Losing the itch

IMG_2591For fourteen years I had it. Whether by choice or by nature of work I suppose I’ll never discern. Perhaps one merged into the other. But I’ve discovered that it’s disappeared.

I didn’t realize it disappeared until I had a taste of it again. I had spent two years fretting because my safety net wasn’t usable. But I used that forced confinement to learn – to learn to stay; to love; to find home; to learn contentment.

And then I renewed my safety net and finally had my passport in my new legal name. I was slightly giddy when I learned about the trip. I hadn’t been on another continent or country in four years. I’d barely been on a plane either.

Then I was there. Wandering on my own. Wishing my love was with me, or I was there. I forced myself to explore instead of hiding away in a room waiting for daylight to touch my home and the opportunity to talk to him.

And so I lost the travel bug. Yes, there is still so much to see, explore, learn…..but it does not grip me like before. I’ve been freed to find stability and love and family; to find contentment and happiness with where I am now; to find a life built together and how we want…..

…..and to travel together, not apart.

Posted in Friendship, Travel | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

A toast to a mother for International Womens Day

Today, International Womens Day, is not usually a holiday I particularly pay attention to, mainly because it’s not a day off! I didn’t remember about it until I was driving and it was mentioned on the radio. Instead, the thought of the morning was the time my mother told me about a question someone asked her: how she had raised three women who were focused on their careers instead of having families.

The funny part is that we grew up in a culture where having a family was honored and a good thing. For most of my sisters and me, I think that was something that we actually desired. God just had different plans in that we would find it later in life and would spend the most valuable years of our lives (when we’re able to do anything!) to focus on serving others with the freedom of singleness.

And we owe that strong and independent spirit, which was willing to not chase a desire and let it come naturally, to our amazing mother. She is a woman who models that same fierce spirit, yet with love, faith, and grace. She gave up a career to do something counter-cultural at the time – stay home with her kids and teach them herself. While this is more “popular” now-a-days, back then it was not and she caught some flak for it. Yet she was supported by our dad and she became a known name in the emerging homeschool community. (People knew us because of our mom. “Oh, you’re an Elam” was a common statement, an almost “Ohhhh that’s why…” – in the very good sense.)

What I love about my mom….ok, just one thing I love about her….is that she fostered in all of us a love of learning, creativity, and encouraged us to use our giftings and skills to make a difference. In pioneering, she created pioneers of us as well and gave us the ability to explore the world around us. There was never a moment that was not a “teachable moment,” even on vacation we were constantly learning – and we enjoyed it!

She is also the mom who was out climbing trees with us when we were playing hide-and-seek with friends. Both our parents would be out playing kick-the-can in the street with us and the neighborhood kids. We were the crazy family running outside in a downpour, grabbing whatever bucket we could to have a water fight in the pouring rain. Dad never passed up an opportunity to “make memories” it seemed!

Through all our experiences, and being allowed to be us and learn in our own ways (imagine teaching kids that each have a different learning style!), we all found careers that allowed us to explore and chase our dreams – a fighter pilot, a fashion designer, a world traveler, and a linguist. We may all be moving on from our first dream to find a second dream/career, but we still are choosing jobs that make a difference and are fun and challenging.

Eventually, my sisters and I also found strong men who could put up with strong and independent women, because we were also filled with grace. I’d say we were also filled with a side of crazy, but I’ve been told that we’re definitely not crazy and some of the most non-drama women ever. Maybe we just found “our kind of crazy” men! We learned not to settle, not to fill that longing with a relationship but with God, and in the end we found some pretty amazing men.

PC: Sweet Lighting Photography, Chen Wang http://www.sweetlightingphoto.com

My sisters and I are all that we are, who we are, as strong and fierce as we are, all with a side of faith, love, and grace because of one amazing and fierce woman of faith (who was backed by a pretty amazing man).

So, mom, to you I raise a glass and salute you! I rise up and call you “blessed.” Thank you for being an amazing example to whom I can look and follow, to whom others can look and follow.

