Saturday, January 2, 2016

2015: The year I found my Joy!

I've been giving a lot of thought over the past week about what my word for 2016 is going to be, and last night I finally found one that spoke to me.  The reason it's been so hard for me to choose one is because the word I chose last year completely changed my life. Last year, I chose the word JOY.

This time last year I was in a pretty rough place mentally.  I'd been in Jacksonville for just about 6 months and other than being so close to the ocean, I had nothing good to say about this place (not even the weather, I still claim that it's way to hot here).  I'd just started a new job, after having 3 here that left me totally miserable every day.  It was the holidays, I was away from most of my family, my friends, and there was no snow here.  I was quickly spiraling into a depression that I knew would keep me down for months, and I knew I had to do something to stop it because that was not a road I wanted to go down again.  I decided I needed to find the JOY in my everyday life.  And boy did I ever!

I got a journal and each night I wrote in it the things that made me happy that day.  It was hard at first and some days I honestly had to search really hard to find something, but the longer I did it the easier it got for me to notice these things as they happened.  And as time went on I noticed a change in my attitude and way of thinking.  It didn't take long either.  I was just looking back through my journal and this entry on Jan. 16th was when things really started changing.  It was the catalyst to a lot of amazing things that have happened in my life since then.  "Had a great phone convo w/ Brian & Jessie tonight - I'm excited about joining the Juice Plus+ company. Not so much to make money, but because I really think the products are one of the pieces of my success puzzle. Love the shakes, looking fwd to the capsules!"   I had no idea how right I was.

Thanks to JP+ I have found my passion in life - helping people feel better and live healthier lifestyles.  I never could have done this if I hadn't of been living this mission myself, and man does it feel good.  I no longer feel run down and tired all the time, I don't need coffee just to function , I sleep better, I rarely get sick anymore, I crave vegetables and could care less for sugary things, I love to be outside and be active, the list goes on and on.  But for me, helping other people experience these things is what makes it all worth it.  My husband has lost 30lbs and is no longer pre-diabetic, his blood pressure is back to normal.  My son's horrible acne is 99% cleared up.  My friends tell me how much energy they now have and thank me for it.  It's so amazing to know how many lives are being changed and I am honored to be a part of that.

I know I said in my journal entry that the money wasn't a factor in me partnering with this company, I honestly just wanted to make enough to cover the cost of the products for my own family and maybe give Russ and I some play money to fund all our travel adventures.  I had no intention of building a business, I just wanted to share my positive experience with the people around me and see if I could help them as well.  Fast forward a year and my JP+ income is something I never expected. I've had some friends and family members join me with the company also and I love watching them experience the same things I did. They get excited about helping people just like I do.  They get excited about their paychecks and I get excited for them. Watching them not stress about the extra Christmas expenses because of JP+, it's so rewarding.  And the travel fund for Russ and I - that is one of my favorite parts!  He has been busy with the Police Academy so our adventures together have been few and far between since August, but I have been able to take a few trips - so fun. I love to travel :)  I went to Atlanta, Columbia, Destin Beach, and Rochester last year.  So far between now and August I have several trips planned - Rochester again, PA, Seattle, Phoenix and MI.  the first 3 are locked in,, still working on the last 2 :)

Part of me finding so much JOY in this year was all of the people I have met through JP+.  It's so rewarding to be surrounded by such an amazing team of people who are all equally as passionate about this mission as I am.  The encouragement and support amongst this team makes us more like family than "co-workers".  Everyone should have a job they love and are passionate about, it's so good for the soul :)

When I started writing this I didn't intend for it to be all about Juice Plus+, but it's pretty typical of my life these days - conversation just kind of goes there LOL 

