Monday, June 29, 2015

Weekend Recap

We had such a great weekend!  Hope everyone reading did as well. 

Friday was low-key. We spent about 9 hours at the pool on Thursday, and Ella Kate's fair skin took a beating, despite being slathered in sunscreen and wearing a hat. We staying inside and chilled Friday to recuperate. 

Every summer,  Pop-Tarts come out with MLB strawberry limited edition boxes, and we spent all last  summer trying to find a Red Sox pop tart. Finally found one this year! 

And then a Dodgers one for my Daddy, 

And then a Yankees one for my sister. (Boo!!)

Saturday we started out with our normal routine of a big family breakfast (although this one obviously included Pop Tarts!), and then gym time. Since we are leaving for the beach at the end of the week, my family headed out for some mani/pedis! My sister and niece left today for FBLA nationals in Chicago, so we had to get our spa day in early! Even my nephew joined us. 

That's the lady working on his feet. She had to break out the heavy artillery to tame those football feet!

My sister, my niece, Caroline, and my mom all getting pampered!

Little Ella Kate was loving every minute of it! 

We ate a late lunch with my family and then headed to have a fun night at a friend's house. These were the friends we went to Jamaica with, and it's been a long time since we'd gotten our kids together to play and had some adult time, too. We all laughed 'til we cried, and I'm so glad we had a fun night out. 

Sunday was a very special day for our family. Caroline was saved during church a month or two ago, and had been waiting for warm weather to be baptized in the lake. We found out they were having a baptism in the lake this weekend, so it was perfect timing!  

We went to church, and came back to my parent's house to chill out before the evening baptism service. They have a stray cat they have been feeding whenever it comes around, and yesterday she brought one of her new kittens with her! It was the cutest, sweetest little thing, and if Steve wasn't so dadburn allergic, it would've have been our new pet in a heartbeat! At one point, Mama Cat was nursing her baby, which I had never actually seen in real life. 

Made my uterus ache a little bit. 


Aren't they precious???

You can see the precious baby with my precious babies below. You can also see poor Ella Kate's sunburn on her nose. 


After a great family day, we left for the lake for Caroline's baptism. She was so excited to be "babatized". 

She could NOT stop calling it "babatized". I tried to correct her a few times, but then decided to let her say it how she wanted to say it. It will be one of those details I remember clearly about this day. 

My brother-in-law's nephew, Will, was also "babatized" on Sunday.

Pastor Steve asked for volunteers to go next, and our sweet girl's hand shot right up! I was so proud!

My heart is so full! As most of you probably already know, every parent's dream is to raise good, responsible children, and Caroline just makes me so proud at every turn! She loves God, and is so eager to follow His plan for her life. We're also so lucky to have the church I grew up in still in our lives. The man who led Caroline to Christ was also very active in the children's ministry when I was growing up in the church, and it's just so wonderful to see his influence in my daughters' lives. 

I would appreciate any prayers you could send our way. For Caroline as she starts her Christian life, and for us as parents that we may set an example for her in our own lives. 

Happy Monday, all!

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

What I'm Eating Wednesday

I thought I'd start a new series about what my meal choices are. I've mentioned before that I follow a method of eating called If It Fits Your Macros (IIFYM). Basically, you have a set amount of fats, proteins, carbs, and to a lesser degree, fiber that you have to eat a day, and as long as you hit those numbers, you can have pretty much whatever you want. 

What drew me to the program were the pictures all over social media of people eating Pop Tarts and big bowls of cereal and such, and they were still fit. Sign me up!

That way of eating is actually perfectly okay with IIFYM, but it's not typically my choice. I am a big eater, and you just can't eat that type of food in high volume and still expect to be lean (which is my ultimate goal). 

What IIFYM does allow me to do is eat those things when I want/need to, and not completely derail my progress. I prefer having some sort of "cheat" food fairly regularly, and now cravings for such foods have almost completely disappeared. I just go ahead and plan for them in MyFitnessPal (add me as a friend!) and I'm all set! 

