- Women who have had a mastectomy with or without radiation and/or an axillary node dissection should not use blood flow restriction training.
- People in hemodialysis who have arterial venous fistulas. Avoid doing blood flow restriction on the affected limb
- Pregnant women should not use Kaatsu training.
*Amazon affiliate links
For a good video of the movement click here: https://resistancebandtraining.com/exercises/shoulders/shoulder-press/
Research proves that pomegranate is one of the most concentrated sources of antioxidants. Studies have also proven that key compounds in pomegranate can do something no one thought possible – reverse the process of atherosclerosis (arterial plaque buildup that is the main cause of heart disease and heart attack!).
These studies indicate that pomegranate provides protection against and actual reversal of atherosclerosis by restoring artery health, lowering blood pressure, and protecting low-density lipoprotein (LDL) from oxidation.
Pomegranate also fights several of forms of cancer including slowing the progression of prostate cancer and suppressing the growth of colon, breast, and lung cancer cells. The good news is that pomegranate’s remarkable health benefits can now be obtained in the form of affordable, highly concentrated extracts.
Pomegranates have potent hormonal attributes that have been shown to have estrogenic effects without increasing cancer risk unlike hormone therapy. This may be beneficial in safely minimizing menopause symptoms. At the same time they have also been been proven to cause metastatic breast cancer cells to self-destruct.
Mechanism of Action for Protection from Atherosclerosis
Pomegranate protects arteries by increasing nitric oxide, which improves the function of endothelial cells that line the walls of arteries. Nitric oxide (NO) causes relaxation of the muscles in the walls of the arteries which increases increasing blood flow. Nitric oxide also reduces injury to the arteries which helps prevent the development of atherosclerosis.
Research has shown that oxidized low-density lipoprotein (LDL) can reduce NO levels. Pomegranate juice enhances the nitric oxide synthase activity which boosts NO. In addition, pomegranate antioxidants prolong the action of nitric oxide which increases its effectiveness.
Amazingly Pomegranate has been shown to reverse atherosclerotic lesions in arteries!
An Israeli study showed that pomegranate can actually reduce existing plaque formations in the arteries. In the study patients with significant carotid artery narrowing that ranged from 70 – 90% consumed 1.7 ounces of pomegranate juice each day while others received a placebo. Diet was not changed
Those who drank the pomegranate juice had significant reductions in the thickness of their carotid artery walls, which is correlated with decreased risk for heart attack and stroke. After only three months, the average thickness declined by 13%, and after 12 months, the thickness dropped 35%! During this same 12-month period, the average carotid artery thickness of the placebo group increased by 9%.
The researchers noted a number of improvements in blood markers that help to explain why pomegranate so effectively supports cardiovascular health. For example, total antioxidant status in the blood was increased by 130% after 12 months of pomegranate use, while serum lipid peroxidation was reduced by 59%.
There was also an 83% increase in serum paraoxonase-1, an enzyme that can reduce harmful lipid peroxides in arterial cells and in lipoproteins in coronary and carotid lesions. In addition, one year of pomegranate use more than doubled the time it took for the initiation of LDL oxidation, from 30 minutes to 65 minutes. Since LDL must be oxidized before it can stick to artery walls, this delay in LDL oxidation helps keep plaque from building up. At the same time paraoxonase-1 may help break up existing plaque, leading to overall reductions in plaque formation over time.
How to Obtain the Benefits of Pomegranate
If you enjoy Pomegranate Juice drinking 8 – 12 ounces each day of a high-quality product should confer all the benefits seen in research. Of course eating Pomegranates is another great way to get the benefits!
You can also obtain all these benefits WITHOUT all the sugar contained in juice by taking a standardized Pomegranate Supplement. Look for products that are standardized for Punicalagins not just Ellagic Acid. Ellagic Acid is a highly beneficial chemical, but it does not survive the digestive tract intact while consuming Punicalagins will result increased levels of Ellagic Acid after digestion. Excellent products and brands include:
Jarrow Pomegranate Extract
Life Extension Pomegranate Extract
POM Wonderful Juice
Hello 2017! And a big hello to all of you! I hope you all had a fabulous holiday season! Thanksgiving to New Year’s is my favorite stretch of the year and I just feel so lucky this year to share so many moments with the ones we love. It was the perfect way to end our incredible 2016.
A new year always brings new possibilities. Last year, I was about 7-months pregnant with Declan at this time so I consciously didn’t make any new year’s resolution other than to be courageous for what was to come. I gave myself a year of grace as I discovered how to be a mama. Grace in trying to do too much. Grace in learning to love my new body. Grace in working through a new relationship dynamic as parents with K. Grace in leaning back into my professional life when my maternity leave ended.
I can’t say I succeeded in all these areas. It definitely a year of stretching and growing for me. And a year of absolute pure joy.
This year, I’m focusing on cultivating what matters most. I’m using PowerSheets to uncover my goals this year and I can say, I’m LOVING the process. The PowerSheets are all sold out this year but you can still follow the goal-setting process here.
One of my goals is to write more. I feel like I say this all the time but this year, I’m going to really try and have at least one new post each week. My posts range from recipes, home improvement, musings on motherhood, and of course, reading recommendations. A little of this. A little of that. All things I love. But if there is something you’d like to see here, let me know in the comments below.
