Wednesday, October 19, 2016

My Math Diet

That title has two words that most people don't like but I've had several friends ask me how I lost weight this year and have kept it off so I'm going to break it down. I lost about 25 lbs in 6 months and have kept it off for the past 3-4 months since I've been home.

I've had people assume that it was super easy to lose weight since I was deployed for 6 months away from the normal fast food temptations in America but there were people over there who gained weight. I believe it really wasn't that different than doing the same thing here. It always comes down to choices.

Our unit was encouraging people to use this time to set and achieve fitness goals while we were over there. When I first arrived, I weighed myself and was excited to get started. I started making what I thought were healthier choices in the dining facility and working out in the gym. I used the treadmill and the elliptical and did some free weights. A couple of weeks into it, I weighed myself again and hadn't made any progress. I was frustrated and more determined to figure this out. I remembered that there are a host of studies showing that people who keep a food journal lose more weight so I started recording everything in MyFitnessPal. I figured out that some of those healthier choices I thought was making were quite the opposite. I started reading the message boards on MyFitnessPal and learning some little tips and tricks as well as how to use the website/app to its full potential.

One of the girls in my section was teaching a spin class and invited me. I was reluctant because I used to belong to a gym and walk by the spin classes and never wanted to try it. It was dark, there was loud dance music going, people were screaming and it overall it just seemed like a sweaty, creepy rave.  I went anyway and was surprised to discover I didn't hate it. I liked the music she chose and the bike was showing an incredible number of calories burned. The thing I like about MyFitnessPal is that you get to set how much weight you lose, put in what you eat, and then you get to "eat back" your calories burned though exercise. So if I can eat 1300 calories/day to lose a pound/week, then I burn 500 calories in spin class, I can eat 1800 calories that day. It inspired me to keep working out more. I usually attended 2-3 classes a week. We joined a gym since I returned home and I still do spin 2 times a week.

I also started running and walking more. I worked up to a 5k from January to March, made it to running a 10k by May and was able to run/walk a half marathon by June. I usually ran 2 days a week and walked a couple of nights as well listening to podcasts.  I was not and am still not fast. I did the 10k in 1hr 10min or so. It burned a ton of calories though and it was great being part of a team that cheered me on to run the 10k and half.  I'm planning on run/walking another half marathon with my husband in a few months.

So what did I eat? I basically ate whatever I wanted that fit in my MyFitnessPal allotted calories. I learned to make some substitutions so that I could eat more. I learned that I like a Coke Zero with a twist of lime as much as a Dr Pepper. I learned that I can't eat as much mayo as I wish. I will sacrifice mayo for mustard if it means I can have ice cream. Condiments can really cut into your daily calories. Portion sizes are also important to watch. I focused on foods that filled me up and I still enjoyed eating. I really watched beverages because that is an easy place (juice, frappaccinos, etc) to use up all your calories and still be hungry.

An average day for me looked like this:

Breakfast: big cup of cereal (Honey Nut Cheerios were a great go-to with less calories) and coffee
Snack: banana
Lunch: grilled chicken salad with full fat ranch (lite ranch tastes like sadness)
Dinner: turkey burger with cheese and a side of veggies and Coke Zero
Dessert: Breyer's ice cream

Now, I eat pretty much what I want but I keep working out. My mantra is that you have to "change your plate to lose weight, but you have to train to maintain". I just got out of spin class and tomorrow I will run. Last night my husband and I walked 2 miles. It gives us a good time to talk. I weigh myself daily and make choices based on that. I look up nutritional information when I can on my favorite restaurants and look for better choices that I will still enjoy.  You can cut your calories in half with some simple choices eating out. Good example from McAlister's: I can have the Southwest Turkey Melt and Southwest vegetable soup for 500 calories or the Reuben and broccoli cheese soup for 760 calories. Throw a full calorie drink in and it is easy to get to 1000 calories for one meal. Most of the sauces at Chick-fil-A are really high calorie. I used to use 2 packet of Chick-fil-A sauce which is 280 calories! Craziness! Knowledge is power.

So I call this the Math Diet is because that's really all it is. Calories in minus calories out. People kept seeing the weight come off and asking how I was doing it and I just would say, "Math!"

Friday, October 14, 2016

All is Bright

Okay, I will confess that I haven't been into the whole adult coloring book phase but I had to check this book out. This is a Christmas coloring book but also so much more. It is truly a devotional journey through the holiday season and a beautiful way to share the story of Christ's birth with your kids.

Nancy Guthrie wrote an entire month of devotionals full of scripture that you can read alone or share each day with your family. I think I want to read one each night at dinner. I can let my older girls decorate the more intricate pages with the devotional and then let the little ones do the pages in the back. There are so cute crafts for any age.

This is a large book and would be so fun for grandparents to share with their grandkids or to put out at a family party for all the kids to join in. The coloring pages are beautifully illustrated. Grab this book and slow down to worship the savior this season.

I received a complimentary copy of the book for review purposes from Tyndale House.

Moments and Days

There are a few books out there that every Christian family needs to keep in their home library. A few of mine would be "The Five Love Languages", "The Total Money Makeover", "The Case for Christ" and a handful of others come to mind. Every once in a while a book comes around and fills a new spot on this shelf.

This new addition is "Moments and Days" by Michelle Van Loon and it is a beautiful journey through the history and celebration of holidays and holy days. As a Messianic believer in Christ, Michelle takes us through the Jewish observations of the Old Testament and how we can incorporate a celebration of God's goodness and faithfulness into our yearly calendar. She also goes through the importance of each holiday in the Christian faith and how those can have a deeper meaning.

I found her description of how Jewish people have in history and currently honor the Sabbath to be so incredibly convicting and challenging. This book is full of scripture and you can tell Michelle did a great amount of research. This would also be a great reference for homeschooling families to use before each Jewish or Christian holiday.

This book made me want each holiday to have a deeper meaning in our home and I will be sharing it with my husband and kids so that we remember God's unfolding story throughout history.

I received a complimentary copy of the book for review purposes from Tyndale House

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Why I color in my Bible and how to get started

I first saw Bible Journaling almost 2 years ago on Instagram. Several mom that I follow because of our adoption connection were either posting pictures of their Bibles or selling covers, bags, etc. I had been contemplating going back to using an actual paper Bible and not just an app as my main source of study for a while but this pushed me over the edge. I was excited of the idea of doodling my thoughts and keeping notes in the margins. At that time, it was actually difficult to get your hands on one. I actually purchased the cover and it sat empty for months as the only Journaling Bible I could find on Amazon was on backorder. They finally cancelled my order completely and I searched high and low until I finally was able find one online to order. Now, it seems like the the Journaling Bible drought is over and they should be pretty easy to find at your local Christian bookstore or online.

So why do I color in my Bible? I'm not particularly artistic and I don't have a flair for hand-lettering. It does let me try to express myself in that way but mostly, I take the time to doodle in the margins because it gives me a chance to meditate on what I've just read. I base my Bible study time off the First 5 app and I try to find something that pops out at me. Maybe it is something I've never noticed before or something that God has been saying to me in prayer. Whatever it is, I usually write it out and try to make it as beautiful as this non-artist can. 

This page is a great example:

There are people with far more artistic ability who can turn each page of their Bible into a work of art but I just enjoy the meditation and freedom of it. It does also give me a lot of room to keep sermon notes as well. 

If you want to get started with Bible journaling, here are a few recommendations:
-Gelatos are a great way to add color. Faber Castell makes some great collections of shades and they are easily available on Amazon.
-Micron pens are specifically designed not to bleed through thin Bible pages. 
-Accu-Gel Highlighters do a beautiful job highlighting without being too wet and again are designed for Bible use

I keep all these goodies in a tote bag and throw in some must haves for church like tissues, mints and lotion. It's a great way to keep everything accessible and easy to grab when I'm heading out to a Bible study, weekend service, or just out to my back patio in the mornings with my cup of coffee. 

Happy journaling!

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Cherry Pecan Cookies

I've been meaning to blog about this recipe for a long time and I'm finally getting around to it. This is the perfect cookie recipe if you need to make a very large batch or are just looking for something very different than a standard chocolate chip. They also are great for a Christmas cookie exchange because the red color makes them so festive. They are very soft if you take them out quickly enough before they get too crisp and they cherry flavor is a hit with kids. I love them any time of year and I just made a batch the other day with my littles. This is a family recipe and what I love is how simple it is. It actually is a modification of a very famous old cookie recipe. It originally started as the "Prize Cookies" recipe from None Such Mincemeat but we aren't much of a mincemeat family so we throw in what we like. 

1 cup shortening (I used the butter flavored sticks)
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 eggs
3 cups flour
1 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
8 oz maraschino cherries chopped
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 375. Beat shortening and sugar until fluffy then add eggs. Mix flour, salt and baking soda separately then slowly add to shortening mixture. Fold in cherries and pecans.  Drop rounded teaspoonsful onto greased cookie sheets about 2 inches apart and bake for about 10 minutes until they just start to turn golden on top.

Should make about 6 dozen. 

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Next Door as it is in Heaven

I was very excited to receive this book to review because this is a subject that has been on my heart for a while. This book is packed with scripture and convicted my heart about how to share God's love in my neighborhood. The best part is that it isn't just a theological narrative to be pondered, it is full of real ways to make a difference. The authors, Lance Ford and Brad Brisco, take the reader through the ways that American neighborhoods have changed and how we have morphed from living and working in social villages to cocooning in isolated suburban homes.

They quickly move from the historical to the practical as they show countless examples of how to be a light in your neighborhood. The one that all of us can do right now is to pray for your neighbors. My husband and I have already started this part and now we are looking for new ways to interact.

I opened an email from where a neighbor just posted looking for a prayer group and feeling like God was opening a door, I offered to host the first one. I'm looking to hosting an ice cream social before school starts. There is also a monthly coffee group that meets in our neighborhood and I'm planning on attending my first one this weekend.

I highly recommend this book if you are looking for ways to be a light right where you are. One of my favorite parts is where they discuss hospitality and how our homes really belong to God and should be used for His glory. It was a convicting and powerful read.

The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these. Mark 12:31

I received a complimentary copy from Tyndale House.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Drugstore Makeup All-Stars

I'm a drugstore makeup lover. Having four kids and a modest makeup budget means I have to find the best for less. I think drugstore level cosmetics have come a long way in the last 20 years. I remember when they were much lower pigmented than the luxury brands. Now, you really get far more for your money. I browse a lot at superstores but I buy most of my makeup from Amazon. Prime allows me to get it quickly and the prices are just as good as brick and mortar stores if not better. I also really like reading reviews and knowing that these products are rated highly. I supplement this with goodies from my Ipsy box subscription. Here are some of my current drugstore favorites:

My current foundation is Maybelline Dream Liquid Mousse. It doesn't have sun protection but I use a moisturizer that has SPF30 so I don't feel I need it. It goes on super smooth. I use a beauty blender type sponge from H&M and it blends great.

This blush is so cheap, lasts forever and is amazing! It has a luminous finish and leaves a soft glow.
I have this Burt's Bees lip gloss in Fall Foliage because I love soft neutral lip colors. This moisturizes and lasts long. Great over a lipstick or by itself.
This is a great eyeshadow palette I bought from Amazon. It is a copycat of that popular but pricey palette from Urban Decay. Great assortment of colors.
I saw this mascara in a review in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and couldn't resist based on their reviews. They were right! This mascara really lengthens and thickens! I love the curved brush and that I only need one quick coat.
I'm usually not a liquid eyeliner fan but this one won me over. The title says it all. It is so precise! It's like the finest point marker you can imagine and then it blends very well.
This concealer gets great reviews and it is easy to see why. It works great to illuminate under the eyes and works well to cover the redness I have around my nose. I don't know why but I love getting a new one and cranking it until I can see the liquid rise to the surface of the applicator. It's the simple things people!
This powder has a beautiful finish. It is great if you just want a sheer foundation alone or also nice over a liquid foundation. I let my tween wear it and it has a great finish.
What drugstore finds are you loving right now?