After the kids went to bed, my husband and I decided to watch the movie "Serenity". We were really looking forward to watching this movie since we finished the "Firefly" TV series the weekend before. "Firefly", in case you never saw it, is a Joss Whedon space western drama (with a healthy touch of comedy) series that aired for one season in 2002-2003. It is a really great television show! It caused quite a lot of disappointment when it was canceled after one season and it has quite the cult following. Because of the fans love of the show, Joss Whedon produced the movie "Serenity" in 2005 to wrap up the story. We really enjoyed the TV series a lot and were so excited to watch the movie. And it did not disappoint. Along with this great movie watching, I was hungry for a tasty treat to eat too. I made a little chocolate and cherry sundae with all natural chocolate ice cream, fresh sliced cherries and whipped cream. Great movie and great treat! I highly recommend you try both, but make sure you watch "Firefly" first. I don't think you'll be disappointed.

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Here's how I exercised today:

I decided to do a kettlebell workout with my husband. He's been doing kettlebells for a while and he asked me if I wanted to join him today. We turned on some good music (I think it was a R.E.M. album on YouTube.) and worked out with kettlebells for about 40 minutes. It was a good workout and a lot of fun to workout with him. I wasn't going too hard since I'm a kettlebell newbie with preexisting joint issues and he was concerned about me hurting myself the first time. So sweet. :) So after we completed the workout I asked him if he was game to go a little longer. He was, so I introduced him to the Tone It Up routines. We did the Bikini Body Routine 2! BIKINI SERIES ☀. This 14:07 minutes routine is a whole body workout. He really enjoyed it and by the end we both had worked up quite a sweat. It may only be 14 minutes but those girls give you a really great workout in a short time! You can find the routine here: http://youtu.be/4RQ4EL8e8bI.

Summer Reset- Day 3

Today I babysat 3 of my friend's children for a few hours so she could get some uninterrupted painting done at their new house. They were coming over soon after breakfast so I knew I need to make time for exercise before they came, in case I was too tired that afternoon after watching 5 kids! I squeezed some Tone It Up in right before they came. Then with the exercise accomplished, we had a really fun day. It ended up being far easier watching 5 kids than I expected (it helps when they aren't toddlers and babies anymore ;) ). We ended the afternoon playing in the sprinkler before they went home. Five kids shrieking as they ran through the water. Summertime memories in the making. :) Here is what I ate today:

For breakfast, I knew I needed some protein after exercising and I needed a quick breakfast before the kids came over. I decided to reheat a Gluten Free Flaxseed Waffle that I had made the day before. (Here is the link for the recipe: Gluten Free and Dairy Free Flaxseed Waffles.) And instead of topping it only with maple syrup, I spread it with natural peanut butter then drizzled a little maple syrup over top. I don't know why I never thought about trying that before. It was delicious!

After making lunch for all the kids, I reheated some vegetables from the previous evening's dinner. I had green and yellow beans with carrots with a side of baked yam, smashed and topped with a little butter, brown sugar and cinnamon. Then to round out my meal with some good fats and protein (and the all important food group- chocolate!), I had a Dark Chocolate Cinnamon Pecan KIND bar. My husband and I both really like KIND bars. They are a satisfying and healthy snack or addition to an on-the-go meal.

After my friend's kids went home, I took some time to sit down and relax with popcorn that I popped on my stovetop and with a cold glass of iced tea mixed with lemonade. Then I sat outside and read. I read far longer than I meant to. It's just so hard to put down a good book! Currently I am reading Robert Galbraith (J.K. Rowling)'s latest book, "The Silkworm". I am really enjoying the book so far. Rowling/Galbraith is such a talented writer. She is someone I respect so much and admire. I wish I could be a fraction of the writer that she is. Her books are so engaging and they draw you into the world she created in the books. Her latest book is no different. It is captivating and intriguing. I'm enjoying trying to figure out the mystery before Cormoran Strike does. Have you read the books in her Cormoran Strike series?

By 4:30 my kids were exhausted from the busy day and asking about dinner so I sadly had to set my book aside and start making dinner. Tonight I made tacos with natural oven baked fries and broccoli. It was worth setting my book down for. ;) For the tacos, I mix up my own seasoning of spices. You can find that recipe here: Taco Seasoning.

Before bed I was hungry and craving something sweet. I decided on a bowl of cherries. They were so sweet and juicy. The perfect bedtime snack- sweet, tasty and not heavy in my stomach. Plus, did you know that cherries have melatonin in them? Melatonin occurs naturally in our bodies and aids in regulating our sleep. This naturally occurring melatonin in cherries makes them an even more perfect snack before bedtime.

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How I exercised today:

I decided to pick 2 Tone It Up videos that would target different areas of my body. The first one was the BIKINI SERIES ☀ Inner & Outer Thighs Routine! This 13:22 minute routine works the thighs in so many ways. It is a great workout. Here is the link: http://youtu.be/TaW3Pl2LCc4

Then I did the 12:47 minute Bikini Abs Routine! BIKINI SERIES ☀. My abs really felt worked by this video. You can find that video here: http://youtu.be/h9wbX1vKKck

Both of these videos were really good at targeting the specific area they are intended for. I plan to repeat these routine many times in the future.