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marriage, pregnancy, relationships, The Savvy Kitchenista

Two Solid Lines

Have you ever had a moment that you’ve dreamed of happening, but then when it happens, it just seems so surreal?


As a woman who’s now in her 30’s and had been dreaming of starting a family since her early 20’s, it should come as no surprise that I’m familiar with the art of pregnancy testing. In college, I of course was careful and never had to deal with the stress of being “late”. In fact, I had made the decision during my freshman year that I would start on “the pill” in order to alleviate the unnecessary pain I went through every month.

I graduated college and was in a serious relationship. It was my second serious relationship (I’m what you could call a serial monogamist) and I was convinced this guy was “the one”. All I wanted was to get married and get pregnant so I could finally start the family I’d always dreamed of having. Forget the fact that this guy had left his high school sweetheart because all she wanted was to start a family. This was now, we were both older, and I wasn’t her.

You can guess how that went.

Fast forward 3-4 years. I had since moved onto a new serious relationship, this time with someone older than me that I had felt was more stable. Over the course of our two years together, however, I learned that he had no intentions of growing up. Yes, I had found the real-life Peter Pan that had a drinking appetite of a pirate on Captain Hook’s ship. I was still only 26 years old, but to me this felt terribly old. My dreams of starting a family and having a house by the age of 25 had since passed and the likelihood of having these things by 30 we’re looking gloomier by the day.

 

So, I left my third serious relationship since graduating high school and spiraled downward. I’d felt this way before after leaving my last relationship – the questioning thoughts of “do I really want kids” swirling through my head. Feeling lost and alone, I threw myself once again onto the dating scene in hopes of finding someone who was of high-caliber than the last two knuckleheads I’d wasted half a decade on.


Within a month of meeting Justin, we were already talking of kids. I’d decided that this time around, I wasn’t going to waste time playing the girl I thought he wanted me to be, only to flip the tables 6-9 months & share how badly I wanted to settle down and have kids. Considering his carefree lifestyle and that he’d just left a three-year relationship with an older woman who had three daughters because he didn’t want to build a family with her, I was taking a huge risk. But I didn’t care – I knew what I wanted and I was tired of pretending for the sake of winning a guy’s affection for a few months.

To my great surprise (and utter delight), he was extremely open to the idea. We even went so far as to pick out the names of our future children and began discussing where we’d want to move before starting a family, since we both agreed Jacksonville was not our idea of home. While we weren’t actively trying to have children, we certainly weren’t preventing it. About six months into our relationship, we had an experience where I was certain that I was pregnant, but the stress of my new teaching job had caused it to end very early. After I quite that job a week or so later, we both realized that now wasn’t the right time for this as we weren’t married (something we really wanted to happen first), so back on the pill I went.

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Life went on and our lives seemed to be going perfectly. We spent the first two years of our relationship working and traveling. While I loved the trips and freedom, i did feel like a clock was ticking in the background. When he proposed early in 2014, after less than 2 years of dating, I was thrilled. Our lives were finally going to begin. I picked the earliest date he would agree to (a year from the engagement date), and set about planning the most romantically perfect wedding. I was certain that come out wedding night, we would be ready to start seriously trying for a baby.

As so often happens in life, things didn’t go according to my plans. While the wedding was extremely romantic and the honeymoon surreal, we wound up back in our one-bedroom apartment the spring of 2015 and no closer to starting a family. I had moved up to my dream position in the company I was working for and he was pursuing a track in finance. I soon learned that the wedding had marked the green light for him to begin studying for one of its most grueling licensure exams.

We spent the first year of our marriage buried in our jobs. He worked well over 40 hour weeks, followed by 4-6 hour study sessions morning and/or nights. He rented out an office and would retreat there most nights and every weekend to focus. We’d since moved to a larger condo with three bedrooms in anticipation that the third bedroom would be a baby room. I was convinced that we would begin trying after the move, but he was too focused on his studies. I finally gave him the news that upon my international business trip, I wasn’t renewing my birth control prescription which only meant one thing – we were going to stop preventing pregnancy.

I was overjoyed to finally be starting this new chapter. I had everything planned out so that I would not be pregnant during the horrible Florida heat and was certain that it would only take us a month or so to welcome joyous news. I even began putting aside money each paycheck into two savings accounts: one for baby and one for a house. It was November 2016 when we embarked on this new journey and I was 100% on board. Next stop: baby town.


Unfortunately, I seemed to be the only one excited about the venture. To be fair, he was deep in the throws of studying and growing obsession with finding the best time of the month to try really interfered with his focus. He obligingly went along with my plan to stop birth control after he realized I was going to do it with or without his permission, but it was apparent that he wasn’t ready. Things became tense between us and the desire to spend time together outside of “trying” lessened.

The first month, I wasn’t very surprised when my period showed up. I was delighted, especially because it had been at least two years since I’d dealt with the symptoms and my body seemed to have stored up all the pain to remind me why I’d loved birth control in the first place. Month 2 rolled around and like clockwork (I’m telling you, it was pretty much down to the hour), my monthly visitor arrived. It was right after Christmas and I had already been upset at how much larger I had felt than last year. Add to it that my husband’s Christmas presents that year consisted of larger clothing for me to wear “when the baby is growing”, and you can see why I was in tears when my husband came home that Monday afternoon. He tried to cheer me up by making plans to go out dancing for New Years, to which I grinned and agreed that this would be our last New Years that it would just be us.

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After the new year, I began investing in ovulation tests and even picked up a nasal thermometer to track my temperature. I installed an app on my phone and religiously recorded my temperature every morning. Even though I never received a smiley face on the tests, I felt confident as the end of January rolled around and my period didn’t start. But Mother Nature was playing cruel tricks on me. I took two tests, both negative, before she decided to show up 3 Days late. Oh, I was a wreck. We were now 3 months isn’t trying and less than 1 month away from my husband’s big exam. He had no time for my blubbering tears of how terrible this was for us. I was on my own in the depressing spiral and I didn’t know how to get out. I hated looking at myself in the mirror (I’d stopped watching what I ate and wasn’t working out because I didn’t want to stress my body out), and after learning at my annual appointment that I’d gained 15 lbs in a year, I’d had enough.

With Justin studying late into the night and all weekend, I had nothing better to do with my time than crafts, baking, movies, and eating. But I wasn’t getting pregnant and I was rapidly gaining weight, so I thought I needed to make a change to help cheer me up. I decided I was making myself stressed and depressed by trying to get pregnant. I signed up for a local 5k that was in the beginning of March and began running laps around my neighborhood. It was fought at first because I hadn’t run in over a year and I didn’t have my running partner there to help push me. It took me nearly a month to reach the three miles in practice, right before I ran in the 5k I’d signed myself up for.

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My husband was still studying and sitting for his exam. But instead of sulking about him never being home or the fact that sure enough, Aunt Flo arrived later that month, I threw myself into running. I was determined that by getting healthy and eating better, I would prime my body for pregnancy. While I wasn’t so obsessed about tracking vitals, I was still concerned that something may be wrong. And so in April, I requested testing to be sure that I was physically healthy enough to have a baby.

Looking back, I’m sure the doctor thought I was nuts. I’d been on and off birth control for the last 5-6 years and only been off the pill for 5 months when I begged to have blood work done because it was taking us so long to fall pregnant. The results were that I had low progesterone and that I would need supplementation when I became pregnant. They started me on cycled of Clomid in an effort to boost my hormones so I would have a better chance to testing positive on an ovulation test, this increasing our odds of conceiving.

I was delighted. I felt sure that this was the month. I remember the joy of seeing that smiley face on the ovulation test one morning and dancing with excitement that we’d “baby-danced” during the prime hours. The anxious two-week wait began and I felt positive that we’d done it – we were finally going to be pregnant. We celebrated my 30th birthday that month and much like New Years, we toasted to this being the last birthday without kids.

But luck wasn’t on our side. I don’t even remember if I tested that month or if I just started my period around the 28-30 day cycled my body had settled into since coming off of birth control. While I was upset, I decided to shake it off and figured I had two month left to get it right. I was focused more on my running now and told myself I was doing what was best for my body in preparing for motherhood. When the second month came and went without a positive test, I began to fret and insisted my husband get tested. That of course brought a lot of arguments, but one sunny summer morning we drove the specimen downtown to have it analyzed.

The results: everything was normal and good. Which meant only one thing in my mind – the reason for our hold-up was me. Things had already reached the peak of stress between us, and this only added to my growing anger towards him. Sure, he wasn’t at fault, but I was sincerely trying to have a baby here and he just wasn’t that into it. While I was working out and eating clean and tracking my ovulation, he ate and drank whatever he wanted.

I don’t honestly even remember that last cycle month. We were fighting almost every day and I’d reached a point of wondering if we were even meant to be together, let alone have kids. I wound up never having my period that last month and after about a week (and no positive test), I requested a blood test to see if I was pregnant. Much to my dismay (or perhaps relief), the results were negative. They gave me medication to basically reset my body so I would have a period and assured me that once I was back in my normal cycles, we could try Clomid again.


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I never got that chance. Within the month, my husband and I had a huge falling out. We separated and after 2 months of living with a coworker, I moved back home to stay with my parents. To say I was devastated would be putting it lightly. I plugged along through work those first few months before I moved back home, but upon arriving home reality set in. This is not where I’d expected to be in my life at that point – 30, possibly on the verge of divorce after less than 2 years of marriage, and living in my old bedroom. I couldn’t handle it anymore and on one Wednesday morning early in December, I completely broke down.

That was another significant turning point in my life – the point when I came to grips with the idea that I might not reach my dream of a family and a house. I thought I’d married my Prince Charming and I felt confident that together we would build our dreams together. Instead, we’d pretty much tore each other down to the point where we acted as if we hated one another. No wonder we couldn’t get pregnant. Deep down, our souls were wrestling against one another, each pulling the other in a direction that it didn’t want to really go. Mine was ready for kids and to settle down; his was content where we were and wanted more time so he could focus on work.