I’ll share the rest of my goals here soon. I’m really excited about them this year!
A couple fun things – I’m giving this space a little refresh. Every couple years, I’m looking for a new look. So here we are, a lot simpler and cleaner look.
There’s also a new tab up above – recommendations. In this spot, you’ll have links to our favorite books and my current reading list and essential products I love. I also removed the ads from the sidebar. I want to make sure if there is an affiliate link on the blog, it’s something I am confident in recommending. So if you are looking for a good book to read or some of Declan’s favorites, check it out!
So, I’ll leave you with some words I’ve been soaking up:
Here’s to listening
To compassion, kindness, and
To being present to the parts
of ourselves that are asking
for the attention they need in
order to heal
And to feeding the pain
with what it is that already
resides in each one of us:
Courage + Bravery.
To leaning in and to sharing it.
Over and over again.
And to come out softer the
Happy New Year!
Eating a low carbohydrate diet is the key to losing weight
Most obese people have a slow metabolism
Obesity is a genetic disorder
Some people have a slow metabolism and some people have a fast metabolism
Exercise is not really effective for weight loss
You can eat all you want and lose weight if you do not eat carbohydrates
Low carbohydrate diets are unhealthy
If you eat foods in the right combinations you will lose weight
The key to weight loss is eating healthy not counting calories
Americans are eating more fat than ever before
Americans are eating less fat than ever before
|High School Graduation with Lucky|
|Representing the class of 2004 in a silly outtake from this spring|
|Kappa & Carolina – forever intertwined|
|The fabulous Melissa and me at graduation|
|Last Kappa function (someone was pissed I was leaving)|
|Home Sweet Home|
|Presenting as a Kappa Trainer|
|Forever to Thee|
This is what being an adult is: doing everything before you are ready. There is no syllabus for life that helps you graduate to the next event. It is happening all around you, all the time. This life itself is the lesson and the test and there is no honor roll, just the sum of your relationships and actions and how you feel when you lay down to go to sleep at night.
|One month appointment|
I was starting to feel like a whale in my last trimester, but I treasure this photo so much I didn’t take many bump shots so when I stumble across one, it makes me so happy to see that big belly.
“I think it’s very important for children to understand that women work and that it’s fulfilling and it doesn’t mean that they love you any less or care about you any less. I also hope from my kids’ perspectives, they saw how rewarding and fulfilling working was. I think it’s important for kids to understand that.”
-Anna Wintour on teaching her children the importance of women’s careers
“In the little nest of days between Christmas and the New Year, take time – time to hope, to wish, to plan. Time to imagine what your year will hold, and decide how you will make room for all the things that matter. Celebrate the year that has been with reverence; welcome the year that will soon unfold with anticipation and joy. And remember that dark winter nights are made for dreaming of all the good things yet to be.” – Days of Christmas
‘Tis the season again – we are entering that infamous Thanksgiving through New Years stretch where the average American will gain 8 – 12lbs! One of the main reasons for this is that we get out of our normal routines for both exercise and diet. It is even more challenging if you are travelling during this season because you are out of your home and have less control over your exercise and eating habits.
Alright, so those are just a few of my fourth trimester essentials. Obviously, every baby and couple is different so what works for you might not work for the next person. But, I love reading recommendations whether I take the advice or not!
What are/were your essentials during the first months of motherhood?
Dear ones: I know Mother’s Day is a joy to many of you. I know it’s a giant suckbag of sorrow for others of you. I know some of you are indifferent to it. I know some of you have wonderful mothers and you get to pick out the perfect card for her and take her to brunch and give her a bouquet of flowers and others of you are alone and weeping while watching your monstrously sad faces in the bathroom mirror, wondering why your mom had to die or be a drug addict or be mentally ill or be such an inexplicable evil shit to you. I know some of you desperately want to become mothers and can’t and aren’t and will never be and some of you have zero interest in becoming mothers and you feel sickeningly suffocated by a world that equates womanhood with motherhood and some of you ARE mothers and you love it and you treasure this day because finally someone picked out a card for you and took you to brunch and gave you a bouquet of flowers. I know it’s a holiday that will change in meaning to you over time, even if it has not yet occurred to you that it will. Whatever it is, I want to say I know it’s there and it’s real and it’s true because it’s YOURS. I’m with you, wherever it is you are, in heart.
As people get older one of the biggest threats to their health and independence are falls. A brief review of the statistics on falls provides a sobering view of the threat.
READING // Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter
THINKING ABOUT // Doing with less. I’m attempting to purge 40 bags in 40 days and I’m seriously contemplating switching up my wardrobe to a capsule wardrobe. Anyone out there given this a try?
EATING // Leftovers from Spoon and Stable. K and I had a date night last night and the hottest restaurant in town. I’m definitely recreating their Paloma cocktail soon!
THANKFUL // For my job. It makes me think, stretches me outside my comfort zone, and allows my creativity to flourish. I love it.
WORKING ON // More like working out. Since joining ClassPass, I have finally hit my fitness stride. I love trying new classes, studios, and instructors. Some of my faves include Pure Barre, [SolidCore], Surge Cycle, and Modo Yoga! Sign up today and we can live the sweaty life together! (< – – affiliate link)
PLANNING // Our bathroom remodel! K has worked so hard and we are finally ready for tile. He did the hard work, now I’m helping planning out the pretties like paint, fixtures, and tile.
