What I Want & What I’m Doing

Hello again! My 12 week health transformation started on Monday! So far it’s a slow start. The first few days have been all about starting to think about what I want, what I would like to accomplish, and what is most important in my life. Also thinking about all of that in relation to where I am right now. Right now I am overweight, constantly tired, and slightly depressed. Here is most of my list of thinks I want (I kept some personal ones to myself):

  • Be at a healthy and happy weight
  • Live a healthy lifestyle – full of fruits & veggies and physical activity
  • Have a healthy relationship with food and alcohol (i.e. quit binge eating and drinking)
  • Help my husband lose weight and become healthy
  • Have a clean and organized home
  • Have a beautiful home from the outside too
  • Be happy in my work life – less stress and more content
  • Spend less time traveling for work
  • Be more efficient in my work so I can work from home more often
  • Connect with my husband more
  • See my family more often and connect with them more
  • Cultivate some quality friendships
  • Save money
  • Spend less money eating and drinking out

I have a long list! A lot of these seem like they should be so easy, but they just haven’t been for me.

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That brings me to my next topic – attitude. What kind of attitude do you have? Do you have a can-do attitude or a whoa-is-me attitude? I think I fall into the latter way too much. I think I start all can-do, get discouraged, and end up all whoa-is-me. In the spirit of having a better attitude and outlook on life (mine has been so crappy lately), I wanted to think about things I’m doing awesome right now. Here’s another list… let’s just call this a list day:

  • Exercising at least 30 minutes per day – since I made this decision last week, I’ve stuck to it. Well, except for yesterday. There just wasn’t any time. And that is perfectly okay… as long as it doesn’t become a daily habit again.
  • Adding fruit/veggies into my day – I started slow last week, but I’ve definitely ramped this up. I had a fruit or veggie with every meal the last two days! I forgot my apple at home that was the other half of my breakfast today, otherwise I would also have a fruit or veggie with every meal today as well. This was one of those healthy habits that I had picked out for myself a while back, and definitely something I want to aim for daily.

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  • Cutting back on the booze – I had a glass of wine this weekend, otherwise I haven’t had anything to drink since October 4th. This is a priority in my life right now as I’ve come to realize how unhealthy and destructive I’ve been with alcohol. I did so well at the end of August by completely cutting out alcohol, but then I sort of slipped back into my old ways in September. Kudos to me for realizing that though. Now I’m back to no-little booze is best for me.

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  • Getting ish done and catching up at work – I’m getting there! My end of summer and start of fall were so dang busy that I fell behind at work. I have worked at kicking my procrastination skills to the curb and catching up. So far, so good! I think I will officially be back on track next week!

Those are huge… HUGE! I knew I had been making progress in the last week, but it was so easy for me to think about all of the mistakes I’ve made instead of the progress. I like this way of thinking. I want to add more bullet points! Don’t worry, before I go all crazy and try to change every bad habit I have all at once like I tend to do, I’ll just keep plodding along with these habits for now. I’m sure I’ll have a chance to work on more during my 12 week transformation.

Self-Care

This sort of goes along with what I just talked about above, but it’s also it’s own category. I’ve seen a couple of really great posts on self-care recently in the blog world. Like today recently! The first was from Lauren at Mindful Meals and is titled 15 Birthday Lessons from the Past Year (+ Self-Care Worksheet for you!). The part that is about self-care is obviously the worksheet. I love this thing! I filled it out today. Here are my completed worksheet items for today:

Nourishment – eat at least 3 servings of fruits & veggies; listening to my hunger & fullness

Movement – evening exercise; break in the afternoon to get some extra steps

Rest – in bed at 10; reading in the evening

Connection – talking to B; ???

Joy – music while working; dancing in the kitchen; listening to audiobook on my way home

The second post I noticed was from my old health coach, Jamie Mendell, and is titled What It Looks Like To Really Take Care Of Yourself. Jamie is full of great examples of how she takes care of herself daily. An important point to notice in both posts – both ladies count eating healthy as a way to care for yourself. I love this view! Over the last how many months (year?), I’ve used my negative outlook to see eating healthy as something I should be doing, and not something that I want to do in order to take care of myself. I definitely want to make this mind-shift! I think utilizing both of these posts would be a good start.

Finally, I am throwing another post in here from Katie at Peace, Love & Oats. This one is titled Answered Prayers and really doesn’t have anything to do with self-care. I just thought it was a wonderful post, especially for someone going through a tough time in their life. I know it helped me today  to understand all of those prayers I’ve been praying lately that are seemingly going unanswered. Not so. I’m just getting a “hold on, hold on. All in My time” answer.

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Stop.Challenge.Choose–Making a Choice

Well, I’m back. I wasn’t sure if I was going to come back, but I did. Sometimes I’m so gung-ho on this whole blogging thing, and then other times I don’t want to do it anymore. I think that’s just a reflection of me. I’m so indecisive and change my mind constantly. I guess we just deal with it and move on.

So what have I been up to? Trying to figure out life. The last couple of months have really gone by in a blur. Part of that is because work has been so busy, and part of that is because I’ve been sort of depressed and unsure of myself. I made a stupid mistake back in August that has drastically changed parts of my life, and I haven’t dealt with it so well. I’m an emotional roller coaster. Some days are just awesome, and I feel like I am making some headway. Other days I just want to give up and lay on my couch all day. There have been a lot of the latter. Now I’m trying to make more of the former.

Great segway into what I’m starting in the near future (Monday). It’s called Stop.Challenge.Choose, and it’s a 12 week health transformation. How to explain it all to you? Let’s start from the beginning.

I follow Jennifer Rush Jacobs on Instagram. If you don’t know who that is, she was on season 14 of The Biggest Loser with her dad. I follow a few Biggest Loser people. Anyway, one day a long while back Jennifer posted about her struggles with continuing to lose weight and live a normal life post Biggest Loser. She then went on to describe how her parents are health coaches and have seen results with Take Shape for Life, so she joined it too. She was finally able to actually live (i.e. not obsess and count calories) and continue to lose weight. At the time I looked at the website, and thought it cost money for a health coach, so I didn’t take any action. This past Monday, I remembered the e-book that is available through the website. I had started reading it way back when I first heard about this, but I never finished. I decided I needed something to get me back on a healthy journey, so I should check it out. Guess what I noticed this time when I went back to the website? The Stop.Challenge.Choose 12 week transformation with a health coach doesn’t cost any money. It’s free! You better believe I signed up.

The actual journey starts on Monday, although my health coach, Cynthia, has already called and touched base with me. I’ll get daily emails that will help me create healthy habits to override my current unhealthy habits, plus the use of a health coach to help me along the journey. I’m very excited! I honestly signed up for this just to lose weight, but after reading most of the e-book, I need it to regain my health and happiness. Seriously, I highly recommend at least downloading the e-book. There are some quizzes in there that are kind of eye opening. The first are a set of three that rate where you feel you are in the areas of physical health, mental health, and financial health. How you measure these shows you how you rate your overall wellbeing. Mine is in between surviving and above average. I think I’m doing okay! However, there are also thriving and optimum categories, so I have room to improve.

That first set of questions really just reaffirmed what I already knew – I have some major upgrades to make, specifically in the areas of physical and mental health. The second quiz was what was truly eye opening to me. It’s this health assessment from Dr. Wayne Andersen, the creator of this program. My score on the health assessment? –3… yes negative. That ranked me in the sick category. I’m sick, people! And it makes total sense to me. I eat unhealthy (the stuff you don’t see on Instagram :)), I don’t get as much activity as I should, I drink too much, and on and on. I need to make some changes! I’m so glad I signed up for this health transformation.

So now I am patiently waiting for Monday. I’ve already started trying to improve my habits though. I’ve eaten at least one healthy meal that includes fruits or veggies every day this week (yes, this is actually a vast improvement from what I’ve been eating lately), and I am making a pact to exercise for at least 30 minutes every day. That could be something as easy as yoga or walking… just moving for 30 minutes. I need that after sitting the rest of the day at work.

I’ll try to come back more often and let you know how things are going. Have a great weekend!

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Red Gold Crockpot Cooking Part 1 & Giveaway

We made it to Friday! I must admit, during the week I wasn’t sure I’d make it here all in one piece. I thought for sure I’d lose my sanity somewhere along the way. I think I’ve still got it though! Thank goodness. It’s been a rough week. My to-do list seems to be never ending. Then we had a computer update that I had to go into the office for yesterday. Of course my old fogey computer couldn’t handle it, so I didn’t get much actual work done. Now today old fogey doesn’t want to work again. Technology… love it, but also want to break it so much.

All in all, I’m doing well though. Stress is really knocking at my door, but I feel like I’ve made a plan to deal with it. I decided that I will work the three evenings that I am traveling next week. I think that will help me get caught up and ease some stress. Working evenings stinks, but I am at the point were I’m willing to do it to catch up.

Sad to say, but something tragic happened this week that has been helping me put work stress in perspective. One of my coworkers found out last week that he had untreatable pancreatic cancer. He then passed away on Monday. Since my coworkers are remote, and I don’t see them often, it still doesn’t seem like it happened. His obituary was sent out yesterday, and that is when it hit me a little bit. He’ll be greatly missed.

SO… should we get a little more upbeat? I don’t mean to be a Debbie Downer, but I did want to share what’s been going on this week.

Red Gold Tomatoes sent me some more tomatoes to play with! I absolutely loved their burger recipes that they sent with their tomatoes this summer, so I jumped on it when they reached out again. This time it’s crockpot recipes! Just in time to start fall crock pot season!

Here is where I have to admit something. I was going to wait to post about this until I had actually made more than one of Red Gold’s crockpot recipes since I didn’t take any pictures of the one I have made so far. Weeellll, the weather got all nice and warm again on us this week, so my husband and I decided we wanted to grill rather than make crockpot recipes. I didn’t want to wait to post this though, because I wanted to share all about a giveaway that Red Gold is doing now through October 8th. So I decided to do more than one post on this subject. This first one isn’t that pretty, but it contains some time sensitive information!

Back to the recipes. Like I said, they are crockpot recipes. You can actually see them all here. I knew right away which one I wanted to try first… Slow Cooker Spicy Macaroni and Cheese!

Remember I said that I didn’t take any pictures of my first recipe? Yep, I didn’t. That photo above is courtesy of the Red Gold recipe website. You can click on it to lead you to the website as it is hyperlinked for your clicking pleasure. ;) Here’s the recipe as well:

Recipe Overview

Servings: 8
Preparation Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 4 hour

Ingredients

2 cups pasta of choice, uncooked
2 tablespoons butter
8 ounces processed American cheese, cut into cubes
8 ounces cream cheese, cut into cubes
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 cup low fat milk
1/2 cup whipping cream
1 (12 ounce) can evaporated milk
1 (14.5 ounce) can Red Gold® Petite Diced Tomatoes With Green Chilies, drained or 2 (10 ounce) cans Red Gold® Petite Diced Tomatoes & Green Chilies (10 Oz), drained

Directions

  • Place the uncooked pasta in the bottom of a 3.5-qt. crock pot that has been sprayed with cooking spray. Add the remaining ingredients, except RED GOLD® PETITE DICED TOMATOES with GREEN CHILIES, to the slow cooker and stir until well combined. Cook on LOW for 4 hours.
  • Just before serving add RED GOLD® PETITE DICED TOMATOES with GREEN CHILIES; stir to combine.

So I made this recipe and thought something was a little off. The cheese didn’t melt like I wanted it to, it was a little clumpy, what the heck? I realized after we had eaten the entire thing (it was still really good!) that I had forgotten the 8 ounces of cream cheese that was supposed to go into the crockpot. My bad! So if you screw up, and forget the cream cheese, don’t worry because it still tastes delicious!

Also, your crockpot cooking times may vary. I just remembered another screw up, which could explain this other taste offage rather than my crockpot. I missed the whole “stir until well combined” direction up there. So I added everything to my crockpot in layers and left it that way for at least an hour before I realized I should have stirred it. It was either that or my crockpot was warmer because the noodles were a bit mushy at the end. Still delicious! So if you screw up there as well, no worries! Boy, I’m such a great cook. :)

Okay, now for Red Gold’s giveaway details! Now through October 8th, Red Gold is giving away 2 crockpots per day on their Facebook page! All you have to do is go there and enter to win. You can also reenter each day. Good deal, right?! Do it!

Okay, I think I’ve horrified you enough with my awful cooking stories, and brought you down with bad news. I’m off to make someone else feel bad. Just kidding. Have a great weekend!

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Leaving Food on My Plate

Man, oh man, today has been busy. I’m working at home all week this week, but I’m also trying to get my house cleaned for my SIL and BIL plus friends to visit on the weekend. My work to-do list is about a mile long, so adding the home to-do list has been a lot. I’ll get through it. It just means the hours seem to fly by every day!

Random factoid here that I think of every time I type “every day”. Do you know when to use everyday and when to use every day? Supplement the word “each” in for every. If your sentence is like mine above where it makes sense to use each, then there should be a space in between every and day. I think of that factoid every time I type! At least I’m getting one grammar rule right!

I just have to share my breakfast with you. I have been jumping around on what I feel like for breakfast these days. That’s not normal for me. Yesterday’s breakfast of a spinachy egg and cheese sandwich was less than stellar, so I wanted something extra good today. I remembered we had bacon and OJ in our fridge, so I went with a classic breakfast of bacon, egg, and toast with OJ:

Breakfast

So good! It was filling, so I didn’t eat the other piece of bacon. It’s back in my fridge for a snack. :)

I really applauded myself for not eating that other piece of bacon this morning. And then the rest of the pot of mac & cheese at lunch today. Normally I would just plow through my whole breakfast and get going for the day. Same with mac & cheese, which is my favorite food – I’ll plow right through the whole pot. While I still ate pretty fast today, I did notice I was satisfied when that bacon was still left and when I was done with my first serving of mac & cheese. So I packed it up for later. It felt so natural! That is what was really surprising for me. Leaving food on my plate felt natural. No big deal. I don’t need to eat it right now because I can have bacon or mac & cheese any old time. I’ll just wrap it up in the fridge for later. No big deal. No big deal?! HUGE deal for me! This is amazing! I think sitting at the table without distractions and paying attention is paying off! Finally.

Next up is really paying attention to how certain foods make me feel. I’ve had heartburn the last 2 days. Ow! I think it’s from the burrito I had on Sunday that I ate the leftovers of yesterday. Spicy = heartburn, right?

I’ve also been getting bad headaches for the last week or so. I’m not sure what’s causing that. I’m writing it in my little journal every day I have a headache to try to pinpoint it. I thought it was related to dehydration, but chugging water doesn’t make it go away. Today I drank more water than usual, and I still got a bad headache. I thought it was from lack of exercise at first as well, but going for a walk didn’t help either. Maybe staring at electronics so much during the day? It only seems to happen on weekdays where I would definitely be staring at a computer all day. Hopefully I figure it out soon because it’s no fun. It feels like a mild migraine – my teeth hurt, and I’m sensitive to light and noise. I don’t have the nausea part though. Thank goodness!

I also noticed today that the transition from working to not working is a hard one for me no matter where I am. I already knew that I tend to want to snack when I get home from work and have to fight it. Well, I realized that I’m the same way when I work at home, except the snacks are much more readily available since I don’t have to drive home first. I will have to do a little more work with this one. Maybe I can find something else to do right away when I’m done working that can be my new routine. Going for a walk sounds great in theory, but I know in practice I decide I’m too tired to do that right away. I’ll keep thinking.

I’m typing all of this outside on my deck. It’s only 66* out so I have a sweatshirt, sweatpants, and my slippers on, but the sun looked and felt so nice that I had to come out. I must take advantage of all of the beautiful days we have left before it’s too cold and snowy to even be outside. I’m so not ready for that.

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What’s New Gumshoe

Hey y’all! I’ve been so neglectful of my little blog. So much happens in between my blogging bouts that I forget to tell you! Today I’m going to try to fill you in on things I’ve forgotten. I think I’ve vaguely touched on a few of these, but now I’m going to go more into some details.

Let’s start by going back in time to mid-August, shall we? Just before my birthday. I had my bi-weekly phone call with Jamie Mendell to chat and catch up on things. Back in July we had discussed how and where things were going with our coaching relationship. At this point in mid-August, we decided to end my coaching. That sounds so dramatic! Really, we were at a point where Jamie had run through her arsenal, but some of my deeper issues were just getting in the way. I felt the same way since we had been working together on this since last December, and I really hadn’t made much progress. Jamie encouraged me to seek out a true therapist to work with. I did!

Before I go into starting with a therapist, I want to take a moment to say that I am very grateful for all of the hard work Jamie put into me! She is a wonderful nutrition coach, and I would highly recommend her for help in getting over your food issues. I will still keep in touch with Jamie, and our paths may cross again someday.

So I found a therapist. In case you are wondering how to find a therapist, you should go to your insurance provider’s website (if your insurance covers mental health – mine does), and just search for therapists in your area. That’s what I did. I then narrowed the search down for the type of therapy I was looking for. I picked the therapist I did because she specializes in women’s issues, alcohol, self esteem, body image, etc. All the things I need someone to talk about! So far I’ve had 3 sessions with her. Our first session was just going over me, my background, and what brought me to therapy. The last couple of sessions we just have chatted more about things that have come up. I’m ready to get into the meat and potatoes of everything in our next sessions.

Even though we haven’t quite gotten into everything yet, I still feel like I have made some huge strides. I have explored my relationship with alcohol, made a plan for my future alcohol use, and I’ve found a way to focus on small goals to improve my health.

I have to tell you all about that last one! My therapist, Jenny, mentioned making small health goals to start meeting my big goals. Well, we all know I’ve done that before. This time she got me all excited about making a paper calendar and using stickers to mark off of my goals. As she said, and I agree, “there’s just something about that physical reminder”. It’s true! So I made a calendar last Thursday for the month of September with weekly goals. I have been putting a sticker on my calendar for the days I’ve met my goals. So far, since I made them easy to start, I’ve met my goals every day except for one! Here are my goals for each week in September:

  • Week of September 1st – get 7+ hours of sleep each night
  • Week of September 7th – exercise at least 10 minutes per day
  • Week of September 14th – eat only when I’m hungry
  • Week of September 21st – eat one freggie (fruit or veggie) per day
  • Week of September 28th – eat only until satisfaction at one meal per day

Some of these are super easy for me – getting 7+ hours of sleep and eating one freggie a day. Some of these are medium – exercising at least 10 minutes per day and eating only until satisfaction at one meal per day. These sound easy but take more effort. Eating only when I’m hungry is definitely the hardest. 

Besides these fabulous goals, I’m still working on intuitive eating. I went back to Weight Watchers for like a week before I found myself overeating because I had already gone over my points for the day or week. Um yeah, restriction doesn’t work for me. So Weight Watchers is back out and intuitive eating efforts are back in. To be honest, I haven’t done very well. While I was focusing on not drinking, I definitely used food to fill that fun void. I definitely know where my intuitive eating weaknesses are, and I’m going to be focusing on those. Here they are:

  • Eating because I’m bored or in need of something more fun to do (filling the fun void)
  • Eating because of emotions – happy, sad, exhausted, stressed, etc.
  • Mindless eating in the evenings (also part of first bullet point)
  • Distracted eating so I overeat

So yeah. I need fun in my life, I need to start feeling emotions, and I need to get mindful when I eat. Good stuff. Actually, this is the first time I’ve written this all down, so maybe seeing these here will help me out even more!

Since about last Thursday I have focused on mindful eating. I’ve sat down, undistracted, and paid attention to my hunger cues before, during, and after eating. I have even written in a journal about it! I want to keep practicing this so that I can get used to my hunger and fullness cues and stop overeating. I can tell you right now that I’ve done great at stopping when I’m at a 5 on the hunger scale when I’m at home. When I’ve been out to eat, or my judgment is impaired, I don’t do so well. I guess I know where I need to focus some efforts on the weekend!

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Speaking of impaired judgment, I drank a little too much on Saturday evening. I didn’t stick to my new guidelines, and had a few more drinks than I had originally planned. My stomach was very, very angry at me since it just hates beer, and I had a headache on Sunday morning. I’m definitely going back to my alcohol guidelines. I just like waking up feeling good and not regretful of my choices from the night before. Lesson learned! I’m proud that I’m taking that evening in stride instead of beating myself up about it. I felt a bit guilty on Sunday, but this is my life and my rules, so I’m now refusing to judge myself on this. I experimented, learned what I liked better, and I’m moving forward. I am confident that I’ll make choices right for me in the near future.

I think you’re about up to speed now. I’ll try not to let you get so behind in the future. :)

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Staying in Peace

Happy Saturday! I’m enjoying some quiet time to myself this morning while my husband is still sleeping. I don’t know about you, but I absolutely love when I wake up before my husband on the weekend. The house is all quiet, and I can read a book or do some deep thinking before my husband wakes up and makes it all loud. It’s the best time of day.

Today’s topic was really on my mind last night. And then again early this morning. I must backtrack though.

Earlier this week I listened to an episode of Joel Osteen’s podcast titled Stay in Peace. The message was that you shouldn’t let life’s ups and downs affect you but to always stay in peace. Staying in peace shows that you have faith in God and know He has a plan that includes working out any kind of problem that arises. I truly believe that, so this message was a good one for me to hear. I must admit, I am the biggest slave to my emotions. Strong emotions just seem to roll over and into me, and I can’t shake them unless I react. At least that is how it feels. Even if you aren’t a super religious person, you will likely agree with something Joel said in this podcast. He said, and I’m paraphrasing, “If you let all of the ups and downs of life affect you, you’ll really be living life like a roller coaster”. Basically, when things are good, you’ll feel great, but when things are bad, you’re also going to feel lousy. If you stay in peace, you’ll always feel good. Cool concept, right?

StayinPeace

Yeah, I was put to the test on this one yesterday. And failed. But I feel like I redeemed myself later. Let me somewhat explain without giving you too many details. Don’t you love when people do that? Yesterday evening my husband made me really, really mad. Husbands tend to do that! I could feel the anger rolling over and in me as I mentioned above. Oh I was mad. I blew up. We were at happy hour, so I blew up in public. I didn’t care because I was so mad, and I really wanted to let him know it. I am embarrassing! So yeah, I definitely didn’t stay in peace. What would have worked better would be to stay in peace and think about the situation calmly and rationally. Without a blow up.

So how did I somewhat redeem myself? Before bed and early this morning when my husband made it home, I was oh so annoyed with the him again. This time, instead of getting super angry so that I couldn’t sleep, I worked on staying in peace. This was a temporary situation, so why let it bother me all night? That would only cause me to miss out on sleep, wake up crabby, and potentially ruin my day today. By staying in peace I was able to get some sleep (some… I had a song in my head that made it hard to fall asleep), wake up in a decent mood, and now enjoy a relaxing morning. Staying in peace was really the key to getting through that situation without ruining my mood. Cool!

Have a wonderful day! We don’t have any plans for the day time, but we are heading down to the cities for a Twins game this evening. Well, we’re headed down in the late afternoon. I’m looking forward to an enjoyable day. If anything not-so-enjoyable comes about, I’m going to remember to keep the peace and get through it without ruining my day.

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Life on Booze

Happy Friday friends! I love short work weeks because they just fly by. I wish all work weeks could be 4 days. I think that is my goal for the future – have a 4 day work week every week. I’d have to be a bit creative, but it totally could happen. The downside would be working 10 hour days those 4 days. I’m not so sure I like that. I’m more into a couple of 10 hour days, a couple of 8 hour days, and one half day. That’s sort of what my normal week looks like.

Enough about work! How about the weather? It’s been gloomy here what feels like all week. In actuality, it was last nice on Tuesday. Now it’s sunny today but chilly (to me, that’s 75* and lower in the summer, but today it’s supposed to be 68*). Go figure. I just want to soak up some summer sun before it’s all gone! I’m making it my goal to at least get out for a walk today in the chilly sun.

