Monday, October 21, 2013

My Menu Plan for the Week and a new Book Study

I am going to post about what I have planned for my week on the personal front.

I went to yoga yesterday after not working out much the last week.  We were on a one week break from boot camp, and then I got an adjustment from the chiropractor that left my spine sore and tender for two days. Apparently, I went longer than normal between adjustments. I am ready to get back to some workouts and more yoga this week.  Now, that the weather is cooler I really want to start doing some more running and walking with Nala.

I have lots of homework for grad school this week. Next week, I am going to the iNACOL conference on online learning. I am really excited about going, but I have to get all my homework done before I leave. Yikes!

This week, I decided to make some recipes all from SixSistersStuff.  Their recipes are so easy with lots to choose from. I try to pull at elast one recipe each week from their latest Weekly Menu Plan.

This week from their menu I chose the Cheeseburger Casserole

I made it last night. It was yummy.  I am taking some in my lunch tomorrow with baby carrots and an apple.

I also made some Southern Chicken and Corn Chowder

It came out really tasty.  It did not come out as thick as I would have liked, but there is so much veggies that it is still a really hearty soup. It made a really big pot and the hubby and I won't eat it all. So I am going to take some tomorrow to my in-laws.

Later in the week I am going to make:

Crockpot Chicken Quesadillas

Crockpot Beef Stew

Pioneer Women had a recipe today for Pumpkin Cinnamon rolls that sound amazing. What are you eating this week?

I am also getting ready in to start an online book study for Emily Freeman's new book A Million Little Ways. It's all about finding the beauty in every day. I am excited about it. :) 

Monday, October 7, 2013

Peek at my Week: My Dinner Plans

My Workouts

This past weekend, I was able to start working out again after not working out for a week and a half due to a cold.  Not working out for over a week had my stress out of control. It is amazing what a difference a good workout makes. On Thursday, I did a 30 minute pilates class and my 1 hour bootcamp class.  On Friday, I did not have a muscle that did not hurt.

Saturday morning at 8am I went to bootcamp. We did lots of abs, which was torture because my abs were still wore from my 2 workouts on Thursday.  After bootcamp, I went to a Holy Yoga class. It was awesome!  I had not been to a Holy Yoga class in awhile. I love the experience of physical surrender while praising and worshipping. It was a cold rainy day on Saturday, so I stopped at Panera on my way home from yoga and got soup. I came home and took a 4 hour nap on the couch. That night I went to dinner with my sister-in-law, Emily.  We had Greek food at Ziziki's for dinner, and went across the parking lot to Breadwinners for pumpkin cheesecake for dessert.

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Sunday morning I went to hot yoga before church.  I love letting all the tension and stress go before going to church. Right now at church Dr. Jeffress is doing a series on Revelation. After church, I pretty much worked on lesson plans and did laundry.

My Dinners this Week

Today, I planned what I am going to eat this week and went grocery shopping. I am planning on cooking the following items this week. When I cook, I usually cook 2-3 meals at once so I only have to cook a couple times a week.  We just reheat stuff throughout the week.

Turkey Sloppy Joes

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We had this tonight with carrots and celery. I got the recipe from this week's Six Sister's Weekly Menu.

Turkey Chili

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I just make chili in the crockpot with cooked ground turkey, 3 Alarm chili seasoning, 1 can tomato sauce, 1 can pinto beans, 1 can black beans, 1 can kidney beans, bell pepper and onion.  I cook it on low for 2 hours.

Chicken and Spinach Lemon Pasta

Emily gave me this recipe and said it was good.  It is from Rachel Schultsz's blog. I probably will use a different pasta than Angelhair though because I have a bunch of pasta to use up.

Breakfast Tacos

I have been making frittata a lot lately, so I am going to change it up this week and make breakfast tacos with eggs, turkey sausage, and cheese. I recently discovered Jimmy Dean's Turkey Sausage crumbles. They are fully cooked and already crumbled. You just sprinkle them in whatever you are making.  It is so easy!


I really love packing Bento lunches for myself.  It helps me eat more balanced having it all in one box.  I am a slow eater, so I seem to actually eat more if it is all in one container versus several. I probably will take a breakfast taco in my lunch one day and some leftover pasta another day.

For tomorrow I packed a homemade lunchable with turkey, salami, cheddar, crackers, carrots, celery, and an orange.

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Wednesday, September 18, 2013

I'm here

My goal for 2013 was balance.  I'm pretty sure that will be my goal for 2014 as well. Ultimately, I want to blog here about my fitness journey, what I am eating, my lunch ideas, how I am balancing work and graduate school, and my spiritual journey.

