Since March.

What’s up friends?  Whoa!  Where to begin, where to begin??  But really, where?

So, it’s been since the world changed in March that I’ve written anything here.  I had to reset my password just to get into my darn blog because I haven’t used this laptop since the end of March.  Ha!

Today I wanted to write a “catch up” post, a brain dump, tell a whole bunch of random stories and just get a little creative.  I know it sounds weird, but I have to have some kind of creative outlet, or I feel like I could scream at someone.  Also weird, I get most of my ideas and inspiration while I’m on the treadmill for an hour every day.  Unfortunately, as soon as my time on the treadmill is over, so is my “me” time.  Dinner, laundry, homework, vitamins (listen, there’s a lot these days), showers and wiping out lunchboxes, spraying backpacks and picking out outfits with matching masks (I never imagined this would be a thing) takes first priority.  Suddenly it’s 10 and I’m just sitting down for the evening.

So let us chat, shall we?  So how have the last 6 months been for everyone?  Let me share with you what a little of mine has felt like.

Currently, I’m sitting in my favorite place.  Our deck, watching the sun set.  I’ve finally had the time to embrace nature a bit more.  It sounds corny, but I love it.  I planted what I call a “city girl” garden, aka a raised garden that Brock built for me.  I also updated our deck since I spend so much time out there now.  New area rug, new umbrella, some cute lights…you get the picture.  Of course, spending so much time outside makes you realize what all needs to be done, since it had about 4 years of neglect due to travel baseball every spring and summer.   So we sanded and painted our fence, added new window screens, cleaned the gutters out and completely re-mulched our front flower beds after putting new edging down.  Now I would love some new furniture and to add on to our deck a bit.  The projects never end–haha.

I’m outside everyday.  I loved being outside before all this “shelter in place” stuff, whenever possible, but now I make an effort to be out every day; morning and night (even if it requires a sweatshirt).  My mom and I found an old bird feeder pole my grandpa made about 25 years ago and I hung bird houses and bird feeders up.  Every weekend I sit outside before the kids are up and just listen to the birds and drink my coffee.  Before COVID, my methods of relaxing were weekly therapy sessions between running a gazillion errands. working full time, trying to work Rodan & Fields part time, blogging part time and basically being a full time taxi to kids who need to get to a practice or game.  Now, it’s sitting on my deck or front porch, with a good book, alongside the occasional virtual therapy appointment.  I stopped selling Rodan & Fields, since I constantly felt like I was a pain in everyone’s behind.  I THOUGHT I would be blogging more, honestly.  Obviously that hasn’t happened, which surprises me a little.  I’m still working full time, just remotely, which has brought my anxiety level down to super low.  In fact, I actually find myself working more hours since I’m home.

Alright, so here are some random things I’ve learned in the past 6 months of weathering a global pandemic:

–Having a good view is a must for our next house.  I need at least a half an acre yard, where I cannot hear my neighbor’s phone conversations or listen to their yappy dogs bark at random objects all day long.  I need some mature trees and room to actually have some landscaping without things looking cluttered.

–I need to expand my “casual” wardrobe.  Even working from home, I get up every morning, put makeup on, put cute jewelry on and do something with my hair (by doing something with my hair, it basically means I brush it and put it up in a high pony or bun).  #zoommeetingready.  I found/still find myself running out of t-shirts and workout clothes.  I don’t own one single pair of sweatpants, and I probably won’t ever, but, I definitely needed some more casual shirt options.  So instead of buying a new purse or cute boots at the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale this year, I was buying Madewell t-shirts.  Also, does anyone else feel like they just can’t pull off a “casual” look correctly?  I’m actually jealous of people that can throw t-shirts and shorts on and look “put together” still.  Same goes with workout clothes….I end up looking like I don’t belong haha.

–The concept of “if I ever worked from home everyday, I would eat so much healthier”, SOUNDS great, but doesn’t really end up happening all the time.  I’ve said for years if I were home working all day, I wouldn’t have an excuse to eat junk.  I’d be near a fridge and microwave and be able to really put something super healthy together for every meal.  Turns out, that’s only partially true in my case.  I eat a super healthy breakfast and I’ve been trying to eat around 10-1030 or so, to kinda sorta try intermittent fasting and give my body a chance to burn up a little from the previous day.  I also usually eat a salad or protein power bowl for lunch, and throw in a snack here and there that is either protein packed or low in sugar –like the sugar free Outshine bars (RUN to the store and grab them!!!) or cashews, almonds or a South Beach Diet chocolate shake.  It all falls downhill after dinner.  What I have for dinner is always healthy, BUT I’ve fallen into the 10 o’clock snack/binge trap.  Yup, it blows.  I usually grab popcorn or almonds or crackers and almond butter.  You better believe I’m eating more than one portion too.  Have I mentioned it sucks?  I have issues with food and honestly, until I get my late night snacking under control, I have no chance of losing weight.  And that’s all I’ve got to say about that.

