Daily Life

Do you ever get tired or your "daily grind"? Maybe your daily or weekly routine has started to feel wearisome and repetitive?

I'm sorry if you've been feeling like that lately. It's easy for those thoughts to sneak up on anyone. One thing that I try to remind myself is that each "phase" or "chapter" of life looks and feels different. When you're in the thick of it, it's easy to forget that you're life won't always look the way it does today. Eventually, your responsibilities and goals will change and your daily routine will change as well.

It's easy to forget what life was like when you were eight years old, a teenager, or before you met your significant other. What were your daily thoughts and concerns? What were you sick-and-tired of? What about life did you absolutely enjoy?

Thinking along those lines, I decided to write this post about what my life looks like on an average day. I wrote it mostly for myself, so in five or ten years I can look back and remember what my life was like during this time.

Our work days usually start at 4:30am, sometimes earlier. Most days I'll go back to bed after showering. On my worst days, I procrastinate getting ready by either surfing pretty pictures on Instagram for to long, or by hitting the snooze button to many times. Then I end up stressed and rushing to get out the door. On my best days though, I wake up and do something slightly more productive. My favorite thing to do on good mornings is to make us a green smoothie to share, and then spend a half hour doing stretches or yoga. (Honestly though, I usually choose sleep over green smoothies and yoga. Ha!)

My morning commute to work typically takes about a half hour. Most of the roads I take to work only have two lanes traveling the same direction. The worst days are when two people decide to go the exact same speed in each lane - or when there's an accident. The best days are when I hit most of the traffic lights green, or when I catch the beginning of the sunrise.

Work is a ten hour shift. Normally, the only "down-time" I have at work is during my breaks and lunches. It's usually go-go-go. But the best days at work are when all the paperwork is caught up, and the lobby and phones are slow. Then the bosses allow us to go on a paid half hour walk, because they want to try and promote healthy lifestyle choices. (I haven't been able to do this in about 10 months though, so that tells you how busy we always are.) There is a park and a walking trail by our building, so when we have the opportunity to go outside and walk it always makes my day better. I'm not gonna talk about my worst days at work, because I honestly don't want to relive or remember them.

Do I hate my job? Not usually. But I don't exactly love it either. It doesn't set my soul on fire or fulfill me in anyway.  I teeter-totter between feeling grateful to have a decent job, and then feeling restless and burnt out. I'm not exactly sure why I struggle with this so much. I'm good at what I do, but I wonder if I'm not cut out for the 9-5 corporate kind of job? I honestly think one of my biggest problems is the boredom that comes from doing the same mundane tasks all day everyday. Answering the same questions sixty times a day, like what our office hours are or what our address is. Then having difficult conversations with upset customers about the exact same topics or problems you talked to a customer about yesterday. The whole environment just starts to wear me down.

I guess I always imagined myself doing something that was actually meaningful and fulfilling, something that made a real difference in peoples lives. Right now, my biggest regret in life, was not having enough faith and courage to find a career that was more fulfilling four years ago. I feel like I "settled" for something that was stable and safe. (Which has been hard to admit to myself.) I know it's not to late though, and that I can still change careers and start on a path that I think is better suited for my personality and talents.

Anyways, the reason I included this little tangent about work is because these are daily thoughts that I struggle with and think about. They often sneak up on me while I am mailing out the mail or filing papers.

Coming home to J.R. is always one of the best parts of my day. He gets off of work before I do, so when I come home he's usually making dinner while listening to music. Normally, he has the music up loud, and he doesn't hear me come in. I'll pause for a moment and listen to him sing along to his favorite songs, which makes my heart happy. My favorite days are when J.R. is singing to country music, and the weather is nice enough to have the house windows open.

We always eat dinner together at our small kitchen table. This never happened when I was going to school, so I treasure this time together. There's no T.V. and no cell phones. Just us eating dinner together like an old married couple. We usually talk about the funny or annoying things that happened during the day, and it's nice to reconnect and check in with each other after a long day.

