The One Where We Talk About Accountability

Back in June I found this online challenge for the month of July where every day you would do squats, pushups, crunches, and plank and you would increase the time/amount each day. I thought it might be fun to do with someone else so I asked my friend Lexi to do it with me, and then I asked my friend Toria, and then I invited my sister Deanne to  and then my friend Meghan joined.  We started a text group where we could encourage and hold each other accountable to get it done. I was pleasantly surprised at how encouraging it really was and how every day I did those exercises even when I didn’t feel like it because I knew that my friends would ask me. Then the challenge ended, but our daily encouragement and accountability didn’t. We still cheer each other on, hold each other accountable, exchange our favorite recipes and photos of each other after completed workouts. Then it morphed from just talking about weight loss, fitness, and healthy food to also sharing the tough stuff and the big stuff and the good stuff. They have become my safe space where I can share my heart without judgement and I know that they will encourage and cheer me on. It is a gift beyond description.

Through this group of ladies I have been reminded of something that I always knew, we need each other. We were not made to do life alone. I think that when God said it was not good for man to be alone he wasn’t just referring to the husband and wife scenario. I think He knew that when we do life together it just goes better. When we have our people cheering us on and asking us the hard questions we can lose the weight, and quit the bad habit, and create new good habits, and learn better ways to live. Life is so much more full when we live it side by side, with open hearts and shared words. Accountability and relationship and community… they are game and life changers. They remind you that you aren’t alone and that life is hard but it’s easier with your people. We need each other, plain and simple.

Have you been trying to quit smoking? Find someone to hold you accountable! Have you been trying to lose weight? Find people to hold you accountable! Do you want to workout more? Find people to hold you accountable! Do you want to read more or be more consistent in the time you spend with the Lord or be less fearful or take more chances? Find someone to hold you accountable! Find your people, be vulnerable with them, connect with them and watch as deep and good and true community literally changes your life.

My Keys to Health Success

Hello friends! As most of you know, this year I have been on a health journey. It started out with the goal of losing 37 pounds to get into a healthy BMI, but throughout it I have found self-love at each weight and shape, a love for health, nutrition, and exercise, and a strength I didn’t even know I had. I feel like I’m just getting to know myself for the first time… which might sound strange, but it’s been such a freeing experience. I’ve tried to lose weight and get healthy before and it has never stuck. I always revert to my old ways before I’ve even reached my goals. Until now. This time something in my brain clicked and I have been kicking my goals in the butt and sticking to the plan for almost 8 months now. It’s been 8 months filled with countless workouts, new recipes, self-love, a new found love of running, and 38 pounds lost (hopefully never to be found again). I thought maybe some of you would be interested in some of the keys to my healthy journey success… so here goes.

1.) I found something that worked for me. I started by quitting sugar and coffee cold turkey for a little over a month. Then added dark chocolate back in, and coffee without sugar. Then I found healthier alternatives to some of my favorite foods, like black bean brownies, chick pea blondies, and zucchini lasagna. I knew there was no way I was not going to eat dessert again because chocolate is LIFE, but I knew that I couldn’t eat a normal brownie and expect to lose weight or get healthy, and I knew I had to learn to eat even the healthy desserts in moderation.

2.) I started with workouts that I enjoyed. I really never enjoyed working out, so I decided to start with something I didn’t mind. I would do the elliptical and the 30 Minute Circuit at Planet Fitness, and then eventually moved up to doing the Couch 2 5K app on the treadmill, and then started running more and more and now most of my workouts are running. I am OBSESSED. I can’t get over how amazing and strong my body is. I’m just impressed with myself because I used to be worn out after 1/4 of a mile and now as of Saturday I can just 7.5 miles. I AM AMAZING (and humble).

3.) I set manageable goals. When I started running I was training for a 5k to just check it off my bucket list. I never anticipated falling in love with it the way I have. I set a goal to get into my BMI, not to get super skinny. I just wanted to be healthy. Those goals felt manageable and not overwhelming. In the past I have set huge goals and when the felt unreachable I would quit. Goals are important, but make sure they are reachable. Once I reach one goal I just set another one so I don’t get complacent, but I just take it one step at a time!

4.) I had rewards (that weren’t food) that I was working for. My first reward was to be able to purchase juice plus and my second reward was to buy a nice purse. Don’t get me wrong, there was some fro-yo thrown in there for good measure, but that was never the ultimate reward. These rewards felt motivating when I felt close to wanting to cave, and when I reached my goal it was such a fun way to celebrate!