I've found JOY in other places as well.  I no longer hate Jacksonville. It's still not my favorite place on earth, but there are worst places we could be.  I love that the sun shines most of the time.  I love that there is always something to do here at any given time. I love that even though I am not much of a shopper, there are a zillion new stores and restaurants for us to explore.  I have found some great places to go jogging.  I love walking downtown over the bridges and around the stadium, especially when the Jaguars have a home game. I love that I am starting to enjoy Sunday afternoon football games with my husband, because of the excitement of walking around the stadium on game days LOL.  Because I am stubborn, I would probably still not be admitting all of this if I hadn't of slipped up on one of our walks a couple weeks ago.  We were at the top of the Acosta bridge and stopped to take a selfie.  I remember looking out over the water, the sun was reflecting off the St. John's River, the palm trees lining the walkway, and I realized I was truly happy.  Without even thinking about it I said out loud to myself "God I love this city."  Pretty sure Russ about crapped himself, those are words he never expected to hear.  And honestly, I never expected to say them.

2015 was a huge year for me, lots of changes, new beginnings, and a TON of personal growth.  I am living proof that if someone changes their mindset and starts looking for the positive and finding the good in every situation instead of focusing on the negative it will truly change your life.  Sometimes I think I overuse the hashtag #Lifeisgood but life really IS good!!

Shameless plug.  Check this out, because you all deserve to feel as good as my family and I do (healthwise, physically and mentally)!!

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Habits and Routines

I never used to be much of a planner, always kind of flew by the seat of my pants - much to Russ's horror.  He was the planner, the organizer, the one who kept us all in line.  He's known as the shoe fairy in our house. No matter where we took off our shoes in the house, they'd always end up back in the "shoe spot", and they'd all be lined up perfectly.  Nothing wrong with being like that - I just wasn't.  Somehow over the past few years that has changed.

I need my routines. I need the habits I have developed.  They keep me grounded and focused.  They also keep my anxiety at a manageable distance.  I know that if I don't plan our meals and keep food and meals prepped in the fridge, we will end up going out and making unhealthy choices.  I made a habit out of planning our menus for the coming week on Saturday, and then shopping and prepping on Sunday.  That habit has just become my routine now.  I made a habit out of keeping my gym bag packed and ready to go every morning, and bringing it with me when I leave the house.  This way I can change at work if I want to go to the trail, or I can just head to the gym.  I do this because I know if I come home first to change I will most likely end up not going back out.  That habit has just become my routine now.

When Russ's schedule changed at work it totally screwed up my routine.  If I go to the gym right after work I will only see him for maybe 2 hours a day.  That 2 hours would be spent making our dinner and packing his lunch while he showered.  So basically I won't see him much at all.  I'm not ok with that so I come home after work so I can see my husband.  We tried a few things, like him meeting me at the gym, or me picking him up and we go to the trail - but time wise it just wasn't working out.  I am currently trying to develop a new habit of going to the gym when he leaves for work at 5:30.  I'm not thrilled with this, but I need to get my exercise in and there's really no other option.  I'm sure after a week or two it will just be a part of my routine.

Last week the kids were all here and my routines went right out the window. I am not complaining, I'd give them all up to have our family here with us all the time!  I was sad to see them go, but the next day when I got up and made my shake, and packed my lunch, and did all the other things I do in the morning I realized something.  I'd missed my routines.  And while I miss the kids, I was happy to have our "normal" back.

I am sure Russ wishes some of these new habits of mine included things like not making piles of stuff all over the place, and folding the laundry when its done instead of letting it sit in the basket to get all wrinkled.  Maybe someday. Baby steps, right?!

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Been a while...

Geesh, I don't know how I let this get away from me!   We got busy with life and blogging took a backseat I guess.  Which is funny because I think about blogging all the time. I even write blog posts in my head while I'm at work, just never seem to have time to sit and get them typed out!  I've been thinking about writing a lot today and decided that while I feel like I don't have much to say right now, there IS a lot I do want to write about.  So be ready for more frequent posts again - I miss writing and sharing things with you all.

