Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Works for Me: Exercise

I'm not a poster girl for weight-loss yet, but I have found a couple of things that really work well for me.

The Firm Express
This is a set of DVDs, 13 in all, that each contain a 20 minute workout.  The set is designed to last you 30 days, exercising 3 days a week, a different workout each time.
Why I like it: It is a vigorous workout in just 20 minutes, but it's completely doable.  It is constantly changing or adding different patterns so you're not doing 100 push-ups or 50 squats in a row.  And you're not doing the same workout day in and day out.  I get bored super easy so this is a perfect thing for me!
Why you might not like it: If you're new to workout or get flustered (meaning you're likely to quit) when you can't do it perfectly the first time, you probably ought to work up to this.  It's very fast paced.  And it's a little expensive - $104 with shipping included.

Another note about this workout is that I didn't start feeling the greatest impact until I started working out 6 or 7 days a week, shuffling some of the cardio workouts into the off days.  I still only worked out 20 minutes a day, but the daily as opposed to 3 days a week seemed to really give me the boost I needed.

This might sound archaic, but one of the biggest factors in my weight-loss is drinking enough water.  If I go a couple of days on less than a gallon of water a day, everything starts complaining and my body just stalls out.  If you've never been a big water drinker, I would say try drinking a set amount (a little more than normal) for a week and see if it doesn't make a difference.

Just like water, without enough sleep my body resists everything and doesn't utilize the workouts as well.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Works For Me Wednesday: Food Success

I have this habit of doing things a lot differently than most people I know.  As we all know, not everything works for everyone.  So, this weekly post is about what works for me.  Take it or leave it. :)

Easy way to get greens - I put a cup or more of baby spinach (you can buy it in containers at Walmart) in the blender with milk, fruit, and protein powder.  It's a great lower calorie meal and high in nutrition.

Baby food containers - When you make your own baby food, it's difficult to know how/what to store the food in.  At first I bought some (expensive) handy 2 oz containers at Target and while they work really well, I needed more and didn't want to pay $10 for 4.  Instead, I found plastic 6 oz jars (w/ purple lids) at Walmart, 5 for $3.  They hold more and are cheaper. Score!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

In It To Lose It

Back in July we started a weight-loss competition and as off tomorrow there will be exactly a week and a half left. Thanks to the mercy of God, I have lost about 20 pounds so far.  To see it in print makes it feel pretty good, but then I remember I have 30 more to go to be at my pre-pregnancy weight.  It's a weird feeling to be excited and discouraged all at the same time.

I'm so thankful that I have been able to stick with it and seen some success.  But I'm even more thankful to be around others who are struggling with the same things.  Whether I gain or lose, succeed or fail this week, it's just comforting to know that it's hard for everybody and not just me.  And it'll probably be a gain/fail day because we're going to the state fair tonight.  Yummmmm...

So, anybody have any tips for sticking with it when you're not even halfway there?  I hear a lot of advice on getting started and setting new habits, but it seems to be a different ball game when it's not about the small changes anymore.  Making even bigger or more consistent choices, especially when you've been working hard already, is a pretty big mountain.  For me anyway.  I get super excited because some of my clothes are looser, but then I remember that those are clothes I had to buy BECAUSE I'd gained weight.  And I still can't fit into all of my pre-prego stuff.  Yeah, so then I get pretty aggravated that I've worked and worked and I still have to work some more! Call me impatient! :)  So, any inspiring words, tips or tricks?

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Friday, September 16, 2011

A Gift, 5 Years in the Making

When it comes to internalizing a new concept (by that I mean effectively applying it to myself and living it out), I am a slow learner.  It is easier for me to discuss a concept and even apply to someone's situation than to actually allow it to impact how I think and feel.  Over the many years of being single, I had all kinds of fantastical expectations regarding marriage and living happily ever after.  Sure, it would be naive to believe that once you get married or 'find the right person' all the ducks just start lining up.  But what I did just might be worse.  I expected (sometimes consciously, sometimes not) that if I would do a set of 'right' things then Mr. Butler would HAVE to comply.  I knew it took work, but what I didn't expect was him not responding when I did everything 'right' (which we all know is up for debate anyway).  Suffice it to say, those pesky expectations can still poison a fine evening.

Look at that skinny couple!

When some people talk about marriage you get the impression they have a disease that has no cure or lost a bet somewhere down the line.  Today I have been married to Mr. Butler for 5 years and while that's very little in the grand scheme of things, it does give me license to say what works and what doesn't for us.  Like I already said, expectations kill everything usually (because rarely do you expect the same thing). And you know what has saved us time and time again?  Sticking with it and helping each other grow.  That's really the beautiful thing about marriage.  You go into it thinking, "This is going to be soo fun!" but in reality you are entering a growth chamber.  Kinda weird, huh?   "Hey, I thought this was going to be a party." "Yeah, no.  We're here to help each other grow." Awkward.  Just this week Mr. Butler has helped me understand a few things about myself and perfectionism that have already positively affected me and our relationship.

