Real Life: Celebrate Victories

I know you’re all probably like, “Why do you keep talking?! Give us recipes already!” Don’t worry! I have them, pictures and everything. I’ve just been inspired lately with random bits of unsolicited encouragement and inspiration. First leopard flats and being you, now motivational celebrating victories talk. Tomorrow? A recipe! I promise. (Don’t hate me if I break that promise, I have it prepped and ready! But you know what happens sometimes when I promise.)


Five weeks ago I started a boot camp. An intense boot camp. Some of my boot camp buddies and our trainer/killer (the one guy) are in the picture above. A little history about my weight loss/getting healthy journey. I’ve always struggled with weight. I’ve been chubby since I was two. In high school I wanted to lose weight because I thought being a certain size made be beautiful, worthy, or cool. I never wanted to try just for me until two years ago. Two years ago I started Weight Watchers. Prior to those two years I was the biggest I had ever been. I was defeated in so many areas of life. A new job, a new year, a new/old state, a new beginning, and closure of two years of counseling where I learned to love myself for the first time led me to think clearly and without defeating thoughts! I decided I wanted to do Weight Watchers for me and my health, not because skinny was pretty or to find self worth, but just for me. My mom and dad had both had heart attacks since I graduated from college. My dad was having serious health issues which later lead to liver cancer and later lead to death. I wanted to be healthy! I didn’t want to be a statistic of family genes and bad lifestyle choices. And for the first time, I knew I could do it. I believed in myself. The defeated thoughts were no more (okay not completely true, they come back often, but after counseling I knew how to recognize the defeating lies and combat them). In the first three months of Weight Watchers, I lost 25 pounds without working out at all, just counting points (it REALLY is a great program and I’ll always be an advocate for it). When I started to plateau, I added in some working out. I was proud of myself the day I worked up to one hour on the eliptical! Especially since the first time I did it I could only do five minutes.
Yep. I took a picture and will always save it. A milestone worth remembering. Then I had toe surgery… Not allowed to wear tennis shoes for two weeks. Two WEEKS?! Two weeks is a lot when you’re finally in working out [almost] everyday mode. I was introduced to water aerobics which I fell in love with and did faithfully for a while. They I started doing two classes a day! Zumba and water aerobics. And then… I got pneumonia. No working out for at least two week again. After than my dad starting get worse, life was harder, and I would work out here and there but pretty much had given up until boot camp. I had lost 43 pounds with Weight Watchers, but gained half of it back over holidays and losing my dad. I say all that to say, working out is NOT natural for me, ever, at all. I like how I feel after I do it, but I hate doing it. I hate sweating, I hate wearing work out clothes, it’s NOT natural for me. It’s hard and I have to work at it. After four weeks of boot camp and losing no weight (in fact, I gained!), I was getting frustrated! Yes I felt better, could tell in my clothes, had more energy, knew I was gaining muscle and getting healthier, but no weight loss was a serious motivation killer! I finally decided I wasn’t going to focus on the numbers and just give it my all. Last night, for the first time in my life, I didn’t finish last at something requiring physical activity!

I was third out of six! I can’t say I’ve ever been so proud of myself! I mean, it was AWFUL! I hated every moment, but when I got to huff and puff out the word “FINISHED” to my trainer and write down my time and not be the last one everyone was sympathetically (okay really it’s encouraging, TOTALLY encouraging and the best intentions possible, but still embarrassing when you’re last) cheering on at the end as they were all already finished. I felt empowered and awesome! I finally decided to weigh myself this morning after not doing so in two weeks and… I LOST 10 LBS!

Let’s celebrate victories guys! Every small victory that isn’t small at all. Taking the effort to work out when you haven’t been doing so at all is a victory. One pound lost is a victory. Not getting out of breath when you walk up the hill to work, it’s a victory! Working out three days a week when you previously worked out none, victory! Loose pants, victory. Making it three laps around the gym without have to slow to a walk which you’ve had to do every other time, victory! Looking in the mirror and loving who you see before you, VICTORY! Not believing the lies that Satan (it’s him, it’s really him) tells you about yourself, VICTORY! Getting up early to spend time with Jesus when before you “never had enough time,” VICTORY! Asking for forgiveness, forgiving yourself, accepting grace that none of us deserve but get instead of living in self-condemnation, VICTORY! Choosing to grieve losses in a healthy way instead of letting yourself get numb and avoidance, victory, big, huge, not small at all, victory.