WATCHING // House of Cards…duh.
iPhone wallpaper via Fleur De Letters…isn’t it perfect for the start of spring?!
The holidays are a time of celebration, and assuming you do NOT have a problem with alcohol and can drink responsibly, it is okay to imbibe! The key to not getting fat from alcohol is to understand the calorie and carb content of alcoholic beverages and plan your intake ahead of time in terms of exactly what you chose to drink and how much you have.
I usually make a bunch of resolutions, stick with half of them, and close out the year on a happy note. This year, I’ve made a couple goals, not concrete resolutions. At the end of 2015, I’ll turn 30. I’m not really worried about it but I thought it was a good benchmark to accomplish a few things at this point in my life. I know a lot of folks make 30 Before 30 lists but that seemed entirely too overwhelming and unattainable with everything I’ve got going on. So here are my three goals to accomplish before I turn 30:
This includes everything from getting my teeth cleaned, cervix checked, and eyeballs examined to adding strength training to my exercise schedule to get fit and strong. I also want to start hiking more. Random, but something I really enjoy. So yeah.
I want to be more intentional about incorporating writing in my life. I used to journal regularly and have strayed from that over the last couple years. I’d like to return to that practice. Towards the end of 2014, I started getting more into modern calligraphy and want to continue practicing each week. I have a great idea on how I’m going to do that and I’ll share it soon.
Because, you know, adults should do things like that. I’m close and can’t wait to get that back to zero. It will take a bit to be completely debt free after law school but that’s to be expected. One step at a time.
Alright, what are your resolutions/goals/challenges for 2015?
I’ve lived in this little rambler for seven years. After returning home from living a life on the road, I was excited to unpack my suitcase and find a home. I had about three months before law school started in the fall and there was no time to waste.
P.S. To celebrate, I’ll be sharing an updated home tour all week on the blog. Check back tomorrow for the first reveal!
Resistant starch is similar to fiber, but nutrition labels rarely mention resistant starch content.
- · Stimulate blood flow to large intestine (colon)
- · Increase nutrient absorption
- · Inhibit the growth of pathogenic bacteria
- · Reduce absorption of toxins
- Produce results in clinical trials in improving Type 2 diabetes on par or better than conventional drugs including metformin.
- Improve blood lipid levels better than statins.
- Lower blood pressure in many subjects as well as any class of antihypertensive medication.
- Improve liver function and promote anti-obesity effects.
- Exert significant beneficial effects on digestive health and the microbiome.
- Produce very encouraging experimental data in a wide range of modern health issues including cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and others.
- Slowing the release of free fatty acids to help prevent harmful fat deposits
- Promoting insulin, leptin, and adiponectin function for a healthy metabolism
- Supporting healthy blood sugar levels already in the normal range
- Promoting healthy insulin sensitivity
- Promoting healthy gut microflora
- Supporting healthy lipid metabolism
- Stimulating the release of nitric oxide for healthy blood flow
READING // The Nightingale, The Widow, The Paris Architect. Up next: Big Magic and Surprised by Motherhood.
LISTENING TO // The soothing sounds of my breast pump…
EATING // Breakfast cookies! These are saving me when I wake up famished in the middle of the night. I’ll post the recipe soon.
THANKFUL // For the opportunity to take maternity leave but…
PLANNING // My return to work. I have an amazing gig going and I can’t wait to dive back into it.
LOVING // My little man and being a mama.
WORKING ON // Our house. We have a couple projects left to finish up including the kitchen, our bedroom, and the upstairs bathroom. Then I’m officially calling it done. Because really, what kind of insane person remodels their house while pregnant and on maternity leave?!
NEEDING // My CLE credits since my law license is up for renewal this summer.
DREAMING OF // Sleep.
WATCHING // I still can’t get enough of this epic lip sync battle. Melissa McCarthy is unreal. Plus, didn’t we all fall in love with Sookie again when she thanked her mom at the MTV Movie Awards: “And to my mom, Sandy Lynn McCarthy, who taught me not to fear being the butt of the joke, taught me not to worry about being likeable and perfect, and to lovingly go for the kill.” Yesssss.
I’m popping in real quick to share a couple new children’s books we are loving right now: the Alphaprints series from Roger Priddy. The pictures are bright and colorful, full of textures, and the rhymes are fun to read.
Declan will sit and flip through them for a good amount of time, pointing and giggling at the drawings. It’s the best. I’ve already given them as gifts at a baby shower since we love them so much. If you are looking for a good book for a toddler, I encourage you to check these out!
*Affiliate links are used in this post
“All people need a place where their roots can grow deep and they always feel like they belong and have a loving refuge. And all people need a place that gives wings to their dreams, nurturing possibilities of who they might become.”
— Sally Clarkson, The Lifegiving Home
Happy Super Bowl Sunday! Need a last minute appetizer? Here you go!
We love deviled eggs over here. Every time I make them, they are gone in a blink. So, I always double the amount I make for next time. Guess what? It doesn’t matter. They still disappear. Anyway, it’s another easy appetizer to keep in your back pocket because the ingredients are simple, and typically on hand. But your presentation can make them look fancy and impressive.
For whatever reason, I think most people either forget about this option, or think they are difficult to make. That being said, if you show up with a platter of these babies at your next party, you are basically going to win the appetizers.
Here’s the basic recipe and a few tips and tricks to make them even easier.
Deviled Eggs with Bacon
Hard Boiled Eggs
For the hard boiled eggs, I follow Martha’s recipe and it’s foolproof. The trick is to really wait for a full boil, not just a simmer before pulling them off the heat.
Once the eggs are cool, cut the eggs in half as evenly as you can. Dump the yolks into a bowl and lay the egg whites, dent up, into a tupperware for refrigerating. I’ve had better luck assembling on site than trying to take them with you pre-assembled. If I had a deviled egg container, I’m sure this wouldn’t be an issue!
Once you have the whites separated, you can store them in the fridge until you are ready to assemble.
Let’s make the filling! In a bowl, mash the yolks with a fork or masher so they start crumbling.
Now here’s where I might lose novice cooks since I don’t actually measure but trust me, you’ve got this! Trust your instincts and go slow. You can always add but you can’t take away.
Add a spoonful of mayo and mix in with the yolks. We’re going for creamy texture, no bumps.
Add a teaspoon of mustard. This is purely a matter of taste. I don’t love them super mustardy but others do. Either way, you want the filling to be very creamy but not liquidy. How’s that for directions?!
Once you have it mixed and tasting the way you want it, put it in a ziploc bag and toss it in the fridge.
You can use the ziploc bag to pipe the filling into the eggs. Just snip off a corner and you have a homemade pastry bag. This is where having a good consistency on the filling comes in handy so you don’t get clogs while piping.
Now, you can be done right here. Or you can take it one step further. We like to add bacon to our deviled eggs, because what doesn’t taste better with bacon?
Cook a couple strips of bacon on the griddle, in a skillet, in the oven – however you do. Once they are cooled a bit, dice up the strips and set aside until assembly time.
When you are ready to assemble your deviled eggs, lay out they egg whites and pipe in the yolk mixture until full. Then, sprinkle the paprika on and add the bacon on top. I usually try to make sure there are a few chunks of bacon bits on each egg.
Then, stand back, because there will be a stampede of people coming at you trying to devour these Deviled Eggs with Bacon!
P.S. Try this delicious dip or these stuffed mushrooms for more gameday appetizer options!
P.S. Skip the waiting list – sign up for ClassPass here!
I’ve been back to work since March 1st and I’m still trying to find my groove. I understand it might take another week, another month, another year, until I feel like we’ve hit our rhythm, but in the meantime, we are doing our very best.
“Nothing’s wrong, it’s just hard.” Bunmi Laditan, the author behind the Honest Toddler, wrote a post recently on Facebook about this and holy cow has it resonated with me. It’s just so true. Nothing is wrong. We are blessed beyond belief: our basic needs are fulfilled, we are healthy, we laugh every day, we have jobs we enjoy, family and friends we love, life is good.
But it’s really hard right now. I feel like I’ve put in a full day of work just wrangling two kids every morning to get out the door to daycare so I can get to work at a decent time. And parents of toddler’s know, every day is different. I never know when the next tantrum is going to come and whether I’ll be able to negotiate with the tiny terrorist before full-blown armageddon happens.
And getting to work without spit up or food crumbs or spilled latte or salt from the car on me is a damn miracle. Praise Jesus when this happens because Lord knows it’s only a matter of time.
Once each kid is in their car seats, I can breathe a little bit. But it takes a special strength to run the gauntlet from the doors of daycare to the classroom. Drinking fountains, trampolines, couches, LIZARDS, toys…You guys, we have to say good morning to the school pets (LIZARDS) every. single. morning. This week we made it to the classroom without stopping and it was the biggest victory!!
I work all day, trying not to think that being a mother and having kids hurt my career, trying not to read into any comments from coworkers, and trying to lean in.
And then it’s off to daycare to pick up the boys and soak up as much quality time with them until bedtime.
Rinse and repeat.
So, nothing is wrong. It’s just hard. Life with two is amazing, and crazy. Going back to work is the most natural thing, and the toughest. I’ve been leaning hard into my oils for emotional support lately. Frankincense for grounding, Valor for courage, White Angelica for easing my anxiety. Grateful every single day I have them in my toolbox.
This weekend, I’m making time for extra self-care because truthfully, I need it. And I’m trying to be better at saying that. So yesterday, I took time to bake a batch of gluten-free brownies, slept in an extra 45 minutes today, and am going to take a long hot shower tonight. All things that help me feel normal. How do you recharge?
Nothing is wrong. It’s just hard. And I know it gets easier so that’s the beauty of this phase. It’s temporary. And that gives me all sorts of hope.
Click here to see step by step instructions for how to use bands for this set-up: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zkAMGtjkVm4
Astaxanthin is an extremely powerful anti-oxidant: 65 times more powerful than vitamin C, 54 times more powerful than Beta-Carotene and 14 times more powerful than Vitamin E.
Astaxanthin crosses the blood-brain barrier AND the blood-retinal barrier which is a huge deal for your brain AND your eyes!