5.) I had accountability. I really can’t recommend this one enough!! My first accountability was my awesome husband and my friend Lexi, then a few of my friends and I created a small accountability texting group and now we’re going to be running a 5k/10k together next month. On the days I felt discouraged I told them, in the moments I wanted to cave, I told them, when I wanted to wake up early to work out, I told them. And they held be accountable and they encouraged me. I love them forever and ever AMEN.

6.) I changed my perspective about why I wanted to lose weight and get healthy. This was probably the biggest game changer for me. For most of my life I’ve been ashamed of my body, it’s just never been enough or met the standards of the world. I would starve my body and feed it processed nonsense in an attempt to make it skinny. I would punish it for not looking like the models in the magazine. I viewed healthy eating and exercise as a punishment for a body that didn’t measure up, instead of as a reward for a body that does hard things and deserves to be treated well. Once I shifted my perspective I began to find SO MUCH freedom. I wasn’t saying no to ice cream because I couldn’t have it, I was saying no because my body deserved better.

Those are just some of the changes I’ve made, but they’ve made an enormous difference. Friends my life is SO much better since i made these changes. I feel happier and more joyful. I feel more upbeat and positive. I look in the mirror and love what I see. I say things to my husband like, “oh em gee, I look GOOD!” or “BABE is that really me?!”. For the first time in my life I’m not ashamed anymore, I am proud because this body of mine does hard things. It says no to junk and yes to health. It says yes to running and no to sitting on the couch. It is strong and amazing. I am strong. AND SO ARE YOU!

If you have any questions about what I’ve been doing, please feel free to send me a message or email (soknudsen@Liberty.edu). If you need someone to hold you accountable or be your personal health journey cheerleader, let me be that person! I am here for you, and I’ve been where you are, and we can do hard things together!

Go forth and be awesome. YOU CAN DO IT! : )

For Freedom

For as long as I can remember I have struggled with my weight, self-confidence, and relationship with food. I have been overweight for the majority of my life and turned to food as an anti-depressant and emotion regulator. Had a bad day? Eat some ice-cream, that will fix your problems (not). Then when I felt fat and unattractive post ice cream/burger/whatever other unhealthy food I chose, I was filled with regret and shame and self-loathing. Then repeat that cycle… over and over. I was living in the chains of overeating, chubbiness, and shame. Back in December I reached my breaking point and I knew that it was time to change. I knew that I was living in bondage, and I was made for freedom. I needed to change the way I viewed food and exercise and health in general. I had subconsciously been viewing it as a punishment for not measuring up to what I was supposed to be. I was chunky and had no self control and I was bad and because of that I had to feed myself diet food and restrict all the things and I had to workout until the fat melted away. But then, I had this incredible awakening. I realized that I had been believing lies about my body and my worth and my God. I ripped these weeds up by the root and began to plant new seeds. Slowly but surely the new beliefs have been springing up and I am changing from the inside out and I have been walking in a new freedom that I always longed for but never knew.

Whenever I think of freedom I think of Galatians 5:1,”It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery”. There is this idea that freedom means doing whatever the heck you want to do, to just do what makes you happy or makes you feel good. Typically these type of things make you feel good for a moment and then the next emotion is shame or regret because freedom does mean freedom from consequences. For example, I’m a little sensitive to lactose, specifically when it comes to cheese. I have the freedom to eat cheese but the consequence is that I will have an upset stomach. I have the freedom to sit on my butt and not exercise, but the consequence is I’ll feel sluggish. I have the freedom to do whatever I want, but the question I ask is will my choices increase my freedom or does it make me a slave to my decision?

My desire through this health journey was to experience increased freedom in my life. When I choose healthier foods, exercise, and good sleep I then had more energy to do things that I loved. As I make more positive choices I see more positive results and the amount of freedom I experience grows and grows. I feel more confident and strong and free than I have ever felt in my life. I look in the mirror and I think I CAN’T BELIEVE THAT’S ME! Or I wake up earlier in the morning to workout before a busy day and I think I CAN’T BELIEVE I MADE WORKING OUT A PRIORITY! Or I think back on the past 6 months and I think I CAN’T BELIEVE I’VE BEEN CONSISTENT FOR THIS LONG! I go for a run and I think I CAN’T BELIEVE I JUST RAN THAT FAR, I’M AWESOME AND STRONG! Each choice I’ve made has brought me to this place. Each time I chose a workout over extra sleep, or a salad over a burger has brought me to a place where I am experiencing freedom. Real and good and true FREEDOM.

