Saying Yes

YES

There are many articles, books, and blog posts about boundaries and the importance of  confidently saying NO. Whether its because you have let people take advantage of you, have no time to yourself, or have piled your plate too high, learning to say no is a sought after skill for some. And then there’s me (and I’m sure others too), who have a tough time saying YES.

I’ve always struggled with my inner voice when presented with opportunities to meet with others, or attend events.  According to many online quizzes my personality lies somewhere in between extrovert and introvert, which makes me an ambivert according to the dictionary. This poses a problem when I’m invited to leave my home for an occasion. On one hand, I thrive from social interaction! I love connecting with other humans and I enjoy being out and about, discovering and exploring. Yet, when an opportunity arises to leave my cozy home, I feel the task of finding something to wear, washing my hair, and all that it entails to get myself out the door begin to weigh on me. And then, I begin searching for the excuses to stay in my safe cocoon.

Not only do I struggle with my desire to never leave my house, but I also have to fight with the fear of rejection that comes with my social anxiety. As easy as it is for me to converse with others, and as much as I enjoy it, I have these moments of panic where I don’t believe I will be liked, or that I’ll make a fool of myself. Maybe someone will notice that I am highly uneducated, and that my thoughts, opinions, and feelings have no worth. Pretty terrible, right? The good news is, the older I get the more comfortable I am with myself, and these thoughts are beginning to fade, and hopefully one day they’ll disappear completely.

A lot has changed since I wrote about my endeavors of searching for a friend in our new town. In the last month and a half I have met new friends for coffee, lunch, and drinks (not all at once!) I’ve attended events and gatherings and made connections. Its been amazing. As I contemplated what has changed between then and now, I realized that I had added a word to my vocabulary that I wasn’t very good at saying before: YES. Not only have I been accepting invitations, but I’ve been actively searching out opportunities to meet others and pursue friendships and connections.

Saying YES has been truly momentous. Saying YES has taken courage. I’ve gone from yearning for connection, to looking at the calendar and contemplating how I am going to fit everything in that I desire to do. (But don’t fret, I’m still really good at saying NO and maintaining my boundaries.) Meeting up with new friends has given me opportunities to grow, network, and feel more confident in pursuing my passions. I’ve also discovered that the Columbus, OH area is full of really awesome folks that are kind, down to earth, giving, and genuinely inclusive. I feel like when I finally allowed myself to be vulnerable, to open myself up to opportunity, to say YES, I found that there are plenty of souls out there willing to meet me where I’m at.

*Shout out to Bumble BFF and my new friend Erin, for giving me the opportunity to say my first YES.*

I <3 Ello Products

If I ask my husband about my cup collection, he’ll roll his eyes and beg me to stop buying more. See, I like pretty cups, mugs, and water bottles. I can’t help it. I am always trying to stay hydrated and I really, really enjoy coffee and tea. So I can’t say that my addiction is going to get under control any time soon. Sorry babe!

I bought my first Ello mug ( the Cole) about 2 years ago. I found it in the clearance section at Target. Side note: am I the only one that goes to Target to only shop the clearance end caps? I can always find such amazing deals on random odds and ends! There, mixed in with random bags of gold paperclips and sitting next to an iced tea machine is this adorable travel mug. I pick it up and see that its stainless steel, vacuum insulated and promises to keep my coffee hot for up to 6 hours or my iced tea cold for up to 24. And! Leak proof, which is a no-brainer for my tendency to spill all things.  Not only was it exceptionally fucolenctional, but it was incredibly stylish too! I loved everything about it.Its my go-to gift for friends and family. And, after two years of consistent use and being  ran through the dishwasher its holding up well, which speaks to the quality.

Along with all the brands I adore, I lovingly stalk Ello products Instagram. Fan girl much? I have tagged them in all my pretty shots of my Cole travel mug and I’m always complimenting their new stylish products. They must have caught on to my obsession because they graciously offered to send me some of their new products to sample. So, full disclosure, I am not being paid for this “review’, but I did receive some merchandise to check out for free.

My favorite of all four products they sent to me is the Campy travel mug:

The functionality of this mug is very similar to my original Cole purchase. Its stainless steel, vacuum insulated, and keeps beverages cold or hot for an extended period of time. I love the teal color of the mug and the vintage camp style, and it looks like it also comes in blue, and grey.  It has a lid that closes up tight creating a leak proof seal, hallelujah! I also love the cork lined handle which adds a little style and feels great in my hand. Its a perfect on the go mug. I love that I can leave it in my car while I run around town, and every time I come back and take a sip its as hot as when I poured it!