The next few months are what I like to refer as my self-discovery period. In my new-found solitude, I only had to worry about myself – something I hadn’t done since probably college. Ever since I was in serious relationships, I’d always focused on my partner and making sure they were happy; that their needs were met. Looking out for me was something I only focused on when I was leaving a relationship (which was always much later than I should have because I’d convince myself I was in the wrong), and it would fly out the window the moment I fell into a new relationship. But for once, I was actually learning about myself and what I needed in order to be fulfilled and happy.

The relationship between my husband and I continued to be a rollercoaster, as it had been for upwards of a year. Only now, I didn’t have a front row seat where I was strapped in and couldn’t leave for fear of falling. Instead, I was in the waiting line, weighing the pros and cons of whether or not I really wanted to go for another ride. There were days where I longed for his touch and to be in his arms, and then there were days that my anger took over and I reminded myself why I had left. Throughout anger, the  tearful cries to come home, and the begging pleas to be please fix what was wrong, I told myself I was doing the right thing. That somehow, this would end as it should and I would be happy again.


Flash forward to Friday June 16th, 2017. It was about 4:30 in the morning and my body couldn’t take it anymore. It was the second day in a row that I’d been awakened well before dawn with what felt like period cramping. I’d convinced myself back to sleep the morning before, only later to drag myself out of bed and out for a run because that would always get things going. But strangely it hadn’t and by Thursday night, the cramps were back.

One of my best friends, who was about one month pregnant again told me that I needed to take a pregnancy test, even though the test I’d taken at her house the week prior had been negative. But, as my husband had reminded me, I’d felt sick the weekend prior on both of my long training runs while visiting him. Not to mention the fact that I was about two weeks late.

“Ok,” I’d agreed that Thursday night. “I promise I’ll actually take the test in the morning if I haven’t started. I’ll call you if it’s positive.”

“No, call me regardless of what it says,” my husband replied.

I agreed and went to bed, thinking nothing more of it.

But around 4 am, I was awakened by cramps again. I tried to fall back asleep as I had the morning before because it was Friday, one of the two rest days I had a week. I was 6 weeks out from my first marathon and rest days were vital at this point. I told myself I was starting my period and this would be perfect to have the dreadful first twenty-four hours of pain out of the way before my two long training runs that weekend.

But about a half hour later, the pain was winning and my chances of falling back asleep weren’t looking bright. I begrudgingly crawled out of bed and stumbled to the bathroom. As I would always do, I checked for signs that my cycle was paying a visit and saw nothing. So, as promised, I pulled out a pregnancy test (one I had packed up with me when I moved), and proceeded to take it. I set it down next to the bathtub so the shower curtain was covering the screen and proceeded to wait, knowing full well what the screen would show.

I’d been through this before. Every time I took the test, I tried my best to angle it just so and count the most ridiculously long 5 seconds to ensure there was enough evidence for the test to do its thing properly. Over the months over trying without luck, I’d learned to just put the test aside, finish up and wash my hands, and go about my business before returning 5 minutes later to check the result.

Maybe it was the fact that it was before 5am and I was exhausted. I really don’t know what possessed me to not move that morning and to break my own rule of not waiting the full 5 minutes before checking the results window. Whatever the reason may be, I sleepily checked the test within a few minutes and stared incredulously at the screen.

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There were two lines.

Two dark, solid lines.

I’m pretty sure I rubbed my eyes and shook my head as if to wake myself from what was most certainly must have been a dream.

Nope – still there. Even without my glasses on, there was no mistaking it.

The test was saying I was pregnant.

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family, marriage, pregnancy, The Savvy Kitchenista

The News – Part 1

After what felt like eternity of me sitting and staring at the pregnancy test, I began to nervously laugh in my mind.

Like what’s going on here?

Then the questions came.

How can this is be happening? When did this happen? But seriously, how could this happen?

My husband and I had been separated since October of the previous year. I’d moved three states away at Thanksgiving and since then, we’d seen each other a total of four times. Once when I’d returned to Florida for the 15K I’d promised myself I would do the year before; once when he’d driven up and surprised me on our 2nd wedding anniversary; once when we’d met for Memorial Day weekend; and once when I’d come back to Florida for business.

The Memorial Day weekend trip had only been three weekends prior. We’d driven halfway to meet each other that Saturday afternoon and spent the next 18 hours together. During that trip, we’d seriously discussed the future and how we planned to move forward. He was in graduate school and was aiming to look for a job in North Carolina since I refused to return to Florida. I was completing my holistic health coaching certification and training for my first of two scheduled marathons within the next 12 months.

Kids were not the first thing on my mind.

I remember how heavily I debated broaching the topic of children in the days leading up to our Memorial Day getaway. This was a touchy subject for us as it had caused a lot of stress the previous summer, and played a key part in our falling out a few months later. I knew that I still wanted to have children, but I was no longer listening to the ticking biological clock.

Funny how things change in just a year.

“Look,” I remember saying to my husband as we sat in the hotel room shortly after check-in. “You just started grad school and that will take at least two years. And my program is a year long.”

“More like three, since I’ll have to take some time to study for my licensure exams for work,” he interjected.

“Ok, so there’s a lot going on for us right now… so I’m ok with not focusing on trying to have kids for the next three years. Let’s focus on school and work before we seriously start trying again.”

“I can’t do three years,” he sternly replied. “I’m already 34 and running out of time. Two years, tops.”

“Ok,” I agreed.

I shook my head in disbelief as I thought back to this conversation now, test in hand.

When I’d visited him two weeks later during my business trip, nothing about kids was brought up. I knew I was about a week late, but I attributed it to the fact that I was ramping up my long mile runs on the weekends & my body was adjusting to the new intensity. During that weekend visit though, I couldn’t complete either of my long runs because I got what I could only imagine were the dreaded runners trots. Both mornings I urgently rushed into the hotel that was located at the halfway mark of the route I’d mapped out and both mornings, I wound up walking most of the way back to my husband’s townhouse.

I’d attributed the sickness to eating his Jif peanut butter, which was so full of hydrogenated oils and I was pretty confident it had expired. The stomach troubles passed by the afternoon both days, so I thought nothing more of it. When I returned home that Sunday night, I only felt the sorrow of once again leaving my husband after too-short of time together.

But things began to get weirder when just three days later, I over-heated and had to walk the majority of my Wednesday night run with the local running group. It was mid-June and the heat was fairly intense, but I’d been drinking water from my camelback and I just couldn’t quench my thirst. I wound up stopping by the store on my way home to grab a coconut water. I remember joking with a fellow runner that I might take a pregnancy test in the morning because I never get overheated from running.

But that following morning I woke up cramping and I told myself that I was starting my cycle. Rather than waiting to see if it happened and forfeiting another training run, I opted to run that morning. I told myself this would be helpful because not only would I get my training run in, but I knew my body well and running would always cause the flow to start.

But it didn’t. I remember feeling quite perplexed, but didn’t dwell too much on it as I went about my work day. When the cramps returned that night, I reached out to my best friend who’d questioned why I hadn’t tested that morning. She insisted that I test the next day and to report back to her with the results. My husband gave me the same request, telling me to call him regardless if  it was positive or negative.

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So there I sat, that Friday morning before 5am, staring at a pregnancy test. It was way too early to call anyone because no one in there right mind was awake. I took a picture of the test and sent it to my friend along with a message that read “I need your help with something…”

I then messaged my husband the same photo, and waited to see who would respond first.
That lasted maybe a total of 10 minutes, during which I impatiently checked my phone to see if either messages had been read. I was now in my bedroom, anxiously pacing my room and sitting on my bed, rehearsing what I would say.

Finally, I couldn’t take it anymore. I dialed my husband’s cell phone and prayed he would wake up.

He did.

“Hello?” He said groggily, obviously still very much asleep. I imagined that he was lying in bed, eyes closed with one earplug still in the other ear.

“Hey,” I said nervously. “Can you open your Facebook messenger?”

“What?”

“Go get your tablet and look at your Facebook messenger,” I said. Oh, this is not the time to ask me to repeat things, I thought to myself.

He started to mumble and I repeated myself saying he needed to look at something.
As he fumbled around looking for his tablet, I was growing increasingly impatient. I’m sure the house was still dark and that he was just as annoyed with me.

At one point, I think he even said something like, “are you pregnant?” to which I replied, “open you messenger”.

He finally locates the tablet and tells me that he’s opening messenger. And then there’s a pause, followed by a sleepy yet surprised statement:

“You’re pregnant.”

“Yes!” I squealed quietly, trying to contain my excitement since I know he and my parents are still not as awake as I am.

“Oh my gosh, you’re pregnant,” he repeated, still a bit to calm for my taste. “I knew it.”

“No you didn’t,” I retorted.

“Yah, you were sick last weekend when you were here. That’s why, because I got you pregnant.”

“I was sick because of your peanut butter, not because you got me pregnant.”

“No, I got you pregnant and you felt sick because of it,” he insisted. “Wow, that was really quick. I mean, that’s odd though because you were feeling sick.”

I laughed and shook my head. “No, silly – you didn’t get me pregnant last weekend.”

“But how then…”

“Uh – this is from Memorial Day. Remember? Like three weeks ago?”

“Oh wow…” he paused. “That makes more sense. I mean, we did spend a lot of time together that weekend…”

“I’m going to be a dad.”


I write this now, a year later, on the eve of your first Father’s Day. It’s been a tough first few months, transitioning from couplehood to parenthood. Not every day was the best and there are things I know we both regret saying. There have been many moments of doubt and frustration, fear and insecurity. But we stand here together with the cutest little angel who has changed our lives forever – for the better. Thank you for introducing her to Mr. Rabbit, who has his own theme song, and reading silly books about zoo animals. Thank you for dancing with our daughter, for making sure she’s always the right temperature, and that she’s full of milk. Thank you for being her father.

 

Want to hear more about our story? Check out the beginning of this tale by reading my last post, Two Solid Lines.