I think that people are hungry for this. They are tired of being in bondage over their food addiction, or their porn addiction, or their loneliness, or their anger problem, or their alcohol or drug addiction or depression. They used their freedom to make poor choices and now the consequences are keeping them in chains. If I could sit down at a table with them, with coffee of course, I would look them in the eyes and say “you don’t have to live in these chains. Real and good and true freedom is available”. It is found by making one healthy and positive choice at a time, one day at a time. I know that is probably to simplistic for some struggles. I can’t imagine the pain that comes with a drug or alcohol addiction. But I think that making one good choice, one day at a time, is a step in the right direction.

It is for freedom that we have been set free. Not fake freedom, not selfish freedom that leads to slavery, but real and true and good freedom. The kind that frees you from the shackles you’ve been living in and gives you the space to dance wild and free.

You are more than your body (But your body is beautiful just as it is right now)

For as long as I can remember I have been a dieter. It’s basically been on and off my whole life. I would look at my body and then I would look at the thin, beautiful women on tv or the magazines or at school and I thought, “I don’t look like them. Something must be wrong with me.” I have spent most of my life punishing my body for being too round, for talking up too much space. I would go through months of consuming “reduced fat” chemical laden crap, hardly eating anything substantial. Instead of looking in the mirror and thinking, “body you are hardcore. You do incredible things everyday! I’m going to give you food that will nourish you and make you strong.” Instead I thought “Body, you are bad. You are broken. You don’t deserve good food. You may only eat smart ones microwavable meals and things that say “low-fat” on them. Come back to me after you lose some belly fat and we’ll talk about adding in some guacamole.”

Since noone had to see me naked, I could mostly keep my weight demon quiet… or at least quieter. Then a little over a year ago I got married. I suddenly couldn’t hide my body anymore. So I spent the next year essentially beating myself up for not being skinny enough for my hubs. Did he care about or even notice my chubbiness? Nope. But I did. And all of the sudden my weight demon took up residence on my shoulder. And it sat there for a whole year whispering lies into my ear. I believed it. I bought the lies, hook line and sinker. I hated my body, but I wanted to love it.

I came to a breaking point the end of 2014 and decided enough was enough. I had to change the way I was eating and treating my body. Not because I needed to fit into some skinny mold but because my body does hard things every day, darn it all, and it deserves to be healthy. It deserves to eat good food and be in shape. I reframed weight loss/fitness. I looked at what the world told me beauty was, and I decided I was going to call it out on it’s crap. NO MORE! No more torture for my poor, tired, beautiful body. It ended on December 29th, 2014.

That was the day I stopped feeding my body garbage, and started to see myself as the strong and capable woman I am. And guys, most days I really like my body! I look in the mirror and I think, “Dannnnnnng, I look gooood.” I go into the living room in a sports bra and yoga pants and I say, “Steve, I look goooood.” And then I sit in coffee shops and hear beautiful women talk about how they need to lose weight or a beautiful friend feels fat compared to the other people she knows and then I just feel sad.

Society has created this impossible standard for beauty and has elevated being skinny above all things. And if you don’t fit that mold, 9 times out of 10, you feel shame. I’ve decided I’m just not going to do it anymore. To myself or others. Because I am more than my body. There are so many things more important than being skinny or hot or whatever other unreasonable thing we’re told to be. Now I need to be clear here that I’m not saying skinny is bad and I’m certainly not trying to shame skinny people. It’s basically the opposite of what I’m saying. I just think that we need to start to treat our bodies with care and concern and that doesn’t always look like 6 pack abs or flat stomachs. Sometimes it does but sometimes it doesn’t and that’s ok.

I think it’s time for Christian women to stand up and say to other women, “You are more than your body, but your body is beautiful just as it is.” We should be shame lifters and freedom bringers. That starts with us. It starts by loving our own bodies, right now, as they are. I just refuse to be content with the shame that has kept me company for most of my life. No more! And I want to help free other women from it too. You can live a much more full life when the shame demon isn’t chilling on your shoulder. I flicked that dummy off and said, “You’re no welcome here anymore.” You can do that too. You have that power in your hands.