Astaxanthin is a member of the carotenoid family of anti-oxidants that include beta-carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin. Of all the carotenoids, only zeaxanthin and lutein are found in the retinas of your eyes. This is because your eye is a highly light and oxygen rich environment, and it needs a large amount of free radical scavengers to prevent damage.
Scientists have specifically studied astaxanthin for its effects on the eyes and discovered that it is completely safe, and much more potent than all the other carotenoids. Specifically it has been shown that astaxanthin supplementation can be effective in preventing a whole list of eye diseases including:
Age-Related Macular Degeneration
Cystoid Macular Edema
Central Retinal Arterial and Venous Occlusion
Inflammatory Eye Diseases including retinitis, iritis, keratitis, and scleritis
Astaxanthin is one of the few anti-oxidants that you should consider supplementing because you cannot obtain the recommended dosage from your diet alone. The good news is that there are excellent Astaxanthin Supplements available from companies like Jarrow, Doctors Best, and Swanson to name a few. It should be taken with a meal with fat because it is fat soluble with dosage from 4mg – 12mg per day although there are no harmful effects from higher dosages.
If you want to take your guns to the next level consider adding in band training. Those flat circular bands you see in the MX4 Area of the club are serious training tools! These bands provide the advantage of increasing resistance throughout the range of motion to challenge your muscles in a different, yet complimentary way to free weights or machines.
There are a number of ways to trains biceps with bands from the most simple which is just standing on the band with feet spread and holding the upper loop of the band on both or one and handing and curling up and down. You can also stand with one or two feet in the center of a band and grap the two looped ends and curl the end/ends up to pump up those biceps. Another option is to attach band handles to the band to allow you to use even more resistance. Standing on one foot in the enter of the band will give less resistance than standing with two feet spread apart.
You can also attach a band to an immovable object like a post or even a door using a door holder (see www.resistancebandtraining.com to purchase one of these. Another option to create more length is to attach a band low and behind you and then loop another band through this band and attach handles to the band on both ends. With your back to the anchor grasp the handles and step forward to create some level of tension in the band keep your fee in a split stance and head-up. Do a bicep curl with the handles and as you fatigue take small steps back to do drop sets. This exercise emphasizes the stretched position of the bicep comapred with the single band bicep curl described above.
You can also get an incredible tricep workout using bands using the set-up described above with handles attached to the bands. In this case turn your back to the anchor grasping the handles with elbows held high by the sides of your heads. Brace the core while in a split stance and keep the elbows high and motionless then extend your elbows – wow does that create a pump and burn!
To see exactly how to set-up and perform these incredible bicep and tricep exercises using flat circular bands and handles check out this video from resistancebandtraining.com: https://youtu.be/mF-FbNSPF2Q
One of the best tools we have at our disposal at Workout Anytime is the reACT Trainer. Staff who know how to use the product properly and teach others to use it can make a great impression on any member or guest and help to differentiate their club from competitors.
Although the reACT Trainer is a lower body and core trainer it is easy to create full body circuits using the reACT Trainer along with the key upper body movements including:
Horizontal Press (chest press of some type)
Horizontal Pull (Row of some type)
Vertical Pull – (some type of vertical pulling movement)
Here is a sample reACT Trainer Total Body Circuit:
My home is filled with immense love. And yet, all the time, I scroll through my newsfeed and find heartache, pain and horror of this world that should never be. I’m left with the eternal question – what can I do? What can I do?
For a split second I feel hopeless, as though the situation is too large for me. Then I sit with the question, and I’m quiet with myself, the answer is always the same. Always, always, it comes back to love. Love bigger. Love brighter.
Show these tiny people, our children, that they are, in fact, correct and right and wise to love without hesitation. Children don’t look at others with judgment to decide who deserves their love and who doesn’t. No. Children see people, all people, for the light and the love that they are—they readily accept them. Children are taught, by something outside them, that some people are worthy of love, while others aren’t. They innately know how to love. We need to remember how to return to that place.
When I am so sad about the events in our world that I feel sick, I know its time to fight back with radiance, light, and joy. I will not allow hatred and fear seep into the walls of my family. I will not.
Here is where the silly, the fun, the healing of any kind comes into play. For us, it is often the kitchen dance party—an important part of my family’s healing. These dances may or may not include a glass of wine, but most definitely include some sort of fun music, horrible dance moves that my children think are AWESOME, and lots of laughter and forgetting the weight of the world.
Here’s the thing I’ve learned—as our kids grow, they are learning that the world is full of heaviness. More and more they will discover the serious, forgetting the innate joy they have claimed since birth. But I want them to know how to return to the only thing that truly matters: love. Pure and simple.
I want them to know how to heal their own hearts, and in doing so, I want them to know they are also healing their world. That their fun and laughter and joy and love matters.
I can’t change other people’s hate. But I can respond by pouring more love into my home.
Our world out there is scary. Quite incredibly scary. If I could keep my babies safe from it forever, I would do whatever that thing would be. I would wrap them in any sort of bubble wrap that would do the trick. But I can’t. Bubble wrap won’t work. So my number one priority becomes teaching my children to never let go of that love in their hearts. To have the tools to open their hearts to boundless joy, to relentless love. It’s the best gift I can give them.
|The pocket square!|
A year of firsts.
First night at home. First walk. First laugh. First roll. First crawl. First steps. First mama, first dada. First sick day, first bump, first bruise. First time up north, trip to the zoo, and adventure to the park.
And then, in a blink of an eye, the firsts became routine. And he grew. And grew and grew.
My once tiny seven pound baby is now a 20+ pound whirling dervish that doesn’t stand still. Time doesn’t stand still either.
I’ve been treasuring every single cuddle and hug lately. It’s like he knows I need them more than ever right now.
Becoming a mother has completely transformed me. I feel like a completely different person than I was before Declan. Maybe it doesn’t seem so outwardly, but inside, I feel it. It’s so difficult to put into words but I’m certain other mothers might understand what I’m going through.
Photo Credit: Anna Winberg Photography
*I wrote this three years ago, as we started trying to have a baby. Occasionally, I’ll write something and never hit publish. I need space with my thoughts before sharing them with the world. But I was encouraged today by a friend to do my part in making these conversations public.
For anyone out there trying, here’s a fist bump of solidarity heading your way. I’ve been there and it made me lose my mind for a bit.
They don’t tell you trying will be the hardest thing ever. Trying to keep your hopes up. That you’ll avoid facebook because since you’ve started trying only a few months ago, 19 couples you are friends with have announced they are expecting.
That every time your mom offers you a glass of wine at the cabin you wonder if you should accept. Or you’ll make up an excuse about trying to lose vacation weight and alcohol is the first thing to go. Anything to get her to not think you are trying
But since your mom is your best friend, she’s the first one you want to tell you are trying. So instead you blurt it out to friends you trust and hope they keep it private.
That you downloaded an app. Yeah, an app to track things. Ugh. Why? Trying has made me crazy.
Or April 1 passes and you get literally angry at anyone who thinks its acceptable to pull a pregnancy prank.
That you start trying and then you read about infertility and your heart breaks for women who struggle to get pregnant.
And you secretly hope you won’t be one of them…
That every time that time of the month comes you try to stay hopeful but you feel discouraged.
It’s supposed to be a magic time, lots of love making but this insane amount of pressure immediately is put upon you. And most of it is put on by you.
I pray more, work out more, eat healthier. Every little bit helps right?
Trying is exciting yet trying sucks.
Because so often you go through this whirlwind alone.
Well, if you are trying,
Keep the faith.
And feel free to vent to me. I’ll listen.
Paint: Fleur de Sel & Extra White by Sherwin Williams
Egress Windows: Egress by Ericson
General Contractor: Tom Campion Construction
Carpet: Andersen Floor Covering Inc.
Here’s the maternity leave edition of what I’ve been up to. Tomorrow, I ship both boys off to daycare and head back to work. Currently feeling ALL the feels!
READING // Cultivate: A Grace-Filled Guide to Growing an Intentional Life, A Simplified Life, What Works for Women at Work, Little Fires Everywhere, Gameplan, Good As Gone, The Women in the Castle (honestly though, I can’t remember if I read this one before or during my leave!)
WATCHING // Well, I think I watched every single sport in the Winter Olympics, I caught up on Outlander, and still haven’t watched this season of This Is Us. So win some, lose some.
That’s it for now! I’m going to go slather on some Valor to help me prepare for tomorrow!
“My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.”
“I always thought that the “thriving” would come when everything was perfect, and what I learned is that it’s actually down in the mess that things get good.”
— Joanna Gaines
I’m consciously not trying to add anything to my plate this year. I feel like I’m in a good spot, a really good spot. My goal is to dig in and thrive. Thrive at home, thrive at work, thrive as Alex. Thriving right where I am, right now.
This goal originally was START WEIGHT TRAINING but I realized that it’s more than that. So I’m changing it, two weeks into the new year. And I love that I’m okay with that. Honoring my body means taking care of it with good food and exercise, as well as checking in on my mental health throughout the year, especially during stressful times.
Starting Steps: I launched into a January Whole30. I’m on day 8 since I waited until after our company party to start. I’m also going to one group exercise class each week. I’m also planning to start lifting weights at home once a week. Little by little it all adds up!
GROW A GARDEN
Starting Steps: Right now we’re in planning mode! At the end of the summer we picked out a spot and need to just finalize the size and shape. I’ve ordered a few seed catalogs to get inspiration. The first one arrived this week!
Starting Steps: Scheduling a date for this month. We love trying new restaurants and have a few on our list to get to. But since variety is the spice of life, I’m always looking for fun date ideas!
Starting Steps: Turn on my Kindle. I have loads of good books on my reading list so I just got to find time. One way I’m doing this is having a social media free weekend. Instead of scrolling Instagram, I’m reading. I’ve already finished one book and am on to the second!
Starting Steps: Our third annual Girls In STEM event is in February (tell a friend!) and we’re working on a new curriculum to launch our mentoring program late this year. If you felt that 2016 ended with a kick in the pants to take action, there are plenty of ways to get involved.
CHOOSE FAITH OVER FEAR
Starting Steps: I’m praying daily. And reading something from the She Reads Truth app each week to keep me focused on my faith.
Benefits of doing plank exercise
Toned tummy/ belly
Strengthen back muscles and decrease risk of injury in the back
Improves mood, become happier
Improve your posture and balance
Better bones and joint health
We will perform 5 exercise for Biceps
Exercise 1:- Barbell curl (4*10)
Stand straight with your chest up while holding a barbell at shoulder width grip.
As you breath in curl the weights forwards while contacting the biceps, keep your upper arm stationary. Continue the movement until bar is at shoulders height(your biceps are fully contracted). Slowly bring the bar down to starting position as you breath out. This will be one repetition. Perform 10 repetition to complete a set. Perform total 4 sets.
Exercise 2:- Dumbbell alternate curl (3*12)
Sit on a bench with dumbbells in each hand. Keep your arms close to your torso and your palms facing forward. This is your starting position. As you breath in curl the right arm weight up until yours biceps are contracted while keeping upper arms stationary. Continue the movement until dumbbell is at your shoulder height. Hold for a second. As you breath out slowly come to your starting position while repeating the same process with right hand. This will be one repetition. Perform 12 repetition to complete a set. Perform total 3 sets.
Exercise 3:- Ez-bar curl (3*15)
Stand up straight, your chest up while holding ez-bar at the wide outer handle.
Palm of your hands facing forward and little tilted inwards as shape of the bar.
Keep your elbow close to your torso.As you breath out curl the bar upwards while contacting the biceps, keep your upper arm stationary. Continue the movement until bar is at shoulders height(your biceps are fully contracted). Slowly bring the bar down to starting position as you breath out. This will be one repetition. Perform 15 repetition to complete a set. Perform total 3 sets.
Exercise 4:- Concentration curl (4*15)
Sit on a bench while your feet firmly placed on the floor. Place back of your upper arm on the inside of your left thigh. Keep your right hand on right thigh for stability. Now curl the weights upwards until your biceps contracts. Pause for a second.Slowly come down to your starting position.(Keep your left arm on thigh all the time throughout your movement). This will be one repetition. Perform 15 repetition.. Perform same process with your left hand to complete a set. Perform total 4 sets.
Exercise 5:- Low pulley biceps curl (3*15)
Stand straight your chest up and torso stationary, while holding a cable curl bar that is attached to a low pulley. Keep your elbow closet to torso while grabbing the bar at shoulder width. Palm of your hands facing upwards. This will be your starting position. As you breath in pull the bar upwards while keeping your upper arms stationary until your biceps contracts. Hold for a second while your biceps are fully contracted (or at shoulders height). Slowly bring bar down to starting position as you breath out. This will be one repetition. Perform 15 repetition to complete a set. Perform total 3 sets.
About a year ago, we started seriously getting our house ready to sell. We had finished the basement reno and with that added square footage, we wanted to take advantage of the spring housing market. We had one more project to tackle, the kitchen, but today we’re talking about staging your house to sell.
Knowing we were going to have a very young baby while the house was on the market, I wanted to be as prepared as possible. The housing market was hot so I knew our professional photos had to be perfect. Most home buyers these days are shopping online and we wanted as many showings as possible.
So while I was still on maternity leave, I got the house as picture perfect as we could. We were on a fast timeline so our professional photos were taken on Tuesday and the listing went live on Thursday. We had 14 showings that weekend and by Sunday, we had 4 offers. It seemed quick and a complete whirlwind, but it was our prep work that paid off.
If you are thinking about putting your house on the market this spring, here are my tips for staging to sell!
This is the toughest step and it takes the longest, so it’s crucial you do this first. Go through your stuff and donate/toss anything and everything you do not want to move. Even if you think maybe my future house will have a need for this, stop right there. If you are not completely in love with it, it goes. If you will be heartbroken without it, keep it.
There is nothing as eye-opening as packing up all your stuff to move. The sheer amount of things we accumulate is crazy. And for me, it is something I have to work really hard on. I married a minimalist. I’m a keeper. During this time, I did a lot of letting go. The usuals: clothes, paper piles, books, CDs, DVDs, etc. But I also had to let go of kitchen items we never used, craft projects I hadn’t gotten around to yet, keepsakes that held sentimental value for me but wouldn’t be part of my future, and photos that should have been tossed years before (thank you double prints from the film years!). Those ones took some time to say goodbye to. Because I’m weird.
But, I don’t miss any of it. Honestly. Instead, I’ve focused on designing our new house into a home that fits our life now. Not eventually. But it meets us where we are right now. Maybe that minimalist attitude is rubbing off on me!
DECORATE OR UNDECORATE
Analyze your decor. You need to use a really critical eye and think like a potential buyer. When possible, try to err on the side of classic, rather than trendy. But classic with a modern twist, not too dated. Easy, right?
When in doubt, do a little pinterest-surfing to see what’s in right now. We knew light and bright, with lots of gray and white would feel fresh yet classic in our old house. And it did.
The trick is to simplify. Too many knick-knacks or ugly artwork will distract a buyer from seeing the bones of your house. Same with a paint color that takes some loving. How many times have you watched a show on HGTV where the buyers focus on the wallpaper, paint color, or something incredibly easy to fix? It happens all the time. Take away the distractions and undecorate if you need.
But leave your house feeling like a home. Too empty and it will feel cold. So strive to find a balance in your decor. Bring a friend in for a second pair of eyes. Your realtor should be able to point out a few things that might need switching around too.
Experts say you need to depersonalize your house to let your buyers imagine themselves there, living in your home. We didn’t depersonalize as much as we could have, but our house isn’t covered in photos of our family. Instead, we purposely left a wedding photo and another photo of the two of us out in the main room.
I was fairly confident that our potential buyers would be looking at our home as a starter home, probably not have kids, and on the younger side. I wanted to leave photos out that would inspire a couple to see themselves in their first home. And it worked! Our buyers were an engaged couple who met in grad school, getting married this summer. Just like K and I were, many moons ago.
If you’ve decluttered, you are off to a great start. When staging your house, I recommend cleaning out your closets so they are only half full. You must emphasize storage. I cannot say that enough! Even the smallest closet can look bigger when it’s only half full.
We added shelves in our garage earlier in the year and used them to store a bunch of things from the inside closets during our showings. We also filled our suitcases – no use wasting all that space!
While emphasizing your storage areas might be trickier for you to do, it really makes a difference in staging. When we were house hunting, I opened every single closet in the houses we toured. And the ones that were overflowing were really tough to see past the clutter to the potential. It was doable but much harder.
PAY ATTENTION TO CURB APPEAL
While we were looking at houses, we did so many drive bys before even considering scheduling a showing. Most the times we were trying to get a feel for the neighborhood and whether the yard and street were even something we’d consider. Believe me, there is so much that you don’t see online! But the houses that attracted us had curb appeal.
If you are actively trying to attract buyers to your house, you have to pay attention to curb appeal! Weed your landscaping, mow the yard, add some flowers in a fun color (we chose purple to honor Prince!), and clean those windows.
Oh, and don’t forget to open your blinds or curtains! A house feels much more open and welcoming from the outside when it’s not shut off because of window treatments.
CLEAN ALL THE THINGS
Everything you’ve ever thought about cleaning and never really get around to each week (i.e. baseboards, fridge, window sills, light fixtures, windows), you need to clean. Now is the time to have a spotless house.
If you have your house on the market for a while, I know this is the toughest part. Always being ready to go in case a showing get scheduled. But doing a deep clean before your photos are taken, and before you go on the market will make the upkeep that much easier. Strangers are weird and they notice everything. Things that have faded from your mind in day to day living will suddenly be in the spotlight. You don’t want cobwebs and dust bunnies getting in the way of selling your house!
Once you do all these things, you are ready for your professional photos to be taken and ready for showings and/or an open house! You may not want to move since your house looks so damn good, but remember, you aren’t staging your house to stay. You are staging your house to sell.
What staging tips worked for you?
Not to be confused with Schweddy Balls. These are very different. And so good. We switched up Friendsgiving this year to be a mix of appetizers, drinks, and desserts, instead of a traditional sit-down turkey dinner.
I was looking for a warm appetizer to balance out the offerings. A friend of mine gave me her recipe a couple years ago and Friendsgiving seemed like the perfect time to give these another whirl. These babies are loaded with flavor, can be made gluten free, and are generally a crowd-pleaser. What’s not to love?!
Laura’s Spinach Balls
If you aren’t concerned about gluten, you can use any kind of bread crumbs. Stick a toothpick in each one and serve warm.
Well, we blinked and it’s already February. Here’s what I’m currently up to:
ANTICIPATING // Girls In STEM is next week! I love this event because it combines my full-time job with my full-time passion.
READING // Just finished Missing, Presumed and am in the middle of The Lifegiving Home. Recently, I was pretty entertained by The Assistants (a light read). And I kicked off the new year with Make It Happen.
What are you currently up to?
5 min exercise routine for home
Exercise 1:- Upper body twist (60 Seconds)
Exercise 2:- Standing Toe Touch (60 seconds)
Exercise 3:- side bend (60 Seconds).
Exercise 4:- Upper body twist arms parallel to floor(60 Seconds)
Do you ever read something and realize it’s exactly what you’ve been wanting to say? Emily’s post last week was precisely what I’ve been thinking the last couple weeks. Her words, not mine:
This time of year is about joy and cheer and merry and bright. There is so much to celebrate, so many delicious smells and cherished traditions, festive parties and happy moments. It is the most wonderful time of the year.
But the holidays also magnify heartache.
The loss of loved ones. Broken marriages. Sickness. Financial struggles. Unexpected hardships. Unrealized dreams. Fears coming true.
These things happen all year long, but it sure seems they pile up during the holidays. Heaps of sadness, heartbreak, struggle, loss come pouring down during this time of year when we should be singing merrily.
I don’t mean to be a downer. I just know there is a lot of pain underneath our glittery sequins – sometimes hidden masterfully, other times oozing out in the least expected moments.
You are not alone.
I mean, right? She nailed it. You can read her full post here.
This past week, I’ve watched my family come together after a sudden death in our extended family. I jokingly told my mother that we do funerals right in our family. And it’s true. Because all it really means is that you are there for each other, no matter what. You hug each other a little longer, pitch in to bring meals, and generally thank God for each new day together.
Last year, I poured my heart out a bit in this post. And since the sentiments are still true, I thought I’d share some of those thoughts here again: