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Small lifestyle changes that add up to BIG weight loss

It has been 2 full years since I started this journey. It has a been a year since I reached my goal weight loss, and I have only gone up or down 7 lbs or so in the past year.   With this victory, I wanted to share my how-to of how I kept it off. Please read some of the emotional spiritual aspects of my weight loss journey here because they go hand in hand.

 I went into loosing weight the mentality of however I lost the weight was how I was going to keep it off. With that simple idea, I choose to settle for loosing weight slowly with  permanent lifestyle changes instead of  a drastic diet that was impossible to maintain.  If it is going to be lasting change, it will TAKE A LOT OF TIME. DRASTIC and QUICK change is not lasting!

It took me SIX MONTHS to loose my first 15 pounds, and then 3 months to loose 25 more. Do not loose heart.  I was healthier at the end of the first six months than I had ever been in my life, even if I had only lost one pants size.

Health Habits:
  • Talk to your doctor. Your doctor may have a key to helping you unlock some of your motivation/weight loss issues  I have hypothyroidism. Before I addressed this issue with proper medication, I was worked out with absolutely no change in my body or energy levels. 
  • Vitamins that are specific to YOUR health needs. I am a believer in Vitamins, but I do not like multivitamins because you can be getting too much of something you are getting in your diet, or not enough of something you are deficient in . I sat down and did research and talked to professional about my personal health and what vitamins would suit my body needs.   
      • Vitamin B Complex with Vitamin C- The B vitamin helps with my energy levels connected to my thyroid problems.  The Vitamin C also helps with some of my thyroid and immune issues connected to my hypothyroidism. 
      • Vitamin D- Most women are deficiency in Vitamin D, especially pale girls like me who have to avoid the sun.  I also found this vitamin extremely helpful in combating winter blues during those dark months of November through March. 
Physical Fitness Changes:
  • Make a realistic, health-geared goal.  I knew that being a size 6 like I was in high school sounded nice, but I knew it was not something I could maintain.  I also had to not compare my body with someone else.  My friend's "fat" clothes were my goal weight, and that is OK. (ye sit stung a bit, but I had to see my own health is different than hers)  I chose my goal of getting back down to a BMI 26 (I started at BMI 33.5). I also wanted a cardiovascular health that I knew I was missing. I am sure there are size two's who may look better in jeans that I do, but don't care that they have the heart health of a 60 year old. 
  • Get up during everyday activities. Do not plan to sit every time your kids go to the park.  Chase them, go down a slide at the playground, and ride bikes with them.
  • Strenuous Exercise for 20 minutes two times a week.  I don't mean walking around the block; I mean Jillian Micheal DVD yelling at you & being covered with sweat after only 20 minutes. I know that I could not work out every day for an hour, but I could commit to this simple goal of only twice a week. 
      • Accountability Tip: I had a blank calendar on the fridge with NOTHING else written on it.  AFTER I worked out, I put the time I did on this calendar.  It had to be blank other than exercise to work, because the empty spaces would tell me very quickly if I was keeping to my very simple goal of 20 minutes two times a week
Eating Habits: 
My eating habits had been large portions eaten very quickly. I knew this had to change and it was a process with lots of little strategies to reteach my brain.
  • Small Salad Plate for every meal for the first six months.  I learned quickly that I could make healthy food, and still over eat.  Excess calories in any form, even broccoli, turn into fat.  I had to RETRAIN my brain to learn what a correct portion size was.  After about 6 months of only getting ONE helping on a small plate, I could finally trust myself to make better portion choices.
  • Slow bites, with rest between.  The brain take a full 20 minutes to register when your stomach is full.  Put your fork/spoon down on the table between each bites.  Swallow fully before picking it back up. How many of you have ever said, "OH I should not have had the last piece of pizza?" You must give your brain time to know you are full. This little strategy helped me get my brain and stomach back into clear communication.
  • No eating after 9pm.  This as a BIG  and VERY CHALLENGING change for me because I usually watch any TV shows after 9pm, a.k.a my kid's bedtimes.  Snacking while watching TV was a favorite of mine and led to many bowls of cereal eaten around 11pm:) I bought several  100 calorie snacks just in case I couldn't resist the urge to snack late at night. 

Cooking Habits: 
Most of the choices I made were not to cut something from our family's diet, but simply substitute it for a smaller portion with a  healthier twist (like real potatoes instead of boxed).  Substitution is the key to not feeling like you have to eat only salads for the rest of your life. Some of your favorite recipes can easily be remade into a healthy choice by switching out butter for olive oil, or switching our boxed for fresh.
  • No more canned vegetables or fruits.  Only fresh or Frozen. The benefit from cutting this amount of sodium from our lives was felt quickly.   The flavors alone of eating  green beans sauteed or roasted with yummy olive oil, garlic salt, and Italian seasonings got my kids to no longer fight over eating vegetables! 
  • Stop buying read meat.  Disclaimer: I am NOT anti-red meat. I will of course red meat at  restaurant or if served at a friends, but we chose to switch to ground turkey for our household.  This change has brought about better digestion for the family, which was an issue for many of our household.  When I do make the exception and buy red meat, we pay more to buy LEAN cuts because health is worth it. Make sure you are eating dark leafy greens to sub the vitamins you would get from red meat.
  • Meatless once a week.  Cutting meat from one dinner a week not only saved money on meal planning, but made me more creative in the kitchen. If we didn't want to eat spaghetti every week, then I had to find new recipes. Some of our family's favorite veggie meals are:

Ravioli Primavera (page 90 on Dinner on Dime)

 Crockpot Creamy Spinach and Tortellini Soup
 Noodles Florentine with Spinach (page 171 Dinner on a Dime)
 Spaghetti with no meat in sauce, homemade garlic bread, with big  salad
 Vegetarian Minestrone Soup with beans
Potato Soup and cornbread
Broccoli and Cheese Soup (
Macaroni and Cheese and Broccoli (
Spinach Lasagna roll-ups (
  Lentil tacos (page 86 on Dinner on a Dime)
 Grilled Cheese and  Soup
Creamy Garlic Angel Hair Pasta  with steamed California Vegetables

Hurt Teaches

As a mom of preschoolers, I would easily slip into thinking my entire job as a parent is to protect. When we have babies, we protect them so much, because they need us to stay alive! Then as toddlers & preschoolers, they actively try to kill themselves everyday by jumping down the stairs, or walking into the street. Protect, protect, protect.

But somewhere along the line, protection no longer becomes our main goal. Complete protection can become detrimental to their growth.

Recently one of my sons was crying during a consequence for being too rough with his brother. He looked at me and forcefully said, "You hurt my feelings!"

 This isn't new from him. As a recovering yelling mom, I have given my kids permission to tell me if my anger has turned to yelling. Please note that I mean out of control yelling, not the slightly raised Mom voice you occasionally need with your kids.

But as kids do, he has taken this permission and pushed it too far on many occasions. Several times before he has told us his feelings are hurt when he gets a negative consequence.

But this time, I knew I hadn't lost my temper, and he was just upset at being disciplined. His consequences included not only a loss of privileges, but he wasn't allowed to play with his brother for 20 minutes. I looked into his eyes as he cried about how sad he was about not being able to play with his best friend (his brother) and God prompted me to say,

"Sometimes the hurt feelings are the consequence."

The moment it left my mouth I knew my Heavenly Father was wanting me to hear this truth in my own heart. He had already whispered this truth to me in my own feelings, in times I have cried out to Him.

Sometimes the hurt isn't even from a choice we made ourselves, but it is no less instructive about how we proceed in the future.

Hurt teaches.

I am not talking physical hurt either, because how quick are we to tell our kids that touching the stove with make them burn? But do we stress the emotional consequences of being mean to a friend,  that their friend may not want to play with them anymore?    Do we discuss how if a friend lies to them, that feeling of betrayal then teaches them to put trust in someone else more worthy?  Do we stress how if they break the confidence of a friend, their friend then loses precious trust in them?

 It is easy to say with my head that my kids need to feel consequences of their actions, but sometimes my mama's heart revolts.  We want to protect.  We want to protect them from friends who hurt them, or from the pain of loss. Sometimes we protect them with a more selfish motivation, knowing their consequences will also effect us in some way we'd prefer not to deal with. To shield my child from consequences of his actions would be to render him powerless. He has power over his actions,  and must therefore feel their consequences.

Our role as parents is not to inflict hurt or completely shield them from it, but to help them try to understand the lesson the hurt is teaching.

Hurt teaches.

When we feel the pain of our own actions, we repent. We chose our actions more wisely the next time.  We learn the healing power of when we are forgiven.

When we feel the pain of someone else's actions, we can learn how hard it is to forgive, and how freeing it is to forgive. We learn how to choose friends wisely.  We learn how to not let bitterness take root.

Hurt teaches. LORD, help me learn the lesson it's teaching.

This a picture of my boys sitting in time-out at my in-laws Christmas Tree Farm.
Their disobedience led to them missing a fun  wagon ride to the tree fields and they were so cute while sulking that  I couldn't help but snap a picture.

EASY DIY Transformers Cakes

My goal for the twins is to always make them each their own birthday cake.  The funny and great thing about twins boys is that they usually like the same themes.  This year they both wanted a transformers cake, and we accomplished it for under $10!

Materials Needed to make stencil:
  • top of cereal box 
  • printed picture of auto-bot symbol
  • exacto knife
  • tape
Materials to decorate cake:
  • Decorating Sand Sprinkles
  • icing & food coloring
  • cake mix plus ingredients on box

1.  Print Auto bot Symbol to needed size.  I was using 2 small 9 inch round pans so printed a half  page picture.
Click on image, then download.

2.  Tape to brown side of cereal box.  Cut out with exacto knife. I cut paper first, then cardboard. Make sure to have a cutting surface underneath your picture so you don't damage your table.

3. After cutting out picture, set stencil aside.  Bake cake and ice with color of your choice. I used food coloring in white icing.

4. Let icing dry and harden in fridge for a few hours so the icing won't stick to the stencil.  Once icing is not sticky, place stencil on cake and sprinkle decorating sand.  Pat sand gently before lifting stencil.