The Mesa travel mug made me smile when I picked it up:

I dubbed this as my tea mug. Instead of stainless steel, the Mesa is composed of ceramic and is double wall insulated. The reason I like using this for tea is because I typically finish my tea much quicker than I do my coffee. Although it is much more insulated than your average ceramic mug, it doesn’t hold the heat quite as well as the Cole or Campy. Its perfect for my mornings, running around the house getting myself and my youngest son ready for the day. It isn’t leak proof, but the lid has a nice tight seal that definitely helps to avoid splashing. I love the way the textured base feels in my hands and I was happy to discover you can use it in the microwave! Overall this is a great mug and would make a great gift paired with your favorite tea.

The perfect solution to my need of a solid gym water bottle is the Chi:

As much as I like to limit my use of plastic, I get tired of carrying the clunky glass or stainless steel bottles around the gym. I was happy to pickup the Ello Chi and find that it was made of plastic. I do want to note that all the plastic parts on any of the Ello Products merchandise are Certified BPA-free, phthalates-free, PVC-free, lead-free, and cadmium-free. The Chi is a large bottle (24oz) but not so big that its uncomfortable to hold. The lid closes tight and has a one handed push button to open. The soft silicone spout is one of my favorite features. Just imagine running on the treadmill, reaching for your water and putting it to your mouth only to smack your teeth on a hard spout. It makes reaching for a sip while flailing around a little safer! The lid also has a lock mechanism that allows you to toss it in your gym bag or purse without worry of accidentally hitting the button to open the lid. I love the bright coral color of this bottle, and it looks like it also comes in pink, teal, and grey.

Last but not least, let me share with you the Devon:

The Devon is a 20oz glass tumbler with a comfy silicone sleeve. This is my favorite cup to use at home. I use it for water, smoothies, or any iced beverage that deserves to be sipped with a straw. I love the stylish wooden top with the silicone seal that helps avoid spills. Its easy to clean and I appreciate the wide mouth so that I can toss in ice cubes or pour in my smoothies with ease. Its a great tumbler and I just might have to get a couple more in the different colors offered ( coral, blue, and teal.)

Overall, the reason I am drawn to Ello Products is their attention to detail. They pay mind to functionality without losing style. Each of their products stand out on their own and offer unique flair, making sipping your coffee, staying hydrated, or drinking your morning smoothie much more enjoyable.

Go pick out your own Ello Product to fit your needs or grab a gift for someone you love! You can shop directly on their website here.  Or find them at Amazon or Target.

Facing the Mirror

I can look at you, any of you, and see your beauty. Your worth. The wonderful attributes, inside and out, that make you, you. But when turning to the mirror I wince, criticize, and insult the “mess” in front of me.

My journey to wellness began with healthy intentions. I wanted to regain my athleticism. I wanted to stop waking up feeling nauseous and sick. I desired energy. Was part of this process going to be losing weight? Yes! But I knew that the cycle of negative talk within me needed to stop and I didn’t want weightloss to be my main focus.

As the scale began to drop I started to hear those voices again. I started to compare my body to the beauties on social media and TV. Why was I ignoring all the progress I was making, the amazing way I felt, the strength I was building?

I thought to myself: what if this is it? What if this is where my body stops changing? What if no matter how strong I get, or how nutritiously I eat, not one more thing on my body moves? Will the self-loathing stop? In that moment, I had my answer. I needed to learn how to love myself in whatever body I was currently residing in. I am worthy of love, no matter what my reflection shows.

The last few weeks I’ve felt the need to begin the healing in this area in my life. Because I can’t bear to think, that ten years from now I’m still standing in front of the mirror hating what I see. I hope that you can join me, in working on quieting that negative self talk and opening the door to the voice that lifts you up, confirms your worth and celebrates your beauty inside and out.

Breaking the Cycle

“It’s not a diet, it’s a lifestyle change!” Cue eye roll. I bet you’ve heard that, or if you’re like me you’ve said it a few times yourself. It’s a phrase that is over used and becoming quite cliché these days.

This past week was wonderful. One of my best friends from California came to visit for a week. It was great having her here and I’m so happy we had that time.

Before she came I had made a decision to be flexible with my nutrition while she was visiting. This was a constant struggle for me emotionally and I found myself questioning my choices at every bite.

In the past I was either on a diet or off a diet. There wasn’t a constant. Going off the diet meant giving up, it meant failing. It was a terrible cycle that I was playing over and over. Living through that roller coaster created emotional issues that I am now having to deal with.

I learned very soon after I lost 50+ pounds, that eating 800-1200 calories a day was not sustainable or healthy. I thought I was making a lifestyle change, but in reality I was just setting myself up for more hurt and struggle. Sure I dropped weight fast, but the moment I stopped dieting the weight came back. I didn’t know how to eat or live in a healthy, long term way.

But I’m learning now! And I’ve reached a point where I feel like I finally “get it.” The changes I’ve made to feed my body nutritionally instead of emotionally are sustainable. The transformation within my body is slow and steady, as it should be. If I want to reach my goals and maintain them I need to make these transitions gradually and naturally. There will be celebrations, and vacations, and moments when I want to eat a cookie. And I can, because thats life. It’s not cheating on my diet. It’s living. The guilt and shame still bubble up and try to weigh me down. But I have to fight those feelings of failure and move on, continuing to treat my body with love and care, and acceptance.

Waking up today, I’m putting one foot in front of the other and falling back into the routines and habits I’ve worked hard to create. I’m giving myself room to not be perfect and making sure my decisions are mindful, healthy, and bring me joy. I love the way I feel when I have that balance back into my life, but I’m also okay with taking a break. Whether it’s a week long vacation or one night out, I can let my mind relax, and eat a piece of pizza without feeling ashamed of myself. That’s my freedom. That’s me breaking the cycle.

Hi there, wanna be friends?

img_1977We’re past the six month mark as newbies in Ohio. Life is fun. There are seasons, and snow, and really enthusiastic college football fans. We’ve grown closer as a family, which I have enjoyed. We’ve began new hobbies and traveled to surrounding states. I can’t complain…too much. But, there is one little spot in my life and heart that is missing. Good girlfriends.

Shout out to all my bffs back in California. You’ll always have my heart. And no one can ever replace the years of love and friendship I have for all y’all. But Mama’s a bit lonely.

This is an interesting stage in life to be making new friends. And I’m not talking acquaintances that you see occasionally. I’m wanting to find that gal pal that calls you up last minute for a glass a wine, a shoulder to cry on, or just a night of shenanigans out on the town. I need a girlfriend that will shop every aisle of Target with me and walk out without buying a thing. Someone to share in life’s ups and downs, laugh until we cry, and encourage each other in our goals and dreams.

So what’s the problem? Most ladies in my age and stage already have that someone. I’m late to the game!

Finding a friend is a little like dating.. maybe worse. I may meet someone at Marshalls in the shoe aisles and start up a conversation about the lack of benches to try shoes on. We laugh and make more small chit chat that leads into other conversations. And in my head I’m thinking “gee, this gal is nice, and funny, and seems like someone I could hang out with.” But what’s the next step? “Hey, um, you don’t happen to be friend-single, eh? I’m in the market for a bff, and you seem awesome, wanna go out sometime?” So awkward. There’s no smooth way to do this, and good luck not sounding desperate.

How do I even begin this process with out seeming like a crazy woman? As much as it would be nice if this all happened naturally, the odds are unlikely. Because, as I noted above, most ladies aren’t in the market for new bffs. So even though all the ladies I’ve met so far are lovely and friendly, I have not been pursued, and I feel too weird doing the pursuing myself.

I’ve even dipped my toes into the Tinder type apps for making friends (yes they exist.) The concept is nice, especially for ladies in my position, but so far they’ve fallen short. Conversation tends to get dry and most gals didn’t seem like they wanted to take the next step and meet up in person.

So, here I wait, and hope, and try not to seem like a creeper as I continue to strike up conversations with strangers at the gym, grocery store, and Target. And ladies, if you’re reading this in the Columbus OH area, and you are in the market for a bff, or have a space in your current tribe, I’m your gal. Let’s go sing Karaoke, binge watch Netflix in our pajamas, and obsess over how many squats it will take to burn off the cookie we just ate.

I drank the orange Kool-Aid

I wanted to start this post by talking about the never-ending pursuit of health that our society is obsessed with, and the implications that theme has on our lives. But as I tried to get my thoughts out, the words felt empty and lacked authenticity. Lets be real, I’m not here to educate you, or to point out the obvious. I want to write from a place of honesty and experience. So I’m going to do just that…

Since I’ve been an adult I have struggled with finding my groove in the fitness world. Being fit and feeling strong is something I have always desired. I like pushing myself. I enjoy a little healthy competition with myself or others. Yet, the last time I really felt that drive was when I played field hockey in high school.

Over the years, I’ve tried several avenues to reach my goals. A few different gym memberships, fitness videos, jogging in the neighborhood, I even attempted to follow all kinds of routines that you can find on Pinterest. You know what all of those pursuits of fitness have in common? I quit every single one of them. I never participated consistently and I never followed through long enough to see results. As soon as I created a plan or routine for myself I dreaded the activity. I didn’t look forward to working out, I found zero joy. And this frustrated me! I had the desire, but I lacked the motivation, or even the pleasure of working towards a goal. How was I supposed to create the lifestyle I wanted when I hated doing the very thing that could get me there?

When I first heard about Orange Theory, we were living in California, where our lives were consumed with trying to stay afloat financially. There was definitely no room in the budget for another gym membership and even though the concept sounded enticing, I know my husband would not be happy at more money wasted on another failed attempt.

Moving to Ohio changed our situation a lot. When I saw the signs of an Orange Theory going in at our local grocery shop center I squealed with joy. I immediately told my husband my intentions to join. And man that was a long wait for me, when I was ready to start now!  We moved in to our home in July and it wasn’t long until I discovered the news of the gym going in, and eventually found out that it wouldn’t be opening until October. It seemed like a lifetime, but it was well worth the wait.

My first class was mildly confusing, and a little overwhelming, but overall I had a feeling that this was exactly what I needed. Orange Theory Fitness is a heart-rate based workout system in a class environment. There is one coach who leads the whole group and tells you exactly what to do, when, and how to do it. Every class uses a mixture of rowing machines, strength training, and the treadmill. Its high energy, exciting, and fun. If you’re not familiar with Orange Theory you can learn more here.

I’ve been attending classes 4-5 times a week for over a month now. There is an incredible difference in how I feel about Orange Theory, my attitude, and my motivation, compared to the methods I have tried in the past. I’ve got a passion for working out that I have never experienced. I have not once felt like I was forcing myself to stick to some routine so that I could reach some seemingly unattainable goal. I never dread my classes. For my personality, this concept works perfectly. I don’t have to dig down deep to find the motivation because the enthusiasm I have for Orange Theory is genuine, and not fleeting. I was able to start these classes at a state of pure out-of-shapeness, and after a month I am already hitting goals I didn’t even know I had.

The cherry on the top? I bet you’re thinking its the 12 pounds I’ve lost since joining! While that’s great, and definitely needed, it’s just the frosting. My husband, the man that I’ve been begging to join me for years in all my quests of getting in shape, joined with me. And, although I can rarely get him to admit it, he loves it. Its been a great way for us to connect and cheer each other on. I’m so grateful he took a chance and tried it out.

Although this all might sound like a sales pitch for Orange Theory, I promise its not. I firmly believe that the concept would be a great solution for many people searching for that “thing”, I do. But, what I’ve learned through this process is that if you are pursuing goals of any kind, make sure your methods are something you can find passion in. I never found success because I was forcing myself to do things I didn’t love to do. I have goals, I always will, but I found something I love doing to reach those goals. Its changed everything for me.

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From a power-walker to a solid jogger 😉

Don’t take my Avocados!

A few years ago I did my first Whole 30. (30 days of eliminating all grains, dairy, legumes, sugar, and alcohol). I chose to do it to hopefully drop some weight and also get some relief from my digestive issues. I’ve known, since I was a teenager, that dairy was a problem for me. I cut out milk and felt a lot better. But it wasn’t life threatening. I still ate cheese and wasn’t particular about dairy ingredients. I’d never truly cut out gluten until Whole 30 though. I got through the 30 days and felt great, lost 14lbs, reduced digestive issues and bloat. As I brought back in the things I cut out, I noticed that gluten and dairy were definitely ingredients that made me feel ill. It was a great experience and I walked away grateful to know how my body would react to certain foods.

Here we are in present day and as much as I learned with Whole 30 I didn’t really implement that knowledge regularly. I went through ups and downs of sticking to watching what I eat to not caring and eating whatever I wanted.

A couple months ago I began to experience some digestive pain (some so severe I ended up in the ER..twice). After many doctors appointments, scans, and an endoscopy I was finally given a diagnosis. I suffer from a condition called Eosinophilic Esophagitis, EOE for short. My non-professional description of this chronic disease is: certain foods, when eaten, cause an allergy immune response that sends white blood cells (eosinophils) to the esophagus and cause swelling and inflammation. When this inflammation continues to happen, scar tissue can form, and the esophagus can narrow. In turn, this can initiate problems with swallowing, and even cause food to get stuck.

All of this was overwhelming to me. I wanted to be in denial, but I couldn’t ignore my symptoms and the way I was feeling. I swiftly realized that gluten, and dairy were playing the star roles as my main triggers. The part that has been hard has been realizing that I no longer had a choice. My body was making the decision for me. I’m not in control. I had to take a couple days to emotionally come to terms with the loss. As silly as it sounds I had to grieve my freedom.

I realize this isn’t a death sentence and there is a lot worse that people live with. And in reality I am lucky my symptoms are fairly mild. At this point my esophagus hasn’t shown signs of damage and I don’t have trouble swallowing. Just the occasional annoyance of the sensation caused by inflammation. I see an allergist on Monday to do testing and determine if there is anything else I can cut out. Let’s all hope I don’t lose something drastic like eggs or almonds, or avocados :::gasp:::, those foods are my life source.

I love food! I love cooking— I love eating! I am finding new foods to enjoy, and learning how to keep my tastebuds happy. And, I hope someday I can get to a point of remission, where a little flexibility is an option. But, for now I’m trying to heal and restore my amazing body. I may have lost my choice in how I eat, but I’m grateful for everything else that is working correctly and I’m lucky to be living!

Monday, Monday

 

I don’t feel like I’m a “wake up on the wrong side of the bed” type person. I’m pretty angry in the morning no matter what side of the bed I roll out of. Eventually, the demonic possession releases me and I can move on with my day. Today was no different, or so I thought. I groggily awakened when my husbands alarm went off. Then, resorted to playing a few games of Candy Crush on my phone while my husband showered. In due course, I flung myself out of bed when it was my turn in the bathroom.

Now, since I began my weight loss journey about a month ago, Monday’s have become my official weigh in days. It’s not a bad way to start the week when you see the fruits of your hard work. This requires a specific routine that I won’t explicitly explain, but basically I do my “business” and step on to the scale after I disrobe. Let me preface this by telling you that I’ve worked my tush off this past week. I went to five Orange Theory fitness workouts and carefully logged my nutrition to stay within a caloric deficit. But my body likes to betray me, and this morning, it slapped me in the face by showing a 1lb gain. And I’ll stop you before you say it..it’s most likely water weight, muscle gain, or simply a hormonal fluctuation, I’ve heard it all. You can tell me all the reasons it’s fine and to keep on keeping on, but it still stings.

My morning continued to bring on the fun as I attempted to shower and get ready while simultaneously getting my 6 year old ready for school. See, I normally don’t shower until after my 10:30am workout, but I had a doctors appointment today to get the results of my sleep study test and undoubtedly be outfitted with the couture sleep accessory known as a CPAP machine, so I can stop causing brain damage every time I snooze. To match the theme of the day my hair decided to be rebellious and I gave up after 10 minutes and settled for a messy bun. After the child was dropped off at school I headed across town to get the good news I’m sure was waiting for me with the doctor.

As I reached the office, an old man entered in just ahead of me and when I heard the receptionist ask for his photo ID and insurance card I felt the dread wash over me.  I had left my main wallet at home with all my identification. I attempted to disclose this to the lady behind the desk, but she interrupted me to say that my appointment was for tomorrow, not today. I was a day early. “You’re kidding”, I chuckled. But alas, she was telling the truth. This is when I began to embrace the fact that this day was not going to run smoothly, or look pretty. I’m just hoping that I can keep my two feet on the treadmill at the gym tonight. Pray for me.