Archive | November, 2012

new & shiny

28 Nov

if you’re reading this from some kind of blog reader…click here…then look up.

whaddya think? huh? thought it was time to update the ole blog header.

fun times.

in completely unrelated news…i got some mail today….from the president….of the United States…no biggy. 😉 Click over to my instagram feed to see what it was.


Thanksgiving Day 5K

22 Nov

I’m joining up with Jessica over at Sweat is my Sanity for a thanksgiving day virtual 5k!

My sister, 2 aunts and I participated in the Atlanta Track Club Thanksgiving Day 5k today! It was so fun and a great morning for it.

I shaved almost 2 mins off my first 5k time which I am very pleased with! I think I’ve caught the race bug!

I hope you all have a great thanksgiving celebrating all we have to be thankful for!


The Smith Family

18 Nov

I had the wonderful opportunity a few weeks ago to take some family photos for one of my favorite families in the world!

David & Rachael were some of the first people I met when I moved to Atlanta. They were in my community group at All Souls and were such an encouragement to me during my first few years in Atlanta. When My current pastor moved from All Souls to plant Village Church I had the privilege of serving alongside them on the launch team to help plant Village Church of East Atlanta.

Their boys are some of the coolest kids around and if I can say this…they could be in Gap commercials. 😉

Beautiful people! Here’s a sampling of some of my favorite shots. Thanks friends for giving me this opportunity!

I’m guest posting!

12 Nov

About a month ago I was given the incredible opportunity to write a ‘motivate me Monday’ post for Jessica’s blog called Sweat is my Sanity.

She has great tips in running, fitness and just being healthy! I’m thrilled to be posting on her blog. I hope it will be an encouragement to many! And, Lord willing, motivate someone else to make changes in their life to get healthy.

Click here to read my post (it’s basically a condensed version of my previous 3 posts)

But please take a look at Jessica’s other posts especially the other Motivate Me Monday posts! They are awesome!!

Thanks for the opportunity Jessica!

What I’ve been doing – part three

6 Nov

*click here to read part one*

*click here to read part two*

Ok friends…It’s time to get personal for a little bit. This could get painful (probably for me more than you) but I promise it will be ok in the end. 😉

While changing what I’ve been eating and adding exercise to my daily routine have been essential to my journey of getting and being healthy there’s a third componant to it that I think I would be remiss if I didn’t talk about. That’s my view of myself. Who I thought I was and how valuable I thought I was.

As you can imagine this is not an easy topic to talk about. *Ok…deep breaths…you can do this…*

Before this whole journey started (and really for most of my teenage/young adult life) I had a really messed up view of myself. I placed most (and by most I really mean all) my value and worth in what other people thought of me. So I did everything I could to make them like me because that is what I thought was most important. Whether it was to say the right thing, act the right way, be funny, be friendly, wear the cool clothes, do things for them…the list goes on and on. My reasons for doing this was not to be a good person or to love the other person or to serve them out of the Love of my heavenly Father but it was to try and make up for the inadequacy and failure that I felt in myself. I hated the fact that I was so overweight and I didn’t love myself AT ALL the way I was. When I looked at my body in the mirror all I saw was failure and unloveableness. Because of this I couldn’t believe that anyone else (including my heavenly Father) could love and accept me for who I really was. So I worked and I did. I worked really hard trying to gain people’s approval and I did things to hopefully make people like/love me more. In hopes that they wouldn’t look at me and see a overweight and insecure girl but that they would see a funny girl who does things for them so they should keep me around because of that.

Reading that makes my stomach turn. It’s so messed up. I am a broken girl. A girl who couldn’t find any value in herself. And spent 29 years like that.

So back in January I started working out and eating right and I lost weight and now I love myself. The end!

HA! Oh how I wish it was that easy. I think this is going to continue to be a life long struggle for me. As I think it is for a lot of girls and women. It’s so hard for us to not wrap up our self-worth in what others think of us and how we look. I know…I did.

Let’s go back to August of this year. I was struggling. The first three quarters of 2012 had proven to be super stressful. Yet in all of that the Lord was gracious and gave me the strength and tenacity to pursue this healthy journey. And I had been successful up to that point. But August came and I struggled.

