Category Archives: healthy living

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44 at 44


Earlier this month, we made a decision as a family to stop eating unhealthy foods and stay away from fast food and pop. It’s going really well so far. My goal is to lose 44 lbs by my 45th birthday. ;) If I lose more than that, I won’t complain, but that’s my first big goal.

BREAKFAST
I’ve been making up scrambled eggs, sausage, and bacon on Sunday nights so we can easily put some in a bowl, heat it up, and start our days right. Jake takes some to work with him every morning. Sometimes we bake up eggs, sausage or bacon, and cheese in the muffin tin (400 degrees for 20 minutes) and have those, which are super easy and convenient. The kids aren’t being as strict as Jake and I, which is fine with us. They tend to eat toast or waffles for breakfast. Sometimes a bowl of cereal.

LUNCH
I usually eat a light lunch because I just haven’t been that hungry and it doesn’t take much to make me full. I’m trying to listen to my body and eat only what’s necessary rather than devouring more than I really need. So it’s typically a salad with a small amount of dressing (using Olive Garden lately), a few strips of chicken if there’s some grilled up, maybe some almonds. Some days I’ll just heat up a little chicken or pork along with a veggie and I’m good to go. And I always love zoodles (zucchini noodles shown above) with some Olive Garden dressing. Jake takes meat and veggies with him to work. This weekend we made white chicken chili, so he took leftovers of that with him today. Zach takes a peanut butter sandwich to school every day. He pretty much has since he was in kindergarten. But he no longer takes chips and a Little Debbie snack cake. He takes cheese, a fruit cup (peaches), cucumbers, and cashews. Chloe takes a bowl of salad with a little Olive Garden dressing. She also likes Babybel cheese and some fruit (strawberries or blueberries or both).

DINNER
We usually have whatever meat we’ve pre-cooked on Sunday – chicken, pork, salmon – along with veggies of some kind. We aren’t eating potatoes too much, but we aren’t completely cutting them out. We’ll have a few mini potatoes with dinner once in a while. We’ve pretty much done away with bread (except the kids), so no rolls or biscuits along with dinner.

I think one of the keys to this working so far has been having healthy snacks for in-between mealtimes.

• Almonds
• Cubed cheese
• String cheese
• Apples w/a little almond butter to dip them in (love almond butter)
• Carrots & hummus
• Greek yogurt (plain) with some fruit

For a little treat, we bought a trail mix that is mixed nuts, cranberries, raisins, and mini dark chocolate/white chocolate chips. That has helped when we just want something sweet.

So far, I have lost 10 lbs and 2 inches off my waist and hips. I think Jake has lost about 6 lbs so far. The kids aren’t really keeping track. Neither of them were really overweight, especially Chloe, who is always conditioning at gymnastics practice. Just as long as they are eating healthier, that’s all that really matters to me.

One more thing I’ve started doing is drinking H2OJ. Many of you know I was on Becky Higgins’ Project Life Creative Team a few years ago. One of her wonderful employees, Molly, has lost 60 lbs. since last fall and she shared her weight loss and healthy eating journey recently and one of her tips was to get 100% orange juice (not from concentrate) and drink 1 part OJ to 7 parts water. She said the theory behind this is that when we wake up our body is dehydrated, so this helps to hydrate us by starting off our day drinking this. The orange juice helps to stabilize blood sugar. Here is a link to her post with 10 great tips for eating healthy. Very similar to what we’re already doing, but I found all her tips very helpful and just kind of reaffirmed that we’re on the right track.

WHY NOW?
I was tired. Of being overweight. Of having my clothing fit so snugly. Of being tired. Of aching all over. I was having a problem with my sciatic nerve and just overall sick of feeling bad! I started going to Planet Fitness in January and I went at least 1-2 times a week for 5 months. I lost probably 5-7 lbs during that time. I’m sure some fat was lost and muscle gained and muscle weighs more, but still. Just wasn’t seeing results because the eating hadn’t really changed much. Time to change that!

The kids. They don’t like that Jake is overweight especially. He has tried many times to lose the weight, and they have tried to help. My hope is that doing this as a family will really help this to be the time it sticks, and I know the kids feel the same way.