This week is going to be a fun one. Marissa and Jen will be here Tuesday and we have a fun week planned!  Zach, Cassie & Grahm will be here Thursday night.  It'll be so nice to have all the kids under one roof again, I cannot wait!  We are packing a picnic (and lots of sunscreen!!) and heading to the beach Friday, going to be so much fun :)

I am really enjoying being a part of the Juice Plus company.  Since I became a part of this awesome community of people I have helped 10 of my family, friends & their children get started on a path to healthier futures.  Not to mention Russ and I - we both feel so much better, have more energy and are both slowly losing weight - which is exactly how it should be.   Being a part of this company is definitely a forever thing for us, I see it being my only "job" within a few years.  I have seen how it has changed the lives of the people on our team and can't wait until I am there with them!  I think I am most excited about the fact that it has my own kids caring about their health.  They are eating healthier and being more active all on their own. I feel like they are going to finally break the cycle of unhealthy habits that have been handed down through the generations.  My grandmother instilled in the whole family that food equals love, only to her food meant sugar!!

It's past my bedtime, need to get some sleep and get ready for our busy fun filled week with the kiddos!

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Ready, set, DONE!

This morning I spent about 2 hours in the kitchen prepping some of our snacks for the week.  I love being able to just grab & go in the mornings, no hassles no stress.  Sure makes life easier.  Here's some quick photos to share with you all.  When I get home this afternoon I will make the 2 items that I will be packing for our "main" lunch item, and prep stuff for the 2 dinners we're having.  Then I will basically be done for the week in the kitchen, other than cooking our actual dinners.  How awesome is that?!!  

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Meal Plan, Shopping Trip, Recipes and ideas!

I shared the pictures of my grocery shopping trip this morning and had a couple of requests for my plan for the week. I spent $99, and this should last us 10 days.  I do have a few things on hand, like frozen chicken breasts and ground beef that I will be using as well.  

Here's what I bought!

3lbs Red Grapes
4 Apples
2lb bag of Lemons
1 Lime
1 Grapefruit

Grape Tomatoes
Romaine Hearts
Trio of colored peppers
Green Leaf Lettuce

Refrigerated Section:
Sharp Cheese
Yogurt for Russ
Greek Yogurt for me
Sour Cream
Almond Milk
Boiled eggs
(Yes, I buy them already boiled and peeled.  Judge me if you must, but it's a huge time saver.  Not to mention I have not been able to easily peel eggs here in Florida, it's always a struggle and I end up with more wasted egg than anything.)

Whole Wheat Flour
Pam Spray
Cream of Tartar
Condensed Milk x 2
Applesauce Cups (I use them for baking.  One is just shy of 1/2c)
Taco Seasoning (I need to make up another batch of my own!)

1lb Turkey Breast
Hershey Kisses for Russ
Dried Cranberries
Frozen Chicken Strips
Alfredo Sauce
(These last 3 are because Zach came home unexpectedly for the day and I needed something quick to make him for dinner!)

This is my meal plan for the week.  Please ignore how messy it is, I didn't realize I'd be sharing it when I made it!  Russ's is on the back side, it's similar to mine with a few changes based on our personal likes.  We both always have a Complete Shake for breakfast, and the days Russ works at JSO we will also have a Shake for dinner.  He doesn't get home until almost 7pm and neither of us like eating that late.  I work from 6am-2pm so I have my shake while I'm getting the kids breakfast, then I always eat 2 boiled eggs around 9 and sometimes a yogurt.  After the kids are fed at 11:30 I eat my lunch.  Then I eat a snack around 3 and we have dinner when Russ gets home at either 5:30 or 7pm.  I am a creature of habit and can eat the same things everyday for weeks without getting tired of it!

I tend to make things on the weekend that I can take to work throughout the day for my lunch.  This weekend I am making Chicken-Sprouts Casserole but I am altering it quite a bit to bring the calories down.  I am also making the Broccoli, Bacon & Blueberry Salad* that we love.  I have 1 steak in the freezer that I will cook and slice up to put on top of our salad Monday night. Tuesday night we are having Verde Chicken Soup*.  Friday night will be leftovers, and Saturday we will be in Daytona visiting Zach at College for Family Weekend.  Wed & Thursday nights we'll have a Shake.

The things I planned for our snacks this week are:
A variety of raw veggies w/ Hummus (homemade)
Turkey/Lettuce Wraps
Cucumber/Tomato/Onion Salad

I also made these Chocolate Muffins for Russ for a treat, cause I'm nice like that :)

And I made these M&M Chocolate Oat Bars for Zach to take back to school with him.  I know, I know... you're all wondering what's up with me today because I hate to bake!  

 Here are the recipes for the above mentioned meals:

Broccoli, Bacon and Blueberry Salad
10 slices of bacon cooked and chopped into bite sized pieces (I use turkey bacon)
2lbs fresh broccoli (2-3 large crowns) rinsed well and cut into bite sized pieces
1/2c fresh blueberries
1c mayo (I use 1/2c mayo and 1/2c Greek yogurt)
4 Tbsp sunflower seeds
half of a red onion, diced (too much for me, I use 1/4 c)

Mix all together and let sit for a few hours before eating.

And the soup...

I hope this helps those of you that asked me for ideas, or how I plan our menu's and my shopping trip!  

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Becoming healthier rocks!

Hello my friends!  Today I want to share a story with you. I want to tell you about something that I have been involved with since October.  After just a few months I am convinced enough about how amazing it is, and how amazing I feel that I feel comfortable sharing it with you all.  Actually comfortable isn't the word - I want to shout it to all of you from the top of a mountain!  Please take a few minutes to read my story :)

You all know that I have been on a mission to get healthier for over a year now, almost 2 at this point.  I feel very passionately about processed foods, and how bad they are for us.  As much as I love my Doritos and still eat them from time to time, I am well aware that they are just a chemical shit storm in a bag :(   It's been a long and sometimes painstaking process, but you will find very little processed foods in our home.  What you will find are a lot of mason jars filled with things like almonds, dried beans, different flours (white, wheat, coconut, almond, etc), brown rice, quinoa, shredded get the idea.  Our refrigerator has a lot of veggies and some fruit, eggs, cheese, almond milk, some condiments, wine lol....  Is this ideal for everyone?  Absolutely not.  All of our situations are different.  In my case, I have no kids left at home - sad face - and I love to be in my kitchen cooking, so not only do I have a lot of time to do this, but I also enjoy it as well.  Really though, once you get started it gets easier and easier.  And if you decide to start cutting the processed foods out of your and your family's diet - I will be happy to help you as much as I can. I have done so much research into foods, and so much experimenting with different recipes - I have an arsenal of awesome ideas!

Back to my story, I get sidetracked so easily once I get started on the horrors of all the chemicals in our food!

I started very slowly making changes, because I knew this was a lifestyle change for me.  It wasn't some crazy diet, some phase I was going through, or anything else I was accused of by people who thought I was nuts or just jumping on the latest food trend bandwagon.  I started increasing the whole foods in our diets while decreasing the processed stuff.  I gave up my precious Diet Pepsi.  That took 3 different tries!!  That was the hardest thing I have done on this journey, hands down.  And now, I don't even miss it.  As a matter of fact I tried one a few weeks ago at a restaurant and after 3 sips I asked for a glass of water.  It tasted horrible.  If only Doritos would magically taste horrible!

So, last summer I was watching my friend Jessie post day after day on facebook about something she had started doing and was having amazing results with.  It spiked my curiosity and in October I decided to try it for myself.  That something was Juice Plus Complete Shakes.  This shake mix is amazing, it's full of healthy protein, not chalky or gritty and it tastes delicious. Best of all it DOESN'T contain chemicals, it's a natural whole food based shake mix. It's gluten free, dairy free, and vegan friendly. This video explains it better than I could write it, please take 2 minutes to watch it! The Complete Solution
In addition to the shake mix the Juice Plus company also has capsules and chewable gummies for your children that contain over 20 fruits and vegetable in each one.  I am just starting to venture into the capsules, and if you have children you can get the gummies for them for FREE.