Yesterday was the three month anniversary of my dad no longer being here. I miss him all the time, a lot. I never want to stop missing him or forget him or anything about him. The thought of not missing him, not thinking about him, or not remembering him makes me want to cry more than actually missing him. I decided on the month two anniversary to set a monthly reminder. Not to dwell in sadness, but just to never forget. The reminder is simply titled, “Remember.” Like I’ve said, and everyone says, a million times, we all grieve differently. For me, remembering is good. You know I’m on this goal kick, weekly, sometimes daily, sometimes hard, sometimes simple goals. My accountability partner helps me come up with them sometimes. For Monday, the three month anniversary, we came up with three goals. 1. Come up with five reasons I’m thankful for my dad. 2. Freak out if you need to freak out, feel what you need to feel, cry if you need to cry. 3. Bake something. Why? Well baking makes me feel good and gives me a sense of accomplishment. Feeling good and accomplished are good things to feel on potentially sad days.

So I did it! I’m thankful that he had the kindest heart of anyone I’ve ever known. He helped so many people get jobs and get back on their feet. He literally would have given someone the shirt off his back or boots off his feet if it would have helped them. I’m thankful for the sense of security he always provided, coming from a land of crazy family life. Even if he wasn’t physically there, I knew he was there. I’m thankful for his work ethic that he [tried] to pass down to me. I could never be as hard and as dedicated of a worker as he was! But I am a hard worker and dedicated, because he taught me that was important. I’m thankful for the things he taught me about money. I’m bad at money! He knew it. But he was so good at it and some things stuck with me. I still won’t apply for credit cards when people ask and my reason still is, “my dad would kill me.” Lastly, I’m thankful for how he modeled forgiveness. He was one of the most forgiving people I’ve ever met and gave so many chances, over and over and over again.

AND I baked a Skillet Chocolate Chip Bread Pudding. What goes best with bread pudding? Caramel sauce! I haven’t attempted caramel again since my three times of failing at it last summer. I’ve continued to make cheating caramel sauce (brown sugar, butter and cream), but even after buying the pan I didn’t have and knew I needed to make successful caramel, I was still scared. I decided the “remember” day was as good of a day as any to try again. And I did it! I also decided I will make a point, almost for every “remember” day to do something that makes me proud of me, like defeating caramel! It was a good thing to feel on a sad day.

Oh, and I did cry and feel. I cried yesterday and I cried while writing this, while proof reading it, and while re-proof reading it. And it was okay. I was okay. I am okay. Crying is okay! Okay? (Could I possibly say okay any more?)

So all that rambling to say, CELEBRATE VICTORIES! Silly ones like waking up early. Making good life choices ones like choosing the salad instead of the pizza, losing one pound, not finishing last, or working out more than you did last week. Spiritual freedom ones like spending time with Jesus, conquering a sin with His help, or learning to love yourself and not be self condemning. And serious, big deal, healing ones, like remembering the loved ones you’ve lost, facing grief instead of numbing it, and figuring out what helps you heal and grieve in healthy ways.


Let’s celebrate victories. Our own. Each others. Let’s agree to this okay? It’s a simple, good thing to do.

Salad in a Jar & Boot Camp

Remember that whole boot camp starting this week thing that I mentioned in my last post? Yeah. It started. It’s not called boot camp to just sound cool, it’s intense! Today is the first day that I didn’t make audible noises every time I moved to or from a standing position. Getting up, sitting down, it all hurt. I also left a trail of things everywhere I went that I dropped on the ground of floor. Just today I was able to pick up the bar of soap that I dropped in the shower two days ago. Sorry Starbucks about that pink plastic spoon I dropped on the floor and couldn’t pick up, it just hurt too bad!

I would say it wasn’t as awful as I thought it would be, but I won’t lie… It was pretty awful!  Life is good, I don’t feel like I’ve been hit by a truck anymore, and I’m proud of myself! However, my apartment is a wreck because my week consisted of nothing but wake up, Jesus & Starbucks time, work, boot camp, eat something I didn’t have to stand to make, sit until I could convince myself it was better to take a shower at night than in the morning when I’d hurt worse, shower, sleep, rinse and repeat. I don’t remember the last time I went to be before midnight every night in a week. Several nights I went to be before 11!

A few things I learned the first week: Burpees were created by Satan himself. I suck at sprinting. I can sweat way more than I thought I could. My entire body turns red when I work out intensely. I can do a lot more than I thought I could. Weight Watchers gives more Activity Points for doing intense physical activity for a reason! It’s apparently normal to gain weight the first week of starting new, intense work out programs (we all did!). Even when it feels like my heart and lungs are about to leap out of my chest, my body can apparently keep going. Working out with people makes a huge difference! I need to marry a personal trainer so I have a motivator for life.

Now to the food! For me, lunch can be the hardest meal of the day to make healthy choices for. It’s the one meal we usually aren’t home to eat. So today I bring you my all time favorite lunch idea!

A few things you probably already know about me.

  1. I love any make ahead recipe.
  2. I like food prep work A LOT.
  3. I love anything with layers.
  4. I love anything in a mason jar, anything. 
  5. I don’t believe in paying money to eat out for lunch breaks!
  6. I’m not a fan of the whole get up early to pack a lunch thing.
If you share any of these things in common with me. This recipe, which is more of an idea, is for you! I don’t do these every week, I like variety! But it’s one of my go-to make ahead favorite lunch ideas. I love salad! Love it. But before this idea, it was impossible to bring salad to work for lunch without bringing everything and the kitchen sink with me to work. And who wants to be that much of a diva and have a lunch bag bigger than the purse and work bag we already have, or am I the only one who carries three bags to work? If you layer these salads correctly, they can keep in the refrigerator for up to four days! Last week I made two, but I’ve made four before and had them every day for lunch.

First let’s talk a little prep. Prep! It can be so easy with the right tools. So many prep tasks can be done before.

I used to hate carrots in my salads. I liked them dipped in hummus or ranch, but hated them in salads for two reasons. 1. Carrots are hard to cut up into bite sized pieces! Every time I tried little carrot pieces would fling across the room. 2. Stabbing little carrot slices with a fork is equally as hard. Carrots meet mini food processor. It chops carrots in seconds to little crumbly type pieces, about the size of bacon bits. Perfect!

Other prep involves chopping whatever you want in your salad. I usually use whatever I have. For this one my prep involved boiling and chopping eggs, sauteing some pre-cooked frozen chicken pieces, and chopping green onions. That’s it!

Then it’s all about the layering and ingredients. The most important thing is to keep the dressing and lettuce as far away as possible. Keep the wet stuff on bottom and dryer stuff on top. I layered this batch of salad with the following ingredients in the order listed.
  • strawberry balsamic vinaigrette
  • green onions 
  • finely chopped carrots
  • julienne chopped cucumbers
  • quartered grape tomatoes
  • dried cranberries
  • a little sprinkle of mexi-blend cheese (close to expiration date)
  • a little sprinkle of feta cheese (close to expiration date)
  • cooked chicken breast, seasoned with Tony’s, pre-diced
  • a little sprinkle of turkey bacon bits
  • one boiled egg, chopped
  • romaine lettuce (Keep stuffing it, lettuce compacts!)
  • dried french onions (left over from holiday cooking)

Did I mention this recipe can also be used to clean out your fridge/cabinets? If it can be put in a salad, put it in! Be sure to bring a paper plate or large bowl with you to work to pour out the salad. The blog where I found the idea, said to shake it up and eat out of the jar, but that’s never worked for me. Just slowly pour it on a plate or bowl and eat!

I saw a blog that posted weekly pictures of what she brought for lunch, no recipes, just ideas. It was useful to me, and I’d be willing to do that if it would be useful for you! Yes? No? Let me know and I’ll start doing it! 

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A New Year

It’s the second day of a new year. A new year full of motivation, hope, and inspiration. Oh how I’m in desperate need of all those things and so excited about them. This isn’t the first time I took an accidental two and a half month break, but probably the first time I’ve had real reasons. Warning – sad update, but do not despair, hopefulness will come at the end.

Since I last blogged, on October 11th, a lot has happened. My dad’s health began to decline rapidly. On October 14th, my favorite day, I was blessed to be surrounded by loving friends all day. It made the news of finding out a transplant for my dad wasn’t an option and no treatments would work. The news we received that day was that there could be months, weeks, or days left in his life. It was exactly one month and four days later that we lost him.

November was HARD! On the 6th he was hospitalized and started to lose memory. My brother and I got there on November 7th. We sat in the hospital waiting, praying, and crying until the 11th. The real world demanded work, so we had to go back. On Sunday November 18th, we got the call. Again I was blessed to be surrounded by loving, incredible friends and support that day. His memorial was the day before Thanksgiving. It was hard, but most of the time I felt better than I thought I would.

Then came December. December was way worse than I even knew it could be! For the rest of my life I’ll feel the urge to hug anyone, stranger or not, when I find out they’ve lost a parent, spouse, or child. I wish we could all get together every year before Christmases without our loved ones to hug each other and talk about the ones we miss and the reality of how hard it is that the “Most Wonderful Time of Year” for most people is different for us now. It really is something you can’t understand until you’ve been through it and it just plain sucks! Again, so thankful for friends and family that give hugs, read negative texts, deal with bad moods, help clean apartments, fold clothes, give gifts, don’t get mad about unanswered phone calls, and take me in so I’m not alone even if I think I want to be.

And now it’s January! I have officially changed my favorite holiday to New Years. It’s so full of hope, motivation, inspiration, and renewal. It truly is a breath of fresh air. Of course I know I’ll still have sad break down moments, but January and a new year feels like the sun coming out after a big scary tornado warning or hurricane landfall (can you tell I’m from Mississippi?). I’m [hopefully] getting chosen for boot camp that starts at the end of January to lose the weight I put on while I’ve done nothing but eat out or eat holiday food and leftovers since October plus more. Also, back to meal planning! Back to blogging healthy recipes (and meal plans). However, I can’t promise not to blog some of the unhealthy hits I made for the holiday though. You didn’t think I stopped cooking totally did you?!

I discovered one thing I can count on, no matter how sad I get, I will still cook impressive things for other people. I might be eating frozen pizzas and way too much drive thru food, but I’ll make three delicious, impressive Wintermint cakes in one week and too many batches of poured icing sugar cookies to count.

And so… HOPE! I’m full of that stuff (hope) right now. So full of it that I actually made realistic achievable New Years resolutions. I even came up with objectives for my goals. This is serious guys! Of course I’ll share them with you, because I’m all share-y like that.

1. Wait for it… Blog more! That one is for you. And me! Makes me feel good. How? Plan it! Use Mondays off to prep posts. I did 53 posts in 2012. I am aiming for at least 100 for 2013.
2. Exercise – Boot Camp will help me achieve this!
3. Lose weight – Boot Camp, blogging healthy recipes, meal planning.
4. Paint – This is the only one I don’t have a plan for. I just haven’t done it in years.
5. Read more – Make a list of books I want to read.
6. Listen to the Bible in a year – Downloaded the app last night!
7. Get new glasses – Stresses me out to pay for the eye doctor and glasses in the same visit. I’ll make an appointment for one pay check and get glasses the next!
8. Call my Nanny more – I just set a reminder in my phone.
9. Save more – Set aside $50 every pay check (in hopes of maybe going to France to visit my cousin AND go to France).

Last but not least, I found a verse that is my most important and overall goal for 2013.

10. Psalm 145:2 Everyday I will bless you and praise your name forever and ever. – Talk to Jesus, read His words for me, and worship Him through singing (privately, not just during song time at church).

I really am so hopeful about 2013. My only New Years resolution for 2012 was to put myself out there and go on dates. I did it, but it wasn’t good for me other than knowing it’s better to wait for a Godly man to pursue me than have dating experiences. So here’s to 2013!

Did you make any New Years resolutions?