what I've learned about myself through my fitness journey

What I’ve Learned about Myself through my Fitness Journey

The last couple of years has been a roller coaster ride with my health, my fitness and my weight. After having 2 kids in 3 years, my body is not the same body I used to have. I love my body and everything it has done for me though!

what I've learned about myself through my fitness journey

I’ve shared what I’ve learned about myself through my fitness journey over on Worshipful Living.

Check it out!

a great book full of useful challenges for marriages in all stages

30 Day Marriage Challenge Book Review

My life is in the middle of a huge transition right now. We moved clear across the state and in with my in-laws and I started a new job after being a stay at home mom for almost 3 years. The stress of moving, not having my stuff, living with family and starting a new job is more than enough to put a huge strain on my marriage!

a great book full of useful challenges for marriages in all stages

Note: I received a review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are mine. This post contains affiliate links.

I’ve been recently connecting with Becky from Tales of Beauty for Ashes on Facebook and I am constantly in awe of her commitment to her spouse and her marriage! I’m reading through her blog and absorbing everything I can so I can be a better wife and partner.

When Becky asked for reviewers for her new book, 30 Day Marriage Challenge, I jumped at the opportunity to read it.

I absolutely love the honesty and transparency that Becky put into this book. She gives stories of her and her husband in the book and I really felt like I got to know her through each chapter! I enjoyed that she is not perfect and not afraid to show that in the book.  The book is relatively short, which is good for this busy working mama! I don’t have time to slog through a huge marriage book and implement a ton of things. Just 30 tips each with suggestions on how to implement them into your relationship.

Some of the challenges are pretty easy like making more time for kissing (which may lead to other things!). Some of them, I know are going to be more challenging for me. What I love about each challenge is that they’ll be easier or harder for me depending on the season we’re in with our marriage.

I know I will be able to refer back to the book (and I have a few times already!) to find another tool to use in my marriage tool kit.

If you haven’t already checked out Becky’s blog, I highly recommend it! Some of my favorite posts are: How to Get Free Meals all Month Long, and 5 ways to Stay Sane as a Stay at Home Mom.

The book is available for pre-order and is being released just in time for Valentine’s day on February 9th.  30 Day Marriage Challenge: Accepting the challenge to make your marriage better in one month.

Why I hired a sleep consultant for my kids

Why I hired a sleep consultant

I mentioned in my list of self-care goals that one of my goals is to get more sleep. In order to do that, my husband and I agreed to hire a sleep consultant.

Why I hired a sleep consultant for my kids

Let me first say, that on the parenting spectrum, I’m closer to an attachment parent than anything else (though I’d prefer not to label myself!). My kids co-slept until just recently. We moved across the state and into my in-laws’ house where we only have 2 rooms to ourselves. I knew we needed a change, but I also knew we didn’t know how to do it on our own.

I have read all sorts of books on sleep and they all have some really great information. With my older daughter, we did successfully use The No-Cry Sleep Solution: Gentle Ways to Help Your Baby Sleep Through the Night: Foreword by William Sears, M.D. (Pantley) (affiliate link) to get her to sleep in her own room. Once baby number 2 came, that was a whole different story!

My older daughter was having trouble adjusting and as soon as she adjusted and was sleeping well again, she started climbing out of her crib! We turned her crib into a toddler bed to start and then eventually brought in another mattress for my husband to lay on at night. It turned out he was just sleeping in her room most nights. Now, I certainly didn’t mind having a king sized bed for just me and the baby, but it wasn’t going to work for the long haul!

We bought a twin sized mattress and put it on the floor next to our bed, but my 2 year old was still waking up and getting into bed with us up to 10 times per night! My husband finally gave up putting her back in her bed and suddenly, that spacious king was full with four people!

I wanted to wait until my baby was one to move her into her own room and that happened to coincide with our move. I figured the move was a good time to introduce them to sleeping on their own.

I don’t know about you, but my husband and I don’t hold each other accountable for anything irritable we might say to the other person in the middle of the night! After not having slept through the night for 3 years, I was pretty irritable! I really felt that we needed a non-biased third party to help us with our sleep issues, but my husband was put off by the price tag.

For me, my time and energy were worth the money it would take to solve our sleep issues as a family.

It has been about a month since our phone call with the sleep consultant and around 3 weeks since we started implementing the program. I have actually been sleeping and it is glorious!

Some parents I know are great at managing their children’s sleep and getting them to sleep on their own, but I am not one of those parents! For me, hiring a sleep consultant was exactly what I needed in order to have the knowledge, skills and confidence to help me kids get to sleep and stay asleep.

I will be writing a follow up to this about who we hired, what she suggested and how we implemented it.

I challenge you to find time to date yourself! Be sure to check out the rest of t he self-care series too!

Make time to date yourself!

As a mom, I have a very hard time making my need a priority. I always seem to be short on time and energy to take care of the house, my marriage and my kids plus pay bills, sleep, shower and feed everyone! I’ve decided that one important part of self-care is to date myself. Allow myself to have some time to explore places I’d like to go without kids, read or just be quiet with myself to have an uninterrupted though!I challenge you to find time to date yourself! Be sure to check out the rest of t he self-care series too!

When I was in direct sales, I was working with a coach who taught to organize your calendar with an hour of power every day for yourself and a weekly date for yourself. She also taught that you should schedule your “me time” first before anything else because otherwise it would get buried by all your other commitments.

At first, I was really put off by this, but the more I’ve tried to make time for myself, the more I find this to be true.

Here is my challenge to you: take out whatever device you use to manage your calendar and schedule in some time for yourself. Even if it is just an hour to go get a coffee and scroll through Facebook, make some time for you to recharge. Then you can start to make a plan to do it regularly and get some things done that you’ve wanted to do.

Some ideas for “date myself” time:

  • walk through a home improvement store and get some ideas for updating your home (tip: snap some photos and add them to pinterest or evernote to remember what you wanted to do)
  • go to the bookstore and see if there are any new books by your favorite authors (tip: then go put them on hold at your library so you don’t spend any money!)
  • get your nails or hair done (something you don’t normally do for yourself)
  • find a place that you enjoy going to to recharge (a body of water, park, restaurant that makes you feel awesome)
  • take a class covering something you’ve always wanted to do or learn
  • join a meet-up group based around something you’ve wanted to do or learn

Just looking in the paper today, there are about 5 things happening in my small town this week that I’d love to check out including: yoga, meditation and a knitting group all for free!

Ideally, this should be something that you’d enjoy doing and not time for yourself to clean or do work! We’ll talk about scheduling those things for yourself later in the series! Also, this shouldn’t be something expensive or that financially hurts your family because that isn’t good for anyone! There are lots of free options for things to do and sometimes you have to think creatively to figure them out!

What about you? Do you take time to recharge? If so, what do you do?

Linking up to Titus 2 Tuesdays, My Girlish Whims, Fellowship Friday


$100 Winner's Choice Gift Card Giveaway

$100 Gift Card Giveaway!

Now that all the craziness of the holidays is over, it is time to pamper yourself!

Since we’re talking about self-care this month, I figured what better way to take care of yourself than by treating yourself to a $100 gift card!? Think Spa Finder or dinner out somewhere you wouldn’t normally eat (and get that glass of wine too!).

I’ve teamed up with 7 other awesome bloggers to bring you a $100 “Winner’s Choice” Gift Card giveaway!

$100 Winner's Choice Gift Card Giveaway

Be sure to go check out all their blogs too!

Tales of Beauty For Ashes

Sassy Lemonade

Our Life Out There

The Joy of the Home

Carolina Mannequin

Top Notch Material

Coupons and Freebies Mom

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Self-care for my sanity! A guide for busy moms!

I don’t usually make resolutions for each year, but I do plan a theme for the year and try to revisit that them throughout the year. As the mom of two kids under 3, I decided that this year’s theme needed to be self-care for my sanity!


I almost didn’t sit down to write this post today. I knew I wanted to, but with a recent move, I have a million things to unpack and my kids always seem to need something. I had to remind myself that part of my self-care plan is to blog more often. This is important to me, so I have to make it a priority.

Self-care sounds great and it is a fabulous goal to have, but unless you have a plan, it is going to be vague or unattainable. The first thing you have to do is define what self-care is going to look like for you, how you’re going to do that and why you want to.

For me, self care looks like this:

  • create healthy sleep habits including: sleeping through the night, getting an adequate amount of sleep each night and helping my family do the same.
  • make time for myself each week to recharge and meet my goals
  • blog regularly
  • create a morning routine so that I regularly take care of myself (washing my face, showering regularly–come on moms, you know what I’m talking about!)
  • make time with my husband each week with regular date nights
  • meal plan so that my family can eat healthy, nourishing meals
  • budget regularly so that we can meet some financial goals

If I had just decided to make some resolutions, then my list would look more like this:

sleep more/better, read the books on my list, blog, make a morning routine, go on dates with my husband, eat at home more, save money.

I know I wouldn’t meet my goals this year if they looked like that, which is why took a deep look at what I really wanted to accomplish and then decided it revolved around self-care.

For some of my aspects of self-care, I don’t quite have the “how” all hammered out, but I’m working on that and I hope you will too. For other parts of it, I do know how I am going to accomplish them. Here are some of the ways I plan to take care of myself:

  • hire a sleep specialist to help me get my kids sleeping through the night
  • find a sitter and/or work something out with my husband to have some “me time” each week. Preferably at the same time each week.
  • next item on my to-do list is to create a content calendar for my blog
  • part of our sleep plan is to create a morning routine for our children and I will be working my own routine into that too
  • work out a plan with family to watch our kids each week so my husband and I can spend time together. This is especially important since we’re currently living with my in-laws!
  • I am following Trim Healthy Mama and there are lots of meal plans available online. Darcies Dishes has a bunch to check out.
  • I use You Need a Budget and absolutely love the program. I’m excited to budget this year because we’ll be on a regular income instead of my husband’s irregular income we’ve been on for the last 8 years!

Why do you want to implement self-care this year? For me, I am in a period of transition in our lives and I found that my needs were becoming less and less of a priority for me. The saying “if mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy” was becoming the truth in our house.

One last tip: let your family know that you’re making yourself and your needs a priority. When people that rely on you are used to you putting your own needs behind theirs, it can cause friction when that changes. Give your family and friends some notice and let them know what is changing and what that means for them. Be sure to let them know how and when you’ll still meet their needs so that they know exactly what to expect from you and when!

I will be visiting this topic throughout January and I’d love for you to join me!

Sounds off below! What are you doing for self-care in 2015?

Linking up at: The Happiness Blogger, Moonlight Mason Jars


My three tips for being intentionally happy!

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Have you wanted to be happier, but you’re not sure how to be or if you even deserve to be happier? Maybe it seems selfish or ungrateful to want to be happier. I’ve felt that way too! Here are my three lessons on being intentionally happy.

I’m on a mission to make my life happier. When I tell people this, they think I must be unhappy, but that isn’t true. I just want to be as happy as I possibly can be and that requires work. Every blog post, memoir and self help book that I’ve read about happiness covers the fact that being happy requires you to be intentional. Being intentional requires work, so being intentional about being happy requires you to make the decision to take some action to change your circumstances.

Here are a few lessons I’ve learned about intentional happiness:

  1. Gratitude is the number one thing that will make you happier.

I had a conversation with someone recently that went along the lines of:

“I’m just so frustrated with my circumstances.”

“Well, why don’t you make one change and show the universe gratitude. You’ll always get back the same energy you put out.”

They responded, “what if I don’t have anything to be grateful for?”

I told them, “some days, I even wake up crabby and irritated. I just start by taking a deep breath and saying a thank you that I’m alive, I have a place to live etc. etc.”

I also read about someone who spend the first few minutes of the morning saying “thank” and “you” with each step they take.

Happiness is itself a form of Gratitude

Happiness is itself a form of Gratitude

Wayne Dyer’s “Excuses be Gone” is one of my favorite reads on the topic. I actually listed to the audiobook presentation of him going over the book at a seminar he put on. It was great–I even got more exercise in when I was listening to it because I would listen to it while I took my kids on a walk!

One Thousand Gifts is also a good book on gratitude too!

2. Not everyone is out to get you.

Honking, waving, making gestures when driving does nothing but make you cranky and unhappy. Believe me because I am a huge offender when it comes to this! I’m finding that assuming that people’s intention was not to hurt, offend or upset you helps me keep my happiness up and frustration down.

It is especially important to keep this in mind in our friendships. As I’ve gotten older and had kids, I’m finding myself with less time and in a different life place than some of my friends. We’ve had feelings hurt on both sides by assuming that the other person doesn’t care or is purposefully trying to upset the other. I’ve had to forgive them (sometimes for things they didn’t even know they did because I made it into something bigger than it was) and then move on and start to assume the best instead of the worst.

10 Ways You’re Making Life Harder Than It Has To Be is a good read. I’m guilty of all of these from time to time, but #9 stuck out to me. Sometimes we have to let go.

3. Take some time to clear your mind

I’m not really a meditator. I think about meditating way more than I ever do it. I’ve read all sorts of books and authors from The Secret to Eckhart Tolle with a bunch in between. All of these happiness books talk about clearing the mind to be able to be more in control of your thoughts and happiness. The downside is, they’re somewhat unclear about HOW to do this!

I recently read 10% Happier by Dan Harris and it changed my mindset on meditation and happiness. I love the title because he talks about how a 10% increase on happiness is a pretty good ROI. I love his writing style and going through his journey to find the answer to the question “how to be happier”. I will be writing a review on this book in the near future!

This book changed my mind on meditation and I spend some time before bed laying there and working on thinking about nothing. It might not be actual meditation, but it is mindfulness and I think that counts for something!

One of my favorite bloggers wrote a post on Meditation for Lazy People!

These are my three keys to mindful and intentional happiness. What do you to do be intentionally happy?

3 tips for being intentionally happyLinking up to: My Girlish Whims, Fellowship Friday


How to clean out Gmail in under an hour

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Last night, I decided to clean out my Gmail account and start fresh in my email. I was totally overwhelmed by the idea of it since I had over 1500 unread emails in my promotions tab and over 2500 in my primary tab! I was able to clean out Gmail in under and hour and I’ll show you how!

I’m not the type of person who is phased by a huge inbox of emails, so honestly, clearing out my email has not been a priority of mine at all; however, it kept popping up in Pinterest, so I thought I might give it a try. I wasn’t going to commit myself to deleting everything, but then I pretty much did and it was easy!

  • First, I used Daily Rollup to manage everything I’ve ever subscribed to. You allow it to access your email account and it pulls up an alphabetical list of of your subscriptions. You have the choice of unsubscribing, rolling it up, or leaving it in your inbox. Their Daily Rollup is a daily email with all of your emails you’ve designated to roll up inside it like a newsletter. This keeps you getting one email instead of tons each day from the newletters you actually want to keep. I unsubscribed from a ton! It keeps a running list and as of last night, I have unsubscribed from over 600! Yikes!
  • Then, I went into my account and I looked at the first two pages of emails to see what I had that I needed to take care of. I created a new label called “take care of these” and then labeled and archived the emails I really needed.
  • Next I searched my account for “paypal” and “ebooks” to make sure that things I’ve purchased aren’t going to get deleted. I moved those things to the appropriate label and archived them as well!
  • I make pretty good use of the option to star emails that I might find important down the road. This allowed me to choose the option to check all unstarred emails on each page. After I went through and deleted all the unstarred emails, I had 179 left.
  • I went through those 179 emails and really only kept a couple. The nice thing about Gmail is that even when you delete them, you can still find the emails through a search if you really need to.
  • The last thing I did was go through each label and decide if I really wanted to keep those emails. There were very few that I kept.

All in all, the process wasn’t too hard or time consuming. I couldn’t just bring myself to delete everything even though I hardly kept after it was all said and done.

Who else is up for the challenge of deleting your emails?

Must haves for pumping at work

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I had to go back to work full time when my oldest was only eight weeks old. I was determined to breastfeed her and that required diligent pumping–not only to send to day care with her, but also to keep up my supply.

In my momma groups, I’ve heard so many new moms ask about the essentials for pumping at work that I decided to post here with my own list of must-haves.

  1. A double electric pump and hands free bra: this is so worth it for efficiency’s sake. You already have to spend your breaks and part of your lunch holed up pumping, you might as well get as much as you can out of it. A double electric pump will allow you to pump quickly pump on both sides at once. I’ve used both the Medela Pump In Style pump and Ameda Purely Yours Breast Pump. I prefer the Medela since it wasn’t as loud and I felt like it was more efficient for me. I didn’t get a hands free bra until I had been pumping for a month or so, but once I did, I felt like I could take on the world! It is totally worth the money or there are lots of DIY options out there too!
  2. Extra parts: keep extra membranes, storage bags, and nursing pads in your bag. These are in addition to what you plan on using for that day. I’ve had to jimmy parts out of a paper clip to keep the bag attached to the pump!
  3. A hand towel and a plastic zip bag: I always lay the hand towel on my lap to keep any milk from dripping onto my pants (I don’t usually end up pumping in rooms with tables) as I put everything away. You can also use it to wipe the pump parts down or clean up any (God forbid!) spills! Pro tip: store your pump parts in a Ziploc type bag in the fridge in between pumping sessions so you don’t have to worry about cleaning them each time.
  4. Snacks and entertainment: if you’re going to be spending your breaks pumping, take a snack with you so you don’t forget to eat. Nursing makes you hungry and you need to consume enough calories to keep up production! I tried to make that time as enjoyable as possible by listening to light and funny podcasts on my phone. Make sure they’re updated and ready to go before you get in there so you don’t have to spend your time getting your entertainment ready.
  5. Your baby’s picture/video/blanket: You’ll want something that smells like your baby to help with let down while you’re away. A picture of your baby or a short video of him or her crying will also work. I didn’t use this every time, but it was nice to have them on my phone just in case.

Good job momma!

What am I missing from this list? Sound off in the comments!

Linking up to Moonlight Mason Jars

One tip that increased my productivity

Some days I have trouble being productive. Either I feel unmotivated to do much or my kids want attention from me and that halts productivity. Either way, this one tip  increased my productivity–even if it means I only get one thing done instead of nothing!

So, what is this tip?

Getting dressed!

Yup, that’s it. I’m not saying I do much more than change from one pair of stretchy pants to another, but that one act helps change my whole day.

I used to resist this suggestion before I had kids and was working crazy retail hours. Some days I wouldn’t go into work until late in the day and all I would do is take a shower! I finally decided to give getting dressed a try when I was dealing with postpartum baby blues. I was having a hard time dealing and there was a stretch of time when I didn’t leave the house for 11 days. I decided to get dressed to feel better about things and try to make it out to mom groups.

Now getting dressed helps me in so many little ways. I actually have a bra on if I need to run out to the mailbox before the mail man comes! It also gives me one last task to do if we get invited to a play date at the last minute or if I decide I want to try to make it to the grocery store before nap time. All that means that when the kids are playing or napping, I can work on the blog or do work for my clients because I don’t have to spend that time getting ready any more!

Do you get dressed every day–even if you don’t have anywhere to go?