What has this done for me personally, and why do I feel like I want to share it with everyone I know?  Let me tell you!

*More energy.  I have been drinking a green smoothie for breakfast since January of last year.  Almond milk, spinach, a scoop of protein powder and some frozen fruit.  When I got the shake mix I added a scoop of it to my smoothie and oh my goodness, the chocolate shake mix with frozen banana - DELICIOUS!  I felt like I was drinking a milkshake for breakfast.  I noticed within a week that I had A LOT more energy.  I stopped using my protein powder in my smoothies, mainly to save calories and because I was getting more protein out of the shake mix than I was the actual protein powder!

*I was sleeping better.  I have a fitbit flex that measures your sleep as well as your steps.  I started noticing that I was no longer waking up in the night, and according to my fitbit I had many less episodes of "restlessness" as well.  I was waking up feeling refreshed again instead of still tired.

*My fingernails started growing again, and were stronger.  Due to my job I can't keep fingernails at all, they always break.  Now they actually grow and if I could just quit biting them I may have a shot at having nice nails!

*No afternoon slump.  I used to need a 3pm cup of coffee to make it through the evening. I no longer felt that slump or decrease in energy and once I realized I was still drinking it out of habit I stopped.

*My mind was clearer.  You know that foggy brain, I can't remember anything feeling. Yeah, it was gone.

*I lost weight.  Yes, just by drinking a Complete Shake in the morning and changing little else, I lost 15lbs between the beginning of October and the end of November.  My friend Jessie I mentioned - she has lost around 70lbs thanks to these shakes.  I contribute it to the fact that my body is being nourished on the inside, getting what it needs to function properly and beginning to heal its self from the damage of years of eating and drinking like crap.  And - I was more active thanks to all the extra energy I had.  I started taking walks and just doing more around the house because I wasn't tired all the time.  

Overall, I just felt better.  Mentally and physically, I was noticing changes.  Great changes!!

And then the Holidays hit.   I knew I was going to be eating stuff I normally wouldn't, but I thought I was far enough a long in this journey that I wouldn't go too crazy.  Boy was I wrong.  It didn't help that I was unemployed for 5 weeks during this time, so I had nothing to do but cook and bake and yes, eat.  Old habits can creep back up so easily!!  I was out of my routine, so I quit drinking my shakes, I rarely left the house since I had no reason to, I started eating bad carbs and sugar - things I had cut out of my diet months ago.  And man, did I ever feel like crap. I was sleeping like crap, I was starting to feel depressed and anxious again all the time. For 3 weeks I kept telling Russ I was going through menopause because I was having horrible hot flashes.  He'd be freezing on the couch because I'd turned the AC up, and I'd be sitting there next to him sweating and fanning myself with a magazine. It was awful.

One day shortly after Christmas I noticed something.  I ate something sweet and immediately the hot flashes started.  Hmmmm.  Got over that one and a few hours later I ate something sweet again.  Sure enough, I started with the hot flashes again.  I still wasn't convinced so I did it again the next day and it happened again.  I realized just how unhealthy I had become again in such a short period.  The new year was approaching and I decided it was time to get back on track. The next morning I got on the scale and was upset, but not surprised to see that I gained back every one of the 15lbs I has lost.  Let's get something straight - I am not interested in being skinny.  I have been skinny before, it was nice to have clothes fit me better but even though I was skinny I was NOT heatlhy.  Not at all.  I want to be healthy, and if skinny is a side effect of that then great, but it is not my main goal!!!

