April 22, 2014

Live Well Link-Up: April Challenge (Round Three)

It's that time of week again when we join forces to share our triumphs, tribulations, recipes and tips on all things fitness/health. At least for April anyway. May will be a new month and therefore a new challenge. I hope you're ready, because it's going to be A LOT of fun! But for now, let's relish what's left of April.





Presenting the Hostesses with the mostest:



Julia from Wine in Mom














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In just a few short weeks, we'll be heading back to my hometown for the official Bosse Family Vacation. We're renting a beach house and planning a HUGE barbecue where all of our friends and family will be mashed up in a super great way. There's so much on our "wish list" to do while we're there and of course not everything ever gets done. 

One of my top priorities however,  is how I'm going to continue with my healthy eating and exercise regimen while we're on vacation. It's so easy to just scarf and chug whatever, whenever under the guise of fully enjoying our time away. And while I'm not against that necessarily, I also don't want to undo all of the hard work that I've put in over the past few months. 

So, I'm making a plan now so that I can be proactive. Since we're driving, I've decided to pack my sandbag and possibly my smaller weight set. I also plan to load a cooler with proper snacks, not just for me but for the kids and hubs as well-that way we're not grubbing whatever gas station we happen to stop at. I'll be packing my protein mix, nuts and dried fruit. When we get to the island, I'll also stop and buy some fresh fruit and veggies to use in my green smoothies. I've got my refillable water jug so it will be easy to remain hydrated and I will definitely be packing my vitamins and fish oil. 

I'm a huge fan of the Bodyrock series. Have you heard or seen it? I highly recommend! I've downloaded the app on my phone and saved my favorite workouts so that I can kick it up a notch while I'm there. It's a great mix of cardio and strength training-HIIT. I know I'll be getting plenty of exercise in anyway, just chasing the boys around and going on little adventures around town.

Above all, is just keeping a balance. I already know that I will splurge sometimes. That I will have a few drinks or a hamburger or both. I'm not going into this military style. But there's no harm in being mindful so that I don't completely overdo it to the max. Remember, the hubs and I will be on our adult trip to the sandy shores of Mexico later in the year. Gotta look good for that too. ;)

If you're looking for a way to jump on board with healthier eating, but don't know where to start, I can bestow all of the wisdom and research I have. All you have to do is ask! For today, how about a sample daily meal plan?

This is what I eat. I stick to drinking water throughout the day and having a cup of Green Tea in the morning. (sometimes also one cup at night if I need it) 

*For breakfast, I mix the egg/egg white together and scramble it with a little garlic salt and pepper.
*I'll be posting my 5 favorite smoothie recipes on Facebook soon, so stay tuned for that!
*AND, I also have a great homemade hummus recipe that is super easy. I'll probably post that too.






What are your eating habits like right now? Any great recipes you'd like to share? Comment and let me know!

We are inviting all of you to join in our happiness project by linking up your happiness related posts. This month we are focusing on Fitness. We welcome you to link up your favorite workout routines, healthy recipes, fitness photos, or favorite work out fashion pieces, as well as any posts related to happiness. So join us, let's get happier together.





April 17, 2014

The Work of Finding Peace

Two things generally happen around 1:30 every afternoon. First, that of ensuring the boys hit the nap snooze button. I lay beside Ryland listening to his breathing slow, his tiny body relax and then I slither as carefully as possible off of the bed and stand. My ears prick for any potentially suspicious sounds coming from Landon's room downstairs. Noting silence all around, I make my way out of the bedroom and close the door behind me. 

Then I haul ass to prepare my "space." Depending on mood and energy level and whether or not I had time to eat lunch, this could mean preparing my smoothie, scrolling for my favorite radio station, grabbing a blanket, locating my computer charger or searching for my latest read (the kids hide my books sometimes). More often than not, it is a compilation of all of these things. I sit in the dining room overlooking the giant pond in the backyard or cozy up on the couch and begin my work. 

The work of finding peace.

Being the boss of my own life at the moment is pretty wonderful. I make the schedule, there is no morning/evening commute home, no random co-workers stealing my lunch from the fridge, no specific metrics to live up to each day or month and no quarterly performance reviews to sit through. Being the boss means that I can decide where I want to go, when I want to go. If it's a brilliantly blue sky, warm breeze kind of day, I can pack a picnic and head to the park or walk the zoo or sit out by the lake- no calling in "sick" necessary.