I am more than this body of mine. I am kind and loving and funny and hardworking and empathetic and passionate. I am a truth teller and a hugger. But this body of mine is beautiful, just as it is right now. And I have good news. So is yours. That is my freedom anthem. You are more than your body, but your body is beautiful, just as it is right now.

race photo

Friendship

In about two weeks Steven and I will pack up a moving truck, with the help of our dear family, and we will move to NC. Woah. It feels weird even typing those words. I’ve been living in this weird of paradox of emotions the past week or so, feeling excited and expectant and also overwhelmed and immensely sad. It’s so strange to live in that place, but I’m beginning to learn that it’s good and helpful and healthy to feel all these things. To sit in the sadness for a little while, and let the tears fall. To plan and dream of what is to come in this new place we are moving to. I feel all things, and I love it and I hate it. It’s hard and it’s wonderful. It’s my own Vice Verses (This is a reference to a Switchfoot song.. if you do not know it, immediately stop reading and go listen. It will change your life.)

So I live in this place of sadness and joy, and I embrace it. Most of the time. The other times, I turn to my friends, family, and husband to talk me down from the emotional cliff. And that’s what this post is for. It’s for them. It will probably be pretty long, so be prepared. I’ll highlight their names so you can skip to the person you want to read about, I won’t be offended.

Leigh Detzel
If you don’t have the privilege and pleasure of being friends with Leigh, I feel sorry for you. She is literally the most encouraging person I know. We have developed such a dear and special friendship, during a time when I had been feeling pretty lonely in the friend department. She speaks such wise and encouraging truth into my life, and when she does I try to open my heart up extra wide and soak it all up like a sponge. She has been an answer to prayer, and whenever we are together I spend 3/4 of the time laughing. I love laughter, so thus I love Leigh. She loves bunnies and really all animals and organic sustainable food and Jebus. Her heart is big, and she is one of the most authentic people I have ever met. Dear friend, I honor you here.

Phylicia Masonheimer
Phylicia is a writer and she blogs over at phyliciadelta.com. She is passionate and authentic and strong and (perhaps most importantly) hilarious. Phylicia is one of my favorite people in the world because she makes me laugh, we have a mutual obsession with coffee (sorry Phy, just calling it was it is), and because we are so different but love each other so truly. While we have many many things in common, we don’t always see eye to eye. And sometimes when that happens people get very uncivilized and REWD. But not Phylicia. We talk and disagree and are both passionate about our views, but in the end we are true blue friends. We’re like lawyers that argue in the court room but then go out to lunch afterwards… except we don’t really argue, but I’m assuming you get the picture I’m painting. Phylicia challenges me and grows me and makes me better. She is truly iron that sharpens iron. She is sweet and funny and loves the Lord with her whole heart. She is also currently growing a baby… because she’s hardcore like that. She also has a ballin husband named Josh, who is really good at Settlers of Catan. Dear friend, I honor you here.

Tiffany Towne
Tiffany was one of my first friends that I made in my office. She has one of those amazing personalities where she just immediately makes you feel at ease. We have had many many lunches together and had many many laughs. She is literally one of the hardest working and strongest people I know. She is loyal to her core, and always thinks the best of everyone. We have had the best of times… and also the not so best of times. But she knows who I am, every part, the good and the bad, and loves me still. What more can I really ask for in a friend? She is such a special person, and I can’t wait to see the amazing things she accomplishes. Dear friend, I honor you here.

Theresa Dunbar
Theresa is literally one of the most genuine and sweet and loving people I know. She has been my boss for almost three years, but most importantly she has become my friend. She always has the best and most Godly advice, she is filled with infinite wisdom. She never tries to hide her mistakes, but instead uses them as a teaching tool to help me navigate my decisions. I am a better and more wise person because of her. I could never repay her for the way she has invested in me and loved me so so well. There aren’t really adequate words to describe the impact she has made in my life. She is an incredible wife, mother, boss and friend. I look at the way her husband Bill loves her and the way she loves him and it inspires me. I love her more than words, and I can’t talk about it any more because I will cry. Dearest friend, I honor you here.

Deanne Marie Housknecht
I saw a quote recently about sister in laws, how they are our family by chance but our friends by choice, and I feel like this couldn’t apply more perfectly in our relationship! Deanne is my seester, but she is also my friend. We laugh and shop and have serious talks. She is such an incredible and Godly woman, wise beyond her years. She recently had to go through a not so great season, and had to deal with some very serious and adult things and she was SO stinking wise and strong. I’m sure there were times where she felt defeated because she is a hooman, but she never let her emotions get the best of her. She is a woman of integrity and strength. She is also bad a#@ because she shoots a bow and arrow and is the only female on the club team at school. GIRL POWER. She has an amazing husband, who works so hard to provide for her. He supports her as she pursues her dreams of being a nurse, and he loves her well. Dearest sister and friend, I honor you here.

