Friday, July 15, 2011

The things that make all the difference...

Now, I know everyone is different. But I want to share what is absolutely essential in my health and happiness. I call it my personal recipe.

Regular Exercise - 5-6 times a week, sweat producing, make me uncomfortable exercise.

Feed my body right - Give my body daily the fruits and vegetables and nutrients that it needs. Drink plenty of water. I drink about 100 oz a day.

Feed my spirit right - I pray every morning and every night. I do this with intent and meaning. Thanking for all that I have and humbly asking for that which I need, but always with the disclaimer that His will be done, not mine. I trust that God knows way better than me what is right for me and my family. I always want to defer to His better judgment and not get in His way.
I also feed my spirit through reading my scriptures. I read a little when I wake up and a little when I go to bed.
I also journal daily. Sometimes these entries are one sentence long and sometimes they are pages long. This is therapeutic to me and I have learned this is an essential part of my personal recipe to happiness.

Feed my mind - I love to read and do things creative. I try to spend a little time daily reading or sewing or creating in some manner. Some days I am able to spend hours doing this, but that is rare. I do try to fit it in as often as I can because I know that helps me keep in touch with who I am, independent of others in my life.

Treat others as best as I can. I don't know about you, but if I am rude or dismissive to people I feel bad and guilty about it for a long time afterward. I try to be quick to say I'm sorry, but it's best when I just treat everyone with respect in the first place. This helps keep me in balance emotionally.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011


I had back surgery shortly before I started making changes and so I was very limited on what exercises I could do. However, I did exercise every day (5-6 times a week).
I started by walking. I could only walk about 1.5 miles an hour and could only go for about 10 minutes. I just kept adding to that and speeding up as I was able to. When I was given clearance from the doctor to add additional exercise I did so. It started with the pool and doing basic exercises in the pool, and moved on to some light weight lifting. I continued walking and lifting for several months.
When I was cleared to do yoga, pilates, and aerobics I started adding in videos. I did yoga and pilates, cardio barre, and continued walking.
After a couple more months I was able to add higher impact aerobics in. My favorite is zumba.
I recommend finding something that you love to do and makes the time go by fast.

It doesn't matter what kind of exercises you're doing as long as you're consistent and work hard.

I exercise 5-6 times a week for about an hour a day.

I firmly believe in combining aerobic and weight lifting for the best results. is an excellent website with weight lifting and aerobic program recommendations.

How I eat

To summarize I eat low-carb, but here's some deets.

What I do not eat.
Sugar - cakes, cookies, granola bars, ice cream, etc....
Starches - potatoes (all kinds), beans (green beans are fine), corn, etc
Grains - breads, rice, oatmeal, quinoa, etc
Some fruits - bananas, oranges, (at first I didn't eat grapes or pears or peaches etc..)
Dairy - yogurt, milk

What I do eat:
Fruit - berries - all berries!, apples, (after 6 months I added all other fruits.. although bananas I don't eat often)
Veggies - Most everything green is good, salads, cabbage, peppers, be adventurous
Protein powder - I use the muscle milk stuff Costco sells but any low carb protein powder should be fine as long as you like the taste
Dairy - cottage cheese - one of my staples!!, cheese - all kinds but all with moderation, low-carb yogurt I have added this past week and I seem to be doing well, but I would not recommend until maintenance mode

I know this list in incomplete and I will add to it as I think of it.

Here is a sample of what I eat in a day.

Breakfast: Protein shake made with 10 oz water, 1 scoop protein powder, 2 cups spinach, 2/3 cup berries.

Snack: 1/2 apple and string cheese

Lunch: Salad with mixed greens or romaine lettuce (really doesn't matter what kind of greens you use), feta, toasted almonds, chicken (or another meat), 1/2 cup cottage cheese, 1 TBSP pesto, and red peppers. The pesto and cottage cheese act as the dressing. If you don't like the chunks in the cottage cheese you can process this in a blender or food processor first.

Snack: Tzatziki and pepper strips or other veggie ( the Tzatziki I get from Costco and is very low-carb.)

Dinner: Pork loin with teriyaki sauce (yes, I know this has sugar in it, but I only use a little bit). Steamed green beans, 1/2 apple.

I try not to eat after 8 at night but have broken this rule many times.

This is just a start of what I eat. I will continue to add to it.

A personal look into my struggles with eating and how I found my way out (VErY LonG)

I was hesitant to write this because it is personal and not something I share with everyone... until now!

First off I have recently lost 80 lbs. Wait, let me say that again.... I have lost 80 lbs!!!!!
No, this is not a post pushing any products or pills or anything.

Next, a little history. At a young age I started binge eating. I remember when I was about 10 or so I came across my parents stash of candy bars and ate all of them in one sitting. There must have been about 8 - 10 of them. There were plenty of other times, but that one sticks out. As I grew into my late teens I got caught up in the drug world and was very skinny with no effort. Luckily I got out of that world and straightened out my life. With this change also came about a 45 lb weight gain. It was the first time I was actually overweight. I always thought I was as a teenager, but I know now that I wasn't. But this was the first time my weight went up significantly. I used the Atkins diet and lost a lot of the weight, and then used Body for Life (which I love and totally recommend) to cut down to a very fit physique. I maintained this for many years, but would frequently return to my bingeing habits. However, this time I would follow it with purging. My bulimia became worse and worse over these years. I worked out religiously. I was a ballroom dancer too and so I was always keeping myself strong and in shape. The bulimia took a great emotional toll on me. I was ashamed and didn't like myself. I felt duplicitous in how I was living. When you live that way I don't think you can be truly happy. You can fake it, and others can believe it, but you never truly fool yourself for long.
I found my better half during this period and we were married. I moved to a new state and tried to start a company with my family. I became pregnant shortly thereafter. The business did not do well and that was stressful and difficult... especially because it was family. I also gained 60 lbs during the pregnancy.
After I gave birth to my darling little boy I waited about a year before I got my act together and lost weight. I did it this time by sensible well-balanced eating and doing workout videos with my girlfriend. (Turbo Jam) I lost most of the weight (all but 20 lbs).
I had several ups and downs during this time and 1.5 years later I was pregnant again with my second darling. This time I gained 70 lbs!!! However, I was motivated and joined Weight Watchers right after I gave birth. I lost all but 7 lbs in about 5 months. I only maintained this for about 3 months before the weight started creeping back on. When I say creeping... I guess I mean rushing. I gained almost all my weight back within 8 months. Another year after that I was another 20 lbs heavier. And another year after that another 20 lbs.

I constantly tried new diets, but I wouldn't stick with them for more than a couple weeks.
I should mention that a year after my first baby was born I was in a car accident that left me with severe back problems / pain. I couldn't turn back to my habits of bingeing and purging because that would be way too painful and upset my back even more. So.... I just binged...and binged....and binged...and then binged some more.

At one point during all this awfulness I stumbled upon the Overeaters Anonymous (OA). I knew something was wrong in my brain. I of course tried to blame it on a thyroid problem, or other unknown disease that made me gain weight... but the bottom line was that I ate way too much and moved way too little. I wasn't able to exercise because of my back... although I regularly tried and aggravated things each time.
Back to OA - I went to a couple meetings and didn't feel I was getting anything from it, although that was probably my unwillingness / un-readyness.
Then, through my church (I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints) I found out they had an open 12 step program. Any addiction could come to these meetings. I attended and felt like I had found my home for recovery. I attended meetings for a year and a half and wasn't having any success with real weight loss or emotional / spiritual recovery.

Meanwhile in the back cave... ok dumb joke :)
So, my back was continually getting worse and I finally agreed to have my misbehaving discs fused. I had an incredible surgeon and wonderful results from the surgery (for anyone wondering it was a fusion of the L4/L5 and L5/S1 vertebrae). I was diligent in following doctors orders to walk daily and follow physical therapy guidelines. During this time I was also healing spiritually. It felt good and I felt prompted to get back to my 12 step meetings. I also prayed for guidance to figure out how I should eat (there are so many diets out there and they almost all contradict each other and it's very overwhelming and confusing!). He led me to altering my eating to avoid a lot of carbs. (More on that later)
So, in September I started this and as of today I have not eaten any sugar since then (10 months).
I've lost 80 lbs, like I said. I'd like to lose about 5 more, but am very happy with how I look. I've been maintaining for almost 4 months now.

Man, I am long winded!

Anyways. I've had a lot of people ask me what I'm doing and how I'm doing it. The answer isn't a quick simple one. It's a combination of many things. Emotional / Spiritual / Physical healing were the root of my recovery.

This is my background and where I am today. I, in no way, feel I am healed from my problems with eating. I know I will always have struggles with food. I know I must continue to do what I am doing today to have recovery tomorrow. There are hard times all the time. I've learned how to deal with stresses and pain and frustrations and financial problems without turning to food.

I know that I have done this only through the power of Heavenly Father (my Higher Power).

That is my background and I will detail what I did in other posts. Even as I finish typing this I am nervous to expose this much about myself, but who actually read this anyways :)
Anyways... I always wished I could read and be inspired by people who were so imperfect like me and yet still found healing.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Frozen Spinach?

The last couple of times I've been to the store for spinach they have either been very low or out completely. I asked what was going on and they informed me that many areas that grow spinach have experienced cold temperatures and that the spinach is freezing and therefore un-sellable.

Well, it occurred to me that my habit of freezing spinach may not be a common practice so I decided to share it.

I am a big fan of "green" smoothies. These come in all different forms with varying levels of health benefits. For now I do spinach smoothies. Don't worry, you can't taste the spinach! Well, as long as it's fresh - thus the freezing. As soon as I buy a huge bag of spinach I throw it directly into the freezer and just add a cup or two to each smoothie. This way my spinach doesn't get a gross taste to it after a couple of days.

So, my favorite green smoothie is 1/2 cup blueberries (thawed or microwaved is best), 1.5 cups spinach, 19 oz water, 1 scoop vanilla protein powder. Currently I use the 100% Whey Protein powder that they sell at Costco. I don't like their chocolate, but the vanilla is good.
Blackberries are also great in place of the blueberries, but be prepared for seeds.

This is also a great way to get vegetables into your kids. My kids love these smoothies and are always asking for them. I do not use these as meal replacements for them, but rather as a supplement to their meals. For example, if I made them PB&J sandwiches then I give them a green smoothie to fulfill their veggie quota for that meal.

There are a ton of great green smoothie recipes out there. Try them out.

I have lost 70 lbs in 6 months (no this isn't a commercial) by eating low carb / lean protein and these shakes have been a big part of that. In fact, I have a cruise coming up in a couple weeks and so I'm doing 2 shakes a day with 1 meal and one snack. It's also amazing the natural energy they give me.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Christmas Tree Skirt

I know, I know, it's not Christmas season! My mom told me in January 2010 that she was going to make me and my sisters quilted Christmas tree skirts for that next Christmas. Well, Dec 1 arrives and she hasn't started :)

I offer to help, because I know she feels overwhelmed, and because I love to sew. I've never really done any quilting so I was eager to learn new techniques.

I picked out fabric I loved and we cut them into 2" strips. My mom got the pattern from a friend, and then we altered it to make it bigger (my Christmas tree is 12' tall!).

I didn't take any pictures during the construction of the project, but I think it turned out beautifully. I sewed most of the diamonds. My mom sewed them together, and my Grandma did the binding. We have 3 generations of blood, sweat and tears in this!

The original pattern for this skirt was for 5 diamonds, so the entire skirt was a 5 point star. I wanted a larger skirt, so I added a sixth diamond, but still wasn't happy so my husband and I figured that we should add sideways diamonds around the outside of the star. I didn't have enough fabric to do identical diamonds so I did some repeat fabrics and others that match. I am thrilled with how it turned out.

I love the depth that the different textures of fabric give this skirt.

Trimmed with twisted fringe.

This is the back of the skirt.

I still have scraps leftover so I am hoping to make stockings for the family throughout the year.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


I found some awesome and amazingly cheap lanterns on Amazon the other night. I was shopping for my husband's birthday gift and came across these.

I want to hang the hanging one above our bathtub, and I'm not sure where the others will go, but I'll find a place :)

Ready for the prices?
The hanging lantern was $4.69
The blue lantern was $2.92
The amber lantern was $1.08

Fantastic deals on beautiful pieces!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Back from Florida

We are back from spending 5 wonderful days in the Florida sunshine. It was wonderful! We spent Thursday at the Magic Kingdom and had almost no lines. The kids loved it. I was surprised that my 6 year old loved Space Mountain.

On to the money savings :)

First of all, vacationing in Disney World is expensive! Luckily our hotel and flights were paid for by the company. With our group rate at the Disney Contemporary Hotel we were able to get slightly discounted tickets to Disney World. I didn't attempt to go through tours or any of the other advertised tickets on Craigslist since we didn't have time to waste and we didn't have a rental car to get places. We were at the mercy of the monorail and buses. So, we ended up saving about $35 on our 2 day tickets (over four days).
I stocked up before we left at Costco and bought rice crispy treats, fruit snacks, granola bars, and beef jerky. These came in handy on the plane too since Southwest Airlines doesn't serve meals on board. We were able to limit our buying meals only and no snacks. Ok, well we did buy the Mickey Mouse ice cream bars a couple times. There was a nice cafe in our hotel that was about $5 for the kids meals and $8-$12 for adults. They had an excellent steak salad there with fresh goat cheese I had a couple times. They also have a restaurant there called Wave which was healthy and very reasonably priced. We ate there for our one "nicer" meal.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Finding Great Recipes

I get a lot of compliments on my cooking. I always tell people that it's the recipes that are great. When you look through cookbooks you will see lots of recipes that look good, but how do you know whether it'll turn out well? I find that the ratings are the best way to know.
A while back I had a healthy catering company, most of my recipes came from the Internet. Cooking Light is one of my favorite resources. They use the database of For example when I was looking for awesome sandwiches for my business I searched for sandwiches at Cooking Light and then sort it by the rating.

When you see a recipe you want to try, go into the ratings and read what people have written. Many times people will suggest some variations that you may want to try.

Here are some of my favorites - all from Cooking Light.

Grilled Chicken and Roasted Red Pepper Sandwiches with Fontina Cheese
Proscuitto, Pear, and Bleu Cheese Sandwich

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Bedskirt Dilema: Solved

I recently got a steal on a bedroom set from Macy's. I picked up the California King Chantilly set from Martha Stewart for $139.00.

I really like it. Well, for the price, I really like it. The sheets are a little thin as is the Euro Shams (I can see my pillow print through it), but I plan on resolving that by lining it with white fabric.

So here is the dilema. We have a Cal King bed and I cannot lift it by myself, but I am eager to get the new bedding on. I decided I would make it a velcro skirt. I cut the skirt about 6 inches into the cheapo white fabric. Once I was finished I just started tucking it between my mattresses even though I didn't have the velcro yet.

Surprisingly, it has stayed this way for a month now with no slipping. I don't know why they don't make all bedskirts like this! Why oh why do we have to lift up the entire mattress to put the skirt on when the skirt usually gets messed up anyways when you put the mattress back on top! If not that, then when you step on it wrong it gets pulled out or a seam comes undone, or it just looks bad. This way I can fix whatever goes wrong with it. This was a great "light bulb" moment for me - although it's probably a no-brainer for you :)

I still have a lot of changes I'm doing to my bedroom now so I will reveal how it looks later!

Disneyworld - Pauper Style

We are taking a trip to Disneyworld this next week. We were fortunate enough to get some free airline tickets and hotel for the family through my husbands work. So, we just have to pay for food and Disneyworld. That still adds up. We are guessing about $1000 for the 2 days of Disney for 4 people, plus food.

I've been asking around about how to get Disneyworld tickets cheap. Unfortunately, there is no cheap way to get them. I know that you can take tours and get discounted tickets, but we don't have any extra time on this trip to do that.

A friend suggested looking on Craigslist to see if anyone is selling their unused days from their Park Hopper passes. I haven't had any luck yet, plus I'm a little nervous of getting ripped off.

Worst case, we'll just have to *ugh* pay full price. Not the end of the world since our airfare and hotel are covered.

I'll let you know what we end up doing.

For food, I am taking snacks with us. Ok, I know that may sound hokey to fly with snacks. However, we're staying at a disney resort so we won't be close to any grocery stores, and I don't want to buy all snacks and meals at disneyworld (it'd cost us a fortune!).
Today I bought Rice Krispie Treats, Beef Jerkey, Soy Nuts (like a trail mix), Fruit Snacks, and Granola bars. So, none of this food is chocolate and won't melt or make a mess on my kids. Secondly, none of this will get crushed if our bags are handled roughly by baggage claim. Thirdly, the beef jerky and soy nuts are acceptable for my diet :).
I'm also planning to bring some apples, but I realize they may bruise.

We will see what happens. If anyone (I know no one reads this yet :)) has any suggestions on how to make this trip better, let me know!!

Buying presents for kids birthdays

We have several kids in our life that we like to buy birthday presents for, but I try to limit how much I spend.

Kids are easy to shop for. Often I find myself stressing about them, but they always work out better than I think they will.

Tip 1: If you find a great deal on something stock up. For example, Costco had a hotwheels custom motors set that started out at $39.99. They kept dropping the price until it finally reached $9.97. (Hint: Anytime you see a price ending in .97 at costco it is a clearance deal). When it hit this I bought 3 of them for birthday parties of little boys.

I don't spend more than $10 on birthday presents even for nephews and nieces. Just a rule I go by.

Tip 2: The dollar store can have some fun things. One year my sister gave one of my boys 2 "laser guns" from the dollar store. They have so far lasted 2 years, and the lights still light up, and they are still played with every week. You don't have to spend a lot for it to be enjoyed.

Tip 3: If you are handy with sewing or drawing or any other art form you can make something for the child. I have made several dresses, tutus, etc for birthday presents. These can be more meaningful and can be very cost effective.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Steps to buying things online

This past summer we decided we needed a treadmill. My husband is a very tall guy and I am fairly short, so we had to consider both extremes in our purchase. We didn't want to spend $1000 on a nice treadmill, but we wanted quality too.

We started by doing our research and figuring out what brand and models we were interested in. Then, we decided how much money we wanted to spend. For us, we decided $300 was what we wanted to spend.

We searched craigslist for a couple weeks, and found several we liked. Some we called on, but others had already purchased. Others we weren't able to negotiate the price down enough, but then we found one that was a good brand, and had very good reviews. It had all the bells and whistles we wanted, and the price was right. I find that often if the pictures are poor people don't buy them as fast. So, if something has been online for a while and the price seems low you could explain that by bad pictures. Also, that's a good note for you to make sure you take good pictures (not with your phone) when you sell things online.

< t r e a d m i l l a d v i s o r . c o m >

We've had it for six months now and have had no problems.

Finding the right deal sometimes takes time. It's best not to be impulsive and not to be in a hurry. Do your research to make sure what you're buying is quality. If you are impatient you can still get a good deal, but you will probably have to sacrifice quality or price. But, you never know! You may get lucky and find the right steal at just the time you want it.

Warning: Always make sure you're safe when you go to pick things up from people. Take someone with you. When I don't take someone with me I always call my husband (or text or IM) and give him the address where I am going. I call him right before I go to the door, and I call him as soon as I'm back in the car. There are too many scary things that happen to people, and I don't want to be one of them!

A little privacy, please?

I love our home, but our front door always bugged me because there are two long skinny windows on either side of the door. Nice for light, but bad for privacy. We will eventually spend the money to get all the windows in the house tinted, but can't afford that yet. So, in the mean time I saw an awesome post on Centsational Girl about using frosted glass spray paint.

< c e n t s a t i o n a l g i r l . c o m >

Using this inspiration I thought, "why not use this to frost the glass by the door?".

Here is the window before and after.

With a handy bottle of frosted glass spray paint (I used Valspar and found it at Home Depot) our privacy problem was solved. The only comment I make about it is that when the sun shines in it kind of looks like a poltergeist shining into our window. LOL. Hey, at least we have privacy!

Gorgeous Urn Planters Makeover

I picked these up on craigslist for $45 for all three. I cleaned them up and sprayed them with Rustoleum's oil rubbed bronze metallic spray paint.

They turned out beautifully. There are some cracks in the lower lip but you can't tell from the top.

You can find lots of great deals on craigslist or other second hand means. Thrift stores and garage sales are wonderful resources. The only down side to garage sales is you have to wake up early to get the best deals :)