Do you know what was nice about it being sunny and warmish on Tuesday? I stayed at my parents’ lake house and could soak some of it up. I also got to see gorgeous views like this all evening:

EveningLake

Yep, it was the very best. I could definitely look at that every evening. Which is one of the reasons by husband and I are looking for a lake home to buy. #truestory

Anywho, let’s get serious again. Remember that I mentioned I’m using a tough time in my life to do some personal exploring? I’ve definitely done some of that. I keep thinking I haven’t done enough yet, but there is time. There’s always time to explore yourself. One of the areas I’ve done of a lot of exploring in is my relationship with alcohol. Oh yeah, this is a big area for me.

Alcohol

Are you familiar with my prior relationship with alcohol from reading here? It wasn’t a good one. It seems like I would always make plans to not drink or just drink a little on any particular weekend, but then I would give into the peer pressure or fun pressure that came up. So many wasted weekends (pun intended). Well, this is the perfect time to explore that relationship! First off in my exploration in my relationship with alcohol, I quit drinking. Yep, quit.

Wait, didn’t I just tell you about that s’more beer and wine tasting I had at the state fair this past weekend? Yep. Those were my first drinks that I had in 3 weeks. Not counting tasting other people’s drinks, because I have done that. I figured the time was perfect for me to step back, regain my cotrol, and see what not drinking is all about. The verdict? I liked it!

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve quit drinking before. The last time was in April 2013 when I did a Whole 30 challenge. Back then I wasn’t analyzing alcohol, but I was forcing myself not to drink so I could potentially lose weight. There’s a big difference there. I still wanted to drink this time around, but I had a greater purpose to abstaining than just wanting to lose weight. I wanted to see what it’s like to abstain, and which I like better.

Since it’s hard for me to really format my thoughts here, I’m resorting now to a bulleted list of what I learned:

  • Not drinking when everyone else is slamming back drinks is hard
  • I noticed some people were really drinking for the purpose of getting drunk. I asked myself if they had always done that, or was I just noticing it because I wasn’t drinking?
  • While I’ve had fun partying and having a good time in the past, after watching people drink to get drunk, I think it’s stupid
  • Some people didn’t drink as much as I thought they had before. Again, has it always been this way, or am I just noticing it now because I wasn’t drinking?
  • Sitting at a bar without engaging conversation is extremely boring – no wonder I drank so much in the past
  • In the moment, I really want to drink too. A couple hours later, I’m glad I didn’t

So what does this all mean for me? I talked to my brand new therapist about this yesterday. Here is what I’ve decided:

  • I’m not abstaining from alcohol for good (obviously since I had a bit this past weekend)
  • For now, when I’m still kinda-sorta feeling my way around my relationship with alcohol, I’m going to abstain during happy hours or other occasions that involve just sitting and drinking. That’s when I know I can get bored or too excited and slip back into boozing face mode.
  • I’m saving alcohol for occasions that warrant it. This could just be a glass of wine in the evening with my husband. The key is to stop and savor the moment and the alcohol. No guzzling, gulping, etc. If the moment calls for that, then I will be guzzling and gulping soda or juice.

In the end, I really am glad that I took the time to explore my relationship with alcohol. It had really turned into something that I was not controlling and was spending more time beating myself up over than enjoying. Now I can go out and enjoy the time with people instead of obsessing about if I should drink, how much I should drink, and when I should stop drinking. I really encourage anyone who is unhappy with their relationship with alcohol to try this experiment. Just quit for a while. See what happens. See how you feel. You might be like me and find you really don’t need to get all wild and crazy to have a good time, and that you might actually like that fact.

Have a great weekend! See you at happy hour! :)

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Vacation & The Great MN Get Together

Hello! I’m back from my vacation! It went really fast. Why does a week off go so fast but a week of work doesn’t? Seriously.

My vacation was pretty blah. We joined my husband’s immediate family, less one brother and sister-in-law, uncle and aunt, three cousins, one spouse, and a bunch of kids for a week at a lake about an hour and a half northwest of here. The last two years I’ve been ready to go home by the end of the week since I get bored just sitting around. I think next year I’m going to either plan activities or split the week between their vacation and my parents’ lake place.

Anyway, here are some highlights of my week off:

  • Walking – I went for 3 walks throughout the week. On one of them I walked around an entire lake! It was only 5.3 miles. :) I also made some friends during my walk:

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These two dogs lived 2 houses down from the resort we stayed at. Every time I walked by their house they would come barking at me, then stop and wag their tails for me to pet them. Then they would turn around and walk home (which is when I finally got a picture). It was so sweet.

  • Playing Texas Hold Em – I won once!
  • Swimming – it was only really nice enough one day to swim :(
  • Golfing – I golfed 18 holes. I haven’t actually golfed 18 holes or kept score in years.
  • Visiting the Panther Distillery – MN’s first legal distillery! I even tried some of the whiskey. Gross, gross, yum! The only one I liked was their apple cider whiskey. I might need to buy some this fall.

