Monday, July 31, 2017

Weight Loss Journey How I Lost 20 Pounds

I did it!! I finally did it! I reached my first BIG goal of hitting 20 pounds lost! It took me 3 months and lots of hard work, but I am so excited to finally be here! I did a blog post on How I lost my First 10 Pounds  about a month ago and I still follow those guidelines. Those tips work the best for me for my weight loss and I have stuck to them during my journey. Just to recap I changed my eating habits, started working out almost daily, keep track of my progress, stay focused, and the most important of all I DID NOT GIVE UP!

I have tried to lose weight several times in my life and it would usually go like this: workout and eat the same, OR eat healthy and not workout, OR eat healthy and workout for a short period of time see no results and give up. It was always hard for me to stick to a lifestyle change because I didn't see results fast enough and would get discouraged. The hardest part is to stick with it but that is what has really helped me this time around. I just kept going even if the scale stayed the same (which it had a few times for weeks at a time) I really like how much better I FELT overall and I feel stronger and happier in general. I am more energetic during the day and find myself doing more things with my kids, I fit into my clothes better and have more confidence, and I am mentally less stressed and these are the changes that really kept me at it. I knew if I gave up I wouldn't feel this good so I kept going and the weight kept coming off (slowly but surely.)

Some weeks my weight would stay the same but I would measure myself and lost inches off my waist or hips and that also helps to keep me encouraged. I know that changing your life can be very hard and for me I still struggle with taking days off or eating unhealthy meals (because I feel extremely guilty) but it is okay to give yourself a break. Eating one cupcake or pizza one day is not going to make you gain back all the weight you lost, it's giving up and eating that stuff all the time that will.

I see a lot of things out there now to help with weight loss like diets, pills, shakes, whatever.. and I wanted to try it on my own without those things because I knew I could do it. The biggest thing that works for me is counting calories. I got a food scale and measure all my portions and track everything in my Samsung Health app on my phone and try to eat about 1200 calories a day. I also try to make those calories good ones like protein and fruit and veggies. I am still trying to not eat many carbs but I do have sandwiches and use sandwich thins for that or I will have one piece of toast instead of the usual two. I also traded a lot of things for lower calorie, sugar free, or even 0 calorie options. I use honey mustard instead of mayo, lower sugar jam (sparingly and only once in awhile if I crave toast) the "I can't believe it's not butter" spray is 0 calories, and they even have a whole wheat bread that is only 45 calories a slice (Sara Lee brand I think) I use egg whites instead of whole eggs and  if we are having spaghetti I make zoodles from Zucchini noodles! All of these small changes helped in my big results.

Continuing with my new lifestyle of running at least 5 times a week and making better food choices has really helped me reach my goal and my biggest advice is to just stick with it. Some new tips I have for you all is to get the family involved in outdoor activities, meal prep your food, and use substitutions (like the ones I mentioned above.) I find that if we are all outside going for a run it sets a good example for the kids and they really enjoy it. Showing them that being active is important, fun, and good for you is something that I think is so valuable. I also like to take my kids in the backyard and kick around a soccer ball or jump on the trampoline, they really love that too! Also cooking a big batch of chicken breast and veggies and portioning it out into containers to eat for lunch over the next few days helps me A LOT. It keeps me from binging when I am really hungry and makes it easy for me to have a meal ready to go. I like to make a lot of chicken and then use it for salads for the next 3 days. Also using substitutions in my meals has helped me a lot and I hope the ones I mentioned can give you some ideas on where to start with that.

I hope these new weight loss tips help you and encourage you to get active and start or continue on your own goals! I am now on to my next goal of losing another 10 pounds! Wish me luck! If you have any questions please feel free to leave them in the comments. Thank you to everyone for all the encouragement and awesome support I love reading all the positive comments!

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Pink Blush Collaboration Floral Wrap Dress Review

Thank you to Pink Blush for sponsoring this post. I was gifted this dress in exchange for my honest opinion and review of it. All opinions are my own. 