Posted in Celebration, Family, Life Lessons | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Keto results after 2.5 months

Well, we’ve finished our tenth week of Keto and we decided to seriously contemplate the continuation of it. We’ve both experienced some odd dizziness and being stopped up. Then we looked at our month one and month two results. After loosing eight pounds (me), it took me a month and a half to slowly loose 3.4 pounds and that was with counting calories and cutting back. All the inches the second month were comparable with the first.

So, total, I’ve lost 11.4 pounds, 1.5 inches in the waist, 2 inches in my hips, and 2 inches in my belly. While I’m pleased with the results, the negative effects of the diet and slow results lead me to believe that continuing to cut calories and leaving out sugar will work just as well.

I don’t think the high-fat only diet works well for me. I also miss fruit like crazy! We’re going to start adding things back in to see what might be irritating and causing the pain and inflammation I deal with. However, we’ve both decided to keep sugar out of our diets. It’s insidious and sneaky – in food and health negatives!

Up next? Reading “Trim Healthy Mama” to see if it has any tips and what it’s about.

Posted in Food | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

One month of Keto – what we’ve seen so far

Today is the fifth week of the ketogenic diet that the husband and I started. Our pantry is bare of any grains and sugars and non-diet stuff and our fridge is full of veggies and non-sugar stuffs. We did our one month weigh-in and measurements and discovered that he’s down 9 pounds, 3 inches in the waist and 1.5 inches in the belly. I’m down 8 pounds, 1.5 inches in the waist and .5 inch in the belly. His blood pressure has also dropped about 11 points.

So, you ask, how has it been? Well, it actually has not been too hard. We’ve learned to add in more salads for fibers and greens; to meal plan well so we always know what the next meal is to avoid cheating; and that coffee with heavy cream in it is amazing! Especially if it’s direct-from-Ethiopia coffee….my former roommate has successfully converted my non-coffee drinking husband into a coffee lover!

I think some of the amazing benefits of Keto that we’ve seen are different for my husband and for me. Since he’s been off sugar and grains I’ve noticed that his snoring at night has gone down in level so that I can sleep without earplugs! Those are the two biggies to me. 🙂

For myself, I’ve noticed a drop in my pain levels. When I moved to Texas, the chiropractor I found diagnosed me with a 80% chance of having Fibromyalgia (FMS). While I have flare ups that are painful during the day, I’ve noticed that I often wake up in the morning with an aching, painful back. I added an extra egg-crate to my side of the bed to try to help…which my husband doesn’t like. Since the diet started, I’ve woken up each morning without that pain! Cutting out inflammatory causing foods like sugar seems to have made a huge difference! I knew about inflammation causing foods, but apparently sugar (and maybe grains) is a big one and I just didn’t want to avoid it.

Speaking of sugar, do you know how it’s in almost every food item you can find?! We finally found Pederson’s bacon and Bolthouse salad dressings that have no sugar. I’m definitely learning to read labels even more than when we went through Whole30.

The biggest thing we both are missing is fruit. We can have limited amounts of berries, but have to avoid the larger sized fruits as they have more fructose and carbs. However, we’ve learned about which sugars we can use (Swerve [Erithrytol] and Pyure [Stevia] are the top for tastes) and how to make “fat bombs” to help our sweet cravings and our macros (fat/carbs/proteins).

So one month down, probably another 2 for me and another 4 for him. Will keep you updated! Let me know any tricks or tips you’ve learned from dieting…or transitioning off a diet.

 

Posted in Food | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

New year, new me?

My husband sees the first of the year as the perfect time to start a lifestyle change. Mainly because who can start, and keep, a diet over the holidays? While I influenced him to try the Whole30 a year ago (it successfully reset his system), he’s needed something else for longer weight loss. I could stand to use a few pounds as well since moving to Texas and getting married might have added to my belly.

After researching and hearing about different diets, he decided to start the Keto diet. Quick gist is that it’s a high fat, mid-protein, and low carb diet with carbs coming from veggies and nothing else. I’ve since learned that those three areas are called macros and we’ve been aiming for a 60/30/10 ratio with carbs in the 30 gram range.

