Thursday, February 22, 2018

Toccoa Falls

We took a little trip just north of where we live to explore Toccoa Falls.
It was a rainy day, but we took our chances and prayed for a little break in the clouds to let get out of the car and check out this gorgeous waterfall.

I don't know about y'all, but as much as I love traveling and vacations, sometimes it just fun to see what you can find in your own state. Georgia has so much to offer and so many adventures, and it's nice to take a little break from our norm to see some pretty beautiful sites close to home. And let me just tell y'all - Toccoa Falls didn't disappoint.

There wasn't many people there at all - probably due to the icky weather. We enjoyed walking around, soaking in the sites, and Harper really loved the waterfall. She still mentions it even a few weeks later. It really was beautiful!

Monday, February 19, 2018

When the Transformation Reverses

I once thought that this was it. 
I finally lost weight, I was finally comfortable in my skin, I finally had a solid workout routine, and I finally knew how to fuel my body with proper portions and healthy foods. And this was how it was going to be for forever now. I was a #transformationtuesday #girlboss #fitmama #allthehashtags

And then being a full time working mom happened.
And being a new classroom teacher happened.
And then the holidays happened.
And getting ready for Harper's birthday party happened.
And then I spent every other evening after work at the hospital with my grandmother happened.
And then my grandmother passed away happened.
And then not caring about my health happened.
And then my weight loss transformation reverse happened.

It happens.

And for some, this may always just happen. Me too, girl. Me too.

For awhile, I was one of those people who every Tuesday posted a transformation of myself and my progress. #transformationtuesday #fitmama #eyeroll #yougetthepicture. I had several motives behind these posts, and I still follow a few people who post them too with similar motives. And through these posts that I've looked back on of my own and ones I see now from girls sharing their transformations, I see something that kinda bothers me now. And here's what it is...

I see girls painting a negative picture of their old selves, and to me, it's just kinda sad.

I look at those two pictures above, and I think wow, what a difference.

When I used to look at that first picture, I used to see a girl who was overweight, uncomfortable in her new role as a mother and unsure of how to bounce back to the pre-baby bod. She went into the hospital weighing 186 pounds and leaving not much less - well, at least 6 pounds, 13 ounces less. She lost her grandfather right after her child was born, and her relationship with her husband was strained because hello, first time parent/newborn priorities.

And honestly, that girl in the second picture, well she used that picture for motivation.
One might think it was motivation to get her post-baby body back to "normal" - whatever the heck that is. But really, she was using it as motivation to get girls who look like the first picture, who feel like most would assume that girl is feeling in the first picture to join her awesome new challenge group and feel as amazing and swell (did I just use the word swell?) as the second girl looks and probably feels now. I mean wow, that second girl must be a whole lot happier and healthier than girl number one, and why wouldn't you want to be her???

I'm hoping we're all laughing at how stupid that sounds right about now because weight loss and Transformation Tuesday pictures shouldn't determine your self-worth and value.

I completely understand why #transformationtuesday is actually - a thing.
We paint ugly pictures of our old selves to make our new selves seem that much more grand. In a social media world, likes and comments feed our self-worth on a regular basis. To show the world how far we've come, how crappy we used to feel, and how insecure we used to be compared to the ego boost we feel now. And maybe for some, painting an ugly picture of how crappy we used to be as humans and how wonderful we are now helps sell workouts and shakes. ;) (you can send your hate mail straight to my email address ladies or better yet, use it as motivation in your next social media posts)

I looked back on some of my old transformation posts and noticed a few things. I talked about how insecure and unhappy I was postpartum. I shared how I hated myself in a bathing suit, and even hated myself in pictures. I shared that I had a lot of self-doubt, and how many things I tried and failed at. I lacked accountability I mentioned in several posts, and I didn't have a "place." How freaking NEGATIVE does this sound? It sounds like I was a miserable human being. And maybe to some extent I did feel these things, but what's more sad about this - is the fact that even though I was overweight, I didn't understand how to eat right, and I lacked a solid workout regime, I never ever should look at myself that negatively - EVER.

Even if maybe we do feel pretty crappy, why do we as women view ourselves in such a negative light to begin with? Why does this have to be a thing?

If it's to sell something or make people want to feel as awesome as you, what message are we sending to other women who are actually currently living in your old shoes and can't afford to pay $200 for shakes and workouts? What message are we sending to young girls and even our daughters if we post on social media about how disgusting we used to feel when we looked like this and weighed this?

Are we telling the girl who just had a baby that she should feel like she has no place in the world because now she has to worry more about keeping this tiny human alive while feeling like a milking cow with raging hormones? 

Are we telling the girl who is 50 lbs overweight that really she should feel pretty crappy about herself, and the only thing that will make her feel better is losing those 50 lbs and joining your accountability group? 

Are we telling the single mom who works double shifts to support her two kids that she must feel pretty crappy about swinging through McDonald's after work and grabbing something off the dollar menu to feed herself and her children because she's completely exhausted and too broke to cook a healthy meal at home? 