Now, here is the main reason why I am convinced that these shakes are my secret weapon.  At the beginning of the year I started them back up again.  I still wasn't eating totally healthy, but I had to start somewhere.  Almost immediately I noticed a change.  I went from feeling semi depressed, anxious and sluggish to feeling alert, having energy and just feeling better in a matter of days.  It was ridiculous how much better I felt after a week.  And it's not just me - I started making Russ the shakes again as well and he noticed a change also.  Here's just some of what I noticed:

*More energy
*No brain fog
*My anxiety is gone
*3pm slump is gone again
*I am more active
*My sleep is back on track. 
*My hair feels healthy again.  I no longer need a ton of leave in conditioner to get a brush through it.  And it doesn't seize up like wet barbie doll hair in the shower anymore :)
*Feeling better makes me want to eat better so we have gotten back on track with our healthy food.  We threw away the junk left from the holidays and restocked the healthy snacks.

Are you ready for the kicker?  Those of you who really know me are probably going to fall right out of your chairs.  Last week I GAVE UP COFFEE.  Yes folks, you read that right. If Dunkin Donuts goes out of business I am sorry, but I broke my coffee addiction.  I no longer need an IV of caffeine to get through my days.  So while America may be running on Dunkin, I no longer am.  You know that awful headache that goes along with caffeine withdrawal?  Me too, as I have kicked caffeine in the past and it was awful.  Ummm, not this time.  I had a slight headache for a couple of day but it was nothing like the pounding ones I had in the past.  I am truly amazed at the ways these shakes have changed so many aspects my daily life.  And Russ is as well!

I am going to wrap this up because I know its gotten long, and if you are still reading - Thank You! I will be signing up to be a rep with this company soon, and Russ and I are going to start with the capsules as soon as I do. As well as getting Zach the free gummies since he is still in school - awesome right?!  If you have any questions at all please ask me!  I am in NO way going to pressure anyone to order anything, I just really want to share the info because I think everyone can benefit from better nutrition in their lives. I am more than willing to talk to you about it and answer any of your questions to see if it's a good fit for you and your life, and if it's something you'd like to try I'll be in a position to help you.  I have a secret Facebook group as well, if you'd like to be added to that to get more info and see what everyone is saying about it let me know. Once I am up and running I will be offering free samples from time to time so you can try it before you buy it if you'd like.  I have done the research and if I didn't believe it truly is a great product you know I wouldn't be using it - much less telling anyone else about it. I am really excited about being a part of something so wonderful, so beneficial, and sooooo good for ME!

I'll leave you with this..... Testimonial by Dr. William Sears

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Cauliflower anyone?

I'll be the first to admit that I used to think cauliflower was boring. It's bland, its colorless, really it's just kind of.... boring.  However, the fact that it's a mild, bland, rather tasteless vegetable can be a good thing.  You can use it is so many dishes to up your veggie intake! Almost everyone knows it makes great fake mashed potatoes if you're low carbing it.  I'm not, but I still like them.  It makes a yummy pizza crust if done right - again a low carb thing.  I personally like it steamed with some salt and pepper - plain and simple. 

I found a recipe online (that wasn't much of a recipe really, more a picture and some brief directions) and since Russ is working late tonight I decided to experiment and try it out.  It doesn't look pretty, but it does taste good!

It was simple. Boil a large pot of water that has salt and some smoked paprika in it.  Pull the leaves off the bottom of the head of cauliflower (I cut some of the core out too).  Boil the entire head of cauliflower for about 10 minutes or until it's almost done. Take it out and let it drain for and few minutes to get some of the water out.  Place cauliflower in an oven proof dish and sprinkle with more paprika.  Now for the fun part.  Drape 5 or 6 slices of ham over the cauliflower, and then slices of swiss cheese over the ham. Put in the oven at 350° until the cheese starts to bubble.  Take it out, slice and eat!  This whole process took less than a half hour.  I don't like mushy vegetables, so I boiled it for about 8 minutes, baked it for another 8, then turned on the broiler just enough to brown the cheese a little. Also, cooking times will depend on how big or small your head of cauliflower is.