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  • Spending time with my in-laws – some of them are just nuts… in a good way :)

We got home from this vacation Friday morning. Just in time for us to attend the Minnesota State Fair yesterday! Or, as the media calls it, The Great Minnesota Get Together. I wish I would have taken a picture of how crowded it was! We always go the Saturday of Labor Day weekend, so it’s always pretty crowded, but this year was nuts. I think it’s because the weather had been crappy during the week, some schools started before Labor Day this year, and it was the nicest day of the extended weekend weather-wise. I was so sick of crowds by the time we left!

Even though it was so crowded, we still had a blast. I was looking forward to walking, people watching, eating crazy food, and riding some rides. I accomplished all of those things! I looked at my Fitbit before we got out of the car so that I could see how many fair steps I would take. I took 20,185 steps at the fair! Awesome, right?!

Now, the food! Here’s most of what we tried:

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First, we tried the pretzel cheese curds (top left) because I had heard good things about them. They just weren’t as good as the original cheese curds. Sad fail.

Then we had to take a break from the fair while my husband did a fantasy football draft. I was bored so I took a picture of my root beer and my husband’s beer. It was just regular old A&W root beer, so nothing special. It still hit the spot.

After the draft was finally over (it took 2 hours!), we went back to the MN Wine Country stand to try a flight of wine and some wine fried brie I had spotted earlier. The brie was such a disappointment! It was just bland. The wine was good though! We tried the sweet flight, which included raspberry and rhubarb wine. We agreed the raspberry (the pink one above) was the best.

Finally we tried what is pictured in the center and bottom left. Walleye mac & cheese plus a s’more beer. This was hands down the best thing I ate all day! My favorite food is mac & cheese, but I think this is the first time I’ve had it with corn and peppers. It’s definitely the first time with walleye as well. So freaking good. Next time I make mac & cheese, I’m definitely adding corn and peppers!

Let’s talk about that beer. So random, right? I saw it on Instagram while the hubs was drafting and just had to try it. I didn’t know what to expect! What it actually tasted like was a chocolate stout with a chocolate (I think) and graham cracker rim. I love me a good stout! It was really good, but I was so full from all of the cheesey goodness I’d just eaten, so I only had 3/4 of it before tossing.

Other things we had that didn’t get pictures because they were really my husband’s eats – a gyro and mini donuts. He gets them every year.

Here are some other fair highlights/fun:

WineflightFun

 

I really liked the holder the wine flight came in!Photo Aug 30, 7 56 55 PM

 

My husband plays for the Wild! Okay, not really.GondolaRide

 

Riding the Skyride! I could have taken this when we were actually out over the fair, but I was too busy gripping my husband for dear life. I always ride things that scare the bejesus out of me. Ski lifts and gondolas do not mix well with me. I can always picture the cables snapping. I have an overactive imagination for sure.

Funny story. I wanted to ride the ferris wheel originally, but the line was really long. Same with the little mouse coaster. Instead, we decided to do one of the skyrides. The open, ski lift type one didn’t have a line, but wasn’t in a good spot of the fairgrounds for us to leave afterwards, so we decided to do the gondola one. It seemed to have a short line. “Seemed to” being the key words here. Once we had bought our tickets and gotten in line we realized the line was hidden behind the ride. It was looooong. We stood in line for an hour to take the 7.5 minute ride (I timed it). Yep, we could have ridden a bunch of other rides in that time. At least we got a good giggle out of it!

So that was my week and the fair. I was going to head to the lake to visit my dad and nephew for the rest of the holiday weekend, but now it’s raining. Womp womp. Looks like I might be cleaning and reading a book instead. That works too.

Have a great rest of your Labor Day weekend!

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Blue Diamond Honey Chipotle Almond Crusted Chicken Breasts

Happy Friday! Did the week fly by for anyone else? Geez it went fast! I’m technically on vacation now until September 2nd! It’s technically because I have to unfortunately bring work with me on vacation. Womp womp. Such is the life when nobody else can do your work.

Anyways, I’m coming to you late today to share a recipe. Or “recipe”. It might not really qualify as a real recipe. I’ll let you decide.

A few weeks ago Blue Diamond was kind enough to send me another package.

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I love getting nuts in the mail! :)

This time I received Blue Diamond’s brand new honey flavors of almonds. Honey roasted vanilla and honey roasted chipotle – holy yum!

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I immediately knew I needed to make something with these almonds instead of just eating them out of the can. I mean, I totally did that too, but they just seemed so perfect for making something with as well.

Can you guess what I made?! Probably not. I made almond crusted chicken breasts! I decided to use the honey roasted chipotle flavor for my chicken breasts. I put a bunch of almonds in the food processor and gave them a whir.

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Then I cracked an egg, dipped my chicken breasts in the egg, then dipped them in the ground up almonds to make my crust. I also did just parmesan for my husband since he’s not a nut fan.

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Then I slapped those suckers on the grill and put my awesome grilling skills to use. I also grilled up some sweet corn.

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Apparently parmesan comes out as bright white when you take a picture of it. I have grilling skills people, not photographing skills. :)

And the finished product!

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I am definitely going to do this again! The smoky honey chipotle flavor worked so well with grilling. Plus I felt oh so fancy.

I do have one thing to admit… one of my corns rolled off my plate onto the deck, then rolled off the deck into the grass below. I may have went and picked it up, wiped any grass off, and put it back on the grill to “burn off” all of the gross stuff. I’ve got class. :)

You should definitely try almond crusted chicken breasts with Blue Diamond honey flavored almonds! I just don’t recommend dropping your corn in the grass.

*This post was sponsored by Blue Diamond Almonds. I received two free cans of almonds, but all opinions are always my own.

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Exploring My Thoughts & Beliefs

Hello hello! Notice anything different around here? I redesigned my blog! I was starting to really like the look of lighter colored blogs, so I decided to switch things up. I’m really liking it!

Tomorrow I’m going to come at you with a recipe. Crazy, I know. But today I’m going to get really serious with you. Just some things that have been on my mind lately.

I’ve been really down in the dumps lately. I’ve spent a lot of time over the last couple of weeks feeling sorry for myself. Life gave me lemons, and I decided to suck on them and make a sour face. I’m not saying that’s a super bad thing. Sometimes you just have to feel the bad in the sucky times and let yourself have a good cry. I just don’t think you should let negative thoughts and feelings rule your life. I’ve started to kick those “oh woe is me” thoughts and feelings to the curb. And it feels good.

Lemons

Part of what got me here was Ragnar. It’s hard to feel sorry for yourself when you’re too busy running, cheering, and trying to get some sleep. I did have a few crappy moments when I was running my last leg, but that was pretty much it.

Upon coming home from Ragnar, I just didn’t want to go back into the despair I’d felt for the last week. I wanted to move toward a more positive outlook. I’m really trying to use this tough time in my life to mold and grow myself into a better person. Into the person I’ve really wanted to be, but wasn’t sure how to go about being. I’m really trying to make lemonade here! :)

You might be confused by what I mean by all of that. I mean that I want to explore myself. Explore my hobbies, explore how I spend my free time, explore my beliefs, explore my relationships… just explore every factor of my life. Once I’m done exploring, I want to truly live the life that is best for me. I really don’t think I’ve been doing that for a while now. Instead, I’ve gone through the motions, made plans, broke plans, and just sort of gave up and told myself I’m happy the way things are. News flash: I’m not. I want so much more!

Explore

For my first exploration, I’m going to explore my thoughts and beliefs about myself. I found this blog by Heather K. Jones yesterday. I’m not even going to embarrass myself by telling you how much blog stalking I’ve been doing since I discovered it. It’s been a lot. :) I am just so much in love with the messages coming from Heather. You should check her out!

Okay, so I’ve decided to explore my thoughts and beliefs about myself. What the heck does that mean?! It means those subconscious thoughts that pop into my consciousness throughout the day regarding myself. For instance, I was in the bathroom a little bit ago and looked at myself in the mirror while washing my hands. Immediately my attention was drawn to my stomach area, and I thought, “Ugh, I look so big. Can you see a roll through my shirt?”. I have so many more of those thoughts that pop in throughout the day. According to my thoughts, here is what I think and believe about myself:

  • I’m fat and don’t deserve to be appreciated or loved because of it.
  • None of my other accomplishments matter. The only thing that matters is that I’m fat.
  • I am not as smart as my coworkers.
  • I don’t work hard enough.
  • I’m lazy.
  • Because I can’t seem to care enough or work hard enough, I’ll never get what I want in life.
  • I’m not normal. I’m so weird.
  • I deserve to be miserable.

Crappy, right? I want to change these thoughts and beliefs!

Okay, so I have these beliefs, and I know I want to change them… now what? How the heck can I change a belief? I can’t just say, “I don’t believe that” and it will be true. So what do I do?

With thoughts and beliefs like these, there are only a few options to work on changing them.

1. Affirmations – find affirmations that affirm what I really want to believe. When, or even before, a negative thought or belief comes up, I can repeat one of these in my head. Here are some:

  • I’m beautiful
  • I deserve to love myself and be loved by others
  • I am an intelligent person
  • I work at my own pace
  • I care about my life
  • I am unique
  • I choose to feel differently
  • I choose to find happiness
  • I deserve to be happy

2. Meditation – this is something that has been hard for me in the past. I find some meditation just a little woo-woo. On the other hand, I love the quiet and calm meditation can bring in the middle of a chaotic day. When I’m feeling like my thoughts are especially loud, I want to reach towards meditation.

3. Practicing gratitude and thankfulness – seeing all that you have just opens your heart for more. I used to list 5 things I was thankful for before I went to bed. I want to start that practice again! Instead of stressing or being mindless in the shower, I think I can add a little time to practice gratitude and thankfulness. That’d be a great way to start the day as well!

Open

This was such a good practice for me. I honestly didn’t think about this post ahead of time and just wrote what came to mind. I didn’t even realize I had some of those thoughts and beliefs! You should try it as well. You might also be surprised about what you think and believe about yourself.

Yep, definitely ready for a more light-hearted recipe post! :)

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