Thursday, June 19, 2014

A Little Announcement….

Since I don't put my kiddos faces online, this outtake from their big brother photo shoot "Big Brother Academy" was the perfect way to share that I'm pregnant!  Eager to start a pregnancy at a healthy weight and with a healthy lifestyle and see all the difference it can make now and in the post partum!  But mostly eager to meet my sweet babe!  I'm 8 weeks today and due January 29th.  My boys have plenty of name ideas (pictured above), but J loves Rosie and E loves Howie.  They're both pretty excited for their big bro and double big bro promotions.  :)

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Our Day at Chuck E Cheese (a review)

This past week a new Chuck E Cheese opened in Oklahoma City.  One of my very good friends has been so excited about this new opening and we had talked about how much fun it would be to take our boys on a special outing when opening day did finally roll around.  To my great delight, Chuck E Cheese contacted me about visiting the new location and writing about our experience.  Well, of course!  I texted my friend and we agreed to take our boys ASAP!

I've seen plenty of commercials for Chuck E Cheese on Disney Junior and PBS and had always noticed the term "safe place to play" was a part of their slogan.  I never knew why they claimed to be so safe until we got there.  Upon entering you and your children are stamped on the wrist with a clear number (visible under a black light).  My friend and the staff member at the door explained that the child and their guardian are stamped with the same, unique number and a child cannot leave unless their number matches the one on the adult who is leaving with them.  There's also only one door you can come in or leave through so this system made me feel very secure and safe as my children ran around.

I immediately noticed this Chuck E Cheese was very open visually.  Our other Oklahoma City Chuck E Cheese is where I spent time in the past (but hadn't been there in maybe 8 years) and I remember there being tall walls separating various areas (where you eat, where you play, etc).  In this new Chuck E Cheese there were no tall walls separating anything.  You could see from the front of the facility all the way to the back where the stage was.  The only visual obstructions were the occasional tall game machine.  This good line of sight also helped me feel more safe and secure as I spent time in the building because even if one of my kids ran off, it was easy to spot them after minimal searching.

My friend and I used a coupon from the Sunday paper (it seems I get new ones in my paper at least once a month) to split a large pepperoni pizza, 3 soft drinks, and 40 game tokens.  If you don't have a coupon, I noticed CEC has many value menu options that are similarly priced but come with a few less tokens.  The only thing I had noticed so far that wasn't in this Chuck E Cheese I had expected to see was a playground.  The only semblance of a playground was a small area in the toddler game section with a slide.  Although playgrounds can carry germs and you can't always find your kid in them, I was disappointed this location did not have a playground because it's a good way to stretch your time at this type of place with your kids without spending more money.  My plan had been play games, eat pizza, play in the playground.  As a result of the lack of playground our day became play games, eat pizza, buy more tokens and play more games.  This is fine and fun, but knowing I'll be spending more money when I come to Chuck E Cheese to stretch our time out means I won't be able to come here as often as I would if they had a playground to alleviate some of the cost of tokens.

Our overall experience was good.  We had a few of the standard problems one might experience at any Chuck E Cheese or similar place… one machine didn't give us tickets, but Chuck E Cheese was on it and made sure when we reported the machine we got what was owed to us.  We also noticed despite being the second group in we still hadn't received our pizza after many other families had.  Turns out they had lost our pizza ticket and therefore our order.  We were there on opening day so of course they were working out the kinks in their system.  We actually ended up going back on Friday of the same week and had no trouble at all getting our pizza so I'm sure this was a one time thing and everyone was very gracious and apologetic.

The Chuck E Cheese was very clean and although I didn't buy the salad bar it looked delicious and had a lot of really great options for protein sources and had green crispy romaine lettuce leaves and spinach as well.  As a person who eats a lot of salad, I appreciated how yummy and fresh that salad looked.

Our boys had a lot of fun both days we went to Chuck E Cheese.  My friend's oldest son is 5 and he was great at winning tickets and playing most of the games.  The oldest son is almost 4 and by our second trip he seemed to be having a handle on more of the games and getting more tickets.  The boys who were 2-- especially my boy who was the youngest in the crew -- had a ton of fun playing games and didn't really know they weren't excelling as well as their brothers.  My son didn't mind just getting one ticket as long as he got his one ticket.  And I appreciate that everyone who plays gets a ticket even if they didn't do anything in the game right.  Some of the group's favorite games were a Batman racing game, a soccer game, a monster game (which you can win a lot of tickets playing) and the carousel in the toddler area.