But as with every job in life, there are the downsides. I may make the master schedule, but there are times when it gets really blown off track depending on my "employees" (aka kids) moods, health or energy levels. There aren't random co-workers taking my yogurt, but there are kids fighting for a bite of my sandwich only to later chuck it on the floor in front of me (and of course, it's always when it's something really good that I didn't want to share in the first place). Something I never foresaw pre-SAHM, but the lack of specific metrics every day can be more pressure than when I did have them. Like, what defines my success level? That the kids are alive at the end of every day? Or that I didn't lose my cool and blow up at them? Or perhaps that I fed them organic and healthy vs. Cheetos and countless PB&J's? I don't know the answer. There isn't really a definable one. Some say, as long as your kids are happy. My kids would be very happy to take permanent marker to my walls and overflow the sinks and toilets. Those these things probably wouldn't measure up to success. Yes, being the boss is fantastic when the weather's perfect and everyone's generally in a good mood and I don't have to worry about calling in sick. The flip side is when I am actually sick. There is no one to bail me out or take over my work. Of course, on those days, the job is more demanding than ever. But the show must go on, right?

Despite the difficulties of the job, it is a good one. I like to think it's a noble one, though it doesn't always feel that way. It is demanding work, tiring work, sometimes even lonely work. But it is good work. Certainly, honest work. There is no pretension, no facade. I am without a doubt, the most authentic me when I'm with my kids all day.

The hour and a half or two hours in the middle of the day that bring calm and quiet... I need every last minute of it. As they are recharging, so am I. I like to think of it like halftime in the Super Bowl. The first half of the day might have been pure hell- kids screaming, me losing patience, messes everywhere like small, blazing grass fires. Everything needing to be done at once. Everything requiring my immediate attention. But then it all goes silent. Nothing seems quite so impossible anymore. Nothing seems quite as loud in my head. I can breathe, regain composure, put my thoughts together. I often give myself pep talks if it's been a challenging day; which the threes have been an every day battle of sorts. I tell myself that I am doing okay. That we're going to make it through the speed bumps. That yes, there is more patience, more love, more to give, just when I'm wondering if I'm all dried up for the day. I repeat my mantra like I wrote above, "It is demanding work, tiring work, sometimes even lonely work. But it is good work." And then they wake and I'm back in the game. Second half. Second chance to be better. 

The work of finding peace amidst the chaos is sometimes the hardest work I've ever done, but I'd like to think I'm doing a good job trying.




April 15, 2014

Live Well Link-Up: April Challenge (Round two)

I'm a little late to the game this week, but I have good reason, which I'll share below in a minute. But first, to explain the link-up. This month's challenge focuses on improving fitness/overall health. Every Monday for the month of April, we'll share posts with success stories, fitness tips, healthy recipes or anything else happiness related that focuses on that month's challenge.



And here are the hostesses with the mostest:

Julie from Wine in Mom










Make sure to head over and follow your hosts for the latest updates on challenges and other fun stuff. Without further adieu, let's get this started!

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On Thursday, I boarded a plane to California. It was something I'd always dreamed of in high school. My best friend since middle school and my older sister would pack our bags and head west just after the graduation dust had settled. Life gets in the way of the best laid plans however, and graduation came and went finding the three of us in very different places of our lives. I, for one, was living with my then boyfriend (now husband) and planning a much different escape-one that would take me West, but settle me indefinitely smack dab in the middle of the country. As you've probably figured out already, it was clearly worth it. I have a beautiful family and a sweet little life. 

When my other best friend moved to San Diego a few months ago, I was given another chance to go. This time, a much more solid plan was put into motion and with California on my mind, I kissed my boys goodbye and headed off. 





There are many people who say California is upside down and outside in and all sorts of backwards-even in banking, I heard it all the time since their financial laws differ so much from most states- but I'm not one of those people. There's something special about California. Something irresistible. 











There is so much charm. I couldn't stop using that adjective during my trip.





There is historical grandeur nestled amongst mountains and lush landscape. 






In California, the past rests comfortably in the present. You're never far away from an interesting story.




And yes, there was grunge and grime and poverty and homelessness. There were beggars on street corners and religious protestors outside the Chinese Theatre. There were at least 4 Jack Sparrow impersonators, 3 Spidermen fighting over turf, a few Disney characters and a really, really disheveled looking Superman. But even amidst the crowd of various gatherers and street performers, there was magic. There was the possibility to dream and dream big. Isn't that what people say all the time? People that risk everything and head to California in search of that dream. 








