Thursday, June 25, 2015

My Fitness Workouts

If only we could all get the air Paisley gets...

By now you've heard me mention Tone It Up a lot this week. So what is Tone It Up? I know before I got into it and heard people mention it I would click their website and be so confused. Here's the thing, they've got a lot going on and it can be real easy to get overwhelmed but do yourself a favor, and give it a little more time!

Tone It Up was started by two girls who became friends through fitness, Karena and Katrina. The produce fitness videos, have a nutrition system and all kinds of other products. In addition to that, they post on their blogs free videos and a free weekly workout schedule (plus recipes etc). This is what I've used from them. I loved having something written out for me. They help you focus on different parts of your body every day. Their videos are challenging but not impossible and I feel really accomplished when I complete them.

I used Jillian Michaels, and Insanity for a couple years before TIU but their tough-stuff attitude wasn't really clicking for me. K&K seem genuinely interested in helping their followers, their gentle but firm approach really works for me. If you're anything like me, you might start working through their videos, watch these two beautiful girls work out in their pretty bikinis, flowy hair, on sandy beaches with the sun setting while you are in your living room that's dark because it's 5am, your carpet is covered in dog hair and you are in mis-matched work out clothes that don't fit the same anymore...and think, "uhhh no, this is too much...they seem perfect." But keep to it! I bet, soon enough you can't help but like them.

So my fitness work outs really looks like following their weekly schedules, for the most part. I've not bought any of their DVDs, products, nutrition system, etc but I listen, and I read their posts (they offer so much for free! Take advantage of it!). I'll switch it up a little bit here and there. Sometimes I'd rather go for a run than what they've recommended. Sometimes, I can't do everything they've recommended because I simply don't have the time for it (as a result, I've had to work on stopping guilt tripping myself).

The great thing about their videos, I can do them all at home! And I do! In my living room is where I do pretty much all of their routines!

My goal is to do at least 30 minutes of an active/cardio work out in the morning, and about 15-30 minutes of toning work outs in the evening. When I can't do both, I almost always try and get in that morning routine (the bootycall as TIU likes to call it), and I don't beat myself up for not always doing it all. In case you're wondering, I use 8 pound dumb bells. I haven't purchased a kettlebell yet but a 15 pounder is on my list.  When I run I use Google My Tracks app. It's awesome because it tracks your distance, speed and cardio but it also has Google Maps incorporated so you can see where to go when you're out running (which has allowed me to explore my whole neighborhood without getting lost).

SO, in addition to running my winding neighborhood streets, here are some of my favorite TIU videos:
Side note, some of these are really short. Those I pair with another video or do after a night of intense cardio where I just need to get in a little something (otherwise known as I showered the night before and I don't want to get too sweaty).

Slim & Tone Arms
7 Minute Full Body Toning
Bridal Babe Workout a bit silly but a fun work out
Bikini Arms 2014 one of my all time favs
HITT Bikini Work Out if I'm doing a HITT video, it's probably this one! Probably one of  the toughest TIU videos!
Bikini Arms 2015 more than just an arm work out
Sunkissed Abs a quick little ab routine
Bikini Kettlebell like I said, I don't have kettlebells so I usually just use my dumbbells but it works out great for basically all of the sets.
Bikini Body 1
Bikini Body 2
Frisky Fall HITT another great HITT work out, toughie but goodie
Mermaid Total Body yikes does this one have some tough moves to do right but you'll feel it!
BFF Work Out I got Kevin to do this one with me and we had fun, we've only done it twice but it's on my do-again list! It's tougher to follow because you have to watch the move and then pause it to do all the reps.
Inner & Outer Thighs my legs need this!

I've saved most of my favorite work outs  from around the internet here.

On their website they have some great printable options if you're not a video person. I'm also really enjoying the routines in their book they just released (if you want to get something TIU, get this book! I personally think it does a great job bridging the gap between not being a nutrition plan member and being one).

Be sure and check out this page on youtube or this page on their website to get an overview glance and break down of all the types of work outs they offer up for free!

And if you're wondering why I haven't joined a gym. I've tried to get my fitness self in check in as much of an economical way as possible. In this home, we're focused on pushing our college loans out the door, so if I planned on doing everything as free as possible. And it worked for me! I know some of my friends need and love their gym, I'm not saying don't go but if you're watching your pennies, know that you have other options!

Following My Fitness Series?
tomorrow My Fitness Image

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

My Fitness Foods

I think in general my generation has grown up with an uneducated understanding of foods. Additionally, processed foods became rather popular during our youth and as a result we all grew up eating it, a lot. My food journey was hard because it meant breaking a lot of deeply rooted habits, and really changing the way I think and understand foods.

Tone It Up has a mantra: lean & green. Lean proteins and plenty of green veggies. Ultimately, if you want the short and simple of it, this should be the general idea when it comes to choosing foods.

Oklahoma City, is known for being among the fattest cities in America. As a result, one initiative has been to promote healthy eating on billboards all over the city. One of their mantras: fill half your plate with fruits and veggies. Again, this is the way to go.

I'm not a dietitian and I definitely still have a lot to learn about foods but I feel like I have learned quite a bit over this last year. And the way I've changed my eating has had a huge role in losing the weight. I used to think I didn't want to change the way I ate because I enjoyed food but changing your diet is more than half the battle. You can't just work out.

So what have I done and what does an average day, meal wise, look like for me? Let's see if I can break it down simply.

Over the past year I've cut a lot out of my diet, mostly my at-home diet (meaning, some of this I still eat out at restaurants but don't have in my home), for the most part. I cut a lot of bread items like sandwiches, croutons, crackers...etc.  Cereal was the hardest to say no to. I've weighed out the amount of cheese I should have in a day and eat only that amount, or none at all. We eat quinoa instead of pasta. I choose the leanest turkey/chicken. We eat fruits a lot more. I try not to keep sweets in the house, but honestly I still struggle with that. I read labels before I purchase anything. I cut peanut butter for a long time but now it's back (natural only) and I know exactly how much I should eat. I can't really remember everything we've changed but it could be easily summed up with: we try and stay away from processed foods in our home. Don't get me wrong, I love bread and all those sugary processed foods, but they don't fit with my end goal. So every now and then I plan on enjoying oreos but no longer will they come into my home once a month. 

For me it's a lifestyle change, this is what my diet will look like most of the time, as in 95% of the time I will eat this way. I will choose lean and green. But sometimes, that 5%, I'll indulge and enjoy it. I will not feel guilty about it because I know I'm taking care of my body with the majority of what I eat.

Another key? Water. Make it your best friend. Fortunately for me, my mom didn't let us have soda growing up, and for some reason I never fought that rule. Now, I just don't really like soda and I drink water 99% of the time. That one percent of the time I'll have a lemonade, or celebratory white wine. I'm not even a coffee drinker! So it's water, all the time, every meal and between meals! This is something I've always done but I'm focusing on how much water I'm drinking now. You should be drinking about half your weight in water ounces. So I have figured out how many ounces are in the cup I drink out of at work and make sure to to fill it up as many times as I need to. There's no such thing as too much water, just plan to make friends with the potty.

My average day, in foods, looks like:

Meal 1: Breakfast: Half a glass of water & a spoonful of apple cider vinegar (this was from TIU but I've seen many articles on the benefits of this, google it), + half a grapefruit & 1 egg (scrambled) or 1 tbspn peanut butter on toast or greek yogurt + granola (and sometimes it's just the grapefruit)
Meal 2: Snack: An apple.
Meal 3: Lunch: {Recently, I changed my eating plan, I swapped my dinner & lunch. This way I'm eating the "heavier meal" earlier in the day which gives my body more time to work through it. So what my husband has for dinner, I eat for lunch. And now I eat my salads at dinner. I made this change several months ago and it's been working really well for me.}Usually the dinner from the night before, so for today, for example, it would be a black beans and yellow rice, plus some veggies & fruit. Like, carrots or grapes or pineapple. Sometimes I'll have greek yogurt+ granola at lunch if I didn't have it for breakfast. 
Meal 4: If I can't make it to dinner, I'll munch on some almonds or granola...maybe my apple if I didn't have it earlier in the day. Usually, I don't have a meal four but my tone-it-up friends almost always do.
Meal 5: Dinner: Spinach salad with garbonzo/kidney beans + carrots, + I'll pop in raw green beans or, broccoli, or a meat like turkey/chicken. I'll have the vegetable of that night's dinner with my salad too.

The biggest change in my diet has been my portion control. I've been eating similarly to this over the past two years but over this year, I've really worked on portion control. That's been worked on by popping my meals into myfitnesspal and understanding how much I was eating and how I could eat less. We also eat on what is technically, the salad plate to our dish set. It's smaller than the dinner plate, so it looks like you're eating much more. I logged my meals into myfitnesspal until I felt confident to choose portions on my own. I think it took about three or four weeks for me to get the hang of it. It's annoying but so worth it!

Another thing I had to understand, it's okay to sometimes be hungry. Now, please don't misunderstand, I'm not starving myself nor do I suggest that. What I mean is pay attention to your body. Does it really need more after dinner, or does it just need to rest and absorb what you've eaten? If you've had a fulfilling meal (lean and green!) then you will be okay to just wait out those small hunger pains. There's a difference between being hungry because you've not had enough good food, and being a little hungry for more. Listen to your body, get to know what it really needs, not wants. And when all else fails, go for fruit or veggies in that moment of hunger!

The hardest lesson, one that I'm still daily working on, is changing my thought process about foods. I loved the way one of my friends put it, and wish I could remember it exactly. Basically, I've been trying to stop label foods as "bad" or "good." I'm trying to stop calling some meals "cheat meals." This is my one life, and I still plan on enjoying it! Some/most meals are going to be healthy and some maybe not so much, but that doesn't make it bad. That one less-than-healthy-meal is going to be simply that, one. It won't take over the whole day, and I won't allow it to make me feel awful about myself. As my favorite radio show puts it, stop food shaming! Both to yourself and others. I'm trying to learn to enjoy my ice cream but also choose more healthy over more ice cream. Guilt is not healthy. Like I said on Monday: "Some food is nutritious to my body and some is just tasty and worth eating every now and then. One unhealthy meal doesn't give way to a whole unhealthy day. I should be able to have the will power to choose nutritious foods more. "

Passing up on sweets sometimes (or just having less), and not eating every single time I'm hungry has been hard! Of course, I haven't given up everything. Like I said above, I'll still eat some of my favorites when I go out to eat with Kevin, like pizza! In my line of work, I'm often having reps, who are awesome, take me out to eat but I've really started to work on choosing wisely at those meals and also watching that portion control. It's easy to over-eat on those meals.

It's been baby steps, and small changes, one decision at a time. It's been slow change for me and I'm still learning and still changing but I'm finding the healthier I eat, the more by body likes it. We had fried chicken just the other night and I honestly woke up not feeling very good. I like fried chicken but apparently my body doesn't so much anymore,so that is going to make it easier to say no to.

And it's made all the easier when you remember who you're really doing this all for. God made your body, Christ lives in your body, so feed it as though your feeding the King of Kings! And remember, you can do this! You can change your eating pattern if you ask God to give you the strength to do it! I read in my devotional this morning that we CAN resist all temptations in life, they all come from the enemy and God defeated the enemy!!! If we choose to lean on God's strength and power, the enemeny must leave. Walk in that power. Give God glory in the foods you choose to eat.

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.
1 Corinthians 10:31

I can't write this post without a huge shout out to my wonderful husband, my biggest cheerleader! Babe, you've done so well this year encouraging me to eat healthier and to choose to say no to things. Thank you for sacrificing some of your favorite foods to help put me, and us, on a healthier eating path. You've been a major reason that I'm finally seeing change. I love you. Thank you for being awesome!

See my other fitness posts:

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

My Fitness Goals

I never really planned on sharing what I did  in yesterday's post. I wrote this post out in my head about a month ago and was eager to share it from the get-go. Sharing what came before? That wasn't a part of the plan. God has ways above our though, and if He uses my honesty from yesterday to speak to one of you out there, then I am honored to have been a part of that.

After the Tone It Up Bikini Series, I was excited to get started on their book program.
If you're not ready, like myself, to purchase the Nutrition series, this book is for you! I think it's a great way to bridge that gap.The book encouraged everyone to write out, Fit/Fierce/Fabulous goals, but I decided to take it a step further. Without a connection to Christ, none of these goals will happen. As I wrote yesterday, my heart has to be in the right place, and that right place is in my Savior.

My fit goals are about focusing on choosing the way I feel and think about myself and the actions I aim for to make those happen. Being fit, isn't being skinny. Being fit is being the best you possibly. It's about taking care of yourself and strengthening your muscles. That's what I'm looking for.
I WILL be confident in my naked body.
To him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy. Jude 1:24
I WILL choose to eat healthier.
So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. 1 Corinthians 10:31
I WILL wear a bathing suit/bikini and feel awesome.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 2 Corinthians 5:17


For me, being fierce means really rocking that self confidence! That's going to happen when I really pull from my center, which should be filled with Christ.
I WILL talk positively to myself.
Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. Philippians 1:6
I WILL have confidence to try new things.
I can do all this through him who gives me strength. Philippians 4:13
I WILL choose God's promises to rest in.
All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away.John 6:37
Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.Hebrews 12:2


My fabulous goals are going to happen when my heart is rightly joyful in the work of Christ.
I WILL be filled with Christ's truths.
Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Deuteronomy 31:6
For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.Romans 8:38-39
I WILL show joy and glorify Christ.
Then my head will be exalted above the enemies who surround me; at his sacred tent I will sacrifice with shouts of joy; I will sing and make music to the LORD.Psalm 27:6
My lips will shout for joy when I sing praise to you-- I whom you have delivered.Psalm 71:23

I WILL be excited about a healthier lifestyle.
Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.1 Corinthians 6:19-20


I'm still working through this new challenge and all of these goals are still very new for me! What are some Bible verses you've found yourself anchored to as you work on changing your lifestyle about fitness?

Monday, June 22, 2015

My Fitness Journey

And so here it is. My fitness journey. I never knew I'd be writing a post like this but here I am...

I should preface this by saying, I've never been athletic. I was that person chosen last for the team all the way back in the first grade. It was one of those things that hurt a little but ultimately it just wasn't my thing. As a result, I often never really attempted anything much athletic. I felt incompetent and unable, and I usually wanted to just blame my asthma, which admittedly did. I was always active but athletic type of activities just wasn't something I felt the need to pursue. Especially running, I hated running.

I guess you could say my fitness story started back in high school. Midway through those four years, I decided exercise was something I ought to incorporate into life. I aimed to do 60 sit ups and jumping jacks in the morning before school. In the afternoons, I'd often swim laps or ride my bike. Anything but run. I hated running. My eating habits then didn't change, but I did begin to slowly feel a little bit better about myself.

College came and I stayed motivated to work out every now and then at the school gym. I rode my bike to almost all my classes, even the ones off campus. At the gym, I liked the elliptical or the bike. I avoided the track like the plague. Running was the last thing I'd do, ever. However, my eating still continued to be what it had generally had been with a little of what I "thought" was "healthy". I wasn't over weight ever but I definitely wasn't in shape. Still, I had fairly good self confidence. 

Then senior year came. With a wedding approaching, I began to focus on my fitness more determinedly. I began waking up hours early before class or work and doing in-my-apartment-work-outs. And then for some reason, I started trying to run. I slowly, slowly began to run on a short path outside the complex. Why, I still don't know. I topped those efforts off with enrolling in a gym class as part off  my final semester hours (and a belly dancing class!). One of my friends encouraged me to actually run the track, and before I even knew it, I was running a full mile with no walking. I also focused on foods at this time. I didn't do research but I did start choosing less snacky foods, eating less sweets, and making salads a part of my regular lunch. 

I felt more in shape than ever and the numbers on the scale said I was safely within average. I felt good, but not great going into that honeymoon with a bikini on in June of 2012.

Into married life, Kevin and I went about "semi healthy eating" or what otherwise looked like macaroni and cheese boxes with some fresh green beans,. I maintained my early morning work outs and continued to run. That first married fall, I ran my first 5K and felt on top of the world when I timed out just under 30 minutes. One of my good friends and I worked on the Jillian 30 Day Shred and felt so strong after. Kevin and I Wvery slowly started really looking into what we were eating over time and tried plenty of healthy dinner options, some good and some bad (ahem, cooked cauliflower- mac and cheese style). Following our first year of marriage I felt awesome. I smiled when I looked in the mirror and I felt confident. I still had things to learn about food but I was on a good path.

Then I began studying for my certification exam, On top of that I changed jobs, and I changed my birth control. I went from being sorta active in my work day to being mostly sedentary. I went from active weekends and evenings to studying on my bum consistently. In moments of stress about the exam, I went for the sweets. Overall, I thought I was eating pretty healthily, I ate a salad for lunch almost every day and our dinners were generally in the right direction. The deeper I got into studying, though, the less time I spent planning our meals and the less motivated I was to maintain my workout routine every day.

In April of 2014, I took those exams and felt like I had a life again. Samantha asked me to do the Tone It Up Bikini Series with her and while I was a little intimated I thought it would be good to at least give it a go. After those exams finished, I looked in the mirror and nearly I cried. I had gained a lot of weight. I stepped on the scale and realized I'd gained somewhere around 20 pounds. I did the bikini series eagerly and with serious determination. I worked on my snacks, I chose foods wisely, and I seriously cut my sweets. On top, of this I maintained a good work out regime. 8 weeks later, I lost not a single pound.  

I hit a low point after that. I was frustrated and unhappy. I felt awful in my clothes, worse naked. I prayed to God for me wisdom or enlightenment. I cried to Kevin about it too. Yet no one, none, really knew what was going on or how I really felt. I've never been particularly thin, but this was the heaviest I'd ever been in my life and I felt so trapped. I read blog posts and website articles endlessly about people who'd overcome their weight. I felt like I had to be missing something somewhere. I was trying so hard!

I spent the rest of that summer trying to eat better and being diligent about my work out schedule but still saw no change. At the beginning of the fall I realized something really had to be wrong. Kevin agreed that I should see a doctor. My doctor's first reaction was to tell me to join Weight Watchers. This made me mad. My mom had mentioned that my thyroid could be a potential issue so I mentioned it and my Dr did agree it could be worth looking into.  

In the meantime, I decided to start logging my food into myfitnesspal because I wanted to take it to my doctor and show him I'd been doing really well on food. However, I found that whiel I was eating well my quantity was above what I ought to be consuming. Portion control! At this point, I shared just a snippet of my pain with my small group just how much I was struggling and asked for prayer. After a few months of blood tests, my doctor diagnosed me with a hypo-thyroid. I literally rejoiced at this news! It was the first glimpse of hope I felt that my weight could still change. I turned a new leaf and I felt confident that I really could conquer this weight gain.

My thyroid finally got leveled out, but after several months I still wasn't seeing any weight change. My frustration had grown and I finally really started to share with some of my close friends. Before, I never wanted people to know before about my attempts to lose weight because I never wanted people to see how much I would fail. But I was realized more and more that I couldn't do this myself. One of my friends encouraged me to pray very boldly and command any symptoms to flee from me, and any lies holding me back, which were surely only from the enemy, to be erased. The very next day in my car, on the way to work, I prayed out loud fervently and I declared God to be in charge of my body. I proclaimed His power over me and spoke with confidence. 

It felt so freeing! That week I lost four pounds. 
I didn't change a single thing about my eating or work out habits that week. 
That week was all God telling me, He heard me, He sees me, He has me.
That week was all about me finally cluing in on the real problem, the heart problem I had of believing the lies of the enemy instead of chasing out the truth about myself from God.

Source. Found it on Etsy, a great print to put up in your home!

With my heart finally in the right place, my thyroid medicine regime settled, and my determination stronger than ever, I got back to my daily work outs even harder and began working on my portion control. I got back on track with plugging my foods in myfitnesspal and learning the right portion sizes. I cut out a lot from my diet since April and continued to learn what else I needed to re-work. I found I could to say no to sweets sometimes. And I also found that I could still indulge every now and then. I back tracked sometimes and found myself discouraged too often, but I kept boldly proclaiming Gods power over me out loud in my car. By the time Samantha messaged me about  TIU Bikini Series 2015 starting I was down another couple of pounds. And I was feeling readier than ever to go strong into the series with her and some other friends for a new 8 weeks.

Samantha and I began a new email chain with Liz to honestly share our meals and fitness for each day. By the middle of June I had officially met my goal weight for the bikini series! I was down approximately 15/16 pounds from my heaviest weight a year prior. Clothes that were tight last year fit much better now, of the ones I had kept. I ended up tossing many (or donating) because they just made me feel more discouraged. I got to share with my small group the great news and as a result was able to connect with my many of them even more.

All because of Jesus, that husband of mine, and the support group of girlfriends and other friends.

My biggest cheerleader through the entire year, and the one who has seen every win and fail was my wonderful husband. Kevin encouraged me in the most gentle way always, to say no to the unhealthy things and has kindly allowed me to remove certain items from our home. He's gotten up at 5am to work out with me, and never complained when we did a TIU video. He never once stopped telling my I was beautiful and amazing. He loved me through every step of it.

So here today my fitness journey is on-going. I can't believe it, but I actually like running now and somehow signed up to run a half marathon with some friends. Healthy foods feel better in my body, and I've found that fried foods now make me feel sick sometimes. My nails have never been so strong and my hair is growing faster. I'm still working on my skin but for the most part I can tell my whole body is happier. My self confidence is way stronger and I feel so empowered to keep chasing after being the most fit me that I can be. My dream, connects deeply to this journey because I want to be a fit mom. I want to be a mom that plays and is active over the years, plus I want to honor God with a healthy lifestyle. 

I still have days of discouragement. I reached my goal weight but honestly, I still fluctuate. I'm learning to understand food more and more. I'm working against the "good and bad" talk of food. Some food is nutritious to my body and some is just tasty and worth eating every now and then. One unhealthy meal doesn't give way to a whole unhealthy day. I should be able to have the will power to choose nutritious foods more. I need to work on giving myself active rest days. I also need to continue to work on self talk. I've made big changes to my life but sometimes I still struggle when I look at myself in the mirror. My goal is to keep working on these things, keep learning about food and fitness, and above all put my self-confidence in the way Christ sees me.

I was so nervous to write all this and share it with the world. Who's going to read it? People I know in my every day life? Co workers? Old acquaintances? Will they judge me when they see me go back for that second cookie? Is my story worth sharing? It's not like I lost all that much weight. But the more I thought about it, the more I knew the Lord was leading me to share it. We women struggle with our body image. It is a battle I believe we almost daily fight, but God has better plans for us! We've been taught false things about food but that doesn't have to be the end! As I've heard often, there is always room for improvement. It's never too late and there aren't secrets to getting fit, but you can do it! It really is as simple as listening to your body, feeding it well, and moving those muscles.

My story is not your story but I hope my story encourages you.

Tomorrow I'm sharing my goals and associated Bible verses for them on being more fit. And perhaps, I'll share a little about foods, things I eat or have taken out of my diet, etc.

What's your fitness story?

My Resources:

The Bible

Support from Family/Friends

Tone It Up

Google tracks

My Fitness Journey Series:

I'm happy to report that while I'm still learning, today I am down 26 pounds from my heaviest weight! Meaning, I've not only lost the weight I'd gained during that study season but I've lost more than that. I weight 7 pounds lighter today than I did on my wedding day! And I'm definitely more toned. God has done a miraculous work in my body and in my heart! Though I still daily have to work on my self-talk and recalling His authority in me, I know that change is possible! 

Thursday, June 18, 2015

You Probably Don't Know

Helene in Between

that I...

am officially allergic to bananas
I used to eat them as a kid but midway through high school, on three separate occurances bananas left my puking in the toilet. Needless to say I ruled them out of my diet...until recently. See bananas are the base for a lot of healthy yummy recipes, so I thought I might give them another try, slowly. Well I had two slices on toast last Sunday and I was in pain and back at the toilet all day. I will never touch them again.

might have used asthma as an excuse
It's true, Back in elementary school, I would get out of running sometimes because of asthma. Did I have asthma? Yes. Did it bother me when I ran? Yes. Was it as bad as I may have made it seem. Uuhh probably not.

convinced my sister to play dollhouse only to set up the houses
Doll house soon became my sister's least favorite game. She wanted to play out stories with the people. I wanted to set up all the houses. Interior design has been in me since the beginning.

love my alone time
The day Kevin gets a job that gives him to me on Sunday and Saturday,  I will jump for joy! But honestly, most Saturdays I don't mind have some loner time to hang out the house and get things done.

grew up in Texas but really didn't listen to country music until middle school
That's what you get when your parents are actually from Michigan. One of my first best friends in the 7th grade introduced me to country music and I never looked back. That lady will forever be one of my favorite people. I'm so glad God brought us together back then. Middle school, high school and life in general wouldn't have been so different without her!

prefer to eat with a fork and in a bowl
If I can eat it in a bowl and with a fork, I will. Not sure when or how that obsession started but it did and it's a real thing!

What about you? I haven't done a link up in SO long but I loved this little easy prompt Helene put together!

Monday, June 15, 2015

DIY Fence American Flag

You may have seen in the news how much rain our part of the country has received over that past month and a half. Combine that with the tornadoes and crazy storms (with STRONG wind) and you have a ton of homes having to replace their fences, resulting in a lot of old fence on the curbside. Kevin and I were walking our neighborhood one Sunday and thought, what if we took one of these fence sections and made it into an American flag? That evening, on our way home from groceries, we picked one up. We were in Kevin's small car so we literally shoved the fence into the backseat and left the door open, we were just going to the next street. Oh, what a sight that was!

We love how it all came together and since it was pretty easy, and relatively quick, I knew we had to share it. It's been a long while since I shared a DIY. This one was just so fun and it's great for renters who may not be able to hang an actual flag!

-Circular Saw
-Orbit Sander
-Straight Edge
-Flat head
-Flat Sponges (or star stamp)
-Red, Blue, and White paint
-Paint brush with an angled edge.
-Fine Point Paint Brush
-Clear Epoxy Spray Paint (if you want to keep it outside)
-Fence (either find one on the side of the road, at a Habitat re-store, or buy new)

Kevin spent time working on the math to make sure the dimensions were just right. He is detailed so he even made an Excel spreadsheet for it! Using the figures from this website, he set up the sheet to calculate the length and dimensions based on the width alone.

1. Cut down the fence to the specializations(above) with a circular saw as it sits on your sawhorses.
2. Go over the entire piece with the orbit sander, you want to sand it down to where you see most of the original wood tone coming through, but it doesn't have to be perfect.
3. Make sure to clean the boards with a wet rag and let dry.
4. Measure out the blue area of the flag using a straight edge and mark with wood with the flat head. This will give you a stopping point that is easy to see.
5. Paint the blue area. Let dry.

6. As the blue portion dries, measure and mark the red/white stripes.
7. Print off a star from you computer, cut it out, and use your cut out to trace the star onto the sponge. Then cut it out. This will be your stamp for the stars.
8. Paint the red and white stripes. Use the angle of your brush to cut in your lines smoothly. Start with the edge and then fill in the middle. It's best to start with your red paint. Let dry.

9. As your stripes dry, use your sponge star stamp, dip in the white and gently press. We guesstimated on how to place the stars in the blue portion, though you could spend some time measuring this out too. Just make sure you fit in all 50 stars. Use a fine point paint brush to straighten out edges and smooth out any paint bubbles. Let dry.
10. After everything has dried, spray the whole thing over with the clear epoxy. This will hold in your color and keep the paint from fading quickly.

Ours lives on our porch and might chill in the garage or backyard in off-season. Whatcha think? What patriotic DIYs have you done?

1. Depending how specific you are, you'll want to make sure the stars you print off are the correct  size to fit the scale of your flag.
2. You don't have to be this specific with the flag dimensions. If you're like me, you would just guesstimate it all, but Kevin loves the numbers so he did that side of the work.
3. You might want to do two or more coats of paint, it depends how saturated you want the colors to be.
4. We chose to make it vertical, meaning that it will always lean against a wall vertically. You'll want to mirror this design if you'd like to hang it horizontally.

Friday, June 12, 2015

IT's FRIDAY...time for some letters

Yall, I can't even.

Let's throw it back today with Friday Letters...anyone else want to join in?? Comment below!

Dear Copenhagen and Paris and Sweden, it seems as though many of my friends are traipsing through Europe right now. Every picture they share makes me miss you more and more. I hope one day we can make it back over to your part of the world.

Dear DSLR, I'm pretty sure we gave you a name but while this lady loves talking to inanimate objects, giving your type names isn't really my thing. I just want to say thank you for taking the most amazing pictures of our sweet puppy girl. You capture her so beautifully. Also, you made our time to Europe a million times better because now I have some pretty fantastic pictures to check out, next up your shots in an artifact uprising book!

Dear Paisley, child, you MUST stop trying to chase the rabbits in our neighborhood on our early morning runs. I swear you almost took off my hand this morning. Enough is enough. You're never catching those rabbits, they're way faster than you. Sorry. I love you but let's spend our energy doing something else, like running!

Dear home, I'm sorry I haven't really deep cleaned you lately. You can deal with some dust, right? I have plans to craft and work on scrapbooking tomorrow with one of my favorite ladies so I'm going to need you to just put up with it. Also, you should know how much I really adore you. Sitting in you living room is one of my favorite things. I love what we've done to really make you shine. I look forward to the day of purchasing a real home but in the meantime, you are pretty darn awesome.

Dear Fourth of July, our plans for you are somewhat in the air but we'll figure it out. One thing I know for sure, we have a pretty stinkin' cool fence flag to celebrate  you on our porch. There should be an upcoming DIY post about it. Get excited.
from our fantastic Paris session, by the incredibly talented Katie Donnelly

Dear Husband, this past year has been one incredibly whirlwind, as our anniversary shared. We've been more places than I could have even imagined. Apart from travels, we've done and experienced so many things this year, both joyful and tearful. One thing has been evidently clear through it all, Christ is on His throne and has us in His hands. Thank you for being my biggest cheerleader. I've lost this weight and become stronger much because of you. Thank you for working out with me at 5am, patiently waiting for me to finish my evening toning session, trying new foods, being willing to let some foods go, and for being the most sweet encourager there ever was. You are my favorite.

Dear Life Group Peoples, I hope you know how deeply I love you. Each of you have brought such a joy to my life. I prayed for amazing couple friendships for a long time after we got married. I had no idea God had such a beautiful group of people in mind. Thank you for walking through life's seasons with us over the past two and half years. You make life SO FUN! I've been dreaming up this little weekend retreat for quite some time. I can't wait to see what the Lord does in our lives that weekend. Thank you for trusting us on this little adventure.

Dear Friday, I'm glad to see you. You bring half-day-work-day, time with my precious Kristina, and Bible study tonight with my life group peoples. Hallelujah for you! Bring on the fun!

What are you doing this weekend?
ps: if you've never heard the song below, listen. enjoy.

Friday, June 5, 2015

My New Favorite Shoes

Yall, it's Friday and I'm so glad! This week of work has been a busy but slow going one. I'm ready for some home time and some active time outdoors. We have a movie night in the par tonight and tomorrow a kickball tournament with my office and I'm sure Paisley would love a trip to the pond or river. Plus, if all works out, I'll be starting my water zumba class on Sunday!

I'm loving that it is summer time and it is officially warm outside!

On a completely random note, Kevin got me these shoes as my anniversary gift, year three is leather so leather shoes! Yall, these are the best shoes I've ever owned. They're pretty wedges but made by crocs which means they're fantastically comfortable. I feel like I've discovered an amazing shoe secret and have to share this with you.If you're looking for some summer wedges that won't kill your feet, do yourself a favor and order some! I wore them all week with no problems. Okay, I'm done with my public service announcement.

I've got a number of blog posts stored up in my head but have yet to sit down and type them out. So today, I've got my favorite shots from our little quick anniversary photoshoot on campus with our camera and sweet friend.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Anniversary Pictures and Video

We're the mushy gushy type and love documenting things as the years go by. We like making traditions that are sweet and meaningful to us.

one. So far every anniversary we've put on our wedding attire and taken pictures (the first year by our photographer, last year with a tripod  and this year by a friend). It's fun to see how we've changes through the years, and yes I know, we don't seem to have changed all that much, and I find it particularly fun to put on my wedding gown every year! And this year it fit WAY better than last year!

This year we chose to take our pictures on campus. We love our campus and who knows where we might be next year, so it seemed like the time to do it. It was definitely a little awkward but it was still so fun and we're so glad we did it! I love this man and his willingness to do silly things with me! I'll share more of those soon!

two. We write goals for our new year of marriage, some of them are relationship related (ie: choose a date each month for a date night) and some of them are just for fun (ie: finish college scrapbooks). At this time we also check out how we did on last year's goals. Finally, we pray over these goals and our marriage.

three. Kevin makes a video. This tradition started long ago when he made a recap video of our relationship which he showed to me on the night he proposed. The video is a collection of videos and pictures of the last year of our marriage.

This year's video made my heart smile. God kind of took us all over the world this year. A year ago at this time we had no idea what the year ahead looked like. God is constantly doing the unimaginable for us! Over our last year of marriage we traveled to Virginia, D.C., Michigan (and the states in between here and there), Florida, Denmark, Sweden, and France! What a wild ride! If you can't see the video in this blog post, go here.

To my sweet husband, you are my favorite person in the whole world and I'm so honored to be your wife. I love you forever and always.

To our precious Savior, thank you Father for gifting us in ways we can never imagine. When we find ourselves discouraged by college debt or behind in life steps, remind us of your glory and your purposes. May our marriage reflect the generous love that you give to us all. We love you Lord, thank you for this amazing life and the person you gifted us.

Anniversary Posts:
Year 1
Year 1 video
Year 1 pictures
Year 2
Year 2 video
Year 2 pictures
Wedding Video

Monday, June 1, 2015


Three years ago I put on the most beautiful dress I've ever worn and married the most beautiful hearted man I've ever known. To the man who loves me so very well, happy anniversary sweetheart! I love you forever and always.

Time for donuts, a zip line and a fancy dinner.

Pictures my the fabulously talented Anna with Birds&Coffee Design here in Oklahoma.
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