I got to 91 pounds lost and I plateaued…bad…for like 3 weeks…I didn’t lose a pound. And Oh. My. Word. was I a grump about it. I didn’t stop my routines. I kept eating right and working out but I was wrestling with God and with my body. I was mad. “You mean to tell me I’m going to be 9 pounds away from 100 and then stop?” Not cool. All of a sudden those 91 pounds I had loss were completely insignificant.

But there was a bigger struggle going on during that 3 week plateau…there was struggle going on in my heart. I was wrestling with a change that I felt in my body but also one I felt in my heart. I looked at myself in the mirror and for the first time in my life I liked what I saw. I was proud of myself. I felt different. I felt good! But I couldn’t figure out how this affected my relationship with God. I thought differently about myself now. I was valuing myself. So did the Lord think differently about me too? Was I now more valuable to him. Was I more loved by him? Did I finally achieve true acceptance of my Heavenly Father and of others because I was not longer super overweight?

The answers to those questions is a BIG OL’ NO!

Through the help of a fellow blogger, a book I highly recommend, my mentor and friends I was reminded that even though I had changed. My heavenly Father had not. He loved me; His creation JUST AS MUCH as He did before I lost the weight has he does now. And that Love will continue and will never change.

What I came to realize was that I never didn’t have His love (sorry…double negative). I am created in His image. As a creation of Him I am loved and valued because I was made exactly how he intended. I was never (no matter how much I weighed) not how he intended me to be. And I am now still created exactly how he meant me to be. I’m just a healthier version of that creation.

Does that make sense? I had to learn to love his creation. In whatever form it took. I couldn’t fully grasp His love for me until I realized that it was not contingent on my appearance or health or self worth. It also was not mine to work for either. His love for me is because I am His child. His creation. Made in His image. And no matter if I lose more weight or gain it back…that is never going to change.

So I don’t have to try or do anymore. Oh what freedom! I am fully and wholly loved and accepted. So I can serve out of that love and not out of duty or guilt or “trying”.

I think in our day and age this is such a hard thing. We struggle with the monster of comparison. Looking at what everyone else has and seeing what we don’t…so therefore we are not as good or valuable because of that. But here’s the thing…We are all unique creations made by a loving God. We’re not meant to all be the same. So we can’t compare ourselves. It would be like comparing apples to carrots and saying one is better than the other. They are both unique and different and serve different purposes. You can’t compare the two. Oh, the fashion, beauty, media and tv industry want you to. They want you to look at their model, their product, their solution and compare your life to what they are selling. If you do that you are always going to come up short. And that monster of comparison is going to creep in to your heart and tell you “you don’t have x y or z. You must work at it. Try harder. Do more. You are not valued unless you have it.” And that my friend is a big fat lie from satan himself. Oh how I want girls to understand this. I want them to see their value and worth as a beautiful, unique creation of God. And to love that creation. And to take care of it.

So much of me would just like to take that first part of my story and stuff it deep down inside and pretend that it never happened. But that wouldn’t be right…it would be denying that part of my story existed. Because if I didn’t have that part of my journey…i wouldn’t be here. I believe in a sovereign creator. One that does not waste any experience but uses every thing to draw us to Himself and teach us about His character and His purpose for our lives. A lot of times those experiences can be really painful. But it’s when He brings us out of that refining fire that we see Him more fully. Sometimes that fire lasts a really long time. And we may come out of it with scars. But that’s all part of who He’s made you to be. The beauty and uniqueness of His creation in you.

You are loved. You are beautiful. You are valuable. God has created a unique creation in you. Cherish that. Love that. Celebrate that.

And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. (Genesis 1:31 ESV)

What I’ve been doing – part two

4 Nov

*click here to check out part one*

Click here to read part three

While exercising and staying active is a huge part of a healthy lifestyle it’s not the only thing you need to do. Your body needs fuel to run well so it can keep up with the activity that you are putting it through.

enter food.

now’s a perfect time for my disclaimer! I would like to say one thing before I start. This is what worked for me. I am not you…you are not me…everyone is different and that is what makes this a little tricky. Some of you may look at what I did and be all…”You’re cray cray! I’m never doing that!” Do what works for you. No one person’s diet is going to look exactly the same as someone else’s. I’m no doctor or nutritionist either. So please take what im saying with a grain of salt…its my opinion and nothing more. Got it? Cool.

Our body’s are not made to survive and thrive on no food. It just doesn’t work that way. They are also not made to survive in crappy food. You’ve got to give your body food…but not just any ole food. It needs to be good food! Food that makes your body run well…in the right quantities. I mean you could work out like crazy all the time whilst eating horribly all the time. But I bet at some point your body will revolt on you in some way shape or form.

I would say when I started this journey I ate OK. Not horribly but not awesome either. I don’t think it was what I ate that gave me issues…it was how much I ate and why I ate it. So lets look at those two things.

How much…
My portions were totally screwed up. I had no idea what a serving size really was supposed to be. “you mean a serving of chips is not eat as much as you want until you are full?” no. not at all. So I taught myself how to read nutrition labels. Now I read the back of EVERYTHING. (or look it up on my phone…more on that later) This took a while to get used to. At first I was horrified as how bad my portions were and how many calories where in some of the things I used to eat (and how much of it I would consume in one sitting!) And be careful! nutrition labels can be sneaky! My sister and I were at the grocery store today and we were looking at those cups of soup…you know…the ones you just peel off the metal lid and pop in the microwave. Well it said that one serving was 200 something calories…not bad for soup…but there were two servings in the one container! And if you are anything like me you rarely eat just that cup of soup for a meal…maybe you’ll have some crackers or carrots and hummus or a dessert with it. Well pretty soon you’re way up there in your calories. ANYWAY! All that to say…I’ve now gotten vigilant on eating one serving size of most things at any given time (salsa would be an exception…I’m sorry but 2 tbs of salsa at one time is just not a realistic serving size for me) It’s not hard…it just takes some time to get used too.

One resource I cannot recommend enough is an app/website called My Fitness Pal. I can honestly say this app has totally changed my life. I started using it at the beginning of my journey and it has not left my side. It not only helps me keep track of my food and calories. (I have a calorie limit for the day and the app adjusts it as I intake food and burn calories with exercise…and yes I put everything in there…everything.) it also helps me choose what to eat. This is especially helpful when eating out. I’m often using the app on my phone while looking at the menu to help me make smart decisions in what I eat. I can’t tell you how important the keeping track of what I eat has been for me.

While we are on the subject of reading food labels lets talk about allergies. Yup…I’ve got em…which makes reading the labels all the more important. I’m allergic to shellfish (not a huge issue…it’s pretty easy to avoid) and all dairy products. This has been a new one for me this year. And can be a little complicated. When i say all dairy products i’m talking milk, cheese, cream, butter, milk chocolate…basically anything that comes from a cow. I used to just stay away from lactose with the occasional ice cream treat…now…my body pretty much rejects all forms of dairy…in one of two ways…I’ll leave the rest up to your imagination. 😉 So this has bee a pretty big part of my dietary needs…finding dairy free alternatives to things and really reading the ingredient lists for dairy or dairy bi-products. On the plus side…dairy can be pretty heavy on the calories so this frees me up quite a bit. *if you’d like to read my story of how I discovered an alternative to milk you can read that here.*

Another big thing for me in taking control of my food is understanding why I’m eating. This may sound silly but it can be a big thing. I didn’t just eat when I was hungry. I ate when I was bored, I ate when I was stressed, I ate to not offend, I ate when I was upset. I basically turned to food to comfort instead of fuel. This is still something I struggle with. But now that I know where my weakness is I’m better able to conquer it. Food will never satisfy your emotions the way you think it will when you dive into that bag of chips or pint of ice cream or that package of cookies. Search your heart to figure out what issue you are trying to solve with food. Change like this doesn’t happen over night. It will probably be something I struggle with my whole life. But knowing your triggers and how to deal with them is huge.