I decided to do a fall bible study at Stonebriar Community Church, where Chuck Swindoll is the pastor. I am doing the bible study with my sister-in-law Emily. This first week was a bit of a fail for me.  The bible study homework did not happen for me.  I had so much graduate school and work stuff, I got buried in busy.  It is no excuse.  I need to make time for God, quiet time, and bible study.  I need to make time to be still. Being still to be in the moment with God should be easy and natural.

I want to get back to finishing Grace for the Good Girl. I think I am going to try and blog about my thoughts on the bible study. Right now I am going to pray and then get some sleep.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Being Set Free from Life's Pains

I wanted to do a quick post this morning to mention my aunt just released her first book.  My aunt's book Daughter of the King: Finally Free is released today.

I am almost done reading the book; I read most of the book in one sitting.  My aunt, Fran Speake, details how her faith in Christ helped her overcome a childhood of neglect, abuse, and low self-esteem.  She catalogs how as an adult she sought to fill that inner void with drugs and the wrong men. Her memoir is a story of pain, but a powerful testimony to the power of faith and the redeeming grace of Christ. I knew many details of my mom and aunts' childhood, but it was so much more profound to see it through the eyes of someone who experienced it.  I can see how each generation of my family truly tried their best to give their kids more than the previous generation. As humans though, we will always fall short and disappoint one another. Only God truly fill that inner void.  Short respites from emptiness can be found in relationships, food, drugs, alcohol, exercise, and other earthly endeavors.  None of these things provide lasting peace or that deep joy that overcomes life's deepest pains. Through her faith, Aunt Fran is able to both see her life and choices clearly and be thankful for what she has been set free from.   We have to acknowledge and face the things that haunt us, and then set them down on the alter for Christ to pick up.  We often surrender our burdens only to pick them back up again. The hardest part of being set free is claiming that freedom every day.  We can let go of the hold the past has on us, but we do not forget.  Those memories and pains are something we can choose to give to Christ as often as is necessary. What we surrender to Christ we must choose to surrender daily.  You can go to Fran's Facebook page.  She is doing giveaways today for signed copies of the book.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Worship is Active and Not Passive

Bootcamp is on a two week break, and I already can tell a difference.  Yesterday, I was feeling overwhelmed when I realized how much I need to get accomplished this summer to get ready for next school year. Normally on Tuesdays, I would have my bootcamp workout.  Stressful day and no major workout...I was still stressed.  I realized how much less stressed I have been the last 4 weeks.

Spiritually, I know I am supposed to not let go and let God.  This is so hard sometimes.  I can be such a control freak over my immediate life and to-do's.  I feel like over the last month or two God is really showing me that worship and surrender are ACTIVE and not PASSIVE.  What I mean is that for me I am coming to see that there is something amazing that exercise does for me spiritually. Let me clarify.  When I work hard and sweat hard, I let go and I surrender.  Each lap and each physical movement helps me let go of the worries and distractions and stresses that weigh me down.  As I sweat out the stress, there is more room for God...more room for prayer.

Exercise is great for me physically, mentally, and emotionally.  I am finding that as I feel better physically, mentally, and emotionally, I also see improvement spiritually.  I take more time to seek God throughout the day and the week.

(Source: Pinterest)

I also have been trying to go to Holy Yoga once a week.  I have always enjoyed yoga, but there is something special about actually doing yoga with other Christians...about actually worshipping while being physically active.  With holy yoga, you are actively worshipping.

Today, I got up and went for an interval run/walk with Nala.

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Running and I do not have a great relationship, but I feel like I need to keep trying. Things worth doing are always hard.
(Source: Pinterest)

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Sunday, June 23, 2013

Bootcamp Fitness

I started this blog so I could document my personal journey with balance.  The last few weeks I have been going to a bootcamp fitness class with Texas Bootcamps.  I have really enjoyed it.  It is on a two week break.  I will miss it.  I know exercising outside in summer in the Texas sounds crazy, right?  I absolutely love it, though.  Other people are exercising with you, so it motivates you to keep going...keep pushing. We meet three times a week, and each workout is different.  You never get bored, and your body doesn't plateau as much with all the variety.  I feel so much stronger.  I have been sleeping well, I have more energy, and I am in a lot better mood. 

(Gotta love Pinterest quotes for motivation)

Speaking of sleep, I really should be in bed already.  Time for some water and sleep.  I'm going to restart the Fast Metabolism Diet again tomorrow.  I keep starting it and getting sidetracked.  Hopefully this time I can make the full 28 days.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Holy Yoga and a Long Walk

Well, today was Day 9 on the Fast Metabolism Diet.  I do feel a lot better, and I have lost 3 pounds.  I have not followed it 100% perfectly, but I have tried to follow it pretty closely.

Eating better and working out more is so time consuming.  I feel good, but I also am just tired. The positive side of exercise though is you sleep better. Yesterday, I did 30 minutes of hot yoga and then an hour of holy yoga.  That was my second time to go to try holy yoga.  I really enjoyed it.  I absolutely love the idea of worshipping God while exercising.  Worship just feels like it should be active and not passive.

Today, Nala and I walked two miles on our favorite trail by the duck pond in the beautiful weather.  (With Texas the beautiful weather will not last long.)  Then, I went to an hour of boot camp fitness. I made a quick dinner taco of ground turkey, kale, and salsa on a spelt tortilla.

Now, I finally am blogging and getting ready for bed.  I really need to keep up with my gratitude list. Today though, I was grateful for the beautiful weather and a good day at school. 

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Prayer, More Fitness, and a Better Metabolism

This weekend has been a great weekend.  Today I went to church at First Baptist Dallas. I have really enjoyed the guest speakers over the last couple weeks for the opening of the new sanctuary. We have had Dr. David Jeremiah and Jym Cymbala.  Today Dr. James Dobson came and spoke. The last couple sermons have convicted me on how much more I need to consistently be praying. I enjoy praying when I walk my dog.  We have a trail by a duck pond down the road. I enjoy walking Nala over there.  I find it very peaceful, and it brings me a lot of joy.  I like praying while we walk. The ducks, the water, the trees, and the sunshine all help me let go and let God. Over and over I am reminded of the importance of surrender and faith.  I am an achiever.  I always have a list to accomplish, so it is a daily...hourly choice to surrender and not worry and not overthink.

This week I finished week 2 of bootcamp fitness. I can already tell I am getting a little stronger. It feels good to feel some progress.  I also started a meal plan this week to help increase my metabolism.  I have a slow metabolism even though I am a small person.  I can gain 5-10 pounds quickly (especially when my thyroid levels are off) but then it is so hard to lose that 5-10 pounds. I found a website called The Fast Metabolism Diet.  I purchased the book through Kindle and the app for the i-Phone. 

The diet lasts 4 weeks and each week you go through 3 phases. The first 2 days you eat more grains and fruit, the next two days you eat veggies and protein, and the last 3 days you eat a mix of all of it. In general, you cut out sugar, alcohol, wheat, dairy, soy, and corn.  Just cutting out dairy and wheat can help your body detox.  On Thursday and Friday, I felt awful and had headaches from detoxing and allergies. Yesterday, I felt a million times better. The app for the phone is amazing (it also only costs $1.99)! You eat about 5-6 small meals per day.  At each meal/snack it tells you what types of foods to eat and then gives you choices.  I like this a lot better than other meal plans I have seen because it tells me what to eat but still gives me options. So far after week 1 I have lost about 2-3 pounds. I am glad to have found something to help me know what foods to eat to help increase my metabolism, and it did not cost me a fortune.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Fitness, Food, and Gratitude

Last week I was becoming a worrier again.  I was feeling stressed, buried, and overwhelmed.  This is a battle I walk daily.  I am serious, focused, and often tense.  I work hard at balance and relaxing.  Yes, I have to work at relaxing.  Please do not dismiss me and just say "You just need to relax."  It is not always that simple.

God reminds me again that in the piles of worry is the neglect of gratitude.  I began counting 1000 Gifts last year and neglected it.  He reminded me it is time to start again. I pulled out the journal, and so I begin this post with gratitude:

391. pedicures with a good friend
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392. the Spring Blooms at the Dallas Arboretum
393. a baby's laughter (I took pictures of my friend's baby and the flowers at the arboretum)
394. time spent with a good friend
395. pancakes at The Orginal Pancake House (I had craved pancakes for a month.  They were the perfect dinner Saturday night).
396. began a bootcamp fitness class today (Hopefully I will still feel gratitude tomorrow).
397. committed to eating better more consistently the next 4 weeks
398. loose leaf tea and the electric tea kettle
399. new storage for our small house from Ikea
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400.  hot showers

As I work on balance and eating better, one of the things I make myself do is cook on Sunday.  I cook usually 2-3 main course meals on Sunday with about 2 days worth out of each item.  This gives us enough leftovers during the week that we eat at home but I do not have to cook on a school night. I tend to make a lot of the same items with no variety, so one of my goals is to try one new recipe each week.  Last week I made a beef and vegetable soup in the crockpot.  It was yummy! Even the hubby liked it (who by the way hates soup).  This week I tried two new recipes from the Six Sister's.