My friend's kids won about 200 tickets each time we came and my kids won about 70 each time.  All the kids were content and happy with the prices they were able to pick with this amount of winnings and my kids despite having so few tickets still walked away with two things each each time we went.

All in all our Chuck E Cheese experience was great!  My kids are big fans now and ask when they can go back with their friends.  I'm thankful for Chuck E Cheese's attentiveness to safety and open visual sight lines.  I'm thankful for how interactive the mouse himself is (dancing with the kids and handing out free tickets).  I was thankful for the staff and how kind they were and not just flippant and disconnecting from the kids and the parents.  Any concerns we had they listened to and helped us resolve (not receiving tickets and the pizza issue).  I look forward to going back to Chuck E Cheese and know it's something I'll try to do at least once a month with my kids.  If you're in Oklahoma City, you should definitely check out the new Quail Springs location!

*This post is a sponsored post and I was reimbursed for writing it.  All opinions and experiences are my own.

Monday, May 5, 2014

You Don't Have to Live Like This

When Josh and I were engaged we drove to Dallas to hear Rob Bell speak on his "The God's Aren't Angry" tour.  It was so, so, so good and moving.  A BASIC synopsis of the message is that in all of history there have been gods among all the people and all these gods require sacrifice but when Jesus came, He flipped the switch and was the first god who didn't want to take; He was a God who wanted to give.  To the extent, obviously, He gave Himself and became the sacrifice so that we could receive salvation.

At the end of the message, Rob says he was talking with a friend about all that was happening in the friend's life.  His to do list.  Expectations put on him.  His own personal standard.  The general crushing weight of being human and living life and feeling like we could always be doing better.  And Rob just reminds his friend over and over, "You don't have to live like this.  You don't have to live like this.  You don't have to live like this…"

And we don't have to live like this, you know?  Because we're free.  We're set free.  We were in bondage to sin and now we are made free in Him.

I posted this picture to my Instagram this morning and as soon as I saw it that phrase just came into my head and has been living there all day, "You don't have to live like this.  You don't have to live like this.  You don't have to live like this…"  The thing about my journey is that I was in bondage and a slave to food.  You know that if you've read awhile or maybe now you're hearing it for the first time, but it's the truth.  Although life was very good for the many years I spent as a morbidly obese woman (loving husband, healthy and beautiful kids…), I was not my best and I was addicted to food and using it cope with feelings I couldn't face in a healthy normal way.  Food was my drug.  Food was my salvation.  Food was my destruction.

And now it's been 11 months of being the same weight.  11 months of maintenance and only going up a few pounds and then seeing myself go back down those same few pounds.  Never climbing back up and up and up into the 200s and that's good.  But BETTER is that it's been over a year since I sat in my bedroom sobbing and crying and broken because I was trying to cope with an emotion without food and couldn't.  Those early scenes of learning to be mentally healthy in my relationship with food remind me of a film strip where an addict is trying to get clean.  Cranky. Irritable.  Irrational.  Exhausted.  Sweating.  Hopeless.  Sobbing.

…You don't have to live like this.  You don't have to live like this.  You don't have to live like this…

Everyone's struggle is different.  Everyone has a different vice.  For me, it was food.  For you it could be food.  Or something else.  Anything.  But the truth is there is freedom in breaking the chains of addiction.  We weren't made to be these half shells of ourselves roaming the world broken and wishing we could be better, unable to be better.  We were made for thriving and freedom and glory.  Am I perfect now?  No.  Do I still fail?  Occasionally.  But I know now that I am worth more than my feelings.  I am worth more than who I become when I lose control.  I wanted to get better because I didn't want to live like that.  I wanted to get better because I craved freedom (more than I craved food). I wanted to get better because I didn't want to raise my kids in a home where a parent faced addiction and an inability to properly cope.  I wanted to get better because I wanted a marriage where I KNEW I was attractive to my husband and didn't doubt it.  I wanted to get better because I wanted to feel confident being around other women.  I wanted to get better because I wanted to wear clothes that were cute.  I wanted to get better because my body is a temple.  I wanted to get better because the Voice inside me whispered softly day after day, year after year, "You don't have to live like this. I've set you free."

You can be better.   You don't have to live like this.  You are set free.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Whole 30 & my Diet Plan for May

After spending all of April carb loading (IE, enjoying carbs as often as possible), I can't tell you how ready and excited my body is to start Whole 30 tomorrow (read more about Whole 30 HERE). I love my good friend carby carbs and I will miss having that in my life, but I know firsthand how good it feels to have your "gut" melt away when you stop eating carbs or limit carbs to a minimal part of your day and not the bulk of your day.

What I'll really miss and what will be hardest for me to part with in this 30 days is my best buddy Diet Coke.  Even when I did HCG last spring, I let myself have Diet Coke.  It was my one treat and thing to look forward to and I've loved having it in my life this last year as an alternative to ice cream or candy or a drive thru burrito (not kidding) to pick up when I'm out and about. But Whole 30 asks you stay pure and whole and nutritious and don't consume anything that's not real food.  And, alas, my Diet Coke is nothing real at all.

There's always emotional struggle these first few days of detox and I'm prepared for that this time around.  Food is comforting.  Sugar and carbs do things for my brain that I cannot do for my brain in the way of pep talks.  But I know now exercise can also do good things for my brain!  So despite looking forward to this, yes, I know it will be hard -- especially on Mother's Day and Memorial Day -- but it will be worth it.

  • So what exactly is my May plan?  To do Whole 30.  To detox.  The prepare myself for a summer of eating the occasional sugar and a small daily amount of carbs, but mostly staying highly nutritious.  
  • To track calories.  I weigh 178lbs and am 5'6" and athletic.  I eat 1800 calories a day when I'm tracking and trying to lose weight.  I used to eat less, but eating more seems to help me lose better especially when those 1800 calories are really, really good foods.
  • To focus on short, quality exercise.  After spending April devoted to 4-5 hours of running a week, I'm happy to change up my game.  I still want to run but I also want to get back into T25 and HIIT.  My thought process now is to do 5 cardio days a week where I work at least 20 minutes and no more than 45 minutes.  This still allows me to go for a faster paced 5 mile run if I want to, but takes the pressure off of doing so much work every day.  I could do a 20 minute jog or a T25… whatever.  And if all 5 days are just 20 minutes one week?  That's fine.  The goal is to not burn out.  Exercise is always important and being athletic this month is important to me, but the primary focus is nutrition.  I also want to lift at least 4 days a week.  Ideally the lifts should be 2 days of each focus area… shoulders/back, arms/chest, legs/glutes.  That would be 6 technical days of lifting but sometimes things can be combined into a longer lifting session (full upper body) and leg day being once a week is ok with my since I'm so active with my cardio.
So that's my plan for May! Nutrition primary, athleticism in an easy to maintain way.  My husband has asked how much I hope to lose and I don't really have an answer.  When you do literally everything you can it's kind of just up to your body doing what it's going to do.  I'd love to lose 10lbs, but realistically I'll probably lose 5-7lbs.  I do expect to lose 2 or so inches around my waist though and I think results will be noticeable even if the scale doesn't move much.

And it's not to late to join my DietBet game if you want to!  It's a small game, but I think it'll be fun and good accountability to have a small group of dieters.  I'd love to see everyone win, recoup their money, and be down 4% of their body weight.  That's truly an all around win right there!

So what about you?  What's your May plan?

Monday, April 28, 2014

My Diet Bet

Well hey! I ran a half marathon yesterday! I'm excited to post about it, but I have a more time sensitive post to write up for you today!

I've been approached by about creating a Diet Bet game and I've accepted!  If you follow me on Instagram you know in April my SOLE focus was athleticism and marathon training.  I have NO regrets about that.  But I did spend most of the month maintaining my weight by going up and down 3lbs.  And I still need to shake the 5lbs I gained over Christmas and the 5lbs I gained at Disney World and the last 5-10lbs I have to lose after that too!  SO for May, I need to reset mentally and get back into a weightloss mindset.

I decided in April I'd do Whole 30 (read more at for the month of May as a sugar carb detox/flush and a way to get me mentally back into making the best choices and get to shedding inches (because if I've learned anything this last year it's that carbs and sugar = lots of inches).  Whole 30 is MY diet plan and has nothing to do with what Diet Bet requires or what you should consider if you're doing Diet Bet.  I never recommend specific diets (except Weight Watchers) to people because everyone is different.  When I first cut carbs, sugar, and dairy out of my diet I did so under weekly Doctor and Nutritionist supervision.  If this is something you're considering, make sure you research it and get your Doctor's thoughts on the matter too!

So the Diet Bet!  Basically you go to THIS LINK to see my game.  I've set the buy in VERY low because I know I would NEVER do anything like this if the buy in was high.  And the buy ins are usually high.  So after consulting Diet Bet and my followers on Instagram, I set the buy in at $10.

Basically, you pay $10 and submit your start weight and photos by April 30th.  Then for 28 days (4 weeks) you submit your weighs in and at the end the people in the bet who have lost 4% of their start weight will split the pot! It could be 1 person, it could be 5 people so I can't say how much percent you'll get of the pot, but Diet Better does a good job of keeping everyone in the game really aware of their and everyone else's standings.

I think this can be so fun and such a great accountability!  I know last year when I chose to go to a Nutritionist for weightloss, knowing how much of a financial stank I had put into my weightloss efforts really motivated me!  If you're considering it, please check out my game HERE and be SURE to read the rules HERE so you really understand the game (I would try to explain more, but the company and their rules are so much better at explaining, of course!)  As the host of the game I'll be there supporting you and encouraging you and of course posting yummy food pics and my workouts on Instagram! :)

And if you're like me, you're probably wondering… what if people lie?  Well read the rules.  I did and I realized, "Oh, ok! That's basically impossible."  Throughout this process there will be referees with the Diet Better website and we'll be uploading photos of ourselves and our scales and a daily "word of the day" along with our scales to prove our weight really happened on the day it should have.  I really, really appreciate that accountability system!

So here's to our Diet Bet!  I hope a lot of you play! It'll be super fun and encouraging I think!  :)

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Grace, grace, grace and dealing with hard seasons.

Life has been challenging lately.  There's a lot of poor health around me.  My own family had a stomach virus literally all week last week and I still haven't caught the house back up from the chaos we were put in during that time.  Additionally we have gotten bad news in the last week about 2 of our close relatives in relation to cancer.  Stinkin' cancer.

Times like this it can be hard to press on.  In every way.  It's hard to be motivated to clean the house when you feel emotionally overwhelmed.  It's hard to be a fun Mom and want to play with your kids. It's hard to want to cook every meal and not just order pizza.  It's hard to want to run when you just want to sleep.  It's hard not to eat your feelings when they sound so delicious.  It's a hard season.  But after talking to friends today and reading postings from other women in an online Mom's group I'm a part of I realized something.  Most everyone is always facing something hard.  It may not be cancer.  It may be home problems or problems with a kid at school or adjusting to a new baby or raising money for an adoption or to go be a missionary or the normal day in and day out of Motherhood or just LIFE.  But we all have something going on.  We all have something that's heavy we're carrying.

I'm looking for grace this week.  For myself.  For my family.  For others.  I'm counting gifts and blessings and doing my best to embrace all of my life instead of sit and wallow in sorrow.  I may not want to run, but I can run.  My body can be pushed hard physically and I reap the benefits.  It may not sound appealing, but running is something I can do others can't and I shouldn't take that for granted.  And the house may be in chaos, but my kids are playing.  They're imagining.  They're thriving.  The home is standing and being used as it's function: to house us as we live not to be lovely and clean and beautiful.  

Life is hard for everyone at some point or another.  And all the hard seems hard.  I thought being pregnant was hard but it was nothing compared to dealing with my entire family unit puking non-stop which is nothing compared to facing the fact people I love have cancer and are suffering.  In this season of VERY hard I'm reminding myself: grace.  Grace, grace, grace, grace, grace.  Have it. Give it.  Live on.  Love your kids.  Let them play.  Serve others.  Talk to friends.  Talk to GOD.  Clean what you can.  Keep running because you will not regret this race.  Keep cooking healthy meals.  Keep not eating your feelings even though that sounds appealing.  Keep living.  Because you can.  So do it well.  Grace.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Feelings on Running Almost a Year Later

Inhale. Exhale. Focus on the beat. Adjust pace to the beat. Inhale. Exhale.

It's been almost a year since I ran my first mile.  It took 16 minutes but that didn't matter. I was so proud.  So accomplished.  So elated.  In fact, I'd take the measure of that moment and put it in the top 10 most proud moments of my life.