Christy Moxley
I met Christy in either 2011 or 2012… I’m beginning to reach an age where all the years blend together. We were in a life group together, and she quickly became one of my favorite people. We had the best talks, they were real and hilarious. Christy has one of those amazingly infections smiles, and a personality to match it. She has experienced deep pain and yet she loves so well. She has a heart for single moms, and babies (she is also growing a baby…all my friends are awesome) and for her husband Rich. She calls him Richy Baby and it makes me laugh every time. Hopefully Rich will still be my friend now that that is in writing. He is really great at making people laugh… however he is not good at Settlers of Catan. Dear friend, I honor you here.

Claire Pikarsky
I met Claire my freshman year at college, and then we became co-workers and then we became friends. Claire is the kind of woman I want to be when I grow up. I’m being very serious. She is kind and welcoming, and never says a bad word about anyone. She goes above and beyond the call of duty to make you feel like you matter to her. She is affirming and supportive, gorgeous and fun. I am so thankful that our friendship has grown and blossomed. We laugh together and have deep talks together. We share with one another transparently and honestly, always making our focus go back to Jesus. She inspires me and makes me want to be better. Her friendship and our friendship with her husband David, mean so much. Dear friend, I honor you here.

Brianna Brown
Brianna is one of the sweetest people I know. She has this incredible smile, the kind that just welcomes you into her life. She and her husband Bobby have a heart for the nations. They served as missionaries in Nepal, she works for World Help (which is a humanitarian organization) and they are currently in the waiting period for an international adoption from Ethiopia. Not only that, but she is also currently pregnant. That’s right, they are adopting and pregnant. THEY ARE HARDCORE. I have such incredible friends, that do things like love the unloved and grow humans inside them. Dear friend, I honor you here.

Rachel Brewer
I have known Rachel for about 4 or 5 years. We met at a ladies bible study and she saw me in my most immature and silly… and yet she still wants to be my friend. Bless her. Rachel LOVES people, and she does that by sharing her health journey and encouraging them on their own. She is such a strong and hard working person. She is a wife, a mom, and a business owner. She is a professional encourager and inspiration. Rachel and her husband Mark are excellent at welcoming people into their lives. Every time we go to their awesome loft we feel right at home because they have created that environment. Their kids are fun and polite and kind. We played apples to apples with them last week, and it was definitely one of the funniest things ever. They are such a great family, and I’m so thankful and proud to be Rachel’s friend. Dear friend, I honor you here.

Alexia Weaver
Lexi is literally the most encouraging, joyful, and authentic person I know. I’m not even exaggerating. She always has a smile on her face, and yet she’s also not afraid to talk about the hard stuff. That’s my favorite thing about her. She’s silly and fun always willing to try new things. She literally loves everyone, and I’m convinced she’s never met a stranger. She’s one of those people that you just want to be friends with forever because when you are with her life feels better. She’s thoughtful, loving and passionate. She has incredible vision, and trusts that God will open the doors she needs. She’s an amazing wife and mother. I love watching her and her husband together with their son Jax. I love that baby, he is the CUTEST. They are such great parents, and baby Jax will grow up knowing he is safe and loved. I’m so thankful for them. Dearest friend, I honor you here.

Steven Combs
I know that everyone else has been a female… but I just can’t write a post honoring friends without including my best friend. I honestly can’t imagine anyone else that I would rather adventure with. He is strong and steady, calming the storms that so often happen in my heart. He is an excellent hugger and my voice of reason. He is funny and creative and a musical genius. He is literally the wisest person I know. He steadies me when I am anxious and fearful and he is teaching me to not take myself too seriously. He takes chances, and dreams HUGE dreams. He is my biggest encouragement and accountability partner. I am a different woman today because of this man, and I know I am better for it. I love you Steven Anthony, and I honor you here.

I’m sorry that this post is exceptionally long, but at the same time I’m not. Each of these people deserved to be honored.  I’m so lucky to know them and so blessed to be their friend. I have known some incredible people here in Lynchburg, far too many for one post. I know this is just scraping the surface. But these people are so special. They are once in a life time kind of friends. I would like to pack them up and bring them with me, but since I can’t I will treasure them in my heart, and bribe them to come visit me with trips to Raleigh and swimming in our pool.

Thankful Tuesday

Last week was snow city here in Virginia, and I’m not going to lie, I spent more than a little time complaining about our unplowed road. I was/am not thankful for the snow. It’s cold and wet and in my way… but there is still something beautiful about it… especially when it first falls, untouched by cars or people. And I think that’s a lot like life. Sometimes it’s really dumb, and frustrating and stressful, and things get in our way. Like cars that won’t start, or a sleepless nights, or difficult relationships. Sometimes it feels like how in the world am I supposed to be thankful for ANY of this? But I am beginning to see that there is beauty in the hard stuff, a silver lining to every cloud. Sometimes we have to look a little harder for the silver, but it’s there. Sometimes I really don’t feel like being thankful, because it takes so much more work. But this thankful spirit has transformative powers, and I know that I do want to be transformed. I know what a person overcome with thanksgiving looks like, and that’s what I want for my life. So I fill little journals with the daily graces, and I write down the ordinary things, and I feel myself change. It’s slow but it’s sure. Today I am thankful for:

1. Friendships, both new and old. I love deep talks and I love laughing over board games, and squealing with delight over big announcements. I love planning trips and running races together. I love that my best friend is my spouse and I love the other friends that God has placed so perfectly in my life.

2. The gym, because I have really developed a love for working out. I really feel better about myself and my body when I know that I have worked hard. Today I will start training for my very first 5k!! Maybe some people can run that in their sleep, but for me this is a big deal and I’m really excited to start the training!

3. Peanut butter ginger chocolate chip cookies that are basically healthy. That’s right, I said it. They are gluten free, vegan and oil free. AND DELICIOUS!! Chocolate Covered Katie never steers me wrong.

4. My amazingly creative husband. He has been working SO hard at recording a full length album, and next week he will be launching the pre-order for it. I’m so proud of him for working so diligently and for making such beautiful and inspiring music.

5. The opportunity to attend a Jon Foreman show this weekend. We live in a college town, and said college always attracts some our favorite bands and singer at least once a year, and this Saturday we get to see our most favorite singer/songwriter/awesome person. I am so pumped… and if dares to snow, I will kick said snow in the butt.

6. Parks and Recreation (the t.v. show) because it’s HILARIOUS. Sometimes Steve and I will walk it while we eat dinner or in bed and we just die laughing. If you don’t like it… we might have to have words.

7. Clothing that is starting to fit better, like my boots that used to be tighter around my calves.

8. My brother coming to visit this weekend/next week.

That’s all for this week. I love writing these posts, it’s really such a joyful experience for me. How about you? What are you thankful for on chilly winter day?

My Favorite Essential Oils (and why)

I’m on an ongoing health journey, and about five months ago essential oils became a part of that journey. I did quite a bit of research on which oils did what, and what these oils were really capable of. I read personal testimonies from people who used them and saw incredible results. I saw photos of before and afters. And I was excited to have my own personal testimonies. I personally use Doterra essential oils because of their purity and the amount of testing done on them. This is my personal preference, but I by no means think that there are not other worthy companies out there. When choosing your brand just be sure they are quality oils, with testing to back up their claims of purity. I use oils to help me manage anxiety, headaches, hormones, pimples, and prevent sickness. I have a few oils that are my daily go-tos and  have really made a difference in my life. In fact… I’ve been known to basically just sniff oils through a stressful movie… I can’t handle suspense or violence or anything that is a comedy.

1.) Elevation, also known as the joyful blend, is my absolute favorite. It smells like sunshine in a bottle and has been a huge help in managing my anxiety. I usually put it on my wrists and my neck and the smell literally gives me an immediate lift. I had been looking for a natural way to manage the anxiety I was experiencing, and elevation has mad a huge difference with that. I use it every day, usually about two or three times a day. (Especially after a trip to the dentist…)

2. Clary calm is the blend for women. I recently came off birth control (not to have a baby… stopping that rumors before it starts) because there is a slight history of blood clotting in my family, and that can be a side effect of it. I just felt safer not being on it, but I was nervous about the way my body would react coming off of it. I have heard of people experiencing extreme emotions and friends… I am already emotional enough. I thought I’d give this hormone balancing blend a try and I’m SO glad I did. I put it on my feet in the morning and at night and it had a huge impact.

3. Peppermint oil is good for so many things. I have used it to help with wisdom tooth infections and pain. I have used it to help with pain from cracked tooth (twice…). And I have used it for headaches and stomach aches and to even help clear up my breathing. When mixed with wild orange it is even good to help with focus. It’s one of my favorite go to oils.

4. Wild Orange oil can also be used for uplifting your mood, or you can put it in your water. I do both of those things. You can also put it in cleaning sprays because it’s is a strong purifying agent. It is also high in antioxidants and helps protect you against sickness! It smells amazing and tastes even better.

5. On Guard oil is also known as the protective blend. I have made a blend with on guard, lemon, melaleuca, and oregano and I put it on my feet at night and in the morning. Sometimes I will also take on guard in a capsule in the morning if I start to feel worn down.

There are many more oils that I use and love, like balance, serenity, oregano, melaleuca, lemongrass, frankincense and geranium. I’ve made cleaning supplies, put drops in my lotions for soft skin, made a pimple buster blend, and soon I’m going to start making my own deodorant. My mom has used them to help with some of my brother’s behavioral problems. And my mother in love/father in love have used them to get off some medications and my brother in love has used them to help with his asthma. I know that essential oils aren’t the answer to every problem, but they are a piece of the wellness puzzle. If you want to learn more about them, and their many uses let me know!

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Friday Recipe Roundup

Good morning my fine interwebs and real life friends. IT’S FRIDAY!! Normally I embrace Fridays with a huge figurative hug and do a happy dance, especially when that Friday is a jeans and t-shirt day at work. But unfortunately this day started out with a never ending dentist appointment to take care of my poor chipped tooth. Boo hiss. A little background there, this same precious tooth had a root canal a little over a year ago but I am a cheapskate and I was paying for a wedding and so I said, “SORRY TOOTH! You’re just gonna have to go without a crown and suck it up.” Well about a year later I learned that was a mistake because my poor little tooth chipped when I bit into an extra crunchy piece of bread. But the dentist fixed it up and I thought… I’m still gonna wait on the root canal… denial is the way to go. And once again I was wrong because two nights ago the back of my poor tooth broke while I was eating a no bake cookie. I wised up at this point and faced the music. It was time for a stupid and expensive crown. Off to the dentist I went today, he shot me up with Novocaine, pulled the broken part of my tooth and then used that awful grinding tool and made my poor little precious tooth into a nub. His words, not mine. Now I just wait for the permanent crown to be done. In conclusion, I hate the dentist… I had to anoint myself in anti anxiety essential oils on my way to work. Bless.

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This was me post dentist…

Now onto more wonderful things, like black bean brownies.

Last week I skipped recipe roundup because i felt like I didn’t have enough to share, so this is two weeks of recipes I’ve tried.

1. Chicken(or turkey) spinach cheddar burgers. I used ground turkey for this recipe because it’s what I had at the house, but I do love ground chicken so I’m sure it would be delish with that. The burgers were really tasty and moist. You do use some breadcrumbs, but not cheese. I’m a fan of these and will definitely make them again. I made some sweet potato hash to go on the side, and it was perfect! I used a piece of spelt bread for the bun, but then yesterday I had one again at lunch without any bread at all and it was still just as good.

2. Cowboy Cookie no bakes (without granulated sugar). These were awesome. I accidentally put too much baking soda in them, so Steve won’t eat them, but I still think they taste like cookie dough so more for me! The combination of the pretzel and the dark chocolate is awesome. You can bake them, but the instructions say that they taste better not baked and I am inclined to believe them. The only sweetener in these is vanilla, maple syrup and dark chocolate. I used to love eating cookie dough, so this is a healthier and less calorie filled alternative to that. I found this recipe at Chocolate Covered Katie, which in my personal opinion is the best healthy dessert blog.

3. Almond Crusted Chicken Strips. These were pretty tasty, but mine did not get as crunchy as in picture. I think I will try to make them again but I will coat them better in the almond meal, I will use less olive oil, and maybe at some dried spices to the almond meal mixture. I paired this with some Israeli couscous which is so tasty. It was a pretty bland meal, but I like bland.

4. Black Bean Brownies. This is another Chocolate Covered Katie recipe, and it is amazing. Steve told me I should never make another kind of brownies again, and I can’t help but agree. They are moist and kind of fudgey tasting, and they have loads of dark chocolate. I used all maple syrup for the sweetener, and it still tasted amazing. These are chocolate heaven, for reals. Go make these right now, you’ll thank me later.

I’ve also made some delicious smoothies through this journey, with fruit and peanut butter and cocoa powder. I also put a scoop Doterra protein powder called Trim Shake. It has really helped curve my craving for carbs, which is a miracle because I am a bread girl through and through.

It has been fun to try new and delicious ways to enjoy healthier food. I’ve had stomach problems for as long as I can remember so I recently decided to cut out dairy, certain veggies, and gluten to see if it helps at all. It’s just a two week trial to see if it will make a difference, and then I’ll add things back in slowly.

I hope you have had a great week, I hope that the snow has not deterred you from doing fabulous things, I hope that these recipes inspire you to try new things and maybe even be pleasantly surprised at how delish they are. You are fabulous. DON’T YOU FORGET IT!

 

Recipes found at:

https://soleforthesoul.wordpress.com/

http://chocolatecoveredkatie.com/

http://www.redskyfood.com/

Thankful Tuesday

Today was a snow day, which is really the only thing that snow is good for in my personal opinion. But it was wonderful to just relax and literally be stuck in my little house. Last week was really crazy and exhausting and the past few days I had been feeling like I had reached my end emotionally. Just ask my poor husband who has had to deal with my tears the past two days. I have been on this health journey since the end of December, and I have been working very hard to treat my body well and also get into my BMI. I’ve been working hard and not seeing the results I would like. But today I have come to a place where I know that even if I’m not where I want to be yet, it’s not for lack of trying. I am working hard and I am being faithful. I am treating my body well and I am not quitting. In fact not only am I not quiting but I am enjoying this journey (most of the time). I am learning how to cook and bake in ways that are new and innovative for me. I am working out consistently and I am working out hard! When I remember all of that it puts it in perspective for me. Would I like to see more results faster? Yes. But that fact doesn’t change the reality that I am working hard with consistency. This is a big deal for me, and I don’t want to lose sight of that. Weight loss or not I am still walking in VICTORY.

I think that’s a great place to start this week’s Thankful Tuesday. So, this week I am thankful for:

1. snow days

2. the gym

3. black bean brownie

4. a temporary full time job, where I can work from home during the move

5. signing the lease for our new apartment

5. a husband who encourages me and pushes me towards success

6. a husband who works hard at the things he is passionate about, like his full length album, and works hard even in the mundane things, like shoveling out our cars

7. daily victories

8. the opportunity to see God work through our move to NC

9. having coffee this week, and not needing sugar in it, and also not needing to drink it everyday

Last week felt long and exhausting, and I didn’t always have a very good attitude about it, but reflecting on life and the things I am thankful for reminds me that I really have a ton of blessings. Even in the frustration and discouragement God is still working, isn’t He? What are you thankful for??

Thankful Tuesday

Friends, I’m going to have an honesty moment right here and now with you. I have felt very on edge the past few days. I don’t do very well with the unknown, and I don’t do well with trusting and I don’t do well with faith. Which is leading me to believe that this season I am in is Jesus trying to give me lots of opportunities to trust… and have faith. All I can say to that is oi vey. I’ve already cried in my cubicle… and there are still two more months left until we move… BLESS.

This morning I realized that I needed to fill my brain with verses on God’s faithfulness and trusting Him. The more I read, the lighter I felt. I also started to write down the reasons I am thankful for this season, and as I put things into perspective I felt more at peace. It’s funny how I know the things to do to make me feel better, but my initial reaction is normally to have a pity party and get teary eyed at my desk. Again I say BLESS.

A thankful heart is actually a joyful heart and a trusting heart and a peaceful heart. This is why I give thanks, this is why I publicly give thanks. The more I do it, the more I become the person I’ve always hoped to be. So without further ado, here is this week’s edition of Thankful Tuesday. Today I am thankful for…

1. The bible. This book and the verses inside it have become such a source of encouragement and conviction and support for me, especially today. I am ever aware that this book is living and sharp as a sword. It’s always applicable in my life, always relevant and life changing.

2. The fact that I get to go through this journey with Steven. There is literally noone else in the world I would rather do all of this with. It’s hard but it’s good. There are tears but there is SO MUCH laughter… like so much. It’s so much easier and better to do the hard stuff when you get to do it with someone awesome.

3. Houses for us to look at tomorrow, and an apartment to rent if those don’t work out.

4. Healthy food, i.e. black bean brownies. They are amazing, don’t let the “bean” part throw you off.

5. The gym.

6. Dinner with a friend tonight.

7. My job and my wonderful boss.

8. Being able to watch parts of If:Gathering this past weekend.

9. Trader Joes… because it’s a magical land of food. Amen.

That’s all for this week my friends. Life is equal parts hard and magical. It is filled with sacred moments and moments where I want to sit on the floor and cry. I’m thankful for it all, even the hard stuff.

What are YOU thankful for friends? I really want to know!!!!