1. Chicken and Black Bean Casserole
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2. Crockpot Teriyaki Chicken Stir Fry

Now, I also want to get back to tracking more of what I am eating. 
Today I just had a Nugo Dark Pretzel protein bar for breakfast.  For lunch, I had some of the black bean and chicken casserole with a Navel orange. For dinner I had a southwest salad before going to bootcamp fitness.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

29 Lessons Learned - Part 1

I turned 29 a couple weeks ago and have been wanting to write a post about 29 lessons learned.  So here goes.  Here is part one of some of the lessons I have learned in my 29 years.

1) Verbalizing helps
I am the type of person that I need to verbalize my thoughts and feelings.  There is too much going on in my over-analytical head.  Writing it down and talking about it out loud helps me process and let things go.

2)Drinking water is important.
Drinking water makes a huge difference in how I feel and how my body responds to things.

3) Self-awareness is essential to growth.
In order to grow, I have to accept my strengths and weaknesses.  I have to make decisions with them in mind, embracing the good with the bad.  I need to pay attention to how I respond emotionally and physically to events and things I consume.

4) Find moments of simplicity.
Take the time to slow down and just breathe or just be.

5) Reward yourself with rest.
Sleep deprivation is not worth it...even if you are a night person.

6) Find a daily, consistent happy moment.
Nala is almost always the best part of my day. Pets give love unconditionally and are uncomplicated.  Sometimes we just need a source of joy and love that is uncomplicated.
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7) The book is always better.
Books will always be the best source of escape.  Book stores are happy places.

8) Just because I have a favorite color does not mean I love all items in that color.
I know this.  I just wish come gift time everyone else knew this.

9) Snacks are important.
Ask my mom or my husband.  You really do not want to know me when I am hungry.  I am no longer pleasant.

10) You cannot and will never make everyone happy.
I tried.  I tried for a long time. No one is perfect and sometimes no matter how delicate we try to handle people's feelings, we hurt, we disappoint, and we anger. That does not mean I go out of my way to be cruel.  It just means that living in a world of too many feelings to juggle is a world where sometimes balls get dropped and feelings get hurt. After too many crashes and all seems broken, sometimes it seems too hard to pick it all back up and start juggling again.  Sometimes you just have to ask God for help because he juggles a lot more than I do.

To be continued...

Sunday, February 10, 2013

A Blessed Birthday Week

I wanted to update this little blog just about every day for the last week and never found the time.  I am going to catch you up on what I have been doing and eating. Last Sunday I kept up my routine of cooking, shopping, and preparing for the week.  I will say that actually cooking more and buying just a few items at Trader Joes (instead of almost all at Whole Foods) is saving me like $50 a week. Between Trader Joes and Whole Foods I have been only spending about $60-$70 a week.  Then, we also get other items at Kroger.

Last Sunday, I made chili and chicken noodle soup. This is a staple backup meal for us. My husband loves chili, and I love chicken soup.

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App

 We both have something we love to eat throughout the week for leftovers. The chicken soup is chicken, chicken broth, onions, celery, carrots, and brown rice noodles all cooked in the crockpot. The chili is ground turkey breast,  16 oz. tomato sauce, 3 cans of beans (usually red beans, pinto beans, and black beans), onion, bell pepper, and False Alarm chili seasoning.

Last Sunday (as well as a couple other days), Nala and I went on a 2 mile walk on the trails.  Nala loves to meet new people and watch the ducks.

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Thursday, February 7th was my birthday.  I decided to get up and try a 6am hot pilates class.  I have done hot yoga at 6am before, but not in about 2 years.  I decided to try it.  My yoga studio is very close to school.  I have to be at school at 7:30, and the class is from 6-7.  I wasn't sure if 30 minutes was enough time to get ready and get to work, but I made it. (Sometimes it pays to be low maintenance.)  Oh my gosh, it was amazing.  I felt so awake and energized all day!  I have a slow metabolism, so I think exercising in the morning really did a number on my metabolism. 

My dad sent me flowers at work, which was a nice surprise that made my classroom smell amazing.

