Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Family Date Night Ideas

I feel like Reese is just now finally to the age where she can get excited about things that we plan as a family, which is super exciting for me and Matt!

We love hanging out just the four of us and keeping this time protected, intentional, and special is what it's all about.

I know it's easy to go through your day to day existence and feel like you get in a rut so I thought I'd share some of our family date ideas with you!

 *Family Picnic*
This can just as easily be done in the backyard as it can at an actual picnic spot. Don't over think it. Just take your dinner outside and eat it there. Invest in a picnic blanket (we use my quilt from my college dorm) and have it handy. Something about changing up your dinner location is just fun. Stay at home mommas, do this with your littles during the day. They will think it's the coolest thing ever.

*Ice Cream Social*
We just got the most uhhhhhh-mazing kitchen appliance from Costco! It's called the Yo-nanna. It basically turns any frozen fruit into soft serve ice cream. If you don't have something like that, let your kids pick a favorite topping that they get from the store and add it to vanilla ice cream or yogurt after supper. Let them be as creative as they want to be. Make a mess. Laugh at their combo ideas. Just let it be fun.

*Family Game Night*
Our kids are too little to play board games but we do like to play other games we make up for them. I can still remember as a kid asking my dad every single night if we could play hide and seek. He was a good sport because I think we played it a lot. Find something your kids like and offer to play it with them.

These are not groundbreaking ideas. They're just a jumping off point. But the goal in all of this is for we as the parents to get our kids hyped up and excited about the ideas we have. If we show them that we are pumped about it, more than likely they will be, too! Unless you have a teenager. I got nothin for you there. Even if it's just one night out of the week that you plan to be fun and abnormal, that will be a huge highlight for your kids. You might even end up loving it, too!

After Reese was born, Matt and I started what we called Friday Family Fun Night. Born out of a need that we had to have something at the end of the week to look forward to, our little tradition began, and it's still going strong! There's nothing fancy about what we do. It's literally just going to walk at the park, taking a quick walk thru Trader Joes to test out the samples, and then we go get Moe's to pick up dinner. Since the girls our still little, they go down when we get home and Matt and I watch Wheel of Fortune and Shark Tank while we eat our dinner. I know, we are cool. Reese loves chomping down on chips on the way home and thinks it's just the best thing ever.

I think sometimes because we don't have what we would consider awesome ideas or activities to do with our families, we just let ourselves do nothing. Just start somewhere and be willing to think outside the box. These are the years that our kids will remember for the rest of their lives. I want mine to remember some serious fun!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

I See Food Differently

It's Transformation Tuesday, yall.

In honor of everyone's favorite instagram hashtag, second only to the Sunday Selfie (Lord, help us), I decided to share a little about my journey through the Whole 30 challenge. Complete with a horrifying before and after picture that the world of social media just wasn't ready for.

So let's start with WHY I decided to do this challenge. Anyone whose had a baby knows that the further away you get from the newborn stage the less opportunity one has to blame weight on the babe. Most of my weight had come off thanks to good old fashioned nursing, eating kind sorta clean-ish, and exercising whenever it was convenient. But I still had a very pesky ten lbs hanging on and I was just over it. I knew exactly what I needed to do and it didn't include working out more so I could eat whatever. I had to clean up my eating.

Thankfully one of my sisters wanted to do the challenge with me. I would highly recommend doing this with a buddy. It's just nice to have some support in case you need someone to talk you down from what we affectionately termed a "food cliff". So we started at the beginning of March and it was the worst. Only eating fruit, vegetables, meat, nuts, and some seeds doesn't sound horrible but it kind of was when we first started.

I love food. So much. But one of the things I learned through this process is that I really love the experience that goes along with the food almost as much as the food itself. And it wasn't til about half way thru the challenge that I had a huge breakthrough...

Food is a part of the experience but it is not the experience.

I could still go out on a date with Matt, to lunch with my sister, to a Bachelor finale party, etc. without having to feel like I was missing out. Just because I was eating something different, didn't mean I had to miss the whole experience. This was big.

Another pretty crazy breakthrough was how much I actually genuinely enjoyed eating this way. I felt like I had gotten to the point that I felt a bit of torture every time I had to make a food choice. That's a lot of torture if you consider 21 meals a week (plus snacks and dessert) AND beverage choices. For instance, a typical look inside my mind on a date night with my husband used to sound something like this...

"Ok, I had chick fil a for lunch so I for sure need to get a salad. Yep, a sal-- oh shoot they have honey bbq dipping sauce that goes with those fries? Ok I'll get grilled chicken with the fries on the side. But I'll definitely get water. Water is a good choiiiiiiiiiii aw dang their sweet tea comes in a mason jar? That's so cute and southern. I love being cute and Southern. Ok I'll get the salad and a sweet tea. Maybe Matt will get fries so I can steal his."

So most of my choices ended up being more about the lesser of two evils than the best fuel I can get into my body. Now the goal is to get to the point where the largest percentage of my eating is taking up with what I call "utility meals". Basically the best I can eat at the time. Then when a special occasion comes up during the week and I want to indulge a little without derailing, I call that the "meal of choice". Bye bye guessing game.

It's ok if you're thinking "she's nuts." I do feel a little nuts but I really like it. The parameters don't make me feel trapped, they give me freedom. It's kind of like having a budget. Some people think budgets are restricting but they actually just keep you accountable, which gives you more freedom in the long run.

The way I break it down is this: 3 meals a day for 7 days is a total of 21 meals. If I have one meal as a "meal of choice" and the rest as "utility meals" then I'm still eating over 95% clean. Two meals of choice and I'm still around 90%.

This is the first time in a really long time that I haven't felt burdened by the thought of making wise food choices. I've lived too long being afraid of missing out on fun experiences but also afraid of weight gain. I am sooooo loving being free of that. How ironic that the most disciplined I've ever been in my eating is also the most free I've ever been.

The other amazing thing about this way of eating is how full I feel after meals. I am still nursing (a lot) so I was very conscious of my milk supply and wanting to make sure it didn't suffer. But even after cutting out the grains, dairy, and sugar I actually felt my supply was better.

I can't report that I lost a ridiculous amount of weight (I think at this point I'm only at 7 lbs lost) but the way I feel and the way my mindset has changed has been worth it.

It sounds super duper cliche but I feel like a different person than I did when I started. It was not an easy thing to do but I'm so glad I did it!

Here's a picture to show me on Day 1, Day 21, and day 40-ish.


If you're interested at all in learning more about the Whole 30 Challenge, check out the book "It Starts with Food". Most of the recipes I used are on my pinterest if you need ideas!

Thanks for reading and I hope you feel encouraged about how you can enjoy food more and enjoy more food.