Are we telling the full time teacher who just watched her grandmother suffer for two weeks, who is trying to survive the holidays and her child's birthday party, take care of her 50 kids at school, her own child, and be a wife that because she gained almost 20 pounds that she is less than you because you can stick with a workout routine and eat healthy more consistently than her?

By you telling how awful you felt about yourself before you did XYZ and your transformation, are your negative words sending the wrong message whether you mean for them to or not? Maybe. I don't think anybody is doing this intentionally, at least I hope not. But maybe, just maybe - you're doing this without intent.

Or maybe you really did feel awful about yourself, and you're so proud of how far you've come and that's why you share. And if the latter is the case, why do we allow ourselves to feel so unworthy of happiness even if we don't have life completely figured out and perfect? Especially something as challenging as maintaining your health and fitness in a world that requires so much out of you but little or no time to do it ALL.

We do this to ourselves because we aren't allowing ourselves any GRACE.

Everything that I listed above about my personal battles are most definitely excuses. I can't deny that. If being a healthy version of myself was a top priority then I would have found the time to squeeze in 20 minutes of exercise or said no to the fast food hamburger because it was quick and easy on my way home from the hospital. But here's the thing, I didn't care. It wasn't important to me. I was not mentally ready to make me and my health a priority. I was in survival mode almost every day for two months. And through this whole roller coaster of weight gain again, I've done one thing different than I EVER have before - I've given myself GRACE.

I could have easily fallen down the same wormhole as I was before my comment worthy transformations I shared on social media. For the last two months I could have said...

I'm not good enough.
I hate my body.
I suck at eating healthy.
I can't even exercise like I should.
I have no accountability.
I have no place anymore.
I don't even know who I am.
I can never lose this weight.
I can't do this.

But this time around, I refused to do that. What good is this negative self talk going to get me? What good is this negative self talk going to get YOU? News flash: Nowhere. I am fully capable of eating healthy and following a workout routine. Although my body has lumps and bumps, and maybe jiggle a little more than I'd like, this body can do some amazing things. I can hold myself accountable. I know who I am, and where I need to be at this point in my life. I just needed some rest. I needed to rest parts of my life to give energy to others.
And guess what, that's okay.

And it's okay for YOU too also.
So, instead of drowning in self pity and negative mantras, give yourself GRACE ladies as you're working through one part of your life for another. We all know that eating healthy and working out has SO many benefits, there's no denying this or pretending like this shouldn't be important. It most definitely should be important. But sometimes, knowing when to shift your focus on other things is acceptable for awhile - just not maybe forever.

So, while girls continue to post their transformations and tell their stories about their journeys and amazing new results, my hope would be to change the approach. Instead of painting such negative pictures of our "old selves" and possibly hurting girls rather than helping them, maybe we can start saying "Girl, give yourself some grace." 

To the mom who can barely think straight with her new baby: Tell her instead of feeling lost in who she is, encourage her to keep pushing forward and know that eventually, they'll find a new version of themselves by giving themselves grace - not just workouts and accountability groups only. 

Instead of sending the message to the girl that's 50 lbs over weight that when you were that size you felt insecure and unhappy, tell her she's beautiful the way she is, but if she wants to make a change she has the willpower to do it. 

Instead of telling the mom who swings by McDonalds and hits up the dollar menu that her choices for her and her family are lazy and the easy way out, let her know that you understand how hard that must be and we've all been there before.

As for the girl in the first picture up there, I would tell her how beautiful she looks as a new mom. That although she didn't feel completely content in her new role and skin, that she's strong and capable of creating a healthier version of herself for not only her own well-being, but for her daughters. Because Lord knows, raising a daughter in this world is tough enough. And that sweet little girl could sure use a mama who looks at her herself, even when feeling down and unsure, that she's perfect the way she is at that moment in her life.

And instead of saying "I'll never ever let myself go back to how crappy and awful I felt as a human being because I weighed 30 pounds more than I do now" to the girl who literally just gained 20 pounds because she let life happen for awhile, why don't we tell her to have grace at this difficult time. And that if you do fall back into old habits, it's okay because you're strong enough to climb back up to the top of your health game. So if the transformation reverses, we're not sitting in a pool of self-pity watching other people's successes, but looking at other people's successes and feeling like WE are capable of the same success no matter the transformation or lack there of by giving ourselves GRACE.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Let It Snow

We were surprised with a few inches of snow back in January, and I'm not sure who was more excited - Harper or me... In case you were wondering, the answer was definitely me considering Harper had absolutely no concept of snow until this day. Which is why this mama couldn't hardly contain her excitement for it - her baby's first snow. Eek! And can't you just picture it - family pictures of us frolicking in the snow, giant smiles on ALL our faces, soaking in fresh snow smell, and nobody having a meltdown. But let's be real here - this maybe was us for like 5 minutes. 

To paint an honest picture, we probably had maybe 2 inches of snow and ice was more of the concern anyway. The temperature was about 20 degrees with a wind chill below 10. And these little southern peaches don't even have appropriate clothing for such a circumstance. So it was going to be a short-lived, super quick, "YAY!" for snow, "OK, let's go in now" type of deal. We bundled up as best as we could, and finally headed out about 10am when it was more bearable. 

Harper was all excited for about 2 minutes and then something made her cry, so yeah. :)
We walked around the front yard for awhile, trying to teach her how to make snowballs, but inevitably, girlfriend wasn't too amused. So, we went for plan B, and took her in the backyard where her toys were and that's when she became excited for it. She slid down her slide covered in snow, which surprised her a little bit, but went in for a second time. And also played in her little house covered in snow too. She walked around the yard also, and loved watching Maci, our little dog, trek through too. 

^ moment of meldown :) ^

We ended up staying out for a little while, but once Harper's gloves were soaked through, she even requested to go in. We enjoyed lunch together, and made cookies and totally soaked in the snowy, white views out the windows.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Chicken Sausage + Veggie Quinoa Bowls

I like good, healthy food like the rest of y'all.
But when it's good, healthy food that's super quick and easy, well it falls into our meal rotations on the regular. These yummy bowls kinda came together for me on a whim one day when I had a bunch of ingredients leftover and no real plan. But I'm super glad they fell into place the way they did because these quinoa bowls don't disappoint. Sometimes it ends up being a family meal or sometimes I meal prep them for almost a week of lunches. Either way, it's an easy go-to meal that I love every single time. 

I first off want to just state, that I am in NO WAY a professional - just a busy workin' mama who likes to eat good food with a few extra pounds to lose, ya feel me? So, let's keep that into consideration when chatting about this recipe, k? :) 

Typically with these bowls, I really love using apple chicken sausage because it adds a sweetness to balance the sour lime juice and spicy veggies and quinoa. When I first made these bowls, I only had baby carrots, zucchini, and frozen corn in my fridge - which is what I thew together then. I loved it so much that that's what I continued going with from then on, but you of course, can exchange whatever you like. I also really liked the colors, and I'm totally guilty of thinking pretty food just tastes better.

The best thing about making any kind of bowl is how you can swap out any ingredient you're not crazy about for something you love in return. Not crazy about quinoa? Brown rice would be great too. Not too sure about carrots or zucchini? Swap it out for veggies you like better - broccoli, grilled onions, chopped asparagus, etc. You can probably find a combination that works for you and your family!


Chicken Sausage
(There are several brands - I normally go with Aidells or Johnsonville - Apple Chicken is my fav!)
Quinoa (2/3 cup)
Baby Carrots (1/2 bag, sliced in half)
Zuchinni (3 zucchini, sliced and cut in half)
Frozen Corn (1/2 cup)
Plain Greek Yogurt
Olive Oil
Garlic Powder
Chili Powder
Red Pepper Flakes

Preheat oven to 425 degrees 
(I prefer my chicken sausage and veggies on the crispier side)
*400 degrees if you don't*

Cut veggies. Toss in a bowl with frozen corn with a little olive oil, enough just to coat. Be careful not to add too much, or they're super greasy, and nobody likes a greasy zucchini... :) Add a pinch of salt, pepper, and a sprinkle of red pepper flakes (more if you like it spicy or omit if you don't like it spicy at all) Lay them in a single layer on a baking sheet - line the baking sheet beforehand with foil if you want a super easy cleanup - don't we all? Roast in the oven for 20-25 minutes. Check them halfway through, flip if necessary. 

Chicken Sausage 
Slice chicken sausage into quarters. Lay them in a single layer on a lightly greased baking sheet 
(line it with foil beforehand if you want easy cleanup again cause um, who doesn't...) Cook for about 16 minutes, flipping halfway in between.

While veggies and sausage are baking, heat about 2 tsp. of olive oil in a small pot over medium heat. Sprinkle in 1/4 tsp of garlic, 1/4 tsp of cumin, 1/4 tsp of chili powder and let it get a little bubbly and fragrant. About 1-2 minutes. Add 2/3 cup quinoa, stir to coat it in oil. Add 1/4 cups of water. Add a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil of high heat. Reduce heat back to medium, and simmer for about 12 minutes until water is evaporated. Remove from heat when finished.

Bowl Time
Grab a bowl and add cooked ingredients. Obviously. :)
I measure my food out to make sure I'm getting proper portions, but if you don't care about that - you fill that bowl until your little heart is content. I'll add my measurements at the bottom for those interested! Add a dollop of plain Greek yogurt (or fat free sour cream), cilantro, avocado, and a big squeeze of lime. And prepare to fall in love with a super quick and easy meal. Seriously.

I follow the 21 Day Fix meal portions - because it just works for me - but here's the breakdown of what I typically serve myself. You absolutely don't have to have the containers, you really just need measuring cups and BAM. Go you and your proper portions. You rock.

1 CUP - roasted veggies
3/4 CUP - chicken sausage (1 link of sausage is enough for me though)
1/2 CUP - quinoa (take roasted corn into consideration - it's a carb, not a veggie)
1/3 CUP - avocado
1 TBSP - plain Greek yogurt (counts as a protein)

21 Day Fix Plan: 1 R 1 Y 1 G 1 B + oil (but I have never really kept track of this, I just don't use a lot)

Let me know what y'all think if you try it!