And now, almost a year later, I'm chained to a running schedule.  I remember when I did my first 5k on the treadmill.  It took me something like 41 minutes or so, but again I just was so proud and couldn't believe I finished.  I did what any rational person shouldn't do upon finishing such a feat while being riddled with endorphins and took to social media declaring I decided to run the OKC Memorial Half Marathon.  I'm glad I did this because HELLO accountability.  And hello goal.  I knew I'd need a goal that would require pushing myself especially once the weightloss process was concluded (or stale) and I needed to keep pushing for fitness and health and weight maintenance.

So bit by bit I've trained.  In the summer I pushed myself with my distance.  I got comfortable running 3 miles and then when fall rolled around I started adding in some long run days and doing some distance. 4 miles. 5 miles. 6 miles.  I felt incredible.  Before Thanksgiving I set a record and ran 8 miles and then before Christmas I ran 10.  It felt awesome.  Then I spent the winter months attempting one long run every week but taking the rest of the week to cross train.  It was too cold or not light enough in my available hours to hit the pavement and run.  I fell in love with weight lifting and HIIT work outs and even doing intervals on the treadmill.  But I really, really started hating my running.  I hated that my only run day was long run day and I felt full of anxiety in the 12 hours before the run knowing I was setting out to do daunting work - 8 miles, 9 miles, 10 miles… inhale. exhale. inhale. exhale. It's all mental. Don't stop.  But this is SO MUCH.

I started talking to runners about how I felt.  Runners like my father-in-law who'd done one half marathon himself (and not necessarily runners like my sister-in-law who does Iron Man and Ultra training).  Everyone I talked to said because I was at 10 I'd do fine!  Not to stress and not to let myself burn out.  Because I was burning out.  I was hating run.  So I took a few weeks off and just focused on diet.

Then I realized I was 6 weeks to the race.  Six weeks to this goal I had set for myself in regards to what I wanted to accomplish.  And I wanted to do it well and I wanted to do it right and more than speed or anything else I wanted to feel comfortable.  So, two weeks ago I woke up and Googled training schedules and settled into a plan.  I ran 7 miles that day and spent my first week ever focused only on running and not just running for the sake of release or exercise but running x amount of miles on certain days with certain intention and no wavering.  By my last run of the week (4 miles) before my big run I just really felt like I was hating running again.  I felt chained to the schedule and set out that evening for my run just wondering how it would feel to be done with this and not have all these miles to reach before race day.

This last weekend I ran 9 miles with  my sister-in-law.  It was our first time to run together and when my distance pace is more like 11 minute miles and she can run 16 miles at an 8 and a half mile pace you feel a little nervous going into it.  But the run turned out really great.  I didn't have to stop in all 9 miles to walk and my pace was 10:35 which was made sweeter by the fact my pace in mile 8 was 10:02 and in mile 9 was 9:49.  It was a good run.  And sometimes it takes a good run to make you remember why you love running.  Why you do this.

So while I do still feel overwhelmed with all the miles left to run... and how in the world can I get 5 miles in today and take an hour for myself for running 2 different days this week PLUS another hour and a half on Saturday, I know I can do it.  It helps to have a supportive husband and kids who think I'm so cool for running.  It helps knowing I am fulfilling a goal.  A BIG goal.  To know I'm pushing myself to do something most people don't.

But honestly, I won't race again (with the exception of one day hopefully running in a run disney half or full marathon).  I am looking forward to this race and finishing but the distance has been hard on my body and the schedule has taken a lot of pleasure out of the running and I don't want to burn out.  After this race I look forward to knowing I can go run 4 days a week for 2-4 miles no problem and still run 5-6 on days I have more time (like Saturday) and not have pain the next day.  It feels good to know I have this and after the race I can run what I want.  And I will keep running.  But the days of starting a Saturday attempting to run 8+ miles will be behind me (you know, unless there's like cake planned for the day or something ;).) for now.

I love stretching myself and fulfilling goals, but I also love knowing myself.  And I know myself now well enough to know that I do love running but I also love weight lifting and cross training and moving forward from this race I look forward to approaching life in a well-rounded way.  And I look forward to dieting a bit again.  With all this training I don't have energy to detox.  My body is adjusted to what kinds of foods I'm eating so if I were to cut carbs or sugar it would take my body at least a month to pull from fat stores instead of energy stores during the detox period and I've seen my pace really suffer from that.  So in May it'll be nice to still work out but also be able to focus on diet again and hopefully shake these last 10-15lbs.

I know it's been awhile since I've updated and that this update is really all about running and my feelings, but now you know!  This is where I am, this is life.