After dinner, we try to get a workout in together. Some days we'll do weights and resistance bands at home, other days we'll go for a walk. There's a park by our house, and I enjoy our walks the most when the weather is nice and we get caught in that "golden hour" of sunlight before the sunsets. While we walk, we tend to talk about our hopes for the future. (I usually spend about 10 minutes of each walk trying to convince J.R. that we need a dog in our lives.) And then we talk about other important goals like: improvements we want to make to our yard and house, trips we want to take, or things we'd like to do together as a couple or family. Sometimes I'll tell J.R. about the story and plot ideas I have in my mind for a book I want to write. Even though reading isn't his thing, he listens patiently, gives the best kind of advice, and calms my anxiety.

In the summer time, I like to try to spend at least two days a week with my mom's horse. She's a good horse, but she tends to be stubborn and lazy. The more I work with her the better she gets. J.R. always supports and encourages me with my riding and will come watch, even though it probably bores him half to death.

Then there's always chores and yard work to do around the house. The dishes, laundry, and vacuuming. Then filling the gas tanks, picking up groceries and prescriptions, paying the bills. (You know.)

We try to get to bed early since we have to get up so early. On good nights, we take turns reading the scriptures for about ten minutes. Most nights though, we spend time looking at Instagram or Facebook. I really wish we could break that habit. Since we've been married, we've never had a T.V. in our bedroom because we wanted our room to be a place where the two of us could connect and find relaxation and peace, but I feel like our cell phones kind of defeat that goal. Every night though, we always hold hands and say a prayer together.

If you've read this far, then you obviously know that our lives aren't glamorous or overly exciting. Our biggest goals at this time are: getting out of debt and improving our abundance, getting/staying healthy, making our house into the home we've envisioned, and trying our best to help bring happiness into each other's lives.

If you're struggling to get through "everyday life", then I hope that you'll reflect on what a typical day looks like for you and remember those small things that brought you happiness.

It's easy to get caught up in worrying about all the things we wish we had, and to take for granted the blessings we already have. While we look forward to the future and we're excited for what those days will bring, we also try to remember to enjoy the daily moments we have together right now.

I hope you learn to enjoy those little moments too. xoxo

The Free

Sometimes a novel will make me cry, and when I say, "cry" what I mean is one or two tears will leak out of my eyes and I will slowly wipe them away. This book though - this book made me bawl. I was sobbing. The characters and words touch my heart in such an unexpected way.  

Willy Vlautin's writing style is simple, but he has this talent for bringing huge emotion to realistic everyday characters. These characters could exist in real-life. Each of them are facing real-life problems with their real-life emotions.

But how do you write about real life problems, and actually make it interesting? (I'm not sure yet what the answer is, but Vlautin was able to do it.) This novel is one that I will be studying in depth to understand how he was able to tell such a powerful story in such a simple way.

There are three distinctive characters: a veteran with a brain injury, the nightwatchmen of the care center, and the veteran's main nurse. Sounds simple enough, right? But the understated qualities of the characters caught me completely off guard.

The Free: A Novel

The blurb of this book on Amazon says:

While serving in Iraq, veteran Leroy Kervin suffered a traumatic brain injury. Frustrated by the simplest daily routines, and unable to form new memories, he eventually attempts suicide. Lying in a coma, he retreats deep inside the memories locked in his mind. Freddie McCall works two jobs and still can't make ends meet. He's lost his wife and kids, and the house is next. Medical bills have buried him in debt, a situation that propels him to consider a lucrative—and dangerous—proposition. Pauline Hawkins is a nurse at the local hospital. Though she attends to others' needs with practical yet firm kindness, including her mentally ill elderly father, she remains emotionally removed. But a new patient, a young runaway, touches something deep and unexpected inside her.The lives of these characters intersect as they look for meaning in desperate times. Heartbreaking and hopeful, The Free is a testament to the resiliency of the human heart.

The Free: A Novel


What books have made you cry lately?

Fast Metabolism Diet Results

In the last five years, I've gained some weight. Was I miserable? No. But I wasn't exactly thrilled about it either.

In the past, I thought if I ate relatively healthy and then worked out everyday that I would lose weight. But I had been working out consistently for a couple months, and my weight loss seemed minimal.  That's when I knew the problem was with my eating.

2016 had been a especially tough year on us and with the 2017 New Year approaching, I decided that I had enough of pursuing my goals half heartily. I wanted 2017 to be different. No more coasting along with mediocrity.