I try to eat almost completely whole, "clean" foods and just small portions of the fun stuff. I thought I'd start walking you through my daily foods, but these posts may get boring quickly. I tend towards food ruts anyway, but if I'm following a meal plan, eating the same things regularly just makes things so much easier. I know what to fix for myself, and I know when and how much to eat to stay full. I like the simplicity of that, but I will say that I'm currently in a love/hate relationship with chicken. I eat so much of if that I'm surprised I'm not clucking by now. 

Here's my usual breakfast:

This terrible picture is of 184g of egg white substitute (the equivalent of 4 egg whites). I'm currently using the Target store brand, but I'll use whichever store brand I happen to run into when I run out. I sprinkle it with black pepper, and Mrs. Dash Tomato Basil blend and Extra Spicy Blend. 

Ok, maybe more than a sprinkle. 

My "breakfast dessert" (I'm making that a thing) is this: 

1 packet of Quaker Maple & Brown Sugar instant oatmeal
1/2serving of Nuts n' More Chocolate Peanut Butter 
1packet Stevia
33g of raspberries (although I prefer blueberries) 

Lunch has been the exact same thing for months, although I'm thinking of lowering my fats, so I may have to cut out the guacamole: 

4oz chicken 
100g zucchini 
100g onion
1 serving (sometimes 2) salsa
1 100calorie Wholly Guacamole packet 

Mid-day snack:
Quest bar (my favorite flavors are Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, S'mores, and Cookies & Cream. In that order.) 

Dinner varies. Truth be told, I'd eat the same thing for dinner as I do for lunch just to make things easier. I actually do do that when Steve isn't home. 

Ok. Sometimes even when he is. 

I've been feeling guilty that I haven't been cooking for my family much, so I'm trying to find meals that I can eat, too, or that I can easily modify to fit my needs. 

For instance, Monday I made hamburgers. I used Laura's Lean Ground Beef (96/4), and put mine on a sandwich thin instead of a regular bun. I also used lots of lettuce, tomato, onion, and sugar free bread & butter pickles to add some volume for very little calories. 

Last night I made Mix and Mama's Chicken & Ranch Enchilada Stack. I used low carb tortillas, fat free ranch, and cheese made with 2% (the fat free just doesn't melt nicely). 

Tonight I'm making her Grilled Chipotle Chicken over Savory Waffles. I will just have the chicken. And maybe a few bites of waffle. 

Tomorrow night's dinner is still TBD (although it will probably be turkey burgers) and Friday night is always pizza and popcorn night at our house. I typically eat one slice of pizza (we make ours homemade) and make a big ol' Jethro salad to go with it. This Friday, however, is opening night for Inside Out, so we'll go out to eat after the movie. 

At night, I'll generally have a snack. It's usually a cup of Greek yogurt, half a serving of protein granola, a packet of stevia, and 33g of fruit (generally strawberries). 

Since dinner varies, my macro count varies a little. But I'm fairly consistently hitting 160P, 140C, 36F,  and 35g of fiber. That brings me to roughly 1500 calories, which is a good total for me to be cutting weight without losing much muscle in the process. 

Hope this helps give some insight on what life on IIFYM is like. The tough part in the beginning for me was getting used to measuring out all of my portions, but now me and my food scale are total BFFs and I'm completely used to measuring everything now. It's habit. 

I'll keep these posts up until they get too boring to write or to read. 

Happy Hump Day!

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Training Tuesday: DietBet recap

A month ago, I joined a DietBet hosted by MamaLaughlin

I dieted down well before Jamaica, even though I was still 2lbs above my goal weight when we left. When we were there, and then for a week or two after, I left my diet go. My workouts were at 60% effort during that time, too. It's pretty incredible how quickly the weight comes back with just a little bit of diet slacking and not giving it your all at the gym. I've been trying to get the extra pounds off since, and it's been stinkin' hard, lemme tell ya. 

My family has our annual beach trip coming up, and I am EXTRA motivated to get these pounds off. Just because my mind is motivated doesn't mean my body is cooperating, though. When I heard about this DietBet, though, I thought it would give me the extra push I needed to get that scale a-movin'! 

DietBet is exactly what it sounds like. You wager a certain amount of money that you will lose a certain amount of weight in a certain amount of time. In this particular case, I wagered $35 that I would lose 4% of my body weight in a month. That came to a 5lb loss. If I achieved that goal, I at least win my money back. Depending on how many people in my game meet their goal, my winnings could increase. 

When I started this game, I truly thought it wouldn't be a big deal. 5lbs? Not too awful. More than a pound a week, which is means I'd have to put forth more effort than the usual 1lb/week loss that most diets expect, and I was all up for that. 

I stuck to my diet almost perfectly (I can count my cheats in a few bites, not meals), and I increased my cardio at the gym every day so I was sure to burn more calories than I had been. Going into the last weekend, I was pretty nervous. Weekends tend to derail me because that's when all of our social activities tend to happen. Take this past weekend for instance. Hung out at the pool all day Friday, was pretty lazy after a morning gym class on Saturday, and then an amusement park on Sunday. Didn't plan this DietBet finale weekend very well. 

I weigh in every day (I know, I know), and when I weighed myself Saturday morning, I was almost a pound below goal! Let me just tell you, I was struttin' around my house that day, proud as a peacock. Sometime late in the day, it hit me that I been in the SWELTERING heat all day Friday, and I had likely had the "sauna effect" happen. I realized then that it was likely all water weight, which I could very quickly put right back on eating out for every meal on Sunday. I weighed myself Sunday morning, I was back to .2lbs above goal. Soooo frustrated!!

I tried my best to eat as healthy as possible while we were out on Sunday, and hoped for the best yesterday morning. Stepped on the scale, and...nothing. No change. Still .2lbs over goal. On any normal day, I would be happy that I had just hadn't GAINED anything, but this wasn't a normal day. This was DietBet final weigh-in day! 

Even though yesterday was the end of the game, final weigh-ins didn't have to be submitted until today. I decided to bust my butt at the gym, tighten down my diet, drink lots of water, and I was sure I could drop that last .2lbs. 

I got dressed, and started my normal morning routine. As I finished up breakfast, I felt the urge to go


So I went. Then I weighed. And BOOM! Made it! 

<insert Tiger Woods fist pump here>

I took my final pictures and officially submitted them to DietBet. They have been verified and approved, and now I just have to wait for everyone else to finished submitting their results to see how the winnings pay out. 

All in all, I thought this was a fantastic way to motivate yourself to stick to your fitness goals. I was already motivated, but there was no WAY I was going to get so close and not win this thing. I'm very competitive, and having this goal to shoot for just added that extra push to do it quickly. 

If I have any complaints, it's that there were so many people in the game and it didn't have much sense of community. I would've liked to have made some friends and learned things they were doing to reach their goal. I still enjoyed the experience, though, and I'm already thinking about doing another one! 

After my vacation, of course. 


Monday, June 15, 2015

Weekend recap

This weekend was all about fun for my girls. 

(except for Saturday. That was my relaxation day!)

We started off Friday at the pool. The girls were in swimming lessons all last week and were eager to show off their skills!

The day started off a little rough....

But got better quickly! Popsicles help, but Mama was the one melting! After the rain moved out, the humidity moved in. It was sweltering!

Like I said, Saturday was my relaxation day. Steve was in a conference all day, so I started bingeing on the new season of Orange is the New Black.

Then it was Sunday Sunday! When we bought our Dollywood season passes, they came with 4 "bring a friend free" passes that I intended to use to bring Tatum with us. I texted her to see when she could go, and Sunday was the best day for her. Steve was still in his conference, so we made it a girls day! 

Little did I know that the passes expired last month. Oops. 

This girl loves her some popcorn! I actually think my girls could live off popcorn if I let them. 

This time, they had mascots. I've never seen them at Dollywood before, and Ella Kate was thrilled! Caroline wasn't too excited about them. 

I'm glad to have one that still gets excited about characters! 

My biggest complaint about Dollywood is their lack of healthy food options. I had seen a veggie cup at a little snack shack near FireChaser Express, and I started regretting not buying it when we were half a mile away around lunchtime. There is a bakery near the entrance where I had seen small salads and cold sandwiches in the past. I got the girls settled with their chicken tenders and headed over to get me something remotely healthy. Well, now the only healthy options amongst the rows of cookies the size of my head and cupcakes with icing a mile high are these $5 cups of strawberries. And they have grapes! <insert sarcastic font here>

Y'all know Dolly's not eating all that fried food. Homegirl needs some salads at her theme park! 

After lunch, it was back to the rides! 

The scrambler was always my carnival favorite. Still can't resist it! 

Finally a picture of Caroline! 

I gave my camera to Tatum to have her take this picture. Caroline got so mad at me because I had a "loose article" out.


After a long day at Dollywood, Ella Kate was D-O-N-E! 

We stopped at Cracker Barrel for dinner, and Caroline was starving. Since she is my TERRIBLY picky eater, I decided now was a good time to tempt her to eat something new. The waitress had brought us some apple butter, so I slathered some on one of those yummy biscuits. You should see this face she makes when she eats something new. It looks like I'm forcing her to eat fingernail clippings. Once she started chewing though, that face changed! Girl at a whole biscuit for the first time in her life! 

And Ella Kate is always ready for a good biscuit and apple butter! 

After a fun day, good meal, and long baths, the girls and I were ready to call it a day!

It was really a lot of fun, and I cherish these fun days with my girls! 

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Jamaica Day #6: Let's go home!

And we have come to the end of our vacation. 

<sniff, sniff, SOB!>

Actually, at the time, I was sort of ready to come home. As wonderful as Jamaica was; as wonderful as time away with just adults was, I missed my girls. I missed my routine. And I knew that my parents were worn out by all the running around that they were doing for me! I was ready to relieve them. 

That being said, I'm also ready to go back to Jamaica! 

We woke up really early that morning to finish our last minute packing and to go get breakfast before we left. Unfortunately, Jeff woke up feeling pretty terrible. We luckily had brought some Zofran with us, so he felt better fairly quickly, but you know how awful it is to be sick to your stomach when you're in the privacy of your own home, much less in a foreign country with a ton of travel ahead of you. 

To give him some time to relax and let the meds kick in, Leeann, Steve, and I went out to get breakfast. 

A cruise ship was out on the horizon!

Sunrise Sandals Tower shot...

Goodbye, Burn Box! 


One thing I didn't mention earlier is that the resort was undergoing a facelift while we were there. The construction was unattractive, but didn't get in our way at all. If our rooms had been closer to the lobby, the noise might have bothered us, but we were far enough away that I never even noticed it. Besides, we were only in our room to sleep and get dressed anyway, so I doubt construction noise would have interrupted that since they didn't work around the clock.

Every day we went into the lobby, it was almost completely different than the day before. I really wish I had taken before and after pictures, because there was a dramatic difference between the first day and the last. Originally, the lobby area was a typically tropical design. Warm earth tones and lots of plants. By the time we left, the lobby was elegant and sparkling, with bright white paint, gorgeous upholstery, and shimmering tile. 

The lobby even had a brand new restaurant! We were actually the very first people in line to try the new restaurant, but we ended up not being the first ones seated because we weren't paying attention and were looking out at the water instead. 


The brand new Vista restaurant:

One thing I hadn't mentioned yet is how heavy everything there is. I'm assuming it's because of the almost-constant sea breezes, not to mention the threat of hurricanes. But if you're ever in the tropics, especially in an open-air resort, pay attention to how heavy the silverware, plates, cups, and ramekins are. I just thought that was a neat observation. I'm surprised hotels on the shore in the U.S. don't do that, too. 

New fancy-pants omelet station: 

I took some more pictures of nature on our walk back to check on Jeff. I'm always amazed by plants and animals I've never seen before. This tree had this stuff growing out of the bottom of it that reminded me of tentacles. 


My friend, the turtle. As soon as we got there, I spotted this little guy sunning himself on a rock with his neck stretched long. I thought it was a statue. We stood there and watched him for the longest time looking for movement and never saw any. Then, on the last day, here he his just swimming around having a big time! 

Some fish in the new pond that was built at the new refurbished lobby.

 We got on the shuttle back to the airport for our forever-long commute. 



Look! A Jamaican Harley Davidson store! My Daddy was excited about this pic. 

To ease the pain of going home, we wasted away again in Margaritaville...


And that's it! That's the recap of our trip to Jamaica!! Hope you enjoyed it. If you have any questions, I'll do my best to answer them. If I can't, I know a very knowledgable travel agent that can help me out. 

Have a  great hump day! 

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