I spent 3 1/2 days trying to cram in everything that California had to offer. I didn't focus on eating perfectly. I had In 'N' Out the first night I got there. I didn't stick to my no alcohol challenge. We spent Sunday at a wine tasting. 

But the point of the challenges aren't to become a robot, focusing only on one trajectory. The challenges are about being more mindful, taking care of ourselves and others, learning more about this world and its inhabitants, loving: giving and receiving it and making the most of our precious time here. I want you to know the difference between giving yourself permission every day to overindulge and pushing the green light when you know the time is right to do so. Focusing on others' needs and still making space for your own. Spending time with family and taking a girls (or guys) weekend to relax a bit. 

After all, life is not about how well we do one thing. It's about how well we learn to balance a little of everything. 





I had fun. I laughed a lot. I smiled. I couldn't stop admiring the beauty, no matter how seemingly small. We went to a Bikram Yoga class early Friday morning and I left dripping sweat, but feeling so alive. We went to La Jolla beach and took a Polar Bear Plunge in the Pacific and it was freeing. We drank wine and ate cheese while enjoying the mountainous view stretched out before us. We even shared a hammock and read books, enjoying the peaceful silence of her backyard.





I turned 27 on Sunday and I feel like I finally came to understand some very important things about myself and the world around me. Things I'm still working on putting words to. But it feels good to at least have these thoughts floating around in my head, so it's a good start.






I don't know if Cali would have seemed as magical had it not been for my very dear friend, but I can say that it was definitely worth the wait. I don't believe that the 18 year old version of myself would have been able to fully appreciate the wonder of it all.






April 6, 2014

Live Well Link-Up: April Challenge

Today kicks off the beginning of a monthly challenge to strive for continuous improvement in ourselves and the world around us. This month's challenge focuses on improving fitness/overall health. Every Monday for the month of April, we'll share posts with success stories, fitness tips, healthy recipes or anything else happiness related that focuses on that month's challenge.





Time to meet your hosts!


Julia from Wine in Mom











Make sure to head over and follow your hosts for the latest updates on challenges and other fun stuff. Without further adieu, let's get this started!


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I experienced many life changes last year, one after the other after the other. My husband got a promotion and though this was amazing, we were only given a few months to sell our home and find a new one in our new city. It was a stressful time-lots of time on the road checking out homes and driving around town while others checked out ours. When we finally purchased and closed on our home, I thought things would finally settle down. But just a week later, my grandfather passed away unexpectedly. I dropped everything and flew halfway across the country to be with my family for the funeral. After coming back from that whirlwind trip, I had a full week in my new home before having to turn back around and fly out again for  my best friend's wedding where I was the photographer. My writing career had also begun to take off, so I was busy building and rebranding my blog and taking on freelance jobs. 

It was around this time as well that I began to feel very tired-beyond the normal realm of how tired should feel. It also seemed like my throat was always sore and swollen. During a week that the hubs was out of town, I found myself crippled and bent over my steering wheel in more pain than I'd ever experienced, in a Target parking lot while Landon asked, "Mama, are you okay? Mama!" 

At the doctor's appointment that soon followed that awful week, they found a lump in my throat. I was sent for an ultrasound and eventually sent for a biopsy. It was some scary stuff! The worst possible scenarios kept crossing through my mind. 

Then the good news: It wasn't cancer. At least, not then. I'd still have to continue going in for 6 month check-ups to make sure it stayed that way, but I felt in a way like I had dodged a bullet. 

It was the combination of the stressful changes and the health scare that really got me thinking about my overall health. How I was eating, the extra baby weight I still hadn't gotten rid of even though Ryland was a little over 6 months old at that point. I'm a huge bread and pasta person. And I have a super strong sweet tooth. I also wasn't eating a lot of vegetables and not exercising regularly. 

So I began to make small changes. Cutting out so much sugar, eating less bread, exercising a little. I've had lapses-the holidays were the worst. Lots of wine and Christmas treats, but I've slowly worked to change my overall attitude towards being healthier. I did this last month and I'd like to continue with it, so I'm continuing to cut out bread and dairy and keep sugar intake low. I'm also going to continue putting in cardio 6 days a week and doing my HIIT workouts. 

Something that really helped change my mindset and erase the excuses was reading this on a health site: 



It helps that I have three beach trips this year that keep me motivated to work towards staying in shape, but the biggest reason that I'm working towards eating cleaner and keeping healthy is that our days are never guaranteed. When I laid on that table waiting for the doctor to finish taking samples out of my tumor during that biopsy, I kept asking myself how I got there. I didn't have a perfect diet, but I didn't smoke, do drugs, drink tons of alcohol. I was moderately active. I just couldn't understand why it was happening. 

And I realized that no matter what we do or how careful we try to be, anything can happen. Of course, it certainly increases our chance of bouncing back if we're following a healthier lifestyle. I don't want to go anywhere for a looooooooooong time, so I'm going to keep myself in check. ;) 


How about you? What changes are you making this year and what spurred those changes? 







April 3, 2014

Confessions of A Sometimes Blogger

I've been blogging unofficially since December of 2010, just a few months prior to the birth of my first son. I began *officially* working on it-branding it, designing it, yada yada-since about March of last year. I bought a domain, printed business cards and attended BlogHer in Chicago. I've come a long way since the start-up, but I continue to learn every day what defines this space of mine and what doesn't.

So here are my confessions:

- I sometimes feel disheartened when I lose a follower. I know it's silly. It could be any number of things and not all of them have to do with liking me personally. Maybe they signed up for a giveaway and now the giveaway is over and they didn't really identify with my blog because we're in different life stages and so they decided to jump ship. Maybe they didn't like a particular stance I took on a controversial topic. There will be people that love what I have to write and others that don't and worrying about it is worthless. Which brings me to number 2..

- I would never change who I am or what I love to fast-track to a bigger audience. It's tempting, sure, when I see the potential for higher numbers and more money, but it's not what I'm after. I began this blog as a way to hone my writing skills and to give myself a voice in the midst of a new life journey, not to see how fast I could get to 2,000 or 10,000 "likes" through social media. 

- I have said this before on Twitter and it remains true today. I am not a "if you follow me, I'll follow you" person. If you take interest in me and my blog and decide to click "follow," that's fantastic! I am truly honored. But if you click "follow" with the sole agenda of getting a "follow" back, then you're wasting your time with me. I scope out every person that comes across my page. I check out your profile, click on your blog or business link. If it piques my interest and I like it, I'll stick around. I know this seems backwards on a social media platform, but I'm actually looking to connect with real people that I really have interest in, not just add you to a bucket of conquests. (gasp!)


I'm Jen and I approve this message. heh


- You will never be forced to read a post about grass seed or transmission fluid, unless for some reason, I take a weird interest in either of those things. I do occasionally write sponsored posts. It helps fund FUN things, like add a little cushion for vacations or spend a day out with the kids, BUT I choose carefully. Many offers come through my email, but that doesn't mean they are all for me. At the end of the day, I pick what suits my life, my blog and things I think you as the reader would like. 

- I tried creating an editorial calendar for posting every day and failed. I had a lot of great ideas and they all fit beautifully on my monthly calendar. But a post every day isn't realistic for me at this point in my life. Heck, sometimes a three times a week posting schedule can be daunting. I'm not aiming to write fluff pieces just to gain traffic. What happens then is that you stop looking forward to my posts and then I start to become a sell-out. I write when it moves me. Some weeks, I'm moved a lot. Others, maybe only once. But however often I write, I want it to be authentic. As in every other facet of my life, I'm interested in quality-not quantity. 

- On the flip side of that, I greatly admire the bloggers that block off time one day to write all their posts for the week and then schedule everything just so. I admire that they efficiently schedule their social media tweets and status updates for ads and sponsor mentions. Some are more interested in making money than always cranking out quality content and that is OKAY. There are people out there who will enjoy reading those posts and enjoy those bloggers. We come in all forms, truly.

- I don't want to be forced into a box. Many people will ask you what you blog about and many will want that answer to be concise. They will want to label you as a mommy blogger, a home design blogger, a coupon blogger, a fashion blogger, etc. But what if you kind of post about everything? You can't be all of those things. Or can you? My answer is yes. You can be whatever you want. I have begun to realize over the past few months that while I do write about parenting from time to time, I'm not a parenting blogger. While I write recipes and work on DIY projects around my house, I'm not a food blogger or a DIY blogger. What I've come to understand about my niche is that I'm not really a niche at all. Plain and simple, I'm a life blogger.  I could talk to you all day long about life. 


How about you? What are your blogger confessions?

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