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Thursday night, Kyle and I went to dinner.  I made him surprise me.  I gave him a list of about 5-6 acceptable choices. We ended up at The Melting Pot.  We had a fabulous four course fondue dinner.  (I would rather not think about the amount of calories I consumed, but it was my birthday.)

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Last night, I got to go to a wine bar called Mercy Wine Bar with 3 really good friends.  We had a fabulous night with tons of laughter.

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Today, I went to church and then went on about a 15 mile bike ride with a friend and her daughter. She pulled her 3 year old daughter in a bike trailer. We rode to Whole Foods and had lunch and then came back.  We were gone about 3 hours.  We were only riding about 7 miles per hour, but it was a beautiful day.  Riding a little slower made it easier to talk while riding, so it was a great way to visit with a friend and still get a workout in. After my bike ride, I took a nap and then walked the dog. 

I later did some shopping at Whole Foods and Trader Joes for the week.  I need to finish packing my work out bag for yoga in the morning.  Here are my lunch and snack for tomorrow.

For lunch, I am having spinach with carrots and cranberries that I will mix with chicken salad.  For a side, I have grapes and cheddar cheese.

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For my snack, I will have tomato basil hummus in a snack dipper with cucumber and sesame hummus chips.

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Overall, I had a great birthday and feel very blessed that God is helping me find joy and balance through positive, healthy every day choices.

Blessings and good night,

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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Balancing the Backpack - Day 1

2013 begins a new year, and I want to use this blog as a way to document my own journey toward leading a more balanced life.  In each and every aspect of my life, I find myself confronted with the need for balance. 

Of course, most of us want balance.  I have always been a tense person and overly serious.  Balance for me will come with prioritizing and moving forward with intention but allowing for spontaneity and flexibility.  My mom makes fun of me for making to-do-lists for every aspect of my life, but putting things down and crossing them off orders my mind and soothes the chaos that is my brain.

The purpose of this blog will be to document my work-in-progress toward a healthier, more joyful, and balanced life. The last few weeks I have been practicing hot yoga much more and putting much more thought into what I eat.  I have hypothyroid and gained about 12 lbs a year ago.  I am a small person, so I can sometimes gain easily but find it hard to lose any weight I gain.  Even though I have been exercising and eating much better, my weight has stayed at the 12 pounds more than what I prefer mark. I know I am gaining some muscle, but I really do need to make more effort to fit in more cardio to help burn more fat.  I am trying to get motivated to take my measurements so I can see the progress as I continue to work out more.

To jump start my metabolism,  I really need to be better about eating breakfast.  I like having smoothies, but I always get up late and run out of time to make it even though it only takes like 3 minutes. Most mornings I grab one of these Nugo chocolate pretzel protein bars for breakfast.  They are salty and sweet and amazing.  It satisfies the need for dessert, but also the munchies at the same time.

For lunch, I had my Easy Lunchbox container with lemon pepper pasta with turkey sausage, apples, and trail mix with a Vitamin Water Zero.

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For a snack I had celery, carrots, and pretzels with laughing cow cheese.  Packing the little container of snacks has worked out perfect because I often eat right before I leave work or on my way home so I do not go through Sonic and get a corn dog or grilled cheese. We eat lunch at 11, so by 4 or 5 I am starving. My ex-work spouse can tell you I am the Queen of the drive-thru grilled cheese with a Root beer.  I am still working on giving up my root beer. Some weeks I do, but it is my favorite vice.

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After work, I did an hour of hot yoga and then came home and vacuumed. (I have 4 pets.  The vacuum and I are old friends.)

On Sundays I try to cook a couple of easy things like crockpot stuff, one dish meals, or casseroles that we can heat up throughout the week.  I have tried freezer cooking and meal planning.  Neither work for me. I am an emotional eater, so planning too far out is a waste for me.  I can plan several things to cook, but I never want to cook during the week.  Thus, easy leftovers work better for me.  This week I made the pasta and an easy black bean/rice combo. 

I mix up cut-up chicken, brown rice, black beans, corn, red onion, bell pepper, and salsa in a sauce pot. It tastes great reheated by itself.

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Tonight, I heated it up and then added lettuce, olives, a little cheese, and a Chipotle Ranch to make an easy Southwest salad. 

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My husband prefers to put it in a big tortilla and make a burrito.  It also tastes good in pita bread.  So one easy chicken/beans/rice mix can quickly be turned into a couple different meals.

Now, I am off to pack my work-out clothes for tomorrow and my lunch.  Maybe I will grade a little? Or I might just crawl in bed. Good night y'all!