–Rachel Hollis ended up being a complete disappointment.  The girl I accredit to helping me figure out how to handle anxiety and panic attacks better, is also the girl that turned out to be someone I can no longer believe.  Thank goodness I NEVER followed her for relationship advice.  I can only imagine how mad those followers were.  Someone got, in the words of the Sowards elders, “too big for her britches”.

–Julianne Hough got weird.  And, also disappointed me….not that she cares what I think or anything–haha.  Kinrgy went to her head apparently and the voodoo-like “healing and empowerment” took over.  She was one of my faves and always someone I looked up to in the entertainment industry.  She’s recently toned things down a bit, so I’m crossing my fingers she lands back on planet Earth soon.

–Sending the kids back to school in August was scary.  I’m sure you all can imagine it was scary enough to me, having contamination OCD, sending the kids back to their petri dish; I mean school, during a pandemic.  I felt this weird pressure like it was something I had to do or my kids would suffer.  It felt like peer pressure and I didn’t like it.  It definitely made me feel uncomfortable and emotional, but now being a month in, I’m glad we chose to send them back.  All things considered, they are LOVING this year so far and doing really well.

–Navigating sports during this time has been interesting.  Signing the COVID waiver for Brayden’s travel baseball team in mid-May when things were still pretty bad, was a little nerve wracking, but I had already made up my mind that if baseball were to continue, then Brayden was playing.  He had a new team with new friends and a great coach that was going to be exciting to watch.  Plus he needed his own outlet to relieve stress and get that handful of hours on a weekend to feel some normalcy.  Since baseball is very low contact, and played outside and during the summer, I figured there wouldn’t be a better sport to play during this trial and error kind of time than baseball.  Mason was getting ready to start his second year of t-ball before all this madness hit.  I honestly didn’t know, since it was a local rec league, if they would continue to play their season out or not.  They ended up playing, with a June start, and it ended up being very enjoyable with a lot fewer rain-outs considering they played a June-July season instead of April-May season.  Again, similar to Brayden’s situation, it gave Mason a few hours a week to be with friends and get that socialization he needed and wanted so badly.

–I’m a little jealous of all the people in the world that can dance and edit videos so well on Tik Tok.  I have an account and basically every time I log on, I get sucked in by Jason DeRulo, Derek Hough and Twitch.  The dancing…..I’m so jealous.  I tried to get Brayden to teach me a dance, but he told me I was lame and then I realized he isn’t the best at it either. haha!  Sometimes I laugh because I see these people basically doing glorified hand gestures, but then I see people like Gabby Douglass do these same dances while doing a handstand.  I mean, I’m here for it.

–I found my love of reading again.  I swear, I have not read this many books since elementary school when I was the “Book It” queen of Mrs. Terry’s class.  I’m a HUGE fan of reading books that are based in the summertime, usually on an island, the coast or in the Carolina’s.  I had already read every Nicholas Sparks book (they were all based out of NC), so I decided to start reading Elin Hilderbrand books.  I had previously read 2 of her books last year when we were in Florida and I really liked them.  Most of her books are set on Nantucket, which still gives me that summery/cottage-like type of vibe I love reading about so much.  Honestly, I think I’ve read 10 of her books since April, I’m not even kidding.  I’m so excited she has a new one coming out in a few weeks.  I mean, who have I become?  The girl that’s excited about a book dropping??  What?  It’s fine, I’m embracing it. 🙂

–Decorating is fantastic and I’m in love with it.  This is a good thing and a bad thing.  Mainly a bad thing for Brock because he can MAKE basically whatever I want when it comes to furniture or changing the look of an entire room with beams, shiplap and wainscoting.  A good thing because when I see changes happen, I am the happiest person on Earth.  There’s nothing like a good before and after!  I’m trying to turn our house into a cottage.  Yes, we live smack dab in the middle of a neighborhood, but the INSIDE can look the part, right?  If only I was given unlimited funds, I would have our entire house exactly like I wanted it, in less than a month.  How fun would that be?  To just go 100%, all in!?

–I want to take this moment right now and thank the heavens above for Chase Stokes (John B!!!!) and the rest of the Outer Banks cast.  Also, the entire Sweet Magnolias cast.  These two shows are the only new shows I have been obsessed with and almost cried when they ended!  Fun fact, the producers of Outer Banks opted NOT to shoot on location in the Outer Banks, even though Wilmington (the film production capital of the East) was right down the coast, because they were pissed about a few political matters in NC.  All of season 1 was shot near Charleston, SC.  The cast just started shooting season 2 a week or so ago, and they are actually in NC this season. Other than Outer Banks and Sweet Magnolias, our tried and true Yellowstone was back after what seemed like 6 years.  Yellowstone is ah-mazing (everyone needs some John Dutton, aka Kevin Costner, in their lives..trust me on this) and it’s cruel that we have to wait until next June for season 3.  I typically don’t watch much TV on a regular basis, but those 3 shows and occasionally some Real Housewives of Beverly Hills were favorites this summer.

–I want a boat.  That-is-all.

We’ve definitely had to change up how we do things, but made the best of it.  Instead of a 40th birthday party in Chicago for Brock, we spent a day on the lake with close friends.  Instead of a family vacation in late May to my most favorite place on earth (NC), we…oh wait.  No, that still sucks no matter how you look at it.  We have celebrated birthday’s at home instead of at a venue, we’ve called in a lot of curbside instead of eating at restaurants and celebrated a lot of holidays without extended family.  And oh yea, my nephew Grayson was born March 1st and I’ve still yet to meet the cute little nugget.  This too shall pass.  It may not pass by December 31st, but it will pass.

If I could pass on some friendly advice from talking to and seeing people handle (or not handle) this troublesome time, I would say this:  Be kind.  Don’t complain.  Help when you can (safely).  Understand that things may not go as planned and be ok with it ahead of time.  Stop saying a real virus is a hoax when countless doctors and nurses witness what its done everyday.  While we’re at it, the Government is not trying to control anyone….they have access to anything they want from anyone at anytime already.  And while there are always politics involved at some level for everything in life, Coronavirus will not magically disappear on November 5th; sorry to have to be the bearer of bad news.

Let’s all do our part.  Protect our loved ones, do what we can to make the situation bearable and keep moving forward.  I’ll say it again for the people in the back….remember, this too shall pass.

I hope you all have enjoyed my random, brain dump of a post :).

Stay healthy and safe!

Xoxoxox

Mary

How COVID-19 Affects Someone with Contamination OCD

Yes, it’s another post that references Coronavirus.  I know it’s annoying since it’s all that we are currently hearing about, but please keep reading.  I promise to have a different perspective.

So many people have asked me recently how I’m handling all of this, knowing I have contamination OCD.  Gosh, I love them.  I love that I’ve created an open space for discussion around the topic by not being ashamed to talk about OCD.

In short.  I don’t even know what the hell to think.  I honestly never thought I would have to live through something like this in my lifetime.  I didn’t see it coming.  I thought it was honestly going to be like the Ebola scare we had in 2014.  It was able to get to a few places, but it was nipped and gone within a few weeks.  I guess that is what I get for being a little naive when it comes to our government, or when it comes to people being smart and proactive.  To be completely honest, BEFORE the scare came to the US, I was taking weekly hypnosis sessions with Tim Shurr at Indy Hypnosis (he’s AMAZING by the way) to conquer my contamination OCD.  I had gotten through 3 weeks before there was a case of COVID-19 confirmed in Indy.  I noticed it was helping me so much to really separate the compulsive thoughts from realistic thought.  I was genuinely feeling so much relief, getting better sleep, working out again and trying to eat less and then BOOM…..Indy has a confirmed case of COVID-19.  Not Northern Indiana, not Southern Indiana….Indianapolis, 15 minutes from our home.  Though, I did hear it was a case on the North side of Indy, so I’ll say 35 minutes from our home.  It shocked me.  I don’t know why it shocked me, but it did.  That was last Friday, March 6th.  That evening a report was on Fox 59’s website that a Hendricks Co woman had all the symptoms and was trying to get tested and no one would test her.  That kinda brought it much closer to home for me and I honestly started to think about what would happen if it ACTUALLY came to Hendricks Co (where we live).  I didn’t even really get the chance to process most of it before Sunday morning there WAS an actual case confirmed, followed by another positive case Sunday night.  These confirmed cases were in a town about 5 miles from our house.  I was SHOCKED and scared and unsure what the heck to do.