My dad. He was overweight for many years and it did a number on his liver, which is why he is now on the transplant list. I don’t want that to happen to me or Jake or the kids somewhere down the line. So that is a huge motivation right there to get healthy.

Thanks for following along with our journey, friends!

getting healthy


Took this photo today during a walk with my mom. There’s no more snow on the courthouse lawn! I can’t even begin to tell you how happy it makes me to see grass again. The morning temps are still in the 20’s and 30’s, but Mom and I are getting outside. It feels great to move after being stuck inside all winter. I’m not one who loves to go to the gym. I’d much rather walk or run in the great outdoors. Sadly, winter ends up being pretty light on healthy activities for me. But I’m very happy to be out walking around our little town again. Even just a few walks this week have done a world of difference. I can already feel my legs getting stronger again.

Jake had mentioned us doing the River Bank Run 10K this year. But then he had some health issues come up over the past couple months and that idea was kind of pushed to the back burner. I didn’t forget about it. In fact, I have the training run schedule up on the bulletin board. But I think I’ve pretty much decided not to worry about it this year. I’m going to run, but the desire to run a 10K isn’t there right now. I’d love to run it next year, though. I might try our town’s Summerfest 5K this year. I ran that once before, but didn’t actually run the entire time. Had to walk several times. I would love to be able to run the entire thing. I think that will be my goal before considering the 10K.

Now that Spring has arrived, I’m in the mood for some good healthy eating. We’ve been eating out too much in recent weeks. It’s all winter’s fault. ;) My Nutribullet needs to get some more use with lots of green smoothies. And the grill needs to be fired up for some chicken and salmon and veggies. Favorite thing cooked on the grill or over a campfire for that matter … VEGGIE PACKS! We make them all the time. Here’s how:

VEGGIE PACKS

– Slice up potatoes, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, whatever kinds of veggies you like. Cut them into small chunks or cubes so they will cook faster.

– Tear off two large pieces of heavy duty tin foil. Enough to fill with 2-3 cups worth of veggies. Don’t make the pack too large. The veggies don’t always cook evenly. Better to do a couple medium size packs than a jumbo one.

– Arrange the veggies in the center of the tin foil and fold the edges up a little, so when you pour the oil on them it doesn’t run off the edge.

– Pour some olive oil over them. We never measure it out. Just enough so it keeps the veggies from sticking to the tin foil.

– Sprinkle with salt, pepper, other seasonings you like.

– Lay the second piece of tin foil over the top and roll the edges together to make a little packet. Make sure all the edges are sealed up so it doesn’t leak out into the grill and so all the steam stays inside to cook the veggies.

– I would say cook them for about 20-30 minutes, but that depends on the heat of the grill and how many veggies you put in. Probably less cook time for less veggies. Common sense. We usually open it up and peek to see if it’s done and just put it back if it needs more time.

– Carefully open the packet when they’re done so you don’t burn yourself on the steam. Pour into a bowl or eat ‘em right out of the tin foil. We do that when camping!

– Voila! A healthy side dish and it’s SO delicious!

Something we tried last summer was sweet potatoes with COCONUT OIL instead of the olive oil. That was SOOOO GOOD!

My mouth is watering now! ;)

10 YEARS!

You’re here! I’m so excited! On February 26, 2005, I started this blog, and for the next two weeks, I will be looking back at the past TEN YEARS of blogging!

Ten years has gone by in the blink of an eye. At least, it seems so at times. I’ve been browsing back through old posts and, while the style of my photos (lots of borders and filters in the early days) has changed, the core of the posts has not. It started with a few posts about my kids and that’s pretty much the same today. I wrote about things we did, places we traveled, movies I loved, following my love of photography into a business, family, friends, parties, scrapbooking, memories, happy times, sad times, publishing my novel. So much of our life.

Ten years is a really long time.

So, for the next TEN DAYS, I will be looking back, sharing old photos and favorite posts, and there will be GIVEAWAYS!!!

GIVEAWAY INFO: There are four ways to enter through the giveaway box below and each will get you five entries in the drawing.

• The first option is the only one you HAVE to do in order to be entered. I’ll ask one question in every day’s giveaway. You just have to enter your name and email address, give a brief response to the question, and you’re in the drawing.

