Tuesday, April 29, 2014

A Fit and Healthy 2014

Like the rest of America, Jeff and I made New Year's Resolutions to be healthier. It all started last September...

Remember how we went to Disneyland? And remember how it was right after Jeff's busy season when he was gone most of the time for a solid two months? And remember how my diet consisted of basically only cinnamon rolls for every meal of the two months he was busy? And remember how exercising is a lot harder when you have two little munchkins instead of just one? And remember how when I'm up all night sewing curtains, I couldn't help but make pit stops by my pantry to drown my exhaustion in chocolate chips?

There you have all my excuses for suddenly weighing as much as I did in my third trimester with Eli. Which explains why I totally hated every picture of me from our beloved Disneyland vacation --

because it was the first time I really faced the reality that I can't eat whatever I want anymore without packing on a few extra pounds. And it was after looking at all those pictures that I decided I needed to get healthy again!

This was new turf for me! I had always been relatively healthy. Well. I had always exercised like a crazy person. I never ate THAT great, but I was generally mindful of my nutrition. So it was strange to be among the people adding "lose weight" to my goals of 2014.

Now. I'm not writing this post because I've had a major transformation. Or because I'm an inspiration to America. Or because I have all the health secrets in the world. Rather, I'm writing it to remember what I was feeling, and what I did to change. And I'm writing because I have been inspired by other people's stories of getting healthier. I have loved finding stories similar to mine, and seeing what those people did to change.

Here's a glimpse into a few of my bad habits:
  • I was an emotional eater. If I had a bad day -- I would tell myself I deserved an ice-cream! If I had a good day -- let's celebrate with ice-cream! No matter what emotion I had, I would use it as an excuse to treat myself to something.
  • I became a late night snacker. Even though I knew late night eating was not a good idea, curtain orders often kept me up late, munching through the night. The worst part -- anything I ate after dinner was typically junk food. Late junk food munching. No good.
  • I stopped exercising. Really exercising. I would go on 30 minute walks, but after I had Eli, I completely quit any kind of working out that resulted in significant sweating.
  • Cookie dough. Always. I probably made cookies at least once a week. And I could seriously eat all the cookies/dough in one day. I have zero self-control when it comes to cookies.
  • I was eating based on what tasted good rather than what was good for me. There would be some days that I would look back on all the things I ate and realized I didn't have one thing that was good for me. (A.K.A. cinnamon rolls for every meal. :)  )
  • I made excuses for not working out. Telling myself I was too tired because the kids were up all night, I was too busy, being a mom is workout enough. It didn't take much to convince myself working out wasn't worth it.
  • I majorly overate. I had no idea how many calories I should be eating, or how many calories certain foods had. I ate what tasted good, and I ate until I was full. That was my only gauge.

And that, my friends, is how you pack on a pregnancy's worth of weight minus the baby. But, "I'm young!" I told myself. "I can lose weight no problem! I just have to eat healthy and exercise! It'll come off in no time!" 

I had taken a couple nutrition classes in college, and I've always had an interest in nutrition, so I felt like I was educated to make healthy choices, now it was just a matter of choosing to be healthy. I started by eating less in general, and then I made a few rules for myself like: 1) no more cookies unless I specifically need to bring cookies to an event/party  2) no eating after 7:00 PM  3) Exercise 5 days a week. 

I was surprised at how quickly after starting to really exercise again that I began to once again feel coordinated and strong. I thought it would be a lot harder to get back into the swing of exercising. A couple days after eating better and exercising, I was eager to get back on the scale.

Nothing changed.

I was so discouraged! Granted it had only been a couple days, but I had this mentality it would be so easy for me, so I thought as soon as I made any sort of effort to be healthier, the scale would immediately reflect that. It was not the case. A whole month went by with the scale only teetering around one pound of a difference from my starting weight.

That's when I talked to a friend who told me to start using MyFitnessPal -- a calorie counter. And that's really when everything changed. I LOVED counting calories. Which I thought I would completely hate -- but I started viewing it as a bank account. For example, you wouldn't spend money you know you don't have, it's the same as eating. My calories were like money, and I had to make sure I was "living within my means" so to speak. 

It felt like I was hardly allowed to eat anything for the first day or two, but once I started finding foods with low calories that filled me up, and seeing the actual portion sizes I should be eating, it became really easy! 

My breakthrough moment was on a fast Sunday. According to my calorie counter, I could basically eat anything I wanted because I hadn't eaten all day, so I completely gorged myself at dinner. I ate the same way that I used to eat before trying to get healthy, and after dinner I felt SO sick. It was then that I realized -- my body is telling me I have eaten too much! I used to eat until I felt sick almost always. I think I had misread that feeling as just being full. But after eating healthier and the right portions for about two months, I finally recognized my body was clearly telling me I had eaten waaaaaaay too much food.

And it was then that I felt like I had really changed. I liked being healthy and eating things that were good for me. I liked listening to my body and giving it the things it needs to function, not just giving it things that taste good. 

After two months I had only lost around three pounds. It was slow going. I felt like I was working my butt off and had nothing to show for it. I regretted every dang batch of cookie dough I had ever made. :)

Somewhere between two months and now, I lost seven more pounds which was ten pounds in four months. It's been slllooooooooooooooow. But I feel so much healthier, and stronger, and happier, and I have so much more energy, and I never want to go back to my mindless eating/vegging ever again.

Here are some of my new and improved habits:
  • One of the first changes I made was cutting white flour. I tried to not eat as much bread in general, but when I do eat bread, I try to eat whole wheat.
  • Along with that, I started cooking brown rice instead of white rice, and more recently, I have started using quinoa instead of rice or pasta for dinner.
  • I make sure to eat lunch. I used to skip over lunch and snack all afternoon. Now I'm sure to eat a good, healthy lunch so I don't feel like I "deserve" snacks all throughout the day.
  • I eat smaller meals, and I have cut down on second servings.
  • We love Mexican food, and I serve greek yogurt now instead of sour cream. Our kids LOVE sour cream, and they haven't noticed a difference.
  • Weights! I have been doing Jillian Michaels' workout videos and they are awesome! I really love lifting weights. I started doing her kettle bell workout which I think is really fun, and those workouts go by quick. I'm trying to remove myself from the world of only cardio. There are tons of good workout videos on instant streaming through Amazon Prime.
 **Shameless mirror shot. Forgive me. Please.**

Here are some of our favorite healthy recipes:
The drawback -- the kids will only eat like...two of those recipes I just listed. So most nights I am making two dinners, one for me and Jeff, and a kid friendly version for the munchkins. But that's the only complaint I have about being healthier!

I'll finish up with one last list of the things I've learned over the past four(ish) months:
  • Sleep is huge. I have found it interesting that I often have a big weight drop after I get a good night's rest. Plus when I have enough sleep, I have the energy to prepare healthier food and exercise the next day.
  • It's okay to indulge. Within your limits. If I know I want an ice-cream at the end of the day, I just adjust the rest of my calories to make sure I have enough calories at the end of the day for my treat. I think treats aren't bad as long as you allow for them, and don't go totally crazy when you do indulge.
  • Counting calories sounds like a hassle, but I think that was the biggest thing for me. Especially when I was clueless as to how many calories I should be eating or how many calories certain foods had. It just took about two weeks of counting, and then I had a good idea of what a day of how much and what kind of food I should be eating every day looked like.
  • It took about 6 weeks for me to really notice any kind of change. It's tempting to give up when you feel like all your hard work is for nothing, but after about 6 weeks, I started noticing I was looking stronger and more lean. 
  • It's so easy to come up with millions of excuses not to exercise or not to eat healthy. You just have to do it no matter what. So many nights I didn't want to workout, but as soon as I was about 10 minutes into the workout, I always felt so much better and was glad I chose to work out.
  • Losing weight is hard! Jeff and I have been getting healthier together, and I feel like we have been dedicated, completely changed the way we eat, and we've been consistently working out at least 5 times a week, but it has taken a lot of work to get any kind of results. We would often remind ourselves that we didn't gain all the weight overnight, so we couldn't expect to lose all the weight overnight.
It's been fun to change and become better. It's been interesting to find myself on the weight-loss bandwagon for the first time. I've loved working on this goal with Jeff because it has kept us motivated to be working on this together. I still have a little ways to go, but I'm about where I wanted to be and it's been really rewarding to get here!
There's the forever long summary of our fit and healthy 2014. Which will hopefully continue to be fit and healthy throughout the rest of the year. And throughout the rest of forever! 

Eggs-cellent Eggs-cells

You'll eggs-cuse the title of this post, right? I just couldn't resist.

Here's the final post from our St. George mini vacay. David and Mary came by on Friday morning, which meant Jeff and I were able to sneak away for a couple hours to go to the temple. Yay! (Look at my awkward hand. Ha.)
The joke of the week was that Jeff could never do anything fun because he had agreed to give a talk the Sunday right after our trip, so that was always hanging over his head. When we got back from the temple, we rounded up the kids to go to a children's museum, and Jeff once again confessed he could not join in on our fun because he had to work on his talk. Boo!
When Jeff offered to keep Carson and Coleman with him back at the house, we were suddenly A-Okay with ditching him. An afternoon without the two youngest children who were most likely to wander and be unimpressed with the museum? Sounds like a plan!
With only one little kid to keep track of, our evening out was heavenly. Eli (not surprisingly) loved this auto shop room. He would venture into other rooms, but he always had to come back to this one.

What is it about cars that has every little boy obsessed with them? I'll never know.
Hmmm. I thought I took more pictures at the museum but apparently not. It was a lot of fun! Eli loved being there with his cousins and it was the perfect baby-less outing.

We got back to find a naked Carson ready to die his Easter eggs. Carson is hilarious you guys. Whenever he is naked, you can bet he will be in this pose. Every. Time. That boy knows how to make us laugh.
Let the eggs-citement begin!
Eli and Carson were really into the egg dying process. Eli was very meticulous, and Carson was all about speed.

The next day, Mary had laid out the kids' new Easter outfits, and we played "Don't Eat Peep" while we waited for lunchtime to roll around.

We headed to the park for a picnic lunch and our Easter Egg Hunt!
Look how cooperative little children are posing for pictures when you tell them they don't get any Cheetos until they pose nicely for a picture.
This is about when Eli was debating if the Cheetos were really worth it.
After lunch the kids built sand castle masterpieces.
Time for the Easter Egg Hunt!!
This may have been my kids' first real, official, run-for-your-lives Easter Egg Hunt. I can't say they caught on right away. Carson needed help and direction the whole way through and Eli...
Couldn't suppress the urge to open every egg as soon as he picked it up. After many urges from me to throw the eggs in his basket and look for more, Eli's curiosity finally got the better of him, as he ignored my urges and opened up an Easter Egg to see what all his hunting efforts were worth.
The first egg he cracked was just an empty candy wrapper! Ha ha ha ha. He questioned the hunt after that, but I continued to urge him to scoop up eggs like his life depended on it. The rest of his wrappers were candy filled...until I started stealing his loot.
Another fun Eggs-cell Eggs-travaganza!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Picnicking at the Park

The weather was absolutely perfect the whole time we were down in St. George. With my tanning goal still my number one priority, I suggested we spend the afternoon of our second day at the park. We packed up a lunch and soaked up some St. George rays.
After a little bit of wandering from the park, the boys found a gutter that proved to be more entertaining than the playground. Eli got a thrill out of jumping the water gap while Carson preferred to sit peacefully and throw grass into the water to watch it float away.
Eli and I had a date right after the park. I took Eli to his very first movie! We saw Rio 2. Eli seemed to enjoy it other than at the very end he got a little restless. The movie theater was fairly empty, and at one point he suddenly stood up and ran all the way down our row of empty seats into the aisle completely opposite of the theater from me.

Then he stared at me like, "What are you going to do about this, Mom?" I looked at him and wondered the same thing. Then he started doing laps around the handicap accessible bundle of chairs on the row in front of ours. I made my way towards him and he started giggling and shuffling his feet around preparing to bolt for it again. All it took was one threat to leave and he eventually made it back to his seat for the rest of the movie without further incident. So I'd call that a success.

Jeff and Carson stayed home because Jeff had been asked to speak in church the upcoming Sunday, so he wanted to work on his talk, and we didn't think Carson was quite ready for his first movie experience. When we got back, Eli did a little lizard hunting.
We had a couple hours to burn before dinner, so we took a walk around the St. George temple.
I love the St. George temple. But you already knew that.

Eli and Carson loved walking up all the stairs to go touch the doors.

And then my latest favorite brotherly picture happened.
Carson annoyingly got sick this day. We had plans with friends for the evening, but Carson got a really bad runny nose the night before, and he was breathing super heavy and raspy all through the night. We were worried he had RSV, though after listening to his throaty breathing all day on Thursday, I think he actually had croup. So there's the explanation for his rosy cheeks.

I had the brilliant idea to have Eli try to take a picture of me and Jeff. Eli was willing, and come to find out, able! I was impressed that we were completely in most of his shots. He did chop Jeff's head off a couple of times, but he got a couple good pictures!

After the temple walk, we just went back to the house to barbecue up dinner and get the kids in bed. I had a nice evening vegging out. I even painted my toenails!

The next morning David and Mary arrived for our big Easter weekend. Mary brought Carson a few presents for his birthday.
She gave Carson two monster trucks and a shovel and bucket. Both were a big hit!
The Barkley gave Carson his birthday kisses.
Right on the lips.
To be continued...

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Where Oh Where Did My Baby Go?

Carson is two you guys. TWO! My baby is not a baby anymore! In fact, he's so big he prefers to drink out of a sippy-less cup. He's so big, he can already talk fluently in full grammatically correct sentences. He's so big, he is already beating up his older brother...
But somehow he's still not big enough to sleep through the night. Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr. Maybe the new quilt I made him for his birthday will help...just like all my other attempts to get him to sleep through the night have helped...
Carson has pretty much the best birthday ever because it's the day after busy season! Which means everyone is excited to see Jeff again, and we're all ready to party! We left town in a quick hurry after Jeff got home from work on Tax Day, and we headed down to our favorite vacation spot -- St. George! We got into St. George super late, but the boys slept great, and slept in so we were all ready for a fun birthday celebration day.

Every morning. Without fail. Carson requests pancakes. I have had to move my pancake griddle from the bottom shelf in my pantry to a higher spot because when the griddle was in sight, Carson would rummage through the pantry to find all the supplies to make pancakes and throw them up on the counter for me to make him his favorite meal. The birthday boy got his favorite breakfast without any grumbling from me for a change on April 16th though. I really decided to spoil him on his big day, so I didn't even make him lug the griddle out for me.
We thought it would be super fun to take the boys swimming. They agreed! They were in their suits lickety split and so excited about our plans that they agreeably posed for a few pictures for me. This is what happened when I said, "Raise your hand if it's your birthday!!"
Here's my favorite Eli quote from the trip. As we were getting ready I said, "Carson! I'm so excited it's your birthday today!"
Eli then chirped in, "But why are you not excited about my birthday?"
Me, "Because it's not your birthday. Today is all about Carson!"
Eli, "But when is it going to be all about me?"
I think Eli quickly figured out that even though the day wasn't all about him, he still got to do all the fun birthday things Carson got to do. So he ended up being okay with it. We started our day at the splash pad which was a big hit.
Carson was ever so timid when we first got there. He would barely dip his toe in. He had to sit and observe for a good ten minutes before venturing away from us. Then he would go and carefully step into the water and race right back to proclaim to us, "I stepped in water!!" Then he would go back in and he had to loop back around to us every time he did something he felt was adventurous.
By the end he was fearlessly splashing, running and exploring, but it took him quite a bit of warming up.
As I was trying to strategically place myself directly in the sun's rays to achieve my only St. George goal -- get a tan -- Jeff reminded me we are total opposites. I stared at him in unbelief as he comfortably sat in his jacket and then placed a towel over his legs while announcing, "Don't want to get the cancers." or something like that. It's alright if I age myself a little bit with sun rays since Jeff is so much older than me. Then I won't have to be a widow for as long later down the road.
Eli loved the fountain part. There were some kids that put their shoes on the fountain so that when the water came up it pushed their shoes up. Eli found that to be VERY entertaining.
Even better than the flying shoes was the spitting toad if you ask Eli.

My most successful brother photo op.
When Eli started getting bored with the water, he noticed this crab made out of car parts. He had to inspect every inch of it.
Then he ran back over to the water and rinsed his bum off really funny. He kept swishing his bum around in the water. It was hilarious.
We came home for naps and then we grilled up some hot dogs for Carson's birthday dinner.
The boys loved playing with their cars out back while Jeff was cooking.
We served Carson's favorite foods. He loves hot dogs, and he is actually a pretty good vegetable eater, so we threw some broccoli into the mix.
Then it was time for presents!
Several months ago we went over to a friend's house who has three girls. Carson found a shopping cart toy there and monopolized it the entire night. He loves filling things up and pushing things around. We decided to try out the shopping cart to see if he would still like toy shopping carts if we owned one.
We also got him a basketball hoop. He's a natural.
Then we made brownies for his candles.

It was the perfect birthday for a freshly two-year old boy. And the perfect start to our St. George vacation!