Healthy Living Isn’t So Bad

Healthy Living Isn't So Bad

If you’ve been reading my blog these past few months you know that I’m working to transition towards a more healthier lifestyle using the Tone It Up Nutrition Plan as my guide. I decided to write this post to catch you up on how it’s going and to share a little bit of what I’ve realized. Just a quick reminder: I am not the healthiest person in the world and I am not a professional at these kind of things. I like to leave giving out great healthy advice up to my trainers. But I do want to share a little bit of my journey towards being a healthier me and what I’ve learned along the way.

Now here’s the numbers: I’ve been tracking my weight since the beginning of the year and have lost roughly 10 pounds and lost about 8 pounds since starting the Nutrition Plan. While that may not seem like a lot, it feels like a lot to me. I didn’t feel like I needed to lose more than 10-15 pounds; my goal is to feel stronger and be healthier and happier version of myself. I also feel like I’ve lost some inches but stupid me was too lazy to take any measurements so I can’t know for certain. What I do know is that I have gone down one pant size and my shirts are much looser than they were before.

Now for the secret to my success: I finally realized that healthy living is a lifestyle. This isn’t counting points or buying certain meals or fifteen days of healthy eating followed by a gradual release back to life before. This is a change that will last well past this summer or this year and will go on until I need to change it, if that ends up happening. While I am not militant with my nutrition and exercise, I do work hard to make sure I am making the right choices for my body…most of the time. Eating healthy, working out, and overall taking care of my body are now big things in my life and that was the change I was craving. While it hasn’t been easy, I can say that my life has certainly been better. Here are some other things that are helping me along the way…

Healthy Living Isn't So Bad

1. Being healthy is a choice. Obviously, is what you’re probably thinking but sadly enough I wasn’t thinking this with my previous attempts to get fit. If you’re going to be healthy and lose weight and feel great, you have to really commit to it. Running a mile or so once or twice a week isn’t going to do it. Working out two or three times a week for fifteen minutes isn’t going to do it. Having a consistent workout schedule three or more days a week combined with eating lean, clean, and green meals every day of the week will make you healthy and help you lose excess weight. If you’re not ready to commit to eating mostly veggies and lean proteins while cutting out white flour, processed food, and sugar, then don’t do it. You only set yourself up for failure by starting off with only one foot in. You’ll get frustrated with yourself and potentially make some unhealthy choices trying to achieve the results you crave. Believe me, I’ve been there. Until May I made what I thought were healthy choices like eating veggie pizza and running on the treadmill once a week. That wasn’t cutting it. What made the difference for me was going heavy on the veggies and planning out a workout schedule each week. Don’t be afraid, just choose to be healthy.

2. Nutrition is key. I’ve never been a heavy or overweight person but I’ve always had a couple extra pounds that kind of weighed on me, if you will. I decided that the thing I was missing was working out so I started going to the gym and following a workout plan. Despite a renewed commitment to working out, those few pounds just stuck…until I made the right food choices. Eating lots of veggies and anything green while almost entirely eliminating processed and packaged foods has made the difference for me.

3. Make working out work for you. “I don’t like to run but I do it anyway.” I’ve heard this phrase too many times to count and it kind of makes me sad. My feeling is that you’re more likely to quit something if you don’t like doing it. Running is not my thing but the elliptical? I will turn my legs into jello on that all day every day. I also never realized how much I love testing myself with weight lifting and full body toning sessions. Variety is key. Just don’t give up before finding something that you like. Or at least something that you can at least tolerate a few days of the week.

4. It’s okay to slip up once in awhile. Being 100% healthy 100% of the time is the goal but if you make a mistake, it’s okay. It can be daunting if you’re anywhere on social media and read all this “What I Ate” and workout posts and you start to think that you’re just not doing enough. But if you’re working hard, trying your best, and pushing yourself, it’s okay to slip up once in awhile. As long as that “once in awhile” doesn’t become a habit, you’ll do just fine.

5. You can indulge, just not every day. Craft beers and food are a part of my life that I am not ready to give up just yet. Would I have lost more than 10 pounds by now? Yes. Would I be happy? Probably not. It doesn’t work for everyone, especially if you’re trying to drop some serious pounds, but I’ve found a healthy balance with my indulgences. I’ve found that I will only eat or drink something if I really want it which means no more faculty room cookies or Corona Lights.

6. Love yourself. The only way to change is to accept who you are right now. Isn’t that some sort of self-help mantra? But seriously, I used to beat myself up over what I ate and wish for a different body. But this is my body and I have to be proud of it and treat it with love and respect. I’m not confident all the time but I’ll make a muscle and realize how far I’ve come.

Healthy Living Isn't So Bad

 

This whole “healthy” thing has been hard work. As I said, I’m not the healthiest person but I’ve found a lifestyle change that works for me. I make good choices, I sweat it out most days of the week, and mostly I’m happy. That’s what I really think makes healthy living worthwhile: you feel good.

If you’re trying to live a little healthier too, what are some things you’ve realized or find helpful to remember?

The First Wedding Craft! My Bridesmaid Ask Gifts

Oh boy, more wedding planning stuff. I swear I have all sorts of blog posts cooking on the back burner but I just really wanted to share my very first wedding craft. Mostly because I’m super proud of them and also because this was one of the least stressful tasks I’ve done so far. Actually, if I’m being honest, nothing has been that stressful thus far. I mostly put the stress on myself trying to make everything perfect. I just have to remember that in the end, when I see Nick at the end of the aisle and celebrate with all my family and friends, it will be totally perfect.

Now back to my first craft: bridesmaid ask gifts. Since this will be my only wedding I want to take advantage of all the projects I’ve wanted to do for years and go all out (as much as my budget will allow, of course). Asking the girls to be my maids was probably something I was most excited to do. All over Pinterest I’d seen different ways to ask the girls to be your bridesmaids from wine bottles to engraved bracelets. What I really liked was the idea of doing a bridesmaid “kit” that gives the girls an idea of what my big day will be like. So I decided to do a bridesmaid box for the girls to open and find out that I wanted them to be by my side on the big day.

Bridesmaid Ask Gifts

Bridesmaid Ask Gifts

The boxes I picked out were three dollar photo boxes from Michael’s. I wanted these because they were plain and I could customize them from top to bottom. Then I got comfy in front of the tv and hand-painted the stripes on and stenciled the monogram. While it did take awhile to do the stripes, I love how they turned out. Our wedding doesn’t have a theme but I am adamant about integrating navy and white stripes into the decor. So maybe stripes is our theme?

Inside I included a couple of cute things to get the girls excited and ready for the year ahead. I did $1 navy flip flops from Old Navy, coral nail polish, and a 2015 calendar which was a lucky find in the cheapie section at Michael’s. Now I have two bridesmaids who are not of age and two that are. For my girls that are of age I included a little bottle of raspberry sparkling wine with a striped straw. Everyone needs a little champagne and stripes in their life don’t you think? My underage ladies got a charm necklace which I promptly wanted to steal back for myself. But I was a nice bride and let them keep it.

Bridesmaid Ask Gifts

Bridesmaid Ask Gifts

Even though all the little gifts were cute, my favorite part had to be the notes I wrote to each girl. Two of the girls are my best friends from high school and middle school, who have been there through thick and thin. When do you honestly get a chance to write a love note to your girl loves? I feel like I probably need to do this more often.

Bridesmaid Ask Gifts

I did boxes for the girls I knew I was going to be able to see and ask in person. The fourth person is my beautiful cousin who lives in Texas and I decided it was better to just ask her and then send her something smaller in the mail. Flip flops are heavy you know! Plus with her travelling here for the wedding I wanted her to have something she could bring with her. I found a plain canvas bag and dressed it up a bit. I’m in love with how it turned out! Even though the bag was difficult to paint and even more to actual get it to the post office, this might have been my favorite gift.

Bridesmaid Ask Gifts

Bridesmaid Ask Gifts

Bridesmaid Ask Gifts

Doing these bridesmaid ask gifts has me itching to start all sorts of wedding DIY projects. I know I say this now and in a couple of months you’ll be reading a post about how I need to outsource these crafts to someone else. But let me bask in the glory of a beautiful first wedding craft.

A Thanksgiving/Party Preview and My New Favorite Craft

It’s the day before Thanksgiving and I only have five more hours with a bunch of crazed, ready-for-break kids before I can go home and lay on my couch in anticipation of a crazy Thursday. Until Nick and I got serious (which to be honest was about around the second date) I was all about sitting on the couch, helping a little with the cooking, and generally doing nothing until it was time to eat on Thanksgiving. Now it’s up like it’s a school day, trying to look decent for breakfast with Nick’s family before driving over to my mom’s to see my family. We’re even thinking about being overly ambitious and heading back to Nick’s house for dessert. Whew, I’m tired already. But that’s the blessing of the holiday season; getting to see all the people you love and spend some much needed time together.

Speaking of being overly ambitious and getting to see the people I love, this year I have offered to host a pseudo “friendsgiving” party. Oh boy, that sentence is loaded. Let’s break it down, shall we? I say “offered to host” meaning one of my girl friends wanted to have a Thanksgiving party for all us girls. Unfortunately she lives at home with her parents, two sisters, grandmother, and two large dogs. I love family but I’m just going to be honest: I moved out for a reason. So I offered to host the party. Being a crazy person, I started to stress almost instantly. No party at my house is going to be half-planned. Or without a little dose of Pinterest. I’m always looking for the excuse to pretend to be Martha Stewart. Then as things started to get a little complicated as anything with eleven people tends to get, I started to hate that term “friendsgiving.” There’s something about silly word mash-ups that start to annoy me after awhile. That’s when I decided in my head I would call it a holiday party. But I’m still stressed.

One thing I was getting stressed about was table settings. I know, I know, sounds ridiculous. But I grew up with a mom who knows how to entertain and all without Pinterest inspiration. Think exquisitely set table cloths and delicious and beautiful dishes in a warm and cozy house. I have high expectations. The thing is, I don’t have a set of dishes for 11 people that match perfectly. Of course these girls and their boys are my best friends, my crew, but I’m the kind of crazy where that doesn’t matter. I want perfection! While I have some colorful fiesta plates that will do for dinner plates, I got stuck on dessert plates. Because what is Thanksgiving if not for it’s delicious pies and treats, right?

That’s when I am thankful for the Dollar Store and their plain white plates. A stop on Sunday got me eleven plates for the same amount of dollars. But I couldn’t leave well enough alone and decided to get crafty and created my favorite new craft.

sharpie plates

If you’ve seen the “sharpie on a mug” pin on Pinterest (mine is via A Beautiful Mess), this is basically the same thing. First I cleaned my plates then used a black regular sharpie to write my script around the edge of the plate.

have your cake and eat it too

As you can see, I wasn’t too precise about the placement but that’s what I like about it. You’re getting custom dishes so why not make them a little quirky? Though I’ll be honest that I planned out what I was going to write, tried my hand at some calligraphy, and then got down to business. Still couldn’t get rid of the quirk though.

life is sweet

After everything’s been written on, fire up the oven to 350 degrees and bake them for about 30 minutes. And voila! You have a shabby chic set of dessert plates.

sugar and spice

I will admit that I have tried this project before with a mug and there were some issues. Despite hand washing the mug, the sharpie slowly started to fade away. I went in doing this plate project knowing that these are just temporary holiday dishes and I’m not going to be using them as much as daily mug. I think if I was going to use these dishes more I’d look into using a porcelain pen. Either way I’m excited to add these to my holiday table.

Now that you know about my holiday party, I suppose that you’ll indulge a few pictures next week. Cross your fingers and hope that everything goes and looks exactly (or close) to how I planned!

Try Something New: March’s Photo-A-Day Challenge

instagramchallengecollageSome of the prompts included: lucky, sound, tasty, relax, loops, what you do for fun, keys, in the mirror

Okay, I totally missed trying something new for February but I’m going to forget about that because I really loved the new thing I tried in March. I’d always seen these “Photo-a-Day” and “Photo-an-Hour” challenges on blogs and thought, maybe I could do that but never gave it a try. Well what better way than to challenge myself and adhere to my new year’s resolution of “try something new every month” by getting on the whole photo challenge bandwagon.

Not really sure where to start but knowing I needed some structure to be successful, I started where I start most projects nowadays: Pinterest. I simply searched “March photo challenge” and was directed to a whole page of pins showing every sort of challenge. I shied away from the obvious lists of prompts that skewed towards March’s major holiday of St. Patrick’s Day. As I sifted through the pins I was getting kind of frustrated for choosing March as my month for the challenge because of this annoying mid-month holiday. But finally someone had pinned Fat Mum Slim’s photo-a-day challenge. I had never heard of this blogger but I liked her graphic and I liked the list of prompts as they were interesting without being overly difficult. They also touched on St. Patrick’s Day every once in awhile without being obvious. So I took the graphic, posted on my blog to be held accountable, and waited for March 1st to snap my first pic.

I’m really proud of myself for not forgetting to take and post a photo every day with the hashtag “fmsphotoaday”. It was infinitely easier because of my iPhone and instagram and I loved how it gave me the chance to play around with the camera on my phone. I want to be more serious with my camera abilities, as I was really involved in photography classes in high school and want to get back into taking quality photos. Some of the prompts were easier than others and created better photo opportunities. It was really fun to check the prompt each day too. I even got Nick in on the fun helping me think of interesting photos to take.

If you follow me on instagram, you can check out all the photos I took for my photo-a-day challenge along with my others. I decided not to do another one in April just because, as fun as it was, it’s a lot to remember and think about every day. It feels like my photo taking has been kickstarted with this project and I can’t wait to keep the momentum going with more snaps in the spring and into the summer.

Try Something New: Opening an Etsy Shop

etsybanner1

If you were reading early in the month, you saw that one of my goals for the year was to try something new each month. Well, I decided to start big: I am opening an Etsy shop! What self-respecting blogger doesn’t have an Etsy shop? Now I’ve joined the ranks of the many part-time bloggers, part-time hustlers roaming around the internet.

My new Etsy shop, buttoned down knits, is a showcase of my hand knit goods. It all started as I was despairing over having completed all my Christmas gifts. Knitting is a great hobby until knit goods start to build up in your house. You can only wear so many scarfs or force small knit items onto unsuspecting family members. I’ve always been secretly jealous of Etsy shopkeepers with their beautiful handmade wares. After knitting some beautiful gifts this holiday season, I decided that I could have my own shop too.

Everything you see in there is my own design and knit in my free time. Each design was agonized over: “Will someone actually buy this?” “Does this look perfect enough to be loved by someone other than me?” I won’t lie and say that yes, my shop will be sold out as soon as I post this but I am proud of each and every product you’ll find. My first design idea and listing for my shop is knit sunglass cases. I love that they are naturally cushion-y pouches for my favorite pair of sunnies. They’re uniquely functional and could be used to store anything you like, maybe a cell phone, iPod, or your pens and pencils for drawing. I have them listed as glasses cases simply because that’s what I thought of them as first. Coming soon, I’ll have cowls, arm warmers, and some of my other favorite designs.

I’m so excited to put my knits out there for everyone to see and perhaps purchase. Thanks for reading all of this and double thanks if you pop over to check out my internet storefront. If there’s anything you don’t see and are wondering if I can make, I love to be challenged so give me a shout!

The Simplest Scrapbook

I’m really getting into DIY projects lately. It’s incredibly easy to turn all that inspiration and random pins into a reality when you finally have the time. I guess unemployment is good for one thing at least. Plus the perfectionist in me was never going to be content with something I rushed to get done. So this crafty silver lining led to one of my favorite new projects: a card scrapbook.

For years (basically since I was ten) I’ve been saving cards. Holiday, birthday, graduation, just because, I saved them all. I was inspired to do so when I discovered one of my mom’s childhood scrapbooks in our basement and she had all these cards saved. I thought it would be so neat to save the pretty cards and to preserve the sweet sentiments I received. But I didn’t actually do anything with those cards until last week, meaning I have tons of cards saved up. That turned out to be okay because, instead of making one scrapbook, I’m (still) making many.

The inspiration for this scrapbook came from Pinterest (of course) via simplemom.net but there were no instructions attached to the pin so I made it up as I went along.

Supplies:

Book rings (I used 1″ size for their color)

Single hole puncher

Card stock

Greeting cards

Pencil

Markers and/or sharpies

1. You will want to start by using one card as a template for all the other cards. I suggest picking a pretty standard size card. Decide where you would like to bind your book. I chose to punch about 1 inch from the top and the bottom and pretty close to the fold of the card so that the front and back covers would line up nicely along the seam.

2. Taking your template card, line it up on all the other cards and make a mark through the holes to show you were you will need to punch. Pay careful attention to lining up the top and bottom of the cards. I had several small cards so I focused on lining the top of those cards with my template. When I had a larger card, I tried to match up the card fold and making sure the same amount of card would show at the top and the bottom. Your biggest concern ultimately is making sure the two holes are the same distance from one another so that you will be able to connect all your cards. Go ahead and punch all of your cards.

3. Make the front and back cover by taking your template card and outlining it twice on a piece of card stock. If you have chip board or a thin cardboard, that works well too. Cut those two out then mark and punch holes like you did with your cards. Create your cover design. I used my new stamps for one of my cover designs; I love them!

4. Now it’s time to assemble it! Put the back cover on both rings then put the cards on. With some books I have a specific order but with others I just put them in randomly. Once they’re all on, put the front cover on and close the rings. Viola! Your scrapbook is done!

First Major Knit

On Monday night, I finished my first major knitting project: a blanket. Whew, this feels like a major accomplishment. I’ve been working on this blanket for over a year, which I hope doesn’t make me seem like a terrible knitter but instead someone who let life get in the way of my knitting. I couldn’t have started the blanket at a worse time. I was just beginning my graduate program journey but I had also just discovered the joys of knitting and couldn’t pass up a major project. I taught myself knitting through a bunch of youtube videos (I forget which ones or else I would link to them) and the help of the old people I worked with.

I’m a very unconventional knitter, basically meaning I don’t follow any rules. I didn’t figure out the gauge or follow any pattern and I learned the basket weave stitch that I used by googling it. All in all, it worked out alright even if my blanket is more square than rectangle and it’s not the regular size for a throw blanket. But I love it because I know I’m going to have it for a long time and hopefully pass it along to my children (if that happens).

Never one to just be content with what I’ve got, I have decided to start a new project which involves teaching myself to crochet and making something. I’ve been scouring pinterest for ideas and started playing around with crocheting. Knitting came easily to me, after one terrible-looking scarf, but crochet not so much. I’m having trouble holding the yarn and making everything loop together. I practiced for a half hour yesterday but I’m not feeling very confident. I have to remember I had the same difficulties figuring out how to knit, how to hold my hands and the yarn and make the stitches work for me. Then I can start on number one on my twenty five things before twenty six.