 

breakfast, morning sickness, pregnancy

Five Tips to Conquer Morning Sickness

As we reach the 1 year anniversary of when Julietta was conceived, I thought this was the ideal time to share experiences about our pregnancy.

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Pregnancy can be tough to navigate, especially if it’s your first. I remember last summer as I was learning I was pregnant – it was like a whole new world. Where I had been very confident about what I was eating and how much to eat; suddenly I didn’t feel so confident. I researched the right amount of protein to eat and what foods were the best source. I became even more conscious of my intake of processed foods in order to avoid anything that might be harmful to the baby (like corn syrup). I began researching the best prenatal vitamins because I’d honestly not been taking any up until that point!

And then it happened – I went in for my first doctors appointment and asked a slew of questions. I came home from that appointment and it was almost immediate that I lost my appetite.

I’d already discovered that I was unable to continue enjoying the dairy products as I’m become accustomed to. Ladies – if you’re not aware, let me give you this disclaimer up front. Your body is producing a TON of hormones and your digestive system is trying to account for all the new nutrients it needs to absorb. In order to maximize this absorption everything slows down – and I mean WAY down. So when I tried I to eat dairy with my medication, my body digested the medicine but not the dairy… leaving me to endure sharp, stabbing abdominal pains.

Not fun.

And then there was the rough discovery that I couldn’t process soy. I switched to a prenatal that the OB had toted was “the best ok the market”. After about day 3 of taking them, I noticed the bottle said “take with meals”. Hmm, well that could explain some of the nausea. I started taking with meals and it seemed to help a little. Two days later, I was reading the bottle again and noticed one of the key ingredients was soy.

Yes, soy. Like why the heck was that needed?? I avoid soy like the plague because it’s mimics estrogen, and I already knew I had too much because I’d had blood work done a year earlier that said I had low progesterone. Not to mention that when is dabbled in being vegetarian earlier in the year, my digestive tract didn’t know how the heck to break down tofu and tempeh, so it just didn’t. Not fun.

Now, had I just had some abdominal pains and some constipation, I think I could have been ok and deemed my start to pregnancy a fairly easy one. But that wasn’t the case. No, despite eliminating dairy and switching a vegan, whole food prenatal, my body was still out of whack. I was exhausted all the time and I couldn’t get enough sleep. The smell and taste of coffee made me woozy, which threw my body for a loop  because I lived for my two cups every morning.

But the kicker was my tastebuds. Ladies – if no one else will tell you, I will – your taste preferences will most likely change during pregnancy. You may not have the wild cravings everyone talks about, but you will probably find something that you’ve never liked before tasty or vice verse.

For me, it was both.

I went from eating all these lovely things… to hating them:

 

I suddenly couldn’t stand the smell or taste of chicken. I also lost all desire to eat zucchini, which I loved so much prior to this that my mom planted a whole ton in the garden since we would both be eating it. And my need for carbs – especially white bread – came back with a vengeance.

And so with all these changes in taste preferences and constant nauseated feeling, I showed up to my second doctors appointment, only two weeks after the first, a shocking 10 lbs lighter.

I can’t even begin to explain why other than I felt so nauseated that I feared by eating I would throw up. So I barely ate. Nothing sounded appealing. But the OB wasn’t believing this and proceeded to give me the only good advice I got from him before I switched practices: Eat tiny meals.

Surprisingly it worked – mostly.

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I would eat small meals, like the one shown above, that was basically just a whole bunch of snacks put together on a plate. The craziest cravings came over me, like wanting shredded wheat – without the sugary frosting. Unsweetened applesauce was always a good way to get some fruit in during those first few weeks, as were prunes (which helped in other ways).

It took awhile, but I began to navigate eggs and meat back into at least two meals a day, in small doses. While I couldn’t stand the smell or taste of eggs, I would fry one and pair it with a slice of homemade cinnamon raisin toast to mask the taste. I also found I could stomach turkey sausage when one Saturday I was craving pancakes. But the pancakes had to be covered in maple syrup – something I hadn’t craved in years.

 

It was definitely a struggle at first, given the exhaustion, but I managed to slowly add back in the healthy nutrients my body needed. The prenatal vitamins were giving baby Julietta her nutrition, but I wanted to be sure I was nourished throughout the pregnancy too.

So here’s the top 5 ways I handled morning sickness – hopefully they help you too!

  1. Sleep – Mama, I can not stress enough how much you need to take advantage of this. Give yourself grace and grant yourself permission to grab some extra zzz’s. You’re growing a human and that’s tough work!
  2. Bland foods – For me, bland foods like toast, cereal, oatmeal, and bagels were key to surviving the day. I would pair with a salad or fruit, but the carb allowed me to settle my stomach those first few months.
  3. Liquids – Stay hydrated! I quickly lost my coffee obsession and switched to herbal teas like ginger and lemon. Both are great for nausea.
  4. Lemon water – Speaking of liquids, lemon water surprisingly helped me. I know it sounds odd, but lukewarm water with fresh lemon squeezed into each morning before breakfast was a God send. You could also make it into tea or lemonade, depending on your preferred water temperature.
  5. Grace – I had the hardest time accepting that I didn’t and couldn’t stand the taste of eggs, chicken, or most green vegetables. These were all of my staples and I thought I should force myself to eat them. DO NOT DO THIS. Grant yourself some grace and listen to your body. If you start craving Wendy’s chicken sandwiches (which I did) and it’s the only way you’re eating chicken, well – I say have one or two. Don’t replace your entire diet with these, but give yourself permission to indulge a craving. Especially if it makes you feel better.

 

If you’re like me and worried about nutrients, sign up here for a chart of where to find which nutrients!

love, marriage, prayer, resolutions

Why I Chose Marriage

A year ago, I had no idea where my marriage, let alone my life, stood. I was an emotional wreck and had just moved back home with my parents at the age of 30. I had no idea where I was going to be a month from now, let alone a year.

Yet here I sit before you, having made it through the past 12 months. Alive. Well. Peaceful. Happy.

This post is a reflection back on that time period as a testimony that time really can heal all wounds and it’s ultimately our decision how we move forward in this life.

Here is my story.


Don’t get me wrong – my relationship was rocky to put it nicely.

When I first left, I was a wreck. I didn’t know what I wanted, who I was, or what I was going to do with my life.

Everyone has a dream job that they want to do. When I was in first grade, I said I wanted to be a teacher. I pursued that dream after realizing how much I wasn’t a natural at math and science in college. I couldn’t wait to be a teacher, despite the jabs by my college communication professor who first claimed I didn’t have what it took to teach because I couldn’t give a speech without having full-blown anxiety and then at the end of course told me I would leave teaching because it was nothing like I imagined it to be. While he was right on the profession being very much unlike what I pictured it to be, that wasn’t solely the reason I left.

My next big dream was to be a mother. I left teaching unexpectedly when I dislocated my knee one winter. Nothing like nearly sitting on a brand new student in your classroom just days after winter break. I was terribly overweight and this accident was a wake up call. I was unable to return to work for nearly 3 months and when I did, it was an assistant in my own classroom (talk about degrading). After being away from the profession for 3 months, I realized how stressed and unhappy I had been. I took this as a sign from above that it was my time to leave.

Was I ready to be a mom? Hell no. Shortly after the school year ended, I broke up with my alcoholic boyfriend and was beginning to pursue a new career in physical therapy. A large reason I left my ex was because I didn’t see a future anymore. I had gained a good 40-50 lbs. while dating him, largely from eating like crap and drinking large amounts. But when you date an alcoholic, drinking is really the only way you get to socialize or spend time with them, or can tolerate them. Being sober, overweight, and on bedrest for the first month opened my eyes to what was going on in my relationship. He wasn’t an awful guy – he rushed down to pick me up the day I fell and helped me around to my appointments that first month when I was incapable of driving. I was thrilled at this behavior because the guy I’d dated before him would never have done any of this (I know – a real winner). But as time wore on and I began to see what he did on a daily basis while I had been working, I realized I just couldn’t see him as husband, let alone dad, material.

And so I let the dream of being a mom go, once again. Each time I got into a serious relationship, that’s where I saw it heading. Otherwise, I didn’t get into a serious relationship with you. Ask any of my exes and they’ll tell you how crazy I was to talk marriage and kids within the first year. If those topics made you squeamish, then what the hell was I doing with you?? I had a dream of being a mom to at least 5 kids and I didn’t want to be 30 when I started this dream family.

And then I met my husband. Within the first month we had discussed the normally taboo topics of a dating couple – divorce, marriage, children, kids, parenting styles, houses, religion, schooling. You name it; we discussed it. He had to have been the most open guy I’d ever spoken to and it was refreshing… Now I didn’t agree on everything he brought to the table, but we saw eye-to-eye on most things. And like with my exes, I made it very clear I wanted to be married and start a family.

Flash forward four years, an engagement and a wedding later. We were not so open and conversational as we’d been in the early days. In fact, we barely spoke at all in the final months. We were, as my therapist liked to describe it, “ships passing in the night”. We were physically together, living together, cleaning, watching movies, eating dinner…. but mentally and emotionally detached.

I look back at the Facebook memories that pop up from two and three years ago and I see the stark difference. Three years ago, we were still newly engaged and planning for our wedding. We were about to move apartments and getting a somewhat fresh start. The world was our oyster and we couldn’t have been happier to just be together. Sure we had issues, but nothing a couple wedding planning doesn’t encounter. A year later, though, you can see the difference. Less posts of the two of us and more posts about finding peace, solace, and happiness.

So what triggered the change? Was it the wedding? No – I never felt it was the wedding and to this day hold true to that. It began slowly. About two months following our wedding, my husband began a rigorous study program for a big exam. He worked full-time and then spent his nights and weekends studying… During the first 3 months of his studying, I happily kept house and planned for our upcoming move. Once we moved into our new, larger home, I took on the role of doting housewife who cooked meals and decorated our new home. I went through a very crafty phase and kept myself busy with DIY projects. I spent time with friends so I wasn’t always alone on the weekends.

But during this time, we began to lose touch. We rarely had meals together and rarely went to bed together because he was up late studying. We shut off the cable because it was an added expense that no one really used. What had once been a fun pastime a few nights a week – cuddling up to watch one of “our” shows or a Redbox movie – became a thing of the past. The rent of our new home was higher and I had decided it was time to start saving for a baby, so we had less fun money to go out on dates or go to the movies. I withdrew more and more as time passed and so did he.

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About six months after our wedding, I called it quits on my birth control. I announced that I’d waited long enough and that I was 6 months away from turning 30; it was time to start trying. My husband, like most men, wasn’t all that giddy about it but followed suit because, well, happy wife happy wife. And so we embarked on the new journey of trying to conceive. I was confident that we wouldn’t have any issues, so as each month passed and I wasn’t late, I sank deeper and deeper into depression. I don’t think I realized what it was back then, but looking back I realize that’s what it was. I lived for that time of the month and prayed that I would be late. I obsessively tracked and took ovulation tests, looking for that holy grail window.

But it never came. After 3 months of trying and realizing I had gained 15 lbs. in the last year, I realized I had to snap out of it. I started running to help distract myself and lose some weight. In the beginning of our relationship, running had been our nightly pastime! We would run to the church down the street or the community college on the corner. But since he was still studying, I did this on my own. As with most things over that first year of marriage, I learned to do many things on my own. At first it was lonely, but I became fond of my weekend trips to Michael’s and Hobby Lobby, followed by some new craft project.

When the test was finally passed and my husband emerged from his dungeon (I’m sorry, office), it was exhilarating! We began to have dinner together again, watching movies again, and going out just to be together. The conversation seemed to come back between us, which was something that had been lacking for a year. But as time wore on, the newness of our life together wore off as well. It was spring and early summer, a particularly stressful time for his line of work and it showed. We began to bicker over silly little things (things that seriously didn’t matter as I look back now) and I think we both seriously began to question if we were happy together.

We both had our ways of coping with the stress. I continued running because I got me out of my head. I have a very overactive brain that never seems to shut off, and when stressed or anxious it goes into overdrive. I would overthink a simple conversation from work and for the entire night until I went to bed, replay the conversation in my mind and with a running commentary of me judging myself on how I’d handled it. I had once confided in my husband, but after dealing with this sort of anxiety for days and weeks on end, I could tell it exhausted him. And when he wasn’t around to confide in, I was really stuck in anxiety central. So, when I took up running, it was a welcomed escape even just for 15 minutes. I continued running after he passed his exam, hoping he’d want to join me like old times.

But no, he was dealing with his own stress. And his way of blocking out the running dialogue in his head was to drink. It started off small – a drink here or a beer there, maybe two a night. He would chill out on the couch while I would cook dinner or work on a project, and we were content. I was ok with this at first because it seemed to calm him down. As with my anxiety, he would cycle through the worry aloud over and over and I could never find the right advice to give so he would remain anxious or aggravated. When he drank, the anxious thoughts would be pushed aside and he could actually talk about something else funny or not so serious.

But over time, it became worse. The stress built and things that had been promised weren’t fulfilled. The number and frequency of drinks began to increase and with it came the pleas for me to drink with him. When I turned them down because we were trying to get pregnant, he didn’t quite understand. I think he felt isolated and like we could no longer connect. This is when the parallel lives really begin to emerge. Living side-by-side in the same house, but not really interacting. He would drink and zone out while I would find something else to entertain my attention. As I had learned with my ex, it’s no fun to be the sober one interacting with a drunk, so I would often seclude myself to another area of the house. He picked up on this and took to leaving the house to have drinks, adding to my anxiety when he wouldn’t come home…

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The fighting escalated. Don’t get me wrong, it had always been there. We are both rather stubborn individuals and genuinely feel we have the right opinion, so we very often butt heads. Early in the relationship, I would just agree on most minuscule things to keep the peace and appear easygoing. I think most women do this early on and as things get serious, you let your true self show. I’d been burned by doing this in the past, so I didn’t hide much from him. As I mentioned, he was the first open guy I’d dated and I felt comfortable sharing my thoughts and opinions. In the past, we’d agreed to disagree on topics that really didn’t matter and on serious topics we would often compromise.

But now, everything seemed to be a no-win situation. We found ourselves going in circles, having the same fights over and over. I would share with my friends who would tell me to stand up for myself, which I would. He would share with his friends who gave him the same advice, and so we would reach an impasse. To avoid fights, he just wouldn’t come home and would drink. I would run and disappear on the weekend running errands so I didn’t have to be around when he woke up from a stupor. And so round we went around the merry-go-round, pretending that things would solve themselves.

Not once during this did I reach out for help. As the fights wore on, I stopped sharing with friends and my mother because I was embarrassed that we couldn’t resolve such simple problems. I never suggested we go to therapy to get some guidance on how to communicate. Sadly, I just pretty much gave up. We weren’t having any luck getting pregnant and I began to wonder if us being together was a mistake. Had we really not thought things through enough and just dove in head first? Had we each really concocted an image of the other in our mind and now we were just fighting to make the other conform to our desired partner image?

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When it all crumbled, that’s what it came down to. We each had our own image of what the other should be, but had never bothered to fully communicate this to the other. We had partied and had fun the first 2 years of our relationship, so when we got engaged and then married, he assumed we would continue the fun. In my mind, marriage meant we were finally settling down and going to start a family – to be adults. That term alone brought very different opinions. I viewed married adults as couples who were saving for a house and planning to start a family. I think he viewed it as a chance to travel and have fun while being in a committed relationship. Nothing was wrong with our ideas; we just didn’t communicate them to each other and in doing so, were just assuming the other one would follow our plan.

Nothing could have been farther from the truth the lack of communication for 9+ months dredged a valley as wide as the Grand Canyon between us (or so it felt like to me). As the dust settled from the crash to the valley floor, I demanded we see a therapist. But unfortunately, I went into therapy completely broken and untrusting. I had every right to feel this way, but I know for a fact I went in with the mindset that this wouldn’t help. It would be good to talk, but if already made my mind up – I was leaving. As our therapist described it, I was done with the ride and jumping off the merry-go-round. My mind was made up and frankly, it seemed to be the only solution.

When I moved out, I had no plans of going back. I made it clear I would never return to our home, the site of so much anger and pain. I took most everything with me, leaving behind a few framed photos of us in hopes it would stir some emotion from him. The day I moved out, he’d left notes all over the table, asking me to reconsider what I was doing. But I was Fort Knox – I wouldn’t be broken.

We spent the remainder of the year in flux between arguing via texts, angry phone calls whenever one of us was overcome with all that had happened, or silence. It was the first year we spent the holidays apart. I hated him for having this all happen at the end of summer. Fall is my most favorite time of the year and I was no longer in my own home able to decorate and enjoy it. I moved home the week of Thanksgiving and was miserable. I didn’t regret my decision, but I began to deal with the realization that my marriage might actually be over.

The following months were brutal and a roller coaster of emotions. On any given day, I could be happy or feeling as if the world was ending. In my mind, it was. My dream of being a wife and mother had been so close to my grasp, and then like always, ripped away. I briefly toyed with the idea that I was the one screwing up in the relationships and unknowingly sabotaging myself so I would never be happy. In order to avoid these thoughts, I threw myself into work and self-help books. I prayed on a daily basis, asking God to show me the way. At one point, I cried out to Him and asked for a sign if I was to try and work things out with my marriage. Within a few days, I received a sign and it brought me to tears.

There was hope.

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It wasn’t easy. I was in therapy once a week, working through my personal issues. For the first time, I began to uncover years of hidden memories that I’d buried so deep inside of me that I nearly forgot them. Week after week in session, I would break down in tears as we uncovered areas and thoughts that I had formed as a young college student, naïve and new to dating. I had experienced more than most women would put up with and taught myself hat I caused it; that I deserved the treatment. I thought so little of myself that it would take a severe wake-up call to jolt myself awake.

For months, all I did was work on me. I continued to read books and pray. I continued to run every morning because it was the only way to keep the depression and tears away. I went for days without talking to my husband because we’d had some fight or I stated I needed space to figure things out. Prior to the new year, I had struggled to verbalize everything that I was feeling. He knew I was in therapy and I think he believed that I would come out a man-hater. Surprisingly, I spent the first three months of therapy barely talking about what had happened between my husband and I. All we worked through were past relationships and scenarios, and the baggage that it gave me and how I’d carried said baggage through years of relationships.

Sometime after the new year, I wrote a letter to my husband stating what I felt I deserved and what I expected in a husband. It was the first time I’d ever written anything like this and I had little to no faith that it would be read with care. As we began to talk (and argue) more, I would constantly refer back to this letter and what I wanted in a marriage. It became my mantra and I wouldn’t back down from it. I began to believe for the first time in a very, very long time that I deserved this. That I wasn’t crazy for expecting these things and that as a man who loved me, he would see that they made sense.

Slowly, the fighting subsided. Maybe we both tired out from arguing via phone and text. Maybe we both decided we just wanted to make a positive turn. Maybe God touched both of our hearts and asked us to look for anything that might still be there that resembled love. I remember going to visit a friend in New York and still feeling so lost. All I did was hike and think that weekend, but it was probably the best thing for me. I experienced yoga for the first time and cried in my second session of hot yoga as I tried not to throw up the margaritas I’d drank the night before. I hiked in the snow and battled in my mind with how freeing this was and yet how I missed being able to share this with my husband. It was that weekend that I was asked if it was the last day on earth, what would I choose to do in my relationship.

Without hesitation, I said I would stay.

I had been given a sign from God that was I was supposed to work on my marriage for the next six months. That meant that through June, I was going to give it my all, but I was going to stand firm in my truth. I had uncovered a lot of pent-up hurt and anger that needed to be released. I learned that I’d carried multiple scars and misconceptions from my early relationships into my marriage. I began to see that when something that faintly resembled an old, buried experience, my mind leapt into replaying that experience in present day. My husband would become the alcoholic ex who would leave me and hang out with the guys. My husband would become the ex who would choose watching late night TV over coming to bed with me. My husband would harbor the thoughts that I was a pain; that I was the bitch; that I was bringing all of this on myself.

I was doing a lot of this to myself in my own head. My husband was merely the actor playing out the story I’d already projected out into the universe.

And so, I would repeat the story and the situation from years ago. And I would cry to myself, “why is this happening again??”

Now – let me be very clear that on his own he did what he did. He handled himself in poor fashion at times (as do us all) and in his mind, he was playing out his own fearful stories. Situations that he’d experienced long before he met me would resurface whenever we fought or whenever I would be so angry that I asked if we should just end it all. I became the actress in his own movie and I began to play the parts in the scenes he’d seen far too many times before. And trust me, being 3 years older than me meant he’d repeated these scenarios more times than I had.

And so, we became trapped in this world where neither one of us felt loved, safe, or in control. We couldn’t seem to control our thoughts and no matter what we said or did, it wouldn’t stop the scene from continuing on. Eventually he said and did things that my ex had down all those years ago. And with those actions, I left like his ex had done so many years before me.

Our ego got what it wanted – for us to replay our stories and to wind up being right. For me, it showed me that no man would ever be different than the one who’d started this mess for me. For him, it showed that no matter how sweet you were, the girl always leaves.

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And around the merry-go-round we went, stuck in our stories.

And then I jumped off. I broke the cycle. I broke the hamster wheel; the routine; I went off the script.

And I started my own new story – one where I was happy, no matter what.

Did I want him in the story? Not at first. No, I thought he would never change and that in order for us to be together I would need a completely different person.

That has been my coping mechanism for as long as I can remember. Every time there was a fight, I wanted to break up. My total type-A personality screamed and died a little each time that I made up with someone because to me, there was now a dent in my perfect story. I wanted a fairytale and fairytales don’t have dents. And once I accrued enough dents, I would finally call it quits. I couldn’t ignore the dings and dents in my story any longer and I knew it was time to start over.

And so I would. Sometimes it would only last a few dates. Sometimes a few weeks; maybe a month. Once I found a “good one”, I would stick around for about two years. After two years, if there are too many dents I would jump ship, headed for land and new shores. I remember doing this around two years with my husband. We went through a particularly rough patch of time, marked by my increased level of drinking. We fought more often than we were happy and I began wracking up dents on my own. I was building a case so that I could say “see, too much damage – we’ve gotta break up”.

But he stuck it out. He put up with my drunken antics and my displays of absolute idiocy. He put up with the emotional breakdowns where I would scream, cry, and throw things. He would remain calm when I drove off angrily, only to return to apologize and beg forgiveness when I realized how much of an ass I had been.

Typing this now, I realize that a lot of what he’s put me through, I put him through as well. It almost became a battle of wills – who would push who to the brink. I honestly don’t remember how, but I got my drinking under control. Shortly after that, we were engaged and I realized that this guy wasn’t kidding – he loved me no matter what. I began to do anything and everything to try and make up for the chaos I had caused. It probably came across as fake, but I was genuinely sorry for ever trying to push him away.

And then it was his turn. And in the beginning, I think I recognized that he was repeating a lot of the behavior that I had already displayed. My displays of rage and insanity had set the bar in our relationship and his tolerance for it showed the we were in a committed relationship. And being in this committed relationship meant that from time to time, you had to deal with the other ones crap. Keep them in check and all would return to normal.

Right?

Until I chose to not keep things in check. Until I decided that I was too good for the behavior and that I didn’t have to put up with it. Was I within my rights early on when things first started to get carried away? Probably not because he was merely mirroring things that I had put him through. But unlike him, I chose to ignore the behavior and act as if I had nothing to do with him. In the times where I’d been drunk and screaming at him for Lord knows what, he wouldn’t abandon me. He might leave for a bit (usually instigated by me telling him to just go), but he always came back and checked on me. He always made sure I was ok and that things were ok. He would reprimand me and tell me that this isn’t how adults treated each other and we would work through things.

But what did I do?

Threw up my hands and said you’re nuts – you better figure this shit out on your own.

And then went back to whatever I wanted to do.

Yes, he went off the deep end and really screwed up in a lot of ways.

But so did I by not being a supportive partner – by not trying to work on things in the good times and resolve any underlying issues.

It wasn’t until I left and I examined myself did I realize that I had failed him as well. That in a teeny tiny way, I had caused some of our problems.

It took a lot for me to come to that realization and to actually admit it. But that was the turning point of my marriage. That was the point when I realized that we both were in need of help and making this marriage work.

And so, at some point this spring after being apart for nearly six months, I made the decision that I would choose our marriage. That I was still in love with this man who had done some serious damage to me, but had endured the damage I had tried to do to him. I decided to give him a second chance, as he’d done with me early on in the relationship.

I never formally announced this to him. Instead, I infused my feelings into all of our interactions – phone calls, texts, emails. I didn’t change my expectations, but I began to express things in “when” versus “if” scenarios. “When we move to ______” instead of “If we ______.”

Maybe he picked up on it; I’ve never asked. We spent our birthdays apart, but we made plans to see each other for Memorial Day weekend. In the meantime, we kept ourselves busy. He was gearing up to start his graduate school courses and I was well into my marathon training. Although there was talk about re-locating, it was still too early to tell where or when this would take place. Some nights it was overwhelming and one would message the other how much we missed them.

I remember that weekend like it was yesterday. We both drove about 5 hours to meet halfway for two days together. I remember choosing the destination and wondering if it needed to be at the beach so we had somewhere to go. My friend jokingly asked, “do you really plan on leaving the rom?” I decided she was right and didn’t bother looking at beach locales.

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I went into that weekend with a game plan – talk about what I was looking for and get it out early on so I could relax the rest of the time. The top of my list: holding off on starting a family due to both of us being in school. I expected this would be the make-or-break conversation for us, considering how much I had pushed for it the year before. If we were going to argue, it was going to be over this.

I didn’t launch into this conversation as soon as we were reunited (after all – we hadn’t seen each other in about 2 months), but it was still within the first few hours. When I stated my case, his only reply was, “Ok, but I can only wait 2 years. I’m older than you and time isn’t on our side here.”

Really? That was it? I agreed to not actively trying to have children for two years so that we could focus on finishing school and buying a home. I wanted to be in the best possible position financially when we brought our babies in the world. This also gave us two years to work on our marriage and re-build the foundation that we had lost.

I went on about our getaway weekend, content that we had agreed on something for the first time in nearly nine months and that we were being responsible adults. This was going to work out.

Little did I know, God had other plans in store for us.

10K training, 5K trainng, change, exercise, fitness, half-marathon, motivation, running, self-confidence, setting goals, The Savvy Kitchenista, Workout Wednesday

Things I Have Learned From Running

Ya’ll know me – I’m slightly obsessed with running.

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But I haven’t always been. Long long ago (not in a galaxy far, far away), I had no desire to run. I was content to sit on my couch at night and not do a thing. All I wanted to do on a Saturday morning was snuggle deep under the covers and block out the super bright sun. And I certainly didn’t mind partaking in a few beverages on a Friday or Saturday night because hey – I had no early morning plans.

So what changed? What caused me to stop drinking on the weekends; to toss the covers aside and hop out of bed; to not feel complete until my feet hit the pavement?

A lot, actually. I went from being a scared, anxious, obsessive person who couldn’t let things go that happened at work to being a strong individual with goals. Not that I didn’t have goals before, but for once these goals were attainable.

Why? Because I could control them.

No more of the wishing and hoping that others would follow through. No more praying on my hands and knees to give me something that I felt I needed in order to make my life complete. No wonder whining and pining, waiting for the day that everything would magically fall into place.

That’s not real life. So I guess you could say that in the last year, life slapped me across the booty and said, “hey – wake up! There’s more for you to do here than this rubbish of crying and wishing.”

And for once, I listened.

Now running certainly isn’t for everybody, so I’m not suggesting when life slaps you across the booty that you start running. But for me, it was my means of escape from the chains that bound me – OCD thoughts, anxiety, anger, stress, and depression. And while at first it may have seemed like I was escaping my problems, I was actually running head first into them. And sometimes – that’s what you have to do to learn.

Over the past year, running has become an integral part of my life. When I first started, running was my stress outlet after a long day of work. Instead of obsessing over that conversation that just didn’t go well, I would run and clear my head. Over time, running was my solitude and time to think when my marriage was beginning to unravel. I would spend those morning hours contemplating how to handle situations differently the next time they arose so that there was less anger and anxiety. When I moved away, running became my regiment to keep me sane: wake-up, workout, run, go to work, come home, cook dinner, read/write, sleep, repeat. When I was going through the depths of despair, running is the only thing that kept me going each day; without it I probably wouldn’t have gotten out of bed each the morning. As spring began to bloom and I began to feel fresh and new, running began to fuel new dreams that I’d never considered (or thought possible).

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All this – in just fourteen months.

So as you can see, running hasn’t been all about getting healthy or staying fit or losing weight. While it started out as that (I wanted to lose 15 lbs.), running went from something I had to do to something I wanted to do.

But you know what’s even crazier than that?! How many life lessons running has taught me. I have been contemplating this topic for several weeks now and once I began jotting down ideas, they just didn’t seem to stop! But for today, we’ll keep it sweet, simple, short (somewhat), and to the point.

~ 7 Things Running Has Taught Me ~

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No matter what happens, it’s just one event

It’s just one run. It’s just one race. It doesn’t define who you are. There’s this amazing thing called time which propels us forward, even when we don’t want to, allowing us to start over fresh every 24 hours. So what if you bombed that 5K and didn’t PR. You have the opportunity to redo the next day or the next race. One mistake or bad moment doesn’t define you forever, so stop overanalyzing and treating like so.

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You can’t NOT take care of yourself and expect to perform 100%

You can’t expect to get 2 hours of sleep and then run a PR whether it’s a 5K or a half marathon. Just like you can’t expect to fully function at your best after only having 2 hours of sleep. You’re going to get tired, you’re going to nod off, and you’re going to be distracted. You’re going to dwell more on negative thoughts of “I can’t” or “I won’t be able to” versus focusing on the positive and pushing yourself to do your best. Put yourself first and your body will back you up!

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Pay attention to what you’re putting into your body 

Food is fuel and energy, and whatever you put into it is what you will get out of it. If I feed myself crap, I’m going to feel like crap.  If I eat really crappy foods that I know my stomach can’t fully digest, I am not going to feel great while running because 9 times out of 10, that crap is still in my body and I’m lugging it around, up and down as I jog. No matter how you look at it, the big bowl of ice cream or cheesy macaroni and cheese doesn’t feel that great lobbing itself up and down within your stomach cavity. The same goes for everyday life. Feeding yourself candy, greasy foods, and sodas – while in the moment may taste amazing – aren’t helping your body. And your body knows it and often slows down because it either doesn’t know how to process it or literally can’t digest what you’re giving it. And when your digestion begins to shut down, everything begins to suffer. Your attention; your mood; your energy – it all requires energy and without it, these systems shut down.

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Change is inevitable

Whether it’s good or bad – it’s all in the eyes of the beholder! Ever since we were placed upon this planet, we’ve been experiencing change. Who would we be as a human race and a planet if we weren’t changing, constantly evolving and adapting to meet the new requirements around us? As any history teacher can tell you, those who refuse to change often are left behind and forgotten. If you push back against change and are stubborn, how can you expect to grow? How can you expect to be remembered? How can you expect to survive?

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You’re not going to win or be the best at everything

Hell, you may never win anything, but is that the point of life? Are you just doing things and going through the motions in order to win some prizes that you deemed was is the one thing that you need in order to be happy? Is there really only one thing in life that could make you happy? The only person you need to beat is yourself, and if you show up every day and give it 100%, I say you’ve succeeded.

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Nobody is the same as you

Let me repeat that – nobody is the same as you, so there’s no point in comparing yourself. Nobody was born as you; nobody’s had the same experiences as you; nobody is on the same path as you… Just because somebody is running the race next to you doesn’t mean that you should compare yourself to them. Everybody has their own journey that they’re on and their own set of experiences… That’s what makes us each unique and so precious. The same applies to real life. Everyone is on their own personal journey, and it’s OK to now be doing the same thing as someone else. The world needs your you-ness in order to be a brighter place. What would the world be like if we all dressed the same, talked the same, and had the same thoughts? We probably wouldn’t have very many of the first world conveniences that we’re so used to like electricity, refrigerators, or even automobiles!

 

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Thoughts are reality 

I don’t care how you look at it… The thoughts and energy that you bring to the road that you’re running every day influences how that run is going to go. If you bring positive thoughts and energy, then you’re going to have a more positive run. If you view the run as something that you have to get through and you just go through the motions in order to get it over with, you’re more likely to find fault and frustration with your run. The same goes for life. The more negative your outlook, the more often you will find judgment, faults, and frustration with everything that shows up. But if you can take a moment to step back and try to view every situation with some sort of positivity, you will be amazed at how your world will brighten just a smidgen each day.

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alkaline, balance, change, clean eating, detox, health, motivation, self-improvement, stress, sugar, Tasty Tuesday, The Savvy Kitchenista

Three Ways to Start Living Alkaline

WHAT IS ALKALINE?

Alkaline is a lifestyle choice for some and a requirement for others. The basis of this lifestyle sounds fairly simple – eat less acidic foods so that you can keep your body’s pH level in balance. Our bodies are designed to function at an optimal pH level around 7.0 – neutral. It will continue to function properly at a slightly higher level (alkaline), but if you dip lower than neutral (acidic range), you can suffer some major consequences. Eating too many acidic foods causes your body to move into inflammation state, which isn’t healthy! Inflammation is believed to be the driving force and cause of many of the chronic diseases we deal with today: cancer, obesity, and rheumatoid arthritis (to name a few).

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WHY CHOOSE Alkaline?

The last time I checked, nobody wants to have cancer or to be obese – plain and simple. As you know, cancer is very dangerous because once the malignant cells enter your body, they replicate at an alarming rate! But it doesn’t have to be this way!

Our bodies naturally produce acid through daily metabolic processes, and our body (being the awesomely smart machine that it is) balances it out the internal state without any trouble. For example, we produce carbon dioxide (acidic), but the levels of bicarbonate in our bodies act as “buffers” to neutralize the acidity.

Seems simple, right? Well it is, until we start adding stress, chemicals, and foods to our systems that push us into a highly acidic state. When we reach that point, our bodies can no longer get rid of all acidosis and it begins to break down.

Read more here!

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WHAT CAN I EAT AND NOT EAT?

I’ll be honest – depending on the website you follow, you could find at least five different approved food lists and all of them differ. For example, some list mentioned that I could eat fruits, while another said I needed to stay away from fruits. One list mentioned that I could have almonds; others said I needed to avoid them.

I’ve researched this lifestyle twice in the past 6 months and come to the realization that it’s very difficult to switch from any lifestyle to Alkaline without some transition time. In fact I’ll be super honest with you – the first time I researched this lifestyle, I didn’t make it past the first 3 days. Granted there was a lot more going on in my life at the time (especially where hormones are concerned), but I found it incredibly difficult to go from my current, well-rounded diet to 100% alkaline.

After doing some research, I learned that you are supposed to ease into this lifestyle gradually. And this is what I would recommend for anyone who’s looking into trying this lifestyle. Even if you eat alkaline 80% of the time and still enjoy the non-alkaline foods 20% of the time, it’s better than not even trying to improve your health!

Everyone’s body is different and can tolerate different foods, so I’m going to share a variety of the Alkaline food lists that I found during my research. Based on what you already know about your body, choose foods from the alkaline-list and use them to build your daily and weekly meal plans!

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WHAT DID YOU LIKE THE MOST?

I loved that I could eat more greens! I often feel that I don’t eat enough vegetables, just because the other food groups tend to overshadow them. I’ve definitely improved my intake over the past six months, but I could always stand to improve. Eating more alkaline foods meant that most other food groups were eliminated, leaving the vegetables to take center stage! One of my favorite dishes that I tried for the week was the vegetable crudite with the avocado dip – yum! How can you say now to more avocado??

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WHAT DID YOU DISLIKE and/or miss the most?

I missed not having meat. Don’t get me wrong – tofu and tempeh were definitely some great sources of protein for me, but I’ve also discovered that my body can only handle so much soy. As a woman who has been through the heartache of not being able to get pregnant, I learned that soy acts as a phytoestrogen and can mimic this hormone. Too high of estrogen levels can send a woman’s body into “estrogen dominance” and cause health complications (such as difficulty conceiving).

When I learned about this, I of course began to remove soy from my diet. That was last spring and I can honestly say that until a few months ago, I wasn’t consuming soy. When I did my vegetarian research a few months ago, I turned to tofu and tempeh as my protein source. What I wasn’t expecting was the unpleasant side effects that came with these foods. I’m lactose intolerant and have to take medication or simply avoid products in order to feel normal. Sure enough, when I ate tempeh and soy, I actually had the same undesirable side effects as I do with dairy. Hence why I don’t look to them as a primary protein source.

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WHAT WAS THE MOST DIFFICULT?

Having to limit my fruits!!! I am fully aware that fruits do contain sugar and shouldn’t be consumed in high quantities. However, I also believe that “an apple a day keeps the doctor away”. On some alkaline food lists, I found that fruit and nuts were considered ok, but on others I found that those should both be limited. Based on the 80/20 rule, I focused on consuming 80% alkaline foods and honestly used my 20% allowance on apples and almonds!

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Three THINGS I LEARNED

  1. Do your research before choosing to try this lifestyle and don’t cut acidic foods cold turkey (unless advised by a physician). After two rounds of research, I found that easing into the lifestyle with an 80/20 approach allows your body to transition naturally vs. leaving it in a shell-shocked state.
  2. Ladies – don’t choose to try out this lifestyle 100% (meaning no acidic foods whatsoever – cut cold turkey) when it’s that time of the month. Your body is typically craving extra nutrients as your body is under a high amount of stress during that time and suddenly removing foods could through your body off balance. Trust me on this – I learned the hard way!
  3. Vegetables really do fill you up, so much so that you don’t really miss the carbs. I was very pleased that I didn’t miss red meat and carbs like pasta and bread all that much during my second round of research!

 

Interested in trying this lifestyle out? Find the sample week’s menu below to help get your acclimated! Here’s the 3 easy steps to get started!!

  1. Get your free Alkaline Menu for 5-day test drive!!
  2. Review the Alkaline tips above and choose 10 foods that you want try for snacks. Trust me – you’ll want to keep these handy when you’re feeling the urge to go acidic!
  3. Choose 1 food for each day that falls under the “acidic” area. Remember that the key is balance and starting with an 80/20 mindset will actually help you succeed versus going 100% all in one day!
better for you food, breakfast, chocolate, homemade, on-the-go, protein bars, pumpkin, Tasty Tuesday, The Savvy Kitchenista, workouts

Three Protein Bars That Pack a Punch!

Whether you never have time to eat breakfast, need a quick pick-me-up in the afternoon, or need some field to get you through your workout… we’ve got you covered! Check out these 3 simple, yet tasty protein bars that you’re sure to fall in love with!

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Pumpkin-Date Protein Bars

These bars are jam packed with seeds and dried fruit, making them perfect for those hiking trips you’ve always wanted to take! Bonus points for sticking together and not leaving a mess!

  • 1 cup water
  • ½ cup packed, pitted Medjool dates
  • 3/4 cup rolled oat flour (ground rolled oats)
  • 1 tsp ground flax seed
  • ½ cup chia seeds
  • 1/4 cup raw sunflower seeds
  • 1/4 cup raw pumpkin seeds
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • Pinch of  sea salt

Directions:

  1. Place dates in a bowl with water and allow to soak at least 30 minutes prior to starting.
  2. Preheat oven to 325F and line a 9-inch square pan with two pieces of parchment paper, one going each way.
  3. Place rolled oats in a high-speed blender or food processor. Blend/pulse on highest speed until a fine flour forms. Pour into a large bowl.
  4. Remove dates from water and dice. Pour water and dates into blender, blending until smooth. Pour into bowl with oat flour.
  5. Add remaining ingredients to oat flour and stir well until combined.
  6. Scoop the mixture into the pan and spread it out with a spatula as evenly as possible.
  7. Bake for 23-25 minutes, or until firm to the touch. Allow to cool in the pan for 5 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack for another 5-10 minutes. Slice and enjoy!

 

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Not-So-Naughty Protein Bars

If you are a sucker for Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and know you should give them up, these are a great way to wean yourself off! Combining the best of both worlds, they boast a creamy nut base with just the right amount of chocolate to make you feel like you’re being naughty!

Bars

  • 1 cup nuts or seeds, soaked in water for at least 1 hour (I used almonds, sunflower seeds, and unsalted cashews)
  • 1/4 cup flax meal
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1/4 cup seed or nut butter (I used sunflower butter)
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Chocolate “Ganache”

  • 4 T coconut oil
  • 4 T almond butter
  • 2 T coconut sugar
  • 2 T cocoa powder or carob chips
  • 1 tsp honey
  • ½ tsp vanilla
  1. Place nuts or seeds, flax meal, coconut, butter, and salt in a food processor. Process until the nuts or seeds are ground into a coarse meal
  2. Add melted coconut oil and vanilla to processor. Pulse until well combined. Batter should resemble a paste.
  3. Press the mixture into an parchment-lined bread loaf pan and place in refrigerator to chill.
  4. While bars are chilling, prepare ganache. In a small saucepan, heat coconut oil and almond butter over a simmer. Stir in the cocoa/carob, honey, and vanilla extract.
  5. Continuously stir until it slightly thickens, then remove from heat. Pour over the chilled protein bars and return refrigerator to chill.
  6. Cut into squares and serve!

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No Bake Workout Bars

  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup protein powder (I use Vanilla Shakeology)
  • 1/4 cup mini chocolate chips
  • 2 T chia seeds
  • 2 T ground flax seeds
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup lite coconut milk
  • 2 T honey (raw honey if possible)

In a blender, pulse 1 1/2 cups of the oats until a flour like consistency. In a large bowl, toss to combine oat flour, remaining 1/2 cup oats, protein powder, chocolate chips, chia or flax seeds, and raisins.

Stir together in a medium bowl the coconut milk, peanut butter, and honey. Pour peanut butter mixture over oat mixture and stir until thoroughly incorporated.

Spread mixture into a 9 x 9-Inch square pan or an 11 x 7-inch pan. Press mixture down and cover with a lid or foil and refrigerate overnight, or until they harden some. Slice into 12 bars and keep stored in the refrigerator.


 

Looking for some high-quality protein bars that you don’t have to make? Check out these top-reviewed bars!

better for you food, breakfast, clean eating, energy, food, muffins, sugar, The Savvy Kitchenista

#Muffin Monday: Sweet Beets Bites

If you’ve been following me for these past 9 months, you’ve noticed that I’ve talked about my growing love/passion/obsession with running. I’ve been training for a marathon for 6 weeks now and we’re almost to the halfway mark! To say I’m excited and nervous would be an understatement.

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Being in school now and studying various aspects of nutrition, paired with my love for running, has peaked my interest in running nutrition. I know there are a number of products on the market that can be used during long run training and races – goos, gels, bars, waffles, and chews. Up until a month ago, I’d actually never trained with any of these items. My longest run was a half marathon and I had always trained with eating chopped dates. I also can’t run and drink water because I wind up choking on the water (yes, I refuse to stop just to drink).

I came across a running podcast a few weekends ago and it couldn’t have been more perfect timing because they were about to host a weekend-long nutrition summit. I tuned in for nearly every podcast, vigorously taking notes in hopes of learning the “best” foods for runners. But what I learned was true to the underlying theme of my coursework – everyone is different and will have different things that work best for them.

What I did learn, in addition to my lectures for school, is how important it is to properly fuel our bodies pre and post-workout. When it comes to long runs, our bodies are working so much harder than the standard 30-minute gym sesh or a light, 3-mile run. Every time we run, we’re basically breaking down our muscle fibers and re-building them to be stronger. That’s why it’s so important to re-fuel properly after a run so our bodies have the nutrients available to properly re-build our muscles. And it’s just as important to fuel pre-run to ensure that our body doesn’t begin harvesting energy from these same muscles.

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Two foods I learned about in my research are sweet potatoes and beets. Sweet potatoes are just slam-packed with nutrients like beta-carotene, vitamins C, manganese, and dietary fiber. In addition to being nutritional powerhouses, they’re much lower on the glycemic index than regular white potatoes. What does low-glycemic mean? Basically, the lower the lower glycemic index an item is, the slower our body digests it, making us feel full, longer!

Beets are another powerhouse, packing potassium, copper, and magnesium into their purple bodies. The cool thing about beets is that there is research out showing that beetroot juice can help to improve exercise performance. Studies have shown by taking in small shots of beetroot juice during training and before a race, the body begins to experience a stronger output without expending any extra energy. In basic English, this means you’re getting more energy out without actually expending that extra energy. Pretty cool, huh?

These two foods are the inspiration for this week’s muffin bites. We tested them in our running group over the weekend and found these to be pretty darn tasty!! I hope you enjoy them too!

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Sweet Beets Bites

  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 T ground flaxseed
  • 1 cup cooked and mashed sweet potato (about 1 small)
  • 3/4 cup mashed banana
  • 2 T coconut sugar
  • 1 T maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup mashed beets
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Grease a mini muffin tin snd set aside
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together all dry ingredients (except sugar) and set aside.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together sweet potato, banana, sugar, syrup, beets, milk and vanilla. Pour over dry ingredients and stir to combine. Mix until just moistened.
  4. Scoop into muffin tins and bake for 15-20 minutes. Check at the 15 minute mark, just to be sure and not overcook!

 

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Nutritional Facts:

  • Sweet potatoes are excellent source of vitamin A and polyphenols. Polyphenols are phytochemicals that have antioxidant properties. Every human being needs antioxidants in order to help maintain wellness and it’s been shown that having these helps stop the progression of chronic diseases such as diabetes and cancer!  
  • Although magnesium is the 4th most abundant mineral in the human body, more than 70% of the population is magnesium deficit! Beets are high in magnesium, amongst other fantastic benefits!
  • Did you know that in baking, you can substitute mashed banana for oil or sugar? 
better for you food, breakfast, food, fruit, smoothie bowls, Tasty Tuesday, The Savvy Kitchenista

7 Mouthwatering Smoothie Bowls

It’s pretty stressful to get up and out the door in the morning. Sometimes, there just isn’t time to have a family breakfast at the kitchen table, let alone a well-balanced breakfast!

As our lives get busier and busier, more and more of us are reaching for liquid meals to help stave off the mid-morning hunger pains and sugar cravings. With summer just around the corner and our bathing suits teasing us from deep within our dresser drawers, we’ll do, eat, or drink just about anything to slip into them.

Enter the smoothie. For those of you who have the time for a 10 minute breakfast before the children storm the kitchen, these are perfect for slipping those fruits and veggies in. Heck, you could double or triple the recipe and give them to your children for breakfast! It’s like drinking a fruity milkshake!

And for those of us who don’t have more than 5 minutes to spare, these are the perfect on-the-go meal!

I’ve gathered 5 of my favorite flavors to get your started off! Only a few more weeks until summer… You (and the kids) can make it!!!


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Chocolate Chia Smoothie Bowl 

Bowl

  • ½ cup brewed coffee, chilled
  • ½ cup milk of choice
  • 1 T almond butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 T unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 T maple syrup
  • ¼ cup chia seeds

Toppings

  • Banana slices
  • Granola
  • Unsweetened coconut flakes
  • Cacao chips, fresh berries, chopped dates
  1. Blend together all bowl ingredients (except chia seeds) in a blender.
  2. Pour into a resealable container and add chia seeds. Seal, shake, and chill in refrigerator overnight.
  3. Pour smoothie into a bowl and top with banana, granola, coconut flakes or whatever toppings you desire!

 

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Tropical Smoothie Bowl 

Bowl

  • ½ cup strawberries, fresh or frozen
  • ½ cup raspberries, fresh or frozen
  • ½ cup mango chunks, fresh or frozen
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • ½ cup yogurt (I used coconut milk)
Toppings
  • Almond slices
  • Unsweetened coconut flakes
  • Additional strawberries, raspberries, and/or mango slices
  • Blueberries
  • Chia seeds
  1. Combine all of the bowl ingredients in a blender and pulse until smooth.
  2. Pour into bowl and top with your preferred toppings!

 

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Apple & Coconut Oats Smoothie Bowl 

Bowl

  • ½ cup old-fashioned oats (not quick cooking)
  • ¼ cup sweetened almond milk (any milk will work here really)
  • ¼ cup plain Greek yogurt
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • Pinch of ground turmeric (optional)
  • 1 small apple, cored and chopped
  • 2 dates, pitted & chopped (optional)
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 4 ice cubes

Toppings

  • Diced apples
  • Chopped dates
  • Unsweetened coconut flakes
  • Hemp seeds
  1. Place all ingredients in a blender and pulse together until smooth.
  2. Pour into a bowl and top with additional toppings as desired.

 

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Peach Pie Smoothie Bowl

Bowl

  • 1 1/2 cups frozen peaches
  • 1/2 cup milk of choice
  • 3/4 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 scoop unflavored or vanilla protein powder (optional)
  • 1 T almond butter
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • pinch of nutmeg

Toppings

  • Fresh peach slices
  • Strawberry slices
  • Granola
  • Sliced almonds
  • Hemp seeds

 

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Sunshine Smoothie Bowl

Bowl

  • ½ cup coconut milk
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • ¼ tsp ginger
  • 1 frozen banana, sliced
  • ½ cup pineapple or mango, fresh or frozen
  • 1 scoop vanilla protein powder (optional)

Toppings

  • Unsweetened coconut flakes
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Granola
  • Fresh fruit
  • Hemp seeds
  • Chia seeds
  1. Combine bowl ingredients in a blender and pulse until smooth. If using protein powder, be sure to add last!
  2. Scoop into a bowl and adorn with toppings of choice!

Inspired by IIN’s Sunshine Smoothie Bowl

 

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Avocado & Kale Smoothie Bowl 

Bowl

  • 1 cup kale leaves, de-stemmed
  • ½ cup almond or coconut milk
  • 1 small banana, sliced and frozen
  • ½ avocado

Toppings

  • Strawberry slices
  • Additional banana slices
  • Chia seeds
  • Unsweetened coconut flakes
  1. In a blender, pulse together all bowl ingredients.
  2. Pour in serving bowl, garnish with desired toppings, and enjoy!

 

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Strawberry Banana Smoothie Bowl 

Bowl

  • ½ cup sliced strawberries
  • 1 frozen banana, sliced
  • ½ cup milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 tsp chia seeds

Toppings

  • Sliced strawberries
  • Sliced bananas
  • Almond slices
  • Unsweetened coconut flakes
  1. Place all bowl ingredients into blender and pulse until smooth.
  2. Pour in serving bowl, garnish with toppings, and enjoy!

 

The Savvy Kitchenista

A Look Back on 30

As a kid, I counted down the days – no the weeks – until my birthday. It was probably the best part of the year – a day all about me.
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Now, before you go thinking I was a total brat, I’ll mention this – I wanted it to be my birthday, but I didn’t want any outside attention for it. You see, when we were growing up, we rarely went out to eat. Only on special occasions and birthdays was one of those occasions. On the fateful one day of the year, we got to choose whatever we wanted (within reason) and my parents would take us there for our birthday meal. And you know when you go out to eat on your birthday at a restaurant, they bring you a complimentary food items – usually dessert. And this was highly coveted because my parents never bought appetizers or desserts.

But along with the dreamy dessert came the staff and other diners singing to you. This is where I drew the line. I never wanted to get attention, so I always turned down the dessert. Every year, I would beg my parents not to announce it was my birthday and every year, they reminded me that I wouldn’t get the cake. And I always agreed and said I know, I don’t care about the cake. Did I care about the cake? Eh a little bit, but my mom always made us a cake so it wasn’t like I was cake-less.

Every year, I’ve looked forward to my birthday. I think the most fun part for me is being able to dictate the entire day’s activities. My brother is younger than me and when I was about 5 or 6, I was very distraught that his birthday came before mine. “But I’m the oldest – how come his birthday comes first?!” I would whine to my parents, who tried to explain to me that’s not how these things work. There’s tales that for a few years, I refused to sing happy birthday to him because I was so irritated that I didn’t get to celebrate first (ok, so that was the extent of my brattiness).

I eventually grew out of that and realized that I was still getting the fair deal by being the older sibling. Throughout college and afterwards, I would always find some fun way to celebrate my birthday with friends. When I turned 18, I told my boyfriend that all I wanted was to go to Disney World, so we did. When I turned 21, I honestly can’t remember what we did, but I’m sure it was some sort of house party. Even when I turned 30 last year, I made a big deal about it. Instead of being sad and depressed about the big 3-0, I had a Gatsby-themed party and claimed this would be my last birthday as a kidless adult.

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Welp, I was wrong. Here I am, almost 365 days later, still without a baby; still not pregnant. I could be really depressed right about now, crying about all the things I had on my “Year of 30” Bucket List that I didn’t accomplish. In fact, I did bring that list out a few weeks ago and actually giggled over a few of the things I had chosen. I won’t share them all with you, but here are just some highlights

 

30 before 30 (2016 year goals)

  • Boudoir photos ✔️
  • Take a photography course
  • Take a weekend trip in town ✔️
  • Run in a race ✔️
  • Update my wardrobe to include staples for career & mother✔️
  • See a concert ✔️
  • Visit a new city  
  • Get pregnant!!
  • Complete 30-day squat circuit challenge ✔️
  • Build a new habit: compliments
  • Start going to church ✔️
  • Work on removing salt and sugar from diet ✔️
  • Find an ideal weight & be happy with it! ✔️
  • Finish honeymoon scrapbook

As you can see, my bucket list didn’t quite get accomplished, at least not the “big” things that I’d been looking forward to. I was adamant that by my 31st birthday, I would either be pregnant or have a small baby. I was convinced that I would be staying at home and possibly preparing to move to a new state. I was convinced that I would be happy with my weight (finally) and not care if I had stretch marks or even some post-pregnancy weight.

Now can you see where I’m coming from when I say I should be depressed as the big 3-1 looms around the corner, less than 72 hours away?

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But as I glanced over my bucket list and saw that prominent goal – the one that I was obsessed with this time last year, I found myself feeling nothing. I didn’t feel sadness or anger or regret; nor did I feel joy or relief. I was pretty neutral, which was surprising for me. Not even three months ago, I was completely torn up over the idea of how uncertain my future was and that I couldn’t even promise to myself that I would have the chance of being pregnant before the end of 2017. Now, the idea of not being pregnant doesn’t really bother me.
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So on the same night that I uncovered my “30 things before I turn 31” list, I decided to come up with another list: a list of everything that I have accomplished. And as I began making this mental list, I realized just how much there really was to celebrate. Looking back on this year, I think the one word I could use to describe it would be “metamorphosis”. That was the theme of my 30th year on this planet and God didn’t take the task of teaching me this lightly. In every way possible, he demonstrated that it’s possible to be tested and to go through the absolute worse, only to come out on the other end a much stronger person…

  • I moved back to my home state – a place I’ve been yearning to move back to for years
  • I ran my very first (and probably only) Gate River Run – a goal I’ve had for at least the past 10 years of living in Jacksonville
  • I made the decision to go back to school – and have self-funded the journey!
  • I have planned trips to 4 new cities in 2017 – and those are only the ones I have booked air fare for!
  • I committed to doing the unthinkable – running a marathon
  • I finally started this blog – something I’ve had on my mind for the past 2-3 years now and never had the confidence to do
  • I finally found a way to deal with my anxiety and stress – and it no longer involves nights that I don’t remember
  • I’ve begun to write again – something I gave up in high school, but was such a passion of mine
  • I ran 3 half marathons in the span of 6 months and have fallen in love with running – again
  • I’ve begun to relinquish control over what happens in my life – of the things that I can’t control no matter how much I fret, cry, or pray
  • I can look in the mirror and smile because smiling back at me is someone I love

 

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So now, looking at the list of what I have accomplished in the past twelve months and I ask myself: is that “goal” what I truly wanted? For months, I spent every waking moment trying to find ways to improve my fertility; to day dream about what it would be like to be pregnant; to pray that God would let me have a baby. I was so convinced that it would make me happy – that with a babu, my life would be complete.

But can I tell you a secret?

I think becoming pregnant would have been the worse thing ever for me – at that time.

A year ago, I was in no place or form to become a mother.

  • I couldn’t control my weight and I wasn’t distraught over this.
  • I was always stressed out from work and couldn’t “leave it at the office”.
  • I wasn’t paying attention to anything in my personal life except my obsession to get pregnant.
  • I was completely caught up in the comparison game and belittling myself for not having the life like everyone else.
  • I was grumpy most of the time and the only thing that seemed to solve it was drinking – or eating.
  • I would often go through spells of eating junk, knowing full well that the next day (or even later that night) I was going to hate myself.
  • I wouldn’t ask for help on anything – I had become solely dependent on myself and would just do things alone because it was easier.
  • Although I’d learned to be pretty self-sufficient, I was still very emotionally co-dependent. When he was up, I was up. And when he was down, I spiraled out of control into an anxious downward spiral.
  • I hated looking in the mirror because I didn’t know who the person was in the mirror. I felt like a fraud – a thief living in a borrowed body.
  • I took responsibility for everything – and boy do I mean everything. I apologized for things that I didn’t even do or were out of my control.
  • I was that person who tried to  do it all for others, but never took the time to do stuff for myself.

All of those things – and none of those things – would have helped me as a mother. I would have been stressed and anxious my entire pregnancy, at the mercy of all the elements of my personal and professional environment. I would have spent the entire nine months apologizing for gaining weight; apologizing for having morning sickness and fatigue; apologizing for wanting to eat certain foods; apologizing for wanting to go running or to do nothing at all. I would have been so wrapped up in my own awful story that all my baby would thrive on was fear, anxiety, and stress. It would have been born with this engrained in their DNA and then the awful cycle would continue to live on – in them.

And I would have been eternally angry that I passed such an awful gift onto something that I love so much.

Talk about a hefty therapy bill.

Instead, God insisted that it wasn’t my time; that I had a lot of work to do. He made it very clear that I wasn’t meant to have a child before8yxsj9b my 31st birthday because it wasn’t the loving decision – for the child or for me. Over these past twelve months, he’s showed me what it is to finally love myself and to find peace within. All the years, I was looking to others and the world to fill this gapping hole inside of me. Food, alcohol, drugs, parties, clothes, forgotten nights, men – nothing helped.

And after all these years of feeling like I would never find true happiness – here I find it, on the other side of what I thought was the end of my life.

So to my nearly 31-year-old self, I have nothing by gratitude and love. This year was the learning year – the transformative year seven – and I don’t believe it will end at the stroke of 2:20pm. No, this journey is far from over and I couldn’t be more excited.

Bring it on, 31. Show me whaha got!

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