Man alive, a diet is one thing (cutting calories and carbs), but we’re trying to get our body to change from using sugar and carbs for energy, which ends up with insulin highs and lows, to using fat for energy to create a steady energy level with no spikes. We’ve cut out a lot of things, including sugars, but I’ve refused to give up my NingXia Red (Young Living supplement) as I know I need to make sure I still get nutrients and it packs a punch!

After one week, I’ve actually been pretty impressed with how well we’ve done! I’ve been using the MyFitnessPal app to track my food and I’ve maintained the right macro percentages, although my carbs from veggies are more in the 60 gram range. I’ve also learned how to make high fat energy bites, or “fat bombs”, to help us when we need a boost. We both are going longer, with less snacking, and feeling satisfied from our meals by the end of this first week. Brain fog has been a real thing, as well as feeling tired as our bodies switch over, but that is getting better. Still struggling with good sleep and I’m hoping that gets better.

For those who are curious, here’s what my meals and snacks might look like.

Breakfast

  • Two spinach egg cups (one with chorizo and one with veggies)
  • 1 oz. NingXia Red
  • Tea with Half&Half and liquid Stevia

Lunch

  • Leftovers of some sort.
  • 1/8-1/4 cup berries

Dinner

  • Spaghetti squash chicken Alfredo with Green beans
  • OR: Romaine salad with grilled chicken, a few toppings, cheese, and a sugar free dressing (Bolthouse has a few)
  • OR: Salmon with bacon wrapped asparagus

Snacks

  • Almonds
  • Bacon cheddar cheese balls with Keto cheese crackers or Keto bread
  • Coconut peppermint fat bombs (for the sweet tooth!)
  • Cheese
  • Tea with Half&Half and stevia
  • Half a Bai drink (for electrolytes)

We’ve been eating a lot of cheese because it’s easy high fat, low carb snacks. We’re still working on finding more options for snacks and sweets, but we’ve both survived. Pretty good considering the hubby has a worse sweet tooth than I do!

I’ve also started back into light yoga three times a week to work on strengthening my back. I can’t overdo it due to FMS and back issues so staying light on exercise as I build up the capacity.

The good news? We’ve both lost several pounds since the first! (see my progress from the app screenshot on the right) Whether that’s because of cutting out sugars or it’s water weight, I’ll take it! Either way, we’re feeling better and I think this might stick. Not sure if the “carb-flu” has hit us or not, but we’re getting a handle on this.

Posted in Food | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

StitchFix trial

I hate shopping. The time, guessing at what size I am in that brand, hunting for deals, etc…That’s why I stick with jeans and t-shirts if at all possible. However, I work in an executive office and I’ve been really needing some new work blouses. Because I’m always dissatisfied by what I find when I go shopping and my little sister has loved her StitchFix boxes, I decided to give it a go.

Unfortunately, I didn’t realize to ask her for a referral link so she didn’t get credit for it. Oops. But I did take her advice and fill in each box, even giving my measurements, and providing my would-be stylist with as much information as I could. I also updated my Pinterest fashion page and gave them that link (you can do that!).

I was a little anxious that this wouldn’t go well as I tend to be petite, yet with shapes that aren’t so common in petite women based on the clothes I’ve tried. Apparently more hour-glass figures are not typical petite figures.

Today the box arrived and I broke into it. Quite nice packing and they even give you a card with suggested outfit parings for each piece. This box was tops only as I requested.

I have to admit, it was very much like opening a box that someone picked for me with a little bit of a “just try this” feel. Much like when I shop with my older sister. She’s definitely the human version of a personalized StitchFix box!

Style Impressions – they took a lot of what I like in colors and styles and found a great selection. A+

Fit Thoughts – this varied a bit, but for me not trying them on, they did a heck of a job. The only issue was that I had mentioned deep v-necks not being my favorite as they tend to be too deep on me. There were two shirts with v-necks with the typical “gotta wear a tank top underneath” fit. However, the styles were awesome. There is an exchange option, but the fit was so close I doubt a different size would work.

Price – I love a good deal and these are all in the $50 range, which I would normally not buy at that price. However, they do have a 25% off if you purchase all 5 items and the $20 styling fee for each box is a credit toward whatever you buy. Basically, if I only picked my 3 favorites, I could get the final two for just an additional $15. That makes each item around $35 which is more in the manageable range.

I would definitely do this again and I’m 99% sure that I will keep all 5 items. I have 3 days to decide. Oh! And you can leave feedback on each item for fit/style/price/quality/size as well as comments to help them personalize a box next time.

However, I am curious if there are other companies out there that are similar and to try and see what the difference is.

If you want to try it, you can use my referral code https://stitchfix.com/referral/14549748?sod=r

Posted in Reviews | Tagged | 1 Comment

Things I’m learning from my dog

In September a co-worker walked through my office with a “needs a good home” flyer for a very cute puppy. That should have been a warning – she sniffed me out. The pup was definitely cute and was described as a “sweetie.” I needed some puppy time, so I went to play with it. Honest, that was all I was going to do.

That same day found me, pup in arm, wandering the aisles at PetSmart to find the new dog owner necessities – leash, collar, food bowls, food, toys….Yes, I had done my research on what a dog cost, found a bunch of coupons, reworked my budget, got the appropriate permission, and picked him up that very afternoon after playing with him in the morning. Who can resist a cute, well-tempered puppy that needs to be rescued? Not I!

I used to wonder at moms who could tell their kid needed to go to the bathroom simply by looking at them or some weird maternal clock. Apparently it happens to dog owners too. I can tell from his antics that he needs to go out and I know the schedule for his bowel movements. Never in my life had I expected to remember that, can’t keep track of it for myself!

Routine is necessary. It will be stuck to no matter how you feel. The pup will wake you up at 7am on the weekend because that’s when you wake up all the other days, of course. Dog parks are awesome for that. Take them, let them play, run off all the energy, and then they come home and crash – all by 10am! I have never had so much time on the weekend to get my cleaning and cooking and projects done.

Dogs go through phases just like kids do. Mine went from cute puppy “I want to learn!” to obstinate 2 year old “I am ignoring you; I have no idea what you mean.” I also know less about training than I thought I did. And I cannot keep a straight face when what he’s doing is wrong but makes me laugh. He’s also probably the one dog that doesn’t get super excited about going outside and will sometimes run the opposite way to grab a toy when it’s time to go outside.

I now have the most adorable alarm clock in the morning. He started with sleeping in his crate during potty training, but once that was done (2 weeks!) he got to sleep outside of it. Eventually, that became my bed as he’ll quit making a racket if he can see me and sleep on top of me….or steal my pillow. Seriously, what’s cuter than a pup that curls up on half your pillow and rests his head on yours? Or in the morning, nudging you awake a few minutes before the alarm actually goes off? Half the time I can’t remember if I helped him up in the middle of the night or if he got up there himself (he can jump now!).

Right before I got the pup I had purchased a Misfit tracker ($20 on Amazon!) to track my activity and sleep. I definitely get more activity with him around, although my sleep isn’t so great as he wakes up in the middle of the night sometimes having to pee. I have also gotten to know a bunch of my neighbors because I’m outside now. The kids love him and I’ll hear from across the parking lot, “Is that Rocket? I miss you, Rocket!” My dog has a bigger fan following than I do!

While he’s a small thing, he has greatly relieved my struggles with feeling safe. He may be happy to meet almost everyone around him, but there are still some people of whom he’s wary. He has sensitive ears that perk up at sounds that go “thump” in the night and I definitely am more calm when I’m alone in the apartment when he’s around.

The timing was not what I was planning on, but the pup has been a perfect addition to my little family. And while yoga may be more difficult with him around there are certainly plenty of laughs to make up for it.

Here’s to rescues and abandoned animals finding new, loving homes!

Posted in Life Lessons | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment