What really mattered in January

What really mattered in January

Here’s a little January 2018 fun fact for you. Did you know that we started the month AND ended the month with a full moon?

The full moon setting on the morning of Jan. 2

This doesn’t happen often, which is why it’s called a “blue moon.” The moon wasn’t blue at all this morning. But it’s only “once in a blue moon” that we have two full moons in one month.

Instead of being blue in color, this month’s full moon actually appeared more red in color than usual, which is why it was also a “blood moon.” (Here’s a photo of the last time we had a blue moon, blood moon back in 2015 .)

I ran out quickly this morning to snap a photo, and realized that not only was it a blue moon and a blood moon, I was actually looking at a lunar eclipse. So, there you go. It was a blue moon, blood moon, super moon, lunar eclipse, and I only took this one barely focused photo.

What really mattered in January

That kind of feels like a description of my entire month, now that I think about it.

I began my month with my resolution of LESS doing and MORE being, but I still couldn’t help myself when it came to creating a habit tracker to work on a few things in the month of January.

The only good habit I created was listening to the Bible on audio book (almost) everyday. I even gave up on coloring in the little squares to track my habit. I missed a few days on the weekend, and had to catch up the following day. But I’m officially up to date on my plan to read — I mean listen — through the Bible in a year.

My other main goal for the month of January was to stop eating sweeteners. It’s funny that even though I’m still on a strict version of the Paleo diet, I can find ways to overindulge. I don’t eat any refined sugars, but that doesn’t stop me from baking up grain free, dairy free, sugar free breads and puddings made with maple syrup. And I’m completely addicted to my Matcha Green Tea Latte, packed with raw honey and full fat coconut milk.

I gained three pounds over the holidays, which I really wanted to eliminate. I made it back to my goal weight for about 25 seconds, and then I gained FOUR pounds. I think my goal for February will be to stop weighing myself.

Honestly, January was a heartbreaking month. A friend’s husband died unexpectedly, and it really rocked me. At times like this, it seems we should be able to hit a pause button for a few days and just put everything on hold. It feels unkind to go about the daily business of life when someone is in so much pain.

In the whole scheme of life, I realized it didn’t matter if I lost three pounds, made my bed everyday or drank eight glasses of water. I’m thankful for some moments of introspection when I was knocked out of daily task mode and into a realization of how short life really is and what actually matters.

As I sat at my friend’s husband’s funeral, I was amazed at her strength and courage, even though I know how her heart has been shattered. Inevitably, I thought about how I might react in her position. And then I confronted the fact that every single one of us WILL be in that position at some point. We are all going to stand beside someone we love who is no longer living. And at some point, we all will be the person who has gone on to the next life.

I’ve been thinking about a few things I want to do better.

  1. I want to know people and be known at a deeper level. Let’s not wait until a funeral to share the stories of our lives.
  2. I want to let people know how loved they are while they are alive.
  3. I want to take care of the things that matter, even when they are hard. And I want to stop focusing on the things that don’t matter. I know for sure that at the end of my life, I won’t wish I had watched one more show on Netflix or owned one more pair of cute jeans. I want to invest more in people and less in stuff.
  4. I want to trust that even in the darkest moments of life that God is good. He has a plan and a purpose.

It seemed fitting to watch that lunar eclipse this morning. Sometimes life feels so heavy and difficult to bear. Then, you look out in the sky at something as unusual as a “blue moon” that’s also a blood moon and a super moon and at the same time, you see a lunar eclipse. And in that moment, you realize that if the God of the universe can create something that amazing with such perfect timing and accuracy, that you also can trust Him in the daily moments of life.

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How did your January go? What did you learn this month? What were the things that really mattered?

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That time I started a bullet journal

That time I started a bullet journal

A few days ago, I was talking to some friends about our Christmas highlights. I mentioned that I was really excited about one of my gifts… a bullet journal.

No one in the group seemed to know what I was talking about, so I went on to try to explain. It’s a blank journal. And you fill it in with whatever you want. And you get to use colorful markers. And practice your handwriting.

They looked at me perplexed. A few of them laughed out loud.

“Explain it again… You do WHAT?!?” was the general reaction.

I thought that maybe if I just gave them more detail, they would catch on to the greatness of this hobby that is the bullet journal. It’s for people who love to make lists… or just love to write on paper… you create your own calendar pages… and you “journal” but in bullet points, I tried to explain.

Instead of falling in love, they became increasingly convinced that I am nuts! So, I guess most people aren’t that excited about a bullet journal, and if that’s you, that’s OK. I get it.

I tried starting a bullet journal back in 2016. I even wrote a few blog posts about my excitement about it! I started following Instagram feeds and blogs devoted to bullet journaling. But the more I learned about it, the more convinced I became that there was no way I could do it!

Some days, I can barely find time to even write out my to-do list, not to mention, create a colorful page with neat handwriting and carefully framed boxes to record my thoughts. But as I approached the end of 2017, I decided I wanted to give it a try. There’s just something about creating a bullet journal that is so appealing to me!

As I mentioned before, I love pens. I love writing on paper. I love practicing my hand lettering. I love planners. I love doodling. This is a hobby that’s also an organizational tool that incorporates all of those things!

I gave my husband a link to the Leuchtturm 1917, which seems to be the bullet journal of choice for many people. The pages have squares like graph paper, which makes it so much easier to plot out what you want to write on each page. The pages also lie flat, and each page is numbered.

He also got me a creative lettering book and some nice pens.

So, I’ve been bullet journaling for a week now, and so far I love it. Also, so far, my kids have been on Christmas break, and I was off last week and had a lot more time than usual to sit around and write in my bullet journal. Honestly, if I can keep this thing going for two weeks, I’m going to be happy!

Just to give you a taste, here’s what kind of pages I’ve created so far.

Getting started is the hardest part because you don’t want to mess up the very first page in your beautiful new journal. I decided to start by creating a record of our Christmas gifts. Not that we need a record of our Christmas gifts. But it’s straight forward. It’s easy. It didn’t require a lot of thought.

That was fun, so I decided to make some other lists from 2017, just as a non-threatening way to get started with my journal.

I wrote down some significant memories from each month…

…a list of the books I read and my favorite podcasts…

…and I started a list of new foods I tried last year… I still need to complete this list…

I was still a little worried about getting into the meat of the journal, so I used a few pages to just write words…

It’s not perfect or beautiful, but I like to try to write in different “fonts.” 🙂

So, finally, I started the calendar portion of my journal…

First, I created a “future log” with one line for each day of the year. This is where you can write all of the important dates of the year, like holidays, birthdays and days off school. I love that my journal has two bookmarks so I can mark different pages. The pages in this journal also are numbered, making it easy to create a table of contents at the front with the page number references for what’s in the journal.

Next, I created my January habit tracker.

You can imagine how much I love filling in these little squares each time I complete one of my daily habits for the month!

And finally, I started working on my daily spreads.

The fun part about a bullet journal is that you can make all of your spreads look different. I’m still a little intimidated, so I just copied this spread format from someone on Pinterest, and I created a week’s worth of pages in this format.

It includes a “to do list,” a box I labeled “healthy,” which includes my weight, what type of exercise I did that day, how much water I drank and how many steps I took that day.

At the bottom is a box marked “gratitude.” This is the “bullet journal” portion of the book, where I jot down in bullet points the highlight of my day. I’ve been surprised how much I enjoy filling in this box!

So, that’s my bullet journal. At this point, you are either laughing, completely confused or convinced this is something you have to try! Whatever the case, I get it. I can’t even tell you I will be bullet journaling a week from now, but it’s been a great excuse to cuddle up under a warm blanket with some hot tea and write with my pretty pens. And that, my friends, is my idea of fun!

**

Hey, I’d love to hear from you! Have you ever heard of bullet journaling? Have you tried it? Does it sound ridiculous? Or do you think it’s something you would enjoy? I would love to know!

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Are you a moderator or an all-or-nothing person?

Are you a moderator or an all-or-nothing person?

If you’ve been reading my blog the past few months, I’m sure you’ve noticed a common theme in my approach to life. Whether it’s food or TV or social media, I’m an all-or-nothing person.

My husband is the exact opposite. For example, when I wake up one Saturday morning and announce that I’m giving up caffeine, he knows he will have to brace for the coming tsunami.

“Can’t you just taper off?” he begs. “Could you just cut back a little at a time?”

I look at him and laugh hysterically. “Are you crazy?!?”

Then I plunge straight ahead into a week of caffeine withdrawal, life-halting headaches and frequent naps. That’s how it has to be.

 

You see, there’s no such thing as “taper off” in my world. If I’m going to do something, I’m going to do it everyday at the same time, the same way. For example, my husband can drink a can of Coke once in a while or when he’s in the mood. Not me. If I drink one can of Coke at 10 a.m., I will drink a can of Coke at 10 a.m. every single day until I take some drastic measure to stop.

He can pop on Facebook once a month. He can eat a bowl of ice cream tonight and not be tempted to do it again tomorrow. He doesn’t have to worry that if he drinks a Cafe Mocha today, he might become completely addicted and have to have one every single day for the rest of his life. I’m just the opposite. If I’m going to do something, I’m going to do it all the way or not at all. There’s no in between.

This summer, I was so thankful to finally get some clarity on why we approach life so differently when I read the book, Better Than Before. The author, Gretchen Rubin, explained that some people are abstainers and other are moderators. Abstainers have a harder time doing things in moderation. It’s actually easier for them to give something up completely, than to try to do it just a little. Moderators are the opposite. They can set rules and boundaries for their habits and live within them.

Understanding that I’m an abstainer and he’s a moderator has been so helpful for our relationship. Now, when my husband suggests that I just cut back or take a day off or do that thing a little less, I tell him, “I can’t because I’m an abstainer.” When he merrily goes through life without all of the black and white lines that mark my path, I tell myself, “That’s’ OK. He can do that. He’s a moderator.”

He doesn’t have to worry about setting monthly goals for himself or making crazy adjustments to his diet. Meanwhile, I cover the walls in charts to mark my progress as I attempt to make some new drastic change to my lifestyle.

What about you? Are you a moderator or do you take an all-or-nothing approach to life? I would love to hear in the comments!

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Ten more days

Ten more days

That’s it.

I can’t believe I only have ten more days until I’m done with the Whole 30.

When I began, I thought my emotion at approaching the end of this 30 day journey would be joy and excitement. Instead, I would say I’m nervous for it to end.

Once I passed the half-way point, my experience changed dramatically from the first few weeks. My new way of eating has become routine. I don’t have to think expend tons of thought and energy into how I will prepare my next meal or what I will eat. I have made it through withdrawal of so many things I used to love: sugar, diet soda, sugar, dairy, sugar and chewing gum.

I’m afraid to go back to my world of choice. I don’t want to return to my previous life where I had to decide how many cookies I could eat or whether to have a bowl of ice cream. I love having protein-fueled energy, and I don’t want to go back to the highs and lows of my sugar addiction.

So, trying to decide what my boundaries will be at the end of the 30 days is occupying a lot of my mental energy right now. But until then, here are some of the things I’ve experienced my first 20 days on Whole 30.

  1. The biggest change for me already is an improved relationship with food. It was so hard at the beginning to go to a restaurant or movie theater and find myself surrounded by the smells of delicious meals or hot buttered popcorn. At the beginning, I had incredible cravings for something — anything — sugary to eat after dinner. Now, I’m OK. I’m not constantly thinking about food or craving certain foods.
  2. I enjoy tasting real food. Before I did Whole 30, I covered much of my food with some type of sauce. This had already been reduced significantly since I went gluten free, but I still used ketchup, A-1 sauce, Tamari sauce, honey, butter, sour cream and salad dressing to add flavor to my meals. During the past 20 days, I haven’t used any of those. We have a joke in our house that the kids call any type of meat, “chicken.” I think what they really mean is “sauce.” Now that I have a greater sensitivity to what different types of food taste like, I can make choices on what veggies, fruit or herbs I can throw into my meal to improve the taste.
  3. I love the energy I have from eating real food. Instead of craving processed, pre-packaged food, I’ve started feeling an aversion to it. I actually feed bad watching my kids eat bread or cereal, knowing how much more energy they would have if they were eating eggs or another form of protein.
  4. I love being in control of food. It feels so good not to be addicted to sugar. I could just type this line 100 times.
  5. I can now do real push ups. This doesn’t actually have anything to do with Whole 30, but during this month I have been exercising most days. I alternate between doing the “couch to 5K” on my treadmill and doing a couple of strength building programs via the Internet. I’ve always done “girl” push-ups, but I can actually do REAL push ups. (OK, only 3. But still!) People! This is huge for me.
  6. I have lost zero pounds. That’s right. Not one single pound. You aren’t supposed to weigh during Whole 30, but that is the one rule I’ve broken. I’m addicted to the scale. My goal was to lose six pounds, and I really hoped that like 95 percent of the people who do Whole 30, I would shed a little weight. Nope. I could argue that I’ve actually gained weight because at one point I did lose two pounds, but I gained it back. The amazing thing is that even with my obsession with the number on the scale, I would still do it again. I really feel that all of the gains have been worth it.

I guess one thing I should add to put all of this into perspective is that from May to November of 2016, I have had an ongoing and very challenging struggle with my health. During that time, I have constantly been fighting the effects of an auto-immune disease: lethargy, exhaustion, brain fog, joint pain and other unpleasant stuff. Just the fact that I have been healthy enough to try an eating plan like this has been a huge step for me.

When I started, 10 days sounded like a long time. But with only 10 days left, I can’t believe how close I am to the finish line. Of course, the truth is, I’m never finished. Now, to decide what’s next!

**

What about you? Did you try something new in January? How is it going for you?

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One week down

One week down

I’ve just complete the first week of my Whole 30 journey, so I thought I would give a little update.

I would love to say that everything has been easy peasy, and I am now completely in control of my food choices. The truth is, the past few days have been really hard. I’m sick of all of the food. I actually want to kill the food. I want to scream at the sweet potatoes and the eggs and the Brussel sprouts.

I know that I’m detoxing from sugar and diet soda, not to mention all sorts of other foods that I have eliminated from my diet. But the past few days, my food cravings have really been messing with my mind.

I find that my days usually start off well. I have exercised every day since I started, which has made me feel great. I usually eat a big breakfast that includes protein and veggies or fruit. Sometimes, I even eat leftovers from dinner for breakfast. Lunch also is fine. But around 3 p.m., I start getting restless. I want a quick fix. I want to just grab something to give me the energy and rush I need to make it to dinner.

With my old way of eating, I could grab some chips or a cookie and I would immediately feel better. Now, I go for a hard boiled egg or celery with almond butter. I’ve found that it takes at least 30 minutes to an hour before my body is able to process the energy. I finally do feel much more satisfied and energetic than I would have with my quick fix, but it’s hard to wait.

I usually make some combination of meat and veggies for dinner. I’m eating a lot of food, but it all kind of tastes the same in the end. The excitement of finding new recipes has kind of passed, but I know that’s what I will have to do if I’m going to make it three more weeks.

It’s funny, but the two things I miss most are my daily can of diet Root Beer and chewing gum. Whole 30 doesn’t allow any type of added sweeteners, not even artificial sweeteners. I miss being able to grab one of these two as another quick fix to get me through the day.

I also miss dairy. A lot. I’ve already decided that dairy will be the first thing I will add back into my diet after the 30 days.

The biggest positive right now is that I’m really learning a lot about myself and how I use food as a crutch not only for physical cravings, but to make me feel better in stress, boredom or if I’m upset. I use food as a reward or to “get me through” a difficult situation.

The other thing I like about Whole 30 is that it’s so restrictive that it actually makes it easier to decide what to eat. Each meal is really just a different combination of protein and produce. I don’t have to put a lot of thought into what I can and can’t have. It’s all pretty simple.

I joked about taking photos of my food in my last post, but several people have asked me to post photos. So here goes… I probably should have taken these with my real camera to make them look more appealing!

Breakfast meatloaf with raspberries… (I put coconut milk in my decaf coffee, so it looks kind of funny.)

Turkey salad on salad greens with pomegranate seeds…

Scrambled eggs with zucchini and mushrooms…

Pork loin (made in my electric pressure cooker) on cole slaw with roasted Brussel sprouts…

Rosemary chicken (made in my pressure cooker) with cauliflower rice and roasted sweet potatoes and apples…

Fried eggs on spinach cakes with raspberries… (I think the oat bran in the spinach cakes probably makes these noncompliant, but I’m OK with it. I had these in the freezer already, and I had never thought to eat them with eggs!)

So, here I go. I’m ready to plan out my next week and stock up on some new varieties of fruit and veggies from the grocery store.

If you are doing anything differently health wise this year, I would love to hear how it’s going!

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