Pedal On!

How ironic is it that my last blog post was about how I nailed day 3 of the Advocare 24 day challenge and here I am being completely vulnerable and honest letting you know that I slipped. It’s so easy to do. I’m human. However, I refuse to let that define me or my end goal. There has been a period of time where I stopped the challenge. I knew my decisions were poor, my heart wasn’t in it, other circumstances were consuming my mental and physical focus, and I knew that I didn’t want to waste the products I had if I weren’t allowing them to work effectively.

Does that mean I’m a failure? No. It simply means that I was aware and honest enough with myself to say, the same exact moment the nation is doing the 24 day challenge, wasn’t the best time for me as an individual to do it. So, here I am letting you know that I am mentally prepared to get back on it. My stress levels are on the road to being in control and not consuming me while I am mentally ready to focus. I have my biometric screening tomorrow for work which is somewhat of a clean slate since we have certain guidelines to meet each year so it’s the perfect time to regain my focus.

How often in life does this happen to all of us. Not just with a weight loss goal but just in life in general? It’s so easy to be motivated when things are falling into place perfectly but once we hit that speed bump, it’s also easy to swerve and get off track. That doesn’t mean you’re a mess up, it simply means you are human. I am human. We all have positive days and we all have negative days. What’s important is that we don’t fall into that trap and stay there. What’s important is that we have enough self respect that we can stand back up and pedal onward to the right path, right? After all, no one said this road of life would be easy. Even the most difficult moments make us stronger and prepare us for the best days to come.

If you’re feeling like you are in a rut and like you are a failure, you are not. You couldn’t be more wrong. You are a strong, important, and special individual with a purpose. Find your why and know that tomorrow is another day to get back up and pedal on!

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Nailed it!

Day 3 of the Advocare ALL•IN 24 day challenge has been my best yet. I finished all 101.4 ounces of water (my daily goal is 98.5 ounces), stuck to my meal plan, got in a good 50 minutes worth of cardio along with some good strength training, and had all of my Advocare products and supplements. Major non scale victory for me!! Just what I needed to gain some confidence during this challenge. Go me!

Boy it feel good to get back in my gym!

ALL•IN

This year I said “Yes!” to Advocare in a way I hadn’t been willing to before. You see, I have a handful of friends who have shared their Advocare journey with me and what they experienced by a 24-day challenge but I still for some reason not fully convinced. Then a friend of mine shared Spark with me. I loved it, it gave me the boost that I had been needing for the long work hours, late night study sessions, and never-ending wonderful but tiring motherhood moments. With the schedule I keep, it’s easy to feel run down. Not with Spark, it’s a great and better for you than energy drink, pick-me-up. (If you haven’t tried Spark before and would like to, I’d love to send you a sample.. just let me know). I attended a Advocare event at her home and was able to try different flavors of Advocare products including shakes and snack bars. To be honest, I’m not a fan of the shakes. It’s the texture thing for me but Kasey however, he loves them. It’s all personal preference.

So what exactly did saying yes mean? It meant that I was going to be a part of the Nationwide Advocare ALL•IN 24 day challenge. This challenge was the perfect way to jump start 2016 and the pre-order bundle didn’t only come with free shipping but free meal prep containers, Advocare bracelet, and Advocare shaker bottle.. heck yes!

 
This gal loves herself some free stuff. The amount of people who are doing this challenge which began yesterday, January 11th is unbelievable. I wanted to share my day one with you and a point that also proved me to be human, my day two lesson.

Let me start with my day two lesson. After such a successful day one it was only fitting as a human that I would fall off the wagon persay as not a mistake but as a lesson. A lesson that would remind me, it’s okay to mess up. I’m not perfect and I can be more than one negative meal choice, as long as I let it be just that and not allow myself to spiral out of control. After all, that’s why I’m here doing this challenge, right? I need accountability, I need growth, I need to learn, I need to have a plan. So how exactly did I fall off tonight? It’s my grandmother’s 80th birthday. Just look at how beautiful this woman is. 

  

We had dinner as a family in celebration at a Japanese restaurant. I had planned to only have grilled chicken and grilled vegetables with no sauces but guess what? I caved. Yep, my willpower wasn’t as strong today as it could’ve been but you know what? I am confident that my willpower on day 24 will be much stronger than it is here on day 2. So, I ate myself a very unhealthy Japanese dinner and leaving all the icky details, paid for it later. But, I’m still here with an opportunity to do better tomorrow. That’s exactly what I’ll do. 

In the midst of this evening’s poor food choice, I have a wonderful day one to reflect on and grow from for day 3. I am going to share my food from day 1 with you now through pictures.

  
As you can see, I ate. I ate a lot. Sometimes I wasn’t even feeling hunger but I knew that my body needed fuel every 2-3 hours in order to be successful. My morning started with a grape Spark, my Fiber packet, and probiotic restore tablets. My body isn’t used to caffeine because I am not much of a soda drinker or coffee drinker on a regular and I could definitely tell I had taken the Spark. My body was on caffeine overload compared to normal. Before dinner I had my OmegaPlex gel caps which are ginormous. The first one went down just fine but the second one gave me some trouble. I didn’t attempt the cleansing tablet before bed. Some additional positives from my day one is that I drank right under 100 ounces of water, super huge accomplishment for me! 

I also got in a short workout I found on Pinterest that seems super easy but it kicked this gal’s booty. I’ll post it below.

  
All in all, I look forward to what I gain from this challenge. My “why” for doing this challenge (other than the obvious reason of not liking my current reflection) is to gain a better understanding of eating clean, being on a nutrition/fitness plan, and celebrating successes off the scale. Yes, I weighed in when I began and I will weigh when I’m finished but I also took my measurements and some before photos. I am not sure if I’ll ever be brave enough to post them but they serve as a reminder of who I don’t want to slip back into.

If you are looking for a community of honest, supportive, and encouraging individuals on the same path to bettering themselves like you are, and want a jump start on your 2016, please let me know. I can get information for you if I don’t know it myself and we’d love for you to be a part of this journey with us. 

Here’s to a better self!

Hollie

Last Breath

The last few months Kasey’s sister has been spending almost everyday over at their grandmother’s house. They have slowly noticed signs of dementia and some days are good days, some days are not so good days. His sister was such an amazing caregiver. I cannot praise her enough for the amount of attention and care that she provided Ms. Juanita and I believe in my heart she did everything she physically could do for one of the most funniest and loving women I had come to know and love. We didn’t spend as much time with her as we should have but I will forever cherish the time that we did spend with her. I will never forget the day we took my grandmother with us to visit and they sat there for hours just chatting away as if they had known each other since birth. Each visit after that, she was always ask about my grandma and my grandma sure did think highly of Ms. Juanita as well. She’s been my prayer partner during the hours of what I’m about to share with you. 

I will go ahead an warn you, this will be long and might very well be full of typos and grammar issues but please forgive me for that now. I am going to do the best I can to remember all of the details and the reasoning for sharing this information is as a simple reminder to not take a day for granted. Something I have done way too many times. Life is precious and each day truly is a gift. 

Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Matthew 5:4

Yesterday morning we received the call that Kasey’s grandmother had called 911 thinking someone was breaking into her house, in all reality there wasn’t anyone there. When they arrived, her room was ransacked from herself trying to move furniture trying to barricade herself in there truly believing that someone was attempting to get in. She was speaking but her words were very mumbled. They asked if they could take her to the hospital to be evaluated to which she agreed. This was something huge for her because she hadn’t been to a doctor in over 40 years, simply because she didn’t trust them. Living through the Great Depression she was very stubborn and felt like she could do everything on her own with no one’s assistance. So doctor visits were nothing she was a part of.
She was in the ER yesterday for around 10-11 hours before getting placed into her own room. Kasey’s sister and dad spent the entire day with her and then Kasey went up there after work. While in the ER we were being told that she had pneumonia, fluid around her heart, a slight amount of dementia, and possible congestive heart failure. When Kasey was with her last night, she was alert and herself but still hard to understand speech wise. His sister said today that she got spunk when she saw Kasey, he sure does love his grandma and she him. Once she got placed into her room, she was able to get some sleep (something of which she rarely got at home because of the dementia that began taking over and her being paranoid). Last night before Kasey left the hospital they had told him they were going to give her a high dose of thyroid medication and an antibiotic and believed that her thyroid could possibly be the cause of the dementia and fluid around her heart. However, with how things were, it was a risk to try because if it wasn’t that, it could send her into cardiac arrest. That was a risk worth taking for a possible reward of answers and move in a positive direction.

This morning, the doctor’s report given to his sister was a good one. She had slept through the night and had made positive improvements. A couple hours after that initial ray of hope, we got devastating news. His sister arrived at the hospital and the doctors were now saying that there had been an abrupt change and she wasn’t going to make it much longer. Her thyroid had basically completely shut down and although surgery was an option, there had already been too much damage to her heart. She was considered as living in a coma state and they were going to bring in Hospice. We knew right away, that wasn’t looking good.

Kasey and I headed to the hospital as so did his other family members. When everyone who was coming had arrived, the PA came in letting us know that there wasn’t anything else that they could do. The surgery wouldn’t enhance or prolong her life and even then, she would have to be on the life support that she specially had requested to not be on. She was unable to breathe on her own and her body temperature wasn’t regulating on its own. From all of the trauma from the thyroid issues that went unchecked, her body had been under so much stress that she suffered a mild heart attack. The PA explained it as if our hearts were rubber bands and they can stretch out and then back in, her heart was so stiff, it wasn’t able to stretch out the way it’s meant to. It was time for the family, specifically Ms. Juanita’s children, to make one of the hardest decisions ever.

The family respected her wishes knowing that although it’s easy for us to want and be selfish by keeping her here longer with help from life support, that would’ve been no way for her to live. About 30-40 minutes after the doctors removed the ventilator and after one of her sons told her thank you for being the best mom and that if she’s ready then we all are ready and we love her so much, she took her last breath and peacefully passed in her sleep while we all surrounded her. That was the first time I had ever witnessed someone leaving their earthly body and I cannot begin to explain the emotions that you experience. The hardest part for me was to see how quickly she became pale, it was almost instant. I am so thankful that she will no longer fear the thoughts dementia placed in her mind and I will forever cherish the time that she welcomed Laekyn and myself as one of her own for the last 4 years. She was a wonderful woman and I just appreciate your prayers for his family in the upcoming days and weeks. Again, I cannot brag on how strong Nickie (Kasey’s sister) has been throughout this process. I will forever remember her putting Chapstick on Ms. Juanita’s lips while she took her final breaths so that her lips wouldn’t be so chapped from the ventilator. Talk about a strong woman, his sister has really been his grandmother’s caregiver in such a selfless way, I am so amazed by her throughout this whole process and I know she probably feels a heavy heart as if she didn’t do enough but boy could that not be more wrong. She did way beyond and everything in her physical power, I am praying extra prayers for her comfort. The days she has made ritual for months are completely turned upside down and there is no way that will be a smooth and easy transistion. If you’re reading this – we love you, Nickie!

On a side note of everything that took place within the last 36 hours, this gave me chills. Kasey’s dad told him yesterday that months ago Ms. Juanita had asked them to handle her funeral arrangements. She already had the expenses saved and she just wanted them to go ahead and have everything taken care of. Chilling enough, the appointment that was made months ago was this morning, hours before she would take her last breath. It’s almost as if she already knew, gives me chills.

I know that this was a lot of information but I wanted to share it with each of you as a reminder of how quickly something can change and how quickly someone can be taken away from us. One minute everything seems positive and the next minute, it takes a negative turn. Just hug those you love extra tight and if you haven’t spoken to or seen your loved ones in awhile, make that phone call or go visit. You never know when the good Lord will call them home.

Ms. Juanita, we love you and pray you’re up there talking with grandpa and Jenny with Sparky back on your lap. In the words of Laekyn tonight during prayer: “I pray that Ms. Juanita is having a fun time in Heaven, please Lord let her visit Kasey in his mind and let him know she is okay.” I’m a puddle!! 😭 We miss you and look forward to the day we see you again. Rest in peace beautiful angel. 

Four Legged Clover

They say if you find a four leaf clover, it’s lucky. What about a four legged red-eared slider that mini just happened to name Clover? Yep, we’ve had the little guy (or gal) for a little over two and a half years and the stinker has grown tremendously!

This was Clover when we first found him (or her) in my mom’s yard. Clover’s mom had dug a hole in my mom’s front yard and nested a ton of little baby turtles. This picture was taken about 2.6 years ago.

Super cute, right? Mini has been so proud to say she has a pet turtle although she doesn’t handle Clover much anymore because of the salmonella scare they can carry.

Here’s a picture of Clover from about a year ago..

Then tonight while Kasey was cleaning out the aquarium, we noticed just how big Clover has gotten. Here’s a photo from tonight..

Ginormous right? I do believe a larger aquarium is in Clover’s future. Such a cool pet though and does quite well on his (or hers) basking and feeding schedule. When we get up, the sun light comes on and it’s feeding time. When the sun goes down, it’s feeding time and the sun light gets turned off. Fun little creature to watch for sure!

SWP – I’ve been a slacker!

I have not stuck with the Scripture Writing Plan and sadly am okay with admitting that. I tend to take on more than my plate has room for sometimes and don’t realize it until I can no longer fuel each portion with the attention it requires. Before I know it, almost two weeks has passed. When I last provided a SWP update, it was day 11. Here we are and it’s Dec. 28th.

Today’s scripture comes from Philippians 2:9-11

Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth, and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Please forgive me for not trying to play “catch up” with the days I missed but instead pick up where I am able. I am human and I do mess up. More often than I’d like to admit. However, I am loved unconditionally by the One who breathed life into me. This SWP experience has taught me that no matter what our circumstances are or what the situation is, when you fall off and get off track, it is by choice that we hop back on or get back on the correct path. The path won’t always been clear and free from distractions and obstructions, but He will always be constant and there along our walk.

Life is a journey, make the best of it!

Hollie

Elfie’s Departure

This December has been a challenging one both mentally and emotionally. There have been many arguments between mini and I that could’ve and should’ve been avoided and there have been many tears shed. Granted, isn’t that a beautiful part of motherhood. Through the dark clouds, there is a silver lining. Elfie didn’t spend as much time with us as he normally does and there for awhile, I slacked on providing an update so I wanted to share a few of his moments before he left.

He spent the later part of the month hanging out in our faux trees, on the mantle, and repelling from light fixtures. He was super pleased by the effort that mini made on cleaning her room that he brought her an elf pet. While Kasey was at work, she and I left for a Walmart run and when we returned, she had an elf pet waiting on her with a bag of pre-mixed reindeer food to sprinkle in the yard.

  
She was ecstatic. She named the reindeer, Emma. We can’t wait to see Emma next year when Elfie returns and look forward to seeing their adventures together. Can’t wait!

Christmas Reflection

In the midst of the Christmas festivities, I found myself strung thin with the feeling of the world on my shoulders. Each year I say I am going to be ahead of the game and have everything prepared way before Christmas arrives and each year, Christmas hits me in the face before I even blink and realize it’s there. I am adamant it comes faster each year, don’t you agree? The feeling of getting everything wrapped, cooked, baked, and finalized for get togethers can really cause some unneeded anxiety and stress in what should be a rejoicing time of year.

Although my family is fully aware that Jesus is the reason for the season, I absolutely love giving gifts and find such joy in purchasing, making, wrapping, and giving to others. It’s one of my favorite things about Christmas aside from Jesus’ birth. This year, mini spent the night with her dad on Christmas Eve so I slept in and soaked in the quiet morning although I missed her excitement over Santa’s visit in the wee hours of the morning and I eagerly waiting for her to be home.

Our tree was absolutely beautiful Christmas morning. It had looked the same since the day I put it up but something about sitting on the couch, relaxing with Kasey, enjoying the parade, and just soaking in every second made it seem that more beautiful. There was something so serene about the calmness of not being in the hustle and bustle of the season that during those moments, I really reflected on how blessed I am. Not because I had a Christmas tree full of ornaments and lights, or presents underneath, but simply because I was awake and healthy. I was full of anticipation for my beautiful little girl to get home from her dad’s. I was full of excitement that I would be spending the next hours and days with our families and friends. I just have so much to be thankful for that I overlook and take for granted way more often than I should.

  
As the new year approaches, that is one thing that I am trying to do better at. Truly and honestly, being grateful and recognizing the many blessings daily and not just when it’s convenient. How easy it is to get caught up and only recognize our blessings when it fits into our schedule but don’t you believe that our blessings are even more apparent during our struggles and moments of weakness? It just takes a little more effort on our part to notice and appreciate them.

I hope that your Christmas was spent with those who make your heart swell. Until next time my friends,

Hollie

School’s Out!

This semester has been a trying, tiring, and difficult semester to say the least. My motivation wasn’t what it should’ve been and my organization wasn’t as it should’ve been. However, I made it! Finished off with straight A’s and B’s. That’s something I’ll take and be happy with all throughout my college years. I am looking forward to a couple weeks off before hitting the books again for Spring semester. It’s a long journey but each semester is one step closer.

Happy Wednesday!