Right around that time, my mom started telling me how she had lost weight doing what's called The Fast Metabolism Diet.

What is the Fast Metabolism Diet?

The Fast Metabolism Diet: Eat More Food and Lose More Weight

Guys, I NEVER thought I'd be that person to promote a cheesy celebrity diet. I've never liked the Atkins Diet, the South Beach Diet or even Weight Watchers. I didn't believe in "diets", I just believed in having a health lifestyle. (Or what I thought was healthy.) But The Fast Metabolism Diet helped me lose 8 pounds in four weeks and drop from 27.3% body fat to 25.8%.

I know those numbers aren't crazy big - but remember it was only 4 weeks.

So how does it work?  

For 28 days you are not allowed to eat:

Sugar - all refined sugar. (Just 2 teaspoons of refined sugar can inhibit your weight loss for 3-4 days.)
Wheat - bread, crackers, rolls, cereals, etc.
Dairy - milk, cheese, butter, yogurt, etc.
Corn - corn tortillas, corn chips, corn cereals, cornstarch, popcorn, etc.
Soy - tofu, meat substitutes, processed foods containing soy, etc.
Dried Fruit or Fruit Juices
Artificial Sweeteners

There are 3 phases of the diet, and you cycle through different phases of eating every couple days. This creates what some people refer to as "diet confusion" for your body, allowing it to drop excess weight.

Phase 1 focuses on eating: carbs, high amounts of fruits, moderate amounts of protein and no fat.
Phase 2 focuses on eating: high amount of protein, high amounts of vegetables, no carbs, and no fat.
Phase 3 focuses on eating: low amounts of fruit, moderate amounts of carbs and protein,  high amounts of healthy fat.

You cycle through these phases for 28 days at a time, which allows your metabolism to heal it's self. It sounds weird, but it worked for me.

I feel very vulnerable posting these pictures online, and I debated about whether or not to share them because:
1. It's really scary to put yourself out there for everyone to see.
2. The bikini I'm wearing is super old (about ten years old).
3. I haven't been out in the sun and I didn't take the time to apply a fake tan. So yes - I'm really pale.
4. These pictures aren't the best quality. They were taken with a cell phone camera.

So even after thinking about all the reasons NOT to post these pictures I decided that I'm still really proud of myself for sticking with a difficult goal. More importantly though, I decided that I wanted to share my progress with you because maybe the story I have to share and the small pieces of advice I have to give will help you on your own journey?

Interested in Learning more?

If you are interested in learning more about the diet and it's different phases, I would highly recommend getting the book: The Fast Metabolism Diet: Eat More Food and Lose More Weight. (I carried this thing around for two weeks.)

You can also find out more about the diet on Pintrest. I've pinned a few infographics to my "Good Food" board. Check those out here.

My Tips for Completing the Diet:

Do a "Prep" Week:
Do not attempt this diet without first doing a "prep" week. 

Take a week before starting the diet to get off of caffeine and sugar. I wish I would have done this because I think it would have been an easier transition. 

Also, clear everything out of your freezer that you won't be eating. Buy freezer containers, and make at least two different types of  soups and the chicken, rice, and veggie bowls to freeze for later. (This is the only way that I survived!) My mom and I also made some homemade beef jerky to eat as snacks during the high protein phases. 

Plan  Your Meals in Advance:

Every Friday I would sit down and chart out all of my meals and snacks for the next week. Whenever I could, I would plan something that I could eat for dinner one night, and then for lunch the next day. It doesn't always workout because of the different phases you transition through, but it did save me some time. Then I'd make a list of all the items that I needed to get from the grocery store and get them late Friday night or early Saturday morning.

Stay One Day Ahead:
Every evening, I would look at what I was planning to eat the next day and then make any of the meals or prep any of the food that night.  This would include chopping up any fruits or vegetables and cooking any of the meat/rice/vegetable for the next night's dinner. And I always-always packed my lunch the night before.

Drinks Lots of Water:
Do you know how you'll sometimes think about food, but you're not really hungry, you just like the idea of eating? That's a good time to drink water. Lots of it. 

I was drinking an average of 13 cups of water a day. 

Fight Sugar Cravings:
Whenever I'd get cravings for sweets I'd just chew on a piece of minty gum, and then remind myself that it's only for 28 days. 

Promise Yourself: 
You might think it's cheesy or stupid, but the day before you start the diet look at yourself eye-to-eye in the mirror and promise yourself that you're going to do this no matter what. Get pumped about it.  

Then later on when you start feeling weak or discouraged, remember that you promised yourself you would do it, and there's not much that's worse than the feeling you get when you let yourself down.

My Week-by-Week Experience:

Week 1 - January 9th. 
So. Much. Cooking.  I didn't work out because all my time was consumed by cooking food.

Also the sugar withdrawals were horrible. I had no idea how addicted to sugar I had become until I stopped eating it. 

It might sound crazy, but it was "freeing" to be released from my sugar addiction. I normally don't eat a lot of candy or sugary treats, but I had gotten to a point where every day I would have a little "pick-me-up"  to get me through the afternoon. I also started wanting a little treat almost every night after dinner. I would justify all of this by telling myself that I was working out and eating healthy for the most part, so there wasn't a reason to worry about being a little indulgent.


On the fourth day of the diet, I became the grumpiest person because of the sugar withdrawals. I felt so tired and sluggish. In the afternoons, when I would have normally had a little piece of candy, my energy levels tanked.  I hadn't realized how much I was relying on that little burst of sugar to get me through the day.   

I also think that maybe some of my fat was storing toxins, and that when my fat was used up the toxins were released? I was sick to my stomach and dizzy on the fourth and fifth day. 

The first week was by far the worst for me.

Week 2 - January 16th.
In the second week, I finally started to feel like myself again. 

I noticed that my energy levels throughout the day were higher and steadier than they had been in years. I used to hit my snooze button 3 or 4 times, but by the second week I had no problem getting out of bed in the morning. It was crazy how much more energized I felt. 

I was able to get two workouts in this week, and had enough energy to finish them strong.

I also noticed that my clothes were beginning to fit better and that my stomach no longer felt bloated.

Week 3 - January 23rd.
This was the most discouraging week because I actually gained weight. So I switched one of my phase 3 days for an additional phase 2 day and that seemed to help because I lost 4 lbs in five days. 

My taste buds had drastically changed by the third week. All of the food I was eating tasted amazing and the diet was becoming easier and easier to do. 

I was able to get three workouts in this week. 

My jeans started to have a lose fit, and I noticed that my thighs and arms were looking smaller. 

Week 4. - January 30th. 
I actually got sick with a head cold this week. I didn't workout at all, but I still followed the diet. 

My goal weight had been to get down to 115 lbs and 24% body fat. I didn't reach that goal, and I wonder if I wouldn't have gotten sick if I could have made it. 

My Weight/Fat Loss Throughout the Diet:

January 7th    126.8    Body Fat 27.3
January 12th  124.2    Body Fat 26.7
January 15th  124.0    Body Fat 26.7
January 19th 123.2     Body Fat 26.6
January 23rd 124.0     Body Fat 28.6
January 27th 120.4     Body Fat 25.3
February 3rd 118.8     Body Fat 25.8

Final Thoughts:

Am I now going to look like those Instagram-famous fitness girls? Nope. Not anytime soon. I don't have a six pack and my thighs are still thicker than I'd like them to be. But it's progress that I'm happy with. (I now weigh about the same as when I got married.) 

Am I a better person now that I've lost weight? Am I more kind, compassionate, and loving? No that part of my personality hasn't changed at all, but I am more confident in myself and my ability to do difficult things.

I will probably try the diet again in a few months to see if I can reach my goal weight. But for now I'd like to focus on some of my other goals. (I do worry about getting stuck in that mindset where nothing is ever good enough. Ya know?) 

If you're thinking to yourself that you'd like to try The Fast Metabolism Diet, but it just seems to hard - then please understand that I felt the exact same way! I just couldn't image life without wheat, or cheese. But then I read this blog post and it gave me the inspiration I needed to reach for my goals. It's written by a girl who completed the diet a couple years ago. Go check it out if you're looking for some motivation. 

If you have any questions feel free to ask! I'd also love to hear about your weight loss success stories and your healthy lifestyle habits. What works for you?