Back in March right before Easter I went shopping to find the perfect Easter dress to wear to church and a family lunch. I went to a few department stores and tried some different ones on. I was 20 pounds heavier at the time and felt like nothing I tried on fit well and I did not feel good or confident. I ended up wearing a beautiful lace flowy top with jeans and felt awful. I was self conscious and unhappy with my weight and knew I needed to make a change. I have been working hard for months now on losing weight and have lost 20 pounds. I still cannot believe it until I look back at the pictures. I have a post on How I lost My First 10 Lbs and shared what has been working for me so far on my journey. I am still working hard to continue to lose weight but was ready to get that dress I had been looking for. 

Since losing the weight I decided I was going to find the perfect beautiful floral dress that I had dreamed of wearing since Easter. I knew it would make me feel so good to fit into a dress ( two sizes smaller than before!) and feel confident in a how I now looked in a dress so I chose this beautiful White Floral Wrap Dress from one of my favorite online shops Pink Blush. I knew I would love this dress because the floral print is gorgeous but I did not know how it would fit. I was really impressed with how well it fit and good it felt. It is so soft and comfortable, I absolutely love it. It's so flowy and feels perfect for spring or summer weather. I think it would be a beautiful dress to wear to a wedding and is a great piece for church as well. I feel so confident in this and as a stay at home mom getting to dress up feels really great sometimes. I do not have any dresses like this and am so happy with how it looked and good I felt in it. I am no fashionista and not a fashion blogger typically but I really love working with this brand because of how much I love their clothing. 

I am always impressed with Pink Blush and the beautiful pieces they have to offer. They are a great online boutique for women and women who are pregnant and nursing to find some beautiful, stylish, and comfortable clothing. I love their kimonos they currently have which are perfect for summer. The dress selection from them is huge and they have so many pretty floral options. I love wearing this brand and I know you will too. I love that this dress, along with their other dresses. are something that can transition into pregnancy and would be so comfortable and easy to wear while pregnant or nursing. It makes it a really versatile option to have on hand. I personally have been looking for something to wear out on a date night and I think this would be so fun to wear on a night out. I feel really great in it and I think it is the perfect mix of casual and comfy with a dressed up and fancy feel. The maxi dress style is something that is just great for summer and it has been so hot here lately so I love how it's lightweight enough to be cool for the summer but not sheer. 

I just love miss Kenzie's face in these next pictures. She is my little firecracker and I love that little pouty face. These girls loved my new dress and Zoey (my oldest) kept saying "wow mommy that's a new dress! It's so pretty!" She is such a sweet soul but I have to agree it is such a pretty dress and I felt really great (and pretty) in it.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Back to School Supplies for Preschool

My oldest daughter Zoey, who turned 3 in March, is going to start preschool in the middle of August. I still cannot believe it but we are all so ready. She is so smart and gets bored at home so I think it is going to be good for her to get structure, new challenges, and  instructions in a school setting and for us to also get a little time to miss each other. I have been with her everyday since she has been born. I have never left my babies, not for a babysitter, not for a trip, not for anything. This is going to be totally new for all of us and I am sure it will be hard at first, but she is so outgoing and so excited to start school. I know she will be fine and makes lots of new friends and I cannot wait for all the fun that school will bring for her and our lives.

Whenever we are out playing at a park or splash pad she always asks the other kids what they're names are says "my name is Zoey" she wants to play and is always the first to engage with others. She is outgoing just like her mama and I know she will walk into that classroom and not look back. She is so sweet and always the helpful one so I am sure she will find her place in the classroom quickly as the big helper and eager to learn student. I love her full of life soul and am so proud to see her move on to some big kid things!

I received a list of school supplies that needed to be purchased for her class and for herself and this is the round up of all those items! We went back to school shopping together at Target and she was ecstatic! She picked everything out herself and put it all in the cart and we went over the list together, it was so sweet and I really enjoyed having this experience with my big girl. Walking around the store with me and excited to find all the things she needed in the back to school section was the first time we got to do this and I thought it was just the best. Seeing her so happy and feeling like a such a big girl it made my mama bear heart so full. I thought I would share with you all the things we picked up for her for this upcoming school year (I also included the backpack she picked because UNICORN!) Here is the list of school supplies we got for my big preschooler!

• Crayons 24 count
• Washable Markers
• Elmer's clear glue
• 1 box Kleenex Tissues
• Disinfectant Wipes
• Antibacterial Hand Doap
• 6 oz Clear Plastic Cups
• Plastic Pronged 2- Pocket Folder
• Composition Notebook Wide-ruled
•Boys: Gallon ziploc bags and 500 count white copy paper
•Girls:Quart ziploc bags and color copy paper
• Baby wipes (sensitive skin)
• Lunch box with ice pack

Monday, July 17, 2017

10 Easy Ways To Save Money Starting Today

I wanted to put together a list of ways you can save money starting today! Saving money can be hard for anyone and whether you're trying to save for a vacation or pay off some debt this list of 10 ways to save money can help you reach your goal. These are the things I implement in my life to save money and I hope they help you! Here is my list of 10 ways to save money.

1. Make coffee at home. Giving up your daily Starbucks coffee can save you some big money! It slowly adds up when you spend $5 or more at Starbucks everyday.

2. Bring your own lunch. This is the same concept as not buying your coffee everyday, if you take your own lunch to work or school then you are saving money. You can also take your lunch when you go out with the family to save some money too. Packing a picnic to eat at the park is a great way to have a fun pit stop with the kids and get some free playtime along with not spending money on lunch for everyone.

3. Use cash. This comes from the idea that having the actual cash in your hands will make you less likely to spend it. It is harder to part with it when it is tangible and you're less likely to break a big bill to buy something small like a candy bar. Using cash can also help you keep a budget while out shopping or eating.

4. Find activities that are free. If you are looking for something fun to do with the family try to find things that are free. There are lots of local events that are free if you look around for them. You can go to the farmers market, a park, the beach, a fair, and other such places. Also some stores, like Michael's and Lowe's, offer free events for kids so look out for those!

5. Budget. Write out all your bills, how much they are, and when they are due. Then take your income and see how much is left; don't forget to factor in unexpected expenses like a birthday party and gas; and you'll get a good sense of your budget. Also you will see how you need to cut spending in order to save some money. You could make a budget for yourself for groceries and other things and just take the cash out to make sure you stick to it.

6. Sell items on Ebay. Selling your unused items on Ebay can help to make you a few extra bucks! I love selling things I no longer need on Ebay like clothes, shoes, and electronics. Try listing things as an auction to get more people interested and if you can make the shipping free that helps too. It'll make the chances better for your item to sell.

7. Practice delayed gratification when it comes to purchases. If your find something you really love and feel like you have to have it; just wait. Leave the store and think on it for a few days. Chances are you'll realize you don't really need it you just want it, and if you're trying to save money then you will be able to rationalize not buying it. It is really hard to do this but I have done it many times and it works! I almost never go back for that item that I just HAD to have.

8.  Grocery shop online. This is a new one but some stores, like the Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market, are now offering grocery pick up services. This is where you shop for all your groceries online and then just go pick it up from the store. This can really help you save money because you won't be tempted to grab any extra items that you do not want or need.

9. Do not impulse buy. This goes along with number 7, but do not make any impulse purchases. Impulse purchases can sometimes be expensive and it may be something that you do not need so just say no!

10. Sell bigger home items on Craigslist or Facebook. There is now a for sell section for facebook where you can list things and local people can see them. You can also use Craigslist to list things that locals can come pick up or you can drop off. This is a great option for selling large items like furniture or bikes.

I hope this list helps you reach your money saving goals and gave you some good ideas on how to save or make money!

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

My Workout Must Haves || What I am Loving Lately || Fitness Inspiration

I have been on a fitness kick for about 3 months now. I am really trying to stick with it this time because my usual MO is to start working out for a month and then give up because I don't see results fast enough. This time I am finding ways to stay motivated through friends, new healthy foods, and also fitness gear. Getting new fitness gear is extremely motivating to me and these are the things I am loving lately. I have slowly been getting new fitness gear and not only do I need it but I find it helps encourage me to get my workout on. Here are my current workout must haves for fitness inspiration.

I am really loving fitness tops becuase I have found they help me keep cooler than a normal t-shirt. I have found them at different places like Sam's Club, Target, and Dick's Sporting Goods store and like the cool wick ones that are dry fit material. 

I am also really loving these Victoria's Secret PINK ultimate yoga pants, especially for running. They are nice and snug and kind of hold you in place while you're running. They feel amazing and are so comfortable and flexible. I have two pairs now and just love them. 

Workout bands are something new for me but I tried some leg workouts with them and really liked how they add resistance to my workout. They turn a simple leg workout into a little more with resistance and can really amp up your workout routine. I picked up a set at Dick's Sporting Goods. 

Nike free runs are my go to running shoes and I was due for a new pair so around my birthday I stopped in at a Foot Locker and got some. I was so excited to get some new ones and they have updated their look and they are so lightweight and comfortable for me to workout in. 

I have seen lots of workouts using a medicine ball and though I haven't actually purchased one I did get to use one recently. I liked it and think it would be good for some ab and leg workouts, this is on my wish list for now because I think it would be a great workout tool to one day own. 

These underarmor shirts are really comfortable and great to workout in as well as just wear for everyday. I am a simple t-shirt kind of girl and these are great. You can find them anywhere such as Kohl's or Dick's Sporting Goods and I am really loving this brand of sports clothing. 

I find adding a new piece of clothing or gear once in awhile can really keep me motivated, who doesn't want cute new workout clothes and a reason to wear them!? 

How do you stay motivated? What are some of your favorite fitness gear items? 

Leave me some new inspiration ideas for gear to add to my wishlist or fitness routine in the comments below!

Thursday, July 6, 2017

How I Lost My First 10 Lbs (And You Can Too!) || Weight Loss Journey

I have been working hard on my weightloss journey for the last 3 months. I work out everyday and have changed my eating habits drastically. I have lost over 16 pounds and am still working hard to achieve my goal of 20 pounds lost. I get asked often how I have lost the weight and what I am doing so I thought I would write up a post and share how I lost my first 10 pounds to help those who may want to shed some pounds.

I do need to say that I am not a doctor, nutritionist, coach, or fitness trainer whatsoever. Please seek medical advice before changing your lifestyle drastically and know that this is just what has worked for me and I am just sharing my journey with you all. What works for some may not work for everyone but you can always adjust it to suit your needs.

Change Your Eating Habits
To start with I had to change my eating habits. Weight loss is something like 80% what you eat and 20% working out! I basically would eat whatever I wanted whenever I wanted before, and I am home with two toddlers which means there are endless snacks available. This was really hard but has become easier for me. I went on what I would call a "Common Sense" diet. The stuff you know you shouldn't eat, like crackers, cookies, other packaged items, grilled cheese etc. that is what I cut out first. I tried to do no carbs completely but only lasted a week because I was just too tired from working out that I decided I needed cards to function so I added back good carbs.  I started eating more fruits, veggies, smoothies, whole wheat, sweet potatoes, chicken, ground turkey that kind of stuff. I snack on carrots and hummus or apples with almond butter instead of chips and pretzels. I eat a lot of chicken salad, mostly because I just love it, but the dressing usually has the most calories. I feel good that it doesn't contain a lot of carbs like a sandwich would. I use zucchini to make "zoodles" instead of using noodles for pastas and I do not eat rice or mac and cheese anymore. So that is how I started changing my diet and now I still eat like this but I do let myself have a "cheat" meal now and then. If I didn't eat a burrito or fried rice once in awhile I would be totally miserable! It is all about balance and finding what works. I used to think if I "messed up" one meal I might as well give up the rest of the time and that is not how it is anymore. For the most part I try to eat really well and count my calories best I can but still let myself live and enjoy food once in awhile too! My weight loss has slowed down because I am not as strict BUT I am much happier and still feeling great and still losing weight so it is working out for me.

Start Working Out
The next thing I did was start working out. I did not work out at all before so I started with just 30 minute workouts of like random stuff at home (jumping jacks, squats, crunches etc,) until I built some stamina and strength. I was then able to increase my workouts to one hour and I decided to start alternating arm and leg days. So I will now do 30 minutes of either arms or legs, 15 minutes of abs and 30 minutes of cardio. Cardio is my favorite because I really love to run but it is not always an option with two little ones so a lot of the time I do the "just dance" game and the kids actually play it with me. It is not as good as running but I sweat the entire time and try to do 45 minutes of that to make up for the fact that I pause and chose new songs in between. Plus working has to be fun and enjoyable or you wont stick with it, and I love to play this game! You could also find videos on youtube of cardio workouts if you don't have a dance game or don't enjoy that type of thing. I aim for 30 minutes of cardio everyday and it used to take me that entire time to run 2 miles and now I can do the 2 miles in about 20 minutes so I just keep going until I hit 30 minutes. It is really great to see my endurance and strength have all increased! Cardio makes me feel the best and I always feel really great after a run.

If you do not have time to workout for an hour just find a HIIT workout to do for 20-30 minutes to get your heart rate up but always try get in some strengthening stuff. Building muscle helps you keep burning fat after your workout and it feels good to feel strong!

Do Not Give Up
The next thing is to not give up, and this is the most important! It can be so hard to stick with it and I have tried many times and failed. I have two little kids that can be needy so almost every workout I have to stop to get snacks, change a diaper, or just sit and hug them but that is okay and I just keep going the best I can! If you are not feeling it skip the workout for the day but don't let it throw you off completely just pick it up the next day. It is okay to have off days, tired days, sick days, and cheat days. I do all of that but I still try my best. I always tell myself I will feel so much better after my workout, and I always do. Talking to other friends that also workout or may be trying to lose weight helps too, for advice and just getting a boost of self esteem when you talk about the changes your body has made, also they can be a great encouragement!

Stay Focused
It can be easy to go back to your old lifestyle and just give up, especially if you don't see changes quickly. You just have to keep going it takes a long time to lose the weight and if you're also doing muscle strengthening your gaining muscle which can make it seem like you're not losing weight when you are. It has taken me months just to lose this weight and it can be frustrating at first when you may not notice it but when I put my jeans on now I notice it a lot! They fit so much easier and do not squeeze so tight, that is a great feeling.

Keep Track
I like to keep track of my progress by weighing myself, measuring my waist hips butt and arms, as well as taking pictures. Doing this can help you see your progress because maybe you can't see you lost an inch in your waist but when you measure and see that you did you will feel so great! I like to use pictures to see my progress and look back on where I started. I try not to focus too much on the scale because I know that how I feel is more important, but it is nice to see the pounds drop. If you keep track of your progress it can help keep you motivated a lot, just look back at where you started and how far you've come and you won't want to give up! I have lost inches off all areas of my body even though I don't see it I have been keeping track so I know I have, and the fact that my jeans actually fit again haha! I also use my samsung health app to keep track of my exercise, count my calories, and my weight. You can use other apps like Myfitnesspal, just find one that works for you to help you track your progress. It is really great to look at the charts and see how far you have come.

It seems pretty simple to just change your diet and exercise but it is really hard and takes a lot of commitment to make changes like this, but you can do it if you really want to! If it is easier for you to start out slowly just do that, you have to do what works for you and whatever will make you not give up.

I hope this helps encourage you and gives you ideas on what changes you can make to have a happy and healthy lifestyle. I plan to do some posts on healthy recipes in the future so stay tuned for that! Good luck on your journey and remember to just do what works for you and your life!

Let me know what your goals are and how you are doing on them and if you have any questions in the comments below!

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Birthday Gift Ideas for a 2 year Old

My youngest birthday is next week and I am trying to think of what to get her! Her personality is just blooming and she really is showing her interests. It makes buying gifts a lot more fun! Here are some of the things I am thinking she might enjoy this year for her birthday.

Princess Dress Up Shoes - My girls love to play dress up and love walking around in high heels. I think these dress up shoes will be really fun for them and I like that they are closed toe so they can stay on better.

Beauty and the Beast Tea Party Cart - While we were visiting some family I noticed my (almost) 2 year really loving this tea party cart that they had. She kept pushing around and playing with the tea set. It sings and moves so she really loved it and I think it is going to make a great gift for her because I already know she loves it!

Play Dinosaurs - My little one is obsessed with dinosaurs lately so I wanted to get her some play ones to have. I think little play animals and dinosaurs are fun for most kids!

Kids T-ball Set - My girls do not have one of these yet so I was excited to get one for them! I know they will love to play with this out back, plus I am always trying to find a reason to encourage them to play outside.

Beauty and the Beast Pajamas - I don't know about you but my girls have tons of clothes and not so many pajamas! They really needed some new ones and are loving nightgowns now so I picked up some of these for a birthday gift. One of the best things about them is they can also be dress up gowns for play and are much more comfortable and less itchy than the real costumes.

Do you have any great gift ideas to share? Leave them in the comments below!

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