On wellness

30 Sep
Image from nwacc.edu.

Image from nwacc.edu.

So apparently this is a season of trying to make positive changes for me. I’ve written about some financial stuff, but I’m also trying to make some improvements in the health and wellness arena.

I’ve always been overweight, and I don’t really care so much about fitting into a mold of BMI and pants-size. But I do care about feeling well and avoiding specific health problems that run in my family and that tend to become more of a problem when you are a) gaining weight and b) getting into your mid-30s. I also care about actually eating healthy foods that will fuel my body rather than weigh it down, and I care about becoming more active.

All that sounds good, but it’s been a struggle for me my entire adult life. I’m going to start posting a “Wellness Wednesday” post each week to keep myself accountable for how I’m doing and to celebrate when things are going well. I’m keeping it simple by using the five-question format below, so hopefully it’s something I’ll stick with — and hopefully it’s something that will help keep me on track.

I’m hoping to move beyond past failures and find something that will really work with my life NOW.

1. What am I proud of this week?

I’m proud that I went to the gym multiple times, especially over the weekend while Bobby was out of town and I had the boys by myself. In the past week, I’ve completed four 30-minute workouts, which is four more than I had completed in MONTHS.

2. What can I do better next week?

I’ve been tracking my calories in MyFitnessPal, and I decided that Sunday would be a cheat day. This seemed like a good idea at the time, but I had a really hard time getting back on track. This week, I’m going to skip the cheat day and incorporate a treat or two into my regular daily calories if I feel like I need it.

3. How did I engage in spiritual/emotional self-care this week?

I have been reading a lot! I finished The Fringe Hours by Jessica Turner, and it really spoke to me as far as not feeling guilty about taking care of myself. Many times I feel bad for going and working out or getting out of the house for me time when I could be home cleaning or spending time with the fam. But it’s all about balance. Next up on my reading list is Daring Greatly by Brene Brown; I actually started it on Monday.

4. How did I do on my goals for last week?

I didn’t write down any goals for last week since I just started this whole adventure, but I’d say the goals I had in mind were to get to the gym and to eat a little healthier, and I did OK on those.

5. What are three goals for the coming week? 

Track my calories honestly every day
Work out at least three times for 30 minutes each day
Finish Daring Greatly

On finances

27 Sep
Image from selecthomeswichita.com

Image from selecthomeswichita.com

I’ll just start this off with the big one: I have about $43,000 in student loan debt.


It doesn’t do a whole lot of good to moan and groan now about how I wish I hadn’t taken out student loans. They were necessary for my undergraduate degree. Unfortunately, I think about half of that total was for a graduate degree I never finished. #stupidtax

Even so, if that was all we owed, I wouldn’t feel too bad. But we have an additional amount of credit card debt (I’m embarrassed to say the amount, but I will just say it’s significantly less than the student loan debt), plus a car loan and some other random debt.

Much of our debt was a combination of bad decisions, bad habits and bad luck. When we first got married, the economy wasn’t doing so hot, which meant Bobby had a tough time finding full-time employment in a new town. We opted to push forward with buying a house, thinking he would surely find something soon, but it took longer than we thought, and Murphy’s Law was in full force.

I can’t blame it all on Murphy, though, because we have made our share of poor decisions in the past six-and-a-half years since we got married.

Our finances have been an ongoing struggle, but we both recently accepted new jobs (I posted about mine, and he has since been offered and accepted a telecommute position with a company out of Denver). For the first time, we are in a position where we can actually make an impact on our debt rather than just plodding along with minimum payments.

We’ve also set a big financial goal: Save up a 20% down payment for a new house (in the town where my new job is) in the next three years.

I’m the budget nerd in our family, and I’ve given a lot of thought to how we proceed. I listen to the Dave Ramsey podcast on my commute to work, and I really think his debt snowball method works. I also read a Forbes article (I think it was Forbes…) recently about the fact that the psychology behind it is solid.

On the other hand, in order to meet our house goal, we will have to be saving (which Dave says to put off until all debt is paid and a 3- to 6-month emergency fund is saved), and we really need to pay off credit card debt in order to help our credit scores and get a good interest rate. This also ensures we are paying off high-interest debt first, meaning we will pay less in the long run if we stick to it.

In the midst of this, we will also be moving into a rental and (hopefully) selling our current home.

There are a lot of moving parts, but I think the biggest thing for us will be having a plan that we can both live with and stick to. I’m planning to keep a running tally of what we’ve paid off and will likely share it here monthly. I may also start doing a weekly finances post. I don’t know, I guess it will just depend what I feel like doing, but I think even that amount of accountability to myself would be helpful.

First Day

27 Jul

First day at the new job! Eeeeee!

Will first days EVER stop making me a bundle of nerves?

By the time this posts, I will be in the midst of my morning commute. Y’all wish me luck!

My Social Media Addiction

26 Jul

Before the new job thing, I had actually taken some steps toward changing one major issue in my life: my social media addiction.

I don’t use that word lightly. I think many folks picture addicts as salivating idiots, desperate for a hit of their drug (or technology, as it were) of choice. It’s entirely possible to be addicted to technology or social media, especially, I think, if one is prone to addiction anyway. There have been a few addicts in my extended family, so I imagine I’m predisposed to it.

A few months ago, I had a hard realization: I was paying more attention to my phone, iPad and computer than I was to my kids. It was an escape, a brainless, mind-numbing toy for the end of hard days. I think it started when I was on maternity leave last fall and often sitting in a dark room holding a sleeping baby for hours on end; it was a way to pass the time and stay connected. By the time maternity leave ended, I was pretty well hooked.

I’d always been a heavy social media user, but this was more extreme. I checked my phone constantly throughout the day. I left Facebook running in the background while I was at work, justifying it in my mind because I was in charge of a Facebook account for my employer. Every time a notification would pop up, I clicked over, and it wasn’t unusual for me to realize 10 or 15 minutes later that I’d been reading through my newsfeed without ever having intended to do so.

I decided I would quit. I had big plans of leaving my iPad at work, putting my phone on the charger as soon as I got home, sticking to a regiment of 45 minutes of work and 15 minutes of play (which I’ve read somewhere is a good habit?). That lasted a few days. I would even lay in bed and read on my phone. If I woke up in the middle of the night, I checked Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

It was not healthy.

The kicker was when I was in the room with my kids and could completely ignore them in favor of whatever hot topic was trending. Or how I would spend a large amount of time capturing the perfect photo to show all my “friends” online how great things were.

Smoke and mirrors. That’s all it was.

Because as I was taking pictures of my kids, they were pleading for my attention – and not getting it. I would snap at them for daring to interrupt me while I was clearly doing something else.

I read something online (I think it was shared on Facebook, actually) about how parents who are heavy users of technology interact with their children. A study found that they were much more likely to be short-tempered and impatient because they felt like there were being constantly interrupted.

So I decided to do something about it. I had good motivation. I logged onto eBay and bought a used flip phone. I sold my iPhone. Bobby actually hopped on board and got a flip phone, as well. I culled my Facebook friends list from about 1000 down to around 250. I left a Facebook group that, while it was an awesome and supportive group of moms, was taking a lot of my time and attention. I left several other Facebook groups and hid many other groups and pages from my newsfeed so I wouldn’t mindlessly browse them. I also culled my Twitter list, though it wasn’t quite so extreme.

I wouldn’t say these changes have completely solved the problem, but they have helped significantly. Bobby has commented when we’ve been out and about with the kids how much more fun it is for me to be engaged with them instead of trying to post photos to Instagram. I sit on the floor and play with them instead of looking at pictures of other people’s kids on Facebook.

Over the summer I took a class on communication, culture and technology, and it was really helpful in being able to remember the good of technology. It’s all about balance. I love technology, and I don’t anticipate ever leaving social media completely. The decisions I’ve made in recent months have been decisions that were right for me and my family; they might not be right (or necessary!) for others.

When I start my new job, the company will be providing me with a smart phone. It’s going to be a test of willpower not to simply lapse back into old habits, and I hope I’m up for it. If nothing else, I am at least aware of the problem.


25 Jul

So I got a new job.

After four years of working at a public university, I’m diving into the private sector. I will admit to being a little (OK, more than a little) shocked at the salary difference. The position is a step up, too, so of course that helped. (For anyone who is curious, I will be part of an internal communication team for a large company. I’m not going to name my new employer here.)

This change has such potential for our family. We have debt. We have some bad habits that we would like to change.

We are moving, most likely into an apartment. We’ve picked out a new day care for the kids, and we are incredibly excited about it (it’s a Primrose School — look them up if you haven’t heard of them, they are amazing). I’m in the process of upgrading my wardrobe, which I am admittedly rather clueless about. I got a haircut that may be my favorite haircut I’ve ever gotten.

A lot of stuff will be happening before the end of the year, which is when we plan to make the move to the bigger city where my new job is, about an hour from where we live now. We own our current home, and with the help of our Realtor friend, we are planning to rent it out rather than selling. Regardless, we have renovations that need to be completed first, and we have a basic game plan for that.

We also are realizing how much stuff we own, so we are planning a yard sale in October, and I’m selling at our local children’s consignment sale for the first time next month.

Our budget gets a lot easier now, and if we aren’t total idiots with our money, we should not be living month-to-month. We are hoping to save $5,000 by the time we move (half of which we anticipate using for moving expenses). We also want to start paying off our debt.

It’s a big opportunity for our family, and we are looking at it as something that will hopefully be a starting point for other life changes, like healthier eating and regular exercise.

I’m excited about what’s coming.

In for another round

9 Oct

Out for a walk with the baby

I hate that I’m one of those people who constantly struggles to make healthy choices. I’ve thought through the reasons before, and ultimately they don’t really matter that much. I know what to eat and do to be healthy, but finding excuses is much easier.

I had a baby about eight weeks ago. Last week I went in for my postpartum check-up, and I was down a total of 49 pounds — 25 lighter than when I got pregnant.

Great, right?

It’s almost identical to what happened after my first pregnancy. I lost the baby weight (and then some) easily. I felt good about it. And I stayed right around that same weight until I started gaining again. I weighed almost exactly the same when I got pregnant with my second child as I did with my first.

In thinking about my motivation to get healthier, I know I need to do it for me, first and foremost. It’s easier to think in terms of doing it for others, of wanting to be around to see my boys grow up and to enjoy grandchildren and retirement one day. But if I don’t care enough about myself right now to treat myself better right now, then I’m not going to succeed.

One of the interesting revelations I’ve had recently was that even though I claim to want to do this, in part, for my children and my husband, they are the easiest excuse NOT to do it. I think about how I’ll have to give up spending time with them to exercise or how I’m too tired to play or read a book or paint if I have to cook a healthy dinner at the end of a long work day.

I have to stop using my family as an excuse. It’s not fair to anyone.

I don’t have a great plan for getting in shape this time. I’m just trying to set small goals for myself while also keeping my eyes on the long-term benefits of exercising and eating better.

The fight’s not over, and I’m in for another round.

Dark chocolate walnut banana nut muffins

29 Sep

I really love to bake, so even with the craziness of having a fairly new baby, I made a little time this past weekend to whip up some muffins for breakfast.

My mom actually made a version of these based on this recipe when I was visiting her, and I mostly wanted to recreate them, but I kicked them up a notch by adding Ghirardelli dark chocolate chips and walnuts (both of which I bought HUGE bags of from Sam’s Club with the intention of making cookies for my OB’s office and the nurses at the hospital — haven’t done that yet, and six weeks in, hate to say it, but it’s probably not going to happen).

So here’s my recipe for these (seriously delicious) muffins, adapted from the recipe linked above:

Banana nut muffinsDark chocolate walnut banana nut muffins

Makes: 12-18 muffins


3 very ripe bananas, peeled

1/3 cup melted butter

1/2 cup of sugar (you could probably substitute honey)

1 egg, beaten

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp baking soda

Pinch of salt

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup walnuts, chopped

1/2 cup dark chocolate chips, chopped


Preheat oven to 350 F. Mash bananas in a large mixing bowl. Add butter, sugar, egg, vanilla extract, baking soda and salt and mix well. Slowly mix in flour, then mix in walnuts and chocolate chips. Scoop into lined muffin tins, filling each about 2/3 of the way. Bake for 20 minutes or until toothpick inserted into center of muffin comes out clean.


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