Since last Sunday (March 8th), I feel like all freakin’ pandemonium has broken loose in Indiana.  I mean, it could be worse, that’s for sure, but it feels like an extreme amount of information has been thrown at us within 5 days time.  Let me try to paint you a picture of how this feels.

I think you should realize that any type of “outbreak” or “epidemic”, and definitely a “pandemic” is basically someone who has contamination OCD’s WORST NIGHTMARE come true.  It really is.  It is the worst possible scenario we could ever think of.  It’s so scary to us, it doesn’t even register as something that can actually happen.  Let me make something clear, it’s not just the outbreak of this particular virus that is the worst nightmare, it has nothing to do with that (at least for me), it’s the fact that we have a global pandemic virus outbreak that is our worst nightmare. 

I jokingly told my husband about a week ago that if the government truly wanted to keep Coronavirus out of the US, they should have hired about 200 people with contamination OCD to make sure it didn’t happen because we are ALWAYS 10 steps ahead of any type of preparedness or prevention measures that a non OCD person would put in place.  It’s true though.  Part of having contamination OCD is thinking many many steps ahead of the average person and thinking in great detail with extreme caution, of all the little things no everyday person would think about.  Hence, why our brains are constantly in fight or flight mode…which causes all the stress and anxiety.  Our brains DO NOT STOP OR SLOW DOWN.

So, our schools are closed, my company has put several preventative measures in place for large meetings, travel, cleaning and such and I’m going to try to get set up to work from home, which may or may not work out since my company laptop is a few years old and hasn’t been used in a while (it may not be compatible anymore and of course now there is a shortage of new laptops since everyone is trying to work from home).  Our kids haven’t asked many questions to be honest.  Brayden (our 5th grader) is just excited to be out of school, but he doesn’t realize e-learning is still like going to school and will start for him bright and early tomorrow morning (bahahahaha) and our kindergartner Mason hasn’t asked a single thing, mainly because I haven’t talked to him about what is happening in the world right now and aside from what his teacher has talked about in school, I feel like he really doesn’t need to know everything because he wouldn’t understand much anyway.  All he needs to understand right now is to make sure he’s washing his hands for the entire birthday song haha.

Our grocery stores are OUT OF EVERYTHING by the time I can get there for grocery pick up through the week and even Target has gone to rationing out TP and Clorox until about 11 am when they run out completely.  I will add that the past couple weeks whenever I had to place an order for groceries or our normal Target “home items”, I ordered things like children’s Tylenol and a can of Lysol and a package of Clorox wipes, just to have a little inventory in case the shit hit the fan.  Well, I guess I should have ordered more of the Lysol and threw in some TP and hand sanitizer because now it’s all NO WHERE TO BE FOUND.  You know things are bad when you can’t even find it on Amazon.  Again, things I thought I would never witness hearing “the US is out of hand sanitizer, toilet paper, wet ones and Lysol and can’t keep shelves stocked”.  As someone who is a frequent user of alllllll these things, it’s freaking me out.  I use wet ones to open every door I use at work and in public while out shopping.  I use them as soon as I get back in my car when I’m out and about and I use them to wipe the lids of my coffee from Starbucks when the barista with dirty money hands gives me my coffee.  I literally use them for everything.  I use a lot of Lysol this time of year, just for everyday things like spraying the couch down every night (school germs and dirty kids ha), the fridge handles and door knobs and the boys’ backpacks and coats.  I don’t do these things in the summer or even spring, but I do during flu season (which apparently we’ve pushed aside at this point).

In a twist of perspective on this, I want to say that it comforts me that schools, businesses and stores are cleaning more.  The truth of the matter is that I FEEL like they should have been cleaning this much during flu season anyways!  I mean, it would drastically improve student, employee and customer well being if these cleaning measures were just a normal thing from December to March every year.  Just sayin’.

Another plot twist to me is that it’s crazy to see people worrying now about “all the things”, since I’ve been worrying about all the same things for over 7 years, only to be met with little understanding from hardly anyone, lots of eye rolls and sometimes ridicule.  Welcome to the worries and anxieties of normal everyday life for someone with contamination OCD, world.  It sucks. Maybe this will teach some people to understand more and be more empathetic. Kinda funny how when you have to adapt to a certain lifestyle, you suddenly see how difficult it is and how much it changes your every day life.

So here we are.  Sunday, March 15th.  What normally would be a time of happiness with spring finally approaching, baseball season starting, March Madness bets going, kids looking forward to spring break and people gearing up for yard work has turned into everyone staying home, “social distancing”, stalking the kids with the stock carts at the grocery store for toilet paper and living in a state of not knowing what the next day brings.  Every day we pray for the numbers to go down, for this virus to pass quickly, and that our government will make the right decisions.  For someone with the anxiety that contamination OCD creates, it’s so hard to feel like you’ve lost the little control you once had.  You look and find things you can still control, like making sure the kids are ONLY around people you know really well, that you only go to public places when you need groceries or paper products, making sure things are clean in your home, making sure your parents are taken care of, and making sure you are taking all your vitamins and making healthy decisions.

What can we do:

Social distancing is in place for a reason.  It’s not because of the virus being as dangerous as the plague.  It’s to PREVENT IT FROM SPREADING.  All of these closures are to protect us in the long run.  We have to do the sucky thing now for it to get better later….

Cancel your vacations.  Ohhhhh ya, I just went there.  I did.  I get that a ton of people are like all “YOLO” with their lives.  That’s awesome that you live your life that way, but right now this is NOT ABOUT YOU.  As far as I can tell, going somewhere like the Bahamas or Jamaica where there are very few cases and you are FOR SURE healthy and have been for at least 14 days, doesn’t seem to pose a huge risk.  BUT domestic travel needs to stop right now.  Spring break is going to suck this year, but traveling to places like Florida, Texas, New York, California and Colorado needs to be halted for a few weeks. These places have much higher confirmed cases than we have (and that’s without having a lot of access to testing!) and places like Florida and Texas have an extremely large population of elderly; not only elderly, but many elderly with underlying conditions.  Please think about hundreds of thousands of younger people (45 and younger) coming INTO a state for a week of vacation, not knowing if they are carriers or not, staying long enough for exposure, then bringing who knows what back into their home states upon return and leaving who knows in the state they vacationed to.  It’s a hot mess of a situation and no one loves a beach vacation more than me, but this isn’t about me and its not about you either.  It’s about protecting our 70+ seniors, it’s about protecting our cancer patients, our immune suppressed, and for the love of everything its about DOING YOUR PART to social distance so that more people’s lives can be spared as this virus moves along at a steady pace.  You can reschedule your vacation later, I promise.

Stop being greedy….stop buying 200 bottles of hand sanitizer, 60 rolls of toilet paper and 200 cans of Lysol.  Yes, the stores will get more in, but everyone deserves to feel a little prepared right now, not a week from now.  You guys….as I mentioned before, there’s no one more prepared for any situation that involves germs like a person who has contamination OCD and even I only “stocked” up on Clorox wipes (about 6 containers), Lysol (about 5 cans) and medicine for kids.  I didn’t hoard toilet paper or laundry detergent or wet ones (though I probably should have bought more of the wet ones since they are an every day staple for me).  Come on people….again….THINK OF SOMEONE OTHER THAN YOURSELVES…..

Offer to online shop and drop off for the elderly…..need I say more?  These poor people who are still completely capable of living on their own, should NOT be out and about right now.  It may be a struggle for them to accept your help, but they know they should.  Just make it easier on them, we need to protect them.  Be the good.

If you have kids, DO NOT use this time out of school to go to every public place possible.  This is why these public places keep closing, because the goal right now is to STAY HOME as much as possible, minus getting essential items like groceries and medicine.  My husband and I have decided we will allow our kids to OCCASIONALLY see and play with their friends, ONLY if we know their parents extremely well and know they share the same beliefs we do on the subject.  Simply stated, we know what occupations their parents have and know where they have been, haha.  Also something I never thought I would be saying or writing, in case you are keeping track!  Additionally, 95% of their friends live right in our neighborhood, so they aren’t leaving our sight or control much at all.  We will not be going to the movies, we will not be going to the zoo, we will not be going to Sky Zone or even birthday parties.  Praise the Lord above that this virus is not affecting kids as much.  But, that doesn’t mean you should disregard others around you….again, I’ll say it one more time for the people in the back….THIS ISN’T ABOUT YOU!  It’s about preventing ANY AND ALL the spread and protecting those most at risk.

If you’re like me, you’re exhausted at this point from talking about it, hearing about it, seeing it and living it.  I think it’s completely normal for everyone to be mentally exhausted and confused right now.  I’ve been listening to a lot of meditations as I go to bed at night, saying prayers, and journaling.  I also have been trying to get in 30-45 minutes of treadmill time.  I just walk, but it FEELS good to check out for that time and just get the anxiousness out.  When it’s nice out, I spend A LOT of time outside.  The sound of birds and sunshine are sometimes all I need to put a smile on my face.  I’ve also been in frequent contact via email with my therapist and hypnotist.  They know these times are crazy and they are figuring it all out as they go just like the rest of us.  We are all in this together friends.  If anyone needs someone to listen to their concerns or just talk, please know I’m always available.  I’m here to help!

Take care friends, be safe and be conscious of what’s going on around you.

xoxox

Mary

Bringing Myself Out of the Winter Slump

I’ve been in a slump, a funk. Not a sad slump, just a blah slump. Some of this, I think, is because I haven’t really seen my friends since New Year’s! Last year I made several plans with lots of friends and I honestly think that was such a mood booster!! Plus, here comes the broken record that is myself again, but flu season has been worse this year than last, and that’s something that obviously contributes to my daily stress and anxiety.

I don’t know, I just haven’t had any creative juices flowing lately. Can you relate? Too much on my plate everyday, but also not willing to shift things around to help clear ‘said plate’; because I don’t have anything meaty to talk about anyways? Make sense?

Even though I’m in a creative funk, and not as present on social media and this blog right now, I can assure you that I have been busy & giving 100% to therapy and other forms of mindfulness for overcoming my OCD. I have learned so many tools to use in everyday life and feel like occasionally, I should share the love with you all!

So, in the spirit of slumps, I wanted to share 4 tips for pushing forward EVEN THOUGH we may not feel as awesome as we would like or know that we can be.

1. See your friends. I have plans tomorrow night with one of my girlfriends I have known since 4th grade. It’s gonna be good for the soul. Text 5 friends today. See what they are doing. Do a little ‘friend fishing’, if you will. See if you can get something on the calendar!

2. Spend a little time working on artificially creating your own ‘sunshine’. Look up….and smile. Seriously. While you are looking up and smiling, (smiling like your life depended on it, ok…like you have a hanger in your mouth type of smile) I want you to think of a place or memory that makes you really happy, or one that always makes you feel relaxed. Spend about 15 minutes doing this. Then, write down the things that made you happy or feel relaxed and hang them on a mirror, in your office or on your fridge.

3. Try to move. Do you have kids; and do they enjoy dancing like no one is watching? Well, if you do….put those little performers and yourself to work showcasing some epic dance moves. Solo? Try to get OUTSIDE for a walk if the weather cooperates. Even just a few blocks. While walking, take several deep belly breaths, exhaling very slowly.

4. If you are strictly a spring and summer person like me, get a head start on it NOW! I’ve told my friends and family for the past two weekends I’m ‘willing spring into existance’. What I mean by this is that I’m trying to do things now that I would normally do in early spring. This helps me enjoy more outdoor time when the weather gets nicer. For example, this past weekend I cleaned my front porch off, washed down our front door, raked leaves and old moldy mulch out of our flower beds and deep cleaned my car. It felt so great to get these things done, and even greater knowing that when the weather breaks, we only have to add new mulch and add any additional decor we would like to our porch. 😍

I hope you enjoyed these suggestions and can weave them into your own schedules. This time of year is harder for me with gray skies, rain and snow. I’ve learned I kind of have to create my own kind of happy, so to speak. Oh and speaking of happy and all things sunshine, remember to take plenty of vitamin D3. 😉

Have a wonderful week and productive weekend ahead!!

Xoxo

Mary

Some Healthy Favorites

Hi friends and welcome to 2020!!!  We made it another decade!!!  Kinda crazy huh!  Though, I’m never going to be the person who sees age or thinks about how long a decade actually is.  All I know is that it’s going to happen whether we like it or not and I’m thankful.  And, also, though I hate the winter and despise January because of being so dark and cold, I do love the thought of an empty canvas and all the possibilities.

Of course one thing that everyone focuses on for the New Year is weight loss.  I too, am this year.  The past couple years I’ve adopted healthier habits, so my goals weren’t really to drop a bunch of weight or attain new healthier habits.  This year though, or at least my goal by the end of April/beginning of May is to drop 8-10 pounds.  I haven’t really figured out a good way to do that yet, but I’m working on it; starting with eating less and trying to incorporate more green into my diet.  I love salads, but at the most, I’m eating one a day which I’m sure is only a quarter of the greens I should be consuming.  I do have a few staples that I always go to when wanting to drop some weight though and I plan on incorporating those into whatever I decide to do.

Some of my favorite healthy foods and snacks:

Zone Perfect bars:  I wish I could say this was an ad, but it’s not.  Haha.  I’ve been eating these since I was 19 and running from class to class on my college campus with no time for lunch.  Brock even loves them, which is a miracle in itself, OK?!  I like them because they have a higher protein count and keep things pretty close to the macros I like to aim for everyday (40% carbs, 30% protein, 30% fat).  My favorite flavors are the fudge graham, salted chocolate caramel and dark chocolate almond.  These can be found just about anywhere now.  Target, Kroger, Whole Foods, Fresh Thyme, etc.

Eggs/Toast/Strawberries/Halos:  This is pretty much my go-to weekend breakfast all year long, but occasionally I’ll have enough time to make it during the week before jetting off to the office.  2 eggs over medium (if you need to kick it up a notch with flavor, try using the Trader Joe’s “Everything but the Bagel” seasoning on them!), 1-2 pieces of toast (I use Dave’s Killer thin sliced bread, 70 cals a slice) with no butter and only a natural fruit spread with low sugar, and a cup of strawberries and 1 halo.  Delish!  In the summertime I swap watermelon and fresh blackberries for the halo.

Fab Four Smoothie (Blueberry Muffin flavor): I use to ALWAYS start my day during the week with one of these.  I’ve gotten away from it, come back to it, and gotten away from it again.  When I get into the habit of having them, I don’t stop, because they are so good and so filling.  Here’s the recipe: 1/3 frozen organic blueberries, 2 cups unsweetened vanilla organic almond milk (I use Califia) 2 scoops of Primal Kitchen vanilla coconut collagen protein, 1-2 tablespoons of creamy almond butter with no sugar added (I use Barney Butter…so good and no oil on top!) 1 tablespoon of chia seeds, and a handful of organic spinach.  Blend for about 30 seconds (I have a nutri-bullet and it works perfectly) and enjoy!  If you do not use frozen berries, you will need to sub some ice cubes.  This will keep you full at least an hour longer than any “normal” breakfast.  PS, there are tons of flavors out there for these!  This has just always been my go-to.  You can google them, or find them on Pinterest under Kelly LeVeque.  Most of the ingredients I purchase at Kroger and the protein/collagen powder I order on Amazon.

Baked chicken tenders with panko bread crumbs and baked broccoli: I use the big bag of Tyson tenders and bake them for 10 minutes (they come frozen), then take them out, add some panko breadcrumbs to the top of them with some sea salt and a couple other seasonings, and occasionally I’ll add a LITTLE parmesan cheese, continue to bake for 30-35 minutes.  Baked broccoli….yes..baked.  I use the big bag of Birdseye frozen broccoli.  Use a big cookie or pizza sheet, cover in parchment paper or aluminum foil, spray lightly with organic cooking spray (preferably olive oil) spread the broccoli out and cover it with sea salt.  Bake at 425 for 20 minutes.  It’s cooked but crispy on the edges.  Also, I use more sea salt than most.  I have very low BP and using extra salt is not an issue for me, you may want to sub some of the salt with other seasonings like Mrs Dash or even sprinkle with a reduced fat cheese before baking.

So Delicious frozen almond milk bars:  These are so good and my go-to sweet snack in the evening after dinner.  I try to stay away from cow’s milk when I can, so almond milk is usually my go-to.  These mocha swirl bars are sooooooooo yummy!  180 calories.

100 calorie packs of cashews and pistachios:  I try to stay away from peanuts because my body is sensitive to them.  Not the easiest task considering I used to travel with my own jar of peanuts as a snack if I was hungry between classes in college.  Kroger actually has 100 calorie packs of almonds, cashews and pistachios in their organic section now.  Sometimes I mix these with the organic dried strawberries and cherries to kick the flavor up a bit.

Sargento Balanced Breaks: Now, let me preface this.  I try to stay away from cow’s milk, so typically I only will eat a few of the cheese cubes (usually 3) and then eat the fruit/nut blend.  Basically I’m too lazy to make my own fruit and nut blend, so I grab what’s easy and portioned out.  Sorry, not sorry.  I also love that I can get different combos that DON’T include peanuts.  The Balanced Breakfast Breaks are good too!

Healthy Choice Power Bowls Italian Chicken and Peppers:  Alright, yes, it’s processed.  I get it.  But it is soooo good and so spicy and really low in carbs and high in protein, and also….quinoa. 🙂

Nature’s Path Blueberry Cinnamon Flax Oatmeal:  I always add fresh blueberries to this and sometimes a little extra cinnamon.  So good!

Atkins Ham and Cheese Omelets:  This is an exception for avoiding cow’s milk.  I ONLY eat these when I’m running really far behind of a morning and need something that takes 2 minutes or less.  I pick half the ham out of it because I’m not a huge pork person, but I am a big omelet person.  The eggs actually taste good that they use and it’s very high in protein.  Sometimes you have to do the easy thing.  I just don’t make it a habit to regularly have these.  Plus, there’s a reason I avoid cow’s milk when I can if you’re picking up what I’m putting down haha.

There ya have it!  Those are the staples I always have to have handy.  Literally, these things are always available at our house.  Some of them may not be 100% clean or preservative or dairy free, but they are all useful in different situations.  Obviously I would love for this list to be longer, and “cleaner” than it is, but hey….let’s not forget, I have an 11 year old and a 6 year old, I work 40+ hours a week, I’m trying to work out, have therapy once a week, write for this blog and also do some influencing on the side along with Rodan & Fields.  My schedule allows for….well, only so much haha.

What are some of the staples you always have handy in your home?  What are your favorite recipes?

Drop them down below in my comments!!

Happy Monday all!!!!!  Let’s get this!

xoxoxox

 

 

 

NOVEMBER WARM FUZZIES

Hi friends!  It’s about that time of year-when I hunker down and go into my “why do I still live in the Midwest?” state of mind.  The weather is completely unpredictable from day to day and everything is turning brown, or white if there happens to be a random snowfall.  Although I enjoy decorating everything in white, I’m not a fan of it being outside…mmmmmk?  🙂

However, with that said, November always gives me the warm fuzzies, in that, after Thanksgiving, I’m full on Christmas mode, which sort of takes me back to being a kid, as it does for most people.  In honor of all the warm fuzzies, here are my absolute favorite things about late November.

***The start of Christmas movie season!  I don’t break them all out…but I do start the day after Thanksgiving with Miracle on 34th Street (the new one with Mara Wilson) and then usually watch Serendipity and The Holiday before month end.  Oh, and also, every year I find myself buying another favorite movie, since I’m getting too impatient in my old age (ha) to wait for them to come on TV.  Haha!

Miracle on 34th street

The Holiday movie

***Thanksgiving leftovers.  I mean….right??  I’m pretty sure Brock and I eat turkey sandwiches, turkey salad and turkey for breakfast for a week after Thanksgiving.  Yes, turkey for breakfast…put it in a pan, flip it a few times and have it with eggs and toast.  And, since our turkey isn’t crazy marinated or fried, I feel like it’s the only healthy thing to come out of Thanksgiving.  Speaking of healthy choices–I also love eating a slice of pumpkin or apple pie, for pretty much everyday after Thanksgiving, for a good week.  My mom eats pumpkin pie for breakfast after Thanksgiving.  I mean, I’m not there….yet.  But, I seem to be headed down that path. Don’t know what to do with all the leftovers?  Well, you could start here with this amazing panini RECIPE

***Decorating for Christmas.  I personally am old school and believe every holiday needs it’s own time.  I also am crazy busy with work and sports and life, so no shame to those who jump the gun and decorate early.  Truth be told, if we didn’t host Thanksgiving, I would most likely have the trees up the week of Thanksgiving, just so I could enjoy them the day after Thanksgiving and not be rushing around like a crazy person on my day off.  I typically have Brock get everything down the day after and put the trees up and start decorating them with the kids, and spend the next week or so getting everything else out and up.

***Christmas mugs for life!  You know what I do FIRST THING after I get my kitchen cleaned up after our guests leave?  Get out my Christmas mug collection!  I have, probably like most, had a few Christmas mugs stashed in my cabinet for years.  However, in the past 5 years or so, I decided that I wanted to start picking more up, because these mugs bring me so much silly joy for an entire month!  What used to be 3 random Christmas mugs from the early 2000’s has now turned into about 20 mugs!!  I’m not even sorry!  It’s probably the most inexpensive, joy filled tradition I have for myself in November/December.  My 2 newest additions can be found HERE & HERE!

These things are all simple, yet bring me so much joy in the start of a season for giving and sharing.

I hope you can find time to look for the things that bring you the most smiles as we head into the Christmas season.

Cheers!

xoxoxo

Mary

 

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