If you want more chances to win, you can …
• Join my mailing list (if you already have, enter your email address so I can verify)
• Tweet about the giveaway and copy/paste the link from Twitter
• SHARE about the giveaway and the BLOG-IVERSARY on your own blog, Facebook*, Pinterest, etc. and link to that as well.

All giveaways will end on my actual BLOG-IVERSARY, next Thursday, February 26th, so the giveaways will all be OPEN until then.
The winners will be announced in a blog post on FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 27th!

* Note: If you share on a private Facebook account and we aren’t “friends”, make sure you change the audience of that one post to “public” so I can see it. ;)

TODAY’S GIVEAWAY!

I’ve got a paperback copy of my first young adult novel ready to sign. The Truth About Drew was published last May.
It’s a sweet, uplifting, heart-warming story full of friendship and family with a journey to faith and a mystery surrounding a boy and his notebook.
Enter below. Tell a friend! :)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

If you have any questions at all about the giveaway, feel free to ask.

SEE YA BACK HERE TOMORROW!

hello, monday


After our disappointing decision not to go to Mackinac this weekend, we had a quiet weekend at home. It definitely would have been more fun to get out of the house and visit family on the east side, which we considered, but staying home was much needed.

By the way, after I posted about things not going my way on Friday, things got weird. I walked out of the house to get the kids and there was a squirrel on the peak of our roof just making this horrible screeching sound at me, staring me down. Creeped me out. I should have known things would get even weirder. When I got to the kids’ school, I heard a very loud “meow” coming from the front passenger side wheel. We discovered a kitty had crawled up in there and took a terrifying ride with me to the school. Unfortunately, we could not get it to come out. It crawled up underneath the engine somewhere by the front bumper, where we couldn’t reach it. So it got another fun ride home and we left it there until Jake got home and could crawl under the car and remove it. It was gone by the time he got home from work. So weird. Hopefully that won’t ever happen again.

The majority of my Saturday was spent staring into the mouth of my paper shredder. I had accumulated several years of old receipts, bills, bank statements, etc. that were not necessary to keep. They were three large piles that were taking up way too much space. It took pretty much all day to sort out the stuff I needed and shred what I didn’t. What remains is one small box full. Glad I can check that task off the “to do” list.

Chloe did my hair a bunch this weekend, too, which was so nice. Love my girl.

Didn’t make it to church on Sunday, but we were able to Livestream it, which was awesome. One of the things that Pastor said was that we are made in God’s image – God, the Creator – so it makes sense that we are creative beings, who want to make and invent and create. I like that.

Very close to sharing my new book cover and title as well as a little synopsis of what the book is about. I’ll be sharing first in my newsletter, so if you haven’t signed up yet, go HERE.

This week … I’ve decided to do some juicing. I’m a big emotional mess lately and I know it’s at least partly to do with not eating healthy. So I’m going to follow along with Reboot with Joe for a few days and hopefully reset my body a bit and get going on some healthier meals and moving more. Mom and I walked about 3 miles this morning. My legs are achy, but I feel good.

Praying for an all around better week this week!

around here | happy pi day


I’m typing away at my desk and I can hear bangs and crashes outside as the sun melts the snow and ice from Wednesday’s snow storm. The kids had yet another snow day on Wednesday. We went from nice thawed, dry roads, driveway and porch to 6″ of heavy wet stuff. Normally, I wouldn’t mind a random snow day here and there, but we’ve had so many this year that we were informed by the superintendent of schools this week that we’ll definitely be extending the school year into the second week of June and even further into the month if the snow days continue. I’m sure I sound like a broken record, but this is the longest winter EVER.

Our snow day was actually very productive. I spent most of the day doing laundry and baking meals ahead for Jake’s lunches. Chloe’s floor was covered in clothing, so I asked her to please sort the dirty from the clean and she ended up cleaning and organizing her whole space. When she starts working on her room, she’s on a mission and she does such a nice job of it. She likes to display all her favorite things and she’s loving her new IKEA bookcase we got her for her birthday.

I also got one of the small IKEA bookcases when we got Chloe’s so I’d have a place for my albums and Project Life supplies. Lots of new goodies arrived this past week from Becky and Kari as a thank you for being part of the creative team this year. Thanks, girls! :)

Last week, I had the opportunity to attend Starbase with Chloe’s class at the Air National Guard Base in Battle Creek. I went with Zach’s class (posted about it HERE) when he was in fifth grade, too, and it’s such a great program teaching kids lots of fun science facts and experiments. Chloe made me get my picture taken in the space suit. I did always want to be an astronaut when I was growing up, so I guess now I know what I would have looked like in space. :D

I picked up some yarn at Mary Maxim last weekend when we visited Jake’s parents. I’m giving THIS pattern a go.

It was spring conference time this week. Chloe’s was student-led and, boy, is she thorough. She put together a little power point presentation with a slide for each subject. They’re supposed to write a few sentences about what they’ve been learning. She wrote at least 6 paragraphs about each subject and read them out loud to us. The conference is supposed to take 10-15 minutes. It took us about 20-25. Nothing wrong with that. I just remember Zach’s having a few sentences, very brief and to the point. It’s so interesting to see how different they are. She’s doing well in all subjects with Math still being the one she struggles most with. When she takes her time, she’s got it. But when she’s rushes and doesn’t think it through and check her work, she makes a lot of silly mistakes. We’re working with her teacher and doing extra practice each night through a couple online sites they use in class and we think it’s really helping. Zach’s doing pretty good. His biggest problem has always been not turning things in on time and forgetting assignments. We’ve got him using a daily planner and that’s helped. Last marking period saw some lower grades because he didn’t make up work on time. This marking period has been much better and we’re proud of him for being more responsible.

Finally starting this book that my lovely mom-in-law got me for Christmas. I’ve been reading Emily Freeman’s blog for a while now and have never read any of her books. For shame. Time to change that.

And here’s my pile of books to read. It pays to have a hubby who works in publishing. Can you tell where he works? One of these things is not like the others. Hint: It’s not Revell. ;)

Still plugging away at scanning Grandma’s negatives. Found this one last night of me taking a bite out of my 5th birthday cake. My mom still makes us do that every year. ;)

And, last but not least, Happy Pi Day! For a little Pi Day humor, click over to my hubby’s website, Plus Sized Models.

monday’s list


Had a really nice weekend. I feel like I got quite a few things accomplished, but still had time to kick my feet up and relax. I can’t believe we’re in the final stretch of February! Here’s what our weekend looked like:

• Finished the final edit (I hope!) on my book. I’m so excited about this. I want you guys to read it and hope that will be a reality very soon.

• Made some yummy homemade meals – tacos Friday, turkey burgers Saturday, salmon Sunday. After our big “grocery date” earlier in the week, we had some meals planned, which is rare for us. We are notorious for having no plan and opting for ordering out. But we want to make more meals at home. Saves us money and all those fast food calories.

• More scanning of Grandma’s negatives. Discovered more little treasures that I’ve never seen before. Loving this whole process. I will be so sad when I get to the last roll, but that won’t be for quite a while at the pace I’m going.

That’s me in red with the knee highs. Lovely. And I love this one of my cousin Traci with Grandma’s shadow cast over her.

• Date day! The kids spent Saturday night at the farm with Grandpa and Grandma so Jake and I could get up early and travel to IKEA (the nearest one is a couple hours from here). We made a plan to meet Heather + Jeff and the girls for lunch after (they live near IKEA. Lucky them!). They ended up meeting us at the store and walking around in there with us for a couple hours, then we had a yummy lunch at Chili’s. The girls were so cute and funny. Violet made such funny little faces that were cracking me up. Scarlett was all huggy with Jake and then she was dancing in her seat at lunch so I joined in. So cute.

• Our Sunday evening was spent putting together lots of stuff – bookcases, side tables, lamps. Had to go pick up a few EXPEDIT bookcases while we were there. Jake just told me the other day he heard they are discontinuing the EXPEDITS in their current form, renaming them and making the wood around the outer edge thinner. Saves them money and uses less trees. I prefer the look of them now, so I wanted to snatch some up before they start making them the new way in a couple months.

• Today, we started the week off with a sicky girl, who I kept home from school. Hoping a day of rest will be enough.

Lots to look forward to this week. Dinner with my dear friend, Jen. An open house at Jake’s work. Chloe’s class field trip to the Grand Rapids Symphony. Another gymnastics meet. And then it’s March!

Have a wonderful week, everyone! <3

monday’s list


• Zach’s class made up their ice skating field trip on Thursday that was cancelled because of one of the many snow days we’ve had around here. He had a good time, but texted me after a couple hours and said “Ice skating is too hard.” I’m proud of him for at least trying.

• Winter storm warnings on Friday. The kids already had no school for a teacher records day, but all the schools had a snow day. Just before Jake got home from work, I heard a loud crash on the kitchen roof and looked out the upstairs window to see that a big branch had fallen, one that had been dangling above after the ice storms in December. No damage done. Not a huge branch. Just scared me because it was really loud and I was in the kitchen at the time.

• Lots of movies and TV watching and games played over the weekend.

• Ventured out into the snow on Sunday for church. Very chilly. Lots of blowing and drifting. Took it slow and got there and back safely.

• There was a snow day for the kids today and they’ve already cancelled school for tomorrow as well. Craziness!

• Started my day off with half an hour on the elliptical. Time to really start training for the River Bank Run. Only a few months until the big race! Yeah!

lately


Loving Chloe’s selfies. I’m thinking I should print some or make her a photobook or something out of them. stay tuned. ;)

KIDS
We have settled into the school routine, although a certain boy forgot to turn in some assignments already and we had to have a talk about being more responsible. He is really liking a few of his classes. I think his favorite thing so far has been building a small replica of the arena from the Hunger Games book. He also just got done reading The Tell-tale Heart. I think he liked it, but it also creeped him out. Our girl has been struggling with Math. Her teacher lets the class redo worksheets that are below 75%, so I continue to work with her to redo those just about every week. I feel sad for her, and when she says, “I’m so stupid”, I try to reassure her that she is very smart and that she just needs to practice a little harder to really get it. And she will. Yesterday after school, she proudly told me that she got 100% on her daily math. I could tell she was happy.

FOOD
As Week Two of healthy eating begins, I have to admit … I totally did it!
• I made healthier choices.
• Drank more water in five days than I did in the past five months. Easily.
• Prepared all my meals here at home (except on the weekend). And they were delicious and filling.
• Kept track of my calories on the myfitnesspal.com app on my phone. Love that app!
• Caffeine withdrawal headaches have faded. It’s made me kind of moody, though. (Sorry, Jake!)
• Bought almost all fruits, vegetables, poultry and fish on my grocery run last week. I was pretty proud of myself. Stayed away from processed stuff.
• On the weekend, I did eat out a few times because I was out and about with friends and family, but I don’t feel like I went crazy. No large portions, no greasy fries or soda (I did have a med Cherry Coke on Sunday). I entered all my calories into the app last night and I didn’t go over my daily calorie goal because of all the walking we did that burned up a bunch of calories. So I think I did alright.

ME TIME
It was really nice to have time with friends and family this weekend. I usually crave the quiet of the weekend. It’s my time to get stuff done lately. But reconnecting with friends is always good and I am thankful that the plans worked out so I could see Jen on Friday, Kelle on Sunday, and Heather and the girls on Sunday.

HOUSE PROGRESS
Have not done any more on Zach’s room. It’s still half painted, but it will get done. Must think of this as taking little bites at a time or I will choke. There is a lot to do before we even think about listing our house for sale. If I start to think about the whole list, I get overwhelmed in about three seconds. So, it’s Zach’s room first. Then on to the next project.

MY BOOK
My edit is mostly done. I am still waiting for Jake to read it (hint hint, babe!) and let me know what he thinks. Then I will need to decide how to proceed with it.

It’s a new month now. Time for fall colors and pumpkins and sweaters and jeans. My favorite time of the year!

healthy eating | the skinny rules


It’s Day Two of healthy eating. Jake and I both fell off the wagon this summer, eating whatever we wanted and barely exercising. And it shows, not only in the way we look, but the way we feel. I have no energy whatsoever and that just will not do. So we decided to get back to making meals at home and eating better foods.

Jake suggested I read “The Skinny Rules” by Bob Harper (the trainer from the Biggest Loser). Lots of good stuff in there, including drinking a glass of water as soon as you get up in the morning and before every meal. There are a lot of rules to live by in his book, but it’s doable. It’s similar to an eating program my Mom and I followed at our church after I had Zach.

• Eat lots of vegetables and fruits.
• Eat plenty of protein (fish, chicken, eggs. all things I love! easy!).
• Drink water.
• Don’t drink your calories (no more pop, juices, mocha lattes).
• Stay away from fast food at all costs!!!
• Limit your bread intake and never eat bread with “enriched wheat flour” listed in the ingredients.
• Read ingredient labels. If it has sugar in the first 5 ingredients … Run away! Run away!

These are some of the guidelines we followed in that program and Bob’s rules are very similar, but he’s got more of them. :) The book doesn’t just give you a list of rules and that’s it, though. He goes into the reasons why each rule is important and how it helps you to get to a healthy weight. He also gives lots of meal suggestions to get you through the first month and the last section of the book is filled with easy healthy recipes.

I’m kind of excited about this. Taking control over food. Making good choices. Getting healthy and dropping all these extra lbs. It’s all good!

I probably won’t share what I eat every single day, but here is what I ate yesterday on Day One:

Breakfast:
Large glass of water x2 (one when I got up and one before I ate. Bob told me to!)
Oatmeal with apples and cinnamon
Coffee with a tablespoon of sugar and creamer (that’s half what I normally add. gotta start somewhere, right?)

Lunch:
Large glass of water
Romaine lettuce with cranberries and almonds (will nix the cranberries from now on since they have sugar listed as an ingredient. oops!)

Dinner:
Large glass of water
Whole wheat thin spaghetti and roasted broccoli tossed together with a little olive oil and topped with some parmesan cheese (This was tasty and a good Meatless Monday option.)

Snacks:
Large glass of water
Apple chopped up
Oikos Key Lime Greek Yogurt (this has sugar! Bye bye, key lime. maybe I’ll eat you on splurge day.)

Bob encourages one splurge meal per week. Not to go crazy and eat everything in sight, but to have a meal you enjoy without worrying about the rules. (But no fast food joints! No matter what! ick!)

Feel free to comment and bug me about how my healthy eating is going. I could use the accountability. :)

summer eating


After a Girls Days trip of eating out pretty much every meal and drinking too much Coke, I felt very unhealthy and overall icky. So on my next grocery run, I picked up lots of fruits (strawberries, grapes, oranges, pineapples) and veggies (celery, broccoli, cauliflower, cucumbers, romaine lettuce) and cleaned and cut them all up so they were ready to eat.

Chloe and I have pretty much been eating a turkey or chicken wrap with a little melted cheese as our daily lunch. (Zach is our extremely picky eater and won’t touch the stuff. He doesn’t believe me when I tell him he’s missing out on tasty goodness.) Instead of a handful of chips as my side, I’ve been having a small salad with almonds and cranberries (the other day I even threw some strawberries in there. yum!), a handful of veggies, or some fruit. I am definitely a creature of habit when it comes to my meals, so when I find something that I like, I usually stick with it. Plus, when you’re on a tight grocery budget like we are, it helps that we use up everything between grocery runs instead of stuff going bad and going to waste. I hate wasting food. And money.

It’s usually a little too hot in the Summer for turning the oven on (if we had a working grill, we would use that!), but we’ve had a cool, rainy spell here in Michigan this week, so we enjoyed marinated teriyaki chicken with some baked sweet potatoes. I love sweet potatoes. I sliced them up round and about 1/4″ thick this time, but sometimes we cut them in strips like french fries or we cut them into thicker chunks. All we do is toss them in some olive oil (I usually spray the pan with olive oil spray as well), sprinkle with some sea salt and pepper, then bake @ 400〫for about 20 minutes or so. They are simple, delicious and so good for you!

It hasn’t been all healthy around here, though. We’ve splurged on a few fast food meals and ice cream treats (like the Drumsticks that Jake picked up the other night). It’s summer! We’ve gotta live a little, right?

AJAXed with AWP