One of my favorite shots of him, waiting for me.
Right after the pictures, most of our fabulous wedding party.

After 5 years I'm finally learning to give way to that growth instead of fighting it when it doesn't look like I think it should.  Marrying Randy has been one of the best decisions of my life, but not because of the reasons most people expect.  He challenges me on EVERYTHING.  Some days he values everything I DON'T and has no use for everything I adore.  He is meticulous and a tough sell.  His standards are high and his emotiveness is low.  All things that, if I'd been presented with 5 years ago, I would have either denied existed or worked hard to extinguish.  But today, I love every bit of it because   my relationship with him has done more for me than I ever could have on my own.  I firmly believe God uses marriage if we allow it.  The trouble is (and I speak from experience) that most of the time we are fighting it, refusing to change and, as a result, missing out on one of the most beautiful gifts of growth.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Food Will Kill Ya!

So, I have been sick this week - food poisoning sick.  I'll spare you the ugly details, but suffice it to say that I've been pretty worthless all week.  The only reason I'm trying to be productive today is because we're running out of food and that means a grocery run!

Time is what this makes me dwell on.  When sickness or emergencies happen, time lost is often what we mourn the most.  With the fast pace many of us keep, feeling guilty about the amount time spent with those we love seems to be the norm. Monday I was so sick that my husband stayed home from work part of the day and the rest my mom stayed with me and watched after J.  There were moments amid my delirium that I felt bad for J because I was not available to him and really hardly conscious of him.  That, of course, made me think of working mothers who have to be away from their children several hours a day.  Before I knew it, I was tied up in a "There's just not enough time!" cycle.

Here's a more (I think) realistic rendering of time and where it matters most.  Time cycles and sometimes there is a lot and sometimes there is not.  But you don't have to have a million hours to make a positive impact in someone's life.  Think of your favorite uncle or some of the best memories with a parent or sibling.  Did it take 12 hours to make? Probably not.  Most great memories were made in moments, a few hours at best.  A surprise lunch, a special midnight snack, a homemade gift or even 15 minutes on Skype! Life takes us places we never intended to go.  Instead of fighting it, worrying over it and wallowing in it, enjoy the beauties of where you get to be! 

Friday, September 9, 2011

Bill Cosby Friday

Sometimes you just need to laugh and I can't think of anyone better for the job than Bill Cosby.  For the next few weeks I've decided to share excerpts of  "Bill Cosby, Himself" with you.  Hope you enjoy!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Maintenance Crew

As I was feeding J this afternoon, I started thinking about how much time I will have spent sitting at his high chair, mimicking a baby bird's open beak, stuffing pureed something down his throat.  And then for a split-second I wished it wasn't so.  Some days things like showering, eating and making the bed just seem redundant.  You're going to do it again tomorrow so why worry about it today? :) The more I thought about it though, I have a bad habit of wishing everything was a 'do it once and be done with it' kind of thing.  Don't you?

But let's consider this a bit more.  What aspect of our lives as beings on the earth do NOT require maintenance?  Sure, some require more than others, but everything requires a little bit.  The cactus needs water at some point.  Our spiritual disciplines don't do us any good when they are applied once and then abandoned.  Relationships will not survive without some attention and many require it daily.  And though I sincerely despise housework and the fact that toilets get dirty over and over again, I'm learning to be thankful for the maintenance crew.

When I put on my maintenance cap willingly (in my marriage, in housework, my prayer life, etc.), I always feel better afterwards.  I learn things, I strengthen things and the world is just better.  I used to spend 90% of my energy getting away from things that required lots of maintenance because I wanted to be free to 'do whatever I wanted to.' I'm slowly learning that everything I wanted to do wasn't worth all the traffic jams I caused in all the other parts of my life.

So, today, what can the maintenance crew teach me?  Nourishment and growth takes time.  Lots of time.  Good things rarely spring up over night without a lot of work behind the scenes.  Let's all be thankful for the people in our life that put so much effort into maintenance work, both physically and spiritually.

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Monday, September 5, 2011

Me & Dave Ramsey

Oh, Dave Ramsey.  Some people love him.  Some people hate him.  Some people love to hate him.  And yes, others hate to love him, but yet they do.  If, by chance, you've never heard of Dave Ramsey, here's what Wikipedia says about him.  I'm happy to tell you how I feel about him, but really, it's complicated.

Long before the likes of DR came into our life, Mr. Butler was a saver and I was more likely to enjoy life (today) with my money, rather than save if I could help it.  As you can imagine, there were many clashes of the titans on money issues.  We compromised a lot for each other at first.  I started planning menus, grocery shopping twice a month only, and I paid all the bills (b/c he stressed too much when he did it).  We bought some fun things and took some trips.  And then he was laid off for six months.

Fast forward a few years to today we rarely argue much about money anymore.  He found another job that he loves and I learned how to appreciate a steady income, making it do a lot for us.  My student loans (that started out more than just a little bit) will be paid off by the end of the year (Lord willing).  We have no car payment and just the mortgage on our house.  This is, essentially, the way Mr. Butler wanted things to be when we first got married.  The difference is that I hated the thought of budgets, wanted to 'buy' more fun and honestly thought all the fuss was silly.  Some days I still do.

But (and here's my point in telling you all of this) as much as I despise the self-control it takes to refrain when the budget says no, the freedom it gives  - well there's just nothing like it.  When you have debt or the "I know I spent too much" feeling hanging over your head, it changes you more than you realize.  With some people you feel shame, embarrassment or other time its just frustration that you can't pursue things important to you.  Needless to say, it's stressful and exhausting.

It's easy to believe that money is just like that and that's the way everyone lives.  And a few years ago, I probably would have agreed with you.  But, it's just not true. People are doing it everywhere and it's a marvelous blessing!  Don't get me wrong, though.  I hate it, still.   I haven't been on a vacation vacation since before my son was born.  I'm consumed weekly by the desire to just run in any direction and not stop till I see another state and a fabulous hotel waiting for me.  But Mr. Butler and I are at peace with our decisions, not to mention on the same page, and have much hope for the future.

So, I agree with a lot of what DR teaches, but I don't do envelopes and some days I just want to spend, spend, spend!!!!  It's complicated, see? :)  Still, debt free living and sticking to a budget is easier to do than I ever thought.  Take it from this free-spirit who has expensive taste, living within your means and honoring your debts is fantastic food for the soul.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Why I Really Don't Like Birthdays

When I was a little girl birthdays consisted of a few basic elements.  A few relatives sent you birthday cards in the mail (ya know, snail mail).  A few friends, cousins and other relatives would come to your house and help you celebrate. There would always be a birthday cake, with ice cream (sometimes two flavors), party games and presents.  Because you were a kid, most everyone watched you expectantly, hoping you had a good time, liked their presents and helping you blow out all the candles.  By the time you crashed into bed that night, you had a birthday high that would last a week.  Or maybe that was just me. :)

As you age birthdays change of course.  For me it was ridiculous slumber parties.  Some have skating parties or bowling parties.  There's the infamous boy/girl parties.  Nowadays, especially for the emerging adolescent, birthdays are often about competition with the neighbors or cool kids at school, looking for the newest 'thing.'  And unless it's a major milestone like 30, 40 or 50, you don't usually get a full planned out party as an adult.  Adult parties are friends going out to dinner or just eating food in your honor, maybe with a cake.   

I have always LOVED my birthday and loved feeling special on it.  Sure, I was disappointed when a special friend or something forgot or didn't come to my party, but the ones who did remember and wanted to come to MY party, they made everything great.  Today though, with the internet and the vicious Facebook you are not expected to remember anyone's birthday.  This article proves how conditioned we are.  This has been a burr in my saddle for a while and reading this prompted me to get a few things off my chest.  Forgive me while I rant a bit.

I currently have 564 'friends' on facebook.  I know there are not 564 people in my life that are so special to me that I should/want to remember their birthday in order to express some sweet or grateful sentiment about their life.  No offense to the 400+ that I don't talk to, but we're not that close.  So here's my problem: If I am going to honor someone's birthday, I want it to be special.  If someone is going to honor my birthday, I want it to be special.  Facebook happy birthdays to me are not special.  Maybe a mention in someone's status or a direct private message, but the flood of one sentence comments on my wall, not so much.  And furthermore, with all of these birthdays I'm now constantly exposed to, I feel like I should especially acknowledge everyone and since I can't do that, I sit still and do nothing.  Feeling lame just the same.

Some will say I'm too sensitive or I care too much about silly things.  Maybe.  But to me there some things in life that are too rich to let pass by on the surface without really experiencing them.  And some might think I'm writing this for selfish reasons and that might have some truth to it, but not really.  If I'm not important to you, if I'm not a part of your life, I don't want or need your birthday acknowledgements and I certainly don't want a present.  Not because I think you are bad, but because it just doesn't mean anything. Like the birthday card from your dentist or insurance agent.  Big whoop! :)

I know that we're all busy and almost too connected with too many people, but I'm starting to think that that fact is a red flag to many other problems.  Perhaps the solution is in paring down the number of people/activities/priorities that we are glued to.  In trying to do many things we often succeed poorly instead of choosing a few in which to succeed at.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

We have a Winner!

Congratulations Melissa Wallace! She gets her choice of a Crayon Roll or Car Seat Straps from Lily Pad Couture! Thanks to everyone who entered!

Would you like to be featured in a giveaway in the future in exchange for some advertising on this blog and facebook?  I'm always looking for suitable businesses and products to support and advertise.  Just leave me a message and I'd love to consider you!