OK. We’ve talked about how much we eat and why we eat it. Now lets chat about what we eat. I’ve chosen to (as much as I can…there are always some exceptions) eat clean. This basically means if my food doesn’t come from the ground or have a mother I try not to eat it. Like I said…this isn’t a hard and fast rule…it basically means I try to not eat a ton of processed food and I to eat as much vegetables, whole grains and protein as I can. I avoid dairy and refined carbs as much as I can. This is what has worked for me. I do love looking into my grocery cart and seeing the majority of it taken up with fruits and veggies! So colorful! Something fun I’ve started doing is if and when I shop at trader joes or the farmers market I always pick a fruit or vegetable that I’ve never had before to try for the first time. It keeps me on my toes and helps me not get stuck in food ruts. Some successes have been spaghetti squash, golden kiwis and pomegranates! This is could be a fun activity if you have kids or have just moved to another country (hint hint any missionary families who may be reading my blog)!

Well this has turned into a really long post…Is anyone still with me? Maybe i should have split part two up into two parts! Oh well it’s all really important!

One last little thing then I’ll stop for this part.

Eating out
We all love it…but eating out can be a minefield when it comes to eating healthy. Lots of restaurants are offering healthy alternatives now but if you are anything like me you may not eat at those places a ton. I love trying out new restaurants with unique menus. This can be tricky at best. What I’ve gotten used to…especially with my allergies…is asking for alterations to certain menu items. I try and explain to the server my allergies when I first get there so they are aware and can (hopefully) relay the message to the kitchen, Then I order and then change the dish completely to fit my needs…yup…I’m that person. I used to get embarrassed and apologize a ton but I’ve gotten used to it now. And I know I’ve confused/frustrated/annoyed a fair few servers…but you need to do what you need to do. Don’t be embarrassed!

For crying out loud…Longest post ever!

So part one...excercise
part two…food
And for part three…YOU! Oh it’s gonna be hard…but really good.

See ya then!

PS – here’s a really cool infographic that I found helpful


What I’ve been doing – part one

2 Nov

I’ve been battling over whether to do these posts or not. Someone made a comment to me that you need to be careful how much you are posting about your work-outs/weight-loss because you don’t want it to seem like you are bragging. I definitely don’t want to brag. So If I come across like that I am sorry. I don’t intend to.

But a lot of people have been asking me…What have you done to lose all that weight? I usually just shrug my shoulders and say…what you’re supposed to do…eating the right things and exercising a lot. But I realize that’s not a super helpful answer. And I want to be helpful to people. If my story/journey can motivate one person to get healthy, then I’d say it’s all worth it. That’s what happened to me!

So I thought I’d share what I did/am doing. I’m going to break it up into two (maybe three) posts instead of one…so be on the look-out for more in the next few days!

I would like to say one thing before I start. This is what worked for me. I am not you…you are not me…everyone is different and that is what makes this a little tricky. Some of you may look at what I did and be all…”You’re cray cray! I’m never doing that!” Do what works for you. No one person’s routine is going to look exactly the same as someone else’s. Got it? Cool.

Part One – Exercise.

Sometimes it feels like the bane of my existence. Like the mountain I have to ascend before I can do anything else with my day. Other days it’s what pushes me…gives me energy and keeps me motivated for the rest of the day. But exercising/working out is a huge part of this journey. I can honestly say I wouldn’t be where I am today without the hundreds of hours I’ve logged at the gym.

At the beginning of the year when I decided I needed to get healthy I knew I needed to join a gym. I needed the financial accountability that the gym brought. I like to get my money’s worth out of something I pay for so if I’m shelling out money for the gym every month I wanted to get my money’s worth for it…So at the beginning I went almost every day. I don’t do that anymore. There’s a chain of gyms here in the Atlanta area that had many convenient locations to all the main places I go to on a regular basis. My house, my parents house, the office. So I figured that would be good for me. And it has been!

When I started working out I did the same thing every time…I did 35 mins on the elliptical and 25 lifting weights. I would make sure when I lifted weights I worked my legs, core and arms. So that’s what I did…every…day…for…8…months (give or take…i was out of town some so obviously didn’t do it then)…………….Looking back I can’t believe I did that…and that I didn’t get bored!

Well…back in September I started getting bored…The thought of getting on the elliptical was torture to me…I started freaking out…what do I do! So over the past 3 months I’ve started to incorporate other cardio exercises into my routine. You know…to shake things up. I still do weights almost every day I also take classes at the gym (my favorite being spin class) and I run. (side note – People would ask me over the first 8 months if I ran…and I would say…”oh no…I can’t run, I have a pin in my hip so I can’t run because of that…” balderdash! I can totally run! I’ve even run a 5k!!!! (my sister and a friend of mine ran it with me…you can see her post about it here) and I’m running 2 more races in the next month! I’m also going to try and up my distances in the near future)

So that’s where I am now with the exercise part. I work out 6 days a week. (taking Sundays off – at first I would feel guilty about not going all 7 days but a friend (who also happens to be a personal trainer) told me it’s good for your body to have a rest at LEAST one day a week. So if a personal trainer says it’s ok to take a break than I guess it’s ok. 😉 ) I try and keep a good variety in my work outs. I basically do 2 days of elliptical, (yes I still do that…it’s a good workout and I can read while I’m on it!) 2 days of taking a class and 2 days of running. And most of those days I’m also doing some form of strength/weight training.

So that’s what worked for me so far! It’s been really cool/amazing to see my body change…and discover muscles I didn’t even know I had! And to push myself to limits I never thought I could go. I’ve climbed a mountain! I’ve ran a race! It’s really hard but it’s so fun!

If you are just starting out on your own journey don’t get overwhelmed by the big picture. Start small. Start by just building time into your schedule to work out…maybe 3 days a week. When that becomes routine for you, add a day, then add another. You don’t have to go all out at the beginning. And just start moving! Even if it’s just walking around your block for half an hour. Just get moving. It doesn’t matter how fast or slow you go. Just. Move. One of my favorite quotes I’ve seen about this is…”No matter how slow you are going you are still lapping everyone on the couch.”

Next up…the four letter F word…. 😉


click here to read part two
Click here to read part three

Oatmeal goodness

2 Nov

People seems to have REALLY strong opinions about oatmeal. They either love it in all it’s ‘stick to your ribs’ goodness or they hate it and think the texture and taste is like glue (or something else that I won’t mention 😉 )

All that aside…I LOVE oatmeal. It’s such a great breakfast when the mornings start to get chilly. I have a friend who makes the best apple cinnamon oatmeal and I’ve been trying to replicate his recipe for a while (with varying degrees of success).

In my attempts to shake up my breakfast routine I decided try an idea for Pumpkin Pie flavored oatmeal that I’d seen on pinterest. I didn’t follow a recipe exactly…just kind of made it up as I went along. 😉 It turned out pretty good if I do say so myself so I thought I’d share the love. 😉

I didn’t take any pictures because…let’s be honest…oatmeal doesn’t photograph well.

Here’s what you’ll need. (B T Dubs…this makes one bowl…so adjust your quantities depending on how many people you’re making this for)

1/2 cup of quick cook oats, 1/2 cup of almond milk, 1/2 cup of water, 1/4 cup of canned pumpkin (not the pumpkin pie mix…100% pure pumpkin) 1 tsp of pumpkin pie spice, and for my secret ingredient…1 tbs of pumpkin butter (I like my oatmeal a little on the sweet side so I found this adds sweetness with out a ton of calories and a lot of pumpkin flavor! trader joes has a great one!)

Cook the oats according to the instructions on the side of the container. Mine says 1/2 cup of oats to 1 cup liquid. I use half water and half almond milk. Add the pumpkin pie spice to the milk/water in the pot & bring the liquid to a boil.

When your liquid is boiling add your oats to it, stir to combine and reduce the heat to medium. (mine only take a minute or two to cook). While they are cooking take the bowl you are going to eat your oatmeal in and heat up your pumpkin and pumpkin butter in the microwave. It doesn’t take long…just 45 secs or so…Just so the pumpkin and pumpkin butter is warm and it doesn’t cool off your oatmeal.

Once the oatmeal is done add it to the pumpkin mixture in the bowl and stir it up so that everything is combined well!! You can sprinkle a little more pumpkin spice mixture on top if you’d like to make it look pretty. 😉

There you have it…Super easy and Super yummy!!!